Monday, December 30, 2013

Ice Fishing Largemouth Bass

I guess this will be my last post of the year 2013... This has been a crazy year that started with record flooding which rolled right into record drought and heat, which then bypassed fall, tornadoes came rolling through in November and we are finishing up with some very cold weather and lots of ice for ice fishing!!

So with all that being said, lets expound upon the ice fishing.... lets talk ice fishing largemouth bass. Everyone thinks ice fishing is for panfish and rightfully so....but there are many days when you can go out and sit on a bucket and catch lots of BIG bass!!

These big girls will eat in the winter time, dont kid yourselves thinking otherwise.... Last week we were reeling in an 11" bass when a monster bass tried swallowing it just a couple feet from the hole...

So anyhow one early morning last week we headed out to Illinois' Secret Lake X Bass Lake and we caught quite a few big female largemouths!!! Here are some pics:

Some of you may recognize this Morton high schooler... He won the state bass fishing championship last year and apparently has the magic touch through the ice as well...

The advantage to ice fishing is that you can pattern fish very well... you can get right on top of them...literally. Its still best to fish lowlight and be very quiet and all those things you instinctively learn while open water fishing. But with ice fishing it is even more so a game of inches than with open water fishing. In open water 10% of the anglers catch 90% of the fish but with ice fishing its more like 1% of the anglers catch 99% of the fish..... and the difference is usually just mere inches and tiny nuances. You have to fine tune everything from the location, bait selection, presentation, timing, line visibilty and strength, fighting techniques and if you get all those right you still have to fit a big fish through a tiny hole at the end..... In my opinion ice fishing bass is 100 times more fun than open water fishing bass.....

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Ice Fishing Catfish in Illinois

Saturday it got up to 53 degrees and was a bright sunny day... Actually not the best conditions for ice fishing with the bright sun, but we started early in the morning and got set up on a hole loaded with big channel catfish. We were fishing in 17-24' of water and using small jigs jampacked with 2 or 3 waxworms.


The bite was real good early on, with fish rising a couple feet off the bottom to bite, but then after an hour or so fizzled down to just a fish here and there. When the sun started rising, we would either place the bait directly on the bottom or just a couple inches off the bottom. The catfish would just barely nibble for quite some time before actually being able to set the hook on them.

When ice fishing for big catfish, getting them to bite is only the beginning! Getting them through the hole and onto the ice with just 4 lb test is an adventure in and of itself... Its super fun!!

By about noon the catfish were pretty much done biting altogether and we had a pile of fish to clean. Here are some group photos:

My mom stole the show with a feast of a lunch consisting of chili, nachos, smoked pork, and some other goodies! I didnt get any food pics, but here is a cool group pic of all the guys she fed:

Oh yeah, we didnt just catch catfish. Some of the guys were looking for big gills and other bonus fish as well... Also like the catfish, the bite was decent early, but then as the sun rose it slowed down to a slow crawl.

This bluegill went home to go hang on the wall:

This smallmouth was the star of the show today.. She is a sturdy young fish that I raised in a cage off my dock back in 2009 until she was big enough to release into the lake... She has 100 other friends out in the lake swimming around just like her that have state record potential in just a couple more years.

Oh yeah, last weekend after church I took my kids fishing for a bit at a couple of our specialty ponds near Hanna City to check on the fish... We had fun catching perch, trout, and smallmouth:

Also on Friday we went fishing down at Otter Creek Preserve. It was a very slow sunny bite, but we caught some very quality fish. Seriously, when its sunny the bite is very tough. We still catch some fish, but I cant wait for a 30 degree cloudy day for the fish to come in an slam the bait! Here are the fish that went home for dinner from Friday:

I will post more of the Friday pics of some very big bass hopefully in a day or two... Can't forget about them... These pics are worth the wait, we caught some real nice bass and the biggest ice fishing surprise fish of all!!!

So anyhow this Saturday January 4th we will be ice fishing at a giant property in Canton, IL. It has 40 lakes and ponds on it and we will be exploring several of them. If anyone has their own gear and would like to fish with us this day, the cost is $75 and we will start fishing at 7 am. All of my vexilars and gear are spoken for already so am just limited to guys with their own gear. There is about 300 acres of water here so plenty of room and I am chomping at the bit to get your help in exploring this private Gem.... I will be writing more about this place in the weeks to come! Email for more information. It looks like we just may end up with a nice long good ole fashion ice fishing season this year!!

Shoot! I forgot about Christmas Eve fishing trip. High School state champ Justin Schick and his cousin Bryce came out with me for a couple hours. Now there really wasnt a competition going on, but by the looks of the pics it looks like Bryce is ahead in just about every category...

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Giant Bass Ice Fishing Central Illinois

Today we went ice fishing at a rock quarry lake that is being managed for trophy largemouth bass. Our plan was to catch 500+ big bluegill and as many little bass as possible. Well, the bluegill actually were not biting very well, but the bass for some reason were...

Mike Quigley caught this giant bass at about 11 am today on a small jig tipped with a plastic tail and a waxworm:

He followed that bass up about an hour later with this nice one too:

Then he was reeling in an 11" bass when a mega giant grabbed it and took him for a little ride. Eventually she let go and Mike reeled in the bass who probably was really happy to get out of that lake. Here are the scar marks:

We caught plenty of "cull" bass today as well...

We did catch about 150 bluegill altogether, but I was kinda disappointed as I was hoping for 500+...

We wrapped things up in Princeville at about 1 pm and then headed over to some specialty ponds over near Hanna City to check on some fish... These young smallmouths are looking very healthy:

These perch are only 2.5 yrs old as well and well on their way to mega trophies:

So anyhow it freezing rained on us for the last few hrs of the day, but it was good to be outside fishin! We caught great fish, but we had to work for them, they actually werent biting as good as I had hoped.... Lets hope they bite good next week!!  Next week Saturday the 28th, we are fishing trophy bluegills and big catfish with some bonus walleye and maybe even a muskie at my lake in Canton. Anyone interested in more info just email me at I have a handful of Vexilars still not spoken for... this is what we are after: