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There’s nothing like opening day at LaSalle Lake

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Fishing & Sports Show: Evergreen Park Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 27, 7-11 p.m. Friday, Bourbon Street, Merrionette Park; $20 includes buffet and drinks.

Used & Antique Fishing Flea Market: Zion Lutheran Church,
8 a.m.-noon Saturday, McHenry. For tables, contact Jim at
(847) 767-9768 or

Updated: March 18, 2014 8:17PM

MARSEILLES, Ill. — As we drifted a bank early Saturday, Pete Riedesel put it well — long before we pounded hybrid striped bass on opening day of fishing at LaSalle Lake.

‘‘Finally, a Saturday I am not aimlessly wandering around the house,’’ he said.

The day ended up being about far more than just shaking off the historic winter.

We caught about everything the cooling lake south of Seneca offers: largemouth bass (about 30, up to 2 pounds), smallmouth bass, hybrids (two dozen, the biggest was 2.5 pounds), yellow bass, white bass, freshwater drum, channel catfish and blue catfish.

The memory-making trip was made possible by conservation police officers Phil Wire and Troy Lazzell. Acting Region 1 commander Hank Frazier said they sledgehammered and shoveled the ice off one launch after checking fishermen lining up late Friday.

I planned to bank-fish, but Riedesel brought his boat when a launch was opened.

What an eerily lit Friday night it was, with the blinking red lights of the wind farms sprinkled under the white shine of a nearly full moon. That fit perfectly with Riedesel’s comment when I caught a lone early hybrid.

‘‘These fish are like ghosts,’’ he said. ‘‘You can be all over them, then they are gone.’’

We were just about gone in the early afternoon when we bumped into a pod of largemouth and yellow bass on a shallow flat. That kept
us there.

Then Riedesel picked off several hybrids in a row. The frenzy was on and lasted more than an hour. We fancast, primarily with shad Rapala DT-6s or silver bladebaits, and boated about two dozen, including several doubles.

‘‘They go where they go,’’ Riedesel said. ‘‘That is why I call them ghosts.’’

Action finally slowed about the same time my back and wrist were locking up. But Riedesel pushed down a bank to catch one last hybrid. Well, a couple of more.

It was time.

The water temperature ranged from the 40s on the cold side to 80 in the hot chute. We caught nearly all our 75 or 80 fish in warm water. A concession trailer is scheduled for this year. March hours are 6 a.m. to sunset Wednesday through Sunday.

Wild things

John Vukmirovich, who chronicles sandhill cranes on the Southeast Side, spotted early ones last week. He says they kroo; I say they croak.

Tom and Patty Houlihan of Flossmoor saw ‘‘wave after wave’’ while walking a forest-preserve trail Monday and emailed: ‘‘We heard the unmistakable garoo-a-a-a sound of the sandhill crane,
this time headed north. They make a lot of noise, so you always hear them first, then scan the sky to see where they are flying.’’

Monday was flying day.

Dan Spalla heard them while grilling deer burgers in Glen Ellyn.

‘‘I hear that noise, that sound,’’ he emailed. ‘‘Could it be? Is it? I look up, and YES. They’re flying north?!!!’’

Sandhill cranes have become the top signifier of spring or fall.

In Crestwood, Bob Hicks watched and posted on Facebook. From the western suburbs, fishing historian Dan Basore emailed: ‘‘Redwing blackbirds swarmed in Wednesday, and today flights of sandhill cranes soared north.’’

Other signs mount.

Ed Buric of Darien emailed: ‘‘The trimmed trees in our parkway are now running freely with sap, and I also have the first hints of green showing on my daffodils. Finally!’’

Stray cast

As general-manager material, Jerry Krause was a muskie; Phil Jackson is a chub.

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