Official Announcement

Posted: March 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

Official Announcement: FSA Rods will not be taking any orders for new builds effective immediately. With the current backlog of builds and the increasing hours of my day job, I will not have time to build any new rods in a timely fashion. If you have a rod or rods waiting for me to build, I ask you to please be patient. They will get done, but it will be just a bit longer of a wait. I’m very sorry for any inconvenience this may cause any of my customers, but I thank you for your understanding. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to call or email me anytime.
Regards,
 
Ed Schmitt
The Four Season Angler
ed@fourseasonangler.com
(630)296-4372

Temporary Home of FSA Custom Rods

Posted: February 19, 2013 in Uncategorized

*tap *tap *tap… Is this thing on?

Yea, yea, yea, bout time right? Yes, I’ve been a slacker. I’ve been neglecting my web-presence. I’ve been an idiot… still are. Anyway, Without going through a long, complicated, worthless explanation lets just cut to the chase.

http://www.fourseasonangler.com (don’t click that you twit) is down temporarily for, um… re-beautification. Who am I kidding it was never beautiful, but it will be soon. In the meantime this free WordPress blog will function as the home of the Four Season Angler and FSA Custom Rods. Adjust your bookmark, clear your cache, chant a murmured voodoo spell, and do any other computer stuff you need to in order to land here for the time being.

As time permits I will be adding features and functions to this main page to help readers, customers, and probably spammers to better navigate their way to what they are looking for. Recent rod builds, local fishing reports, pertinent industry news, and meaningless banter are to expected regularly, but don’t hold me to it.

… That’s all I have to say about that.

We Are Moving!

Posted: October 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

The Four Season Angler is moving to a new location on the interwebz… : Please update your links and re-subscribe at the new address: http://www.fourseasonangler.com

Much easier to remember, much more comprehensive coverage of local writing talent, and best of all…… It’s all mine! lol

The Fall Walleye League

Posted: October 29, 2010 in Recent Reports

As I stepped out into my garage, also known as “the fishing shrine” by my neighbors and loving spouse, the air still faintly reminiscent of cool harbor water and stale fish slime, I made somewhat of a bee-line to my tackle collection. It was late, I had a long day at work, but with the kids tucked-in and my wife already upstairs for her evening soak in the tub, I had to take advantage of the time I found available. I had already begun to stack and pack the toys and miniature vehicles that kept my kids busy all summer long. However, with the unseasonably warm temperatures of late, some of those items had curiously made their way back out and had been left almost deliberately in my way. A Dad’s work is never done I suppose.

I intended to put the final nails in the coffin on my fall salmon fishing by stowing all of that gear. It was a great season, and I will keep many fond memories with me for years to come, but I had to make ready for the final open water push of fish. The equipment I utilized in the harbors up North was still lounging around the boat, cluttering up my tackle bench, and needed to be quickly inventoried in case I happened upon a sale over the winter on what may have been lost during battle.

As I was finishing up and closing my tackle bag, I came to the realization that I needed to incorporate some of the shallow-running jerkbaits I just put away into my fall walleye bag. The tried and true Husky Jerks, Rattlin’ Rogues, Storm Thundersticks, and Yozuri’s that I just packed away for next year’s salmon season need to come back out if I expected to be able to find the trigger for those wary Fall walleye. After all, the stereotypical jig n’ twister just doesn’t cut it every single time.

Over the past several weeks I have been conversing with a group of core anglers that frequent the same social circles as myself about having our own “League Night”. You know, like bowlers have a league night where they get together, enjoy a few rounds of their favorite sport, maybe a couple cold beers, some nachos, etc… you get the idea. I myself am not a bowler, well at least not anymore, with shoulder surgery, tendinitis flare-ups, how silly I look in those awful vinyl shoes, well I digress.

Anyway, last fall we organized a similar arrangement with some folks from fishing-headquarters.com, only it was dubbed as something more competitive, and interest seemed lacking at the time. For unknown reasons that year’s walleye bite on our chosen fishing grounds was far below average considering the location. More than a few of us left the river without as much as a bite most if not every night. It left a bitter taste in my mouth, but it also left me wanting something more out of the next season.

