Fox River Deadfall
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August 31, 2011

Private Lakes Fishing Report: What a morning! Got up at 4:25 AM and drove to some strip pits where I shore- and wade-fished with two friends. It was great to get the invite and I was ready to work some topwater at dawn. It was clear with sloping shelves with sparse weed growth giving way to deep water. A light breeze after sunup put just enough chop on the water to break up the surface. Mostly fished the Lucky Craft Sammy 100 (pearl) and caught seven smallies (13" - 17") on top. Picked up two medium-sized smallies and a walleye on a 5" double-tail hula grub hopped deep. Switched lakes and worked the hula grub and a 1/2-ounce white thumper spinnerbait around fallen logs and caught six largemouth bass and two northern pike. Looking forward to some air conditioning and maybe a cat nap!

Friends at sunrise 17" smallmouth bass


August 30, 2011

Residential Pond Fishing Report: Nearly a decade ago I lived across the street from a 5-acre pond in West Chicago that split a town home and single family home community. It was a natural lake that chained into smaller retention ponds throughout the neighborhood. It looked like "old water" -- fairly muddy with many mature trees all around it. I never figured there were bass in there until one day I tied on a buzzbait and tossed it out there. After a few cranks it got hammered. I started to bass fish it seriously and was delighted to find that it had a good population of largemouth. I caught them up to 22" along with crappie, bluegill, yellow bullhead and carp. It was a privilege having good fishing within a 30-second walk from home. It wasn't uncommon for me to walk over there a few times a day to see what was biting. I was hardly ever disappointed.

Over the years the pond had its ups and downs with litter, shoreline erosion, a resident beaver, flooding, low water, etc. The worst was when the homeowner's association hired a company to come out and spray all the vegetation to kill it. Evidently the homeowners that bordered the pond did not like looking out their window and seeing lily pads, duck weed, and other types of aquatic vegetation. They were much happier seeing plain brown water.

The treatments continued year after year along with algaecide that turned the water blueish-green and hampered the clarity so very little aquatic vegetation could grow. As clarity decreased, so did the bass fishing.

After moving out of the community and starting anew, I didn't give much thought to the old pond. Recently I got in touch with a friend that still lives there and he told me he has not caught a bass out of there in the last two years. In fact, he said that after ice-out this past spring, there were hundreds of dead carp littering the water. No other species, just carp. He said the smell was unbearable. They had a company come out and clean up what they could, the rest were picked over by turkey vultures, raccoons, etc.

Even still, the pond continued to be treated with chemicals.

So I brought my kayak out there and met my friend for a day of fishing. We tried our usual haunts with the usual lures that used to work. We talked to neighbors bordering the water and the story was the same everywhere -- no bass have been caught for quite some time. No crappie, not many bluegill, and no carp have been seen. Only bullheads. 5" to 7" bullheads were quite plentiful. In fact, as we kayaked, there were black masses of hundreds of bullhead fry around each of the pond's aerators.

After 5 hours of trying various lures in various locations, it was painfully evident that the largemouth bass were no longer. In desperation I tied on a small Flu-Flu jig and worked it under a float near a deeper area in front of storm drain. Sure enough, float down ... bullhead. I ended up with four bullhead and one small sunfish.

I saw painted turtles, frogs, and both green and blue herons bordering the pond.

Here's the kicker ... the float I used was a small foam float, brand-spanking new with florescent green paint. Within three minutes the water dissolved all the paint, rendering the new float completely white! Such a shame to see first-hand what was once a very productive and enjoyable bass fishery completely destroyed.

It's all in the memories now. I feel bad for my buddy that still lives there. I soaped up my kayak good when I got home and gave it a thorough scrubbing, letting it sit and bake on the driveway the rest of the day.


August 27, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Got out with my oldest son (11) for an early morning float on the lower Fox. Low and slow with clarity of about eight inches. It was more / less a scenic paddle but we did toss a lure here and there. Found a few biters on a Timmay's Tackle 'Eric Bait' -- which is a clone of the white thumper spinnerbait. All were around the size pictured. Fun and relaxing trip!

Grant with a smallmouth bass Grant watching the river


Mid-August, 2011

Lake of the Woods, Ontario Fishing Report: Just got back from a week-long fishing trip with my buddy Kevin. We crossed from Baudette, MN into Morson, ON and drove about 45 minutes north to the mouth of the Rainy River, where the lodge owner picked us up by boat. Our stay was at Duck Bay Lodge on Hay Island. The lodge is about 7 miles by boat from the pickup location. This was our fifth year.

The weather cooperated with little rain and air temps in the mid 70s to 80s. It was humid and felt more like Florida than Canada. It was nice to enjoy fishing and zipping from spot to spot without being cold or having to bundle up. We mostly targeted musky but during breaks from throwing the heavy gear we fished for smallmouth bass and walleye. We also caught an occasional northern pike.

As luck would have it, I caught the largest musky my first night while fishing for a few hours after dinner. It taped at 46.5" and nailed a big orange and gold spinnerbait. It was quite a thrill and went ballistic after the hookset but I had a firm hold on it with 65 lb Power Pro and my musky rod and reel. I had honors for the week, as the next largest musky boated by the lodge guests was a 45" by a retired doctor from Estero Island, FL.

The fishing, food, and hospitality were wonderful and I actually got a lot of relaxing in and went to bed early every night. I think I drank only three beers the entire trip! I kept hydrated from Gatorade and took it easy on the food. I wanted to make sure I was well-rested and in shape every day for a a full day of slingin' baits.

Aside from musky hunting, we got into some nice areas where we caught a lot of smallmouth on topwater. The Lucky Craft Sammy 100 was my favorite -- especially when I could see the smallies come up in the clear water and blast the lure.

Walleye on jigs and minnows over rock piles. Great shore lunches. The typical northwoods stuff.

Fun trip overall. Lots of laughs. Did the 727 mile trip home non-stop -- from 8 PM to 8 AM. Thank God -- so much road construction on Route 53 south of Superior, WI. Lots of it down to one lane. Glad we drove it at night rather than get stuck behind trailers and campers during the day. Another year on the books. Nice to be home and see the family.

Black bear Sunset Musky Pelicans Leopard frog Black bear swimming Kevin and smallmouth bass Cabin 7 Kevin fishing Duck Bay Lodge
Tree frog Butteryfly Thistle Butterfly

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© 2018 Fish The Fox. All Rights Reserved. | "Fox River Deadfall" artwork by Paul Turnbaugh. Used with permission.