Saturday, November 28, 2009

Des Plaines River - November 27, 2009

Chris and I headed to the Des Plaines River about mid morning. Unlike the past several day there wasn't a cloud in the sky so I wasn't expecting much in the way of fish. We got to our first spot and noticed a lot of Shad. We snagged several and some of the bigger ones hit the lures and were caught fair and square. It took a while but I finally managed to catch a couple Largemouth from that spot on a new crank bait I haven't thrown before.

Largemouth Bass

Shortly after we left that spot, we spotted a couple of Bald Eagles in a tree. Chris had never seen Eagles in the wild so it was a treat for him. I've seen more than I can count and it's still a treat for me every time. I stopped the boat and began taking pictures.

Bald Eagles

After a minute one took off, then the other. They flew a wide circle before landing back in the same tree.

Bald Eagle

We began throwing crank baits at our next spot. Again it took a while, but I put two Smallmouth in the boat.

Smallmouth Bass

We went on to a third spot and fishing was even slower. I hooked a big fish which I think was a Gar, and as Chris was standing ready with the net, it broke me off and took my new crank bait with it. I tied on another one and was ready to continue.

Red Squirrel

A short time later we noticed we had an audience from a tree that was hanging over the water. Chris managed to catch a Smallmouth while he was watching. We fished that spot a little longer but didn't catch anything else. As we were about finished, we saw the stangest looking bird. It looked like one of the rocks it was sitting between at the waters edge.

Camoflaged Bird

We stopped back at our first spot and I caught another Largemouth before we struck out at our last spot. None of the fish we caught were worth bragging about but it was nice to be out there. The air temp never got out of the 30s but the sun made it feel warmer. The water was still in the mid 50s. We made it back to my house and got the boat put away just as the sun set.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Indiana Creeks - November 23, 2009

The sun makes a brief appearance

My friend Al and his friend Tony picked me up before the glow of the sun was visible in the eastern sky. Our destination was somewhere in Indiana to chase Steelhead. On the way, we made a quick stop at a bait shop so Al could pick up some bait in case the fish weren't interested in his homemade spinners.

Lots of places to snag

There is a lot of submerged brush where we were and Al has designed a spinner that goes through it quite easily without getting hung up. I was using a similar spinner as well as some artificial bait that has been sitting in my garage for the past few years.

As soon as Al parked the truck, I grabbed my rods and headed for a spot where I'd caught fish in the past. I hooked a monster right away on the artificial bait but it broke off. A short time later I had a smolt on a spinner. After snagging and losing my spinner, I switched to one that Al had given me.

Al hooks one in "my spot"

I worked the spot for over an hour before Al showed up. He threw his bait in the water and his bobber disappeared right away. He set the hook and his pole was bent way over. Fish on. Big fish on.

After a short battle, Al landed the fish and then proceeded to land three more from the same spot. He hooked and lost a 4th. Prior to getting to that spot, he had caught three and lost another.

Al pulls another fish from a spot I had just beaten up pretty good

I followed Al and watched him catch another, then another, then another.

Another fish from the same spot where I hooked and lost a good fish

I think he landed 9 or 10 fish before we were done.

How is he going to get that fish over that tree? Watch and learn!

I went ahead of him as we were headed back and caught up with Tony. As I was throwing the spinner, I had a good hit and the fish went air born. He came down, took off up stream and broke off. That would have been right up there with the biggest Steelhead I'd ever caught.

Me going out on a limb - literally

I even walked out onto a tree to try to keep my lure from getting hung up in the brush around the shoreline, and also drift the bait into what looked like all the right places. As I was out there, Tony landed a few smolts. I also saw Al hook another monster fish that jumped 5 or 6 times before if got away.

Indiana DNR truck

We decided early on we'd keep a couple fish and wound up bringing three back to the truck. We didn't bring a cooler (they wouldn't have fit anyway) so we left the fish on the ground while Al and Tony went to look at one more spot.

I stayed back to watch the fish and an Indiana DNR person showed up. She looked over the fish, weighed and measured them, and was kind enough to provide a plastic garbage bag so we could transport the fish home without sliming up the back of the truck.

Three nice keepers

Once home, Bear helped me wash the fish and place them in a cooler, and then show them to a couple of the neighborhood kids (and parents) who like to fish. I had to admit that I did not catch them but went 0 for 2, but they were still excited to see such nice fish. Bear was excited too and wagged his tail as he sniffed each fish before it went into the cooler. I could tell he was thinking "Why didn't he take me?"

Monday, November 9, 2009

Another tough day on the Big Lake

Lake Michigan - November 9, 2009

US Army Corp of Engineers working on the lake

I hit Lake Michigan again on Monday the 9th. This time I took Al Bernicky with me. Al has been out there many times before, and caught countless Lake Trout, and other big fish out there. He is one of the best fishermen I know and knows several different ways to catch fish out there.

We had everything with us that has caught Lake Trout before out there including tubes, crank baits, spinners, dipseys, dodgers, spin-n-glows, and more... Nothing worked.

Al catches a Goby on the Dipsey-Dodger-Spin-n-Glow rig

We thought it was strange that no one else was out looking for Lake Trout. There was a north wind forecast, but the lake was calm with a southwest wind. We wondered if the wind forecast kept everyone away, or maybe the Lake Trout were done early. We saw a couple boats come out to do some perch fishing but all we saw them catch were small ones.

First Goby of the day

We decided we'd harass the Gobies. Gobies are very aggressive and will hit just about anything they think they can swallow. They are an invasive species and it is illegal to have live ones in your possession. We caught them on twister tails and 1/2 oz to 3/4 oz jig heads. Every time we'd get the jig near the bottom, we'd feel the fish attack. We lost count of how many caught.

Me with another Round Goby

I even caught a small perch. The big ones should start showing up soon.

A Yellow Perch

The wind turned around and began to blow out of the north. We started to see a few more Lake Trout on the surface so we quit messing around with the little fish and went back to trying to catch what we went out there for in the first place.

Round Goby

Despite the wind blowing straight out of the north, the lake remained fairly calm. I've been out there in years past when the wind has turned around and before I knew it, I'd be surrounded by 10 foot swells while I carefully made my way back to the mouth of Burns Ditch.

The North Wind beginning to add a slight chop to the water

Once we finished our last pass along the reef, we decided to call it a day. The highlight of the day was when Al spotted a giant King Salmon by the boat ramps. Too bad it had been dead for quite a while.