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.


  1. I've never seen a bald eagle in person so those shots are impressive to me. Makes fishing in the cold almost worth it. :)

  2. Happy New Year, Bill. A chilly day, but worth the trip. At least you caught a couple.


  3. Ahh, the IL river. I wish I had fished it more when I lived there....except maybe not on a day like this one.

  4. That's some cold weather right there!