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Boat Show

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January 13-17, 2010

80th Annual Chicago Boat, RV & Outdoors Show

Whether interested in activities on land or in water, the Chicago Boat, RV & Outdoors Show is the winter shopping destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The largest sportshow in the Midwest features hundreds of boats, RVs and specialty booths filled with marine accessories and travel destinations, at the most competitive prices of the year. The 2010 show is the best place to view, board and buy everything needed for outdoor adventures.

Wednesday through Sunday, January 13-17, 2010
Wednesday through Friday: 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Saturday:  10:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Sunday:  10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

WHERE: McCormick Place – North Building
2301 S. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL  60616

$10.00 for Adults
$4.00 for Youth (13-15)
Adults $10 (buy 3 tickets and the 4th is free); Junior Boaters (youth 13 -15) $4; Kids 12 and under FRE
$8 Senior (65 & older) — Wednesday, January 13th & Thursday, January 14th ONLY


Huck Finn Trout Pond

FREE fishing for children 12 and younger. There’s no limit to the fun! Catch-and-release trout pond, stocked with frisky fighting trout is a grest way to introduce kids to the sport of fishing. Adding to the fun—great prizes for any lucky little anger who catches a specially tagged trout. Be sure to bring your camera to capture the moment when your little angler reels in a “big one”!

Categories : Fishing News
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Early ice fishing is getting under way on the Chain, and many anglers simply love heading out on the frozen lakes in pursuit of early winter action.



Early season ice fishing can be hard to beat. It seems panfish, as well as predator fish like walleye, northern pike, and bass, are a lot more willing to cooperate in the early part of the season than in mid-January or February.

While early ice usually produces the best action of the winter, I wasn’t among the first on the ice. I usually waited a little bit to be sure of the ice conditions. Two inches of ice will usually hold a man weighing about 180 pounds. But keep in mind that even though the ice may be two or three inches in one spot, it may only be half an inch 10 feet away.

Three-to-four inches of ice will hold a couple of guys walking single file. Maintain a reasonable distance from one another if ice conditions are like that and carry a rope along if you should run into a problem. Also remember, don’t panic if you break through.

Chain O Lakes Ice Fishing

 As I mentioned before, the early part of the season is probably the best. If you fish for panfish, use as light a line as you dare. Use small teardrop jigs and ice flies for both crappie and bluegill and tip them with waxworms. Crappie like minnows too, so remember to have an assortment of live bait.

One item a lot of ice fishermen rely on is a Vexilar. Vexilars help locate fish, show how deep they are, will mark your bait and even allow you to see the fish take your bait. Panfish aren’t very aggressive during the winter and will quickly drop bait. That’s why Vexilars or other electronics like Aquaviews are handy during the winter.

and once you locate them you should have a hand held GPS system  so you will know right were to go your next outing on the Ice.  heres some cool info on GPS

 Northern pike are one of the more popular species during the winter. They are fairly easy to get, and don’t require much work. Using large shiners or smelt under a tip-up will usually get you some action during the daylight hours. Use braided dacron line, and steel leaders to prevent bite offs.

Walleye require more finesse. Early and late in the day is usually better, but the best bites will be at night. A lot of guys will use tip- up lights attached to their tip-ups for them, and medium shiners, or fathead minnows are the bait of choice for walleye. Many people will use Windlass tip-ups because they have arms that will move up and down in the wind to give it some jigging action.

So, if you have put away your gun or bow for the year, and are anxious to get out fishing and have some fun, give the early ice a shot. There isn’t anything much better than getting a mess of fish out of cold water for a fish fry.

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Illinois DNR To Close 11 State Parks

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Illinois To Close 11 State Parks


The state of Illinois will be closing 11 state park properties, 25 historical landmarks, and laying off 39 DNR employees after state budgets dropped $14 million of DNR funding in the state.

The state of Illinois is being forced to close 11 state parks after lawmakers recent made a $14 million dollar cut to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources funding.  All eleven parks will be closed on November 1st, 2008.  The Illinois DNR is also being forced to layoff 39 employees, 36 of whom are full-time.  These employees include park rangers, security, superintendants, and park technicians.

Earlier this summer, Illinois’ General Assembly passed the state budget which included a 24% decrease in DNR general funding.  This funding is used to pay park salaries and maintain the current park system.  Many of Illinois’ lawmakers are attributing the cuts to a poor economy, but Illinois’ DNR claims that these parks are one of few areas that actually profit in the state.  The Illinois state park system had over 45 million visitors in 2007, many of which spend more funds in local economies.  It is thought that the loss in local revenue from visitors will far outweigh any savings that the state hopes to gain by the closures.

The Illinois DNR was actually in the process of making a proposal to slightly raise park fees in an effort to compensate for the state’s shortcomings on funding, when the measure to close the parks was handed down.

The parks in question (which I will list shortly) do have the possibility of being reopened at a future date, but DNR officials worry that without proper maintenance, it will take much more money to get these parks back in line.  With a shortcoming on funds, they fear that this option may be a far stretch and future funding will not allow for the kind of work involved to reopen the parks.

Illinois’ DNR currently manages and maintains 320 state parks, natural areas, state forests, historical areas, and public property throughout Illinois.  The fear now comes that even more state managed land will be closed in the future due to funding.

The Illinois state parks that will be closing on November 1st, 2008 include the following:

  • Castle Rock State Park, Oregon
  • Lowden State Park, Oregon
  • Hennepin Canal Parkway State Park, Sheffield
  • Illini State Park, Marseilles
  • Channahon Parkway State Park, Channahon
  • Gebhard Woods State Park, Morris
  • Hidden Springs State Forrest, Strasburg
  • Kickapoo State Park, Oakwood
  • Moraine View State Park, Leroy
  • Weldon Springs State Park, Clinton
  • Wolf Creek State Park, Windsor

BikingBis, a blog dedicated to everything ‘cycling’, has mentioned that one of the biggest blows to the state will be the closure of Hennepin Canal Parkway State Park.  This park boasts over 90 miles of trails and roadways dedicated to the bicycling enthusiast.

