Sunday, April 25, 2010

carp fishing (fox chain of lakes, il)

Today I was meeting up with Neal and Randall for some bank fishing on the fox chain. We were planning on targeting some big carp, cats, and whatever else we could drum up. I pulled into the lot first and had enough time to set up 2 rods before Neal came rolling in. We fished together for almost 30 minutes before I caught the first fish which happed to be a decent crappie. He inhaled a jig and minnow combo on a rod that was sitting on the dock while I was rebaiting a different rod. After about 15 more minutes we decided to move to a different spot where we could really pepper the shoreline with some extra rods.

1st fish of the day is a crappie
fog + wind + rain = fishing in full rain gear
We pulled into the second spot and started to unpack the gear. Randall made it just about that time. Neal and I fished a simple bottom rig made up of an egg sinker behind an oversized swivel and a small live bait hook. We tossed those out and put the rod in a rod holder with a tight line and loose drag. We alternated our baits from minnows to leaches to corn and bread balls. Randall opted for a leach on a jig head and a second rod with a minnow and slip bobber.

Randall didn’t stay too long but was there long enough to catch a healthy young muskie. He caught him on the jig and leach combo right from under a dock he was casting to.

randall with a bonus musky
Neal was the cat fishing king for the day and must have gotten about a half dozen cats. He also lost a nice carp right up on the bank.

the catfish king
I ended up with one crappie three carp and a cat.
fox chain of lakes carp
mirror carp
carp fest
The weather conditions weren’t good. We ended up in our waders and rain coats very early and fished through the scattered showers all day. Despite the rain, we still found a way to catch fish, grill some sausages and brats, and have a great time chilling with some friends. All the fish were released.
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Sunday, April 18, 2010

bass fishing (cook county, il)

Neal was out of town camping with his brother and their girlfriends this particular weekend. I took advantage of the opportunity and took my little boy fishing. Lucas hadn’t been out fishing since the end of the ice season and has been sad every weekend since. At the age of four, I still don’t think he’s quite big enough to be wading in any of those Lake Michigan tributaries (maybe next year?).

6:45 am and we were out the door and on our way. Our destination was a little further then I’d normally like to drive with my son, but a friend had taken me here before and I knew it would be worth it. McDonalds was the first stop, nothing for me but Lucas got hotcakes and a hash brown. Then we stopped for bait, which Lucas really enjoys, and he picked out some lively medium shiners. Eighteen should be plenty, right?

7:25 am we arrive, get the gear out of the car, and get set up. Finally, we are fishing!!! I can say that 55 degrees is a nice temperature as long as there isn’t a consistent strong wind. I took me all of five minutes to realize how cold I was, man how your blood thins quick here in Chicagoland. The wind was blowing straight in our faces, I was so glad we took his winter jacket. After 35 minutes of no fish I could see my son was cold and bored. He had his face tucked into the hood of his winter jacket and hands stuffed deep in his pockets. I needed to focus his attention on something other then just being cold. Time for us to move. Another 30 minutes go by without a fish, at this point Lucas was playing in the rocks. Time to move again.

We settled into a spot on the far opposite side of the pond from where we started. Here the wind was at our backs, we had a raised bank, and even a couple trees to shield us from the wind. Fifteen more minutes go by with no fish and now I’m starting to worry. What happened to all the fish? Was it really that cold? At least Lucas had dug up two worms and a rolly polly bug and gotten his sleeves wet from grabbing minnows.

10:00 am rolled around. As I warmed up so did the fishing. I had just taken my winter hat off when the first bobber went under. I set the hook and passed the rod off to my son. With a couple reminders from dad, about keeping the rod tip up, he lands the first bass of the day! Success!!

lucas with an action shot
bass success
From that point forward it was non stop action until we emptied the minnow bucket. In those last two hours we used all 18 minnows. The best part of the day for me was watching Lucas setting the hook on his own fish and reeling it all the way in with no help. Over a dozen bass caught and the only two fish I caught were the two times we both had a fish on at the same time.
a monster cook county pond bass
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Sunday, April 4, 2010

fly fishing steelhead (lake michigan tributaries, wi)

This was the last trip we made for this years spring steelhead run. Neal and I spent the day with Neal’s uncle Vic. The weather was really starting to warm up and it seemed like a lot of the fish had pulled back out to the main lake. We covered a long stretch of water and our previous trips producing pools were now devoid of all signs of life.

the last spring steelhead
Neal and Vic managed to spot a single pod of fish. They worked them hard as I moved upstream. After an hour upstream I decided it was time to meet back up with the guys. Upon arriving I was greeted by Neal with a photo of our last steelhead of 2010’s spring run. I’m not sure how much longer the fish will be up in the tributaries, but from what I’m seeing it might be time to switch gears. It was a great run but seemed to go by very quick. We caught some awesome fish and learned some valuable lessons this year. How long till the salmon run…?
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Friday, April 2, 2010

fly fishing steelhead (root river, wi)

An unexpected after work trip; it’s rare I get co-founder Blake out of work at 3 pm. We came up with a quick game plan: a check of the flows suggests that the Root is our best bet. It’s a quick trip north on I-94 and I’m back at the house to gear up and change from a shirt and tie to a pair of shorts and a long sleeved t-shirt. Ahh…it’s like a super hero transformation from office guy to Neal the spawn sack slinger.
I take a quick drive from the home base and roll into the parking lot, the three cars ahead of me all from Illinois. I start putting my waders on and string up my rod. I finish putting the final touches, gravel guards and tying my laces. Blake finally rolls in - a few quick words we determine our next plan of attack. We make the easy hike to the first pool. Blake heads upstream to cast a bugger while I head down to sling some spawn. I try to offer Blake a few spawn sacks, but he refuses on account that he’s turned into a purest, refusing the live bait tactic. I, on the other hand, have no shame. The previous weekend out on the water, we were spanked by spawn slingers.

I begin to cast after cast at a promising brush pile that has created a very nice pool. ( I’ve caught fish here before so I have some confidence). Nothing…I am now frustrated, disappointed, and a bit perturbed. I decide to move, crossing the slow water in front of me. I climb up the opposite bank to gain a better vantage point. With my should- be guide’s eye, I look north towards quarry park. I spot some enemy activity, a tail in the fast water.

As I get closer peering and straining my eyes trying to cut the water, success! I see a bright flash from a hen cutting a red. My attitude has just changed. I feel a lot better with fish in front of me. After two well placed casts: BAAAAM, a hookup! Ahhh that feels good. The fight ensues; she doesn’t know she’s hooked. She’s headed upstream after some string stretching and some rod bending. She darts back and forth across the river; she tires and I can finally gain control of her. Steelhead rugby ensues. (I had told Blake to leave the net behind; that only ensures bad mojo). Finally after some close combat, we land her. With a careful tail grab, Blake assists in the score. She’s well over 30 inches, over 10 lbs: nice hen.

a nice hen steelhead
My hands are shaking a bit. I see now that the other fishermen are paying notice to the action. My vacant fast water is being invaded by the few other fishermen on the river. I quickly post up on that run and re-bait with another spawn sack. Noticing I’ve not stirred up the red, I see more fish flash and porpoise. With a few more surgical casts and BAAAAM, another hookup! Air born acrobatic flips, f—k slack line, she’s off.

Slightly disappointed, I flopped another spawn sack into perfect position. In an instant something pounded the orange colored spawn sack. That smack was a colored up spring buck. He jumps back and forth across the river, through log jams and over and under boulders. I adjust to this circus jumping fool enough to land him. After another rugby event, we land this buck. I put my hands on him, he’s spurting his steelhead juice. I notice the clipped tail fin. That confirms this fish has been through the weir. Good to know his legacy will live on. We snapped a few pics and sent this spring buck on his way.
spring buck steelhead

swim away to fight another day
With my confidence levels reaching an all time high, I slop another spawn sack on. First cast and BOOOOM, another hookup: another steelhead leaps into the unfamiliar air 2 times. It seemed like slow motion, a matter of seconds seemed like ages. But all for naught, she shakes the hook. That final hookup convinces the purest Blake to ask for a spawn sack. I turn to him and laughed, as I reach in my vest to get the terminal gear he needs. The sun is going down in a hurry, and that part of Racine is not a good place to be after dark. We turn our backs on this very productive piece of water and head for the truck. Very good day of after work fishing, one I will not soon forget. Get your strings stretched to all!
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