Wednesday, July 16, 2014

DuPage Angler - Lake Patterson Challenge

Early Sunday morning I load my kayak on my car, load my gear in my car and head to a parking lot in Aurora, IL to meet 14 who share my sickness; needus bassthumbis!  Actually, the parking lot was a meeting point to all check in for this month's DuPage Angler Challenge.

Roughly each month of the late spring and summer organizes tournament style challenges.  This challenge was held at Kane County Forest Preserve's Lake Patterson.

My kayak was in the water and I paddled across the lake to a spot I thought would produce.  After nothing bit my Arbogast Buzz Plug I decided to use a finesse plastic that is a favorite of mine; the 4" curly-tail worm.  The bass in the picture ate the 4" worm.  Unfortunately that bass wasn't large enough to count toward our team total.  Here are the rules for our friendly tournament:

Qualifying fish will be (3) largemouth at a minimum of 12 inches, (2) panfish at a minimum of 6 inches, and (1) bonus Carp at any length.  Total team length of these top 6 fish will dictate 1st - 3rd place.   Big fish pot will only count towards Bass! A picture needs to be taken of the length.  We will measure up to the nearest 1/4 inch but will not round up for a fish to if a bass is 11.8 inches...we will not round up to 12 for it to count.  Shore anglers and boaters need to have a camera and ruler or bump board to take pictures.  A picture of the entire fish and a picture of the final length are needed to count.  If you are having problems ask for help from your fellow anglers.
Live bait can be used for panfish and carp but not bass.  If a bass is caught using live bait it will not count toward your total inches.  Only one line can be in the water at any one time.
Fishing time will be from 6:30 AM to Noon.  Please be back in the parking lot for Patterson lake by 12:15 PM or you will lose 4 inches of your total.

So now you can see why my small bass didn't count. I was throwing a swim jig, not getting bit when I heard another angler hook up with two quick bass on a Z-Man chatter-bait. I have a bunch of those! I had success with chatter baits a few weeks ago.

Bam! A 14.25" bass hits my chatterbait! That'll count toward our inch total! I hope we get to cull him though. Time to release the bass and make another cast.

BAM! 14.75" A better bass and another one to count. I still hope we can cull!

Take a look at that chatterbait! This wasn't unique, EVERY bass CHOKED the bait! They really wanted to eat it!

Woot!!! A 15.25" bass! That will add to my teammate Titus' 15" bass to give us 30.25" with 2 fish. We can still use my 14.75" but I'd rather keep trying for bigger.

BOOM! There's my bite!!! The chatterbait scores a nice 17.5" largemouth! She weighs in at 3.25# on my Boga-Grip.

She's thick just like the other bass here. Well fed! Well fed on bluegills!

Speaking of bluegills my other teammate Steakified who had been fishing from shore scored two nice bluegills! That's additional inches for our total.

So our three bass plus two bluegills turned in 63.25" of fish. My 17.5" was big bass of the challenge and it was the tie-breaker as another team had 63.25" too. The big bass winner tipped the scales in my team's favor! We won!

After fishing a bunch of us returned to the parking lot we met in this morning to get a burger and beer at a local bar and grill. It was great to get to talk with and get to know new members and not new members that don't get out with the group too often.

We come from all walks of life, fish different ways, use different gear but all of us know that part of us needs to feel the tug and struggle of the fish on the end of our lines. We share that common trait and what better way to show it? We descend upon a 55 acre lake en masse' and work it from land and by boat to catch what the lake has to offer, take fish-pictures, then ease our fooled fishy friends back to the 55 acre lake to eat other fish, grow bigger, then bite my chatterbait next year!

What, it could happen!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

First Cast Five!

The 4th of July, Independence Day.  The day most Americans celebrate by cooking out, drinking a beer, and enjoying the company of friends. This year I had the pleasure of celebrating the fourth with my girlfriend Lupita, and my good friends Dave and Monique.

When Dave arrived and brought in his contributions to the day's cookout I noticed a container of nightcrawlers in his cooler.  When I asked he replied yeah, we've got our rods in the car.  I figured we could go fish after dinner.

I thought WOW, that's a great idea!  I've still got my rods at the house so I have one for Lupita. Now to see if she wants to fish.  Great!  So long as we let them go she'll give it a try!  Heck, I almost always catch and release.  Let's go fishing!!

We arrived at a nearby pond and Dave made the first cast near an outflow pipe where water was pouring into the pond.  His float went down.  I was showing Lupita how you make a worm-half without scissors when Dave hollers that he'll need a little help landing his fish.  I hurried over to find he had a NICE bass hooked.

Dave was fishing from the top of a spillway pipe and had no easy way to land his fish.  I leaned in from the bank and lipped Dave's fish.  It was 19 1/4" long and 13 1/2" around.  That calculates to 4.9#!  A first cast five for Dave!!

Pretty soon Lupita was calling out for assistance.  She'd been re-baiting her own hook after bluegills stole her worm and this time her hook found a lip!  Lupita caught her first fish!

It was a cute little bluegill!  I showed Lupita how to work the circle-hook out of the lip of the fish and she admired it's blue coloration and beautiful banding before releasing it back to the pond. Then she said something that did my heart good; I wanna do that again!

Pretty soon Lupita was baiting her own hook, making worm bits out of worms, casting an ultralight (which isn't the easiest type of rod to cast), and catching and releasing her own fish.  I actually got to bait up my line and catch a few fish while Lupita did her own thing catching pretty bluegills and letting them go.  That is until she cast near a line of reeds. Her float went down, she raised the rod tip and reeled in the slack hooking in her words "something heavy"!

It was indeed something heavy!  Certainly heavier than a bluegill! Lupita went from catching her first fish to having a multi-species day landing her first largemouth bass!  She lipped it like a trooper once I showed her how and was very interested in all the patterns and colors on a largemouth.  After a few photos she carefully set the bass into the water near shore and watched as in two flicks of the tail it was gone into the water.

Dave hollered to me that he'd landed a pretty nice bluegill.  He wasn't kidding!  What a beautiful specimen!  I'd love to have a bunch of bluegill that look like that in an aquarium.  I'm pretty sure that's not legal but boy would it be pretty!

Next Lupita hooks a nice sized slab of a bluegill!  I'd better get a worm in the water.

OH YEAH!!!  When you can lip a bluegill you know it's a biggie!!  This was the last fish we caught this evening.  The sun was going down, the mosquitoes were biting my girlfriend, and it was time to think about finding someplace to watch fireworks.

Sometimes a first cast fish is looked at as a curse on the trip.  Almost as if it was too easy and now no one will catch anything.  That wasn't the case however.  We had a great evening, caught fish, and had a fun evening with friends!  If Dave catching a big bass on the first cast helps all future fishing trips may he always catch a first cast five!