Chicago fishing: Perch opener, frog season and free fishing days

Perch fishing reopening in Illinois Lake Michigan waters on Sunday, June 16, frog season opening Saturday, June 15 and the 2024 Illinois Free Fishing Days being Friday-Monday, June 14-17, lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

In the top photo, Sam Hazan holds a big king caught off Baháʼí temple.


Perch fishing reopens Sunday, June 16, on Illinois’ Lake Michigan. Not sure what to expect.

A jumbo perch caught and released before perch season reopens Sunday, June 16, on the waters of Illinois’ Lake Michigan.

Provided by Park Bait

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted the photo above and this:

This was one from the other day. Two of the guys went out to field test. I’ve had other reports of nice perch in the area. I’m just hoping they are here next week and beyond.

. . . Also don’t forget this upcoming weekend is free fishing. Fishing licenses are not required June 14th through the 17th.

Hours of operation right now are 5 am to 8 pm 7 days a week. Starting Sunday, June 16th, we will begin opening at 4am.

Have a great week and happy father’s day!


It is here, as usual around Father’s Day, Friday-Monday, June 14-17, Illinois Free Fishing Days. Heres the word from the Illinois DNR:

The 2024 Illinois Free Fishing Days celebration will take place June 14 – 17, coinciding with Father’s Day weekend. During this four-day celebration of fishing in Illinois, anglers can fish without purchasing a fishing license, salmon stamp or inland trout stamp.


Frogging begins in both Indiana and Illinois on Saturday, June 15.

Illinois: From the Illinois Department of Natural Resources:

“Bullfrogs may be taken only by hook and line, gig, pitchfork, spear, bow and line, or bow and arrow and arrow, hand, or landing net.June 15 through October 15, both dates inclusiveDaily Harvest Limit is 8; possession limit is 16A sport fishing license is required to harvest reptiles and amphibians”

Indiana: From the Indiana DNR:

“Frog hunting season runs from June 15, 2024 – April 30, 2025, and hunters can harvest the American bullfrog and green frog. The bag limit is 25 frogs per day with a possession limit of 50 frogs, and any combination of bullfrogs or green frogs maybe be used to reach these bag and harvest limits.”


Park Bait sells parking passes. Stay tuned for other sites to soon sell passes. Email with questions. Chicago Park District parking passes ($20 for two months) are for the anglers’ parking lots at DuSable and Burnham harbors.


North side of Navy Pier is open for anglers. Discounted parking for anglers is $9 daily, beginning at 5 a.m.; must be out by 10 a.m. for the discount. Click here to prepay for the discounted tickets.


My column from Nov. 30, 2022, on parking the length of the Chicago lakefront is posted at


Dan Bernstein holds a largemouth bass from a Lake County Forest Preserve.


Dan Bernstein messaged on X the photo above and this:

Reporting from a couple Lake County preserve spots: lots of work from shore to find the few pockets of open water amid the weeds and slop, but a well-placed plastic in the holes was productive.

Several others have mentioned the weed growth. I suspect an offshoot of a mild winter and spring.

Dave Kranz of Dave’s Bait, Tackle and Taxidermy in Crystal Lake and with his You-Tube channel, Dave Kranz Living the wild outdoors, texted:

Rotary Park a Cary park district gravel pit has been good for bass. Fro shot , senkos and Ned rigs are working well. . . . Three Oaks recreation area in Crystal Lake has been good for bass. Use plastics and top water. This is a catch and release and no live minnows fishery.

Shamefully, I have not yet been to Three Oaks.

Jim Ulmer shows a good crappie from Island Lake.

Provided by Rob Abouchar

Rob Abouchar messaged the photo above and this:

Hi DaleA good summer bite is going on island lake. The lake has been getting treatment for algae and aquatic vegetation. They also shocked up and removed a good number of carp . The barber who is always up on lake matters said it was thousands of pounds worth can’t remember the exact number. I tried for carp on Sunday for carpfest but came up empty and wet as I fell off the dock chumming. I am doing well for largemouth bass with a Texas rigged neko flat worm in baby bass and a wacky rigged senko in green pumpkin red glitter. Flipping around sea walls punching shallow duckweed and skipping docks is producing . An angler reported getting bass on white chatterbait .Shade areas are best with high sun. Golden roach minnows under slip float took bullhead largemouth and a good crappie.On the music front it was a super successful double header at main street outfitters. The conscious rockers b ad a stellar set on Friday that was stupendous well received. And midnite mile had one of the best shows yet. Next up its this Friday at two brothers roundhouse with indika reggae band . Conscious rockers first Gig of 3 montrose beach dock is June 22. Midnight mile at Morgan’s in Libertyville. Gozortenplat shows in July and August and the music never stopped. Tight lines and good health! Rob

The music report, as usual, made my Tuesday morning. I also marked my calendar for June 22 at Montrose Beach. Hopefully my schedule works to get there.

Later Tuesday, he messaged the photo below and this:

Huge dock fish just now seko

Rob Abouchar holds a dock largemouth.


Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

Now for the fishing report:

. . . My husband has been fishing Skokie Lagoons catching Bluegill and small bass.

Also don’t forget this upcoming weekend is free fishing. Fishing licenses are not required June 14th through the 17th.

Hours of operation right now are 5 am to 8 pm 7 days a week. Starting Sunday, June 16th, we will begin opening at 4am.

Have a great week and happy father’s day!

Dan Edwards at Bridgeport Bait and Tackle said very interesting that at Maple Lake catching catfish on Cicada lures while others are using cicadas on a bobber there; bluegills are being caught on spinners at Marquette Park.

Pete Lamar emailed:

Hi Dale,Not a lot of fishing activity on my end this week. Only a single outing to a Kane County, F.P. pond. Bluegills were eagerly hitting foam poppers. Long casts to open water were required because of the algae bloom close to shore. It’s getting to the point where it’s best to avoid windblown shorelines because all the algae get blown into that shore and it’s too thick to fish anywhere near it.

Another mention of algae.


Dan Edwards at Bridgeport Bait and Tackle said frozen shad are working for catfish and blues at Braidwood and LaSalle.

Open daily 6 a.m. to sunset.

Click here for a preview that gives hope for a good year.


Art Frisell at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said bluegill are good, mostly shallow in 5-8 feet on ice jigs tipped with waxies or spikes under a slip float; catfish are very good on small suckers, stinkbait, crawlers and roaches; for white bass, try in 8-15 for suspended fish on slip-bobber rigs with chartreuse light jigs; crappie are slow, try in 8-15 with minnows or spikes.

NOTE: Check updates on water conditions at or (847) 587-8540.

NOTE 2: Stratton Lock and Dam is open 8 a.m. to midnight through Sept. 30


Mike Jarvis, one of the top anglers on the river, caught two tagged bass on Monday and reported both.

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

Now for the fishing report:. . . Chicago River Walk doing well for a variety of species. . . . Also don’t forget this upcoming weekend is free fishing. Fishing licenses are not required June 14th through the 17th.

Hours of operation right now are 5 am to 8 pm 7 days a week. Starting Sunday, June 16th, we will begin opening at 4am.

Have a great week and happy father’s day!

Dan Edwards at Bridgeport Bait and Tackle said guys going down to the Riverwalk are doing well on a variety of fish.


Braidwood, Heidecke and LaSalle are open daily 6 a.m.-sunset.


Gene Jarka holds a largemouth bass from Dawson Lake.


Gene Jarka emailed the photo above and this:

Hello Dale,This past weekend I made it down to Dawson Lake at Moraine View State Park, near LeRoy IL. While the weather and the fishing were both a bit wonky (not as bad as the wind at Hennepin Hopper) I did manage to boat a few, including this one. I noticed that even the smaller fish in the 10-12” class appear to have great body mass, they are little tubs that appear to be eating well. The fish that I did catch were on Texas rigged plastics worked around structure. The park itself is beautiful, it has a concession that is open 6 days a week with a pretty deep menu, they also rent kayaks and sell bait. The lake does allow for the use of gas motors, check restrictions at the boat ramp.Tight lines,Gene JarkaPrinceton, IL

I ran into Jarka fishing Hennepin and Hopper lakes last week. And I’ve never been to Dawson, sounds like something I should explore some day.


