Monday, July 30, 2012

Building Perfect Smallmouth Bass Lake

This has been the absolute perfect summer for building lakes and ponds! We have a handful of lake construction projects rolling at various stages right now and here is one we are finishing up tomorrow. Its the absolute perfect smallmouth bass lake!!

Along with smallmouth bass, it is actually already stocked with pellet trained blue catfish, yellow perch, hybrid striped bass, and redear sunfish. Sounds like a pretty fun combination eh? You bet!!

Ok so the dam actually went in this spring and we have been pumping in water from another lake on the property so the fish have got a great head start on life (even in this drought), they are looking great with most of the smallies already a rock solid 7-9 inches.

Anyhow since there was going to be alot of shallow water for about a 2 acre zone on the upper half of the lake we decided to build some really cool islands and peninsulas. We do these islands and peninsulas to actually save lots of money. It costs alot to move dirt a long distance, but it actually doesnt cost much at all to simply move dirt just a few feet.

So we turned a 2 acre zone that was gonna have an average depth of 4 feet or less into a smallmouth bass wonderland with an average depth of 8 feet and more in less than a week. Here are some pics, let me know what you think:

This area we threw alot of dirt on the shoreline to use for making the future building site.

With this island we eliminated shallow water on the east side of the lake. Also you can see the channel we cut in down the middle while making the dam.

This peninsula we made because we wanted to eliminate some shallow water on the west edge of the lake.

Jared putting the finishing touches on a really cool island:

Justin finishing up spreading the dirt needed for the building site and road:

Some sunflowers we planted along the west edge of this new lake earlier this spring. It is very cool to see all the birds coming in and out of this mega bird feeder all day long. Most folks think food plots are just for hunting, but we get more people wanting them just to enjoy them and their benefit to all wildlife all year long!

Reminds me of a story at our 6 acre bird feeder plot. We had a missionary from Haiti out to our place last week who went out and counted like 24 species of birds one morning from our plot consisting of sunflowers, winter wheat, sorghum, sweet corn, beans, and probably some other stuff Justin and Jared planted this spring. Anyhow it looks very cool right now and even a bunch of geese were milling around the ripe winter wheat just last night.

I guess while I am at it, it has been a very eventful and fun last few days. On Friday I took Mae and Noah to work with me. Our mission was to take the team from HorseMeister up to a critique large horse property we have listed for sale just north of Henry next to I-80. For those who don't know, HorseMeister is a pretty big horse operation located near Glasford that specializes in breeding Fresian horses. They sell and breed these prestigious horses all over the United States, along with several other types of horses too. Also they do vaulting camps, and several other horse things that I know absolutely nothing about.

Anyhow this property for sale has a state of the art horse operation and I needed to get some experts up there to learn the ropes and make sure the horse stuff is all set up correctly. Judy and Karin did a phenomenal job critiquing the entire property and now I feel confident we can help the seller market the property correctly and help the future buyers know exactly what they are getting and what it will take to operate.

Here is a video clip Judy made of there day up at the property, of course we had to bring some riders up with us to try out all the trails as well. They had a blast:

So back to Mae and Noah's adventure. They tagged along and just loved hanging out with the horses. Also I gave Noah my old digital camera and gave him a mission to take photos of all the horses which he was super proud to have that job! He took it very seriously:

So anyhow for a house update (Brook is watching the olympics, so I am just typing away listening to them) Who knows I might just keep writing all the way till 11 pm. I am not used to having this much free time lately. Every spare moment has been working on my house. I dont got any pics at the moment, but finally am stocking drywall tomorrow baby!

Oh yeah, some lady interviewed me a few times a couple weeks ago for an article she was doing about the drought and heat's affect on midwest fish, lakes and ponds. I was polite and answered all her questions and bam I start getting calls from people reading that article that hit the top story news headline on their smart phones, etc. Here is one of many links to the various major websites that picked up that article

Then here is the kicker to that story- CBS National Evening News team calls me up on Sunday afternoon and wants to do an article about that story on Monday. Very cool to be called by a major news network, but we were unable to make that work out on such short notice. However once another round of fish kills rolls through the area they want to come and shoot some footage of the dead fish, interview the owner of such unlucky fish and have me explain what happened. So the next person to have a major fish kill, call me up.

