The fishing window is open
Every spring there’s a brief window of opportunity when nearly every fish species bites well.
As Joe Bussman of Topeka can tell you, the window is open right now.
Fishing on Wednesday at Spring Lake in Tazewell County, Bussman caught a little bit of everything. The Topeka angler hooked into a 30-inch northern pike. He kept 11 crappie up to 12 inches.
And bluegill? He caught one after another before finally keeping 22 gills that averaged about three-quarter pounds apiece.
That’s the kind of day any angler would enjoy. And that’s why now’s the time to wet a line.
Consider the results of last weekend’s Peoria Sportsman Club tournament at Spring Lake. Gregg Knackmuhs and Dave Jones won with 12 bass weighing 43.27 pounds over two days.
Overall anglers weighed 331 bass weighing 996.12 pounds. That doesn’t include all the culls — including a 5-pounder that Jake Meyer tossed back. Hey, he had to. Meyer’s six bass weighed a whopping 30.16 pounds to earn him angler of the year honors.
Though he had a 6.79-pounder, Meyer didn’t have the biggest bass. That honor went to Rick Lord for a 7.53-pounder that boosted he and partner Nathan Lord to second place (39.6 pounds). Jake and Fid Meyer took third with 36.84 pounds.
That’s an impressive haul. But the beautiful thing is, bass are just one species biting.
This has been an awesome spring for big crappie here in the Peoria area. We’ve had more 2- and 3-pounders than I can ever remember, including the most recent slab — a 3.25-pounder caught last weekend by Aaron McKearick in a Fulton County strip mine.
Maybe the high water is helping. Whatever the case, I’m only too happy to take advantage. Last Saturday the oldest boys and I fished a small Peoria County pond with some success.
First came a 12-inch crappie that had the oldest wide-eyed.
Then another. Then another. As the water warmed, we started catching bass on pink spinnerbaits, Senkos, minnows and jigs. The fishing was so fun the kids even forgot about their snacks for an hour.
But after returning to the same pond Monday hoping for more crappie, I couldn’t connect. Problem was that the bluegill, redear and bass were biting too quickly to reach the crappie.
That’s a great problem to have. And the same thing is happening all over Illinois right now. Fish are moving shallow. Bluegill have come on strong. Water is reaching that perfect temperature of 60-65 degrees.
Some species like bass and crappie are spawning. Others like bluegill and channel catfish are merely taking advantage of the warmer water. The important thing is they are shallow and vulnerable.
The window is open.