Friday, July 29, 2011

Fishing Derby Food Update

Just wanted to let everyone know about the food that has been provided for the fishing derby at the fishing park on Saturday. Everyone is invited down for Community Day at the park. Lunch is being provided by Jimmy Johns, Firehouse Pizza, EP's in East Peoria is going to have a salad bar and Uncle Bob's Ice Cream is providing lots of Ice Cream!

Fishing Derby is from 10-12 with lots of prizes, the rest of the day is just for eating food and open fishing to anyone who wants to come down and fish or relax outdoors.

The lunch is free, the derby is free, and absolutely everyone is invited to come on down! Hope to see you all there!! The park is located right next to Dixons Seafood in East Peoria.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Fishing Derby This Saturday!

This Saturday, July 30th we are hosting a free fishing derby for kids under 16. Everyone is invited to come and spend the day at the Hooked on Fishing Park in East Peoria.

The derby starts at 10 am and lasts until noon. Prizes will be awarded to mini-anglers who catch tagged fish and also for the biggest fish! Should be alot of fun and we can accommodate several hundred anglers comfortably so there will be plenty of room, come on down.

Also after the derby you are invited to spend the afternoon fishing with your family or just relaxing outside at the park. We have a covered pavilion and an awesome walking trail around the levy overlooking the Illinois River. Fishing instructors will be onsite and can help teach anyone how to fish, but I do stronly encourage you to come and spend time with your own children fishing. Take off a Saturday from the rat race and bring your kids out for a day they will not forget this summer.

Here is a short video that has some pictures and explains just a bit more about the park for those interested in what we do down there.

Oh yeah, we will of course have food and drinks and prizes on Saturday. This fishing derby and community day is being sponsored by Uncle Bob's Ice Cream, Jimmy Johns, Firehouse Pizza, EP's Timeout, Brewers Distributing, Culver's, Weaver Ridge Golf Course, Avanti's, Burger Barge, Presley's Outdoors, Bob Grimm's Chevrolet, Moon's Dentistry, Herman Brothers Lake and Land Management, Prairie Home Alliance, Fortner Insurance, Cefcu, and Heartland Outdoors!

If anyone out there would like to help out with this event and future events, please make sure to contact me directly at or We could always use more prizes for this event, more food, more drinks and more volunteers down at the park! Quality experiences outdoors are few and far between these days..

Hoping eventually to have every local business involved helping out with the fishing park. The more people we can get involved the more people we can accomodate down at the park. To date we have taken more than 3500 senior citizens and children fishing free of charge over the last 3 summers. That number could easily be met in just one summer with more people involved helping out!!

Goodbye East Coast Fishing

Wednesday morning we woke up at 3:45 am and headed for the harbor. The forecast called for bright sunny skies so we knew the morning topwater bite would not last nearly as long as it did the day before. Its funny how only the second day ever of commercial striped bass fishing for me and I am already an expert on all things striped bass... Self-proclaimed, but thats basically how I operate. I am a quick learner, ask a million questions, and retain every bit of fishing related intel.
The topwater bite lasted for only the first 30 minutes of light, and then the stripers moved out into deeper water...When the bite is on for topwater, you dont waste any time taking pictures. Here are some photos after the topwater bite was over and the sun was shining:

Then we headed out to deeper water to jig fish for them. Was a great new learning experience to jig for stripers in 80 feet of water. Basically in freshwater fishing you have to keep the bait in the strike zone for as long as possible to be successful. Freshwater fish need all the help they can get to bite your bait. In saltwater its the complete opposite! If you want to catch lots of saltwater fish you need to briefly show your bait in the strike zone and then real it away as fast as humanly possible to get them to come chase and strike! Goes against everything in my nature, but just drop the diamond jig down to the bottom and then rip and reel it up as aggressively and lightning fast as you can. If you dont get one to bite, than drop it down and do it again. The faster you go the more bites you get.

We had a ball jigging stripers! Big fish after big fish:

Once we started catching fish, every boat within 5 miles started congregating into the hot spot. The schools of stripers would move around and so would all the boats:

Occasionally if you would keep your jig down near the bottom too long a small shark would eat your bait. I brought one into the boat for a picture. He was grinning from ear to ear to get his photo taken!

This boat had all three of their anglers hook up all at the same time! Kind of cool. We had lots of doubles, but never could get a triple. You might have to click on the picture to see it better.

