Monday, December 29, 2008

Safe Ice????

Last Ice Fishing Trip for Awhile?

Today might just be our last icefishing trip for sometime? We started out early today because the forecast was for another sunny, warm day. Our fishing partners for the day were Bill and Al from Chicago. Bill has a really cool fishing website called Al is a Bass Pro Shops seminar speaker and avid tournament angler.

We started out with 4 inches of ice, but we could only get to the ice from one corner of the dock. The edges were not even frozen due to all the rain and warm temps. The water was stained and the fish were scattered, but moving around in about 6-10 feet of water. Action was not fast, but fairly consistent as we caught 30 nice bluegill, a bass, and a catfish in about one hour of fishing.

We could have caught fish all day long, but the sun was shining and the ice was melting and weakening pretty fast. We decided to get while the getting was still possible! We tried 3 other ponds for safe ice, but none of them were worth the risk. We headed down to East Peoria and showed the guys the new fishing park and then headed over to the burger barge for lunch.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Funny Ice Fishing Video

Fun video of our trout ice fishing adventure December 26th. Chef Todd is hilarious, Alex learns how to use an auger, Dave Lampe catches his first hard water fish ever, and Al quickly learns how to read a vexilar and somehow coaxes a fish into biting!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Ice Fishing in Shorts!

Today was 67 degrees and I went ice fishing in shorts and a t-shirt!

I didn't get to fish long, because I had an extended family Christmas to attend, but I could not pass up the opportunity to fish in shorts! Typically in late February or early March it is common to be out fishing in 50 degree weather and strip down to a t-shirt, but I have never been out on the ice in the upper 60's and especially never in shorts!

My mom and dad took advantage of the warm weather and spent a couple hours out in the shanty. They had to use the shelter, because it was raining most of the time. Mom headed in right before a big thunderstorm hit about noon. Dad staked down the shanty and rode out the storm on the ice! He admitted it was just a bit nerve racking out there.
They caught an absolute ton of fish. Bluegill, Bass and Walleye were all hanging out 5 feet below the ice. The crappie were very aggressive today and were feeding just 2 feet below the ice! I never saw a fish on the vexilar deeper than 7 feet down? Pretty interesting to say the least. I think the fish were enjoying the nice warm new water.

Rare Golden Trout

Dave Lampe catches one of two golden trout!

Dave came out on his first icefishing trip ever, and he hit the jackpot on his second fish! He was just learning how to read the vexilar, still learning how to operate the fishing pole, still just getting a feel for what was going on when he hooked the most beautiful fish ever caught in Central Illinois! We stocked just 2 golden trout in the entire lake and Dave managed to catch the very rare prized fish: a Golden Trout! The best part of the story is that we got the whole thing on film! I will post the footage as soon as I get a chance!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Hot Weather, Hot Fishin'

48 Degrees and the fish were jumping out of the Hole!

Today I started fishing at 8 am. Chef Todd, my dad and I headed to the lake despite tons of ice and fog. Chad and his brother in-law Alex were running a bit late, but met up with us about 9 am. Jonn and his dad were going to fish with us today, but they were completely iced in. Jeff and his dad also were going to fish with us, but decided to wait until we headed towards their neck of the woods at noon. As soon as we got to the lake, we drilled a few holes and were marking some fish initially, but only caught one fish from our first spot. After about 10 minutes we all kind of headed to where we each thought the fish would be biting!

Chef and Dad headed across the lake to our usual honey hole, but I decided to try out a new spot in shallower water towards the finger of the lake where the creek comes in and OH MY GOODNESS! I picked the right spot!! In 9 feet of water right along the edge of 15 feet of water, the fish were stacked up about 7 feet down. After catching three 2lb bass and 5 boone and crockett bluegill in 6 minutes, I convinced the two old guys to head over my way. Chad and Alex showed up as we were all getting set up in the new spot.

Alex has never been fishing before, but caught on real quick! He immediately learned how to read the vexilar and kept us all updated as to what depth the fish were swimming by. His first fish was this unbelievable 11.25" bluegill!

Chad and Alex fished in the shallow water and were catching fish every time down!

