There was no formal Fish of the Week today because there were several nominations that fit the same rough idea: summer family outings with young ones. And they became the main part of Wednesday's outdoor column in the Sun-Times.
Instead, we have three fishes of the week, beginning with J.J. Phillips.
Normally, FOTW tops the Midwest Fishing Report on Wednesdays in the Sun-Times.
Here's the extended stories and photos online.
First J.J.'s story given by his Dad, John Phillips of the Field Museum, below.
``My son jj and I went on our annual trip to lake of the woods and I wanted you to see what a fantastic trip my son had. The first photo is probably the best photo of a musky I have ever seen or taken. The musky was 42.5" not his biggest of the trip but certainly a cool shot. He also caught 2 giants a 50" and a 52" musky. Not bad for a 13 year old kid, He catches 2 fish of a lifetime in one week. His 42.5" and 50" hit a low rider top water lure his 52"giant hit a Boo tail. We boated a total of 21 muskies for the trip and many walleye and smallmouth. I hope one of these photos makes your pick of the week.''
Oh, it did.
And so did this one from Chicago policeman Jerry Swarbrick.
``I just got back from the Rice Lake, WI area (Hemlock/Red Cedar Lakes). I gotta tell you a `makes you feel great that you were there' story.
``I was visiting my sister Donna Archambeau at her cottage on Hemlock Lake. I heard my nephew Mike Archambeau pull up to the dock. Mike was fishing with his five year old son Nate (my great nephew.) Well, as soon as the boat was secured, Nate came running up the hill yelling, `I caught my first keeper.' I asked him if I could see his keeper. My sister Donna held his hand as we walked down the hillside towards the boat. Nate's Dad Mike was all smiles. Nate was talking a mile a minute and told his Dad to show Grandma and Uncle Jerry his keeper.
``With that Mike reached into the live well and pulled out a 5 lb & 3 oz largemouth. Little Nate caught that LM all by himself, of course Dad netted it. Nate was throwing a weedless wacky rigged black senko and hooked the bass in about three feet of water. Nate has his pro special spincast Zebco 33 reel spooled with 8 lb test line with a medium action five foot Zebco rod.
``Dale, that made my trip. Seeing a young boy catch a fish of a life time and displaying so much emotional joy warmed my heart. Nate's Dad, Grandpa, Grandma and his Great Uncle enjoyed Nate's catch as much as he did. Maybe in 20 years from now Kevin VanDam will slow down and Nate Archambeau will be the name bass fisherman will be speaking in reverence.
``I attached a photo of Nate and his catch. We we only able to take a couple of photos of Nate holding his catch because Nateâ€™s arms got tired. I think this was the catch of the week.''
And this family outing of the Lau's on the Chain with all kinds of good information. And a big fish, here handled by Brian Lau.
``My wife, Cathy, and our 4 1/2 year old daughter, Madeline, were out on the chain fishing for panfish last Saturday. We were fishing a deep weed edge with med-light rods, 6-8lb test line, small #8 hooks, and crawlers. Typical panfish gear. My wife had brought one of those little kid training pottys for my daughter in case nature called. Well, nature called. My wife had two rods in the water but was helping to cover my daughter while she sat on the potty since there were two other boats with guys fishing for musky within 30 feet of ours.
``My wife mentioned she was gettng a bite on one of the rods but would wait a minute until my daughter finished her business. When my daughter was finished my wife lifted the rod and it doubled in half. She said she must be snagged and gave it a couple yanks. It didn't come free so she asked if I could help. I took the rod and pulled on it. Just then the line started to peel off the real. I handed the rod back and told her to hang on as she had something big on. I loosened the drag and she did a great job fighting it. It jumped completely out of the water once and we could see it was a decent musky.
``While she was fighting the fish I saw a bluegill with teeth marks on it floating on the surface. At the time, I thought the musky had regurgitated the fish but later figured out that must have been the bluegill on Cathy's rod while she was helping my daughter. The musky must have seen it and thought it was an easy meal. After about 15 minutes of fighting the fish, it finally came close enough to net it. The musky was hooked right in the crook of the jaw with this tiny #8 hook. When she thought it was a snag and gave the rod a couple yanks, she must have pulled the hook out of the bluegill and set the hook in the musky.
``Cathy was shaking with excitement. I cut up my hand fairly good taking it out of the net so she was affraid to try to hold it. Cathy took the first picture of me holding it. My 4 1/2 year old daughter took the second picture with Cathy and I holding the fish (Not too bad for 4 1/2). I did not take the time to measure the fish as she had fought it for a while in warm weather and I wanted to get it back in the water as quick as possible. We revived and released the fish.
``After we got home, I took a tape measure in my hands and tired to estimate the length of the fish by comparing to the picture. Not exactly accurate but I think it was somewhere around 42 inches (I am 6'6 350 lbs for reference size in the picture). I am going to get a replica mount made for her.
``Great day on the water.''
Great day indeed.
E-mail FOTW nominations to email@example.com.