Sunday, April 22, 2012

Noah Fishing Middle Grove

After Church, Noah and I headed out to my uncle's new 50 acre lake near Middle Grove. My uncle's Mike and Spark have a small farm out that way and just a few months ago the property adjoining theirs went for sale and they ended up buying it. Anyhow, ever since closing about a month ago I have been licking my chops to get out and check out all this new water and today we finally made it happen!

So we decided to see if there where any crappie in the lake. We bought some live minnows from Andersons Outdoor Supply right there in Middle Grove and decided slip bobbers along with some tube jig casting would be our game plan.

My first question when pulling out the boat ramp was if there were any beaver dams on the lake. Spark points over my shoulder and here we are on a 1.5 mile long lake and our first beaver dam was only 30 yards away! Jackpot!! Our first cast in front of the beaver dam and a huge bass swallows our bobber completely.

2 minutes later and Noah is pulling the first of many very large bass:

Catching the bass was a nice and fun bonus to crappie fishing, but we wanted to find some crappies and we couldn't keep the bass off our baits. Anyhow we finally connected with a couple crappies from the first beaver dam and they were NICE!

One thing about crappie fishing is when they are actively feeding I keep my baits up in the water column, but at this first spot they were not actively feeding so we had to keep our baits low to get bit. As the fishing slowed down at the first spot decided to go scope out the rest of the lake.

We moved around the lake watching the depth finder and the shoreline for good fishing spots and we didnt catch much until we found another beaver dam about 1 mile from the first. There we connected with some more nice bass and a couple more crappies:

We caught a bunch of regular bass too, they weren't all monsters.

This one was though. We weren't even bass fishing, just trying to catch crappies:

So, its the end of the day and we decide to head all the way back to the end of the lake just to check it all out. We get back there and it gets pretty narrow and starts to get shallow in the end. This is where we look over the edge of the boat and we are staring at crappies in the water right below us! In a deep strip mine lake, relatively shallow water is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

As fast as you could put your minnow down, a big crappie would slurp it up! Very nice ending to a great day of fishing!! Can't wait to get back out there and do some more exploring!!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Izaak Walton Fishing Lake!

I spent the afternoon at the Izaak Walton Campground and Fishing Lake in Metamora, IL. This was my first visit and let me just say quite frankly I was very impressed with their lake and overall facility! I was there performing a full lake audit and electrofishing survey to help them better manage their amazing resource.

They have a 17 acre spring fed lake that is awesome! I don't say that about very many places I initially visit. Here are just a few fish pics from today at their survey.

In this 17 acre lake, their bass average a rock solid 15.25 inches and their crappie at 12.5 inches with several over 15 inches!! Awesome! We shocked up lots of 15-17 inch bass, way more than normal which was pretty cool to see. I am putting together a fish management plan to improve and maintain their fishery which is gonna get even better in the years to come!

Izaak Walton Lake is a non-profit club affiliated with the National Izaak Walton league whose mission is to defend the soil, air, woods, waters and wildlife. According to, this nature conservation organization was founded nationally in 1922 making it the oldest conservation organization in the country.

The Woodford County chapter was chartered in 1938. Most of the land was donated by Metamora native and farmer Bud Meismer. On his land they expanded a natural spring fed lake to 17 acres by horse. They stocked it with Walleye, Bluegill, Bass, Crappie and Catfish.

To this day the lake is reported by club members to have the best fishing in the area, and I can back that up. This is actually a place I would come back fishing and camping at. There are 30+ primitive camp sites on the land, and they currently have 1 electrical site at the host site. Adding a few more electrical sites is in the plans. They also have a club house that can be rented for personal use. There is a Memorial Tree Grove featuring over a dozen tree varieties and 1.3 miles of hiking trails and a swimming beach!

Anyone interested in utilizing these facilities can become a member and have full access to camping, fishing, and swimming. Just call Troy at 309-265-7261. I was actually surprised at how affordable a yearly membership was and wanted to share this opportunity. The cost of your 1st year of membership is $160.00 and then just$110.00 every year after. The funds collected are used to not only maintain the property, but also fund conservation projects of all kinds! Plus there are senior rates and many opportunities to work off a portion of your annual dues if you choose.

These are the kinds of people to support, they have programs for boy scouts and local fishing teams and maintain a top notch facility!