So, with a goal in mind, I set out on a quest to find as much information about prime walleye waters in my local arena. Many rivers and lakes came to mind, but none were as prominent as my hometown flow, the Fox River. It was local for some and within a reasonable driving distance for the others. Currently, the gauges in Montgomery were showing it at or near normal pool, and a slow steady flow. The Fox River has a reputation for good numbers of both stocked walleye, and even some healthy roll-overs from the Chain-of-Lakes upstream. As a bonus, it was virtually an unknown body of water for most of my fellow “Leaguers”. It was perfect water for some exploring, some fishing, some learning, and hopefully some good times amongst friends.

My plan was simple, and the word went out. We would start at the furthest point North within a reasonable distance and work our way South, fishing every Monday night after work. I began scouting the season opener location weeks in advance. I utilized all of the tools at my disposal; current digital maps, recent reports, past reports, local bait and tackle shops suggestions, and even the advice of a highly respected river sage, Ken Gortowski.

Ken and I prattle back and forth on occasion, sometimes about our exploits on and around the Fox river, and sometimes about what amounts to be almost nothing at all. Regardless of the topic, it’s always a pleasure to hear from him, and I’m equally delighted to absorb any ounce of knowledge he is willing to impart. Nevertheless, after all was said and done the current conditions of the river, a suitable nearby parking lot, and some quality information derived from previous years reports (this will be a point to note later), all pointed to my choice for the Fall Walleye League’s opener, Lion’s Park in South Elgin, IL.

The surrounding area held many prominent features that would point to a likely haunt for feeding fall walleyes. For starters, it was directly below a rather large man-made dam that was practically impassible for migrating fish thus making it a roadblock of sorts for staging fish. Below the dam there is a long stretch of winding riverbed that was sure to contain a multitude of current washed holes and pools which would make excellent holding areas for fish during the warmer months. Through that area was also a very prominent “neck-down” around the islands just to the South of Lion’s Park. It’s areas like this that I look to for their ability to concentrate fish as well. With only a small area for the water to travel through, fish on the move would surely utilize this water, as well as the slack water “rest-stops” directly below and above. This gave our group a nice section of river to pick apart from top to bottom over the course of our inaugural session.

So when the day finally came, and arrangements were made, myself and two other earnest anglers were the only ones without scheduling conflicts to bar us from putting the plan in motion. Local guide and prominent outdoor writer Cory Yarmuth of Legend Outdoors was the first to arrive shortly before daylight took its last breath. In fact he beat me to the location and called me while mid-river to confirm his arrival and offer an update on conditions. He had already tied into a healthy river smallmouth bass near a lay down, and even though he observed some alarmingly low water levels, his optimism was clearly discernible over the sound of rushing water beneath him. I assured him I was merely moments away, and ended the conversation struggling to find reprieve from the glaring ball of fire now looming right at the sparse treeline directly in front of me.

As I jumped out of my car and began “suiting-up”, the sun was now completely set, and it’s remaining ambient light was just enough to guide my tired hands around the various buckles, snaps, and loose clothing to get me comfortable and on my way towards the water. I was already tied up with a 3″ Matzuo jerkbait in a river shiner pattern that I had taken a liking to many seasons ago. As if by instinct, I began breathing heavily through my nose to dwell in the thick aroma surrounding me. It was 70% burning leaves and twigs along with the faint smell of food cooking over an open fire. The smell was savory, not just the food but the leaves too, I could almost taste it. That quickly brought to my attention that the remaining 30% was mixed vehicle exhaust and river water.

Not just any river water smelled like the Fox. With an overabundance of urban sprawl surrounding its shorelines, treatment plant effluent now makes up a large portion of the river’s water supply. Years of farm and roadway run-off have changed the once rock strewn babbling waterway into an inconsistent mix of silt, muck, gravel, and the odd rock bar here and there. I’ve known folks to be turned off by this river smell, but flashes of my childhood spent chasing crawfish and battling the occasional river fish danced through my head as I casually strolled to the water’s edge.

