SPRING VALLEY, Ill.--John Mannerino quit tournament fishing. So he has some time on his hands.
I finally got out with the North Side plumbing supervisor on Sunday. As the 18 1/2-inch walleye above shows, it was a productive day on the Illinois River, fishing both upstream and downstream of Spring Valley.
Mannerino caught it on a plain ``Purple Funk'' hair jig, custom-made by Tim ``Hutch'' Hutchison, a Mannerino mentor and owner of Hutch's Tackle and Guide Shop in Prairie du Chien, Wis. near the mighty Mississippi.
The walleye led to an interesting speculation by Mannerino, who has walleye fished all over the country.
He thought the increasing numbers of walleye being caught on the Illinois River were a result of fishermen become smarter at fishing the Illinois and using more crankbaits, as well as the increasing numbers of walleye in the feeder rivers of the Fox, Des Plaines and Kankakee.
Hmm? Smarter? What's that say about me catching the first walleye?
Overall, it was a good solid day with many story angles (always a good idea for me) and some 20 sauger and walleye caught and released. We had one limit of keepers between us.
Maybe the highlight of the day were the number of these small saugers (that's Mannerino with the day's first sauger) we caught.
It's a good sign of the next couple years of sauger fishing on the Illinois, especially for Spring Valley, ``Sauger Capital of the World.''