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Outdoors: Hot spot on 87th Street yields 31.5-inch walleye

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Updated: January 28, 2014 6:36AM



Jim Saksa possesses a knack when it comes to big fish.

“I am around when weird fish are caught,’’ the Whiting man said Thursday.

On Monday, his net was used to hoist the 31.5-inch walleye caught by Bob Anderson at the slip north of 87th Street on Chicago’s Southeast Side. He was fishing for perch with fatheads on a crappie rig.

“I felt like there were paparazzi around me when I was holding it up, like a celebrity,’’ Anderson said.

There would not have been any photographs of the walleye if not for the extension net Saksa had in his truck.

Anderson could not have hoisted the walleye up the 10- or 12-foot wall on his 6-pound line. But Anderson’s fishing partner, his brother-in-law Dan Kolodziej, ran back the half mile or so to get Saksa’s net. Then they laid on their bellies to net the walleye.

That slip has become the focal point of perch fishing for the past couple months for both Illinois and Indiana fishermen. The spot is hot enough that Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station has customers going there.

The spot is still evolving, only the tip is public land, part of Chicago Park District Park No. 523. Where Anderson was fishing is property owned by a developer.

That led to a discussion with Saksa, a conscientious fishermen, who is worried that trash by the hundreds of perch fishermen could end up hurting access to a prime winter spot.

One of the reasons Saksa had the net is to help clear ice from the holes (busted with an anchor) when ice forms in the slip. That way the small perch, and the perch take sorting at the slip for keepers, can be safely released and not just die on top of the ice in an unsightly scene.

It’s such a prime fishing spot — go east to the end of 87th from the new Lake Shore Drive extension — that Saksa said even the mergansers (fish-eating ducks) are learning to target it.

If Saksa rings a bell, the 22.83-pound north pike he caught ice fishing on the Illinois side of Wolf Lake on March 2, 2008, is one of greatest pike caught in modern Chicago.

Waterfowl: Sunday is the end of the second duck season in the north zone. Considering how nearly everything is iced in, not much is going for duck hunters. Goose hunters have geese flying.

Deer: The special antlerless season opened Thursday and runs through Jan. 5. Kingsbury Fish and Wildlife Area are participating sites. Staff will cap deer hunters at 100 each day. They had 45 out already early Thursday morning

Fishing: The hot spot is the slip at 87th. But the real topic may be the cold spots. Ice is becoming nearly universally thick enough for fishing. Loomis opened in a frenzy (panfish and some walleye), but has settled some since. Three Rivers is variable. Willow Slough FWA, traditionally the top spot, has been variable to slow. But options are wide open with most ponds and lakes frozen solid.

“I am anticipating a good weekend: all that ice and 40 degrees,’’ Sleziak said.

Showtime: The Hammond Outdoor Show (sportsshow.gohammond.com) moved to an earlier weekend this year on Jan. 11-12. Everything else, including a strong emphasis on local experts and the place at the Jean Shepherd Community Center, remains the same.

Muskie summit: The Hoosier Muskie Hunters and Webster Lake Musky Club will host an Indiana Muskie Summit from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Jan. 18 at the American Legion Post in Fishers.

“The meeting will bring together DNR biologists who are directly involved with muskie management, fishing guides, avid muskie anglers, and any angler who wants to learn more about Indiana muskie fishing,’’ Scott Law of the Hoosier Muskie Hunters said.

For more information, call Law at (317) 625-2214.



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