Wolf Lake Buffalo, Lakefront Sturgeon, Chicago White Squirrels, Steel Shot Missing, and Stray Cast

Daniel Evans made my day last week when he posted a photo of a buffalo caught on the Indiana side of Wolf Lake.

I’m easy to please, send me something out of the ordinary, at least by fishing standards. For example, fish such as gar, freshwater croaker, buffalo, red horse, chub or bowfin, the type of fish that I sometimes have to look for or ask for help to correctly identify.

“I caught this buffalo, which I estimate to be between 25 and 30 pounds, from Wolf Lake,” Evans wrote in an email. “I haven’t seen one caught from here in decades.”

His memory is good.

The strangest fish I’ve covered from Wolf Lake was a large sturgeon about 20 years ago. According to its tag, it most likely came via Green Bay and Lake Michigan.

As for his buffalo, Evans emailed: “Caught him on the Indiana side of a night tracker believe it or not. He was fishing at night with a friend of mine.”

“Honestly, I don’t remember seeing any at Wolf Lake,” said Tom Bacula, a district fishery biologist with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. “I’m sure they’re in the drain.”

He checked the records, then sent an email: “A largemouth buffalo was recorded as having been collected in a 1987 fish survey. They are likely to come periodically from local rivers at high water events, not so much from an established population as the one we see in the rivers”.

To identify the buffalo, Bacula sent the photo to Brant Fisher, a non-game aquatic biologist with the Indiana DNR, who responded, “That actually looks like a black buffalo (Ictiobus niger) — the longer, more elongated body and with torpedo shape; big head; sub-terminal mouth. Good catch.

“Definitely unusual,” Bacula said. “They generally indicate good water quality. They are most closely associated with our sport fishing. Not like common carp or catfish that can tolerate poor water quality.”

Evans added another part of the story that made my day.

“My dad, David Evans Jr., started me fishing when I was 2 or 3 years old, so we grouped up to fish Wolf Lake, where he used to catch a lot of buffalo and carp that size,” Evans wrote in an email. “It brings back fond memories of him and my mother, Jeanette Evans, and my brothers fishing. My mom and brothers still fish today and that kept me out of trouble growing up. It’s sad that he’s still not with us today, but he laid the groundwork for sure.”

sturgeon in front of the lake

While in different species, Quinn Wunar tweeted Monday morning about spotting a sturgeon while fishing for rainbow trout with a friend on 63rd Street.

“Just saw a 4-4.5 foot long sturgeon swimming slowly over the rocks just off the pier,” Wunar tweeted. “It looked like a shark. We both have 9ft rods for reference. I know it’s not the biggest sturgeon in the lake, but it’s the biggest fish I’ve ever seen in Chicago.”

wild things

Considering the amount of notes and photos of white squirrels, the last of Ken Václavik from a local in Beverly Park: From the Southwest Side, the South and Southwest Suburbs, maybe Downstate Olney had better start worrying about its status as “White Squirrel Capital of the World.”

illinois hunting

john saban sent a notice that steel shot (lead free) for pigeon hunting is difficult, especially for 20 caliber (almost impossible). I checked my favorite store on Sunday and found none in 20 gauge. Fair notice with opening day in two weeks.

street cast

Wait a second, so after Saturday, we think watching the Bears won’t be like wading through cockles?