Dad and Chef chose to stay on the deeper cut in about 15-18 foot of water, and they had to wait a minute or two between fish. I don't think they minded the little bit of R&R, I think they were very content with the little bit of a slower pace. (I tried to think of a good old person joke, but couldnt?) Anyhow, here are some action shots of the old men:

We fished at the bluegill hole until 11 am and then headed out to meet a client at his lake for some trout fishing! He has a 5 acre pond that is 65 feet deep and loaded with trout, catfish, yellow perch, monster bluegill, crappie, and largemouth bass. Jeff Lampe of the Peoria Journal Star along with his father Dave also met up with us at the trout lake.
The trout were absolutely on fire! They were so aggressive, that we caught very few other species of fish. We managed a nice crappie, a handful of bluegill, and 6 largemouth; but the trout by far stole the show. We caught well over 50 rainbow trout between 1 and 3 lbs each. They were taking a variety of jigs and spoons tipped with waxworms, but live minnows were the top producer. The trout were so aggressive under the ice, that occasionally they would chase our bait completely up to the top of the hole! They were roaming around the lake in schools and were caught anywhere from 1 foot down to 20 feet deep. An absolute BLAST to land with icefishing gear! Here are a couple trout pics, we also captured a ton of trout fishing video footage that I will post as soon as I get a chance.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve Fishing Trip

Christmas Eve Fishing Trip With Dad and Chad!

Well, it only took my dad and I about until 7:30 this morning to realize that not too much work was going to get done today. He called at just about the exact minute I had picked up the phone to call him and talk him into a quick fishing trip this afternoon. My oldest brother Chad called only about 15 minutes later thinking the same thing! We decided we would be able to all get away about 11 am.

We headed for a new set of ponds today on the outskirts of Elmwood. Our original destination was going to be our lake out in Norris, but 20 mph wind and falling temps made us head for a more sheltered location. I needed to prefish these ponds anyway, cause I am taking the owner's family on a guided icefishing trip in about 2 weeks. There were 3 ponds we needed to pre-fish, all stocked with different types of fish.

Pond #1

It only took about 90 seconds to realize that the first pond is going to be dynamite! It is completely full of nice rainbow trout and tons of channel catfish between 2 and 5 lbs. The trout were just hammering Forage Fry jigs tipped with Gulp Alive, live minnows, and waxworms. They were too aggressive today for us to get any catfish.

Pond #2
This is the biggest pond on the property, at about 10 acres. It was not sheltered from the wind at all and very miserable to fish today. We did drill a couple holes and try to man up for a few minutes, but didn't last long. Dad did manage a nice yellow perch before we headed to the third pond. By the way, this pond is full of perch, walleye, crappie, bass, catfish, and bluegill.

Pond #3
Very pleasantly surprised by what we caught here. The pond was completely blocked from the wind and we fished for about an hour. The pond is stocked with bluegill, largemouth and hybrid striped bass. We only caught bluegill, but they were some real nice ones! Chad was sitting on the honey hole in about 9 foot of water, right next to shore, under a big tree. Every drop was an immediate fish. Dad and I were only 10 feet away, but there was considerable less action in our holes. Towards the end or our trip, both dad and I snuck over to his hole and caught a few nice fish while Chad was packing up!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Ice Fishing 101 Deja Vu

Took Another Teacher Fishing Today.

Today I had the privilege of fishing with Jonn Graham and his father in-law Richard. Jonn is a teacher at some school in some small city in the middle of nowhereville? He also is more commonly known as the "Stream Stalker". Supposedly he knows how to catch smallmouth bass in various rivers and streams? Richard is a first class guy (why did you let Jonn marry your daughter??) hehe!

I would definitely not have been fishing again today, if Jonn wasnt a crazy schoole teacher on Christmas Vacation. Although it was much warmer today, it felt much colder! The temp was 30 degrees, but there was a 25 mph wind blowing snow from the South. The roads were icy, snow was blowing near white out conditions at times, and it was just pretty much miserable outside. Jonn still wanted to fish, so I figured I would give it a try?

