Winter has been brutal. That’s not news. This year cabin fever took me to places I’ve never been before. And when March rolled around, it had to end. Right? And then it didn’t. Storm after storm along with cold temperatures just kept right on coming. Wow. The Illinois Muskie Tournament Trail was suppose to have its first tournament of the year last Saturday. It was cancelled earlier in the week because the ice probably wasn’t going to be off Spring Lake in central Illinois! And that didn’t really matter. I was going to fish somewhere, somehow. Cam and I talked and plotted. The weather got a little better. Then Wednesday I got a call at work from my wife. Cam hurt his wrist in gym class and she was picking him up. He was in pretty serious pain so we took him to the doctor Thursday. Cam has a fractured wrist.
Now those of you who read our stuff know that this was quite a blow for him just two days before we would be getting out for the first time of the year. Stunned may be the best way to describe how we felt. Fortunately my daughter was still home on spring break and she could hang out with Cam Saturday when I’d be out fishing. Even at that point it didn’t seem like I was going to be enjoying myself, not only because of Cam’s wrist but because most options we’re still iffy. I no longer wanted to make a long run especially since lakes were probably still iced. LaSalle was opening but I don’t enjoy the craziness of opening day with hundreds of anglers and guys lining up at the gates and sleeping there just to get in early. I called my friend Dale who regularly goes out there for opener to find out what he had heard about LaSalle. Dale had another surprise. He said it looked like boats wouldn’t get out as the launch was iced in! Again, wow. A power plant lake iced in!
I didn’t decide what I would do as I went to bed Friday. I called Dale at 6:15. He had slept in line and intended on bank fishing LaSalle Saturday. I was thinking I would head to Braidwood but wanted to check what was happening at LaSalle. He told me they had busted ice on one of the three ramps and guys were getting out and there was no line! My decision was made. I told him to meet me at the ramp at 7. While I wasn’t happy to be leaving Cam at home I was thrilled to be fishing LaSalle with a good friend on opening day.
We quickly launched and got busy looking for fish. Early in the season I always begin the day looking for hybrid stripers. I always tell people if hybrids jumped I would never fish for anything else. They’re that much fun to catch. The problem is stripers are like ghosts, one minute your on them and then they’re gone never to be seen again. If I don’t find them, which is often, I then start fishing bass. For the first couple hours things were very slow. We started in the cool water hoping to find stripers cruising the banks picking off shad. That didn’t happen. Eventually we began moving into the warmer water. And we began to catch fish. Dale pointed out that he was ahead 4 to 1 at one point mid-morning. That would be his high point of the day. I think this picture was the first bass of the day.
We weren’t setting any records but we were slowly building a pretty good number of fish. Typical of LaSalle many different species were caught. I think we caught everything the lake has to offer except a bluegill. By one o’clock I’d say we had 40 or so fish with most being 12 to 15 inch bass. Besides the fishing, catching up with a friend, teasing each other relentlessly, and enjoying being outside for the day made Saturday simply awesome. And then it got better. I got a strike that nearly tore the rod out of my hands right at the boat. Striper! Not a big one but the right kind. We began poking around this area a little more and we found them. For a hour and a half we whacked fish after fish. If you’ve never caught a striper I don’t know how to describe how hard they hit a lure. And these fish were only a pound and a half!
Finally, the run seemed to slow down. It was nearing dinner time and maybe it was time to call it a day. While neither one of us wanted it to end, it was time to go. I’d say we caught at least two dozen hybrids during our late afternoon frenzy. On the way home all I could think of was that the only thing that would have made this day better would have been to have Cam in the boat.
After getting the season started you’d think Sunday would have been about going out to smack them again, right? Not this year. Twenty mile an hour winds and air temps in the 20’s after overnight flurries meant I’ll have to wait for next weekend to fish again. Strange.
We all have had bad fishing days and good fishing days, but when you sit down at the end of it do you ever think that banana cursed you or maybe you had a good day because of your lucky hat? My dad and I are not very superstitious, but here’s a few of my do bring for luck and don’t brings.
This hat helped me win the 2013 IMTT Youth Division Championship
When we go fishing, something that we all wear is our hat. I think the fishing hat is one of the most lucky things in the fishing world. It is always on your head when you catch your greatest fish. And it also protects you from dangerously close hooks which I have experienced too many times. Also just think about all the great fish you have caught and what is in every fishermans photo? That’s right, their hat. And if you have ever went fishing without your hat which I have done a few times, the whole entire time you are on the water you feel like a part of your body is missing. Am I right?
Somthing that I get every year for good luck is a necklace. I would pick one up at small shops up in Wisconsin and wear it the whole fishing season. And I think that is one of my most lucky things I do. Sometimes my dad and I will joke about the necklace once I get it and we will say were going to catch a big one now because we have that necklace. And I do feel that the necklace has somthing to do with my luck because its always with me when I get big fish.
I think we have all heard about the unlucky banana. Which led me to wonder what makes the banana so unlucky. I did some research and here is what I found. In the late 17th century sailors who brought people to different countries often stopped at near by islands for supplies. And the people on the boat would often buy crates of bananas that had bugs such as spiders, rats, cockroaches, etc. And when they brought them on board the vermon would run out of the crates and multiply. And these vermon would infest the ship and get people sick. So in an attempt to get people to stop buying these crates of bananas the captains of these ships said they were unlucky and it worked. So in reality, bananas are not unlucky, but would I fish with them in my boat? No.
Last but not least how about red skies in the morning, sailors take warning. This one I do belive in. When you watch the sun come up and its red it almost as if the sky is warning you that somthing terrible is going to happen. Even though nothing terrible has happened to me when I see red skies but it just seems creepy. But then one thing I have to admit about red skies is, as creepy as they are, they are just so pretty too.
So there are a few of my lucky and unlucky things. But if you have any, feel free to tell me them. I enjoy hearing from you guys. Besides I need more luck this season.
Cam was crazy to fish for muskie but we still fished bass a bunch. My buddy Jim’s thing is to point at the fish when he’s in a picture. Here Cam points at his fish. Those smiles say it all.
So many times during a day we take a moment to enjoy nature as it surrounds us. Here Cam shot this eagle as it finally felt we were getting too close.
On another day this loon family hung around us for awhile.
On this day we caught 4 muskies and got absolutely soaked. But the highlight was getting this picture of a double rainbow.
Besides fishing Cam just loves guns. Jim does some hunting and was nice enough to take Cam out for some shooting practice.
I told Cam someday I would get him into a school of hybrids and he’d love it. He wasn’t sold until we caught 20 or more one day last spring in about 90 minutes. You should have heard the whooping and hollering!
You don’t always catch the fish your targeting. After a 15 minute battle this ugly beast came aboard for a photo!
I love this pic because it was from a trip to emiquon. Cam and I whacked them and had a blast doing it. What also made it memorable was we blew a trailer tire on the way home which turned it into quite an adventure.
Our final trip north was on a long weekend in October. Fishing was tough and it looked like we were going to take the skunk. Cam decided to slow roll a slopmaster spinnerbait along the edge of a steep breakline. Jim and I were throwing more traditional deep running lures and didn’t think a spinnerbait was the way to go. This 37 incher took his bait boatside and saved the trip.
This photo is a favorite because it reminds me of our trip to Tennessee and Milton Hill. Cam really loved being out with Billy Davis, our guide. Does that smile say it all?
One day in August we talked Emma into coming with us. This was noteable because she does not like to get up early. The first pic is me and Emma with one of the 3 muskies we caught that day. The second is one she took of me battling one of the fish.
I had to save the best for last. This is a picture of Cam as we’re getting ready to launch the boat up north. We repeated this scene over and over all summer long. The racket in his lap isn’t for tennis. Its a bug zapper. There is no way I can explain how bad the mosquitoes were up north. Usually within 30 seconds of leaving the car you were swarmed. They were so thick you would breath them in! Cam would attack with the zapper which made us laugh more than I can explain. The sound, along with their smoldering carcasses made us feel a little bit better about venturing out.
With only a week until the calendar turns to March, it won’t be long until week start loading the camera with 2014 pics. It can’t come soon enough.