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An adventure to remember for three young thrill-seekers

It might have been pushing limits but three young people from Indian— Stacey Puplav(from left) Robbie Lydick Jim Higgas— went

It might have been pushing the limits, but three young people from Indiana — Stacey Puplava (from left), Robbie Lydick and Jim Higgason — went ice fishing on the slip north of 87th Street and caught good jumbo perch Thursday. | For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 13, 2014 6:37AM



Talking Thursday with Jim Higgason made me think: ‘‘That’s the kind of stupid stunt I would have pulled 40 years ago.’’

Considering the weather early last week, the light smattering of snow Thursday was just a scene-enhancer, especially for a small adventure on ice by three young people from Indiana.

Higgason of Hammond, Stacey Puplava of Highland and Robbie Lydick of Schererville went ice fishing on the slip north of 87th Street on the Southeast Side.

‘‘I swear, I didn’t believe Mikey,’’ Higgason said. ‘‘He said, ‘Hey, man, you should try it.’ I was kind of skeptical about the ice. But I threw a rock, and the rock stayed.’’

‘‘Mikey’’ is Mike Starcevich of Mik-Lurch Fishing Tackle Outlet in Hammond. He’s also the guru of perch fishing on southern Lake Michigan. And, truth be told, he and some friends would sneak into the slip to ice-fish years ago.

That slip north of the east end of 87th Street is the epicenter for a lot of issues related to usage and access for traditional outdoors in the modern urban setting. A small patch of land by the south shore of the mouth of the slip is part of new Chicago Park District Park No. 523.

A month ago, another fisherman said to me people should ice-fish there when the slip locks up. I wasn’t so sure about that, in part because ice can be so variable on southern Lake Michigan. But this is a freak winter where ice is here to stay.

‘‘There was about a foot of ice,’’ Higgason said. ‘‘It was a bit choppy. Some spots has less ice than other spots.’’

He was glad he had a power auger.

‘‘I would not have drilled through by hand,’’ he said.

They were targeting yellow perch. The slip is a notoriously good spot for winter fishing for perch. That’s what they went after, jigging fatheads on perch flies
from Mik-Lurch.

‘‘They were following the bait all the way up to the hole,’’ Higgason said. ‘‘There were schools right under the ice.’’

These weren’t typical small winter perch, either, but true jumbos. The biggest perch they landed was about 15 inches. And they caught a mess of them.

‘‘I am a thrill-seeker,’’ Higgason said. ‘‘That is definitely the way to do it. We don’t need Burnham Harbor.’’

Listen, I shouldn’t recommend that form of thrill-seeking or risky behavior, but I sure am not going to condemn it. On second thought, I do recommend it, especially for those who know what they are getting into, know the risks. That kind of risk-taking is how we expand the world.

Ice on our end of Lake Michigan is a tricky, dangerous business. But just because something is tricky, dangerous and possibly even life-threatening doesn’t mean that some people shouldn’t try it. That’s how Columbus sailed off the end of the world.

That’s how three young people ended up with a story good enough for a lifetime in the winter of
2013-14. And, we should mention, a big pile of perch fillets.

‘‘There were a few people who came out and looked at us,’’ Higgason said. ‘‘They looked and said, like, ‘I don’t know about that.’ ’’

Now we know.



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