Saturday, June 29, 2013

Want a Ride?

If you talk with me about fishing I'll undoubtedly bring up DuPage Angler and the impact it's had on my life angling and otherwise.  The site gets anglers together in a friendly place to talk about fishing, get to know other fishermen and learn from them.

Last night I got off the Metra, drove home in the rain knowing that it would clear.  I hooked my boat up to my hitch and headed out to launch the boat solo for the evening bite.  The hour closest to dark can be a magical time on the water.

I had backed in and was just beaching my 15' jonboat when I heard a familiar voice say hi.  It was Ted (SoonerBass) from the DuPage Angler forums.  I've fished with Ted before for blue catfish and for bass in several ponds.

The first words out of my mouth were, "Want a ride"?

Ted thought that would be a good idea and loaded his gear into my boat and we headed off to fish around the islands. 

There are two islands on the north half of the lake.  Weeds are getting thick around them but the water is clear and the weed edges drop off to 12-15 foot water in most areas.  Water temperatures were 77-78 degrees.  I was throwing a Bass Pro Egg crankbait running very shallow just under the surface.  Ted was using a walk-the-dog style topwater bait.  We cast around weedy spots surrounding the island when off one point my egg gets hit.  

It's a pounder, maybe pound and a halfer.  I took the picture because I've yet to crack the code to catching the bigger bass at Whalon.  Not to worry, I'll learn.

It was about the time we rounded the second island when Ted spotted surface boils.  We motored over near the disturbance and saw largemouth bass busting on tiny hatchlings of some sort.  Inch long bait fish balls chased by bucket-mouth fish.

Ted and I worked our cranks in and out of the busting bass.  It paid off for Ted with a nice two pounder.

We both looked like our necks were on swivels, pivoting around to see what made the splash behind me?  Crud, a duck.  What was that to the right?  Bass!!!  Cast!!!!

This was a better fish.  2.5 pounds by both of our educated guesses.  The fact that the water was so clear meant we could see what the fish were eating.  When bass fight they sometimes regurgitate what they've been eating recently.  We saw the tiny bait fish and probably should have downsized our tackle to take advantage of the hatch.  

The night encroached upon the day more and more as I secured the boat to the trailer and unloaded my gear to the car.  We'd had a decent evening.  Three fish were caught and released and we got to see nature at it's finest in the form of big fish chasing and eating little fish; circle of life stuff.

I'll be back at Whalon around dusk.  I want to experiment with different lures and see what will let me land more bass.  Maybe I'll bump into Ted again.  Maybe I'll see another DuPage Angler member fishing.  If you know me from the site and you see me launching solo come say hi.  I may just ask if you want a ride. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

LaSalle for Father's Day

Every Father's Day my friend Dan goes wading all day.  I joined him last year and blogged the trip.  

This year we've had too much rain for the rivers where wading is concerned so we came up with plan-b; take my jonboat to LaSalle Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area to fish for bigger blue catfish than we'd caught on our trip with several other DuPage Anglers a few weeks back

Friday, June 7, 2013

Catching Illinois Blue Catfish with DuPage Angler

Five of us from took a drive to LaSalle Lake-State Fish and Wildlife Area in Marseilles Illinois this past Sunday. Our trip was successful as we drove to Marseilles with one intention. To catch Blue Catfish.

Here is the story of our day at LaSalle Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area.

(The link opens to an article on DuPage Angler)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

First Fox River Wade of 2013

I was still excited but very, very groggy.  Summer wading happens at dawn and dawn is happening earlier and earlier every day.  

I picked up Dan (Pondboy) and we hit a drive thru for breakfast and more important for me coffee!  
Down the road we found the Fox River and the next thing I knew I had my breathable chest waders on, and my drift rod set up with Raven equipment up and down the rod.  Raven high vis mono, Raven premium balsa float, silicone float tubing, micro-swivel, fluro leader, Raven split-shot, and all that terminated to a Raven specialist hook.

I nose-hooked a minnow, set my float and worked the waist deep water for any structure I might bump my bait into.  I was set up perfectly for what happened next.  My specialized float designed for fast deep current dipped below the surface and slid to the right. I pulled the line tight and the specialist hook attached itself to the top lip of this cute channel catfish.

I caught cute little cats smaller than this in this stretch of river last year.  If I were a betting man I'd wager this might be one of those cats after a year of filling his belly.  I can't wait until he gets to be as big as my largest caught on this stretch

Hardly any time passes before Dan's drift picks up a fish.  Another channel cat, this one was a nicer fish than mine and we both beat the skunk.

A problem we encountered directly related to the river depth.  I'm 6' 2" tall, Dan isn't.  There were some spots we'd have to back Dan out of in order to keep water from entering the top of his chest waders.  In another the flow was strong enough to cause him problems.  With one part concern for my friend and another part smart @$$ I walked parallel and upstream from Dan to give him some slack water to make crossing the center of the river channel easier.

Once on the other side we made our way down to a warm water discharge.  We can't wade this stretch of river without trying to catch something in the swirling flow.

Both of us score bronze!  Two nice looking 12" smallmouth bass.  The fun part about smallmouth this size is when you're used to catching largemouth a smallmouth this size feels like a much larger fish.

Eventually we make our way off the river.   Not many more bites led us to another problem; extra bait.  I've written abut what to do with leftover bait before.  Today was different.  Today we fished a little pond for bass.  We didn't catch any bass though.

We caught channel catfish.  Who knew there were beautiful, clean catfish in a little, odd-shaped pond. 

Dan's cat was the bigger of the two caught.  We didn't get rid of much bait but we did get to catch a few pond catfish before our time was done and we had to pack up and go.

I mentioned on the forums of DuPage Angler that I thought I would devote more time to purposely catfishing this year.  I guess today was as good a day as any to start catching Mr. Whiskers.  Today it was accidental.  Next I think I'll try catching catfish on purpose.  They tug well.

I was itching to go wading and I got to.  The river is still too crazy fast to want to step in for a walk but ponds help scratch the fishing itch.  I'm hopeful the rain will level off to a healthy amount for trees, ponds, and crops but at the same time allow the rivers to drop in height and flow.  I love wading rivers.  I got bit by that bug and it's just in me now.  I got my first wade in for 2013.  The first of many to come.

5/26/2013 USGS Fox River 11.68 ft 1580 cfs @ Montgomery Gauge