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updated: 5/17/2017 4:25 PM

Jackson: With walleyes, Fox Chain delivers the goods

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  • Lincoln Buchanan of T-Bone Guide service offers a good look at a typical spring walleye caught on the Fox Waterway's Chain O'Lakes.

    Lincoln Buchanan of T-Bone Guide service offers a good look at a typical spring walleye caught on the Fox Waterway's Chain O'Lakes.
    Photo courtesy of Mike Jackson


Those in the know told me this was going to be a very good year for walleyes, especially on the Chain.

I've gone to these prognosticators in past years and they always seem optimistic about the catch numbers and sizes from the various lakes in the area.

But these mystics refused to be nailed to the wall after they put the word out that the walleye quantities were on an upswing.

And so I accepted "their" word over countless cups of poor, see-through coffee consumed at a local diner.

I contacted local guide Lincoln Buchanan and inquired if had any openings in his very heavy booking schedule?

We ultimately met at the state park launch site on the Chain O'Lakes, and motored of to find walleyes.

Lincoln is one of the new breed of guides who keeps his eyes on his rod tip and says very few words. So it was a slight effort for him to talk about his tournament successes and failures. But the real moments came when he suggested we keep switching baits and jigs so as to tease a walleye to strike.

First off, I admit that Phil (my fishing partner) and I lost more fish than we boated. I also admit the hits were so light it took every ounce of concentration to strike back and hook the fish. And because all three of us were using super-sensitive spinning rods, (Grandt All Americans and XLH-70 models), we let the rods signal to us that as light as the hits were, we needed to set the hook and catch some fish.

Lincoln is part of the T-Bone Guide Service, an area group specializing in many species, but especially muskies and walleyes on the Chain.

Because quite a few walleye fishermen take more of a passive roll in their finding and catching effort, which translates to trolling, what we did was just drift around shallow structures with sand and gravel bottoms.

I was rigged with a long-shaft lead head jig and used leeches and nightcrawlers as tempting treats for hungry fish. But I was greatly mistaken when it came to forage.

The Chain has experienced a massive influx of shad in most of the system's lakes. Shad are very oily and generally hang out in large schools. Practically all of the Chain's game fish love these oily morsels, like a kid discovering candy. The walleye and bass feed on them as well while muskies always seem to be cruising around looking for the next meal.

I also experienced a number of yellow bass in hungry schools, just like it was about 15 years ago when yellow bass ruled the panfish roost. We also bumped into white bass.

But it was the walleyes that grabbed our attention.

Lincoln and partner Chris Taurisano both agree the walleye population has finally grown to the point where 4- to 6-pound fish have become quite common.

Lincoln Buchanan is worth your time and money if you want wall-eye and even a muskie or two. Call him at T-Bone Guide Service (630 330-9090).

• Contact Mike Jackson at, catch his radio show 7-9 a.m. Sundays on WGCO 1590-AM (live-streamed at and get more content at

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