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Ramble with Minas: Cold-weather river smallmouth

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kankakakee06-08-10minasturtlemug So maybe forget everything I noted in Fish of the Week

about live bait and watching the barometric pressure, and instead follow Norm Minas on one of his rambles along the Kankakee River Tuesday morning.

Minas, one of the great waders and shore fishermen on the Kankakee, is one of two people known to have fished and walked the entire shoreline of Kankakee River State Park.

He called this morning and said he had caught three smallmouth on topwaters, he was warming up, then getting back at it. When he got home and restored himself, he sent this:

Air temp was 34 when I started, it was 30 when I quit. Wind WSW about 20 mph, no sun to be seen, completely overcast with some snow flurries.

Only took the water temp once at the start, it was 39 degrees. There was about 6 inches of visibility, 2000 CFS, 1.40 both rising but still below usual levels. Lots of chop on the water, some leaves/weeds still flowing.

Saw a single hawk, handful gulls out searching for a meal, most other wildlife not doing much. Some fish activity on the surface.
I did see a real nice buck crossing a field, no does in sight. No ducks sighted, a few geese on the water.

I started at an area that has cobble/clamshell/sand bottom. It starts at a large riffle, has a deeper hole about 4-5 ft deep, has a larger island with mature trees and several water willow islands. The main channel of the river passes thru this area but it only accounts for maybe 1/8 of the total width of the area. There is a lot of water with reduced flow but nothing you would really call slackwater.

I waded out to where I could cover a variety of current options from the main channel to the slowest flow as well as a variety of depth options from the shallowest to the deepest availible. With minimal amount of wading I could move down to where the channel cut between the large island and a waterwillow island or with a little more up to the riffle. It's one the the reasons I like this spot, mutiple locational options with minimal movement.

I opted to start with a topwater because of the chop on the water, well that and it was too damn cold to pick algae off the lures. I started with a real aggressive retrieve and worked down. The winning cadence with the Rattling Spook was 5 twitches then a five count of drift and repeat. I was standing in crotch deep water[I'm 6ft] and the first fish hit about 3 feet in front of me. With that I decided to concentrate my efforts on the shallower areas with less flow. That also turned out to be the right decision as I ended up with 2 more fish. I tried the other options again before I left but no fish to be had. Pretty good for the conditions, three smallies 15-17 inches in a little over two hours of tossing a topwater on the last day of November. After that I had to get out and warm up a little as all the crap I take for my heart, thins the blood. i just don't do cold as well as I once did.

I moved to an area of the river that doesn't have much algae so I could fish one of my big crankbaits[Norman DD-20]. Thie two areas I fished were 1 to 4 feet deep, boulders, cobble, sand bottom. One was a nice eddy, the other on the first major bend below a dam.

In the eddy, I tossed a large jointed Rebel minnow in the slower flow looking for some pike. I'm sure they were there but no takers. I switched to the large crank and fished the eddy throughly but no fish.

I moved to the inside bend and continued using the crankbait. In this area there is also some linestone shelf with some cover like large rocks and a nice sized branch that got hung up on a rock. I got the best fish of the day, an 18 inch smallie, in a spot where the shelf transitioned into a cobblestone bottom. I worked a number of boulders bouncing the crank off them from as many angles as possible but no takers. By then the air temps were continuing to drop, the wind was increasing and my legs were getting numb.

4 fish in about 5 hours of fishing, all on more agressive lure choices than many would opt for. I didn't bring the F-N-F stuff with and never tied on a jig.

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Lakefront perch and the first ice in northern Wisconsin lead this Midwest Fishing Report, but don't forget, that to our south, there are some very good open-water options in Illinois fishing.... Read More

1 Comment

One of the great things about fishing is that generally there is not one way and one way only that works. I have always believed that fishing with confidence in what you are doing helps. Of course proper depth/speed control in the proper location helps most of all.

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on November 30, 2010 6:49 PM.

Buck of the Week: West Loop to Pope County was the previous entry in this blog.

Stray Cast: Konerko & Soriano, river spots is the next entry in this blog.

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