I headed out for some sunrise fishing at Kaskaskia River. It was overall a pretty slow bite, with random hits. Carp were really out sunning in the backwaters near the Suspension Bridge.
I did end up catching a handful of small channel, drum, and bluegill. Down in the main channel, I also caught a small green sunfish on micro gear.
It was nearly time for me to leave, so I started walking back to the truck. On a whim, I through out a curly tail one last time and caught a new lifer / 2015 species. I’ve caught many black crappie, but this was my first white crappie:
5/24 – Skillet Fork
Skillet fork held a large number of micros of various kinds, but I didn’t have any tenago hooks with me to go after them. I set up a Carolina rig – this spot holds suckers, gar, yellow bullhead and lots of other backwater species. I couldn’t do anything but catch longear and green sunfish – they hit about every cast. I was also visited by a small group of ducklings, snapping turtles, and a northern water snake.
Woke up early Monday Morning – Dad and Mark Collier came to Sandoval, and we loaded up. We made good time to Port Clinton, saw lots of “Himalayan” deer (Him ‘ a ‘ layin’ – as in on the side of the road). Rained most of the way up. After we checked in, we hit the portage river. Our hotel had access directly behind it, and we were close to the pier.
Mark picked up a HUGE Freshwater Drum, I’d never seen one so big. We ended up catching a lot of drum over the trip, and started looking for spots where we wouldn’t catch drum by the end of it. I caught a few fairly nice ones, but his had to be around 30″ long.
Over at the pier, I immediately picked up a few White Perch – they are closely related to White Bass – Easy way to tell is that they lack stripes. This one had a good size bite taken out of it’s dorsal fin. I felt something hit it hard on the way in.
I left some worms to soak on one pole, and started drifting waxworms on a small #12 circle hook. I really wanted to pick up Northern Sunfish and Pumpkinseed while I was up that way, but I’ll have some more chances at those later. When the waxies would drift close to the shore I would pick up a few gobies.
I fished pretty stinking late, but kept only catching Drum, White Perch and Gobies. Rain was moving in, had a fair bite – but only one new lifer – and two new 2015 species.
Juls picked us up early Tuesday morning, and we went after some breakfast. It rained pretty much the entire six hours we spent out on the water, but we picked up quite a few Walleye – Average was 26″, but we caught our first 30″ of the week – ended up catching a fair amount of 30″+ fish all week long. We ended up with 54 lbs of Walleye.
That afternoon I tried bottom fishing some in the Little Portage River Wildlife Area. The fish were not having it in the main river. My time was running out, since I needed to pick Dad and Mark up for Dinner – So I hit smaller spots on the way out. I got a good bite on a small pond, but couldn’t hook anything – so I downsized my hook and caught a goldfish.
On the drive out, I stopped at a ditch that fed into the Little Portage river, and found a swarm of Golden Shiners – Including this fat female who laid eggs all over me. Didn’t notice until I got them everywhere.
Later that night, I went to a small pond near the hotel – a few dead channel cat were floating in it, and the sunfish bite was lite – but I caught a few. They were bluegill and green sunfish, which I already have caught this year.
We went out with Juls that morning, but only picked up 2 small ‘eyes totalling 5 lbs. It was super foggy, and you couldn’t see much…but you could sure hear the foghorns of ferries and barges. You don’t really want to get ran over by those, so Juls graciously allowed us to move the hours to different days.
Right after we called it quits, Juls shared a sorta-publicly-know Morel spot with us. The morels had come and gone at home, but these were just starting. Greys and Yellows, and a few random blacks.
The fog never really cleared off, but we hit Cold creek later in the afternoon. Rainbow, Brook and Brown trout frequent the stream. Dad caught a small rainbow, but they weren’t really biting. However, the emerald shiners were thick. Also managed to pick up a silver shiner upstream below a riffle.
Days 4 and 5 really made up for the fog and rain! Day 4 was the day of heavy fish – 74 lbs total, 14 fish. 5 “Fish Ohio” qualifying Walleye – greater than 28″, and two 30″ fish at the same time on both sides of the boat.Afterwards I hit the Little Sandusky River down at a bridge below the main wildlife area. I caught a new lifer – a bowfin. It was a crazy fight, it was a fairly large fish, and I was looking for sunfish – so it was a #12 circle hook, 4lb test, and a waxworm. I fought it forever, finally worked it up the bank. It thrashed me good when I was handling it, I fell, it fell, and it went back into the water. So no pic. He must have been the guard dog for this muskrat.
Never caught another bowfin that day, but managed to pick up a few little bass.
I went and picked Dad and Mark up and we tried Cold Creek again. I caught a carp, but it managed to shake off the hook while I was pulling it out of the water – another lifer missed in one day. I may be cursed! Steelhead were running up and down the creek – we harassed one terribly. Dropped nightcrawlers, red wrigglers, egg sacks, powerbait, and wax worms in front of her face, and she wasn’t having any of it. Very lethargic, I wonder if she had just spawned?
We didn’t catch Walleye as big today, but they sure were coming in waves. We were running 6 boards, the bottom bouncer was in time out for not catching any walleye. At one point, we had only one line out, we caught 5 fish in 10 minutes. Three at once. These fish only weighed in at 45 lbs total, but they were all eaters.