I needed to try out a small subdivision pond that I stocked just a year and a half ago, but we could only locate and catch one fish there (some advertising for my pond stocking abilities!) anyhow I know there are some real nice fish in there, cause we just electrofished the pond in November and were pretty excited about the icefishing prospects this year. We will be back to redeem ourselves shortly. Today was too miserable outside to move around and drill new holes.

Next place we tried we pretty much hit the mother load! The action started a bit slow, and it definitely didnt help that I missed gaffing a super nice channel catfish at the hole for the first fish of the day! Sorry about that one Jonn. After about 45 minutes on the ice, the snow stopped and the wind died down to about 15 mph and the fishing turned on just as fast as you could drop down your jig. Once the action heated up, it didnt matter what jig went down, and didnt even matter if there was any bait on it either.

It didnt take Jonn and Richard very long to fill up their bucket and we were headed home before noon. I think I got Richard hooked on the vexilar unit. At one point during the trip, he was basically teasing the fish with his jig. He would get a fish going after his jig and just keep pulling the jig up to see how far the fish would follow! We had a great time today, lots of fun! Here are some pics:

Monday, December 22, 2008

Ice Fishing 101

Take a Teacher Fishing!

Today was icefishing 101. My fishing partner for the day was Luke Luginbuhl from Mackinaw. He is a good friend and physics teacher at Washington High School. The high for the day was about 9 degrees, and the only reason I ventured out was because this was the only day of his Christmas vacation that he had available.

So I told Luke not to expect too much as far as action is concerned, but that we would give it a try. I explained that since it has been so cold the last 3 days that the fish would be pretty sluggishly inactive and hanging out towards the deepest, warmest water of the 7 acre pond. That is where we headed first, towards the middle of the lake where the old creek channel meets up with the dam.

I was feeling pretty good about my prediction as soon as we drilled our holes and put the vexilar in. The screen lit up with fish and Luke even gave me an atta boy for knowing exactly where the fish would be. I dropped my Northland Bro's Bug Bloodworm down towards the fish and a nice bluegill came right up to eat the jig before it even stopped falling! It wasnt until my second drop down that Luke was literally calling me an icefishing genious when I pulled up a nice 1.75 lb largemouth bass with a Northland Forage Fry jig tipped with Berkeley Gulp. Then my big head mojo must have oozed over into the hole alarming the fish at that particular location that if I caught another one I might be too full of myself to get out of my bucket seat. Anyhow for the next 10 minutes I never got another nibble and decided we needed to move on???

So I packed up and headed to where I figured some hungry fish would be hanging out, still in deep water, over by the dam. Luke headed over to a much shallower flat on the other side of the lake to drill some holes. I didnt' laugh out loud, but chuckled inside a bit at his section of the lake he chose to try out. There was no way the fish would be up on that flat feeding during this massive cold front!

I drilled a couple holes and was pretty excited again to see the fish light up the screen on my vexilar. I caught a couple small ones fairly quick, and was getting ready to holler over to Luke to come on over and catch a few fish when I heard him hooting and hollering first. I heard him yell "Boone and Crocket" and knew immediately what that meant. It only took him 3 more drop downs before I was packing up and heading his way. He was on definitely the hottest hole of the year.

I didn't even bother drilling another hole or even fishing really for that matter. He had enough fsh to fill a 5 gallon bucket before I even got over there with all the gear.

I tied on a jigging rapala and decided to see if a few bonus bass would hit while Luke was finishing up his fish massacre. I caught a couple pretty quick and then decided it was time to take some photos and get rolling. I didn't want to spend the rest of the day cleaning fish!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday Fishin'

Something about a winter storm takes me vividly back to my school days? Staying up late, neglecting homework, and just praying real hard that the weatherman gets this one right! I would always wake up abnormally early and head straight for the window hoping beyond hope to find the ground covered with at least a few inches of snow. More times than not, I would be pretty disappointed to see the grass sticking out of about an inch of snow, but I can tell you this: There is no better feeling in the world that even remotely compared to seeing your schools name flash across that tv screen on the morning after a snowstorm!

Nowadays, snowstorms only mean TONS of extra work and are quite inconvenient, but for some reason I can't help but get excited when I hear 3 to 5 inches expected! I still tend to stay up way too late and neglect my normal responsibilities on winter storm eve, hoping to wake up in the morning and be snowed in. Pretty much making me worthless the next day, regardless if the storm comes or not.

