Sunday, March 25, 2012

Boone and Crockett Bluegills

The kids did a great job remembering their lines at the Easter Program at church today, and then like wildfire heading for prairie grass we were headed towards the lake! Man was it ever a nice day today, WOW! We have been blessed with the best March weather on the planet and the fish are biting! This bluegill was a beast:

Anyhow we headed out on our made from scratch big pontoon boat and found a bunch of big bluegills up near the surface feeding on insect hatches believe it or not over 14 feet of water. Crazy awesome is all I can say. We didnt have much bait, so we were mainly throwing small crankbaits and the bluegills were hammering them!

We also caught a bunch of largemouth, a handful of smallmouth bass, one crappie, and one hybrid striped bass and 3 rainbow trout. I only have pics of this crappie and a handful of the bluegill above.

So anyhow I was taking one of the rainbow trout off the hook boatside and I managed to sink one of the treble hooks deep into the underside joint in my middle finger. I get hooks in me all the time, but this one was more than what I could rip out or cut out on my own. I actually didnt tell any of the guys for the first 5 minutes, but after nearly passing out I decided I better get some help getting er out.

5 minutes later all was good and we were back in action. We moved up along the shoreline on a 3-5' deep flat and caught bunches of largemouth bass on topwater buzzbaits, mepps spinners, and bomber fat A's. We could see quite a few muskie lurking around, but couldnt get them interested in any baits.

About 6:30 pm and it was off to Farmington Pizza Company for some grub on the way home.

Anyhow, fish were on fire all week long. The guys fishing at Cabin Fever in Victoria, IL texted me a pic of a tiger muskie we stocked in their big lake just 2.5 years ago as a yearling fingerling.

Cabin Fever is a private campground, but they do have some nightly spots with electricity available or for just $10 you can launch your boat and fish all day. They have much better than average fishing.

Out at Glovers private pond in Fulton County the fish are growing like weeds as well. Their girls love to fish just as much as our girls do:

I am gonna try to squeeze more into this upcoming week than is probably humanly possible, but I gotta get er done. Gonna be consulting in Ottawa for a couple ponds, building docks in Kickapoo, electrofishing in Lewiston, Missouri, stocking lots of ponds with big fish from Oklahoma and putting in aeration systems near Pittsfield, also electrofishing a couple ponds in Pittsfield, electrofishing near Astoria, and stocking a lake in Kickapoo, and getting the trout for the indoor trout pond at Presley's this upcoming weekend.

Then I will get home Friday evening by 4:30 pm and 30 minutes later Brook and I are going to Bloomington for a weekend getaway/conference. Next Sunday I have an all day appointment with my recliner, in my livingroom hopefully with the air conditioning on. It may be a couple weeks till I get a spare minute to post some more pics...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Southern Illinois Morels, Docks, Electrofishing

Just got back from a little road trip down to Southern Illinois. The morels are popping and love is in the air/water down there in the fish world.

Down in Brownstown, IL we built this small boat dock on Fred's secondary pond for his guest house tucked back in the woods. We also met a dye manufacturer from St. Louis there at Fred's pond to test out a new granular lake dye. This new product has some potential, but isn't quite ready to hit the market yet.

Fred and his neighbor helped Allen and I build this dock:

Only took 4 hours to build and install and then we went and toured some ponds made by the famous pond builder Dave Sefton. Dave is getting close to retirement and only builds 2-3 ponds a year anymore, but the ponds we saw were terrific! Hybrid ponds, Catfish ponds, Gar and trash fish ponds, etc, etc. Fun stuff.

Then it was time for DINNER. Fred's wife Connie is the best cook on the planet. Everytime I head south I make sure to detour thru Brownstown to get a gourmet meal. This time we feasted on Chicken and Noodles, Mashed Potatoes, Some kind of mouth watering tenderized steak, and homemade chocolate creme and coconut creme pies. She always makes two main entrees and two types of desserts so naturally I always eat two full meals in one sitting.

I actually wasnt able to eat two desserts, the coconut creme pie was so unbelievable I had to eat a third (smaller) piece. Words cannot describe how fantastic that combination of various cooked coconuts tasted. Tonight I will probably dream about eating that pie.....Ok so flash forward to today and while I was gone Brook was making pies for the lighthouse academy auction this weekend and she is all excited about this snicker/oreo creme pie she concocted. She even texted me how great it turned out. So I get home and Im not even excited about tasting this thing because my heart was still in love with coconut creme....For those in suspense wondering, yes I did taste the pie and yes it was delicious, but it was just average delicious. I am completely ruined now, kind of like the kid who shoots a once in a lifetime deer early in life.....

So anyhow the this morning Allen and I were up at 2:45 and headed from Brownstown towards Norris City, Illinois for some electrofishing, fish feeder and buglight instalation, and to put in a vertex aeration system.

A couple years ago when I was rolling through Carmi, Il a crazy guy in a big pickup truck nearly ran us off the road while trying to flag us down. Im thinking great, what fell off the truck or what mailbox did we just take or what happened now, etc etc but thankfully he just didnt want to miss the opportunity to get his brand newly purchased 2 acre pond shocked. He saw our shocking boat in tow and chased us for 3 miles... Right off the bat his first question was if he could grow walleye in the pond he just purchased. It was that exact moment I knew we were gonna get along great...

Anyhow, we came back down and electrofished Dave's (the crazy guy who chased us down) pond last year and got him set up on a program to grow 2 lb bluegills and some eatable sized walleyes down in far southern illinois in a 2 acre pond 11 feet deep. This year we came down to implement phase two of the plan and to make sure everything was progressing as it is supposed to. (really at this stage its just to make sure the owner isnt the one messing up the plan...)

We shocked up some nice and fat 9 inch walleyes and I am not kidding you when I say that Dave is going to grow 32 oz bluegills in this pond. Keep in mind an 8 oz bluegill is a nice fish better than average. Mark my words, Dave will grow lots of 2 lb bluegill in this pond! He is determined and is sitting pretty. Here are couple pics of his pond with the new feeders in place with a special very high protein fish food.

Dave's buddy York found out we were in town and we had just enough time to head to his pond 7 miles down the road and see what kind of fish they had. They have stocked lots of catfish, but havent caught any of them. Also they have yet to catch a largemouth over 2 lbs. The bluegills though were world class and they knew it!

Their goal is simple and very attainable- grow some bass over two lbs, maintain the amazing bluegill fishery, and figure out how to get the catfish established. Here is what I came up with based on my observations and after drilling the Yorks with tons of questions. First the bass were obviously way overpopulated, that was a gimme. They knew that already, but not only overpopulated but there hasnt been fresh genetics added to that pond since the original stocking in 1970. Even by thinning the bass down, they still werent gonna grow much over 2 lbs. Also not much good largemouth bass feeding habitat in the pond.

We made a diagram of where to place the new cover consisting of cedar trees, rip rap, and pea gravel, determined it best to catch out as many of the bass in the pond as possible over the next month with a goal of at least 150, and then to bring in 75 new bass to get things back on track. Oh yeah, they had been stocking channel catfish too small and the existing bass were just gobbling them up. They will be getting bigger ones in the future. Also in the future they will occasionally bring in largemouth bass of fresh genetics in the 15-17" size range.

They are going to tinker with a feeding program with some old Moultrie feeders, but will end up replacing them with Texas Hunters eventually. Also a Vertex Air One aeration system is in the longterm plan for the pond as well. Gonna be a another fun one to come check back in on in a couple years...

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Summer Fishing in March

Wow, what a weekend! I don't know where to start except to just simply be thankful for such awesome weather not only this weekend, but the entire past week! Unbelievable.

Pretty much everyone in my family ended up at the lake this weekend. I headed out about 6 pm Saturday evening and we burned our hillsides. Altogether about 40 acres total. Justin and I finished burning about 1 am that morning. We actually LOVE fire and burning....I bet the local fire departments got over 100 phone calls Saturday night cause our hills are steep and you could see the flames from all across the whole town of Canton. The fire department guys are cool and let us do our thing all night long. They just said they will only come out if we call them if things got out of hand. Ive been on a few of those for various reasons in my day, but like everything once you learn the hard way a few times you eventually catch on....

When done properly with lots of backburning, we actually use fire to put out the fires. Here is a pic of our first backburn going up the west hill. You can see the smoke and flames bending toward the north, but the fire actually moving to the south.

Here is a blurry pic, but after dark the fire going up the hill glowed for miles away!

So anyhow Sunday morning we headed up to Kersch Cafe in Farmington for breakfast and then headed back to the lake for a picture perfect day of outside church on the beach, lots of fishing, and even some swimming!

First person to go swimming today was Drake. He was feeding fish off the VIP dock when he leaned over just a bit far and ended up in the lake face first. He's a trooper though, cause after we fished him out he just sat on my lap and continued feeding the fish. He LOVES feeding fish!

So anyhow our lake has never been an easy lake to fish from the bank from, previously just the docks or the boats or the beach where the only good shoreline access. Well in the fall and over the winter Justin reshaped the whole south side of the lake by clearing out all the willows and cattails and put in a walking path with a bit of rip rap so now we have 1500' of easy access fishing from the shore! The fish were stacked up there too so that was great to fish for pretty much the first time!

Here are some pics of the kids with some really nice fish. They are going to be fishing like crazy this summer (all by themselves), up and down that whole shoreline!!

So then by the afternoon the sun was beating down and we were getting hot. Time to just go swimming. Me and a boatload of kids headed out to the swim raft on a paddleboard and jumped off into the frigid waters a few times. Crazy to be swimming in March, but the water temps are rising rapidly...

This upcoming week we are heading to Southern Illinois on a road trip to build a dock, test some new lake dyes, install a bunch of fish feeders, and put in an Aeration system. We will end up near Carmi, Il midweek and then head for home hopefully by Thursday.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Blue Catfish Stocking

I have several clients looking to create awesome catfish ponds this spring so I have lined up a fish truck from Oklahoma to come on up with a load of farm raised pellet trained blue catfish! Very exciting, we are gonna grow 30-40 blue cats in relatively small bodies of water!

