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updated: 3/14/2012 8:09 PM

Forecast calls for a fine season on the water

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When I was in New Orleans, I happened to stop by a tiny shop exhibiting Cajun and voodoo-like objects that were for sale.

I figured I could invest a few bucks and purchase a small voodoo doll that I would use on the Fox Chain, after the drunken snowmobile fools buzzed the ice shanties on Channel Lake.

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One large, long, straight pin to the nether region of the doll should cause these clowns to either run out of gas or come to a complete stop a good distance from their starting points.

I also would use the doll in the spring when the jet ski goofs race in and out of the no-wake zones.

That said, I now offer my picks for some of the better angling this year.

I indulged some locals, folks who are reformed poachers and now toe the line when it comes to behaving themselves. The conversations unraveled during a half-dozen coffee klatches in the Northwest suburbs.

We all agreed this will be the year the Chain will rebound in the walleye department, especially the southern lakes, Petite and Pistakee. It used to be that one could catch a walleye over 5 pounds quite easily.

Hungry walleyes would gorge themselves on yellow bass and bluegills. Now it appears the walleyes have a taste for white bass again since the yellow bass population has declined somewhat.

I expect to see more 50-inch muskies coming from Lake Catherine and Channel Lake, if the dunderheads who hook the toothy critters are wise enough to snap a quick picture and gently release their fish.

Minimum size limit is 49 inches for muskies. Don't forget to get a Fox Chain sticker if you go (from the Fox Waterway Agency).

Going with the expression "there's no free ride (or free lunch)," Bangs Lake in Wauconda continues to get my nod for an excellent largemouth lake and crappie hole. The big walleyes that used to prowl the 22-foot depths have done a disappearing act.

Bangs is an expensive lake to enjoy. One needs a lake sticker (the cost depends on the size of the boat), and launch fees are more manageable. Get your sticker at the Village Hall.

Deep Lake in Lake Villa is one of my favorites, except there's no chance of launching your own boat. Jack and Lydia's place offers rentals. You schlep your own motor down to the water, and be thankful once you trudge downward for the last five feet.

There is excellent bluegill, crappie and largemouth bass angling here, and the weed lines are clean, offering both cabbage and coontail.

Sterling Lake sits close to the Illinois-Wisconsin border as well as being adjacent to the Des Plaines River. This 74-acre pothole is the only actively managed muskie water in Lake County. And it finally has come into its own. The biggest muskie netted there was 45 inches. Minimum size limit is 48 inches. There's a free public boat launch.

I like Heidecke Lake because of the different species that usually are big and fat. Striped bass stirs my interest, as well as walleye and smallmouth.

LaSalle Lake still can be decent, but not as great as it was some years back. On any given day a fisherman could hit the jackpot on largemouth and smallmouth. Add to that outstanding catfishing and stripers.

Now to the rivers.

My top local choice is the Fox. From Algonquin down to Batavia and a tad beyond is prime smallmouth country. It's quite common during weekdays to see wading anglers working pocket water near Elgin as well as Batavia.

The Kishwaukee River comes next with smallies, walleye and pike holding in slack-water areas waiting for easy meals. You can canoe or wade this stream.

If you've frequently visited this column you may remember I am a sucker for industrial-park and housing-complex ponds. I've take some huge crappie and bass from these honey holes.

Do not overlook them, but be constantly aware of "NO FISHING" signs. If you ignore them, you better have enough cash for bail.

•Contact Mike Jackson at angler88@comcast.net.

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