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updated: 4/3/2013 6:26 PM

Suggestions for fishing destinations far and near

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I used to keep track of the emails asking me where "they" should go for a fishing vacation? But I lost count after the tally soared way past 500.

And here's the really important factor to all of this.

My opinion and tastes could very well be much different from the views of others.

For example, I would rarely concentrate on walleyes over big northern pike and monster Canadian lake trout.

But to put the questions to rest, at least for the time being, here are my suggestions.

Walleye aficionados could have a grand time in northern Wisconsin or Minnesota. Even though the daily bag limits are highly restrictive (check each state's regulations) because of native treaty agreements, one could have a good time just catching this species and keeping a couple for a week's trip.

I personally would like the Hayward, Wis., area as well as the Chippewa Flowage; the Flambeau River near Mercer; and the Castle Rock Flowage.

For me, Minnesota hot spots are: Lake Winniboshish; Red Lake; St. Croix River north of St. Paul; and the High Falls area near Crivitz, Wis.

For numbers of walleyes, it's tough to beat northern Ontario's lakes, and places like the South Seal River (a fly-in spot). But with the price of fuel for our vehicles, shorter drives can result in decent angling.

If smallmouth bass tickle your fancy, my personal choices would be Little Sturgeon Bay, Wis., with guide Dale Stroschein (Whacky Walleye Service) and the Menominee River with guide Mike Mladenik (Big Smallmouth Guide Service). I have fished with both of these pros and had excellent outings.

Big northern pike can be had in Ontario, Saskatchewan, the Northwest Territories and northern Manitoba.

And the really jumbo fish in the north country are usually found and caught by fishermen who fly into the hard-to-get-to lakes and river systems such as the North Seal River (Gangler's Lodges) in Manitoba and far northern Saskatchewan (Misaw Lake Lodge).

When it comes to big largemouth bass, Illinois does not take a back seat to anyone.

Lake of Egypt in southern Illinois continues to produce lots of big bass as well as tremendous catches of crappie and bluegills.

Just north of there is Rend Lake (Rend Lake Resort), good waters for bass. It's also fantastic for crappie and white bass, as well as great lodging (guide Todd Gessner at 618-513-0520).

Just north of Carbondale sits Lake Kincaid, where big bass and muskies are caught every week.

Locally, I like Lake Catherine and Channel Lake for muskie, but go during midweek periods to avoid the Jet Skis crowd. I like those two lakes for night fishing.

Geneva Lake and Lake Delavan are two prime locations for largemouth and smallies. Guide Spence Petros (815-455-7770) is booked every year, all because he connects customers to fish.

And then there is my favorite, Bangs Lake in Wauconda, for both daytime and evening bass angling. I do very well with weedless surface baits during the dark hours and pre-rigged plastic worms in the day.

Big stripers can be caught on Heidecke Lake, while LaSalle Lake will surprise you with big smallmouth, largemouth and rock bass.

Shabbona Lake in DeKalb County has been the focus of heavy-duty attention and care from the various muskie clubs. Excellent muskie, crappie and walleye angling on this one.

Go another 20 miles or so to the west and you have the Morrison-Rockwood State Park and 77-acre Lake Carlton. The Illinois DNR claims 2 legal muskies per acre there.

And of course there's the perch and smallmouth bass at our front door in Lake Michigan -- and don't forget the spring salmon run. Catch a limit now and enjoy the filets seared on the grill.

•Contact Mike Jackson at, and catch his radio show 6-7 a.m. Sundays on WSBC 1240-AM and live-streamed at

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