Perfect timing too, cause this months issue of Pond Boss Magazine is all about all the different species of Catfish! My good friend Bruce Condello is on the cover this month!! If you don't get the magazine your missing out my friends:

Hey another cool read is a website I stumbled across called This site is becoming very popular and just one click and you will see exactly why. Here is a recent article about fishing Crappies at Kinkaid Lake.

The fishing parks guided fishing trip auction on Monday went great! Thanks to all the guides who donated trips and all the people who came and bought them!! If you missed out this year, plan on coming next year for sure!

So anyhow I woke up one morning and this week was over. Wow, where does the time go? Right now its 8:49 pm Saturday evening and I am actually too tired to go to bed. Burnt the candle on both ends every day this week and now am ready to crash on Sunday. I can guarantee you that I will have the jello head neck bob at church. Pretty much everyone will know that yep I am sleeping...

This Sunday is extra special because it is my sister and my birthday!! 29 years old this year! Here is to hoping that birthday cards have a little green in them this year. Who doesnt open a card and have that little tiny spec of hope that there is a 5 or a 10 or who knows maybe a 20 inside? So disappointing when you open a card with nothing but words in there.

If it doesnt rain or wind too bad after church I just might have to take the kids fishing! If that doesnt pan out, I will just head out offshore fishing near some oil rigs while I nap in my chair...

We built a simple, but cool floating boat ramp dock on Tuesday out in Elmwood. It only takes one day for us to build and install docks of this size. This one though we had to go back Wednesday morning to finish though, go figure...

Things are really picking up at the office. SPRING is coming!!! Allen was shipping out packages like a madman this week. Friday was the biggest day for shipments, our online store is on Fire which is great.

Most of this stuff is headed down south to states like Florida, Texas, and Alabama. Over the next few weeks you can just watch the trend move North little by little.

I talked to a freshwater prawn farmer down in Southern Illinois this week. I am gonna tour his operation the first of June when I pick up several thousand prawns to stock in a couple clients ponds. That is gonna be a very fun experiment that hopefully I will get in on a handful of prawn harvesting and eating parties in October. Supposedly they are not that hard to raise as long as they dont die...good one eh?

So anyhow I didnt get to work on my house much this week, but today we got quite a bit done! My goal is to get the roof dried in by this time next Saturday. I get an extra hour of daylight starting tomorrow which doesnt sound like much, but will help tremendously.

Forecast is calling for 70's all next week!

One last thought- my buddy down in Georgia takes care of Jeff Foxworthy's lakes. Anyhow he has made arrangements to sell off the unwanted bass from the trophy lake down there. Even if your not interested in purchasing these fish, its still interesting to read about what they are doing there on that lake- Foxworthy Lake Bass

Friday, March 2, 2012

Awesome Turkey Video and Cool Project Update

My buddy from the Quad Cities sent me this video in an email, and I thought it very interesting and something quite different:

We got the trout pond set up at the Elmwood All Outdoors Show, got some whoppers in that little pond! Hope you guys all come out!

The Catch a Dream fishing trips silent auction via email has been going much better than expected! Many of the trips have already sold and we are coming up with quite a few more trips for the live auction Monday night at EP's Timeout in East Peoria. Hope to see you all there. Also keep in mind that we can create a custom fishing trip too. I have created several custom trips for clients already for this event so if you dont see a trip on the list that you would want, just let me know and we will create any customized fishing trip you can think of.

So then this week I was at the nicest deer and turkey hunting property perhaps in the whole state. The owner of the property is creating the ultimate recreational property and is doing pretty much anything you can think of to make Wildlife Utopia. First where I come into the picture is the 9 brand new lakes, ponds, and wetlands that were constructed last year. Each one will be customized and intensively managed individually like for example a crappie pond, a catfish pond, a smallmouth pond, a rainbow and brown trout pond, a redear sunfish pond, a largemouth bass pond, a bait pond and here is the one I am most excited about a freshwater PRAWN pond! Yep, we are getting prawns shipped up from Texas and if all goes good will be harvesting them in September 6-8 of them to the lb!

So even though the ponds have themes, I still need to come up with supporting fish populations of other species that will enhance the main goal of each pond. A good supporting cast you could say. Fun stuff...

Anyhow, Some of the work that is being done on this property is an 18,000 sq ft custom lodge with every feature you cant even imagine, over 2500 large fruit trees have been planted, food plots everywhere, special quail and rabbit brush piles created everywhere and in the middle of the property he hinge cut 60 acres of timber leaving on the best of the best trees standing and then brought in an airplane and fertilized the forest floor! That 60 acres is the thickest most amazing deer and turkey habitat on the planet. Its so thick you cannot walk into it even if you wanted to!

On the home front, every evening I am either working on building my house, my brother inlaws house, or my brothers house. Those projects are coming along nicely and believe it or not are all within 1/2 mile of each other. Here is a pic of my house from Thursday evening, still plugging away trying to get er dried in, I have the back finished so far, still need to get the front done. Unfortunately the weather doesnt look to good for Saturday....