Mike Jackson: You can (probably) score big locally

You might not have to drive hundreds of miles to satisfy your hunger for great angling action.

I've said before the Fox Chain 'O Lakes is a survivor that refuses to surrender to the nastiness and die.

Having grown up around and schooled on the good and bad elements of the Chain, I've seen the lowest levels of fish discovery and catching.

I now rate the Chain's survival a sure thing.

Even with the drivel of phosphates and occasional raw sewage finding its way into the always-fertile waters of the lakes which make up the north-to-south waterway, schools of voracious fish roam both deep and shallow spots.

Ten years ago it wasn't that tough to locate a school of heavy walleyes in Pistakee Lake. Then the jumbo fish disappeared with a select few anglers having enough smarts to track the holdout fish.

It wasn't so much a pollution issue but again the finger of suspicion was pointed at poaching.

I am now thrilled when I see record muskies, and walleyes and bass coming to the net. If you ask guide Jim Kopjo he says the Chain's future looks brighter than ever.

Kopjo is part of the T-Bone guide group that specializes in taking customers to the various spots on the Chain and southern Wisconsin.

There's yet another chapter to this aquatic fairy tale.

Chain regulars have seen a steady rise in the number of chunky smallmouth bass.

In Wisconsin rivers and some lakes large schools gather around rocky shorelines and deadfall trees. The Chain has a few gravel bars and rocky shelves the smallies have been able to use as refuge spots. I have seen smallmouth bass at 3 to 4 pounds.

I have been asked by several fishermen if the Chain area will ever be as attractive as some of the northern Wisconsin destinations on lakes holding jumbo fish?

My answer has always been tied to the actions of real estate speculators. These are the people who control the waterfront properties and are hesitant about constructing new resorts and hotels to serve a future burgeoning fishing-tourist business.

If we are to transform the Chain into a hot fishing destination and income producer for the surrounding towns we should encourage local governments to get off the dime and explore the potential.

The big fish are there but it seems the infrastructure is a bit lacking.

• Catch Mike Jackson Outdoors 7 to 9 a.m. Sundays on WCGO AM-1590 or stream live at

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