Saturday, March 24, 2012

Fishing Today, Brewing Tomorrow.

I started off today not knowing where I'd go.  Not for certain.  I started driving then turned around and went back for my wallet and fishing hat.

The rain overnight was still misting a bit and left a fog over the ground with overcast skies.

The morning I was fishing on a lake in Oswego, IL.  I wanted to explore this lake a bit in the spring since I'd only fished it once in the fall of last year.  The water was clear but clearly low.  Last season's weeds had been cut low by autumn's lack of sunlight and winter's ice.  Since the water was clear I tied on a Booyah Super Shad spinnerbait in Pearl Shiner color.

Once I moved to my third spot I finally caught a bass.

The little guy was almost as big as the spinnerbait but he hit it like it owed him money.  I snapped this picture in case I didn't catch any more fish today so I could sit in my living room and cry about it later.  Kidding.  I love catching any size but big are way more fun than small especially where Largemouth Bass are concerned.

Fortunately my phone rang and rescued me from my small fish morning haze.  It was my friend DaveO and he had been cleared for fishing so I packed up my gear and headed to Aurora by way of Farm and Fleet.

I was looking for a particular swimjig and felt I might have luck at Farm and Fleet.  I didn't find what I was looking for but I did find a Z-Man Chatterbait in chartreuse/white.  My intention was to tie this on my casting rod and see if I could figure out how to work it well enough to catch some bass at the next location.

I picked up Dave and his gear and headed to a pond a few minutes away from his house.  We ran into DuPage Angler member Fluke fishing this pond today.  Pleasantries were exchanged and I quickly had to run to help Dave get some pliers to unhook his first and largest bass of the day.  It was probably a pound and a quarter of fun-catching on a Texas-rigged Yum Dinger worm in watermellon/red flake.  I got pictures of the other two though making Dave the leader 3-1 on bass for the day at this point.

All this time I was chattering away with my 1/2 oz. chatter bait but no fish bit until I saw one break the surface along the shore within casting distance.  Dave and I looked at the splash and then at each other.  I was ready to cast and closer so I said, "I'll get him!" and then I did.

It seems only the smaller fish were active today.  It suited me fine though, I was catching and learning how to work a new tool for catching fish.  I was enjoying myself.  With the tally in Dave's favor 3-2 we were nearing the end of our time to fish.  Casting the vibrating chatterbait like a madman yielded the tie breaker!

All in all a good day of fishing and a fun day of catching.  Tomorrow I'll be up and out the door just as early. I'll be heading to Dave's too.  Fishing is not what we'll be doing though.  Tomorrow is for brewing.  We're due to make a ten gallon batch of our ESB.

After walking around two ponds/lakes today and getting fresh air I was tired.  Not to mention the effort it took to fight the massive fish that latched onto our lines.  I will have no trouble falling asleep tonight!  Now to  enjoy a few pre-brew day beers to insure pleasant slumber.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Luck of the Chi-rish

I'm not Irish.  I'm pretty sure there aren't any or many Irish parts in my background but as a European-mutt there may be some real Irish hiding in my DNA, but for yesterday's St. Patrick's Day fishing I'll call my luck Chi-rish!

Saturday's fishing was to be a crappie tour.  Dan and I were rigged up ready to find 'em and catch 'em.  The problem was nobody told the crappies!

Several spots yielded some small and inconsistently spaced out fish but no solid bite could be found.  One thing I did notice from the first spot to the last we fished were fish breaking the surface farther away than I could cast.  These were bass slamming baitfish near the surface.  

After hours of no fish for me I decided to switch up my presentation and back-hook a bass-minnow; a trick I learned from the In-Fisherman Ice Fishing TV Show.  The bass-minnow isn't really a juvenile bass, but more the proper sized minnow for targeting bass with live bait.

I quote from the In-Fisherman website:     

My patience was growing thinner with each bass that jumped and flopped after bait fish.  I decided I was going to reel in my spinning gear and go get my baitcaster from the car.  I wanted to ditch the plans for catching crappies and target the fish breaking the surface.  

I reeled my ultra-light rod in, pulled the waxies off my hook and got it ready for storage.  Next I turned my attention to my 7 foot spinning rod.  I picked the rod up off the ground and smirked at the Thill float that hadn't moved.  I'd show it!  I'd reel it in and stow it just like I did the ultra-light.  One problem though.  At the exact moment I started reeling in my line got heavy and began pulling back.  I set my hook and worked the fish to shore.

I avoided being skunked by less than an hour and did so in grand-scale!  This is my largest bass to date largemouth or smallmouth.  With a 17.25" length and 11" girth she's just shy of three pounds according to the forumula below.  Using a different formula she's three and a quarter pounds.  I'm just glad she found my minnow!

Weight =

This formula is the most accurate "overall" for largemouth bass under 14 pounds in weight.

Until the rivers slow down and I can chase smallmouth bass again big-girls like this one will help fill in the catching-gap nicely!  After this photo-shoot the largemouth star of the afternoon was gently placed back in the water, revived, and released to eat, reproduce, and grow bigger!

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Pipe-Bite

Spring showers bring Mayflowers but they bring something else too....

They bring warm water to warm up cold lakes, rivers, and ponds.  They also call fish in retention ponds to the dinner table!

