Thursday, July 28, 2011

asian carp vs the great lakes

One of the best documentaries I've seen yet on the asian carp and the problems we face in the great lakes region. Well worth the time to watch it. This story came from the Detroit Free Press.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

milwaukee river smallies redemption part 2

Part 2-
After a quick snack, I was back after a few more bass to round out my morning of smallie fishing on the Milwaukee River. The early part of the morning had gone great and I was really starting to feel like I was making some progress dissecting this immense river. This was my first completely wet wade wearing only swim trunks and a pair of old sneakers. I was cool as a cucumber all day long and only needed to drop down shoulder deep when I even suspected it was hot out. The river was running cool and clear and I felt comfortable even though a tad creeped out about what I may rub up against. Do you ever really know what’s hanging out in those deep pools?

New Water-
The new water that was recommended to me, came from a member of the DTA (Driftless Trout Anglers, the best trout forum around). This guy is from Minnesota and saw my earlier blog posts from the Milwaukee River. He instantly knew what stretch of the river I was fishing and shot me an email regarding his exploits in the area along with a few tips. It was info that was much appreciated, so I wanna thank you. I bumped into him on a Dane County stream earlier this summer but didn’t realize who he was until we posted about our days on the DTA. Talk about really having a huge fishing search radius! From the twin cities to mad town, the mil and everything in between! And I thought I traveled to find fish? Mucho respect brother, mucho respect!

a scenic stretch of the milwaukee river

a milwaukee river bluff
In general, this section of river held faster and shallower runs with a lot more chutes and funnels. The water, ripping threw the narrower areas, was propelled out the other side with almost a white water effect. It was a much more difficult wade that left me pretty banged up from the heavy rock bottom and a few near stumbles. To shallow there for cranking so I opted for a nothing special, white spinner bait. It was the perfect tool to pick that water apart, plus no hanging up in the weeds. The fish here were in the textbook spots. The tail outs from the fast current produced when ambush spots were present. Smallies caught from the current areas sure fought harder then those taken from pools. Also, I picked off numerous fish by burning the spinner over those “pot holes” or minor depressions in the river bed. The pools were only a few feet deeper then the surrounding water but inevitably held some good fish. The back side of boulders and current breaks were also good bets. Fifteen fish wasn’t bad for a morning out on the river, and finally decided to call it a day. I don’t know where this weekend will take me, yet. If I do end up back on the Milwaukee rest assured I will explore her deeper and further than ever before.

burning a spinnerbait for milwaukee river smallies

last bass of the day
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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

des plaines river maps

I did some online searches for some Des Plaines River maps for my personal use so figured I would share them with everyone. Click on the map to enlarge and then copy and paste to your computer.

des plaines river from russell rd to 137

des plaines river from 137 to lake cook

des plaines river from lake cook to euclid

des plaines river from euclid to touhy

des plaines river from touhy to north ave
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Monday, July 25, 2011

milwaukee river smallmouth bass redemption

Part 1-
Persistence pays off. Three trips have been devoted to learning a two mile stretch of the mighty Milwaukee River, each one has progressively gotten better. I finally got a good smallmouth bass and rocked the house catching fifteen total bass during the morning wade. No pike today and that was just fine by me. I was content catching smallies, and to be honest, they were the reason I started fishing here all along.

a familiar stretch on the milwaukee river
Familiar Water-
I started my morning at the deep pool, on the outside of that bend, the one with all that wood. You know, the one where Damien caught that smalllie from last weekend? Well lets just say I attacked this pool a little different than last time. No jig and twister this time… Crankbait was king. More specifically the Bass Pro Shop XPS Lazer Eye Nitro Extreme. The white one with the red eye. The floating clumps of moss sure were a pain in the ass. Almost every cast you were sure to snag a piece. But, on those casts that you don’t hang up here was the pay off.

my first smallie of the day

second fish was big bass of the day!