So we stayed out on the water as late as possible, but had to catch an evening flight out of Boston. We jumped in the car and rushed straight to the airport and had just enough time to grab a terribly overpriced chinese meal at the airport before loading onto the plane. We even didn't order drinks with the meal cause that would of costed an extra $6.18 plus tax for the both of us and that was for water or soda.

That chinese meal costed $22.36 without drinks. That same exact, only better tasting meal here in Central Illinois would of costed $12.50! Probably was green, organic, natural east coast chinese. Its no wonder everyone out there is skinny and cranky! Their food (except their lobsters and striped bass) is terrible and overpriced.

Anyhow we made the plane and got back to Midway and I was home sleeping in my own bed at 1:10 am. I had to shower though first, cause boy did I stink riding home on the plane with fish slime and even a few scales on my clothes!!

Being up from 3:30 am and jampacking a full day of fishing and traveling all the way till 1 am sure makes a guy tired. I am going to need to go on a vacation just to recoup from this vacation. Instead I had the priviledge of answering voice mails and emails all day long. My customer service was terrific today, but for some reason I didn't make very many sales?? Sir your pond is fine, quit worrying so much and scoop up your dead fish! Sheesh, thats like the fifth time you left a voice message......

BTW, FYI, (Im getting good at texting codes, might as well start applying them to the blog). Anyhow fish are dying all over across the state of Illinois. Many ponds just aren't geared to handle this hot of weather for this long with no relief even at nighttime. Rain and cold fronts that do come only make things worse and thats usually when a big fish kill will happen. Several hot hot days in a row followed by a cold front or rain storm. On a serious note, if your fish are dying, give me a call and I can help figure out exactly what happened and ways to remedy the problem for the here and now as well as ways to help fix the problem for the future.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Commercial Striped Bass Fishing!

Up at 3:30 am this morning. Headed out to do some commercial striped bass fishing on the Atlantic side of the Cape. Here is an early morning shot of the old school harbor:

You know Cape Cod is pretty much one of the coolest places on earth for a fish geek like myself. The only problem with the Cape is that Boston is only one hour away and pretty much every major city on the East Coast is nearby. Big cities bring lots of people and I pretty much don't like people in general.

We motored out to a remote beach and spotted a bunch of birds dive bombing baitfish. Instantly hooked up the moment our big diamond jigs hit the water! Crazy. Insane. Unbelievably Awesome. My first striper was a 10 lber, but it was too short to keep. They have to be 34 inches long to be legal fish and we caught tons of 32" 10 lbers. Here are some pictures of short fish that had to be released:

We also caught a handful of bluefish today as well:

So altogether we caught and released about 45 short fish in the 8-10 lb range. Along with the short fish though, we caught our limit of legal fish! Legal fish are in the 13-30 lb range and our limit was 30 of those monster fish. Our biggest fish today was 27 lbs and our average keeper was 17 lbs. Here are a bunch of pictures, fishing was just blow your mind incredible today.

Justin caught the biggest fish of the day:

We were fishing very close to the beach. Here is a photo of just how close:

Here is a shot of the view looking out. When the schools of stripers are located, every boat within miles come running in to get a piece of the action. Lots and lots of boats. Our remote beach turned into a zoo by the time we left.

We were one of the first boats to limit out today! We filled the cooler up completely by 1 pm with 509 lbs of stripers and 47 lbs of bluefish!

Basically you cast out a big jig/spoon bait and real it in as fast as you possibly can. The big stripers come out of nowhere and smash your bait so hard it about rips the pole out of your hands. The coolest thing is that you literally watch each fish slam the bait! My arms are completely and utterly jello right now. Just picking up each bite of food to put in my mouth is not easy with such sore arms, but I am managing.

As a matter of fact I am eating seared scallops on top of seared pear slices marinated in some special Cape Cod lemon marinade. Eating while I type. Take a look at this appetizer:

Also we are having more lobsters, fresh striped bass, and fresh bluefish. We brought some fresh striped bass to the neighbor lobster lady and she dug us out 3 nice big lobsters in exchange to compliment our dinner. Seriously, this is as good as it gets. Pretty much the best food on the planet and Brett is a gourmet chef.

So before I forget, we were fishing with Steve today. Steve is a 5th grade school teacher here on the cape and he commercial fishes in the summer. He was focussed and determined all day, no messing around. Finally once we just about had the fish box full of fish I got him to pose for a quick photo.

Steve and I make a great team. He needs help catching 30 stripers everyday, and Justin and I love fishing in the Ocean for free. Tomorrow we will be to Steves at 4:30 am ready to roll!!! My arms hurt, my stomach hurts, and I am tired. Too much fishing and eating. One thing is for certain, this boy is Fat and Happy! Sleeping will be nice, tomorrow will be here soon.

Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Cape Cod is just like I pictured! Its like stepping back in time to when the pilgrims landed hundreds of years ago. Its also like a picture perfect old fishing town along the coast like something you would see on the Hallmark Channel. The house we are staying at was built in 1782 and is in the town of Sandwich, Massachusetts about half way down the Cape. Here are some pictures of the cottage and barn:

Justin and I arrived very early in the Monday morning from a late night flight from Chicago Midway to Boston. We then drove a rental car about an hour to the Cape. Upon arrival we decided to sleep for 2 hours and then up and out onto the Bay to look for some monster Bluefin Tunas with local Tuna guru Rocco. Here is Rocco on his Tuna Chaser:

We drove around and around for about 45 miles just looking for Tunas chasing bait on the surface. We were going to try and hook up with one of the beasts via rod and reel, and also stick one with a harpoon! The tunas in the area right now are running about 225 lbs, but Rocco's buddy stuck a 970 lb bluefin last week! Getting a tuna is a big deal, cause at the local fish market they sell for about $15 per lb live weight! Rocco, his brothers, and their 93 year old grandpa-pappy harpoon about 15-20 big tunas every summer!! They don't typically waste their time on potentially bad tuna fishing days, but we only had monday available, cause stripers are tues-thurs.

Unfortunately we didn't get the opportunity to hang out with some tunas up close and personal, the wind was blowing from the East and the sun never could shake off the clouds. Generally for chasing tunas in the bay you want it to be calm and sunny. Anyhow I snapped a photo just to break up the monotony and add some scenery to this story. The big hook in the picture is not the harpoon, it is just a gaff that we would have used to get the tuna into the boat.

We didn't catch any tunas, but we had an awesome time on the Bay just relaxing and not WORKING!!! When we got back it was time for dinner! The next door neighbors are commercial lobster fisherman and they hooked us up with 10 fresh lobsters for dinner!!

Justin ate 3 lobsters, Brett ate 2 lobsters, Katy ate 1 lobster, and Nate ate 4 lobsters! Oh yeah, we are staying with Katy and Brett. They are clients and good friends from back home. Brett is in the process of building the best Jumbo Yellow Perch lake in Illinois. They stay in the Cape for the month of July to commercial fish and they invited us out to help out! We hopped on a plane at the last minute and the rest is history....

The main fish we will be after are Striped Bass. Commercial fishing for them is a major deal around here and is only open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. You can keep 30 stripers per boat and they average about 15 lbs and bring in about $4 per lb live weight. You only have to go 1-2 miles offshore to fish for them with jigs and lures so you don't have much expenses in fuel or bait and you dont have to clean the fish when you get back to the dock. Just drop them off with the fish trucks lined up to take them to the market!

The lobster neighbor lady said she would love some striped bass fillets so we definitely are motivated to catch some fish tomorrow so we can feast again. Stripers and Lobster sounds pretty good eh?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Aquarium Fish, Deer Videos, and Consulting

Its a million degrees outside, July has been extremely unusually HOT. I got home early from work this evening and was feeling pretty terrible from working out in the heat. Mae is having a slumber party tonight so I needed to get home early anyhow. Girls are everywhere and they pretty much never stop talking for even a moment. Anyhow we tore out an old dock today out near Congreville. Putting in a brand new dock and rope swing next week to take its place.

Yesterday we were up at 2:30 am and headed on a long one day road trip. We started out electrofishing and consulting with an Oral Surgeon near Springfield, Missouri. We gave him an intensive management plan for turning his worn out 3 acre pond with a few small fish into a pond full of life and mucho 3-5 lb bass! Also came up with a plan for converting his unused 1 acre pond into a world class catfishin hole. Then toured his 500 acres of thick cedar trees and helped him devise a plan for growing bigger and holding more whitetails.

The closest agriculture field is 20 miles from his property. Can you believe that? Imagine having the only mega food source through 20 miles of cedars and nasty wilderness!!! Lots of clover and beans and going into the new clearings.....

Once we left the docs place we headed over to a meeting in Springfield with the directors of the Bass Pro Aquariums. We toured the quarantine and behind the scenes facilities and came up with a list of fish species and sizes to stock the new East Peoria store aquariums! Yep, thats right, your gonna be looking at our TROPHY fish inside the mega aquarium!!! We are super excited.