Such was the case today. Heavy icing was expected last night, and my dad and I were already making icefishing plans for today, yesterday afternoon! (when the roads are bad, you can't make it to work, but you can always make it to the lake!) We got the ice, but not bad enough to keep both of us from making it in to the office. The weather didn't cooperate enough for us, so in order to salvage our fishing plans we had to fall back to plan B. Plan B was used numerous times this year on Fridays. It is to work real hard at the office in the morning, get tons of work done and then slip out unnoticed sometime after lunch and head straight for the lake. (today due to the combination of the night before anticipation, the icy roads, and the fact it was Friday; we procrastinated at the office just long enough to justify a days work and headed for the pond) If anyone is still reading this fishing report after being ran around a collaberation of random thoughts that probably doesnt make any sense to anyone but me, well i can't really think of anything to fill in the blank there cause its getting late and hopefully you get the point? so anyhow here are a few pics and a fishing report from Friday, Dec 19.

Air Temp 34 degrees
Water Temp 37 degrees
10-15 mph NW winds
Mostly Cloudy
3 acre pond
11 feet deep
4.5 inches of Ice
2.5 hours of fishing
105 bluegill
6 crappie
2 walleye
1 largemouth bass

Fish were suspended throughout the water column. Most fish were caught 7 feet down, but occasionally they would come up as close as 2 feet below the ice. Walleye were caught on goldfish fishing with flex bite tip ups. Crappie were caught on fathead minnows, suspended at 5 feet below the ice. Largemouth hit a Northland forage fry tipped and dipped in Berkeley Gulp Alive. Bluegill were biting fairly light on a variety of small jigs tipped with wax worms or pieces of Gulp.

Here are some pics of our catch today!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas Card 2008

Here is our Christmas card for 2008.

Mae is 3 and Noah is 16 months. They definitely get their looks from their mother! To further prove my point, here is a recent portrait of Daddy:

Season Opening Update

Opening Day Could Not Have Been Better!

I woke up this morning to 25 MPH winds with 30+ gusts! Although it would make everything much more difficult, the wind was definitely not going to keep my Dad and I off of the pond this morning. A warm front was headed our way and our window of opportunity for safe ice would be before noon. I stuck around the house this morning long enough to watch Curious George with Mae and then headed over to the pond.

The ice was extremely slick and the wind was howling! We were not going to be very mobile once we hit the pond, so we knew we wanted to get the shanty into position on our first try. What is real nice about first ice is that the vexilar reads the depth and shows the fish right through the ice without even drilling any holes!

I let my Dad choose the first spot, and he was right on the money! We drilled 2 holes and staked the shanty through the ice with 10" pole barn spikes. Usually we would have drilled about 15 to 20 holes right off the bat, but not today! I think I fell down a half a dozen times just getting set up with the slick ice and wind. It was nice that no one else was dumb enough to be outside on a day like today, or I would have been quite embarrassed. Even knowing no one was around, I still had to look around to see if anyone saw what happened? Also I didn't want to drill any more holes, cause the ice was only 3.25 inches and evaporating.

The vexilar is by far the only way to ice fish! I could see many fish suspended 7 feet down in 11 feet deep water. I would just drop the jig down to 7 feet and pull up a fish instantly!
Here is a pic of my vexilar unit, you can also see how thick (or actually how thin) the ice was.

Here is a pic of the first hard water fish of the 2008 season: It was a nice Hybrid Bluegill that ate my new Northland Forage Fry Minnow Jig. He is the only fish caught today that will get to sleep in his own bed tonight!

We caught 35 bluegill, 10 hybrid bluegill, 6 crappie, and a yellow perch! We had to get off the ice after about 1.5 hours because the ice was melting, sinking, and there was quite a bit of water pooled up where we were sitting! I was going to take some more pics of the fish, but the wind was just awful outside of the shanty, and my camera batteries were dead. The only other pic I was able to take was of this little crappie. She was suspended 5 feet below the ice and ate a small Bro's Bug Maggot jig tipped with a wax worm.