According to Brook the American men are doing terrible in gymnastics, but a few minutes ago me and the kids were doing a victory dance just before bed as Americans went Gold and Silver in the 100 Meter backstroke.

Here is another article I am in about fish kills and hot water-

Well we have jampacked quite a bit into this blog post, but I am sure I can dig up some more good stuff. Noah loves his Herman Brothers T Shirt, wears it proudly.

He also loves Justins new Blood Hound Copper. Copper is only like 14 weeks old or something and is getting huge. These two young pups are best friends:

Chef Todd sent me this pic from a kid who caught a monster bass at Otter Creek last week:

I find myself daydreaming of offshore fishing alot lately. We are gonna be pike fishing up at Lake Delavan in a couple weeks, then salmon fishing up on Lake Michigan a few weeks after that, and then fishing down on the beach in Gulf Shores a few weeks after that, but yet no daydreaming about those places or fish species.....the blue water way off the coast of the gulf of Mexico is what inhabits what little time I have to think about stuff other than what is right in front of me.

The next couple weeks are gonna be pretty exciting. We will be filming a top secret show for a few days next week with a major production company from the East Coast that I am not allowed to talk about but am on a roll so why not just a brief mention. Now I am out of time as the Japanese just paid off the judges to get them to reverse their original scoring to steal the silver medal back from the Great Britains. Is that what you call them- Great Britains? Englishmen? Oh well.

Summer Bass Class

Summer Bass Class

Advanced Tactics for High School Anglers

Presented by Hooked on Fishing

Date: Thursdays, August 9th, 16th, 23rd, and 30th.

Location: Hooked on Fishing Park
                 1807 N. Main St.
                  East Peoria, IL 61611
                  (309) 219-3560
Our camp will feature pro angler instruction in a classroom setting with an on-the-water guided practice here at the park.  All anglers will learn casting techniques, lure presentation, tournament fishing, and tournament preparation.
Registration: All forms will be available at the Hooked on Fishing Park.  You may register by phone or in person. Availability is limited to the first 30 applicants. 

At this time, the registration fee will be $20.00 per session. (unless we can find a sponsor or donor to cover these costs). Attending all four sessions will qualify you for a special six hour fishing tournament at Otter Creek Preserve on September 22nd, from 7:00am to Noon. Otter Creek is a privately owned premier fishery that boasts a 125 acre lake and 45 acre lake intensively managed by Herman Brothers Lake and Land Management. Do not miss your chance to fish some of the most famous fishing waters in the state of Illinois!  

All anglers are required to bring their own fishing pole. Tackle boxes must be labeled with participants name for security and safety purposes.

If you have any questions regarding the camp please contact the camp director(s) Mike O’Reilly at (309)256-1801, or Ryan Ortega at (309)256-2435.  You may also visit the website for more details at

If you would like to volunteer for the camp please use the contact information above. We would like to encourage coaches of the participating schools to attend. Here is the schedule/speaker line up:
August 9  
5:30-6:00 p.m.             Dinner
6:00-7:00 p.m.             Ron Boyer – Tube Tactics
7:00-8:00 p.m.             Steve Anderson – Shaky Worms

August 16
5:30-6:00 p.m.             Dinner
6:00-7:00 p.m.             Chef Todd - Chatterbaits
7:00-8:00 p.m.             Chad Fargher – What’s Hot

August 23
5:30-6:00 p.m.             Dinner
6:00-7:00 p.m.             Bob Rask - Jerkbaits
7:00-8:00 p.m.             Jim Crowley – Wacky Rig

August 30
5:30-6:00 p.m.             Dinner
6:00-7:00 p.m.             Dave Thompson - Crankbaits
7:00-8:00 p.m.             Terry Brown - Spinnerbaits

September 22
7:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.  Tournament at Otter Creek


Thursday, July 26, 2012

High School Bass Fishing Clinics!

