Thursday, January 27, 2011

lake marie winter walleye

Made it out yesterday with Neal and a group of friends targeting nighttime walleye on Lake Marie. The bite was slow but there was fish present. Neal's buddy Keith scored a nice legal walleye on a tip down rigged with a minnow in 10 feet of water. The rest of the night was slow but I did manage to get on the board with a walleye no bigger then a good cigar. I'm definitely thinking about spending some more time trying to get to know Marie, I'm liking what I'm seeing so far...

lake marie winter walleye
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Sunday, January 23, 2011

lake county illinois perch

With some pressing auto repairs needed I was only able to sneak out fishing on Sunday morning. The temps since Friday have been down right nasty which was perfect weather to try out my new Clam Kenai shanty. I gave the sun time to rise before venturing out and finally pulled out of the driveway around 8:00am. Quickly stopping for bait I arrived at a Lake County Forest Preserve with the intentions of a quick but productive morning catching some panfish. The lake was a good distance through the trees and I found myself lost a few too many times (pulling the larger sled is hard work). After what seemed like an eternity I finally made it out of the forest and was walking on water. I was winded enough to take a quick breather and took this as an opportunity to snap some scenery shots…

lake county forest preserve lake
Across the lake was where I decided to drill my first hole. The first was in 4 feet of water and seemed too shallow for late winter panfishing. The second was roughly about 9 feet deep and with some bottom activity the jig and waxie combo was dropped quickly down the hole. Instantly, there was a solid tug on my pole which I wasn’t expecting because I was already trying to untangle the line that was wrapped on the transducer. Just after missing the first bite of the day another hungry fish decided to the slurp down the small maggot offering. One minute later the lake county water delivered up some gold.

lake county illinois perch
This first perch happened to be the biggest of the entire day and 8 perch were caught and released in total. All of the perch were hugging bottom and the best success came from a hole in 14 feet of water. The rest of the day was made up of bluegill. Most were suspended in the upper 1/3rd of the water column. I found myself fishing towards the bottom for the perch and the gills would rocket downwards to steal the bait. A dozen gills also fell victim to my size 12 tungsten jig (fire tiger) and every fish was turned back to swim again.

lcfp gill

one of many gills
It was a great morning to be out if equipped to handle the almost 0 degree temps. Most importantly the new shanty passed the test. Click here to read the review.
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a review of the clam kenai

Mobility is the Clam Kenai’s best feature. After every new hole I drilled, I was only a quick “flip” away from being covered and warm. The small windows were enough to let in ample light and the vents worked great at letting out the moisture build ups and retaining sufficient heat. The zipper seems sturdy (so far) and there is plenty of room in the sled for all my gear. The cup holders are also nice to have. The Kenai is also just the right size for fitting in the back of my car, and for those with smaller cars that should be a consideration.

Clam's Kenai
The downsides I see is the sheer weight and size of the sled. Dragging it long distance through brush was very difficult but hopefully I will be alright when I’m not hiking to remote lakes where access is scarce. The only other drawback was the setup which was a pain in the ass. A few of the plastic pieces came with the holes not completely drilled through to the other side. That was remedied with a quick zip from the power drill. Also, I was missing 1 washer and 2 nuts were not useable. A few extra bucks at the hardware store and the problem was solved.

After my first use of my new Clam Kenai I would highly recommend it to anyone. It kept me warm on a cold day and made being mobile easy (the main reason I traded in the pop-up). I can’t wait to finish my ice season in this!
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Friday, January 21, 2011

angling obsession- a blog from across the pond

Dan from Angling Obsession has a great blog focused on trout, salmon, and steelhead fishing from the other side of Lake Michigan. He is a great multi-species angler chasing everything swimming in cold or warm water in his home state of Michigan. I've enjoyed his most recent posts where he's been slaying fish on the hard water...
angling obsession
There is also a great deal of info on trib fishing for those interested in things more trouty! Please show some support by stopping by and giving him a follow. "Click here for a link"

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

deep lake illinois and silver lake wisconsin

Deep Lake is located in Lake County, Illinois and we have heard some mixed reviews on this body of water for this current ice fishing season. There has been a lot of talk about a major weed kill and that the fish have been hard to find and pattern. Fished the lake on Saturday morning and was lucky to find a nice pocket of weeds with some access to some deeper water. The deeper water was actually giving up some of the smaller fish caught that morning. Once the switch was made to the shallows I ended up with some bigger gills and a nice 10 inch crappie.