another milwaukee river smallmouth

and another
Man, that crank paid off huge. Bouncing it off the rocks and digging it in the gravel was sure to solicit a strike. This was all from my first few hours of fishing. Stay tuned to see the second half of my trip. It should be up in the next day or two…
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Saturday, July 23, 2011

a fishing blog worth following

Money Can't Buy Happiness is based out of the Madison area of Wisconsin. This is an awesome blog written by Blake Frautschi who happens to share a first name with me! I have a lot of respect for him after reading his first half dozen posts. He is a versatile fisherman who enjoys chasing that next hot bite despite the species of the fish. He has caught a lot of trophy fish around his home in south central Wisconsin. Monster walleye, pig bass, driftless trout and even some large sturgeon have found their way into his early entries. Besides being able to catch fish it is clear he can build some beautiful fishing rods as well. Check out the rod in the photo I provided, the decorative wraps are stunning. Here is an example of another rod he just finished building.

money can't buy happiness - blake frautschi
I take a strong intrest in all things related to fishing in both Illinois and Wisconsin. With that being said this is a worthwhile blog and have added it to the link list on my side bar. I would love to see some other bloggers stop by and give him a follow. Leave him a comment letting him know where to find you guys!
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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

fox river catfishing (yorkville)- guest post

It’s 5:30 in the morning and I’ve got just one thing on my mind, that’s catching me one of those Fox River catfish. Not just one of those ordinary fox river cats, but a fish that is over ten pounds. I knew the area I’m fishing had a good population of catfish because I had fished there a couple months prior from the shore. On the last trip, the water level was a lot higher from all the spring rain, but we still had a half dozen bites. Out of those bites, we landed four nice cats in the three to five pound range and one scrappy carp. This time I came equipped with my john boat and my same fishing buddy to aid in launching and loading the boat.

It started out a calm warm summer morning with just enough wind to cool the sweat on your body. Even though it was overcast with some sporadic sprinkles the air was still heavy with humidity and I knew we were in for a hot mid-summer day. We dropped the boat and I took note that the water had to be at least two feet down from last time. We slowly made our way out to our very first spot of the day and geared up to make our first casts of the day.

I lit up a smoke and patiently waited. It wasn’t even fifteen minutes before I had my first bite. This wasn’t the normal bite that I had become accustom to. This was one of those bites where the rod tip almost smacks the surface of the water. I’m convinced that my rod would have been lost if it wasn’t for the position it was rested. I had secured the rod between the clamps of my trolling motor and without that I’m sure it would have gone overboard.

I grabbed the pole and gave it a nice yank to set the hook properly, and there my battle began. In the shallow water the fish began to splash on the surface nearly forty yards out. Even from that distance I could tell that this wasn’t one of those average catfish I had become used to. This was a bigger fish and I chose to let the fish run. I kept constant pressure on the fish as my buddy slowly motored after the fish, never letting it get too far away. After what seemed like an eternity, the fish rose up off of the bottom next to boat. After a few nerve racking moments of the fish thrashing on the surface, my buddy nets my biggest catfish to date!

a fox river catfish
fox river channel catfish
This is my first year fishing and this was no doubt the biggest fish I had ever caught or even seen. Needless to say, I was thrilled. This beauty tipped the scales at ten pounds and seven ounces. When I first began fishing, I promised my grandma I would bring home a “big one” and it didn’t take very long to make good on that promise. Fishing in Yorkville has been a great experience so far. I have heard that even further south there is some better big cat water and fall is an even better time to target them. I plan to continue to explore the Fox, enjoying all that there is to see as this journey of a young angler begins.

Written By,
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Monday, July 18, 2011

smallmouth bass on the milwaukee river

This was the second trip north on the Milwaukee River and we finally got a decent bass. We went through our share of small bass and pike and had a couple toothy critters even bite through our line. Even though the bass photos are in the video shown below, I felt them worthy of posting the still shots again anyways

milwaukee river smallmouth bass
The fish measured from the tip of the finger to the bend in the elbow.
a milwaukee river smallmouth bass, worthy of a photo