Hooked on Fishing Park will be hosting four bass fishing seminars for high school aged anglers! Very exciting opportunity for anyone in high school to get together and learn stuff from pros on the water.
Also the fishing park has a very newly renovated meeting building that is just AWESOME and perfect for these types of events! You definitely have to stop down at the park to check out the new building!

Ok so back to the high school fishing program...The seminars will be at the park on August 9, 16, 23, and 30. They will be held from 5:30 to 8:00 PM.

Each class will feature two guest speakers with a history of tournament competition. Both speakers will lecture in depth about a particular bait or type of fishing. Along with the lectures, each session will include live on-water instruction so bring your rod and reel!!

Here is the kicker that every high school angler needs to take advantage of- At the conclusion of our four sessions, each student who attends all 4 sessions will be invited to fish a special six hour fishing tournament at Otter Creek Preserve this fall. Otter Creek is a privately owned premier fishery that boasts a 125 acre lake and 45 acre lake intensively managed by Herman Brothers Lake and Land Management. Do not miss your chance to fish some of the most famous fishing waters in the state of Illinois!

Just look at all that water! This fishing tournament will definitely be one of the funnest events of the year so definitely do not miss this opportunity. You must be present at one of the fishing seminars to sign up for this tournament!

High School fishing coaches and parents are encouraged to sit in on our classes at the park. To sign up or for more information, please contact Mike O’Reilly at (309) 256-1801.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Mackinac Island Fishing Trip

Ok, so I actually didnt go on this fishing trip, but client Chuck Hart had some business to take care of up on Mackinac Island, I am assuming for his business Bob Grimm Chevrolet in Morton. Like most of us, he drug his family along and made a combo business/family vacation out of the weekend.

Anyhow, I have been a few places and learned the ins and outs of hiring the right and wrong fishing guides, not to mention I know a few people who know some people whose network pretty much reaches out to all the major fishing guides in the entire North America. So when a client gets stuck going somewhere whether it be for business or pleasure, I can usually always pull some strings or at the very least make some recommendations on who to go out on a fishing trip with. Its actually very fun to live vicariously through other people going on fishing trips on my bucket list. (pretty much every fishing trip possible is on my bucket list).

Nonethelesss, fishing guide requests for different areas of the country, including Mexico, the Caribbean, and Canada are getting to the point that I probably should start a fishing trip travel agency and just book trips all day long for clients. (feel free to bring me along next time though) Anyhow enough nonsense and on with the story of this particular trip. I get pics of awesome fish texted and emailed in pretty much weekly and decided I should start plopping these pics and trip info online so others can potentially experience them as well.

Anyone in business knows that a referral is the best compliment (and best advertising) that you can possibly get. Here goes one for Captain Norm from Chuck-

Mackinac Island King Salmon Fishing Trip
By Chuck Hart

This July took our family to the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, MI for a business trip/vacation, and a couple months ago I emailed Nate Herman asking if he knew of any guides in that area. Initially he said not firsthand, but then texted me a recommendation of I checked out that website, sent off an email to Norm and after a couple of messages back and forth had an evening trip booked.

We only had one night that would really work, so I hoped Tuesday July 17 would turn out to be a good day. I talked with Jason Perkins (Norm’s son) a couple of times to set up the particulars and met them at 4:30 on Tuesday night. On the trip was Norm, Jason, Me, John, and my two sons Cameron and Tyson. We headed out on Lake Huron and Jason told us that we would be fishing the calm side of the Mackinac Island just off of the Grand Hotel. As you can see it is quite a view!

Norm navigated while Jason began setting the trolling rods and before he even had all of the lines out we had a hit on one of the downriggers. He was busy so I grabbed the pole and began to reel. The fish seemed to be hooked up OK so I handed the pole to Tyson my 8 year old and he began to reel the fish in. After about a minute the fish got off and we were 0-1. It only took about 10 more minutes until fish #2 hit one of the dipsy diver poles and Cameron was hooked up with a nice King Salmon. He reeled hard and when the fight was over he had caught his first King about 7 pounds and we had one in the cooler!

