SPRING VALLEY, Ill.--You would think with water temperatures in the upper 60s on the Illinois River that sauger and walleye would be well past the spawn.
But that's not what was when IDNR staff--such as biologist Ken Clodfelter (left) and fish tech Randy Petges--sorted and sexed sauger and walleye Saturday and Sunday for the 26th annual Masters Walleye Circuit event at Spring Valley.
Hatchery staff and biologists put the sauger at about 15-20 percent spawned out Saturday and more than 20 percent on Sunday. Even that seems low with water temperatures in the mid-60s or higher for well over a week.
Dan Johnson and partner Larry Rhoads made one helluva comeback from 82nd place with win with a two-day total of 19.96 pounds. Their final day catch was anchored by a 3.83-pound saugeye, the big fish on Sunday.
The big fish of the tournament--a 6.3-pound walleye--was caught Saturday. Clodfelter said it probably would have pushed 8 pounds with eggs in it.
It was big field for a change with 154 boats, and just about everybody not only caught fish but lots of legal ones, too.
And this is the first time I ever covered the MWC in just a shirt and was still too hot.