Saturday, December 29, 2012

home is where the... crappie are?

I lived here going on a decade and with the abundance of waters surrounding my home there is always somewhere new to pioneer. This is Lake County Illinois after all, and home to the Fox Chain of Lakes. It makes it sometimes so easy to bypass some of those small waters right outside your front door.

My neighborhood, just like many others, is speckled with many flood bearing retention ponds. Most of them are tiny but a couple have both the size and depth to support some healthy populations of fish. I've always known that some of the local kids and adults alike have had success with some pretty nice largemouth here. What I never knew that there was such a robust population of crappies. Even more surprising is that those ponds I thought to have no more then a maximum depth of 5 feet were actually closer to 10. Hmm?

This morning I snuck out for 30 mins to test the waters. Two holes were drilled in the basin area of this little pond. The reality is I couldn't get the bait down half way before a flash mob of fish were rising up after it. Half a dozen crappies and nearly a dozen gills came through the ice before deciding to call it quits. Not bad for a short morning. Since there is a solid 3 inches and growing, I plan on taking my son back out here in the next day or so. It will be good to get him on some fish and give some of these larger bodies of water a little extra time to solidify.

ice fishing my subdivision ponds
Sometimes its easy to overlook somethings so obvious.
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Thursday, December 27, 2012

bass through glass

Early ice over a clear northern Illinois lake is almost like looking through a window into the fishes world. A few more inches of thickness and these images will slowly fade to a muted grey. But for now, they offer an almost fish tank perspective into our quarries underwater world. Marked very few today but every one that did come up off bottom ultimately hit. All the ice we found today was in the 1.5 to 2.5 inch range. I'm gonna give it another cold night or two before I try again. Ice isn't being produced at any great rate but at least I got that initial trip in and a few slime-backs on the board.

the fish fighting under the ice
a nice largemouth through the ice
Everyone respect the ice and travel with soft feet. Good luck on the hardwater. Maybe if I get a bit froggy I'll try and punch a hole or two early one morning but my next trip most likely will be an afternoon evening crappie bite.

a wonderful  mixed bag

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Sunday, December 23, 2012

honey, i think the ice machine is broken?

After a lackluster 2011-2012 ice season last year, many hardwater enthusiasts have been left anticipating this season more then others of the past. The unseasonably warm winter last year, wreaked havoc on developing any significant amounts of ice for any significant amount of time. Just when you would think that the ice was solid a new warm front would push through and take it away faster then it had come. This scenario replayed enough times to actually make me ill when thinking about it. Thank God for the Green bay trip we took to fish whites, that trip salvaged the entire season.

The 2012-2013 had started in almost the exact same fashion. An unseasonably warm early December plagued local ice addicts again, and the feeling of deja vu was in the back of the minds of many. Well, I'm ecstatic to report that the cold weather is here and looks like it is sticking around for a little. Local lakes really have just capped over for the first time and some of the ponds have up to 1.5 inches on them, at least in my area. While I won't test the local lakes for thickness just yet, I drove past Fox Lake this morning just to see how it looked. The entire lake was capped and the only thing open was the current area right under the Route 12 bridge. A few more days of this weather and I'll venture out a tad further to get some idea of thickness.

a nice cap on fox chain of lakes
Ice anglers, please exercise extreme caution this year when venturing out on early ice. It's hard to forget the angler who lost his life last year on Pistakee Lake, one of my favorite early season haunts. Failing to plan is planning to fail.

Don't forget these tips for early season-
  • Give it until 3 inches solid
  • Fish in a group, save those more remote spots for later season
  • wear creepers
  • bring ice picks
  • pack a length of rope in your sled
  • avoid springs and current areas

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Monday, December 17, 2012

waterfalls of pisgah national forest

looking glass falls

moore cove falls

moore cove falls

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

bunny strip deceiver

   tail- white hackle
bunny strip deceiver
   wing- magnum cut rabbit strips
   body- white bucktail
   throat- red flash cut inside the hook
   thread- black

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Monday, December 10, 2012

Sunday, December 2, 2012

urban angler

Travel sure has a way of getting to me. It likes to grab a hold and shake me around a bit. It tries to persuade  me every time to fall for that simpler life. Caught somewhere between the rat race and suburbia is all I ever known. You don't just walk outside here and find yourself in the middle of some great and magical forest. Mountains are a pipe dream and an hours drive in any direction won't necessarily find you solitude either. Nope, it's Home depots, Targets, and Starbucks as far as the eye can see. Believe me, I know, we go through much more effort then that sometime just to get sufficiently "lost" around here.

What I do know is, we have countless opportunities in our area for catching a good bite. My family is here, my job is here, so what if all the big fish hang around the end of a treatment plant discharge pipe. I enjoy fishing breakwalls, dams, and concrete just fine. For me, I will catch anything that swims for a smile and am perfectly content to go on being an urban angler. Time spent in the backwoods will just be that much more special.

the victory spoils for an urban angler sure are nice
Now for a freaking fishing report-

Fished the Milwaukee down low yesterday. Fish were really spread out and I had to really put in a good hike. Funny how easy it is to catch fish once you get further away from parking then anyone else. Once I got away from everyone the fish seemed way more condensed. It wasn't long till I was into some fish. Both hit came from pink glo-bug eggs.

i almost forget where i am
The Milwaukee River, while it flows though the heart of the city, does a great job of hiding the hustle and bustle. Oddly enough the bad neighborhoods have some of the best fishing on the river...
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