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Friday, July 15, 2011

milwaukee river pike and smallmouth fishing

the mighty milwaukee river
It wasn’t that long ago I ventured out to learn the Milwaukee River for the first time. I’m on a quest for at least one decent smallmouth bass and I hope my time doesn’t run out. When the salmon come a knockin, I will be dropping everything. Sure, I could take the easy way out and drive to where Damien has already been catching some nice smallmouth bass but I think Ken G was serious about hunting us down one by one. Don’t worry Ken, your secret is safe with Damien. Plus, I know that the potential for big fish exists when we even bring the Milwaukee River up in conversation. It’s a daunting river to start fishing just based on the amount of watershed and the distance the river travels but I believe when you put the pieces of the puzzle together you just might strike smallmouth gold.

milwaukee river
Basically, I have just started with one access point and will add another access with every new trip I take. My goal by king season is to put together a personal map highlighting the best pools and stretches of water in the entire river. By next summer this should serve as a good cheat sheet to pool hop my way back home coming from the north.

miwaukee river smallmouth bass
A few observations from trip #1
  • The deepest pools held the biggest fish while the water was low
  • Pike were relating to wood adjacent to the deep water
  • Smallmouth were on the rocks where they dropped into the deep pools
  • Leaders are in order, pike have sharp teeth
  • Don’t walk in the deep pools before fishing them
  • 1/8th oz jigs with a grub will penetrated even the deepest pools quickly
  • Don’t wade past your waist while wearing hip boots
  • Don’t keep your keys, phone or wallet in your pocket when you wade past your hip boots
  • Consider wet wading to stay cool

milwaukee river pike
Ok, so another mediocre trip when you look at some of my meager bass but I sure learned a heck of a lot. Throwing small spinners in the shallow runs produced almost a dozen tiny bass. I spooked some nice bass in the 3 pound class and had a huge fish give chase but ended stopping short. Don’t worry bass, I know where you sleep and will be back for more. When all else fails a good pike can save the day, this I know because I caught six from a downed tree on the inside of a big bend. The two biggest pike of the day were lost to the tree and the other to a bite off. I hope to be keeping cool in the Milwaukee this weekend chillin with a group of my buddies. I hope we all have a nice smallmouth on the end of our lines.

the pike save the day on the milwaukee

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

des plaines river pike fishing

good looking water on the des plaines river
Somewhere in Lake County we can be found chasing pike after a long days work. Based on its proximity to the office, the Des Plaines is a great choice for mid-summer’s afternoon wade. Pulling out of the office we can be standing on its bank in less than five minutes and be ready to fish in just under ten. Even though I grew up just a few short miles from the Des Plaines River this is just the first season I have ever graced its banks. I have always had the perception that it was a barren and dirty river but the pike reports I’ve been hearing have been too much to resist.

des plaines river wildlife
We have had a few nice bites and landed one fish so far that was over twenty four inches, though he decided to flop back in before we could begin the photo shoot for his internet debut. The DPR pike we have found seem to like the slow deep water adjacent to wood and rocks. We have also had some success fishing the bends, funnel areas, and eddies. Spinnerbaits, buzzbaits and jig and twister combos have seemed to be working for us so far.

The most surprising thing to me so far (besides the sheer amount of pike in the river) is the abundance of good water in this river. I have found plenty of structure, some great pools and the few sections I have waded held plenty of sand and gravel. Not the dirty mucky bottom composition I was expecting. Stay tuned for more on our continued search for a thirty inch pike.

my new fishing buddy Matt with a des plaines river average pike

close up of the des plaines river pike

my jig and twister tail des plaines river pike

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Monday, July 11, 2011

warm water fishing the root river

River smallmouth fishing is something new that we have just sort of jumped into on a whim here and my hope is to quickly hone my skills enough to actually land a dandy before the kings get up on shore. A few recent reports of bass in the Root have caught my attention and I figured, what the hell? With only a few hours to fish, it was a good choice because at least I was familiar with the water. My primary goal was to find a smallmouth bass that may have migrated up the Root River from Lake Michigan. As a secondary, it would be interesting to just see what the river looks like in the heart of summer. Maybe with some luck a crappie, pike, or something else cool would be enticed enough to bite?