The weather was horrible, but the rest of the day couldn't have been any better! I went home to an awesome grilled cheese and tomato soup lunch; then finished up the afternoon watching college basketball and In-Fishermen's new icefishing series before falling asleep on the couch. That I think was my first nap of 2008! Probably even the first Saturday that I have even been inside during daylight hours!! This year has been the craziest, busiest year ever. I have already spent well over 4,000 hours working. It does kind of help that alot of my job just happens to revolve around fish and fishing, but still it was nice to have a day without phone calls, emails, and for the first time my mind actually stopped thinking. I relaxed!

Spent the evening over at Brook's sister's house for some family birthday parties, pizza, cake, ice cream and whole lot of sitting on the couch just kicking back. Normally this type of activity is not my cup of tea, but today surprisingly it was just what the doctor ordered. The problem I am going to have now is that I haven't done much the whole day, took a 2 hour nap, and was totally relaxed most of the day; I probably wont be able to go to bed for hours?

Friday, December 12, 2008


Ice Fishing 2008 is about to begin!

I am so pumped up I can't sleep. I spent a few hours this evening with my mom and dad just getting all the poles lined up, repaired, and rigged up for the upcoming hardwater season! Brook and the kids even helped out too. Gearing up for opening day was a family event this year.

I think we have about 3.5 inches of ice at my dad's pond and a few various local potholes. I will report back with pics and details.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Blake's Monster Deer

Blakes Monster Deer!

I guess I am in hunting mode right now. Oh my goodness, did you see the picture of the deer listed above? My brother in law Jared was out bowhunting with his bro Blake on Saturday after Thanksgiving and boy did they have a day to remember out in the woods! The events below of how the giant came down are I guess you could say "based on a true story".....When a big deer comes down, you know there has to be some kind of weird twist of events or scandal of some sort...Right?

Anyhow, Jared was perched up in his favorite tree just like he spends most Saturday mornings this time of year. Blake was a few hundred yards away in the other treestand. So everything was just fine and dandy out in the timber when Jared decided to wake up from a little cat nap about 8:15 am (this is where the based on a true story comes into play, the cat nap portion adds just a bit of flavor to the tale). I dont actually know what Jared was doing, but I do know that standing 15 yards away broadside before him was the same deer Blake is holding for the picture.

I guess I am running out of time this morning, so I will just get to the point. Jared had a perfect 15 yard shot on this monster, pulled back and the arrow immediately flung out of his bow and right over the Giant. His, I should say, my sisters arrow release thing did not hold the arrow like it was supposed to....this is the part where I am chuckling to myself as I am writing. The deer didn't know what had happened and just slowly moved a few yards, presenting Jared with another clean shot. This time realizing he had the wrong thing to hold arrows he kind of tried to hold the thing clamped shut on the arrow and that didnt work out as planned either. This arrow did hit the deer and even knocked him down on the ground, but it hit his leg and not his heart.

The giant deer is laying on the ground about 25 yards in front of Jared, but guess what, he only had 2 arrows to start with. (Chuckle has turned into a bit of a laugh this time) After a minute or so the deer decides nap time is over and gingerly gets up and heads down the trail towards Blake. As soon as the coast was clear, Jared jumps down from the tree and races back to the truck for some more supplies or something? He gives Blake a call on the phone to tell him what just happened, but before Jared could say much of anything Blake says, I just shot a MONSTER!

Before the hunt, they decided they would sit until 9 am. So about 8:45 Blake was getting antsy and just about to hop out of his stand when he spots the Booner slowly meandering down the trail towards him. He had almost too much time to think about what was coming his way, kind of like a 3 point shooter with nobody close enough to him and too much time to think about his shot. Although Blake is a fairly new bowhunter, he has had plenty of prior Buck Fever (or Jared Type) crazy experiences to get him ready for this exact moment. Here is another unique pic of this Boone and Crocket deer.

I am heading to Iowa this weekend for a 5 day deer hunting trip! I have been practicing with my brother's ruger .454 hangun for this trip! I am really getting excited.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Catfish of 2008

Just a few catfishing photos! These are the size we target for EATING!