Arden Katz said largemouth are between spawn and their summer haunts, best on 4-inch brown Senkos; bluegills bedding in 7 feet.

Capt. Dave Duwe emailed:

Delavan Lake 6/10/23 through 6/17/23

Largemouth bass are still in post-spawn in the 3-4 ft depth range. The larger fish are on the deep weedline in 15-17 ft of water. I’ve been exclusively using Texas rigged Senkos in the shallow water. The best location for me is the west end by the Island or by Lake Lawn. The deep weedline fish can be caught lindy rigging nightcrawlers or by drop shotting finesse baits like a 4 inch worm.

Smallmouth bass are spotty but are being caught on the deep weedline. The fish I’ve been catching are lindy rigged nightcrawlers while I’m fishing for walleyes. The Oriental boathouse or the Majors Estate are good locations.

Blue gills are in the shallows spawning right now. The best depth is 1-3 ft around the boat docks. They prefer sand bottoms, so the north shore is a great option. They are being caught on wax worms, hellgrammites or small leaf worms. A bobber rig is the best presentation.

Walleyes have been difficult to patterns, there are a few being caught but without any real pattern. The best method has been lindy rigging or using an Arkie ¼ oz jig on the weedline in 17-20 ft of water. The weedline by the gray condos has been the best bet. With all of the rain and worms in the water, that probably explains why the bite is difficult.

Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 262-728-8063


HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Went big fish hunting on Thursday and did well with largemouth bass, northern pike and muskie. More on that another day. Open daily through Labor Day, Sept. 2, sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. Details are at

POWERTON: Both bank and boat fishing are open. Hours are 6 a.m.-8 p.m. through Sept. 30.

EMIQUON PRESERVE: Open daily, sunrise to sunset. Access permits and liability waivers are available Tuesday to Saturday at Dickson Mounts Museum, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Details at



Dave Kranz of Dave’s Bait, Tackle and Taxidermy in Crystal Lake and with his You-Tube channel, Dave Kranz Living the wild outdoors, texted:

. . . Fox River below Algonquin dam has been good for smallmouth bass and catfish. . . .


Capt. Dave Duwe emailed:

Lake Geneva 6/10/24 through 6/17/24

Fishing on Lake Geneva continues to be pretty good. The best bite on the lake has been post spawn largemouth bass. They are in the 8-10 ft range. Rock bass continue to be the most aggressive bite throughout the whole lake. They can be caught anywhere between 8 and 12 ft of water. With the summer and the kids being out of school, the lake is getting busier. Your best bet for fishing is early in the a.m. or late afternoon.

Largemouth bass have been biting in the 8-10 ft depth range. They can be caught on nightcrawlers fished on a split shot rig or a wacky rigged All Terrain Stik, in green pumpkin. The best location has been by Linn Pier or Trinkes Bay. I’ve been getting quite a few legal fish, with the biggest last week at 19 inches. The time of day doesn’t seem to matter, my best day, I started my guide party at 1 p.m.

Rock bass remain throughout the lake in 8-12 ft of water. The best presentation is a split shot rigged nightcrawler. Last week a few of the rock bass I caught were in excess of 1 ½ lbs. On ultra light tackle, they are pretty fun to catch for people that don’t fish everyday. The best spot for them has been by Belvidere Park or by Black Point.

Yellow Perch have been biting. The only problem is the size is pretty small. You’d have to do a lot of sorting to catch any keepers. The best location has been by Colemans Point or by Belvidere Park. Most of the fish are being caught on split shot rigged nightcrawlers.

Smallmouth bass have been spotty. All the fish are done spawning. The few I’ve been catching have been on their spawning flats like Elgin Club, Belvidere Park and by Linn Pier. I’ve been using split shot rigged nightcrawlers in 12-15 ft of water. Most of the fish have been in the 12-15 inch range. The bigger fish are probably chasing the pods of small minnows in the deeper water and I haven’t had time to search them out.

The thermocline has not yet formed, we are probably 2-3 weeks away. That’s when the Northern Pike fishing will become consistent. Fishing the shallow water, you can see a lot of Northern Pike cruising the shallows. Once the water temperature gets warmer, the Northern Pike will move deep. Once the pike move deep, they’ll be suckers for lindy rigged suckers.

Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 262-728-8063


Click here for the Wisconsin DNR weekly report.


Open daily 6 a.m. to sunset.


Ian Athern holds a smallmouth bass from Hickory Creek.


Brian Athern texted the photo above and this:

43 or more fish between 4 of us today. My brother Patrick, son Ian and his best friend Kipris. We introduced the 2 young bucks to creek and river fishing 101Both caught their first creek rock bass and smallies todayI wish I had taken a picture of Kip’s cicada lure. He caught so many on the new black ones I made that the paint was stripped off the top


George Peters holds a largemouth bass from the Kankakee River.


George Peters emailed the photos above and below, and this:

Hi Dale, river finally dropped and starting to clear. Fish close to shore on spinner baits. Also got a 19″ largemouth, about the max size for the river, enclosed. G. Peters

George Peters holds a smallmouth bass from the Kankakee River.


Dan Edwards at Bridgeport Bait and Tackle said they are catching big smallmouth wading with Ned rigs.


Arden Katz said largemouth are good, working 3-4 feet on the shorelines with wacky worms.


Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.


Ian Guen-Murray with a surprise harbor catch of a steelhead.


Ian Guen-Murray emailed the photo above and this:

Hi Dale,With coho season a bust, I made the transition to bass and pike aiming for a smaller catch. So when the line stopped and the hook hardly needed a set, I figured it must be a old northern angry on the other end. Having left my net behind to avoid a skunk (not a superstition, it works, I promise) Pat Toomey who I met that moment graciously helped land what turned out to be the unexpected steelhead. Thanks. Black buzzbait, 6/8, Diversey.Ian Guen-Murray

Tom Riordan emailed the photo at the very top and this:

Hi Dale — coho have been on fire but the kings have been hard to find this year. Here is Sam Hazan with our first good one of the season at 19lb, caught in 95 feet of water on a mag spoon East of the Bahai temple.Tom / Lil Skater

Dan Edwards at Bridgeport Bait and Tackle said smallmouth are going on the lakefront.

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

Now for the fishing report:Smallmouth action good in and around all the harbors with a variety of live and plastic baits. Northerns still cruising around the harbors with an occasional one caught. Sheephead good on Horseshoe when winds are north on crayfish and one guy told me he did well with rattle traps for those sheephead. You never know. There are Perch around, hopefully they stick around for opening and beyond. . . . Also don’t forget this upcoming weekend is free fishing. Fishing licenses are not required June 14th through the 17th.Hours of operation right now are 5 am to 8 pm 7 days a week. Starting Sunday, June 16th, we will begin opening at 4am.Have a great week and happy father’s day!

Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters said out of North Point the fishing started picking up again, better outside of the hill for multiple species (mainly coho, some lakers and steelhead, and a few kings); out of Chicago, it’s mainly coho in 60-80 from Indiana on north on Dodgers and flies. “This is the change month when water begins to warm and thermoclines form and different patterns work.”

Capt. Scott Wolfe of School of Fish Charters emailed:

Waukegan 6/10Hi Dale. Although catches are still great with mostly limits of huge coho, we are working harder for them. You can’t just drop a dodger and fly anywhere and troll. The fish are pushing south and were all last week. At the start of the week we were fishing directly in front of the harbor. Each day we were further South. Sunday we were 7 miles South off Lake Forest & Highwood. Depths were mostly 50 to 75 feet of water. Anywhere in the water column worked with fish coming from the surface to the bottom. The water temp break has not set up and there was only 1 degree difference from top to bottom.Stubby flashers in red or chrome with Jimmy Fly sliders 2.5 and 3 inches in Green/Gold, Oz and Green Liz were best.Weather looks great for most of this week. I hope the fish stop moving because most trips this week took 2 hours to hunt for where the fish moved before we got them. That’s stressful for a charter captain.Capt Scott Wolfe312-933-0552

Rob Wendel, proprietor of Lake Michigan Angler in Winthrop Harbor, said fishing picked up Tuesday morning and was deeper in 120-170, all over the water column, with Stubby Dodgers and flies catching coho; Super Frog Flashers with aqua flies catching kings and Steely Ranger Moonshine spoons working for steelheads.