Things then got a little interesting as we swung around the west side of the island and the waves picked up a bit. Tyson began to look a little green and soon he was hanging on to me telling me he was feeling sick. Now I had given him some motion sickness medicine, but it wasn’t working and he was asking to go back to shore. My friend John was kind enough to walk him back to the hotel room and once he was in the room with mom he was feeling much better.

Back on the boat we made another pass with no luck and then I was able to catch my first lake trout. It was about 5 lbs and fought just like a walleye. I’m not sure why I didn’t get a picture, but back to fishing for us. The kings had seemed to move as we hadn’t had a hit since that first pass. Jason suggested we make a larger swing around the west side of the island and that must have done the trick because Cam was able to reel in another 7lb King!

We were resetting the rods and that’s when it got a little crazy. Jason showed me a fish about 80 feet deep on the Lowrance and about 10 seconds later we had a hit on one of the planer board rods, which was running over 100 yards of lead core line, so I began the task of reeling that in. The fish felt a little nicer and was staying down, but did not feel like a trophy. My fish was about 100 feet out when BAM one of the down rigger poles went off. Captain Norm reeled up, set the hook and handed the pole to Cam. This fish had hit a bait only about 30 feet deep and it was on the surface right away, that’s when we all got a look at a very big tail and realized this was the big King we had been hoping for.

I sped up, trying to reel my fish in and stay out of Cam’s way, which I did successfully and we netted our third King a 10 pounder, but we were more concerned about that fish with the big tail that Cam had on. He did a great job of fighting the fish, he let it run when it wanted to, didn’t horse it and after 5 minutes we had a beautiful 16 pound King in the boat! According to the captains, this was a very nice fish for Lake Huron at this time of the year.

We greatly enjoyed talking with Captain Norm and Captain Jason and with 4 King Salmon and a Lake Trout in the cooler we headed in to the dock.

In summary thanks Nate for the referral, and if any of you are heading up to Mackinac Island or the Les Cheneaux Islands be sure to hook up with Captain Norm and Captain Jason. They will put you on fish! You can check them out on Facebook by searching for Island Charters LLC or just click this link:!/pages/Island-Charters-LLC/144962142205367

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Super Fast Pond and Lake Waterslide

This week we built perhaps the fastest waterslide on the planet. Its so fast, modifications will surely have to be made to slow down before entering the water with your lips and eyelids stuck inside your face.

Anyhow here are some pics of this slide we built out near Abingdon:

Then we had just enough time left in the week to build this nice dock for JR over near Bloomington on Friday:

JR's pond is about 3.5 feet low, but he just put in a well last week and is gaining an inch or two per day so that is pretty sweet!

About halfway done with the dock on Friday and I slip up just enough while cutting off a deck post to put the reciprocating sawzall blade right through my shorts and into my inner thigh. (Those were my good shorts too that I was not supposed to be wearing to work). So the guys got er all taped up and the bleeding stopped with some bandaids and electrical tape. Yes I have a very large leg.

Anyhow after about passing out up near the truck while looking at the fat inside my leg I laid down for a few minutes, regained composure, and finished the dock with the guys before heading back to the ER in Peoria to get er cleaned out and stitched up. Which kinda really stunk cause I had plans of taking the boys to the demolition derby at the fair and the ER took for stinkin ever.

I grabbed a photo quick after the nurse cleaned it up waiting for the doc to put in some stitches. More of a stab wound than a cut, yummy. Not a very long cut, but a couple inches deep.

So anyhow besides a very sore leg, I am very thankful to miss some major arteries and other very precious sensitive areas in that region. Worked on my house all day today (with a very sore leg). I only get about 1 day a week to work on it and finally am ready for inspection so I can insulate and drywall!!

At this pace I am hoping for a Thanksgiving move in. The last house I built only took 7 months from start to finish, but this one will take all of 12 months. I couldnt do much today, so I just helped Brook and the kids clean up and organize for a good portion of the day. Was fun!!

