Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Ultimate Scuba Diving Dock

We built this cool dock last year with a built in Scuba Diving System and some underwater platforms to stand or sit on while watchin the fish.... Basically just put on a weight belt, put an airline regulator in your mouth and go down to a platform of your desired depth and interact with the fishes....This summer we will get some much better footage!! Come on Summa!!! Tis the dock building season! No good lake is complete without a nice dock to hang out on right on the water!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

HOFP Night with Chef Todd!

If you are reading this blog than Chef Todd cordially invites you to his Wild Game Appetizers and Open House at the newly renovated Hooked On Fishing Park Clubhouse in East Peoria On Tuesday night April 2nd from 4-8 pm!

He is cooking up a wild game appetizer feast that consists of:
Grilled baja fish tacos
Snow goose and Italian sausage stuffed mushrooms
Blueberry and blue cheese venison sliders
Fulton Co. wild turkey egg rolls with sweet chili glaze

Also we will have brats, hot dogs, and s'mores y'all can cook over the big camp fire outside or take hot off the grill...

So just to repeat here are the details:
Chef Todd Open House at Hooked on Fishing Park
Tuesday April 2, 4-8 Pm
1807 N. Main St, East Peoria, IL right next to Dixon’s Seafood Shoppe.

 Also that night we will have information about our volunteer round up program.
Are you looking for a fun and rewarding volunteer position? Do you enjoy fishing? Do you like working with kids, senior citizens, and disadvantaged individuals?
Hooked on Fishing will hold orientation for people interested in being volunteers during the 2013 season. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, you are invited to come to the park at 10 a.m. on either Saturday, March 30 or Saturday, April 6. The orientation will include a description of volunteer positions in the areas of fishing helper, park maintenance, fundraising, and other duties around the fish park. All applicants for volunteer positions will be background checked.

More information about Hooked on Fishing can be found on our website

Please call 309-219-3560 for more information, or email us at

If you are unable to attend either of our orientations, please contact us so we can make alternate arrangements.

As you can see, we are able to take lots of kids fishing at the park each summer!!

Along with eating some good grub and checking out the new clubhouse and learning more about volunteer opportunities, you will have an opportunity to win via silent auction one or more of these awesome guided fishing trips from local fishing experts at the best places to fish in Illinois:

Guided multi species trip by Paul Center to Lake Bloomington or Everygreen Lake

Guided bass fishing trip with Bass Pro Fish guru Chad Fargher to private water

Fulton Co strip mine bass fishing with Kelly Presley

Trophy Crappie with Brad Belser at private lake

Fishing with John Graham. Fly fishing or river small mouth

Fish the "Rock" with Chris Rock for trophy bass

Illinois Land Company mystery lake trip, private waters galore with big fish!

Knox county private water self guided bass fishing trip for BIG bass

Ultimate multi species trip with Herman Brother's Lake Management

On the water with two elite High School Anglers. Private waters for big bass

Bass fishing with Bob Rask for trophy bass

Guided Otter Creek bass fishing

 Memorial Day Weekend at Otter Creek. 8hrs, Limit 10 boats, 2 per boat, $450/boat. Lunch included and prepared by Chef Todd. May 25th

Chef Todd cooking event at the Hooked on Fishing facility. Great for company gatherings!

So there you have it, tons of info packed into one little blog post, but hopefully the info was presented well enough to entice you guys to come on down and hang out with us at the park in east peoria from 4-8 pm!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Fire, Apples, and Trophy Trout

Saturday was by far the best outdoor day of the year! The wind was calm, the sun was shining, and and we got er done....had a big list to chew off so I spent Friday night laying it out as best as humanly possible.

So I guess I'll back up to Friday night late and this guy was riding shotgun with me. We were delivering a couple deer heads and a bunch of trout fishing gear and supplies to a client out in the country...