Along with the state park closings, Illinois will also be closing 25 historical landmarks, including four National historic Landmarks.  These closings will take effect on October 1st, 2008.  These closures will definitely be hitting the local economies pretty hard.  Many of these historical landmarks are big tourist attractions and bring in much needed funds across smaller communities while also drawing in visitors and tourists to little known areas.

To see a list of the historical landmarks being closed across Illinois, please visit this site.

The economy is definitely hitting many areas hard right now.  With state budgets in the billions of dollars, it just seems like there would be a way to cut funding to more ‘less meaningful’ projects, then to take away something that is meant ‘for the people’.  $14 million dollars is not a lot of money to a state whose budget is in the billions.  One less road would do the trick.  Just something to think about..

I would appreciate any comments you might have on this issue.  Is there a better way of handling Illinois’ DNR budget shortfall?  I would like to hear your answers.  Comment below.

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Bass Fishing Now A School Sport

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Bass fishing catching on as high school sport
Students getting hooked as Illinois is 1st state to adopt angling as a secondary school activity By
Emma Graves Fitzsimmons | Chicago Tribune reporter
September 27, 2008

Brian McDonald understands why people snicker at the mention of Vernon Hills High School’s new bass fishing team.

Even McDonald, the school’s athletic director, has trouble promoting the coming Cougar Bass Fishing Classic tournament without cracking a smile.

“I’m still trying to say it with a straight face,” he said. “To put bass fishing out there as a sport, it makes people chuckle a little.”

But students across the state are casting out lines in search of a big catch now that Illinois has become the first state in the country to adopt bass fishing as a high school sport. Teams have formed at more than 60 schools, and a state championship will be held this spring.

Coaches acknowledge bass fishing is viewed more as a low-key hobby for older men in khaki vests and floppy hats than as a competitive sport for teenagers. They too have been surprised by the enthusiasm among students. At Oak Lawn Community High School, an after-school meeting to gauge interest last spring drew 50 students. 

 High school bass fishing

Bass fishing attracts some students who might not otherwise be involved in athletics and teaches them about conservation, coaches say. It also provides opportunities for parents and children to spend time together, lots of time—say, 8 hours in a boat.That’s the major appeal of fishing for Sarah Warner, a Vernon Hills senior, who will join her team in its first tournament Wednesday against Libertyville High School at Independence Grove Forest Preserve near Libertyville.

“It’s a good time for us to talk and bond,” she said of fishing trips with her dad. “We go up to my uncle’s lake house in Wisconsin and bring food and music.”

The high schools are catching on to a larger trend. Bass fishing has become a multibillion-dollar industry with magazines, television shows and clubs dedicated to the sport. A collegiate championship has been around since 2006, and professional tournaments dole out prizes of up to $1 million.

The Illinois High School Association voted last year to add bass fishing to its official list of 35 sanctioned sports and activities. Officials expect at least 100 schools will join the spring tournament. Teams can sign up until Nov. 1.

“We were looking for some other activities that could get kids involved,” said Dave Gannaway, IHSA assistant executive director. “We thought we could get at a whole different group of kids with this.”

At the two-day bass fishing state championship in May, students will be on the water for at least 5 hours each day. The winner will be determined by the total weight of their five best fish.

In the winter when students can’t fish, they will study the contour, water temperature and clarity of lakes to determine the best places to fish. “This fits in with other curriculum areas: the sciences, math, ecology,” Gannaway said.

Oak Lawn Community High School athletic director Pat Keeley doesn’t fish, but he has been learning about the sport since his school started a team. He never knew there were so many fishing spots nearby, such as forest preserve lakes and the Des Plaines and Cal-Sag waterways. The club will do cleanup projects and build fish cribs in the forest preserves.

“Fishers take the conservation aspect pretty seriously,” Keeley said. “Otherwise, their sport goes away.”

The Oak Lawn school board voted last week to add a bass fishing club mostly in order to recruit more students to after-school programs. Research shows involvement can boost academic performance, school officials noted.

“The bottom line is, it’s an opportunity to reach out to students who are not involved in traditional sports,” Keeley said. “We’re interested in anything that gets kids involved.”

Craig Warner, whose daughter, Sarah, joined the Vernon Hills team, is thrilled he can now root for her at a school event.

“Everybody else gets to watch their kid at football games,” he said. “Finally this is something she can do, and of course, dad will be sitting right there.”

On Thursday, students practiced shoreline fishing during a regular physical education class at a pond on the Vernon Hills campus. Coaches incorporate fishing into class periodically to build interest and recruit students while giving team members a chance to practice.

The teenagers were catching only water plants until 17-year-old Sarah Manning squealed with delight. She pulled a small fish from the water before it quickly dropped back into the pond.

“It’s OK, I’ll get another one,” she yelled to the coach before casting her line again.

Coach Jerry Miceli drove a golf cart around the pond passing out live worms and fake maggots for bait. He said they want to reach students such as Dan O’Roark, a 16-year-old who isn’t involved in other athletic teams this fall.

“Fishing is for everyone,” O’Roark said. “It’s nice to be out by yourself—no cities, no cars. It’s just peaceful.”

Miceli tells students fishing is something women and men can do their whole lives. Meanwhile, like everyone else, he defends the decision to start a team.

“All my buddies are busting my chops,” Miceli said. “They say, ‘you’re coaching fishing?’ I still can’t believe how many kids want to get involved.”

Freelance reporter Janice Neumann contributed to this report.

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