Refreshing zephyrs glide off freshwater lochs and onto SkipperBud's, an all-purpose marina on the shores of Lake Mendota. New and used boats from high-end brands such as Starcraft and Sea Ray bob beside the sprawling facilities, where savvy salespeople bring decades of know-how to the 40-year-old company. Engine parts, safety tackle, and watersports equipment are also on hand, as are adept boat mechanics trained to tinker on most boat models and engine types. Indoor storage facilities fend off the icy barks of Old Man Winter, and, in the summer, make for easy access to Lake Mendota's launch points.
The sudden roar of gunfire rolls over Richmond Hunting Club's facilities, which sprawl across 850 untamed acres. The club's location nearly adjacent to Chain O' Lakes State Park draws sportspeople of all levels who can spend time shooting skeet, boarding a loyal hunting dog at the onsite kennel, paintballing, or stocking up on ammo at the pro shop. Outdoorsy folks who frequent the club often tie up their mountain goat outside and congregate inside the Bar & Grill, refueling weary trigger fingers with buffalo burgers and pheasant pot pies in a classic hunting-lodge setting.
EyewearPlanet.com's frames hail from labels such as Ray Ban, Oakley, and Serengeti. The team outfits the stylish frames with an array of prescription lenses, too, such as single-vision lenses and bifocals. It complements its traditional glasses with other, more specialized eyewear, ranging from ski and tactical goggles to an array of sunglasses, including the Ray Ban Wayfarer RB2132, Oakley Fives Squared Prescription, Serengeti Aviator, and AO Original Pilot.
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.
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.