Urban fishing at its finest
BY DALE BOWMAN For Sun-Times Media November 12, 2013 9:33PM
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Updated: November 12, 2013 10:56PM
A security guard rolled down his window to check on the perch fishing, then said, ‘‘They come and they go.’’
From his open window to my ears.
Perch came in well during the weekend on the Chicago lakefront. I couldn’t get out until Tuesday morning — after the front — so it was slower.
Truth be told, I was more concerned about place than perch Tuesday.
Lakefront revitalization builds on the Southeast Side. Part of that is Park 523 of the Chicago Park District off the end of 87th Street, just east of the new southern extension of Lake Shore Drive. With it comes shore access to one of the famed spots for winter perch fishing: the slip off Calumet Harbor to the north of the boat launch, near the northern breakwall.
The perch have been in the slip, and neighborhood guys figured it out.
Be aware: This is urban fishing, and it’s not for everybody. It takes a certain amount of moxie or urban savvy to get to the parking for the spot. There are still construction closures, and work still is being done.
Now, I am happy for an addition to shore fishing on the Chicago lakefront. This is a nice bit to add, especially for winter. But it isn’t of the scope of Northerly Island, which was opened to general-public access more than a decade ago.
With the wind howling out of the north, remnants of snow and temperatures in the mid-20s, I thought I might be the only one to try it Tuesday morning. But there were two others out when I first got there, and I counted eight by the time I left in the middle of the morning.
If you never have been to Cal Harbor on a good north blow, it is a visual and audial treat of waves crashing high above and over the breakwalls. It was another sort of treat to fish the slip from shore. Previously, I had fished it only from a boat.
The perch bite wasn’t on. Regulars pulled in a few small ones, but most of us were skunked, missing our few chances.
In the distance, I noticed a church steeple and wished I knew the area better. It was cool to see it over the remnants of the industrial landscape.
‘‘I hope it is an afternoon bite,’’ a fisherman down the wall said.
It was time.
Duck hunters fired far out on the lake as I stowed gear. Landscapers wheeled a big tree into the median as I drove to the end of the new Lake Shore Drive extension.
Depending on where you hunt, big bucks started moving in earnest for the rut in the last week. That shows up in the numbers, with bucks making up 63 percent of the harvest by bowhunters last week in Illinois. But the overall archery harvest (36,645 through Monday) lags far behind harvest at the same time last year (41,021).
† Waterfowl arrived last week — at least from reports along the Illinois River. Harvest at local sites was only fair, though Saturday was decent at Heidecke Lake with 16 hunters taking nine mallards, four shovelers, three buffleheads, three canvasbacks, one green-winged teal, one bluebill and one black duck.
Sandhill cranes are on the move. The 10,000 point has been reached at Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area, southeast of
I finally figured the right match for that smirking mug of Lions coach Jim Schwartz: the first time I saw a burbot up close.