Dec 21, 2009

Could this be the toilet's last flush?

  Over one hundred years ago, the city of Chicago connected the Great Lakes to the Illinois River by reversing the flow of the Chicago River.  The move was aimed at draining sewage from Lake Michigan and therefore the city.  Chicago's move has spent some time in the halls of the Surpreme Court and has a history I admittedly don't fully understand.  Before you read this, I should also declare I do not fully understand the details of the connection between Lake Michigan and the mighty Mississippi

  Now the US Supreme Court may soon be in a position to reverse the reversal because the state of Michigan has filed suit. The latest suit requests that the connection be permanently severed in order to keep those pesky asian carp out of Lake Michigan.  Ever since the great rainy season of 1993, asian carp have been slowly making their way to Lake Michigan, and recent DNA testing indicates the carp have already found their way past electric barrier and are potentially already in the lake.

  There is a lot of interesting information provided in the link above.  One thing that caught my attention is the legal limit on the amount of water allowed to flow from Lake Michigan via the Illinois River basin; currently set at 2.1 billion gallons per day.  I've read about half of that is sent downstream while the other half is absorbed as drinking water.  According to Waterwatch, over the past ten years the Illinois River has averaged about 9.8 billion gallons per day at a measurement station close to my home.  1 billion gallons represents 10% (or so) of that daily average and I think that is significant.  Further upstream the impact will be larger (16% for those of you in Marseilles).

  So....IF the Chicago River is actually draining at the maximum of 2.1 billion gallons per day and IF the resolution is to shut off the faucet, it leaves me with some questions.  Where is all that water going to go?  What environmental and societal impact would a 10-15% reduction in flow cause to those of us downstream?  Is Chicago still draining sewage (surely it's treated now) down the Chicago River, and if so, where will the sewage go?  Hopefully questions such as these are considered before a decision is made.

  I'm not yet sure how I stand on could argue such a decision would simply be reverting the waters to their natural states; something I would normally support.  However, one hundred years of industrial progress can't be ignored.  In fact, the basis of the suit is to protect a $7 billion fishing industry that was not present 100 years ago.

  Maybe Asian carp represent a potential to build that commercial fishing industry up to $10billion...they are fish after all.  And maybe this is a chance for the Illinois River to ditch it's nickname of "Chicago's Toilet."  Snagging fewer condoms would be a bright side of lower flow, but I'll have to forget about Simon's Durex Streamers.

Dec 7, 2009

The reader/writer paradigm

As of press time for this post, Lunkerhunt has 25 "followers."
Of the 25:
- 2 follow everything they can, in hopes of promoting their own - don't click on them.
- 3 are readers who don't keep a blog (my lovely wife is one)
- The rest maintain a fishing/outdoors blog.

The other regulars who don't "follow" are also fellow bloggers. I guess that means I have a good handle on my target audience.

Dec 3, 2009

Sacrifice the few to save the whole

The Army Corp of Engineers' fish kill on a 6 mile stretch of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal began last night and is underway now.  If you remember my previous post, they are killing all fish in the zone to allow time for repairing an electric fence.  The fence is designed to protect the Great Lakes from the Asian carp invasion, and while it is down the poison should take care of the lakes.  Protecting the lakes from Asian carp will protect will $7 billion per year fishing industry.  I believe this to be a noble cause, but will ultimately prove insufficient.

Apparently, fish are floating but no Asian carp yet seen in poison zone.

Any of my blogging buddies in Chicago land go check this out?
Update: They found 1

Dec 1, 2009

Illini Love

It seems Illinois is fairly well represented in the fishing blogosphere.  Here are the Illinois based blogs with focus on fishing and fishing accessories.

I'm sure I've missed some, and I'm sure I'll hear about it.  So for a complete list, please see the comments section below.

Catch Photo Release Fishing - Bill is based in the South Burbs (I think) and takes pictures of everything.  This blog isn't about catching fish, it's about the fishing experience.

flowing waters - Wolfy is based in the Fox Valley (western burbs) and keeps a good blog.  I'm pretty new to this one, so I'll let the link do the talking.