Overall, we caught 178 total pounds of fish – 41 keepers. We divided the meat in thirds, 120 pounds of finished meat. At $12.50 / pound in the fish market – About $1,500 dollars worth of fillets.It was a great day to finish out the week’s Walleye fishing.
I took a nap – the week was really catching up to me, but afterwards we headed to revisit the bowfin spot. I had seen a big channel pulled out the previous day. Luckily, I had better luck this time. Found several nests of bullhead.
Didn’t get a channel as big as I had seen – but managed to pick one of those up too.
We had to really work to get the hook out, so I just took the picture while dad was holding it. I’ve caught way bigger catfish, but it felt nice to finally catch one this year. Right afterwards, dad caught a buffalo of some sort, didn’t see it as he was throwing it back. Then, finally, a bowfin.
Wasn’t quite as big as the previous one, but fought well and had nice color.We were getting ready to head to Steak’n’Shake for some Frisco Melts, but I decided to throw in my fish-finder rig one more time. The guy on the page I linked to gives them a little hate, but it’s made the biggest contribution to the number of catfish I have caught than any other rig. I hate to think of how many hundreds (or thousands) of 15+ pounders my dad has caught on this rig. Anyway, I decided to load the bottom hook up with corn. Right when I was getting ready to reel in and leave, I caught this Common Carp!
He put up a drag-screaming, multi-run fight. But luckily, I had brought the big guns out this time – my Nightstick catfish rod and Daiwa DF100A reel, loaded with 500 yards of 15lb mono. It may have been a little overkill.
We ended up frying up some of the Walleye and vacuum sealing the rest of it on Mother’s Day. We had a great trip, and there is already talk of making a Striped Bass trip…so I’ll have to start researching some new spots
So, yesterday I decided to check out some of the local creeks where I could get access for a few micros. I ended up picking up a few new species, as well as some I already have knocked out for the year.
I tried a spot south of Salem on Crooked creek. There were creek chubs and stonerollers, but I just wasn’t having good luck. The water was very muddy, and the bite was light. I didn’t want to waste time, so I headed over to Dums Creek. There I picked up my two new species for this trip: a Blackstripe Topminnow and a Bluntnose Minnow.
The sunfish were absolutely swarming. Picked up these Bluegill / Green Sunfish. It was hard to fish for anything else, because they would swarm the bait.
Finally, I dipped in on the way to pick up my daughter to catch her one of these creek chubs I saw before in Iuka. They are in a piece of creek that is cut off on both ends for now, so I knew they would be there. I took this one for her to see up close. She was sad when the fish went back home to it’s creek
A lot has happened since my first spotted bass! I’ve been to several spots and picked up ten new species! I figured I’d better get on top of updating, since we are leaving in just a few days for a week of hardcore fishing in Ohio. Walleye here I come!
Forbes Lake, IL – Boston Pond
I had a day of working at the studio, where Rachel was away at a wedding. I figured I had time for two quick trips, and they paid off pretty well with four new species for 2015.
Right off the bat, I dropped in a carolina rig for Rainbow Trout, #18 hook – rainbow power bait. Classic rig for stocked trout. I had really got to figure out something before I leave for Ohio – there are wild brookies and browns up at the trout camps. There are a huge number of species I am after up there, so I am trying to figure out the best way to optimize time.
While waiting on my trout, I picked up two sunfish species. My problem with reckoning what fish I have captured before, is that I have never documented any. So I can’t be sure if I have caught green sunfish, although I am pretty sure I had. Caught several regardless!
Apparently, I had a very lazy trout on the line while I was reeling in sunfish. I watched it like a hawk, and never saw so much as a twitch. The trout you could see were super sluggish. Don’t know how long he was on, but it took the disgorger to unhook him
After I picked up these three (I spent more time driving to them than fishing for them). I headed back to work.
Kaskaskia River, Carlyle Dam
After my work was completed, I had a little time before sunset, so I headed out to Carlyle to try some bottom fishing. There’s no telling what you will pick up on a carolina rigged worm there. That night the answer was drum. Lots of drum.
They were all approximately this size. Every cast brought one in. I know when we get up to Port Clinton, we will catch much bigger drum, but these were fairly fun to catch a mess of.
Shortly after, Rachel and I left for Georgia to attend a week long marriage retreat for couples who are small business partners (mostly photographers / creatives). I may have been a little sceptical at first, but I blame that on my proximity to the Coosa river, and a number of species that are found in that area and not back home (Coosa bass, Snail Bullhead, Greater and Brassy Jumprocks, etc.). We ended up having a blast, met many couples who share the same struggles, and got to hash through things that we never have the time to deal with. It was really nice meeting other couples, some that are objectively famous in the photography world, who seemed like clones of us. We all apparently drive each other nuts in similar ways. It was very Christianity-centric, so it was nice to have some focus on that too. Honestly, it felt the most like “Church” should feel like in my mind than I have felt in forever.