Obviously the record heat is still here and rain is few and far between. Saw another huge fish kill today on way home from my house. Big fish floating everywhere. If this hot weather and drought keeps up there arent gonna be any fish left here in Central Illinois. I am getting phone calls and emails daily from folks all across the midwest with dying fish.

If you think your water quality is deteriorating, get ahold of me ASAP for a few things to do to try and stave off the fish kill headed your way. Water quality is very important right now, especially because hot water cannot saturate with Oxygen like cold water can. Very little margin for error for the next 6 weeks!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Father Son Fishing Trip

On Monday night I had the amazing privilege of taking a father and son on the fishing trip of their lifetime. Normally I can say this pretty casually, but tonight I pretty much have tears in my eyes as I write this. In fact I dont even know how to appropriately write this, but after reading Dereks blog for the first time tonight, I figured the most important thing through this situation and a point he wants to make very clear to the world is to God be the Glory!

Derek has an amazing young family and just this year has been diagnosed with a very rare form of brain cancer. Through these trials he is living life each day to the fullest, praising God, working hard, and teaching his kids absolutely everything he possibly can to potentially prepare them for life here on earth without him. This man is as rock solid of a man that you will ever meet!

Here are the pictures from our awesome evening together. We caught several big channel catfish and big bluegills on crankbaits! Also had a couple muskie brake offs near the boat, a handful of small smallmouth, bunches of medium largemouth, and the stripers were absolutely on fire!!

Here is an excerpt from his blog Walk of Faith from Monday night:

"Today I went at 7:30 for blood draws, and all that tested fine. Then we met with Dr Gomez's Nurse Practioner. She said that the MRIs show no change in the tumor since the 1st of May. This was really suprising to me since I had felt like symptom wise it was probably growing. Her feeling about the pain I had a week ago is that it was an initial reaction or agitation of the tumor by the Avastin that caused this. She doesn't expect it to happen this week. I got my second treatment without any problems, just worked on my laptop while the IV ran in. Less drama this time from the other patients in the room.

Then tonight we had a surprise (for me) family outing. A Tremont family took our family to the Herman lake for an evening of grilled tuna, fishing, and water slides. The kids had an absolutely awesome evening, and we all had the best fishing we've ever had in Illinois. I don't normally like surprises, but it was even kind of fun to know I had to leave work early for some surprise.

What I'm Learning from Cancer #2
Take One Day at a Time. We all seem to say this often. But now I really know that this is true. For the first few weeks after I found out the cancer was back, every time I found myself discouraged or afraid, I realized that I was thinking about the end of treatment, what my long term abilities would be, etc. I finally had to realize I couldn’t let myself dwell on things down the road. As I just focused on the decisions or treatment of that day, it got much easier and didn’t seem so hard after all. I think this is what Jesus meant in Matthew 6:34 when he said “Take no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” Not that my situation is evil, but just that when the future days get here, we will know what we need to worry about. There is no point in worrying about them sooner as they might not come or might be different than we think anyway. A month or so ago I was worried when I thought about the decision as to whether we should do chemo. And I really suspected that when we got to the decision, it would be easier, so I tried just not to think about it too much. And when we got to the decision, sure enough it seemed easy to make. I think this is something I really never understood much at all before. But God just really wants us to trust Him and only worry about the challenges of today, not tomorrow or next week

As for prayer requests - please thank God for the good report and that I'm feeling better, and then just pray that I can keep a good attitude if things don't go so well. We really have felt your prayers and support the last couple weeks and appreciate it so much.

Derek & Leann"

Friday, July 13, 2012

Tuna Fishing Results Final Day

So the other guys headed back to the cabins to shower, but I am pretty much used to sitting in stinky fish slime all day long anyhow, so I waited back at the marina for our other boat to come in. I really hoped that they would catch at least some tunas, but I was kind of discouraged at most of the boats coming in with no tunas to speak of.
That is very uncommon for Venice this time of year, but bait was hard to get and the tunas across the board were just no on for some reason....Finally I get a text that the guys are 30 minutes out, but no mention or pics of any fish caught....I am literally biting my nails hoping they caught some fish.