I spotted Cory a ways down river standing just off-current from a nice laydown and I made my way slowly towards him. The river clarity was poor, hardly 3 or 4 inches. Even in the dusk’s dim light, I could tell the grey/brown turbid water was not normal for the river this time of year especially without any recent rain. Yellow, red, and orange leaves cascaded downstream passing me occasionally, spinning around in the current like miniature sailboats caught in a squall. My movements through the water were extremely clumsy and even though I was only walking through shin to knee deep water it was difficult to smooth my steps and feign grace.

The cool water on my legs felt strangely comforting, and as I got nearer to Cory I slowed my pace slightly, just enough to be almost gliding along with the river at its flow rate. We exchanged pleasantries, a few words about this and that, and like trained soldiers we began to work the current seams and channel edges with our offerings. Even though neither of us had spent any significant time at this location before, we knew what to look for, and we started hitting our marks right away.

Without much time to get into my rhythm, I was alerted to the arrival of another “Leaguer”, Brian Toth. Brian is a newcomer to the world of river wading, but with a few trips around the area and some help from his fellow anglers he has become a decent stick. His eagerness to learn and love of the outdoors has earned him due respect amongst his peers. Brian dispensed with the formalities and quickly took his position opposite Cory and began working the east side of the river.

By now the ambient light from the setting sun gave way to the artificial gloom of distant streetlights and nearby homes. Three-wide we all moved steadily downriver, conversing without losing step, slowly spreading out and slipping into the sanctuary of the river. With headlamps flitting about to my left I concentrated on each individual cast and crawling retrieve. In my mind I was imagining the river bottom I was attempting to cover. I could feel the difference in contour, transmitted like Morse code as my jerkbait struck rocks on the shallow flat to my right. Then losing contact as it came down the small grade to the smooth river channel I was walking through.

As we progressed along minor changes in the river gradient, some snags and momentarily foul-hooked carp kept us on our toes. All the areas I had marked out, examined diligently and painstakingly explored felt the deliberate prodding of our offerings. The anxious feeling you get as you finally feel yourself slip into your groove, when you feel that any second now you will be ripped from your harnesses of concentration…… lasted for what must have been hours.

Time slowly ticked away unbeknownst to the three anglers immersed in the damp night air and the ambiance of an ashen sky fleetingly speckled by distant faded stars. The river gave up not a single fish to the three men so intent on cracking this nut. A few missed hits, some lost jigheads, and a better understanding of this miniscule stretch of river weren’t the only things the “Leaguers” walked out of the water with this evening.

As I had mentioned earlier, previous years reports have indicated that sometime around the middle of October, after the harvest moon, is the general starting point for good walleye fishing on the Fox River. That’s been historically when the numbers have been good enough from reporting anglers to consider a “good bite” to be happening. Of course every year is a little different, with different flow rates, temperatures, and conditions dictating the quality of the bite.

After sifting through my research I can honestly say that last year and the preceding 4 years have shown a steady decline in the reported fish caught during this part of the season. I have some fairly reliable sources, and most of them have begun to see the pattern developing as well. The steady decline in reported fish catches, especially those of the gamefish, is a matter of concern for all folks who consider the Fox River as one of their favorite places to wet a line. I don’t know if it’s due to the massive flooding we experienced a couple years ago and previously in the late 90’s, or if the recently ceased pollution from chemical dumping by a company in Elgin had anything to do with it. Whatever is causing the decline is not immediately apparent to me, so it’s anyone’s guess at this point.

You would think that the “Leaguers” would be downtrodden and disappointed in the results from a fishless night on the water, but in fact just the opposite was true. We left the river that night with smiles on our faces and anticipation for another shot at it next week. However, there was one unfortunate consequence I suffered from this trip. Just that little bit of down and upstream wading took its toll and made me realize just how out of shape I really was. I’d like to think some of my soreness also came from the occasional heavy chuckle I enjoyed while listening and telling some great stories on the water. After all, what good is it to experience a night like this, and enjoy the river from this perspective if you can’t share it with others?

The Uni-Blogger Strikes Again!

Posted: October 12, 2010 in Recent Reports

Wait a minute..... this isn't my bazooka?!