Saturday morning I started out at a prescribed burn clinic with the Peoria County SWCD. Here are some pics:

From there I made it out to help the guys plant 70 apple trees at our hunting farm near Ellisville:

Actually it was many varieties of apples, pears and persimmon trees. Each tree gets caged individually for protection from the deer and the white tree guards will stay on for about another month for protection from rabbits and mice.

So then I had to fly to Brimfield for some trophy trout fishing for an awesome fishing/eating event. En Route I stopped at ACE hardware in Farmington to grab some last minute fishing supplies and right next door is a grocery store so I picked up some corn and chicken liver and some last minute grocery items....

At 4 pm I made it to Brimfield and kicked off the trout fishing party! Our goal was to catch enough trout to feed 30 people....its a good thing the trout were biting, cause there were more like 40 people or more showing up for dinner:

Trent started off by landing this monster:

Rand followed it up with a beast of his own:

Pretty much everyone got in on the fish catching action:

Chef Todd was busy, so instead of pulling this off by myself, I just put all the guests to work cleaning the fish, prepping the veggies, mixing the trout chowder, wrapping the fish stuffed with veggies and bacon with aluminum foil and even grilling too... Assembly line delegation at its finest:

So every speck of food was gobbled up! Right there is a perfect example of enjoying a 1/3 acre fishing pond for fishing, food, fun, and fellowship! Everyone had a blast from start to finish and many kids caught there first fish and definitely cleaned and prepped their first fish...There will be many more fun fish fry's from this little pond throughout the one will be during mushroom season......bluegills and mushrooms....

So I packed about as much as humanly possibly can be packed into one day in the great outdoors! Was just an awesome day that was topped off with some late night NCAA basketball. I was pretty tired during that last game....

Actually Saturday capped off a pretty awesome week in general. We picked up a load of Apple and Pear trees on Tuesday down in Missouri.

Allen and I installed a bunch down in Southern Illinois Wed and Thurs while Justin and Jared were installing orchards in Henry, IL and Canton, IL:

I have some real good clients down in Southern Illinois who have become really good friends! They have a little guesthouse tucked in the woods that we stay at every chance we get. Which is really convenient cause we go through their zone several times each year. Anyhow what I am getting at is we stop in every chance we get, cause Connie is literally one of the best cooks on the planet. Seriously no one compares to a full course Connie dinner.

Chef Todd is tops when it comes to wild game and fish, but he admittingly lacks in the dessert category. I turned off my diet for Wednesday evening! After Chicken Cordon Blue, almond bacon green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, and glazed carrots, we had to decide between cherry or peanut butter pie....Im not good with such decisions, how can you choose just one?

Despite my little feast on Wednesday, I have been working out with my fam 3 days a week and am down 21 lbs in exactly 30 days....I am feeling stronger than ever and the extra energy is definitely an added bonus to eating all those fruits and veggies....

The snow today is definitely a downer, but I've already rerouted our early week plans and will be rockin full throttle once this stuff melts off!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

March Weather, Big Bass, and Deer Bushes

Flash Back one year ago today to March 17, 2012:

Yep, exactly one year ago today we were fishing like it was summer outside. Last March we had alot of 70's, 80's, and even 90's.... This March alot of 20's, 30's, and 40's....I guess thats how you get averages in the 50's...

So anyhow I am a fair weather open water fisherman. I will ice fish in the coldest blizzard, but come spring I dont enjoy fishing unless I'm relaxed and comfortable. Kinda crazy, but there is one aspect to my fishing addiction that doesnt go to the extreme.

My friend Bruce Condello on the other hand, he enjoys fishing the coldest, windiest days of March. He fishes big public lakes in Nebraska  mainly with waders from the shore.. Talk about extreme in 40 degree water and 25 mph winds...Yep, the windier the better for him and his spots.

Even though he catches insanely large largemouth bass, cold weather open water fishing still not appealing to me in the least. In the last two weeks he has caught more 6-9 lb largemouth bass than most avid Illinois anglers will catch in their lifetime.