Last Saturday (April 25th), Ben Cantrell and I headed down to Barkley Dam in Kentucky to, hopefully, pick up a new lifer each – skipjack herring. Ben is solely responsible for starting a new obsession with Microfishing – fishing for the tiniest fish, instead of hunting trophies. He documented this trip too, along with Sunday at Carlyle. I spent Sunday planting flowers with my daughter.
Barkley was pretty high, the accessible ramp was flooded up pretty high, so I started casting directly into the ramp! The ramp was full of white bass. Ben ended up catching the biggest white I’ve ever seen.
A family started running sabiki-style rigs, and I ended up tying 3 jigs (1-1/8th, 2-1/16th) with randomly colored jigs on them. Started catching fair amounts of skipjack. I had two on at once, but broke the line (don’t use 4# mono for multiple fish with a habit of jumping and thrashing). Still managed to get the top one in.
The one I broke off looked bigger, but that may just be the mind of a fisherman. Since I’ve started this goal of catching 50, I can’t focus too long on one species. So afterwards, I started trying to float waxworms for goldeye. Never got a hit. Eventually, we decided to start microfishing several creeks. Around sunset, we hit Barkley one last time, and Ben caught a massive Silver Carp.
Cumberland and Tennessee Feeder Creeks
So, the thing about microfishing is that it opens up bodies of water that you would never even notice. I found out several things about it.
It’s really hard to bait a hook so small I can barely see it.
It takes a lot of focus to pick your target and get it to bite.
I don’t know what any of the fish are that aren’t huge. The Peterson Field Guide is a requirement.
You quickly learn latin names, at least the genus.
I love microfishing
The above Creek Chub was the first to pick up, and I learned you have to “pop” the fish out of the water instead of “lifting” them. It’s not as easy to set a hook on a fish measured in grams as you would think. The tiny green sunfish from above made an appearance next.
Next up, we had a blast catching Fringed Darters. There were slabrock darters in the stream too, but we didn’t catch any. They may have been the smaller ones we were seeing, but we were catching the massive two-inchers.
We moved spots after this to try for a neighboring darter species. I started at this creek by trying to catch stonerollers, but they were uninterested. A Blackspotted Topminnow was though!
Guardian darters are “egg-mimics,” the males have protrusions that look like eggs. Presumably, while they are under a rock, it appears that they already have a next, which appeals to the females.
Sunday Ben hit Carlyle and nailed several species I still need for this year, but I spent the day outside with my Daughter. We went to Bucheit’s and picked out flowers for her raised bed and pots. Planted them, along with some vegetables – Jalapeño peppers, Cucumbers, Zucchini, Summer Squash, and Bush Beans. Already have Lettuce, Spinach, Radishes, Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli, and Cauliflower in the ground. Just need to plant potatoes before my trip!
Went fishing at a secret spot farm pond with Jesse Brinkley. We caught a huge mess of 3lb. Largemouths (in all seriousness – in the 50-60 range), but also caught a random spotted bass – very unusual for a pond. It had the tongue patch, bridged dorsal fins, typical spot pattern, and the mouth didn’t extend back past the eye, so I’m fairly confident in it’s identification. Maybe recent flooding got it in there, or stocking?
On an unrelated note, plums are blooming out, and the rest of the prunus don’t look like they will be too far behind. As soon as it stops raining, I need to go double dig and get things planted!
Spring classes are about half-way through, but I am looking to add several exciting new classes in the summer and fall semesters!
Soil Amendment & Composting – 6PM, May 21st @ Crisp – Learn about your living soil, including several popular techniques like Lasagna Gardening.
Beginning Phenology - 5:30PM, April 16th @ Crisp – Phenology is one of my favorite classes about everything and nothing. In general, Phenology is the study of the progression of the seasons – When birds migrate, buds open and fruits ripen.
Modern Hunter Gatherer - 5:30PM, April 9th @ Salem – A deep look into the wild edibles of Illinois, and how to safely gather them.
Late Season Gardening – 5:30PM May 19th @ Crisp, or April 30th @ Salem – Want to have fresh greens for Christmas? A look into season extending through easy garden practices.
In addition, I will be teaching a Webpage Design course April 27-29th, 5:30-8:00 PM at the Crisp Technology Center. If you have any questions about any of these courses, feel free to drop me a line.
This past Sunday I headed up to Shelbyville spillway to try to add some species to my 50 fish challenge. Overall, I didn’t see many fish come out of the water. Ben Cantrell came down, and managed to pull out a Common Carp. Earlier that morning I had a musky hit a double-bladed chartreuse spinnerbait so hard that it flew out of the water, but even with a trailer hook it didn’t get hooked. Otherwise, I saw a couple smallish walleye and a buffalo get caught. I started right at the gates at sunrise, and worked my way down past the bridge. Skunked for the first time this year.
However, I took my daughter down to Catfish Pond in Centralia Foundation Park and we hooked her first fish together. We missed the first few, as I was trying to teach her how to set the hooks. She ended up being the designated bobber watcher, and told me when it went under. I set the hook for her, and she reeled it in. I ran some more line out and let her reel it in one more time. She threw it back in by herself, but she drew the line at giving it a kiss. I’ll count this one as a catch for both of us