Deep in the heart of Salmon country, methodically perpetrating acts of unjustifiable inhumanity, the “Uni-Blogger” has once again brought down a reign of terror this cold October eve. With his weapons of fish extraction close at hand, he stalks his victims with a cold heart, and a warm smile. Nothing deters this menace to the aquatic community. He is a man on a mission, a force to be reckoned with, and he will not lay his swords to the earth until vengeance is brought forth. The body count from this apocalyptic massacre should have been much higher than facts would indicate. Uncharacteristically, luck came in the form of bent hooks and broken leaders for a few wily fish. Unfortunately for the others, their luck had run out.

“The night air was filled with tremendous angst and trepidation,” proclaimed one onlooker, “it seemed to permeate through the very fabric of time itself.” As if stuck in a nightmare, the fish were unable to escape the cold, the killing, nor the clutches of this madman. One eye witness account tells a story of mystery, intrigue, violence, and pseudo-psychotic sexually deviant behavior. The following is an excerpt from his statement:

Peek-a-boo - I see you...



“Well the evening started innocent enough, I mean it was a long drive up in the dark from our homes in Illinois. The strangest storm blew in from out of nowhere and we pretty much drove through sporadic rain storms the whole way up into Wisconsin. Very odd weather considering the forecast mentioned nothing about precipitation.”

“Once we broke free from the storm, the skies opened up and we marveled at the deep black sky full of stars and a dim crescent moon. At one point we even experienced a phenomena the likes of which I had never seen. Almost as if by fate we were both admiring the sky when a florescent green streak broke out across the horizon as a burning meteor fell to earth. It was here and gone in a flash, but it left a lasting impression, like it was a sign.”

“Was I scared being out all alone on unfamiliar turf at such an hour with the Uni-Blogger? Well maybe I was but didn’t know it, I mean there really wasn’t….. well maybe…. Oh yea, you know now that I think about it, he did try to drown me as soon as we got there and launched the boat. I mean we all forget things, but I think it’s no coincidence that he left the plug out of the boat and insisted I be in the boat when he backed it down. Never had that happen before, but my instincts got me out of that situation.”

“It was damn cold that night, howling winds, temps in the 30s, and a varying mist seemingly following us around the harbor all night. In fact it took us good couple hours before we made contact with the first salmon. He was casting a white deep diving jerkbait while I was working a similar lure in a different pattern. There were many long periods of silence, and those periods were only separated by odd conversations of “hypothetical” sexual innuendo and disturbing sensory images. I listened and responded, but I couldn’t shake the fear and disgust inside of me that nearly brought me to tears and wretching at the same time.”

One Fish, Two Fish, Bronze Fish


“Anyway, when he hooked that first fish, all I heard was a deep guttural moan from the back of the boat. Something I would only expect to hear from mating livestock, and since it was so dark that night I could barely make out the silhouette behind me pumping and writhing in some kind of spastic episode. I did hear him mutter, and I quote, “Oh yea, that’s a good one.” That fight only lasted a few seconds, it ended before we got a chance to see the fish as the hooks bent and pulled free near the boat. We were both disappointed at the loss of the fish, but it gave us hope that things were about to get better for us now that we have a lure pattern to start tweaking. He didn’t seem too upset, but the words he mumbled under his breath while he combed through the area again with a freshly re-tied lure were far too disturbing to be reiterated.”

Honestly, the rest of the night was almost a complete blur. The forced sleep deprivation, a lack of fish cooperating with me, and the cold wet conditions I was not fully prepared for really took their toll. At one point we heard gun shots I think, but it took a few minutes for them to register. In fact we really only believed it when the clearly visible nearby harbor drive was lit-up with emergency vehicle lights and traffic. The sounds of the sirens and horns was practically deafening.”

Invisible Ninja Toe


“This threw him into a some kind of a trance because soon after the night was quiet again, his restless behavior came to an abrupt halt. At this point he stopped stone-cold mid retrieve, wrapped himself in all of his clothes exposing only his nose, and whispered something to me I will never forget. “Keep fishing….. keep fishing or I will show you the ninja toe.” It gives me chills up and down my spine just thinking about it. He then laid down, remained completely still, and was silent for what seemed like an eternity.”

“I was almost paralyzed in fear, I mean what the hell was that?! So, I kept fishing and stood watch, keeping my knife and cellphone close at hand. Thankfully, his delusional behavior soon subsided, and he just started fishing again like nothing had happened. In fact, he hooked up with four more fish, all on the same lure. It was almost like some kind of magic trick because he even hooked up on consecutive casts. It was enough to drive me into a jealous panic. I floundered around my tackle and his, looking for a lure to mimic his success. Unfortunately the only lure in that pattern was now attached to his line, and yet another fish.”

The Zombie Lift and Tuck


“As the night wore on, I began to loathe the telltale weight-shift in the boat, the sound of his GoreTex parka rubbing up against itself as he set the hook, and that gut-wrenching moan of another fish on. I was in my own personal hell. Some I had to net, and some fought like Ricky Lake clamoring for a bear claw, eventually throwing hooks or wrapping him up in the dock pilings. The ones he did catch were magnificent creatures, heavy weight bruisers with only the beginnings of their transformation taking hold and shimmering bronze in the chill night air. I can’t even speak of the horrifying torture that these captured fish endured after that sick freak got a hold of them. While hoisting these fish for photos, he would whisper to them. Saying what, I don’t know, but it seemed to give him some kind of ethereal satisfaction. In some of the photos, you can see it on his face. Like the satisfaction of holding the fish was giving him “perverted” pleasure.”

Was it good for you too?



“At daybreak, the mind games came out. I was pummeled with a barrage of “what-if’s” and “If you had to pick” questions concerning only the most reprehensible of subjects. Everything from bowel movements to my thoughts on the existence of human/marsupial hybrids. I was so utterly confused by the time we had to leave that he had me singing a song from my childhood that he warped to soothe his own inner psychopathology: “Beepo, Beepo, Beepo, we made you out of clay, Beepo, Beepo, Beepo, why won’t you come and play.” For lack of a better phrase, I was asleep on my feet. We motored around in the fog and gloom, babbling bits of incoherence, laughing uncontrollably for no reason, I’m not even sure I was still fishing at this point…..”

“So when the time came, we left…… We packed up, loaded the boat onto the trailer (rather clumsily I might add), and we high-tailed it out of there. It was still cold, still windy, and I was so tired I couldn’t even see straight. I did however see something I never thought I would ever see, and in fact I may have been hallucinating. On the way out of the harbor, we drove past a very heavy surf crashing up onto the beach, but within the rolling waves were what appeared to be surfers. Full suits, long boards, and fifty degree water. I’m still not 100% sure of it, but I could have sworn that’s what I saw.”

“The ride home was like a dream, blazing past cars, trucks, lights, the hum of the highway lulling me in and out of consciousness. Some idle conversation, although rather strange and ironic. He insisted I tell my story, from my perspective, true to the best of my ability. He knew it was one of those nights that will haunt me forever. Something I will tell my Grandchildren about, surviving a night with the Uni-Blogger. I kind of already knew I was going to do just that, but to hear it come from his lips caught me off guard. I don’t think he asked that of me because he is looking for recognition or accolades. In fact most of the evening was scary as hell and I will likely need therapy to help me sleep at night. I honestly think he just wants to put that little voice inside your head, you know that one that makes you question what you remember as real or dream. Just enough to question the sanity of those around you, even those you think you may know well. So, that’s what I did….. and that’s my story.”

Operation Bronze Bombshells

Posted: September 17, 2010 in Recent Reports

All your brass are belong to us

The shift in air temps and the dissipation of our extended summer daylight hours has reigned in the migration of Lake Michigan’s pound for pound fighting champion of the salmon kingdom, the Chinook or “King” Salmon. Fall spawning season is upon us, and up and down the shores of the mighty lake hordes of these majestic creatures flow into our harbors and tributaries whence they came from. However, unlike their cousins from the Pacific Ocean, these beasts do not follow the homing signals that were burned into their teeny tiny brains upon birth. The salmon of Lake Michigan for the most part are only present in abundant numbers through the stocking efforts of the state agencies that share it’s shoreline, as well as from outside funds and donations given through organizations such as Salmon Unlimited.
Wild run Chinook Salmon spend all of their lives in the ocean where they migrate with the available forage, and only return to the freshwater streams, rivers, and tributaries where they themselves were born. It is one of the amazing curiosities of the animal kingdom that is also present in the stocked fish of the Great Lakes. The caveat is that here, the fish only know to go where they first made contact with the clear waters of our beautiful lake. From The Upper Peninsula all the way around and back to Michigan a select group of the larger harbors is where they are stocked, and where they began their 4 year fight to survive.

Upon maturation around 4 years of age, these fish that normally roam the depths of far off temperature breaks and thermoclines, come in great numbers to our shorelines. They gather and circle the harbors, or migrate upstream endlessly searching for appropriate spawning grounds. Unfortunately, There is a severe shortage of suitable spawning habitat for these fish, and very few if any of these migrating fish ever have a successful spawn. Sadly, all of the salmon will die upon completion of their struggle to mate, whether they are successful or not.

On the bright side, this migration leaves them vulnerable to those who posses the intestinal fortitude to hunt them. It is a chance for shore-bound anglers and small boaters to hook into what could be for them the fish of a lifetime. At full maturity many female (hen) salmon full of ripe roe will weigh upwards of 20lbs. or more, with reported catches of fish in the 30 lb. class. Many tactics for these brutes have been perfected over the years, and it seems each year a new “method” or presentation is divulged from the shore-fisherman’s underground and sent mainstream. However, tried and true methods such as casting heavy rolling-wobble spoons, and loud rattling wide-wobble crankbaits and jerkbaits still produce respectable numbers of fish up and down the lakefront.

Now that you have a brief history and general idea of the backdrop for this mission, I think it’s time for a full debriefing.

For logistical reasons, this operation encompassed two separate assaults upon the same general area.

~ Mission #1 ~

Location: Milwaukee, Wi – Milwaukee Harbor
Time: Dusk to midnight (stealth under cover of darkness was paramount to success)
Equipment: Medium to medium light spinning and baitcasting rods/reels, 12 to 14 lb. Fireline and PowerPro superlines, and a plethora of rattling crankbaits and jerkbaits from Strike King, Rapala, Storm, Smithwick, and Berkley.

My partner in slime for this mission would be Dan Sims, a resident multispecies master angler at Fishing-Headquarters.com, and a regular mention in the Chicago SunTimes column written by Dale Bowman, Stray Casts. While he is adept in many angling pursuits, he is most known for his Des Plaines River expertise.

The arrival at our destination brought about the nervous stomach and butterflies often associated with the anticipation of great things to be. Immediately we set lines and made way for our first of a few passes at the outer gaps between the harbor and the main lake. My typical modus operandi is to meter the gaps between the harbor and main lake first looking for staging fish. Typically these are the freshest of the fish coming in from the main lake, and most still have yet to change into their darker “spawning colors”. Passes though the two main gaps proved fruitless so on towards the marina basin we went.

It was here that we happened upon a basin completely devoid of other fisherman, yet the surface activity of ready to spawn kings was 360 degrees around us. We had the whole basin completely to ourselves, and to top it off, the fish were violently attacking our crankbaits, fighting us with reckless abandon, and the action when we got on top of them was nonstop!


First P.O.W. - Female prisoner taken for roe interrogation

I was first on the board with a sow of a hen that came in at just under the 20lb. mark. She ate a white Rapala X-Rap deep-10 in about 13 feet of water. Next up, and ultimately commencing a shut-out on me from there on out was Dan with this hefty stud. This fish, and the rest of Dan’s fish came on a Strike King series 5 crankbait in the “Sexy Shad” pattern.

Second P.O.W. - Soon to be tortured for intel in ~The Smoker~

Someone said the camera flash induced “red-eye” in these pictures was pretty bad and could be corrected, but I believe Dan’s eyes were red with murderous intentions. The man was on a killing spree, and nothing seemed to quell his appetite for more bloodshed. The assault went on into the wee hours of the night, but finally our battle fatigue forced us to make our “last casts”.

Ninjas don't kill salmon, Dan does.....

Eat your heart out Abu Ghraib.....