Then back through a couple hours to St. Louis, quick stop at a Jack In the Box for a really big chicken sandwich and in bed at home by 11:30 pm. 750 miles round trip, long day. That pretty much sums up how life has been this summer. On the go from well before the sun comes up and in bed just short of midnight. Working on some amazing projects right now. The last couple weeks we have been figuring out a way to make a monster 80 acre lake for a client, building docks, killing lots of vegetation, and consulting all over the midwest. Not to mention swimming with Mae, Noah, and Drake every moment possible! Not enough time in the day.

Here are some pics of a new road and boat ramp we put in for a client. Next month we will be building an awesome boat dock next to this new boat ramp with a big boat slip for a 24 foot pontoon. I actually bought an old used but sturdy pontoon boat from Hennepin Marine and am taking it to AAD custom welding tomorrow to get completely stripped down and customized. It will be the ultimate fishing machine! We are putting 10 swivel fishing seats around the perimeter and custom building a center livewell that will also have a bench seat top with all kinds of bait and tackle storage. Definitely will be posting pics of this boat once completed! Here is a pic of the new road going in:

Haven't been able to write nearly as much as I like to and also almost missed the deadline for my article for Heartland Outdoors Magazine for August. The article is about Largemouth Bass Relative Weights and it had potential to be a great article, but I only had 25 minutes to write it, in fact didn't even get a chance reread it after finishing it. If you dont get a subscription to the mag, your missing out! (not missing anything special for August, but next month I am going to make up for this one!)

Had some friends from Indiana stay out at the lake last weekend. They caught tons of fish and supposedly have some awesome pictures, but I have yet to receive any of them. Rumor has it they caught a 9 lb hybrid striped bass and lots of big bluegill. I did pop in one evening and snapped this pic of a smallmouth bass with my phone:

Speaking of Striped Bass, Justin and I are headed out this weekend to Cape Cod near Boston to do some commercial Striped Bass fishing and harpoon some Tunas. We fly out Sunday and fly home Wednesday! Look for many pictures and videos hopefully next week!!! That is going to be quite an experience.

Just got this video from the QDMA field day at Otter Creek. It was made by the boys from I expect great things from those guys this fall! Here is the field day tour video:

Here is a video they made from watching some bucks in early July:

I will be posting their semi-live hunting videos weekly, once hunting season starts. These guys are very interesting, educational, and entertaining. They are very passionate about whitetail deer hunting; but much more importantly they are passionate about glorifying and praising God through His Creation. God has indeed given those guys an amazing talent to share, I think you will enjoy their videos this season.

The last tidbit of news is that on July 30 we are having a fishing derby at the hooked on fishing park in East Peoria. The event is free and open to all supervised children under the age of 16. I could still use about a dozen more volunteers to help make the day run smooth. Please email me at to help out. The fishing park program is going awesome this summer. This year we have already taught more than 500 kids how to fish free of charge! The fish in the park have definitely been given a workout so far. After the derby I am going to need to replace lots of fish and could use some help financially with that if anybody or business wants to step up and get involved. We raised enough money at our winter fundraising dinner to pay for most expenses to operate the park for the whole summer, but special things like extra fish arent in the current budget.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fishing, Eating, and Horseback Riding

July is already half way over and here I am at 4:13 am with my first opportunity to post a few pics and recap the first half of the month.

Over the 4th of July weekend we took alot of folks fishing, did alot of cooking and even did some horseback riding with the Horsemeister team! The weather was hot, but yet perfect. Here are a bunch of pics:

Special thanks to Horsemeister for adding a some great fun to the weekend! Here are a few fishing and eating pics from that weekend. Can you imagine taking 4 ladies out in a boat fishing at the same time! Well, it is very interesting to say the least, you just never know what they are going to say and thank goodness we caught lots of fish!

Chef Todd, like usual cooked up all kinds of fresh fish, and various meats and dishes on the grill all weekend long.

So those pics take me from July 1-4th, and between then and now we have hosted an additional 300 people at our lake, taken alot of people fishing, worked on some really neat lake building projects, electrofished lakes in Congreville and Weematuk, spoke at the big QDMA event at Otter Creek with Dr. Grant Woods, toured a property the next day with Dr. Grant Woods, and hosted some friends from Georgia. Oh yeah, also squeezed in a Sunday School picnic. Last night I fell asleep in my lazyboy chair feeding Drake his bottle about 8 pm-ish I think, and woke up in my bed at 4 am ready to get rolling!

Here are the last of the pics, they are from the Sunday School picnic: