Saturday, June 30, 2012

Saturday under the bridge

I had an early dental appointment this morning.  My dentist is on the other side of the DuPage River's East Branch at Hobson Road from my home.  Why not fish after my appointment?  I packed some nightcrawlers with an ice pack and my already set up to drift 6' bright yellow BPS ultralight and had a little post-dental visit catching for an already warm at 9 AM kinda day on the last Saturday morning in June.

My cheek and half my tongue still numb from the Novocaine from earlier I crawled up the rip-rap and up to the sidewalk.  I caught a few more fish than these but the bass was the biggest of the stop and these gills just were pretty.  I caught a warmouth too.  I love rivers; every one a little different.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

What to do with leftover bait

Before I started buying live bait I never had this problem.  After a great day wading yesterday my dilemma was fueled by necessity.  We needed to insure Dan and I had enough bait so I stocked up.  Today I had a dozen nightcrawlers and a dozen leaches to dispose of.  Time to drift the DuPage in comfort.  I grabbed my 6' ultralight, rigged it to float bait, and the leftover bait and headed to the Riverwalk.

I got a few small smallmouth, five nice smallmouth but the last only got a picture in the water.  You see I touched the fish and was about to lip it when she gave her head a quick shake and snapped my line.  Her energy was spent since I couldn't horse a fish on an ultralight so I played her until she was tired.  She flipped around and sat there in the water pointed back at the center of the river.  I reached in and gave her a little push to wake her up and off she flicked into a deeper part of the river.

In hindsight the line could have weakened while I was messing around taking this picture of her.

With all my bait gone I left the spot on the Riverwalk happy.  I used up all my bait so none was wasted and I got in some fun smallmouth bass fishing.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Father's Day Wadeapalooza!

My friend and fishing buddy Dan (who is also known as Pondboy) and I got together and planned a day of wading and exploring the Kiswaukee River in north western Illinois to take place on Dan's annual day to do whatever he wants; Father's Day.

I restrung my spinning reel with fresh Triline 6# mono and tied on a #4 Gamakatsu Octopus Circle Hook and set up a button pattern of small B and BB sized split-shot to weigh down the line and thus the bait. Finally a small Thill spring float completed my river float rig. I was ready to fish, now I needed to figure out what time to go to bed when I am meeting Pondboy at his house at 3:30 AM.

Once I realized what was going on when my alarm went off in the two o'clock hour I jumped into the shower and then quickly on my way out the door.

The video tells the rest of the story of our Father's Day Wadeapalooza!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Fishing with an Audience

I met Pondboy in downtown Naperville.  I'm getting my ultralight out of my hatchback when my phone rings.
Hey, I'm here and I'm already up one gill and two rock bass.
Darn, and I still need to tie on a hook and rig a shallow float rig with a spring float.  I guess he won't beat me by that many....ok, so Dan is now up by one bluegill and three rock bass.

Tonight when all was said and done we caught five species using the same river float technique I detailed in a past post.  Smallmouth bass (my first of 2012), bluegill, Rock bass, Warmouth, and Sucker; five species all caught on half a worm drifted shallow below a balsa or other quality float.

Today would be another day I went fishing somewhere straight from the train after work.  You can see I'm wearing a blue collared shirt but you can't see the grey slacks or black loafers.  I called this fishing with an audience because we were drifting the West Branch of the DuPage River on the Naperville Riverwalk.

There were plenty of people that walked by and then stopped to watch us catch a fish.  Some kids got to experience a live fish for the first time and one was brave enough to touch the side of the bluegill I held in my hand for him to see up close.

A few people lightheartedly joked that I was overdressed for fishing; I'd agree.  Another couple that was enjoying a nice walk kept walking by when Dan or I would catch a fish.  They'd say "See, we're your lucky charms.  When we walk by you catch a fish." This prompted Dan to attempt to negotiate putting them on retainer to always be around when we're fishing.