At the close of the mission, as I battled to overcome my slump I was again stomped upon by the merciless skill of a man possessed. In what would end up being his finest battle, Dan once again found himself victorious over another Bronze Beauty. Feeling grateful for the bounty in which I had provided, he made an honorable offering to his ever-gracious host. With humility and desperation I accepted, hoisting the great pewter-skinned beast for our final photo-op with the enemy.

Bridge Over Troubled Waters

~ Mission #2 ~

Location: Milwaukee, Wi – Milwaukee Harbor
Time: Dusk to midnight (again, stealth ops under the cover of darkness was paramount to success)
Equipment: Medium to Medium Light spinning rods/reels, 12 to 14 lb. Fireline and PowerPro superlines, and a plethora of rattling crankbaits and jerkbaits from Strike King, Rapala, Storm, Smithwick, and Berkley.

Intel had come back from Headquarters that not only was the bite continuing strong in the A.O. (area of operations) from last week, but the general public fishing community at large had not caught word either. With my slump still fresh in my head I spent 4 days mentally preparing myself for another assault. Finding solace in a favorable weather pattern on day 2….. I made plans with local legend and Firefighter/Hero extraordinaire, Jake Saylor. We contrived a diabolical scheme to use the element of surprise to our advantage. Arrive under the cover of darkness and hit them mid-week before the weekend bucketeers gained control of the “high ground”.

Once again, our arrival to the land of cheese and extraordinarily friendly women at Culver’s who think you parked too close, chew you out, then actually look at where you parked, realize that she can still fit her fat pushin’ cushion easily between her own little p.o.s. and the boat, only to look at you with daggers in her eyes exclaiming that it was still my fault for making her worry, then gets in her car and drives off with that “I have pms, so get the hell outta my way!” look…….. hmmm, uhhh what was I saying?

So the gameplan was to set lines at the launch and troll a bit around the mouth of the river hoping to catch some migrating fish off-guard. However, with East winds gusting that day at 20 to 25 mph, the whole harbor was churned up like a washing machine. Trolling anywhere near any entrance to open water beyond the protection from the breakwalls was out of the question. “This could be bad,” I tell Jake as we pull lines, “I was warned by one of our friends that we would have difficulty due to the water clarity and the mud lines. Maybe we should just give up?”. Jake was not convinced, he told me flat out that whoever said that is full of shit. I was pretty amazed, he is normally not so candid with his feelings, but I had to admit that his confidence was contagious.

Jake always did have a thing for golden blondes

A short jaunt over to the marina basin later, and we were quickly on fish. It took us a few minutes to find a suitable location, but once we did it was steady action. Jake the Snake Saylor put on a clinic hooking three fish and landing two before I even got the chance to swing at one.


Excited or...? What is that on his leg?

Even if they were all males, Jake didn’t seem to mind. Heck I think he may have even enjoyed it more…… Did you see the placement of his hand near the rear of the fish in almost every picture? I’m not sure if that is his “signature torture technique” or not, but it sure looks as though he is enjoying his work….. lol

Hand placement is key when subduing big males

As I said, Jake schooled me right off the bat. His kill ratio was climbing dramatically while I was struggling to line up the crosshairs.

This was when I noticed Jake’s weapon of choice was a Storm Thunderstick in the luminous herringbone pattern, which was what I was using, but in the deep-diving model. That is what made all the difference in the world. Once I switched over to a Rapala X-Rap XR-10 in the famous “Hot Head” pattern, things began to really heat up for me!

A nice male with a healthy tan

Due to various reasons, and I won’t mention anyone’s name. After all I wouldn’t want to call Jake out on his bumbling idiocy while taking pictures of my fish…. I wouldn’t throw him under the bus like that… I wouldn’t want everyone to know he screwed me over like that, so yeah due to various reasons we didn’t get pictures of EVERY fish we caught. However, we did get pictures of most of them. Especially ALL of Jake’s fish, multiple times, and some really good shots, cover page material …..🙂


Fish that max out my 36" ruler are welcome aboard anytime

To say that this trip was of epic proportions would be a bit of an exaggeration, but it was definitely a consistent bite, with plenty of hook-ups, hits, swings-n-misses, thrown hooks, screaming drags, and even some slime on the boat. I even caught Jake mid-coital at one point, and frankly I was disturbed to say the least.

