Friday, December 31, 2010

IL River Sauger Fishing

Illinois River - December 30, 2010

Icy Parking Lot

Since it's been a while since I fished for Sauger, I thought I'd try to get Jim Lukancic and Al Bernicky out on the river so we could try our luck. Jim had got called back to work for a couple days after being laid off and wasn't able to go, and so Al and I were disappointed he wasn't able to join us.

Launching the boat very carefully

The ride out to river was a messy one. The boat was covered with snow and road scum by the time we got there. The parking lot was a sheet of ice. That was great for the kids who come to the park to sled down the hill, but not great if you're pulling a bass boat. We took our time and had no trouble getting the boat safely in the 35 degree water. By this time, most of the morning fog had dissipated leaving a dreary and overcast day.
Bald Eagles in the distance

As soon as we were on our way to fish our first spot, I spotted a couple Bald Eagles in a tree up river from where we were. We never went close enough to try for some good photos and I figured that we'd see more of them during the day.

A Bald Eagle flies by

A short time after we started fishing, Al said " That bird is going to fly right over your head and you don't have your camera ready?". Sure enough, before I could grab the camera and get a good shot, a Bald Eagle flew right over us. I missed the good shot but caught him flying away from us.

One of my first nice Sauger

Fishing was slow. I caught one or two smaller fish in the first spot we tried, but since we were looking for more and bigger fish, we decided to move. Sitting in a bass boat when you're flying down the river at more than 50 mph is one thing. Doing it when the temperature is at about the freezing mark is quite another. I had to suck it up and take it for a few minutes while we ran to our next spot. That was one cold ride.

A young Bald Eagle watches over our fishing spot

On the way down river, we spotted more Eagles. I wasn't about to try to photograph them as we were moving for fear I'd freeze to death before I could aim the camera. I anticipated the air temperature was going to be a bit warmer than it was and I left my extra clothes in my car - which was parked back in Als driveway.

 Another shot of the Eagle

 Once we began fishing, I caught a nice fish right away. That gave us hope we were going to have a better day. Unfortunately every time we found ourselves on top of a school of fish, we had to move to let the tug boats get at the barges were fishing near.

Another fish out of the same hole

I caught another fish once we were able to get back on top of the same spot where had I caught the first, but we were forced off a few minutes later by another tug pushing a couple barges. This got old real quick. I'd catch a fish and we'd have move right away before we could get any more.
Another nice Sauger

We stayed as long as we could in that area and put a few more fish in the boat. Eventually the bite stopped once they stacked a couple barges right over the hole where we had found them so we decided to head back to where we started our day.

One more nice fish in the boat

By this time there were several boats drifting around the area we wanted to fish. They were catching a lot of small fish so we decided to try a different drift pattern. It worked since Al put a nice Walleye in the boat on the first drift we made.

A Barge passes us on its way up river

I put one more nice fish in the boat that we caught in much shallower water than everyone else was fishing. After a few more smaller fish we decided to head back. It wasn't worth it to stay out there and go through so many small fish. Not to mention that it was supposed to already be raining on us according to the weather forecast.

A scenic point on the river

Pulling the boat out wasn't too bad. Once it was out of the water, we had trouble getting traction on the ice to get it the rest of the way up the ramp. Al eventually got it and we stowed all the gear in preparation for the messy ride home.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Steelhead Strike Out

Indiana - December 23, 2010

Al Bernicky and I got an early start towards Indiana this morning. We were hoping for a great day of Steelhead fishing. As we got there I couldn't help but notice how much more snow they have had in that area due to the Lake Michigan effect. There was a lot of it.

I raced off into the woods and followed the snow packed trail to find my spot partially frozen over, but there was enough room to fish. Long story short....I went 0 for three. I struck out. The first fish hit within the first few minutes after I started fishing. As soon as I pulled back on him, the hook came out. The next fish broke me off and I pulled the hook again on the third one. But when you're fishing in a setting such as the photo below, how can you complain?

Al fishes a scenic spot along the creek

A little while later Al showed up and said he had not even had a bite. I thought he would have landed a couple but he had nothing. He fished my spot a for a bit without a bite so we started fishing our way back. I shot some video of the walk along the creek and may or may not post it at some point. I didn't even fish until I got all the back to where the trail meets the creek as you walk in. I caught a couple smolts but that was it. Al showed up after a short time and settled into a scenic spot where I was able to get a nice photo of him. It didn't take long before I heard him say "FISH!". He landed a nice Steelhead and at that point we called it a day and headed for home.
Al shows off the only fish of the day before releasing it

One thing I noticed was the lack of moving wildlife. Usually the place is loaded with birds and squirrels, and one you almost always see other creatures, but not today. I saw a few birds and not one squirrel. I guess the fish were taking it easy today too.