The coffee was good recently at the little diner. The conversation was even better.
Ralph Neeley called me when he got in to town and suggested we meet and talk fishing. Neeley used to have a house near the Fox Chain.
Ralph had been working overseas and fortunately had the opportunity to fish in several eastern European locations. He told me the pike and trout fishing was fabulous and plentiful.
He then went on to explain he'll be in this area until October and wanted to know just how good his chances might be when fishing local spots this summer.
The first words out of my mouth were, "hire a local guide," and then the exchanges went on from there.
I suggested there are several decent guides and I believed one in particular was very good. His name is Chris Taurisano (T-Bone Guide Service, 630-330-9090).
Ralph was curious about the old adage "dog days of summer," and how they were reported to negatively impact fishing successes on lakes and ponds.
And then I laid the bombshell on the table.
I noted that a good guide will tell his customers that the summer heat and changing weather often has a tendency to drive fish down, into deeper water some anglers never reach.
I've known hundreds of fishermen who found it convenient to come off a lake, blaming the hot days of July and August on their inability to score with gamefish.
The late Bill Binkelman, of Nightcrawler Secrets fame, once showed me how a scrappy 'crawler used with ultralight mono, a small split shot and loads of patience were the right tools to entice a walleye or two to eat.
Just after I first met this live bait guru, he slowly schooled me in the ways and means of live bait usage.
There were some days when we were on the water with the mercury hitting close to the 100-degree mark. Binkelman opened his cooler, reached down past the ice packs, and into his treasured cottage cheese containers. The cottage cheese may have been gone, but the worm bedding and huge conditioned, (per Nightcrawler Secrets) snakelike crawlers were ready for the hook.
We were on one of Bill's "secret lakes", a public body of water just west of Milwaukee. Hooks were the usual No. 8 bait versions, and the line used was 6-pound mono.
His second rod was setup with the early version of the famous Lindy Rig. He explained that if the 'crawler didn't work, he would switch to the Lindy Rig with a live leech. I didn't see him load the bait bucket with a dozen or so tiny filet mignons, loved dearly by walleyes, both large and smallmouth bass, big bluegills and even flathead catfish. He was sneaky.
It wasn't more than five minutes before Binkelman's line twitched. He opened the bail to let line out thereby giving the fish room to run. Seconds later he set the hook and reared back. A 3-pound walleye came in to the boat and wound up on the stringer.
It was my turn.
It was almost a repeat performance. The boat was anchored over 28 feet of water. Bill shared with me that we sat over a rock pile where he discovered the summer walleye bite started right where we were.
I had the bail open and my forefinger on the line. I felt the slightest series of twitches. That was my signal to let go of the line. My walleye was much smaller and went back in the water.
Binkelman taught me that an angler has to use his head and go deep when fish refuse to eat in the more shallow water.
I passed that tale and information along to my coffee friend.
Three months later I received an e-mail from Ralph describing the wonderful summer walleye fishing he had on Fox and Pistakee Lakes. He remarked that on the days he went out in a rented boat the temperature was scalding and the water was almost as warm.
He wound up scoring on the deepest holes he could find, and thereby declared there was no such thing as the dog days.
•Contact Mike Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org, and catch his radio show 6-7 a.m. Sundays on WSBC 1240-AM and live-streamed at www.mikejacksonoutdoors.com.