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Outdoors: Get ready now for fall shooting sports

Bob Maciulis

Bob Maciulis

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Updated: November 16, 2011 1:47AM

Is it hot enough? The fish don’t know any different but the birds and animals do.

It is a peculiar time of the year, this late summer season.

The river is still low, despite the rains we’ve endured, and many of the local ponds are scummed over with algae and weed that’s pushed through the surface having grown so much during the unseasonable warm early summer.

The channel catfish are in their glory on the river and the big bass are buried deep beneath the scum where it is cool and the oxygen rich water supports an incredible food chain.

The bluegills and crappies are suspending out over deep water, as far down the water column as they can and still be in the thermocline, getting enough oxygen.

The salmon and trout are ravenous, feeding all along the Lake Michigan shorelines. How close to shore they are, of course, depends upon water temperatures, which are strictly dependent upon winds.

If the winds are from across the lake, they push the warm surface waters onto the Illinois shorelines and the perch and warm water species like catfish, bluegills, bass, walleye and even the carp move in.

If the winds are from the southwest and blow that warm water toward Michigan, the cold water slides up beneath it and our shorelines enjoy prime temperatures for salmon, trout, hordes of bait fish — all of which prefer temps below 60 degrees.

August is also the time so many Illinoisans make the last pilgrimage to the northwoods to enjoy fishing, jet skiing, tubing and a few final weeks at the family cottage before heading back to the Land of Lincoln to begin another school year.

It is also the time that upland hunters begin laying out their equipment, pulling their shotguns from wherever they hibernated during the first three-quarters of the year.

It is a time to count shells. To finish reloading and to waterproof field shoes and field parkas.

For those with a real passion for pass shooting doves or for walking the corn stubble for pheasant, this is the time to sharpen the eye at a local club or by simply throwing hand clays at a public grounds like at Silver Springs, west of Yorkville.

The “pop-pop-pop” staccato could be heard for a month now behind the old barn at the Park Office.

The boys are getting ready for the season.

Don’t have a place to throw hand clays? Don’t belong to a club?

Jay Spitz, a life member at the nearby Naperville Sportsman’s Club and shotgun instructor, has an offer you can’t refuse!

“Bob, dove season starts Sept. 1. We could do a segment (in print and on our radio show) on prepping everyone for the upcoming bird season with dates and public locations, etc. We can talk about practicing for dove and pheasant using clay target shooting disciplines — then transition into a discussion on the open house and our fly-casting program for September.

“Then we could follow up with a second shorter segment (or longer) on Aug. 27 just as a reminder for dove season starting the following Thursday (Sept. 1), making sure they’ve got their license, gear (camo, dove seat, blind) and gun cleaned and lubed — with another (invitation) for your audience to come out to the open house on Sept. 18 (three weeks later).

“Last, we could do a third piece, thinking Sept. 9 (1 week out) talking about how opening day went (dove), make push to prep for pheasant — practice on some clays, make sure everyone’s got their license, gear (blaze orange, etc.) and guns ready... with a final reminder about the open house the following weekend.

“If that sounds like a possible plan, let me know?”

It was signed, Jay Spitz, Life Member, Naperville Sportsman’s Club, NRA/ATA Shotgun Coach, Range Officer, Sportsman’s Park.

Jay can be reached at He also included the invitation to all of our readers to enjoy a full day of shooting sports at the club — free of charge.

“Once again, the Sportsman’s Club is promoting National Hunting and Fishing Days with our open house, this year scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 18. This year we are adding a twist — free fly casting instruction in addition to the free clay shooting program!

“As always, the program is NO COST, and all equipment and supplies will be provided, with refreshments served. How about you, have that Sunday free to shoot some clay with us? Let me know?” Jay Spitz, 630-697-3679 (cell).

If Naperville is not convenient, check with your local police department and with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources website on whether any shooting or hunter safety classes are scheduled, if there are any shoots open to the public.

You will be amazed at how many people actually enjoy the recreational shooting sports, albeit quietly and often beneath the radar.

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