Monday, February 27, 2012

Pondboy's Angling Experience -DA ProStaff: Quick Trip 02-27-2012

Pondboy's Angling Experience -DA ProStaff: Quick Trip 02-27-2012: I got home and to my surprise it was still light outside. I ran to a pond near me to fish some cribs i dropped earlier. I hit two fish o...

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Wading with Friends

It's amazing the feeling of camaraderie that develops when you stand waist-deep in the cold water of a river in February with others in an attempt to catch fish.

The cold waters of the DuPage River in Plainfield, IL under a bridge
The plan to meet hatched on  I wanted to get Wilkes and CSimon out in their new neoprene waders and see if we could catch some fish in the DuPage River.  

Shane clearing built up ice from his guides
The sun was giving off that gold and copper glow only the early hour of the morning could provide.  It lit our trunks as we sat in them to put on our waders, secured gear, walked across the bike-path and down into the river.
Wilks wading
We were drift fishing as I normally would in the cold.  Drifting night crawlers and crappie minnows in and around the bridge support columns and deeper side of the river here at the bridge.
CSimon watching his float
We took some time working our bait under the bridge but aside from me snagging a submerged tree and bending my hook it was Fish 1 - Waders 0.  A change of location is necessary.  A bit more upstream to a hole I know.  
We walked along the bike path a bit farther north.  I think we may have walked too far as I've only fished this stretch of river once and don't know it as well as I know other areas.

Undaunted we entered the river and adjusted our spring-floats to get our bait suspended off the bottom.  We drifted and chatted and told stories.  We knew it was cold but it didn't bother us.

The time came when CSimon had to leave us.  Packing up Wilks, Shane, and I quickly scouted a local spot then moved to the Fox River and the familiar discharge pipe.
Wilks and Shane in the Fox River
We fished a while longer but nothing was biting.  It was almost time to walk back to the car but first I wanted to explore.  I think I found out where the carp around here come from.

It was nice to get out of my waders and into the comfort of my car and the warm comfort of heated seats.  I looked back on the morning.  I was cold.  I was tired.  I was hungry but mostly I was grateful.  I got to go wading with friends.  

Monday, February 20, 2012

President's Day Panfish

Just a quick post to say I got an ultra light rod on clearance and paired it up with a nice reel and now I can have more enjoyment catching smaller fish.  

So I'm out running an errand.  I get dog food in Wheaton at the Natural Pet Market which happens to be right across 56 from Rice Lake; a spot where DuPage Angler had held a contest.  I remembered after not catching any bass I joined WackyBass in catching green sunfish by a big drainage duct.  I figured that the drainage duct was going to be free of ice and those sunfish would be there and be hungry.  I was wrong.  The water was open but not very and no sunfish.

I walked to a high point and saw only one other area that was open so I fished it too.  Nada at Danda! Not to be deterred I checked a few more ponds I know of until I found one that had enough open water to fish.  

I was already rigged up like I would be for drifting on my ultra light with one exception.  I had a Rat Finkee glowing ice jig as my hook.  I tipped the hook with some of the last of my waxies and caught some blue gills.  Not bad for a quick stop while out.

Bluegills on an ultra light!

Ate the Fink!

Fat Belly.  I need to learn how to tell fish gender.  It may be eggs.

Very Pretty Color on this one. Too bad it's out of focus.

I HATE trash!!!

I grew up watching Sesame Street on television in the 1970s and what they taught me is only Oscar the Grouch likes trash.

Today's fishing we needed to do some catching.  Dan is having surgery on his hand tomorrow and won't be able to turn his reel handle for a few weeks.  With this fact in mind we started out fishing the tride-and-true discharge.

The walk across the river was easier today.  The ice-chunks weren't there this week but the river was cold and seemed to be pushing harder on our legs.  Maybe I'm just not in top river shape yet.  Once we crossed we followed a path to our ultimate goal; the discharge.

Now I know this isn't a "secret spot" that no-one knows about.  The river is available to everyone and as such we get some good anglers and some that make us all look bad.

We walked past the frozen bodies of a Drum, Carp, and a Shad.  All tossed up on land like garbage.  And speaking of tossing garbage this is what we found at the spot.  

Dan condensed it for the photo.  It was strewn about all around the TINY bit of dry land you can stand on.  

The highlights from the pile included:

  • One box from Triline (I guess dude didn't bring a rod with line on it)
  • One blue-tub formerly full of nightcrawlers
  • One empty bag from some assorted snack food
  • One empty bottle Gatorade sport drink (to replenish fluids after battling the monster Shad)
  • One empty bottle Naked fruit drink (because he cares about what he puts in his body)
  • An empty package of Lindy Rigs 
  • An empty tag from fish-grabbing gloves
  • And a few pieces of other debris 
I stopped being grumbly about the trash after I hooked into a big carp.  His drag pulling runs brought my mind back to why I was there in the first place.  I released mine unharmed back to the river.

After a few hours we left.  I carried out the trash.  I know I can't stay upset but I can choose act positively.

The river let me clean off the skunk for the day.  The least I could do is clean up the river in a small way.  Karmic payback for a good season of wading to come.  

Sunday, February 19, 2012

February Chills and Scaly Thrills

Dan's write up of today's fishing.  Some wading and some crappie and bluegill on ultra-lights made for a fun February day fishing.
Pondboy's Angling Experience - February Chills and Scaly Thrills

Monday, February 13, 2012

River Float-Rig Setup

This is the way that my friend Dan prefers to fish rivers.  It makes sense that fish want to eat real food and we trick them with lures.  This presentation gives the impression that a piece of food (worm, minnow, wax-worm or other larvae) is floating right past the fish and hopes to make the fish bite by convenience of presentation alone.  This would insure a nice, quick and easy meal for the fish if it didn't have my hook in it.