PERCH: Season reopens Sunday, June 16, on Illinois’ Lake Michigan.


Dan Edwards at Bridgeport Bait and Tackle said frozen shad are working for catfish and blues at Braidwood and LaSalle.

Open daily 6 a.m. to sunset. As a perched lake, boating is closed when winds top or will top 14 mph. Check daily updates on boating at (815) 640-8099.


Click here for the update from D&S Bait, Tackle & Fly Shop .


Hours are 6 a.m. to sunset.


Guide Mike Mladenik of emailed:

Menominee River Fishing ReportWater Temperature is 65 degrees. With the unstable weather swimbaits have been my go-to bait the past few days. Smallmouth are scattered but holding in shallow water. It looks like we are starting a warming trend which will quickly raise the water temp and trigger the topwater bite. Warmer weather will accelerate weed growth. Even a small weed patch will hold baitfish and aggressive smallmouth. Use a wacky worm for a follow up bait if you miss a topwater strike. Lakes can see a good topwater bite early and lake in the day. The Menominee River topwter bite last throughout th day!


Sondra Katzen with a tiger muskie, caught opening day in northern Wisconsin.

Provided photo

Sondra Katzen emailed the photos above and below, and this:

Hi Dale,Hope all is well.Dave [Derk] and I are heading home from our annual spring trip to northern Wisconsin and thought I would share a few highlights and pics from what was another successful trip.Put in a lot of time, but we ended up boating seven muskies–Dave with six of them! The largest was 41 inches. Attached are a few pics. The only one I caught was pic 70381. Was on opening day–37-inch tiger. Dave caught pic 7859787 on a plastic worm and pic 1353339. Also caught a few decent sized northerns for the lake we fish on. And, did great on large and smallmouth bass and walleyes at night.One of our favorite night fishing spots also included sightings of beavers who have a den in the bay. One of the highlights while night fishing was seeing a committee of turkey vultures (pic attached). Saw at least 17. Didn’t see it, but we believe there was something dead in the woods that they were feeding on.Saw a loon on a nest and heard from our friends who were also on the lake, that a pair had a chick. Saw trumpeter swans and sandhill cranes flying overhead. The eagle pair still have its nest, but sadly again no chick’s this year. And, we saw Snappy, a snapping turtle we’ve seen the last few years.Weather was all over the place, which seems normal for northern Wisconsin. Temps ranged from 40s one night to one day reaching in the 80s. Got caught fishing in a hail storm last night.. . . Take care,Sondra

A committee of vultures in northern Wisconsin.

Provided by Sondra Katzen

That’s a committee of vultures (vultures resting on the ground or a tree) on a tree in northern Wisconsin. And Katzen gave me a useful name in the wild world: committee of vultures.

Hailey O’Malley holds a smallmouth bass from northern Wisconsin.


Ken “Husker” O’Malley of Husker Outdoors emailed the photos above and below, and this:

Hey Dale,Here is the Northwoods of Wisconsin recap from the past week. Water temps on the main lake ranged from 61 to 65 while shallow bays were 63 to 70 depending on overnight temps. A few nasty storms came through with heavy rains that knocked down temps. Good news the dragon flies hatched so those mosquitos were not bad until close to dark. Smallmouth bass- a few males were on beds while others were still staging. The best bait was the Berkley Fishing lil general on a All-Terrain Tackle Hail Mary jig head worked on mid lake humps. Fish were also caught on jerkbaits, swim baits, husker bugs, and top water poppers late. Largemouth bass- they were staging up shallow on shorelines that had plenty of wood on sunny days. Best bait was a senko rigged on a Vector Hooks cut ssw. Crappie- they were up shallow staging. Some days they were tight to wood while other days they were in emerging coontail. The best bait was a Wackem and Stackem Custom Baits chow bell. Bluegill- they were starting to stage as well. The active biters were up shallow during mid day hours. Pumpkin seeds were there as well. Best bait was an IJO Plastics pannie candy. That was the perfect bait to imitate emerging dragon fly larvae. Walleye- they were found in 12-17 fow with in emerging weeds on wind blown bays. The best bait was a Berkley stunna jerkbait. They would hit on the pause as the bait slowly dropped. Numerous pike were caught as well on this presentation. I was a great week of fishing and even better time with the family.Here is the nature pick of the week. Time for the dragon flies to make an appearance.TTYLKen “Husker” O’MalleyHusker OutdoorsWaterwerks fishing team

Ken “Husker” O’Malley holds a crappie from northern Wisconsin.


