Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Best day of Sauger fishing I can remember

More Photos from todays trip:

Launching before Sunrise
My original plan was to go look for King Salmon and possibly an early Lake Trout on Lake Michigan Tuesday, but I got an email from my friend Jim Lukancic and decided to take him up on his invitation to fish the IL River instead. I met him at his house about an hour and a half before the sun was due to rise and we headed off in the darkness to fish a stretch of the river I've never been to before.

The sun rises as the clouds move in

The video at the bottom of this post doesn't do justice to the great day we were about to experience. When we got to the ramp there was a large group of hunters waiting to take off. Throughout the day we'd hear the occasional shotgun blasts, but they were a long way off from the water we fished.

Jim with a nice IL River Sauger

Jim ran his boat to the first spot and he was right on as far as where he thought the fish would be. We caught a lot of fish there including Sauger, White Bass, Freshwater Drum, and one Yellow Bass. Jim caught a couple real good fish there but it took me a little while to get into the swing of things. I left my jacket in my car and was concentrating more on the fact I was freezing than fishing.

Jim puts a White Bass in the boat

As we fished that spot we saw flocks of Geese flying south and I was wondering why the Pelicans were flying north. A young Bald Eagle flew by as a crow began yelling his displeasure at the intrusion into his air space.
Are we there yet?

After fishing that spot for a couple of hours, Jim explained that he knew of another spot where there would be fewer, but bigger fish and we decided to go check that area out. Lucky for me Jim offered to stop back at the ramps so I could get his extra jacket before we made the run to the next spot.

Immature Bald Eagle takes flight
On the way to the next spot we saw several young Bald Eagles. Some were in trees and others were playing tag in the air above the trees. Different species of birds were congregating in different areas. It seemed each species had their own little neighborhood on the river.

One of my best Sauger for the day

Jim was right about the next spot. The first time I dropped my jig, I pulled up a small White Bass. A little later I'd pull in my first big fish of the day. Fishing was a little slower, but the fish we caught were definitely bigger as my next fish was pretty much a clone of the one I had just released.

Another Sauger about to be released

Jim wasn't about to be outdone and pulled another good one from that spot. As a barge passed us, I noticed lots of silver carp jumping out of the water next to it. I picked up the video camera and made an attempt to capture it. During the warmer months, boaters have to be very careful because the vibrations from outboard motors will send the Silvers flying into the air and they've been known to break windshields and injure boaters and skiers.

Another nice Sauger from the IL River

Jim wanted to show me one more spot before we headed back. Again he was right on. We caught fish, but I think the brief appearance the sun made, and the fact the wind died down helped to slow fishing. Even though it slowed the fishing (or more likely moved the fish), it was enough for me to unbutton the jacket and life vest I had put on the stay warm. We still managed a few nice fish though. I even caught a small Bullhead to make for our fifth species of the day. The Spirit of Peoria steamed by and we discussed running to one more spot to try for a Bass but decided we'd better hit the road instead. It was going to be an equally long drive back.

Another good Sauger

The day had gone from a cold cloudy morning in the mid 40s, to a partly sunny afternoon in the mid 60s. We drove through a brief rain shower as we left, but by the time I got home, it was still nice enough for me to wash down my boat from the last trip I took with it. My dog was glad to help with that task.

Afternoon Traffic

Thanks to Jim for inviting me out. It was a great day of fishing and conversation.


  1. It sounds and looks like a great day fishing. I sure like the looks of those white bass. Do you eat those Sauger?
    Tight lines

  2. A lot of people do eat them, but I'd be hesitant to eat anything out of that river as I've seen what goes into the water far upriver. I've had a lot of people tell me the fish are ok, but having seen some of the stuff leaking from barges and whatnot, that scares me.

  3. Never seen a Sauger in a photo until today. Do they put up a scrap on the end of your line? I have heard of those flying Carp before. Looks like that could be an adventure if you were in the area at the right time. Thanks for sharing!

  4. The Sauger fight just like Walleye. The bigger ones are a lot of fun on a MH rod. Sometimes it can be tough to tell the difference between a sauger and their bigger cousins the Walleye, but the Walleye always have that tell-tale white spot on their tails that the Sauger lack.

  5. Thanks for information, Bill!