In a nutshell starting from the rod end you need a slip-bobber float string, a bobber float stop bead, a float of some kind, and a series of split-shot sinker weights to keep your line, hook, and bait presented as vertically as possible.

The bobber string stop can be slipped up and down the monofilament line to allow you to fish very precise depths.

When you see a current stream estimate the depth and set your string stop so it lets the bait float 6" or so off the bottom.  Cast into the stream and keep your bail open, feathering out line and watching for the bobber to disappear.  Retrieve once the bobber gets too far away to see well and send it down again except maybe raise the string stop again a few inches to work the same path a tiny bit deeper.  

If you set the depth too deep or the bottom depth changes your bobber will slowly sink in the current.  This is due to the weighted line hanging up on the bottom.  Grab the line with the fingers you are feathering it with and give a pull.  This will pull your line away from the obstruction and hopefully settle down in the current on the other side.

You wade downstream using this technique since you are relying on the current to float your bait downstream.

Oh, I almost forgot the all important answer to the question "So how do I catch a fish this way?".

When your bobber goes down or when it goes sideways unexpectedly you close your bail, reel in some slack, and set the hook.

Q:What can you catch?  A:What's in the river?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Saturday, February 11, 2012

COLD....8 degrees Fahrenheit on the Fox

Plans were made to wade today earlier in the week.  Earlier in the week it was 40-50 degrees and downright warm by comparison.  Today the Fox River was cold!  Very cold!

We had to break through a crust of ice to get to wadeable river.

There were ice chunks floating in the river; little mini-icebergs that lightly bumped into our legs as we waded across.

It was impossible to float fish with all the ice so all our time was spent on the discharge pipe.  Did I mention it was cold?  It will be a recurring theme in this post I'm sure.


Very cold.

The bite at the discharge was as effected by the cold as we were.  Nothing was biting.  Fish were nudging bait but not committing.  Finally after what in the cold seemed like forever my bobber went down and up came a Pumpkinseed.

The bite stayed slow.  The second and last fish for the day was a bit bigger.  It sure was cold.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Bluegill Madness - DuPage Angler Pro Staff Video

This is a video of Dan aka Pondboy and me ice fishing a local DuPage County pond.  
I figured I'd throw this up for your enjoyment since I didn't have a lot of time to detail the drift rig I mentioned I'd detail "tomorrow".  I guess tomorrow never comes so I'm still ahead of the curve. ;-)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

First Wade of 2012

5:30 AM and my phone's alarm is going off in the ring-tone I selected for my fishing alarm.  It is a happy-sounding group of tones that reminds me why I set it in the first place: I'm going fishing!

6:00 AM my phone says the temperature is 29 degrees. Did I read that right?!?  Yeah, I did.  I'm layered up and out to the car to go to my happy place.  I'm going wading!

6:30 AM and I'm rolling into Dan's driveway and soon we're on out way.  

I had purchased fine Canadian Nightcrawlers last night at Bass Pro Shops Bolingbrook.  Dan had spikes and minnows and was set up to float from the get-go.  I had my spinning rod using a spool strung with 6# Trilene.  The last time I'd used it I had tied on a 3/16 oz round head jig and had the Grub-Of-Life on the jig.

As we entered and crossed the river the water was cold and pushing a little harder than I had remembered it. Then again the last time I'd waded this location was in the fall on a day where the air temperature was about the same as today but the other river gauges were lower and slower in height and flow.  I cast the Producto Spring Grub across slack areas near current, up on walls and in pools I knew as we walked; nothing bit in spite of my painfully-slow motion working of the bait.  It's ok.  I knew to score on the Fox on a day in early February I'd need to be slinging meat!

We arrived at the discharge.  Discharge fishing is a great way to find more willing fish to catch that you can have fun reeling in and releasing.  No one would want to keep a fish that sits at the output of a sewage-discharge station waiting for something to eat to float out of it.  I do however want to catch that fish.

Dan aka Pondboy on DuPage Angler is the more experienced angler.  He's the one who taught me how to drift-fish for anything like the steel-head fishermen do for those salmon.  (I'll detail the technique tomorrow, today is about catching)

Dan floats a minnow and catches a plus-size dink smallmouth.

Dan would continue to dominate catch totals for an hour or so.  He got this and a nicer smallmouth bass and a few walleye that will appear at the end of this post.  

I stopped flipping plastic around and rigged up a circle hook, split-shot button-hole, and float, and impaled a minnow then set my depth to 4-5 feet and flipped into the current.  

My float twitched then I found my minnow was kidnaped and I figured I'd throw a good old fashioned worm.

In short order I got a big bluegill.

And before pictures could be taken he flipped out of my hand, tossed the hook and escaped to the cold water of the Fox River.  At least I touched the fish so in Dan's dad's rules the catch counted.

The next fish to hit my worm would surprise me.  My bobber twitched and went down and I waited the second then set the hook.  What pulled back did not feel normal to me.  I know the smallmouth twitch, the bluegill flutter and fly around, and the largemouth pull, pull, pull; this didn't feel like any of those fish.  

I got the mystery fish closer to the surface before I realized it was a catfish!  A nice one at that pulling and peeling my loose drag.  I tightened up the drag and slowly brought the fish to my feet. Lifting and grabbing below the side fin spikes I held unhooked the nice channel cat and held it up for a picture before releasing it to the river who let me catch it.

Dan got a nice bluegill after that and I got a small dink smallmouth before the bite stopped.

We walked back happy if we couldn't be on the ice catching we were at least able to get out on the river and have a four species day.  

Here's the video showing the two walleye.  All in all a great day on the Fox and an exceptional day considering it's February fifth!