Those slime filled stinky 30 minutes waiting alone in the 95 degree sweltering musky humid hot heat actually went by rather quickly because I threw down a few drinks and made a couple phone calls and talked to a few captains, gave out a few business cards, signed a handful of autographs, and just breathed in the last few breaths of the ocean air.....ok enough nonsense, the boat finally came in and started plopping their fish into the cart:

So apparently they hit up a weedline and some rigs on their way in from tuna fishing. Thats a given in Venice this time of year, big deal....Then finally the guys start to talk and the phones with pictures start to come out and the cameras with video footage. Oh yeah, they overloaded the cart and filled it with these yellowfin:

So while they are filling the cart with awesome fish, I am watching footage on their phones and cameras of them swimming with whales and looking at pics of some of the coolest fishing scenery on the planet:

Can you imagine being way out in the ocean flat calm fishing by huge ships and floating oil rigs with crystal clear water, whales and whale sharks, and tunas swimming around!! Very cool, check out this video to get a little taste of their experience:

Here are the rest of their photos for those of you too lazy or with too bad of internet to view the video:

Ok, so they absolutely hit the motherload!! By far the best haul of the day from Venice Marina, trust me I saw all the boats coming in and there was nothing close. Captain Josh with Deep South Charters got them boys out 45 minutes earlier than all the other boats, was able to get bait in short order whereas most boats struggled and he stayed out a good hour longer than the rest of the boats.

Now if you want a pretty for sure deep sea fishing trip, go bottom fishing out of Venice. If you want to take a chance at a trip of a lifetime, go tuna fishing out of Venice with Captain Josh. And if you want to spread the risk out a little bit, plan on two days of fishing to give you the best odds at steady action and the tuna trip of a lifetime.

And definitely plan ahead accordingly, because one cooler in the back of minivan just aint gonna cut it to get all the fish meat back home. We had even the uhaul maxed out with 8 coolers full of fish!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Final Day of Deep Sea Fishing Venice

Ok, so normally my fishing reports aren't quite so delayed, but here goes the rest of the pics from our fishing trip down in Venice. We got back to our cabins about 8:30 pm on Sunday night and cooked very fresh mahi mahi, wahoo, and of course TUNA!
While that was cooking we were frantically vacuum sealing the rest of our bounty! We filled up several very large coolers with some of the best meat in the ocean and then hit the sack extremely exhausted. We prepared and brought down a small UHAUL covered trailer to bring all our meat home. (wishful thinking eh?)

4 am came around quick and it was back to the Marina for our second consecutive day of Offshore fishing. Me and the old guys decided we wanted to focus on catching more manageable bottom fish- snappers, groupers, cobia, etc. I have done this kind of fishing quite a bit so we didnt need a mate for this trip with Captain Mike. I ran the boat up onto the schools of pogies, near the oil rigs for anchoring, and did all the work for the old guys cutting bait, retying leaders, taking off fish, etc (I didnt get no stinkin tip at the end of the day though.....)

We loaded up with some pogies for bait and headed out to some fairly nearby oil rigs!

The action was very steady and we caught our limit of big red snappers in short order.

 It was fun, because while a couple guys had big rods down near the bottom for groupers, sharks, and snappers, we had the other guys flipping weightless chunks of fish up near the rigs for monster mangroves on light tackle.

We popped around to a couple different rigs and absolutely loaded up the ice box full with a plethora of awesome tasty fish!

This kind of fishing is perfect for old guys and young kids, lots of action! We had a couple giant warsaw grouper on, but two of them broke off and the third got us all wrapped up in the pipes, oh well, we will get the big one next time!! We had an absolute blast and got back to the dock early to relax and reflect!

We got back to the dock early and we waited anxiously to find out how our other boat did. They went out 80 miles in the other direction so we didnt have any communication with them, plus what added to the anticipation was that they got back in late........they were out after tunas.

That kind of fishing is way more extreme and way more risky, you can come back with nothing, or you can hit the motherload......Hopefully it wont take me a couple more days to tell their story....or maybe there is nothing to tell anyways????