Heartland Outdoors: Through the Lens

Where Are The Trout Hiding?

Saturday, October 16

Opening morning of fall trout season at Peabody River King Fish and Wildlife Area‘s Willow lake didn’t exactly start out with a big bang. Where are the trout? was a common question as anglers threw a variety of baits and combinations at them in the early post dawn hours. It was so slow initially I began to despair that I might not be able to actually get a photograph of anyone with a fish.


Orion Rutkowski readies his pole in quest for a BIG TROUT

Bob Rutkowski of TEAMSILO said ” I saw lots yesterday evening - some nice palomino ones as well as the rainbows - but they seem to be sleeping in ” Rutkowski and his son Orion had arrived just before daybreak and were still unsuccessful an hour later. “It’s just been slow- slow - and that’s unusual for this lake. Usually it’s just bang, bang, bang.”

Rutkowski’s sentiments were echoed by the larger than average numbers of folks fishing Willow Lake. Everyone seemed to be stymied. Servio Garcia of Smithton, IL lamented that he’d thrown a variety of things with no success and was tempted to try one of the Fruit Loops that his grandson Elijah Garcia of Columbia was snacking on.  ” I’ve seen trout bite on crazy things ,” he laughed “We can’t do any worse than we already are”. In spite of the poor fishing during the first few hours Garcia admitted that just spending a beautiful autumn morning with his grandson was reason enough to be lakeside.


Garcia and his grandson Elijah pour over the available items in their tackle collection in search of a lure that would attract the elusive trout.


At last as I strolled the banks of Willow Lake looking for a successful angler I found Jerry Gass of O’Fallon, Illinois.

Jerry Gass, Ofallon - the first successful angler of the morning

“Well I have one, but it’s not a giant” Gass laughed “Maybe I should have gone to the deerstand instead this morning.”  Gass reported that he’d netted his trout on a rooster tail. A little further down the shore I encountered Edward Weber of Troy, IL who also had caught a small rainbow on a rooster tail.
Echoing the tale of morning Weber told me that usually this is a great place on opening day - “it’s almost always hit after hit, but that wasn’t the case this morning”

Edward Weber of Troy, IL testing his luck from one of the small docks


Edward Weber’s success with a rooster tail.


Although the fishing wasn’t exactly stellar - the folks that I visited with all along the banks of Willow Lake were still happy they’d made the pre dawn trek to Peabody Fish and Wildlife Area in New Athens, IL . They commented on the beautiful sunrise, the loveliness of the mist rolling off the lake, the good times spent with friends and family.  Bob Rutkowski summed it up - “Anytime outdoors with my boys is special - we’ve seen geese, cormorants, lots of wildlife, we’ve enjoyed talking with other anglers.After all,”  he smiled, ” That’s why they call it fishing not catching”

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