So then there is my fried Shawn in Missouri. He caught a few rainbow trout and smallmouth bass from his pond before catching himself last week:

So anyhow this hook hurt him very badly, therefore all treble hooks are bad and I think we need much tighter hook laws and restrictions and regulations....

This summer, Chef Todd has a new buddy in the kitchen. Drake is obsessed with food prep of any kind- mixing, stirring, and cutting...

I had a birthday last week and the kids spent all week making cards and this banner. They were super excited and we spent the evening playing card games and board games. Noah's pink card on the bottom right was by far the funniest. He did it in pink to remind me of my beautiful wife....he was so proud of the symbolism and such that he though of all on his own...

This Saturday we spent working at our Ellisville farm. The list of projects we want to do there is a mile long and time sensitive, so we set a calendar of events to make sure we stay on task and dont miss any steps or work on things out of order. We are transforming that farm into whitetail paradise and enjoying every step of the process.

This Saturday we built a 350' fence to separate one of our food plots from the farmers field:

We also made cages for our various deer berry and strawberry plant bushes that will be strategically planted all along the edges of the timber. The cages stay on the plants forever, otherwise the deer will eat them down to the ground. The parts of the plants that grow outside the cages are what the deer get to nibble on...

We made 6 different prototype cages, A-frames, cylinders, cones, and hybrids between em all..So far this one is our favorite, but we will see what works best out in the field...everything is always an experiment....

Next Saturday we will be planting fruit trees and taking soil samples for all the food plot areas. Then from there on down the list of projects of hybrid willow plantings, food plot prepping, TSI and hinge cutting, native grass plantings, food plot plantings and screens, tree stand and tower locations, access trails and shooting lanes, water holes, rubbing posts, road improvements, fall food plot clearings, trail camera placements, etc etc.

We have a 5 year plan all marked out on a 4' aerial map. Basically after 5 years, every square foot of this farm will be manipulated for the purpose of wildlife habitat and strategically getting in and out of stands and towers.

What was very cool to see was that our living fence we made earlier this winter has already changed the predominant deer trail in that area. Any deer crossing from the bedding out to the fields has no choice but to walk by one stand or the other....

No Saturday is complete without a little mud on the tires:

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Amazing Lake Aquarium Fish Feeding Video

So here is some neat underwater footage from one of our docks at our 33 acre lake. I cant wait for warmer days and warmer water!! This lake has been our experimental proving grounds for raising fish for 10 years now....

What's exciting is that we have only just barely scratched the surface of how awesome this fishery will become over the next 10 years.... I have spent more hours scratching my head planning my every next move with the management of the fishery here in this lake than most people have spent sleeping in the last 10 years....I'm excited more about the fishing this year then ever before (and I've been saying that every year for the last 5 years)....

Actually, these days I enjoy swimming with the fishes even more so than fishing for the fishes... I also enjoy helping others create awesome fishing lakes! This year we have some awesome, cutting edge lake projects ongoing!!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Double Decker Dock Polar Plunge....

3:30 pm. Dec 3rd, 2012
Fulton County, IL
Water Temp- 42 degrees

We build alot of docks, but this one is one of our favorites and was built on a private lake right here in Central Illinois! The upper deck is 22x32' and creates a good cover for the two boat slips below. The dock is completely floating!

Sliding board is planned for one of the openings and the other will be just for jumping off of! This spring we are gearing up to build lots of fun docks of all various shapes and sizes.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Fighting Illini High School Fishing Tourney Invite!

WHEN: Sunday April 7th, 2013

TIME: Pre-launch check in starts at 6:30 AM

Launch at 8 AM

Weigh-in at 3 PM

WHERE: Mascoutin Recreation Area

ENTRY FEE: $50 Per Boat

RULES: Buddy Tournament, 2 high school anglers per boat

with combined best 5 fish. Adult must be present to operate out-board motor.