I can't say I'd want this much attention all the time when I'm fishing but it tonight it was fun to Fish with an Audience.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

An early outing with Dave

Fishing with my friends often involves working with their schedules to find a time we can go out and wet a line.  Most Sunday mornings I can be found around a pond somewhere with Dave.  This Sunday morning was no exception except he had developed a get-out-early motivation so at 6:00 this Sunday I was helping load Dave's equipment into my car to drive to today's body of water.  

We were fishing for Largemouth Bass as we generally do.  They're a lot of fun to catch in a variety of ways.  Figuring out what they want-to/will eat is part of the challenge of fishing.  Today was another one of those days.

We started fishing the pond around 6:30.  It was early and we were both working on a Five Hour Energy buzz combined with the excitement of fishing this particular pond.  I knew there to be good sized bass in this pond but I had only caught one here.  Dave was going on faith that this place would live up to my hype.  

We threw a few different baits trying to figure out what the bass wanted to eat today.  I had a black and yellow spinner bait tied on my casting rod and Dave was throwing a chartreuse spinner.  Both spinners yielded no fish at that hour.  To add insult to injury Dave's spinner ended up in the middle of the pond forcing him to rethink his lure choice.

I started channeling Marty aka Wacky Bass' advice about fishing a Rat-l-Trap in front of pond weed growth.  I also remembered how my attempts at fishing that same lure turned out.  What could I do differently.  The strike zone was generally in the top 1-3 feet of the water column and weeds were 2-4  feet from the bank in places.  Time to break this down.  A Rat-l-Trap is a rattling crank bait and I had to get the lure between 1-3 feet in depth in front of the weeds.  What do I have in my tackle bag that is a rattling crank bait that operates in 1-3 feet of depth....I know!  My trusty Bass Pro Eggs!  I tied on my large Chrome-Black XPS Lazer Eye Egg and let it fly. 

Several casts in the same directions I had already been working yielded no bites so I rotated clockwise around the shore line past Dave's position and started casting the crank in this direction.  Rod tip up yielded a surface-hugging, wide wake.  I had just started thinking that I loved the action of this bait when Dave sarcastically said, "I wonder if there are any fish in here."

I don't know what force of nature caused the next chain of events to happen but no sooner were those words out of Dave's mouth then my egg gets clobbered!

She weighed in at about 3 pounds on my Boga-Grip and a great way to start off the day's catching.

We rotated around the pond in a clockwise motion; one angler passing the other.  The other passing the one.  This goes on until someone finds fish.  I got the next.

3.5 lbs on the Boga, not bad.  They're getting bigger.  Dave's turn for a NICE chunk of 4.25-4.5 lb fun on what you can see in his other hand (the one without the lovely bass in it) is the half-dollar sized Z-Man Chatterbait he caught that beauty on.  

We walked the rest of the perimeter and I got a bigger fish.  A 4lb largemouth.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand the grand first FIVE POUND LARGEMOUTH BASS!!!

When it hit the Egg I knew this fish was different.  My spinning reel felt like it was loose in the reel-seat; it wasn't.  I checked after I released the big girl.  Each wind of my reel felt like I was trying to pull in a cast iron skillet.  She was big, and beautiful, and released healthy and only slightly annoyed that she ate my crank bait.

I had a great morning fishing.  Dave picked up another good sized bass but it was deep hooked and bleeding. Dave is the kind of guy that thinks about the fish's health first and once we got the trebles out of the gullet of the bass Dave carefully released it back to the pond to fight another day.  I highly recommend practicing catch and release in small ponds.  Ponds can't recover as fast as fish could be taken from them in this suburban area.

If you want to have fish you can catch and eat please visit DuPage County Forest Preserve Lakes, other county/state run lakes, or a variety of pay-to-fish/catch lakes available in the surrounding areas.  They all have posted creel limits as to what sizes of what species can be taken.  If we all take care of our waters we can insure there are plenty of fish to catch and release and catch and eat.

I know I want to catch another like this one again, and I want you to be able to too!!!