Stream Stalker - Jonn is based in central Illinois, but you'll find him anywhere with running water.  He's a guide who maintains one of the many quality blogs on Prairie State Outdoors.  Jonn specializes in pulling smallies out of streams and, like me, is new to fly fishing.
Nate's Fishing Blog - Peoria based with travel.  Nate runs a pond management company and enjoys fishing.  This combination ensures lots of behind-the-scenes fisheries management stuff you might not think of. 

The Fair Weather Fisher - Dave's my fishing pal.  He doesn't post often but when he does it's pretty good.

Northern Illinois Angler - In yet another PSO blog, Andrew likes to fish Des Plaines River.  He also makes plenty of trips north of the border.

Scattershooting - Jeff is the outdoors writer for the Peoria Journal Star and mastermind behind PSO.  His blog covers all things outdoors and often covers angling.

Stray Casts - Dale Bowman is the outdoors writer for the Chicago Sun Times and keeps a stellar blog. This blog is also devoted to the outdoors and often covers angling.

Get on it!

If you like bass fishing and you like getting free gear....

Check out this giveaway from fellow a fellow blogger.

Nov 29, 2009

Carving is the easy part

I'm happy with the carving but my painting skills could use some improvement.

This one has a hole for each eye that will channel water through the body and out a hole on top.

Either that, or the cavity will release trapped air bubbles as the plug dives under.

This last picture is the best I could do to show the path between the "eye sockets" and "blow hole."  If you look close, you can see light coming through.


I don't think I'll ever know if this works as well as I think it should.  This is the third plug I've made that I don't want to risk losing. You can see the other two here and here.

Oh! and I sent a Dahlberg and a couple simple blanks to Jonn "The Streamstalker" Graham during the most lop-sided fly trading session ever.  I did quickly make four others that I do fish with (and they work fine).

Nov 27, 2009

Mon Fly Vise ist en fuego

Dave always wonders what insects my flies imitate.  I usually tell him to shut up, but I sometimes answer with one of my many Clifisms:
Bass will eat anything that moves the right way
How many productive bass lures look like nothing in particular, but catch fish because of flash or action?  Because of this, I've never been hung up on tying life-like bass flies.  Billy Bass' culinary indiscretion doesn't really force focus on tying skills either.  A typical session sees me with a beer sitting down the night before an outing and whipping out some attractors with "action."  Usual distractions include televised football and/or Dangle the domestic longhair.

In a departure from normality, today I attempted to work on some skills, while simultaneously trying to produce somewhat life-like nymphs.  A five minute Google session handed over some pointers on nymph construction and I adapted the recipe to match materials on hand.  These aren't the prettiest things and none will be classified under any Latin name but I'm pretty proud none the less.

Of course I tied some clowns too...

Nov 24, 2009

There is no money in minnows

I recently noticed we lost another tackle shop this year.  Victoria Tackle was the kind of store we're all familiar with.  It's proximity to water made it an ideal place to pick up some minnows but it's distance from big[ish] cities made it inconvenient for anything else.

Victoria is located in the middle of some serious strip pit ground and a stone's throw from a favorite state park, a quick googling drives this point home.  Another quick googling pegs the drive time from the only big city at about an hour.  Translation: these lakes are within driving distance for a day trip, but a special trip to the tackle shop isn't worth the gas.

I willfully admit contributing to the failure.  I've purchased much bait at Victoria Tackle over the years and that is about it (I once bought a bobber too).  Victoria is 45 minutes from the house, but within 15 minutes I could be at one of three major outdoors stores. Only one of those stores sells minnows and we'll all be in trouble if it goes under.

Maybe I'm on to something here....I just registered

Nov 21, 2009

Parting out Shimano Sidestab. Make offer.

As previously reported, one of my medium weight spinners failed this year.  I was still hanging onto another similar reel that broke a couple years ago and I hatched a plan.  The two reels were broken, but each failed in a different way and I figured this was the reason I saved it.  I quickly found myself ankle deep in a pile of tiny screws. From the dust would rise Frankenstein reel, able to muscle the largest fish from the reeds.