Earlier in the day, we built this Cedar dock for a client up near Washburn.

We also are putting together intensive management plans for his other ponds and wetlands on his property. This new pond is gonna be a JUMBO perch pond. The fatheads are already in and will start making babies shortly as the water fills.

This is his neighbors pond that we have full of rainbow trout and big redear sunfish:

We have put in quite a few food plots and native grass plantings and have been cranking out docks, aeration systems, and electrofishing surveys left and right this spring from places like Leroy, Lexington, Bloomington, Pekin, Springfield and Fairview.

This is an OLD aeration system in Bloomington gonna get upgraded to a new Vertex Air One Plus aeration system:

Tomorrow we will be electrofishing in Astoria and then working our way down to Pittsfield. Then up at 4 am Friday morning and head north to Savanna and then across the state for some electrofishing in Manhattan. Putting mucho miles on the truck, and having trouble keeping track of everything but I absolutely love seeing new places and aparently love the chaos. I get ideas from one place and just share them with the next...

Oh yeah, Rogers tiny pond that we have been stocking for a few years is still cranking out some bigtime awesome fish. Chuck texted these to me last week:

Last bit- I was getting my usual short hair cut because my hairline is receding rapidly and the hair on my head choosed to grow very rapidly in some places and very not so rapidly in others, anyhow my boys decided they wanted daddy haircuts too so I got the buzzers back out and went to town:

Ok I just remembered. On Monday evening I took my kids down with me to deliver a bunch of fish food to clients and then meet up with a fish truck to deliver a bunch of smallmouth and hybrid striped bass. Was gonna be an easy delivery and me and kids had a ball on this mini 2 hour road trip. We stopped at a gas station and they were stoked to be able to pick out anything they wanted (they just kept saying how mommy never lets them buy was great to let them pick out and buy bottles of sugar slime) I always wanted to buy that stuff when I was a kid and never was allowed to.... anyhow when we get to our destination at 6:30 pm the fish guy called and said he was still 150 miles out.

Oh well we made the most of the wait and when he finally pulled up I told the fish guy I was going to count out the fish for my client. He tried as convincingly as possible to deter me from doing that and before we even got to open his tanks and look at the fish he simply jumped into his truck and left. He tried telling me he hauled fish in 40 degree water and they needed acclimated at the waters edge in his tanks. I knew 40 degree water was bogus cause you cant get 40 degree water this time of year. Then he said he acclimated for more than just temperature but for things like PH, salinity, and a few other big impressive words. I was fine with that too, but after tempering and acclimating I was still going to count out the fish and thats when he just drove off.....

My client and his buddy were standing there and thanked me for saving them from a royal ripoff. When your talking about a couple thousand fish at $4 each we are gonna make for sure we are getting every single one! And we are going to be the ones putting them into the lake! Anyhow me and kids got home right at midnight and I got to teach them a valuable lesson that some people just are not honest. They asked a million questions and just couldnt grasp the whole concept of why somebody would not tell the truth or would try to steal.... I'm just really glad that there were no 'accidents' on the way home, cause they were sleeping for the last hour. When I told Brook we were gonna be late she jokingly texted that I didn't have any pullups with me and that got me to pull over at the next Casey's and take a restroom break, no candy that time though, all business.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter Fishing

The weather today was just simply awesome! After church we took some naps and then headed over to my parents for a big family dinner of ribs and brisket. What an awesome day to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus!! After dinner and the Easter Egg hunt, the kids went down to the pond to play outside and do some fishin.

We have 25 muskies in this little pond and they showed up today, but we only landed one of them. At least this one was enough for a couple meals!! I probably have the only fishing blog online where you can see muskies on the fillet table.....Here is the thing, muskies are a put and take fish, they do not reproduce in Illinois. I use them as management tools, but once they reach certain sizes for certain bodies of water its time for them to go.

On Wednesday I went fishing with Keith and Justin. They purchased a donated fishing trip from the Hooked on Fishing Catch a Dream fishing trip auction. Despite the cold front that came in, we caught a dozen smallmouth bass from 2-4 lbs, 40 walleye 1-4 lbs, and 60 largemouth from 2-4 lbs. Not too bad eh? Chef Todd has the rest of the pics on his camera, I only have a couple.

Also this week Chef Todd and I fished with Mike Pehanich. Mike writes for many magazines and websites like bassmaster, bassin something or other, Cabelas outfitter journal, and many others.

Anyhow we caught some awesome fish, those pics will surface here eventually as well as in some of those publications mentioned above so be on the lookout coming up!!

Also Chef Todd is now on the Illinois Land Company Pro Staff. His mission is to showcase the awesome hunting and fishing on many of the properties that are currently for sale. On Tuesday he fished on Tract 3 of the John Buck Farm and they smoked the big bass!!

More details and information from shocking surveys and fishing trips on all the lakes we have for sale will be coming over the next few weeks!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Weekend To Remember

Last week we traveled to Ottawa to consult at several ponds and finished up the week at a large property near Pittsfield, IL stocking full size fish, aeration systems, fish structures, fish feeders, etc. and even found some mushrooms while measuring through the woods.

Put together lots of feeders and structures for all the ponds, here is some stuff for the lodge pond:

Found a snake while electrofishing one of the existing ponds:

Lodge pond still needs more water, we are gonna remedy that soon.

Big blue cats went into the blue cat pond:

These 9 ponds are spread out over this large property and are going to need a constant water source in order to hold large amounts of trophy fish. We shot all the elevations and took all the measurements for connecting all the ponds and will be filling a large wetland from the creek and using it as a water source for all the ponds during the summer. Very cool project that you will be hearing more about for sure!

Also while working near Pittsfield Justin, Jared and Phil stayed there while Jared and I popped over to Lewiston, MO to electrofish for client Richard's 40 acre lake. Richard has spend the last 2 years diligently working on every recommendation from his original lake management plan we wrote up on our first visit in early in 2010. To date he has removed 1839 largemouth bass from 10-13 inches, placed lots of cover, enhanced the bass genetics, also stocked lots of bluegill, installed bluegill feeders and he is now turning the corner and creating a trophy largemouth bass fishery! Finally lots of 15-17 inch bass that will be pushing 18-19 inches by the end of this season!! Oh yeah, Richard is also the guy with the monster crappies:

Also en route to Pittsfield I forgot about the electrofishing survey at Otter Creek Wednesday evening. Dynamite is all I can say, walleyes and other fish are really packing on the lbs:

So I get home at 4:45 pm Friday afternoon and am out the door at 5:45 pm headed to the Weekend to Remember conference with Brook in Bloomington. Let me just say, if your married get yourself to one of these conferences, they hold them all across the nation. Best investment you can possibly make for yourself, your wife, and your family.

If you have ever taken anything away from any of these blog posts, I would hope it would be this advice- take your wife to a Weekend To Remember conference. Its not convenient and never will be, but get it done.

So I go to pick up my kids Sunday afternoon at the lake and get roped into another project. First we went fishing:

Then we started to just lay out the new bedroom additions and before long we are full swing into digging the footings.

Monday after finishing some consultations in Metamora and Germantown Hills I am rushing to the lake to prep and then pour the footings all at once. Lots of rebar, some foam and 47 yards of concrete later we get er done.

So if building my own house in my spare time isnt quite enough, now every other spare moment will be spent building this 7 bedroom addition for my parents. I'm not complaining since its me and my kids and such that will ultimately benefit, I just got a little more on my plate at the moment than I can chew. Whats new I guess.

Last thing, I am getting a special delivery of tiger muskies coming in about 2 weeks. Typically tiger muskies are only available in the fall, but I have worked out a deal with a major muskie supplier to bring me some advanced size fish this spring. Anyhow just email me if your interested in more information-

We have been aggressively stocking muskies at Hidden Lakes for the last few years in some of their lakes to eat up lots of small fish. The plan is working and they are growing rapidly, here are some pics from hidden lakes from last week:

Got a text today from a client whose large bass are all dying from some sort of disease/virus with large sores on them. I don't know how to fix it, but can at least post a pic:

Oh yeah, we found a baby raccoon last spring and left food out for it at our barn all summer and winter. It was actually a pretty friendly raccoon all summer, but as winter progressed we saw less and less of her until this spring. Well, Tink had some babies last week and is not quite so friendly anymore. Her babies are sure cute though. We found them in our life jacket shed:

So oh yeah again, we are sleeping in a cabin near Pittsfield last week and just before bed I get a text from Justin who is already in his bed: