Finally, our local rivers are in good shape…....lower and clearer. Jim and I did a float trip with the Coosa kayaks yesterday. River could not be in better shape. We started with topwaters and never needed to switch. I got a blowup on the first cast of the morning with the buzzbait. That was a good omen as we caught them on buzzbaits for the whole trip. I brought the fly rod along and caught a few on the blockhead popper as well. No giant fish, but almost all of them around 14 inches. When you are catching them on top, you tend to forget about size and just enjoy it. Hope it stays dry for awhile.
AS ALWAYS….........HAIL TO THE SMALLIE
Been awhile since I have visited…...........main reason?.....RAIN!! This has been the summer from hell if you love to chase stream smallies. Just cannot catch a break. Here is a brief fishing report from my messed up summer:
As soon as I got out of school in early June, three of us headed down to TN for a stream trip. We had great intel on about five different small streams (creeks). Out of the five, we fished two with only one being in good, fishable shape. What doomed us..?........you guessed it, RAIN!. After a few days in TN, we realized that there were not any fishable streams left in our area of the state. We packed up our bags and headed to KY to fish Elkhorn Creek. I have heard about Elkhorn for many years. It is a very nice, large creek. When we got there, the water was perfect…....clear with still enough flow to float our three Coosa kayaks. Guess what happened about 90 minutes later….......yup….........rain!! We fished the creek the next day in less than ideal conditions. I caught a couple of fish including this one:
After completing our first day on the Elkhorn, we saw enough promise in this creek that we planned to fish it for the next few days. But, that night the stream’s level shot up and we had to find a different stream. We ended up fishing a very small creek that was beautiful, but seemed to hold very few fish. I did catch a real nice smallie on the fly rod ( the only time all week that the water clarity dictated the use of the long rod). We headed home a day early. Though the whole trip was basically a wash, I would go back again. The streams down there are beautiful and hold incredible smallie habitat. I would like to go back and fish them when they are low and clear.
So, I returned home from the down south trip ready to start fishing in earnest around home. But, of course, as all you know, Illinois just keeps getting hit with large amounts of rain. Not only am I unable to fish, but my guiding season has been a nightmare. I have had to reschedule trips right and left. I have only been able to pull of two trips with clients. The first trip was a half day wading trip and it was tough. Last Friday I was able to get out with Debbie Compton and conditions, for once, were good. Deb did pretty well and capped off her day with this bad boy:
After Debbie’s trip I figured I was good to go for the rest of the summer. But, once again, rain hit hard this past weekend and the Vermilion is sky high. I got one month before it is back to school. I sure hope we get a dry spell soon…............
AS ALWAYS….....HAIL TO THE SMALLIE
Hooked up this past Saturday with my old buddy, Todd Clanin. Todd and I used to get out and do some small creek smallie chasing back in the day. Todd is now not only a great smallie angler, but also chases muskies quite a bit. He just bought his first fly rod and is getting ready to chase the mighty muskie with the long rod. Todd and I fished McMaster Lake located within Snakeden Hollow Recreation Area.
I had never been to Snakeden. When I was a kid, I fished a few of the strip mine lakes that are now part of Snakeden. My father had a friend who had permission to fish the strip mines before the state bought them. We ice fished and had a great time (early 80’s).
McMaster Lake is the main lake at Snakeden and what a neat lake it is. Crystal clear water with every type of habitat and fish could want. Standing timber, downed timber, beautiful weedbeds, and rocks…..............wow! Todd fished with standard muskie hardware, while I utilized only the 10 weight fly rod. We encountered a nice, sunny day with little wind.
We fished, for the most part, the whole lake. To make a long story short, we had plenty of near misses. We had 14 follows from 14 separate muskies and NOT ONE ate our offerings…...amazing. I had never seen anything like it. Of course, I am totally new to muskie fishing, but even Todd remarked that 14 follows without a strike is pretty amazing. While it was great fun fishing this new lake, it was still a little frustrating to have that many near misses.
I am planning on getting back to McMaster as soon as possible. While the lake is approximately 150 acres, I still feel I could get my Coosa kayak out on the lake and do some damage. Of course, I may go back with Todd as well. You might remember that Todd Clanin caught and released an amazing muskie from McMaster a few years back that measured 54 inches!! We had some fish near the boat that were over 40 inches, with only two out of the fourteen that were considered small fish.
I will be back…....................