Sadly it was not meant to be.  Though the reels were the same make and similar models, the vintages were a few years out of alignment.  The design had changed enough over the years to make every part unique and not interchangeable.  Each reel was comprised of basically the same components, but small differences made my Frankenstein dream just that...a dream.

Planned obsolecense has long been the foundation of corpoarate America and the scourage of lowly consumers, but I'll stop short of pulling that card today because there is little evidence these reels had a limited usefull life.  However, if anglers hoard hardware to save money on days like this, it seems the Shimano designers have ways of making sure we crack the wallet on some new bling.

Nov 15, 2009

Yes we are fishing, and don't call me Shirley

Today was the last chance for redemption at the club, and I'm still not impressed.  I don't think I'll be renewing in the spring.  An average day at the club is no different than an average day at one of the many public waters I have at hand.

Scott and I went out and started on Last Lake about 8am.  Last Lake is the only club lake I hadn't yet visited; I was warned about wind and I hate fishing in wind.  Imagine a strip pit in the middle of a harvested bean trees, no grass, no hills....for miles.  The air temp was 41 degrees when we got on the water and the wind from the north cut through our thermals.  Scott was convinced passers by would exclaim "Surely they aren't fishing out here."

After two hours of that and a single small bass, we picked a lake with better wind breaks and I'm happy about that decision.  Air temps were up to 42 and it wasn't yet raining, but we pulled on rain gear to cut the wind.  At the new location Scott added a couple more fish and I managed just this little guy.  Every fish came on ten inch worms.

We called it quits sometime after noon when the rain drops started to fall.  On our way out, we met a guy on his way in.  He informed us there are "tons" of crappie in the lake.  I asked Scott if he wanted to come back next week with minnows. "Not a chance," was the response.

I'm not saying I'm done this year, but today should just about wrap it up for me.  I've considered attempting some ice fishing this year, but if I can't handle a windy day in the forties I'm not sure how I'll fair when the mercury hits the twenties.  I'm a big sissy.

Nov 14, 2009

Where the fish are easy and the crowds are light

The US Army Corp of Engineers is planning some scheduled maintenance on the last line of defense against Asian carp invasions into the Great Lakes and beyond.  Part of the maintenance plan is some easy fishin'.

  • Rotenone affects all species of fish, although susceptibility to the chemical varies between species.  The chemical inhibits a biochemical process at the cellular level making it impossible for fish to use oxygen in the release of energy needed for body processes.

Though a noble cause, I think the electric barrier will ultimately prove inadequate.  All it takes is a power outage or some other equipment failure for these pesky invaders to find their way to the the eastern sea board.  None the less, while there is still a fight to be had we better keep fighting.  The Mississipi river basin is a lost cause, but the Great Lakes aren't....yet.

When you hear "Asian carp" you might think of bizarre YouTube videos, odd-ball red-neck fishing tournaments or even the new sport they inspired, but their proclivity toward spawning multiple times per season leads to extreme over population (see here for an example.)  Given a Big Head carp's tendancy to consume 40% of it's body weight per day, over population can quickly become an issue.

Imagine Captain Sully ditching in the Hudson due to jet engine injestion of "at least one" flying fish.

Nov 7, 2009

High production value and a sweet track

Enjoy this great topwater action. If you've never fly fished for bass, this will get your mouth watering...some good strikes here.

Think it a wise goal to have videos like this on LH? I'm not sure I have the time.

Nov 6, 2009

With spreadsheet grids still burned in my retinas

Dave and I hit the Snatch today right after work to squeeze in a couple hours before dark. Turning the clocks back really killed after work angling (we even left a couple hours early.)  We didn't catch a thing, but there is one good thing about fishing with Dave. He's always prepared.

Side note: I'm impressed with my point-n-shoot camera's ability after seeing this picture.

Nov 4, 2009

If we're quiet, maybe he won't notice we're here

My list of followers has been slowly growing and this pleases me.  If you check out list over on the right of this page, you'll notice an interesting (and recent) addition.  It seems Kurita-san has joined the ranks of us fishing bloggers.  One click and I think you'll recognize him.  This man is known for catching a particularly large fish AND taking a particularly sweet ass picture of it.

His blog is new and doesn't have much content, but that will change over time and I like the format.  We just need to convince him to allow comments.

Oct 27, 2009

Game time decision

This year I've gone river fishing more than ever in my life and have already learned an important lesson... Waterwatch

If you're already a river angler, you're probably already in the know. If you're new to the scene (such as I am) consider this link pure gold.

The site is maintained by the US Geological Survey, and holds real time information about water levels on most major rivers and streams. If you're new at this or targeting a small body of water, you'll still have to see it in person. After you've fished a listed river, go check the site. You'll quickly correlate "the water was too high" to "the water was x feet deep." I've also checked the depth on days fellow bloggers remark about the water being "in perfect condition."

Once you know, in feet, how deep good water is, make an informed decision before you hit the road. If it's good, rock on! If it's bad, go to a lake instead.

Oct 25, 2009

A cessation of normal operation

My ruler still hasn't let me down, but another reel bit the dust. As a result, the ruler will be seeing it's forth "upgrade" next season.

I bought this Shimano Sidestab 2500 a couple seasons ago to replace a Sidestab 2000. The bale on the older reel stopped closing automatically and I wrote that off as normal wear and tear. I decided to upgrade to the slightly larger 2500. Imagine my frustration when the replacement started doing the same thing this summer. "Upgrading" got me the same tear with half the wear. Well, now the bale has fallen off completely and I'm getting a little frustrated. I'm starting to question Shimano's quality, but I sure did love these reels when they worked. The Sidestab series isn't "top of the line," but using someone else's reel reminds me how nice they are.

I'm now a little torn. On one hand, I've had two Shimanos fail in short order. On the other hand I've got two extra spools waiting for a fresh Shimano reel. The replacement will be a spinning reel suited for 8-10lb test, but I'm open for suggestions on the model. What is your favorite make/model? Anyone have similar problems and looking for a place to complain?

Now I'm wondering if I still have the original reel....maybe I can combine the two. Maybe the combination would last a month.

Oct 14, 2009

Kayaks in the mist

The mahogany halls here at Lunker Hunt have been quiet lately, perhaps you've noticed. I'll take the blame as I've had a couple things going on in my non-fishing life to distract me. Nothing serious so don't fret. In fact it's been a pretty good month for me.

The last time I fished was Sep 27th, and it was a pretty boring trip. I didn't catch a thing, but enjoyed my time none the less. I got to watch a cow come down a steep bank for a drink and then see her panic while looking for a way out. Later I spent a long time trying to catch carp on the fly. The Bagel has a pretty good carp population and they were tailing in the shallows, but despite all my efforts I ended the day without a fish.

Tonight I'm acknowledging my apathy for you loyal blog readers, and feel like posting. Without fishing for a few weeks I don't have much material. But I do want to take the time to share a picture from that morning. It was immediately after I got in the water, and before I wet a line. I'm afraid a picture doesn't do justice to the moment.

Sep 28, 2009

Snake eating bass eating snake

Thank goodness I have good outdoor reporters in the the area. They give me a constant supply of great stuff like this. Sounds like the snake pulled through with some assistance, click on the photo for more info.

Sep 23, 2009

Snaggingist S.O.B.

For us here at Lunker Hunt, fishing isn't all peaches and cream - as this blog might make you believe. For every grip 'n grin picture or serene landscape, there are countless moments I'd rather not share.

Above is one of those moments. It came on the Mackinaw River last weekend; Dave happened to have a camera ready. At first glance you might see me making beautifully long casts to the log on the right in front of a splendid river scene. What you really see is me using the "brute force" technique on a snag I couldn't reach, in front of a splendid river scene. If you fish with me, you'll see more of this than anything else. Worms, cranks, spinners or flies - it doesn't matter. I've even once been called "the snaggingist son of a bitch."

But hey...if you're not getting hung up, you're not where the fish are.

Sep 22, 2009

Hair spin part deux

A while ago I attempted to spin deer hair into a Dahlberg Diver. The result was terrible and ended up meeting a razor before it met the camera - I carved one instead. Last night I tried again, having learned a thing or two in the interim. The plan was to keep it simple and just get the hair to stand up - shape didn't matter...success.

