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Illinois hunting and fishing

Big Fish Fridays: Spoonbill

August 07, 2009 at 05:24 PM

You never know what the Illinois River or its backwaters will produce.

A few weeks ago Levi Harms of East Peoria and a fishing buddy headed to the publicly owned Duck Island (located south of Rice Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area) to go white bass fishing. Duck Island is a gravel pit that floods when the Illinois River is high. This has been a great year at Duck Island for catching white bass and crappie.

Well, while Harms and his friend caught 27 white bass, a few crappie and some bluegill, the highlight was a spoonbill or paddlefish as they are also known.

The latter catch was completely unexpected, as Harms was fishing with a clear silver Mr. Twister grub.

“At first I thought I had snagged an Asian carp,” Harms said. “As the fish approached the boat, I noticed it was a spoonbill. And the spoonbill I had hooked had defied all that I have ever heard or read about spoonbills.

“I had to remove the hook from inside his mouth. So it was a case of my lure being in the right place at the right time. As I’m sure you’re aware, they swim with their mouths wide open taking in plankton as they are feeding.”

Harms said this was his first spoonbill. The fish weighed about 12-15 pounds and had two large chunks of wood embedded in his bill.

Harms removed the wood and released the spoonbill.

Illinois hunting and fishing

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