Anything would be a relief compared to the last outing I had. My last trout trip turned nasty very quickly, being completely swarmed by an army of Dane County mosquitoes and black gnats. Bites were shared by the exposed areas of skin on my neck and arms and the annoyance was constant. Let me mention that I cant stand bugs at all. My precious fishing time was eaten (literaly) away by those little bastards. Missing takes because im too busy swinging my hat at the swarm really sucks. To make matters worse I found gnats up my nose, in my ear canal, and caught in the back of my throat after coming home to take a shower. I got all the ones that flew in my eyes out right away while fishing but that was enough to send me looking for an alternative to mid summer stream trout.

root river (summer)
The Root River wade started peacefully, after arriving I quickly noticed that I was the only person out fishing the Root that morning. Not the typical scene I’m used to seeing when pulling into the parking area. I started fishing the shaded areas of Lincoln Park and made my way up stream towards the weir. A tiny inline spinner with a gold blade was my first choice, hopeful it’s flashy blade or black and yellow body would attract a variety of species. I’m not sure if the trout gods felt bad about my most recent “buggy” trout trip, but the tiny stocker browns were up in the river thick. They hung in the fast shallow pools in groups, they were so plentiful that I almost went back to the car for my three weight fly rod (still rigged from the disaster trip). But, the voice of reason in my head was prompt to reminded me that I was actually prospecting smallmouth water and I refocused on the task at hand. A couple of the deeper pools just under the weir gave up some rock bass so I figured I might be on the right track. After fishing all the way to the weir I decided to drop back to Island Park. I wanted to see if I could find some deeper and slower pools and maybe just stumble into my smallie.

root river stocker brown trout

another stocker brown at the root river
The fast riffles and pools in front of Island Park also held masses of stocker browns. With the sweltering heat I was surprised to find them so eager to chase and take a spinner, but here they were. Air temps close to ninety and water temps close to seventy and the trout were still feeling froggy. If the pattern was to hold true, then there should be some warm-water species hanging in the deep slow pool just upstream. I walked up to the bridge pool and made a single cast into the gut. Instantly another rock bass grabbed my panther martin before I could make 2 full cranks. It started to feel like I was actually starting to unlock some of the mystery for myself. A few more casts, another strike, another rock bass? This time the fish shot straight out of the water followed by a few hard digs. Being one of those “not to terribly big” bass, I quickly swung the fish up on the gravel and pounced on my first Root River smallmouth.

a dink root river smallmouth bass
Sure, he isn’t big, but he means something. I put my mind to finding him and found him I did. That was a whole hell of a lot of fun for just a few short hours. About 15 small browns, a few rock bass, and one dink smallmouth bass were the totals. This warm water wading could be a great way to stay cool in the summer heat.

A side note- Hooking trout in water over 65 degrees puts heavy stress on the fish. Don’t dick around and release them quickly if you expect fish to live. Better yet, avoid hooking them altogether. Lesson learned.
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Friday, July 8, 2011

lake delavan bass fishing

My good buddy Don has been slaying the bass for the last couple months up on Lake Delavan. Sure, he's found some productive spots but shared with me that overall the shallows have been the most productive. While other anglers are fishing a hundered yards off the bank, he has found his best success being right on the bank. He recently just caught a fish that tipped the scale at just over six pounds. We will blame a bad camera for missing that photo but here are some nice bass caught over the last couple outings. Thanks for the update Don!

lake delavan bass
another delavan bass

a shallow water delavan bass

family fishing lake delavan
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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Illinois Fox River Smallmouth Bass Fishing

wading for fox river smallmouth bass
With the shore fishing for kings still a few weeks away and the inland trout streams locked up with some serious weed growth me and Damien have converted to river smallmouth fishing. Due to logistics he will most likely focus his efforts from Cook County Illinois and south and I mainly will focus from Racine County Wisconsin and north.

Damien and his father fished a few tributaries of the Fox River and kept the presentation simple. The winning ticket was a 1/16th ounce jig head with a white twister tail grub. He shared that a lot of the hits came while working the jig against the current. It kept the presentation slow, gave the jig a lot of action, and kept the bait in the strike zone for longer. Stay tuned over the next few weeks for some more warm water wading.

fox tributary river smallmouth bass
a nice fox river smallmouth bass
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