High-water springs tend to be good ones on the Fox Chain. Considering the weeks that the Chain was no-wake after ice-out, and portions of the Fox River were closed to boating, it small wonder that the fishing has been so good.
Earlier this week, I asked district fisheries biologist Frank Jakubicek about the 17.5-inch crappie caught by Larry McClelloge on Lake Marie on April 22.
Thanks to Tom Cahill at Barnacle Bob's for sending the photo.
Tangentially, I asked Frank about rumors of other outstanding results during their spring surveys. This is a busy time of year, but he got back to me on Friday. It was good. And here's what he had to say:
``We occasionally run across some nice crappie like the one you mentioned. This year our biggest was 14.5" to 15". Most crappie run from 9" to 11" with occasional 12's. We're not really looking for crappie so the fish we collect are in the main lakes and not in prime spots, prime spots may hold bigger fish. Previous 17+ crappie were either white crappie or hybrids and caught from some of the channels off Grass Lake (though there are plenty of channels to search out big fish on the Chain).''
Then he mentioned that conditions were very good for studying walleye this spring:
``Walleye were very plentiful. Our peak catch rate was 56.2 fish per net night compared to past data where the peak catch was 23 fish per net night. I suspect the combination of late ice and high flows really moved fish and we happened to be in the right spot at the right time. In total we collected 781 male walleye and 151 female walleye during the two days we set for walleye. La Salle Hatchery collected around 10 million eggs and we restocked about 5 million fry back into the Chain. La Salle uses about 1.5 million fry to produce 2" fingerlings for stockings throughout Northern Illinois. That will take place in late May or early June.''
As were the checks of muskies and northern:
``We collected a total of 102 muskie and 10 northern pike in 45 net nights of effort. Forty five muskie were collected in our walleye nets and the other 55 were collected during the "muskie" phase of our sampling (basically one week after the walleye phase). We had a catch rate of 2.6 muskie per net night during the muskie phase and an overall catch rate of 2.3 fish per net night. On the Chain we usually average between 1.75 and 2 muskie per net night so this years catches were up a little too.''