It is a little thin and not perfect, but I'm happy.

And I tied this thing too....

Sep 21, 2009

The single piece of fishing gear you can't do without.

As a seasoned angler, I've learned a few things. Preparation is key to a good trip, and I always check (and double check) my gear before hitting the road. Imagine my surprise when we arrived at the Mackinaw River put in spot last Saturday, only to discover Dave forgot the single piece of gear any angler can't do without - his rod. Amateur.

While he hurried home, I enjoyed an hour and a half of peaceful solitude. I watched fish rise - some of them big, I watched deer sip cool water and I didn't catch a damn thing during this period of frustration and tranquility. The fish were rising everywhere and I couldn't convince them to bite any of the half dozen flies I threw.

The day was pretty slow, but the weather and river were great. We spent about eight hours fly fishing downstream and back. By the time we climbed out of the river, we had a mere two fish (well one and a half) counted. I managed this nice 15.5" hybrid striper. He didn't fight much, it was pretty disappointing really.

My bass was in current near an eddy and bit one of the rabbit hair and hackle flies I tied the other day. A few hours later, Dave managed to catch the target species, albeit not the target size.

Dave's was under a log, and succumbed to a Holschlag Hackle fly. It was a pretty crumby trip for me, so I can't imagine how Dave felt. I just keep reminding myself a day fishing is better than.... well most things really.

Next time I think I'll start at the same spot, but work upstream a ways to see what I find. Hopefully by then I have some waterproof waders.


Side note: Last night I read an interesting InFisherman article about how fish utilize their lateral lines in tracking and identifying prey. I learned something I think I can apply to fly fishing and fly tying. If you happen to see the latest copy on the stand, pick it up. The article in question is just a page long and is on one of the first pages. You'll have educated yourself becore the clerk knows what's up.

Sep 16, 2009

Paper is shuffled behind the scenes

It appears the wheels of bureaucracy have been slowly churning ever since Manabu Kurita caught his big o' fish.

I can't find the official press release, so this will have to do.

Sep 14, 2009

Bad Football, Tasty Flies

This weekend marked the beginning of the new NFL football season. Sunday, as I watched, my vise was smoking. I whipped up seven flies while the Seahawks whipped up the Rams.

Up first is an exact replica of a streamer I invented and had good luck with at the Snatch. The fly saw plenty of bites before being retired. After this one, you'll see a couple more with slight variations. Generally, I like the light color.

The tail is three saddle hackle feathers and some krystal flash, the body is rabbit zonker. All on a 4/0 hook. Here it is wet.

Here is a slight variation. This time I used a bunch of marabou for the body, and snuck in six peacock hurl. I also downsized the hook to a #4 Mustad streamer. Next time I tie it, I'll add more hurl.

And the last light variation. This time I used rabbit, marabou and flash for the body over a hackle tail. This one is also on a #4 Mustad streamer.

I carried the light colored theme of the night when I tied a Barr's Meat Whistle in light colors on a #1 plain shank.

And finally the coup de grace. What sort of fly tier would I be without my own mouse. Here is a very simple topwater fly to tie. What you need is a natural colored rabbit zonker strip, some fly tying foam and a hook. I simply tie on a "shaved" zonker strip for the tail, then tie in a couple strips of foam. Then I wrap the foam with the zonker strip.

This fly made it's first appearance back in January and I've since perfected it. One lesson is to use a light wire hook, I use a #1/0 Aberdeen. Also I've found Rabbit zonkers alone are a little buoyant, but without the foam core the hook is too heavy to keep this fly up. I have tried this fly with good luck as a subsurface, but adding the foam makes it deadly. You really need to tie one and see it in the water.

I'm curious if anyone has seen a mouse like that. Any name suggestions? I think Clif's Mouse will do for now.

Sep 12, 2009

A little slow

What sort of fishing blog would this be if I didn't at least post a link and a picture.

Sep 11, 2009

Highly suspicious

Ever take time to decide if you're holding a spotted or largemouth bass? I have and I have to say it's easy to forget the differences when your in the middle of a lake and have nothing but a suspicion to guide you. That's not to mention my recent troubles identifying white bass and green sunfish.

Don't fret, because help is here. I recommend you purchase a few miles of waterproof ethernet cable, a bank of lithium ion batteries and don't forget to bookmark FishIndex before your next trip. You never know what you might catch, and with the index's extensive catalog you no longer have to post an embarrassing miss identification to your blog.

I found FishIndex while cruising Blogcatalog, and I have to say I'll be back.

Sep 4, 2009

Share it with a friend

I lied, I didn't wait for "some heavy rain to replenish my hole." Me and Hacky went back to the Snatch last night and it was good to us. Not as good as my previous solo trip but we still ended up catching four fish between the two of us.

We pulled up around 6pm and I rushed to get in the water. By the time Hacky was done buttoning his blouse and showed up wheezing at the hole, I had already missed one and caught another. I think the one I missed would have been a good one - just like all fish that get away.

I caught two smallies and a tiny bluegill, Hacky caught a tiny bronzeback. My two bass are pictured; I would have loved to post a picture of him with his little fish but he tossed it back before I could bring the camera. I think he's starting to learn a thing or two about fishing with a blogger.

I caught my first bass and got numerous nibbles on a streamer I made up after the last trip. I'm not really sure how to describe it, but I was pleased with my creation. Unfortunately I don't have a picture of it and it is now embedded in a submerged log. I think I'll tie another. Stay tuned for pictures of my new fly, I might even name this one.

Aug 30, 2009

Our vandal gets the benefit of the doubt

Before Al Gore invented the interwebs, there may not have been much better of a way to inform the world that Justin Sanders does in fact "suck eggs." I've never before realized spray paint the first wiki.

In the big trade, I received the following. I don't know what it's called, but it treated me well yesterday. I eventually left it behind on a snag; by then she was worn down to little more than a hook and some gold glitter. I guess all good things come to an end. Hopefully Jonn will read this and clue me in on a name and point me toward a recipe. I bagged a total of six fish on my triumphant return to the Snatch, all on this fly.

Someone had cleared the log jam, making it possible for me to work downstream. It turns out I didn't have to go far. I read once that you'll find the fish in the best cover for a given length of stream and I found the fish in the hole left behind by the jam.

And I'm pleased to announce the Snatch holds bass - well, at least this particular hole held bass. The hole was 5-6 ft deep in a stream than was running about six inches deep. Top that off with some lay downs and I was in business. Five of the six fish came from the hole, and I watched the biggest fish of the day swipe at my fly and miss, never to be seen again.

The day was chilly, and I found myself seeking sunlight instead of hiding in the shade. Partly cloudy skies were overhead and a brisk breeze made casting tough. A sixteenth of an ounce of lead feels like a pound when it hits you in the back of the head.

The sunfish was close to being the highlight, it was nine inches long. Even sunfish find the mysterious gold fly irresistible. I'm not really sure what species that is, but it was the prettiest fish I caught.

The day ended when a convoy of four wheelers rolled through, leaving behind some muddy water and a hot tip. After exchanging pleasantries ("Are you a cop?" "No, are you?") they were on their way and I was left waiting for the water to clear and pondering a trip to "the only other hole this deep". The water didn't clear, but I didn't mind. I had already fished three hours and caught my fish. My hole had quit producing and I was back from exploring some more water down stream. Things had wound down; by this point the magic fly was long gone and my pockets were devoid of anything closely resembling it. As the convoy headed out, I was right behind them.

While the sunfish was probably the nicest fish, my favorite was actually a sixteen inch bronze back. It wasn't a brute, but I came back to the Snatch to prove the creek held smallies. After being blanked on bass the last time, and knowing this creek often runs dry often I wasn't so sure. If it hadn't been for this nice smallie, I wouldn't be making plans to return.

I've decided to wait on some heavy rain to replenish my hole before I come back. With the low water, these fish weren't moving far and without more rain the creek may dry up. This year's consistently heavy rain has kept this creek running so far, and hopefully it doesn't change.

I wonder if I can find "the other hole."