Switched gears in the afternoon and headed to Silver Lake located in Kenosha County, Wisconsin. Looked for some night bite crappie and was able to manage a couple dandy crappies after dark. Fished in 15 feet of water straight out from the public launch. For the most part it was a light bite all day and fish seemed more eager to take spikes then the waxies.

illinois + wisconsin panfish

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Monday, January 10, 2011

a recent survey of lake michigan's forage base

This was an article I came across while reading Illinois Outdoor News discussing recent improvements to Lake Michigan’s forage base. They report smelt and alewife populations have shown tremendous improvements over last year but also go on to explain the impact made from an invasive species such as the zebra mussels. Even though there was an increase in survey numbers over last year, they put in perspective really how much the populations have suffered. “Click Here” and read the full article.

the lake michigan alewife
There is a constant struggle going on between baitfish populations and filter feeders such as the zebra mussels. They are competing for food at its most basic level in the form of algae. This is a delicate battle where no winner has been crowned yet. I would be happy to see some sort of happy medium reached where the populations seem to stabilize but who knows if that truce will ever come. As I see things, we should be happy to see any improvements to the available baitfish populations and hopefully it means some bigger salmon in the upcoming years.

zebra mussel
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Sunday, January 9, 2011

a great new blog

Deadfisher from Toronto is a great new blog that I just recently started to follow. John has done a great job of getting on some great pike and perch through the ice and has a great way of making me feel like I was actually there. His blog has only been around for 4 months and could use some more blogger followers. Please stop by his blog and give it read and if you enjoy his writing as much as I do please become a fan by following! Click here to link to his site. Here is one of his most recent videos, go ahead and watch it, you know you want to.

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Monday, January 3, 2011

pistakee bay- first fishing trip of 2011

Double header fishing, I made it out mid day and fished 2 lakes yesterday. I started on Long Lake which actually is one of the closest lakes to my house that I have never fished. Started on Long around noon and fished the southernmost point from 8 feet out to 16 feet. Water was super clear and marked only 2 fish in the 15 holes that I drilled. Worked up and down and in and out from that point and finally decided that 2 hours was enough to devote to something new (that wasn’t panning out) and decided to travel to some more familiar water. Long was crystal clear water and even through the ice I could see the bottom standing in over 8 feet of water. I figured this clear water might be best left for an overcast day or a night trip. Being so close to the house I will devote some more time in the next month getting to know Long Lake.

I headed back to Pistakee Bay to make something out of my free time. Arrived at 2:00pm and plugged half dozen holes around the shallows surrounding Coon Island. Searched for some bluegills roaming the flats but after 30 minutes I switched gears to deeper water.

2:30pm in deep water (14-16 ft) started to mark big schools of fish right off bottom. Coaxed half a dozen bites from the roaming schools which all turned out to be drum…

pistakee lake drum
Around 3:00pm the big schools of drum seemed to die off! Marks were coming in around 8-10 feet. I adjusted my fishing depth and instantly started to hook up on some crappie! 

pistakee lake crappie
Left for home around 5:00pm. The bite really turned on between 3:00 and 5:00 and was able to land 6 crappies and 2 white bass between those 2 hours as well as the half dozen drum from earlier. Timing seemed to be everything and thank God for ice flashers, it came in handy for honing in on those suspended crappies!

pistakee lake white bass

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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Saturday, January 1, 2011

pistakee bay night trip

Sorry for the late report but I made it out fishing Thursday night with Damien to test out my new hummingbird flasher. We targeted crappies on Pistakee Lake after dark. The conditions were treacherous with the temps above freezing and rain falling, the ice had puddles of standing water everywhere. Wind was howling from the south west almost hard enough to push us across the lake. Walking was incredibly difficult after forgetting my creepers at home. With extreme caution we moved from hole to hole fishing all the predrilled ones that were nowhere close to icing over.

first fish on my new flasher
one of damien's crappie
Marking fish was easy, pulling fish off the bottom was no problem, but getting them to commit was close to impossible. They would come up and sniff and even give chase as you move the bait higher but inevitably they would turn and drop back to the lake bottom. Varied presetaions and kept pretty mobile for most of the night. The ever present wind made strike detection even more difficult. Despite our handicaps we still managed half a dozen crappies and a couple sheepshead.

Word of advice is never try to set up a pop up shelter in the blowing wind when the ice is slick and you have zero traction. Chasing Damien and the pop up across the lake was not my most favorite thing to do. He held on tight as the shack carried him nearly 30 yards before I could catch back up to him. Damien, thanks for holding on tight at any cost! After that experience we decide to collapse the shanty and just be outside. These last 2 night trips have been slower then I would like but at least we have found some crappie!

The wind today has been terrible but at least the temps have dropped back down below freezing. The lakes should be completely sealed back up and I’m planning a solo trip for tomorrow morning.
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