Kurt Justice at Kurt’s Island Sport Shop in Minocqua emailed:

Lots of North by Northeast wind made for cooler temps and tough fishing conditions this past weekend. The rain didn’t add to the fun, but it did add to lake and flowage levels that rose. Water temps stayed down in the low 60’s, stalling any movement from Largemouth Bass and Gills from setting up beds.Largemouth Bass: Good-Fair – Holding in heavy weeds, laying low. Requiring getting down and working slow using jig/creature, Ned rigs, weighted Wackys. Not as much activity or chasing in cold wind, action much slower but should pick up with warmer temps moving in.Smallmouth Bass: Good-Fair – No signs of beds, Smallies have moved off the shallows hard bottoms and are being caught in weeds using Ned rigs and drop-shotting weedless craw rigs. This bite will get better as the post spawn winds down.Musky: Good-Fair – Start with shallow weeds using Wizards, #5 Mepps and 500 Buchertails early mornings. Move to deeper 10-12’ weed lines by late mornings/early afternoons using small gliders, jerks. Cold front and North winds slowed action. Slow working small jerks with long pauses worked best during this time.Walleye: Good-Fair – Boat control in high wind key to holding along weed edges to present 1/8-1/4 oz jigs with redtails or crawlers in 8 to 14’ (depending on edge depth). Cooler water temps should keep Walleye bite going in these areas for a while.Northern Pike: Good-Fair – Not a lot of anglers targeted, but some nice fish of 24-30” caught while jigging chubs for Walleye. Wind made casting tough unless anglers stuck to the lee side of lakes using spinnerbaits and #3 MeppsBluegills, Crappie, Perch: Fair – Tough conditions for panfish anglers. Getting out of the wind crucial to be able to fish weeds using small tubes, Mini-Mites under floats with any consistency.Looks like by Wednesday (6/12), warmer weather will return and more comfortable fishing conditions along with it. Nicer weekend ahead! We have seen a lot of rain and some more in the future. Mosquitos at landings will be an issue once winds die down, so be prepared.Largemouth Bass and Bluegills will be up next (spawning) with Pumpkinseeds and Rock Bass following. Hexogenia (Mayfly) hatch will most likely hold off until waters warm.Have a great Father’s Day weekend!!Kurt JusticeKurt’s Island Sports Shop– Like us on FaceBook


Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station texted:

Coho action goon in 65 to 85ft of water from east Chicago to Michigan city find a pocket of them and work it mainly dodgers and flys but some on spindoctors and flys and spoons.Steelhead action on and off Michigan city pier using crawlers and shrimp and a few casting Arctic spinners.Trail creek in Michigan city giving up steelhead using spawn saks, shrimp and few on spinners.Lake George in Hobart giving up a little bite of everything. Day and night.


Click here for the Wisconsin DNR’s report, usually on Tuesday or Wednesday.


Staff at Boondocks reported crappies and walleye good on leeches while catfish are also going on cutbait and chicken livers.

Site hours are 6 a.m.-10 p.m. through Oct. 31.

Boondocks is open 6 a.m.-6 p.m. The restaurant is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.


Arden Katz said they caught largemouth to 3 1/2 pounds on wacky-worms and Ned rigs.


Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said before the blow, it was 80-120 feet for great fishing on steelhead, coho and kings; smallmouth are good in the St. Joseph River (lots of tournament pressure and walleye slow. Before the blow, there were some steelhead at South Haven from shore.


Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:

Water temp Monday was 66.8. Walleye action has been good, dragging night crawlers on1/8oz jig working best. Still getting a few white bass, even some females, but I think the run is over. Bluegill should turn on again with some warmer weather coming in

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