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Chitown-Angler
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Joined: 10:30am - Mar 20,03
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Post Posted: 09:49pm - Jan 31,07 
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The air temp was 1degree , the wind chill -7 degrees with winds out of the southwest . It was overcast with an occasional peek of the sun . No precipitation thankfully as I had to get out before my flow froze up .

The water was 33.2 degrees with visibility about 2 feet . Just about every slackwater area was froze over and most of those that weren't were filling with slush and ice floes . About 99 % of the river was filled with ice floes in most places so thick that presenting a bait was futile . Most of the creeks were freezing over and in most cases the mouths were too are filled with ice floes .

One of the nice things about fishing the same flow for almost 35 years is that you know it fairly well . If you paid attention over the years you get to know how it works and in this case where the last open , fishable water is .

I went to the last creekmouth that usually freezes and found it 1/2 open . I was using a Mr Twister Weighted Keeper hook with a 4 inch Walleye Assassain . The area that was open was the scour hole right at the end of the mouth and has a bottom that consists of rubble/small boulders .

I started casting the jig to the outside edge of the open water next to the ice floes . I couldn't get bite so I kept edgeing closer to the existing ice shelf at the inside edge of the scour hole . I picked up 2 smallies in the 15 inch range by swimming the jig just fast enough to make the tail work . I switched to tubes and then deadsticked a Magic Stik without another pickup .

I moved to the biggest remaining patch of open water below the biggest dam on the flow . I went back to the Walleye Assassain as that was at least getting some action . The new area I was fishing was mostly limestone shelf with stepdown pockets in the shelf interspersed with boulders .

I went back to swimming the jig as slow as possible and still keep the tail working . I picked up a 18 inch walleye when the jig swept around behind a boulder . I picked up another walleye of about 22 inches that was sitting at the head of one of the stepdown pockets .

I still wanted to get another bass so I moved to a small wing dam that comes off the downstream end of the dam wall . I got a pickup on about the 30th cast right where the wingdam comes off the wall . After a short tussle I felt a pop and all went slack , bit off by a pike .

After retieing with another Walleye Assassain I started work the tip if the wing dam . After about 20 minutes I got a small walleye about 14 inches . I figured no bass there so I slid back into a little pocket between two sets of boulders . It took about 15 minutes to convince me that there was either no fish or the bite had shut down .

I drove downstream to the next biggest dam but it just had too many ice floes bobbing in the open pockets . I tried a few casts anyway and sure enough I couldn't get the jig down before a floe grabbed the line and took it for a ride .

I guess it wasn't a bad day considering how little fishable water there was but I would have happier if all the fish were smallies . I guessing that if the cold continues it will be mostly froze up by the weekend .

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Joined: 03:35pm - Feb 11,03
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Location: Not too far from Windy

Post Posted: 09:57pm - Jan 31,07 
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Thank you sir.
I can go to bed now.

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Chitown-Angler
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Joined: 11:53am - Mar 27,04
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Location: SW Florida

Post Posted: 07:10am - Feb 1,07 
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Hey Norm,

Thanks for the detailed report. I was chilled just reading it :-)

Looks like you caught some nice fish in tough conditions. I'd be thrilled to get a 22-inch walleye.

Thanks for giving us a report to read (reports are getting rare this time of year).

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Chitown-Angler
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Joined: 12:05pm - Oct 8,04
Posts: 438
Location: Downers Grove

Post Posted: 08:00am - Feb 1,07 
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Norm,
Thanks for the report and getting out there. I had wanted to get out this Saturday but that's not going to happen (weather). I'll have to live vicariously through you. Maybe once the weather breaks a little.
Thanks for showing us that those fish still bite in the dead of winter.

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Chitown-Angler

Joined: 06:01am - Feb 2,07
Posts: 113

Post Posted: 04:24pm - Feb 2,07 
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I found you! Git out of there! I know where you are fishing!

Well, we are going to get some ice and ice flows this year. Its been a couple years since it has been iced over. I have a theory that I'm going to test and pay attention more to this early spring.

When we get ice flows, it lowers the water levels and when they start to break up in late Feb, early March and they scrape and back up, the ice forces the bass into other areas and concentrates them into protected areas to get out of the way.

Some of my best early spring bass fishing has been after heavy ice dams scraping and backing up in certain areas.

Anyway, heard anything from the Chef? Big weekend coming with the Bears. Next Sun., I'm going to stop at the Tinley fishing show with my fishing partner. First show in years.

Keep in touch, I still have your dvd that you need to watch.

Mark

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Chitown-Angler
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Joined: 11:53am - Mar 27,04
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Location: SW Florida

Post Posted: 08:39pm - Feb 2,07 
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Hey Mark, welcome to Chitown. It's good to see your handle show up again. I learned much from your posts.

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Chitown-Angler
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Joined: 01:06pm - Aug 25,04
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Post Posted: 08:45pm - Feb 2,07 
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great report norm. Those damn ice patches. I have to get out there with you so you can show me around the areas.

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Chitown-Angler

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Post Posted: 04:38am - Feb 3,07 
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Razzo wrote:
Hey Mark, welcome to Chitown. It's good to see your handle show up again. I learned much from your posts.


I've always been lurking around on the local boards. I just haven't posted. I think this was my first post on a local board in 3-4 years or so.

Well, you are too kind, at some point, there is only so much info that can be learned, passed or discovered.

We'll see about the ice flow/dam theory. The last time we had heavy ice, the first week of ice out, wih water temps 37-42, I caught around 70 bass on plastic.

How far into Michigan are you? Sometimes my job brings me into Indiana near the Michigan border.

Mark

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Chitown-Angler
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Joined: 04:30pm - Jan 28,06
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Location: south suburbs

Post Posted: 09:43am - Feb 3,07 
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Great report!

Im sitting here dying to get out to do some fishing!

SS

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Chitown-Angler
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Joined: 11:53am - Mar 27,04
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Location: SW Florida

Post Posted: 11:24am - Feb 3,07 
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Kamala wrote:
I've always been lurking around on the local boards. I just haven't posted. I figured as much

Well, you are too kind, at some point, there is only so much info that can be learned, passed or discovered. Yup

How far into Michigan are you? Sometimes my job brings me into Indiana near the Michigan border.


Mark, I do almost all of my fishing in SW Michigan. Although, I live northwest of South Bend near the IN & MI border on the IN side (unicorporated St. Joseph County). Consider this an open invite to go trout fishing with me when your travels bring you in the area. I roam a good part of SW Michigan for trout and steelhead; but, I am sure we can find some trout not too far from the border. We might have to use something other than the Big Ika though :lol:

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I am not against golf, since I cannot but suspect it keeps armies of the unworthy from discovering trout... ~Paul O'Neil

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Post Posted: 02:05pm - Feb 4,07 
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Mark ,

Shoot you've walked as much of the river as I have , not surprised you know where I was .

Give me a call or pm , I'd like to discuss your idea .


I went out today the ice floes are getting thicker and the shelf ice along the bank is getting larger .

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Chitown-Angler
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Joined: 09:20am - Dec 11,05
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Location: Channahon IL

Post Posted: 03:11pm - Feb 4,07 
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Creeky,do you think there is enough food to support all these walleyes and still maintain a trophy smallmouth fishery.I was out with a guide(you know who)and he seemed to think that not enough research was done before the stockings.

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Post Posted: 03:33pm - Feb 4,07 
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JimL wrote:
Creeky,do you think there is enough food to support all these walleyes and still maintain a trophy smallmouth fishery.I was out with a guide(you know who)and he seemed to think that not enough research was done before the stockings.


Interesting question. I look forward to the responses. My unlearned & very unscientific opinion is that you already have your answer. How were your catches this year? As I observed others posts, I saw much more walleyes than I have seen before (or in a long time) and I noticed big smallie catches increasing while maybe some of the larger mid range smallies decrease.

What was the smallie catch like before when the river produced big walleyes? Would you welcome a great walleye fishery at the expense of making the smallie fishery something a little less than amazing?

BTW: the research is being done and you guys are the ones doing it - right now. As you lament the hypothetical decline of the smallie fishery, throw a few of those tasty walleyes on the grill for me :mrgreen:

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I am not against golf, since I cannot but suspect it keeps armies of the unworthy from discovering trout... ~Paul O'Neil

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Chitown-Angler
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Location: Channahon IL

Post Posted: 03:46pm - Feb 4,07 
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I hope we can have our cake and eat it to.I like catching eyes.But to me nothing compares to a smallmouth picking up my bait,setting the hook,having him swim toward the boat as I franticly try to catch up.Feeling the fight maybe a jump.To me nothings like it. Sorry got carried away :) .JIML

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Chitown-Angler

Joined: 06:01am - Feb 2,07
Posts: 113

Post Posted: 05:23am - Feb 5,07 
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JimL wrote:
Creeky,do you think there is enough food to support all these walleyes and still maintain a trophy smallmouth fishery.I was out with a guide(you know who)and he seemed to think that not enough research was done before the stockings.


The walleye stocking program saved the walleye in the river. This is undebatable. As far as I know, not in its history, has there been this many walleye ever in this fishery.

Did the DNR do enough research as to the amount to re-stock? I don't think so. It looked to be a hap-hazard, hit and miss operation.

Along the same lines, the DNR never did any hard research into the smallmouth slot. So both programs are suspect.

The DNR destroyed the bass fishery at Heidike(SP) and until just recently, was still trying to stock walleye and smallmouth in Braidwood, a cooling lake with water temps that kill colder water fish like smallmouth and walleye.

The head DNR position and their decisions, are just another political crony job based on favors.

There are so many variables in the river, and lets not forget the mud, silt, sand loading that has greatly excellerated the last 15 years.

Look at the farming practices and the encroachment of housing along the river and its tributaries.

There is still plenty of forage in the river for bass and walleye. Bass eat minnows, insects, madtoms, crawfish, frogs, small water snakes, etc..

My concern would be/is how many bass are being eaten by walleye?

Once a walleye reaches over a certain size, it will prey on larger minnow/bass shaped forage.

If there are larger walleye in an area, and smaller smallmouth, say 3"-5", are also in this area, they are a target and swimming for their life.

In the same process, there has been an uptick in pike and their size in certain areas of the river. The northerns are feeding heavily on the walleye. So, down or up the chain it goes.

In my opinion, the fishery is in a slow decline, and there isn't much to stop it from happening.

Mark

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Chitown-Angler
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Location: Channahon IL

Post Posted: 11:36am - Feb 6,07 
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Thanks Mark,that was interesting.You sound very Knowledgable.

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Post Posted: 11:45am - Feb 6,07 
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I don't think that the resurgent walleye population is hurting the bass population . I have seen a decline in numbers of bass in the 18 to 19 inch range but I believe that is due to some poor spawns and lack of recruitment years back . The numbers of smaller bass hasn't declined from what I have seen .

If there are 15 to 20 inch smallies around they will scarf up any small bass as quickly as a walleye would . One of my favorite patterns for big smallies is working under the little bass eating bugs off the surface while the big smallies eat the little ones .

I am with Kamala in that the stocking program definitely brought the walleye population back and to the best I've ever seen .

I also believe that habitat degradation due to sedimentation is the biggest threat all species face in the river . Continued loss of spawning habitat , burying the interspatial areas where the bottom of the food chain thrives and the excessive vegetative buildup from the ever increasing amounts of fertilizer from farm and suburbia are problems that need to be addressed .

I don't know how much study on forage issues was done prior to stocking the walleyes but the program came at a time when it was necessary to save the walleye population . If it means a few less smallies so be it . I would much rather have a diverse population of fish than not .

Just the opinions of a river rat for what they are worth .

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Post Posted: 05:21am - Feb 7,07 
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Creekyknees wrote:
I don't think that the resurgent walleye population is hurting the bass population . I have seen a decline in numbers of bass in the 18 to 19 inch range but I believe that is due to some poor spawns and lack of recruitment years back . The numbers of smaller bass hasn't declined from what I have seen .

If there are 15 to 20 inch smallies around they will scarf up any small bass as quickly as a walleye would . One of my favorite patterns for big smallies is working under the little bass eating bugs off the surface while the big smallies eat the little ones .

I am with Kamala in that the stocking program definitely brought the walleye population back and to the best I've ever seen .

I also believe that habitat degradation due to sedimentation is the biggest threat all species face in the river . Continued loss of spawning habitat , burying the interspatial areas where the bottom of the food chain thrives and the excessive vegetative buildup from the ever increasing amounts of fertilizer from farm and suburbia are problems that need to be addressed .

I don't know how much study on forage issues was done prior to stocking the walleyes but the program came at a time when it was necessary to save the walleye population . If it means a few less smallies so be it . I would much rather have a diverse population of fish than not .

Just the opinions of a river rat for what they are worth .


What shift are you working or what days are you off? Give me a time frame, and I'll give you a ring.

Mark

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Chitown-Angler

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Post Posted: 05:33am - Feb 7,07 
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JimL wrote:
Thanks Mark,that was interesting.You sound very Knowledgable.


Well I wouldn't go that far, but thanks none the less.

I been around and fish the river quite a bit. Lately, I haven't fish as much as a buddy lives on a private lake that has a good population of largemouth and crappies.

Sitting in a boat and casting is much easier on the body than wading up and down the river. I cut back wading because of the wear and tear on my lower back, knees and ankles.

I don't blame your guide (and I know who he is) he is just protecting what matters most to him personally.

I'm sure his service has been in decline with the advent of information on the internet, more access, better boats, etc...

Anyway, nice conversing with you, I think I may post a couple reports this year here, so I'm sure we will have more exchanges.

Mark

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