To register, visit our website:

Or Contact:

Luke Stoner


The Illini Bass Fishing club is hosting our 2nd annual high school open fishing tournament at Clinton Lake on April 7th. Last year's tournament was was an absolute blast and one of our biggest successes of the year. We had 54 high school boats show up for the first year! This year we are cutting off registration at 75 boats and are really hoping we can get that many, as of now we have around 35 spots left. We will be giving some fantastic prizes from our sponsors out to 1st-10th places and big bass. The anglers seemed to really enjoy the event last year and we can't wait for this time around. The opportunity to get 150 high school kids, and 75 coaches, parents, or boaters, on the water for our tournament is what we are aiming for!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Cougar Bass, Roanoke Farmhouse, Elmwood Show...

Cougar Bass, yep you heard right...nope its not the new strain of bass we are currently developing, rather its a new fishing club that I bet will be of interest to many college age and soon to be college age fisherman..(we are developing a new hybrid strain of bass that is a mix between smallmouth and largemouth though, but thats for another story at another time).

ICC has started a bass fishing team that you can find more information about online at They will be fishing the B.A.S.S. College Series along with the Boat US collegiate fishing series! These college tournaments are held at big lakes all over the midwest and beyond....

The fishing club at ICC is open for college students, check the website for more details...I also plan on putting these guys to work removing unwanted fish from certain clients lakes. Beyond that, the club could use any help or ideas that you could have in regards to sponsors,  members, etc...

Saturday morning I headed to Roanoke with my grandpa, uncle, and brother to help my great aunt Winnie move into town....She is 86 years old and finally sold the family farmhouse where my grandma grew up, the house was built in 1908.

This is the door going into my grandma's bedroom upstairs:

Then from Roanoke, I swung into pick up my kids and niece late afternoon and we were off to the Elmwood All Outdoors Show! Wildlife Prairie Park had some animals there:

The Hunzikers also had some deer there too that the kids loved!!

They each got $1 to spend on a fishing lure, but Paul Clay generously gave them each a jig of their choice so they were able to spend their dollar on chips... Pauls lures and hook upgrades are awesome, here is more info on him: Paul Clay Article

Also at the show I was impressed with a new product called Fizards. Here is their website: I think this will be dynamite for ice fishing! I bought a bunch of it to play with in some open water situations, but I really think it will be sweet for ice fishing!

So also I have found myself being drawn to ART way more so now than ever before in my life...crazy, but at least its all wildlife and outdoor related art..Miller Wildlife Art Gallery is retiring and selling off all his stuff at half price, call him up 309-347-7571. He had some awesome paintings at the show...

Also art related at the show was They make all kinds of cool stuff out of Antlers!

Last item about the elmwood show was the cooking seminars! My timing was perfect to catch up with both Matt Cheever and Chef Todd finishing up in the kitchen:

So they had crappie alfredo, venison stuff, and what not that I tried not looking at to avoid any further temptation...You see I am now officially on the strictest diet known to man. I joined a special rehabilitation/fitness class with my brothers and parents at a little gym in downtown Hanna City. We all have abused our bodies and need to get em anyhow along with excercise 3 times a week, our natural detox diet for the next 3 months consists of no salt, no sugar, no processed food, and just water and almond milk to drink.....Let me just say it sure isnt easy, but this is the first time in my life I actually am making an effort towards a healthier lifestyle.

So Im ready for spring, but the kids sure are having fun in the snow...We have been doing alot of sledding and snowman making.. The kids are playing outside in the snow just about everyday:

Basically until the weather changes and the lakes open up, I'm out of stuff to write about! If you have anything outdoor related interesting or informative send it on over and I'll throw it up online...On Saturday morning March 23rd we will be up at a burn clinic being put on by the Peoria County SWCD in Kickapoo at 8 am...should be fun, come on up, its free!