Your mission, should you chose to except it is to get yourself out to a pond with storm drainage running off into it via big cement pipes.   Before you approach the pipe be sure to rig up your rod with a good EWG hook and a Texas-Rigged plastic. (critter, worm, craw, beaver-tail...doesn't usually matter much)

Cast your plastic bait in front of the pipe and be ready for a quick hook set.  

Bass will often pile up in front of pipes to take advantage of the current bringing edible bits to them and that competition helps your bait get bit!

Do be careful however!!  When there is rain around you want to be sure there is no lightning in the sky.  Assuming you are the proud owner of a graphite-based rod as most of us are you need to be aware you are holding a lightning rod!
Tight lines my fishing friends!


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Pondboy's Angling Experience -DA ProStaff: Spring Gave Us a Glimpse

Pondboy's Angling Experience -DA ProStaff: Spring Gave Us a Glimpse: After a marathon of pond hopping looking for an active crappie bite last week, we needed too succeed in some tight lines this weeke...

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Alabama Rig Supernova

A long video but it shows you what umbrella/Alabama-rig bass fishing can be!

Keep in mind this rig may not be allowed on all bodies of water but Illinois does allow them.

This Peoria Journal Star Article gives some info about where you can use this rig in Illinois and how you can modify it to use in most Illinois waters.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Washing Off the Skunk

Today started earlier than other recent trips fishing with my friend Dan (Pondboy).  I had to get to his house at 5AM to insure we could get to the first pond we intended to hit under the cover of darkness.

When Dan was really a Pond BOY he worked with some friends to stock a pond in the middle of no-where.  Their fishing trips would end up being stocking-runs for the pond.  The friends waited a year and found the fishing to be awesome!  The next year progress reared its ugly head in the form of a manufacturing company which began construction of their factory on the land which was part of the parcel that the pond was on.  Pretty soon there were security guards asking you to leave and signs posted No-Fishing/Trespassing.

We ran across the four-lane road in our dark colored clothes carrying two rods each, 2 wading packs for gear, and a minnow bucket making a break for the bottom of the berm.   Dan wore snow pants so he could sit right down on the ground.  I layered on top of jeans but had a plastic pad to sit on the in snowy soil.

Fishing sitting on the ground is not all that difficult, it's casting while sitting on the ground that proved tough.

We had been there for around an hour and it was pure exhilaration.  Not because we were catching tons of fish but simply the act of defiance that could at any minute get us kicked off of someone else's property.  It got better though when Dan's float went down and he got a small largemouth bass up to the shore before it spit his hook.  No-touch, no count so still no fish.  In short order his other float went down and in came a beautiful crappie!

Crappies were the quarry so this was a good sign.  What proved to be a not good sign is a shift break that put a couple of guys in a car directly above where we were fishing.  They just came out for a smoke and to hit the food-truck that pulled up but they saw our floats, and saw us, and we didn't want to hang around for them to finish their break and mention to security that there are a couple of guys laying down by the lake fishing so we packed up and headed to another pond.  

We fished eight ponds total in the suburbs near where Dan grew up.  Snow was on the ground and strange-shaped snow flew in the air around us that looked like the styrofoam beads you find in bean-bag chairs.  There was only one more fish caught in this trip and that was another crappie, smaller this time that didn't get a picture.  

On the way home I finally could feel my toes.  Dan didn't want me to get skunked.  Two more quick stops at two more ponds yielded the same results; more bait killed, no more fish caught.

I normally don't get obsessed with insuring I catch something.  Generally I am presenting bait to a fish in a way that will get them to eat it and I don't have to think about catching, it just happens.  When I left Dan's I made a beeline to a pond that was close by.  I've fished it in the warm weather, I've ice fished it in the very cold, and now in the open water with a low-pressure front present I was going to fish it again.  

I took only my ultra-light rod; a 5'6" thin graphite shaft paired with a Pflueger President spinning reel.  Still rigged up for crappies I had a slip bobber set up with a button pattern of split-shot.  Departing from my crappie rigging I tied on a bit larger octopus hook (size 4) and wacky-rigged a night crawler.  

I moved around the near side of the small pond.  The wind whipped in my face and made casting more challenging but not impossible.  My bobber twitched twice and I was hopeful but received no commitment from the fish.  I reeled in to find most of my worm gone.  No worries, this meant some fish wanted to eat my worm.  I have plenty.  Let's do this.  

Walking to the far side of the pond the wind was at my back and my casts were nice and long.  The wind would keep my line fairly tight and I could move the bait around by using river floating techniques; raising my rod up above my head so the line was out of the water let the float move in the current created by the wind.  

I was rigged at about 6 feet of depth on my slip stop.  All of a sudden, after eight hours of float-watching my float went down and away from me, getting pulled to the bottom.  A quick but firm pull set the hook and I got to work this fish around for a few minutes with my light action rod.  I had strung it with 4# Trilene mono so I had to dial back my instinct to work the fish too hard and break the line.

I snapped this quick picture with my rod as a reference so I can measure it later.  I'm guessing it's in the 2-2.5# range and a nice way to wash off the skunk.  Fishing and catching for the week had been accomplished.  Now bring on the time change so I can hit a pond or the DuPage River in the light of the day left after work.

Catching!  It beats the skunk!