Here, I caught you a delicious brass

On our way out of the harbor we ran across a group of locals shorefishing the area that Dan and I had committed our violent offenses on last week. I stopped to ask them if they were doing any good, and hoped to offer suggestions on how they could improve their catch. After all, we had a little info based upon our findings on the other side of the harbor. Unfortunately I was greeted with no answer to my questions, and was thrown some rather unkind words. I figured surely they misunderstood me, so I crept in closer and dropped anchor right in front of them. That was when I heard the unmistakable sound of hard jerking heavy weighted hooks through the water. Snaggers….. despicable creatures they are. Did they even deserve my hospitality? I was hoping for a friendly dialogue here, but all I was treated to was some unpleasantries, and stereotyping based upon the IL registration numbers on the hull of the Tin Can. Oh well, we tried to be nice. Momentarily I thought about firing up the gas motor and doing donuts in the general area they were fishing, but my plan was to stay stealthy. No need for me to lose my civility.

Bonus Brown Trout!

So we set-up again in an area clearly in view of our felonious friends and worked our jerkbaits for a few minutes until I caught this bonus fish.

That unfortunately would signal the end of our mission. We had a long drive out of the area ahead of us, and we were both due back at our “jobs” early the next morning. We were slimy, tired, sore, and crashing from the adrenaline rush that only hard-fighting close-quarters salmon fishing can provide.

As I drove home I couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened if we had just given up when we were working the river mouth without much luck. Tough conditions might make some anglers throw in the towel prematurely. However, the more successful anglers will adapt, persevere, and keep inspiring words of motivation close to heart –

Jake: “I know there is at least one guy on this boat that wants to go to D.I.X.”

Superman Saves the Day

Posted: September 7, 2010 in Recent Reports

I had the pleasure of fishing with a fellow FHQ superstar Dan Sims and his two sons out to my local fishing grounds this beautiful Labor Day. The weather was looking rather ominous before we hit the agreed upon meeting place, but as we neared the water, the dark clouds gave way to sunshine and the prospects for a great afternoon of fishing with the kids was improving.

Father & Son

Our first shoreline location produced a fish quickly and gave us hopes that today would be one for the record books. For days such as these I often make a trip beforehand to a local bait and tackle shop to pick up a couple dozen large golden roach minnows. The objective when I take kids fishing is fun. Catching is secondary, and any catalyst to increase the odds of having fun is definitely worth investing in!

When I squeeze him he makes this face !EeEeE!

So after a fish here and nothing else for a long time a move was made. Another hour or so spent hunting…… and playing…..

Minnow torture.....

Well, things were just not picking up for us. We moved again, saw a couple fish, missed one, and frankly we were running low on live roaches.😀

The next "Zoolander"

So it was time to break out the “big guns”. That’s right, the unstoppable “Superman” fishing pole. A languid 4 foot fiberglass spincasting outfit with only two guides and a tip-top. The bright blue and red combo that has an uncanny ability to catch fish when it seems nothing else can. The next location I chose was nearest an area I knew MUST hold some fish. Thankfully, Superman saved the day.

Superman, fighting the good fight

The battered Hi-Viz styrofoam float set a couple feet above a #2 Kahle took a dive quite a few times while blowing around the pond, and on a couple of occasions we made solid connections.

An epic power struggle between fish and $5 fishing pole...

Amazingly, all of the fish that came to hand this day fell to the power of the mighty Superman pole.

Kids always smile a little more when they realize Dad got skunked

The sun was getting low in the horizon, stomachs were grumbling, and the bait bucket was looking pretty sad. So, it was agreed that it was time to end the afternoon and vow to return again soon to exact revenge upon the fish that outsmarted us this day. The news was not taken well by the little ones.

"But Daaaad.... We wanna staaaaay..."

Dan is a great Dad, a knowledgeable angler, and lucky to have a couple of great kids. I can’t wait to get out on the water again with him, and I have a feeling it will be sooner than later.