Champion angler John Angel knows the best spots to find large schools of largemouth and smallmouth bass throughout the scenic waterways of Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana. During fishing trips, he escorts groups to these prime locales aboard his trusty 22-foot pro erNitro bass boat, fully loaded with poles and artificial lures for use. Excursions range from a half-day on the water up to multiple-day trips, complete with transportation, gas, lodging, and meals included.
Legacy Paintball and Airsoft Park is a field of dreams, and those dreams belong to Paul Ciesiun. He grew up on paintball fields, and when he was old enough, he owned and operated one, but he still couldn't find a field that matched what he remembered playing on as a kid. So he set out to build one. He found a piece of land in Lockport and along with a crew, cleared away the old tires, abandoned stoves, and forgotten cars that had been dumped there over the years. This set the stage for a paintball and airsoft arena that drew from the best of '90s-era paintball, but with a modern spin. Here, players spread out over four different fields as they duck behind trees or take aim from behind fabricated walls. On-site campgrounds and fishing holes provide players with a place to sleep and eat if they want to make a weekend of it or simulate their ancestors' experience of living off the land with nothing but sacks of paintballs to sleep on.
Be Active Outdoors organizes physical and recreational activities for adults and children of all fitness levels. Regular events challenge locals to break their sedentary habits with 10-mile bike rides, lessons on revitalizing waterways, and group adventure races. An annual river-basin tournament combines a focus on conservation with thrilling paddleboat and shoreline fishing. The Amped Up Adventure race complicates traditional adventure racing with urban elements including biking, running, paddling, and an obstacle course to get people moving in their home environments.
Sid Kotlick and his brother-in-law, Len Toll, never would have guessed that one day their ramshackle eatery, Calumet Fisheries, would make it to Hollywood. Yet lo and behold, the South Side staple was featured in the background of the iconic bridge-jumping scene in The Blues Brothers. Years later, Check, Please! and Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations both dropped in to commend the menu's selection of catfish, herring, shrimp, and scallops, all cooked to perfection in an onsite smokehouse. Bourdain dubbed the food “destination smoked fish” for the restaurant’s closeness to the outskirts of Chicago and the banks of the Calumet River, where fisherman used to dock their boats to stop in for a bite. To bring out the natural flavors of each aquatic morsel, cooks marinate the seafood overnight, then smoke it over cherrywood and natural white oak logs. Diners can also dig into fried smelts and frog legs as well as eleven side dishes, from sweet potato tots to breaded pickle spears. And the fishery only has one catch: all orders are carry out.
It's easy to miss Dan's Tackle Service & Fly Fishing Gear, a shop marked only by a sign that reads Open. Come in; however, for fishermen and fisherwomen, this spot is worth a bit of extra searching. That's because, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, “anything a fisherman needs — hip waders and boots to fishing cloves and BluBlocker shades — Pieczonka’s got it in stock.”
Dan Pieczonka is the owner of Dan's Tackle Service & Fly Fishing Gear and a passionate fisherman who cast his first line at the age of 4 into Montrose Harbor. He began crafting custom fly-fishing rods in 1970 and, in 1981, opened his shop in the upstairs apartment of his childhood home. A Vietnam veteran who also served in the navy, Dan has cast lines into bodies of water across the world. He can recommend the best fishing spots not only in and around Chicago but also in places like Saskatchewan and the Bahamas.