Numerous reports in recent days point out that evenings have been much better than mornings for largemouth bass.
At least that’s been the case for the top-water bite.
Rick Morgan said it’s also true for jigs after dark. Here’s his report from last Saturday evening, when he fished from 9:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. and caught 17 bass, including a 21-incher.
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“All were caught on jig-n-pig. Had a full moon and I was out during the major feed. Had a nice breeze around 7 mph and it was very pleasant since the daytime hours had been pretty hot and humid. The “skeeds” (mosquitoes) weren’t bad either. I did experience a few bats flying down at my lure as I was casting, this can be quite normal at night. If you have never experienced the bats, it may freak you out at first as they get rather close when you raise your rod tip to cast, you can actually hear their wings flapping. I once took my hat off and shook it by one of my friends head (during night fishing). He was already freaking out at the bats behavior, he screamed like a little girl, leaned back hard in his chair, and fell out of my 2-man bass boat. Once back in the boat, he just kept talking about leaving and how the bats had ruined his night. I then explained the hat trick and we both laughed. Luckily it was a warm night and we could continue fishing. He did later catch a 6 pounder so he was happy.
“I always throw a jig-n-pig during the night time hrs unless the lake is so mossy that I have to go to a texas rigged worm type bait. The jig-n-pig present a larger bait for the bass to find at night since they really cant see it too well and have to rely on their lateral lines to pick up the vibrations and movement.”
One of the sidelines of any big-time bass fishing tournament is checking out the boats.
Well, in my estimation the best-looking boat out of the 57-team field here at Carlyle Lake belongs to St. Charles, pictured above. Boat captain Dave Fuerst (shown in his boat) paid to have the special decals made after St. Charles placed third last year.
The only other real contender for best looking is last year’s winner, Pinckneyville (pictured below). Only this year instead of a big panther, they’ve got Knight Hawk Coal emblazoned on the side of the boat. I preferred the panther but understand the need to get sponsor dollars given the state of education in Illinois.
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One of the joys of fishing for me is the chance to blab while on the water. Particularly with Chef Todd. He can fill up the time between fish no like human being I’ve ever met.
But in all my years of on-the-water fish talk, Saturday was a first. Never before have I wet a line with a baseball Hall of Famer while listening to stories of spitballs, pine-tar balls, stickum-balls and all the other various ways pitchers have made thrown balls dance.
The Hall of Famer was ex-Cubs great Fergie Jenkins, who is practically a Peoria resident anymore as often as he visits the area.
We hooked up at Hidden Lakes Farms in Knox County during a third annual fishing tournament held in honor of the late Maury Cicciarrelli. The event is expected to raise nearly $30,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association. That’s an impressive chunk of change for a one-day event.
Near as I can tell, Fergie was there to yuck it up with folks and have fun. He turkey hunted, fished and had a good time. For part of that good time the two of us bass fished for a few hours. In between fish—and there were plenty of bass, most Emiquon-sized 14-inchers—Fergie spinned a few yarns about pitching.
The most interesting ones for me were about the various ways pitchers make the ball dance. Fergie said the best substance he’d seen used was clear pine tar. Having pitched with Gaylord Perry, he apparently had some decent background on the subject.
Jenkins also mentioned that he had considered throwing a knuckleball at the end of his career to be able to pitch a few more seasons. “But the Cubs said they had some young guys coming up and I figured that was OK,” said the ever-amenable Jenkins.
Spitballs and bass. What a combination.
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For a little while this morning, I was almost ready to term my outing to the Emiquon Preserve as a disappointment.
Gordon Inskeep and I caught fish, but not like we usually do. We actually had to work to hook our 80 bass today. And I never saw a crappie. Never got a bluegill to hit, either (though we did see big schools of them shallow).
With water at 66-67 degrees, I figured we’d slay the bass. And anywhere else, our day would have been termed a wild success. But Emiquon spoils you. You come to expect 100 bass for two guys in a boat, if not for one.
So 80 is sort of, OK. Even when two come on one crankbait, a feat Inskeep pulled off once and nearly replicated later with three bass. We actually switched baits plenty today in an effort to fine-tune what was working. Crankbaits. Beaver baits. Worms. Tubes. Chatterbaits. Carolina rigs. Everything got a change. Everything caught fish, too, just not as many as we expected.
But any thought of the day being disappointing went out the window for me on one cast. I tossed a white Rat-L-Trap past a tree in 12 feet of water along one of the old transmission ditches. Then wham. A fish was there. And it felt big. Problem was, the fish immediately got into a tree. That’s bad news for me, since I fish 10-pound test line and have a knack for losing big fish. Not to mention the fact the fish was on a little treble hook.
Somehow, she came through the trees. Somehow, Inskeep netted her after she tried to pull me under the boat. And that one fish made my day.
The fish was 21.5 inches long and had a fat belly that was 16.75 inches around, I think. Measuring girth is tough in a small boat. Suffice to say she was very fat, far fatter than any bass I’ve caught before.
Seeing her made me ponder what Emiquon will be like two years from now when all the 15-16 inchers are bigger. Think what it will be like there when 19 inchers are everywhere. I can’t wait. For now, though, I’m happy with this fish and happy I let her go.
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It stands to reason that since I have not fished in nearly a week, almost everyone I’ve talked to since Saturday has a great bass fishing outing to report.
Big ones are falling left and right. The hot bite started late last week, continued through the weekend’s storms and has kept right on this week, with big fish reported Monday, as well.
As a result, I’m headed out later this afternoon to see for myself.
Among several anglers who reported an excellent outing last Saturday was Rick Morgan of East Peoria, who was the subject of a column on bass fishing in March.
Fishing with a storm front rolling in and in the midst of plenty of wind, Morgan caught 13 bass on a jig and pig (incidentally, he is using Paul Clay’s jigs) including five that went 24 pounds, 15 ounces (a 21 ¼-incher that went 6-4, a 20 at 5-2 and 3 more 20 inchers that went 4-9, 4-9, 4-7). Morgan said water in the strip mine he was fishing had warmed to 51 degrees and he was also starting to catch smaller fish. He fished 11 hours to catch his 13 fish. Here are his pictures (I hope to have my own later today, actually I have to since this is just Day 2 of my ridiculous Picture A Day project).
Here are highlights from Morgan’s day.
8:03 a.m., storm front coming in quickly with lots of wind
8:09 a.m., staring at downpour of rain through my truck window. I waited it out for one-half hour then headed out.
2:23 p.m., 5-2
2:40 p.m., 6-4
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