Pole Position

Armed with little more than a plastic hardware bucket, a spinning rod, and a hot dog for lunch, Glenn Hosokawa, 57, who has a Ph.D in biochemistry, spends at least four mornings a week fishing from his favorite summer spot, Montrose Harbor's horseshoe pier. "The most important thing is artificial bait-if you use a plug, you'll catch one every time," he says. Striking out around 5 a.m., Hosokawa most often pulls in salmon, perch, bass, and catfish.
Biggest thrill: A woman once paid him $5 for a just-caught salmon. She liked it so much, she came back a few days later looking for more.
Fishing season: "I like spring and fall the best, because of the weather-but I fish all year." In the winter, when the ice is four feet thick, Hosokawa gears up for ice fishing from a tent at Burnham Harbor.

The Rescuers

(Clockwise, from upper left) Tom Halek, Jan Kilanski, Richard Teresi, Michael Teresi, and Rolando Contreras are all members of the Great Lakes Historical Recovery-a 40-person recreational organization. Hitting the sand around 5 a.m., these determined scavengers-ranging from the historical hobbyist to the merely curious-travel as a group, starting at Loyola Park all the way down to the 12th Street Beach, which they call "Magic Beach" because they find a lot of rare coins there. "As long as the ground isn't frozen, we go," Richard Teresi says.
Most valuable find: A 1916 D Mercury dime worth at least $1,000. Because only 252,000 were minted, they're pretty scarce. "I've got two of them," says Kilanski, the club historian.
Most common: Pennies.
Most interesting: Chicago vehicle tax plate from a one-horse wagon.

Hang Time

"I'm here every day during the summer," says 18-year-old Billy Egan (seated), a self-described skateboarding fanatic, who grew up down the street in Ravenswood. "It's like my job." Logging more than ten hours a day at the Wilson Skate Park gives Egan plenty of time to master his signature trick, the flamingo, in which he spins on one foot while holding up his back leg. Fellow skateboarders include (from left) Meredith Gleason, 17, Marlene Keller, 18, and Joseph Linzemann, 22.
On skating with the boys: Gleason, a junior at Lincoln Park High School, doesn't mind being one of only four female regulars. "Everyone is really cool, and they give me a lot of credit for being there," she says.
The vibe: "There's competition, but for the most part, everyone is really relaxed-people are just having fun. You get a good session going, and everyone is feeding off each other's energy," Gleason says. "It's cool."

Scene Stealer

Computer consultant by trade and landscape artist by hobby, Joe Vangsness sets up his easel, tiny metal stool, and box of pastels several weekends a month at his favorite scene along the lakefront-a gravel running path just north of Montrose Beach. "I'm always drawn to this spot," says Vangsness.
How he found his spot: A six-time marathon runner, he was captivated by the light here 20 years ago while jogging and has been coming back to capture the view ever since.
He loves it because: "There's something magical [here], where you see the path going through trees, the lake behind it, and the movement. This spot speaks to me."




All the Right Moves

"This is where you come if you're any good," says Ron Washington about the lakeside chess pavilion just south of the North Avenue beach house. Considering he has spent every summer day there for the past 20 years-from 11 a.m. until dark, when he gets kicked out-he's better than good. "Every now and then I get beat-not too often, but it happens," Washington says. "I'm a hustler. I'm not a fun guy." Washington, who learned to play chess from his barber when he was 14, drives a cab all winter to support his hobby.
Claim to fame: Washington once owned a chess club on State and Division called Chess Shop.

Sun King

Dubbed the Mayor of Oak Street Beach by Mayor Bilandic, 75-year-old Paul Meador is one of the most recognizable fixtures on the lakefront, and surely the tannest. Slathered in oil, he holds court every day from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at his post just south of the chess pavilion, passing most of the time relaxing and socializing. "This guy knows everyone," says his sunbathing pal, David Oliva.
Staying in shape: It's not uncommon to see Meador-a former Mr. Chicago, Mr. Illinois, and runner-up Mr. America-jumping into the lake for a swim or going tubing before lifeguard hours with Oliva.

Sticking Together

(From left) Lisa Meyers, 28, Michelle Snyder, 26, and Annie Camins, 33, all grew up playing competitive ice hockey in the Chicago area. Their collective résumé reads like something out of Sports Illustrated, with blades sharpened on the Yale University women's team, a professional team in Switzerland, and Team USA. Initially reluctant to take their game in-line, these hockey pros finally gave in.
On the North Avenue Beach outdoor rink: "I never thought I'd be a convert, but when I realized I could work on my tan while playing hockey, I was sold," Meyers says.

Good Vibrations

On a grassy patch next to the Montrose Beach parking lot, where "the sound really resonates," Moroccan conga drummer Ramon Roman, 51, sets up his five-piece steel conga drum ensemble, various other instruments, and a high-tech sound system, while his fiancée and two-year-old daughter relax on a blanket.
His repertoire: He plays everything from orisha (African drumbeats said to soothe the spirit) to American R&B, but one of his favorites is a South American version of "Danny Boy."
He likes the lakefront because: "It's a serene setting outdoors-a place where people can come enjoy the music. I look at it as giving back to the community."



His and Hers

Bike enthusiasts Lida, 61, and Vasil Truchly, 80, strike out two or three times a week for their regular rides. Vasil, who wears goggles to protect his dry eyes, wants Lida to upgrade her 30-year-old bike, but she won't cave. The couple, married for 37 years, live directly across the street from the lake and enjoy a fantastic view of Montrose Harbor.
Favorite spot: Any place they can admire the city at night. "I travel a lot, and I have never seen anything so lovely," Lida says.

Ripped Curl

A regular at the Bally Total Fitness beachside gym at North Avenue, where he has earned the nickname "Mr. Incredible," Todd Rohr, 42, works out for more than three hours a day, seven days a week. He does squats, dead lifts, bench presses, and leg extensions in the free-weight area. Then he runs sprints and football drills in the sand. "I never take the easy route," Rohr says.
On the great outdoors: "I'd rather play in the dirt than at some nice, clean, hoity-toity gym with air conditioning."

Net Gains

Every weekend from April until November, weather permitting, one particular band of bikini-clad women descend on the two most prominent volleyball courts on North Avenue Beach-A1 and A2-to engage in serious, sand-eating competition. They dive, spike, and sweat, while shooing away shutterbugs and talking a lot of trash. "I live for this," says Susan Schmidt-Donaldson, 39, an advertising creative director, who says she spends more time working on the court than in her office (pictured, above top, behind Tina Yon Ng, 48). "In the summer, I never leave the beach."
On camaraderie: "We play hard and laugh hard," says Ayellet Benezra, 29 (pictured above bottom, behind Megan Farrell, 33). "I look at them as family, but it gets very competitive. We'll play until there's blood."

Paper Pilot

"I do this for the entertainment of children of all ages-especially myself," says 73-year-old Mike Illich, who bikes to the lakefront at least five times a week from Oak Park to fly his kites. He has more than 40 in his current collection and rarely pays more than a dollar per kite. Some days, he brings extras to sell to an endless stream of buyers. "There's a child within us all," he says.
Secrets to flying: Patience, a little wind, good positioning, and toilet paper tails-which he happily proffers to fellow kitefliers in distress.
Greatest reward: "When I hand the spool of string to someone else. No matter what their age, they smile. People love flying kites."

Photography by Lisa Predko