Everybody wants to catch fish, donâ€™t they? To catch them, you need to learn what they are interested in putting in their mouths for a meal. Makes sense, doesnâ€™t it? That is the reason so many seminars and classes are based on instructing people in what kinds of live baits and lures are needed to catch more fish.
I know what I want to eat when I am hungry. I just have to find the food that I am in the mood for. Iâ€™ll generally pick a place close to me because I want food, and I want it right away. I donâ€™t want to have to travel long distances to fill my belly. I think that is a reason McDonaldâ€™s is so successful. It seems as though there is a Mickey Dâ€™s every half-mile or so.
What I am trying to say is that in addition to the food, where the food is located is just as important. As they say in real estate, â€ślocation, location, location.â€ť
That said, I think it is just as important to learn how to put the food in front of a fishâ€™s face as it is to learn what kind of bait they want. Learning how to cast properly will do more for a fisherman than any new â€śmiracleâ€ť bait on the market. Teaching a new fisherman the proper way to cast and present a bait to the fish is one of the most important lessons that can be taught.
My congratulations go out to the fine fishing coaches from our Crystal Lake-based District 155 schools for recognizing this and staging the second annual Casting Clinic for middle-schoolers. This is a grand concept that they are staging again this year.
A tip of the hat to Crystal Lake Southâ€™s Chris Wolke, Prairie Ridgeâ€™s John Pellikan, Crystal Lake Centralâ€™s Brian Kane and Cary-Groveâ€™s Todd Huff, who are the coaches of the fishing teams at the districtâ€™s high schools, for putting this fine event together.
â€śWe picked up the idea from something that Batavia High School has been doing every year,â€ť said Wolke, who has coached Southâ€™s program for four years. â€śWe feel itâ€™s important to take a step back from competing and focus on learning. Jig fishing, especially, is a great way to catch fish, and many kids are never taught this great technique. We hope this will bring more kids into the sport by becoming more successful at it.â€ť
Any students in fifth through eighth grade are eligible to attend the clinic, which will be from 5 to 6 p.m. March 1 in the Crystal Lake South cafeteria.
The techniques of jig fishing, flipping and pitching will be taught and practiced under the supervision of fishing team members from South, Central, Prairie Ridge and Cary-Grove. All a child needs to do is bring their own spinning or baitcasting rod and reel with some type of casting jig or plug attached.
In addition to some great instruction, all participants will be eligible for door prizes, including rod-and-reel combos from Lewâ€™s Fishing. The first 30 entrants will receive a free jig to use and take home. There is no cost for the clinic. For information, email Wolke at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The members of the four high school fishing teams will meet an hour before the clinic to stage a casting accuracy competition between themselves for some cool prizes. Anyone interested is welcome to come out and watch.
The districtâ€™s schools have very active fishing programs. They will attend the yearâ€™s first invitational tournament April 2. The tournament is being held on the Fox Chain and is hosted by Grant High School. The district intends to hold its own tournament, but the details have not been finalized yet. In the past two years, the city of Crystal Lake has graciously allowed the groups to host events on Crystal Lake and at Vulcan Lakes at the Three Oaks Recreation Center. I am sure they will come through again.
Local ice maven Trevor James reports: â€śAs the snow cover came in over the past weekend, fishing was bound to pick up. Fishing glare ice in shallow water often will spook fish. Iâ€™d suggest getting away from the crowds this weekend. The Fox Chain of Lakes has really been drilled heavily, and those fish have seen a lot of pressure from baits, lures and so forth. Find yourself some water that hasnâ€™t been fished much this season.
â€śLooking at a map to determine similar structure on a new lake to places where you have been, often will lead to quality fish. So many anglers today get caught up in fishing with a crowd assuming theyâ€™re on fish, then at 10 a.m. we are seeing them head home with no fish. We like to make moves and find the feeding fish using our Garmin electronics. If you do not have electronics, maps are available from the [Illinois Department of Natural Resources] website, and local bait shops carry hard copies, as well. For pike and walleye, live bait has been the go-to, while Maki plastics on Akara jigs have been catching crappies and bluegills like theyâ€™re going out of style. Until next week, just keep drillinâ€™.â€ť
Dave Kranz from Daveâ€™s Bait and Tackle writes, â€śThe best ice of the season is here now. Reports of 8 to 10 inches of ice on many lakes and channels are coming in. Bluegill and crappie are being caught on waxworms and spikes. Low-light days are a little better than the sunny days. The most consistent time when the fish are biting has been morning and late afternoon. Pike and bass are hitting large or medium golden roach minnows. Call 815-455-2040 for an updated report.â€ť
NEWS AND NOTES
Fishing tip: Regular contributor Trevor James recently spent time with walleye legend and ice fishing expert Mark Martin.
Martin gave him this great info: â€śWhen using tip-ups with 30-pound Dacron line, attach a small ball bearing swivel to the end of the line and add a 2-foot piece of 6-pound Vanish fluorocarbon line with a small split shot and a No. 14 light wire treble hook. You have to downsize this time of year to keep getting action. People have to remember when they hook the minnow, to hook it between the dorsal fin in the tail, not in the middle of the back, so that the minnow has to struggle, therefore creating action continually.
â€śRemember that when you get a flag, donâ€™t just run over there like youâ€™re in a race or 100-yard dash, as the fish will be able to hear you and may drop the offering. Another important piece of information is that you want to balance the whole outfit out like you do if you were using a bobber for bluegills or perch by putting a bobber on the line that will just barely hold the minnow the split shot and the swivel up, so if you get a fish that grabs the minnow, takes off and drops it, the bobber will float the minnow back up underneath the ice somewhere and allow the fish to see it instead of lying dead on the bottom.â€ť
Good stuff and thanks to Mark and Trevor.
Boat Show: The Northern Illinois Boat Show takes place at the new Lake County Fairgrounds located at 1060 E. Peterson Road in Grayslake, Feb. 28 through March 3. The hours are noon to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $8, and children younger than 12 will be admitted for free. Seniors and veterans get in for $6. Parking is free.
â€˘ Steve Sarley writes about the outdoors for Shaw Media. Write to him at email@example.com. Steve does a weekly podcast about fishing called â€śWeFishASA.â€ť You can find it at www.wefishasa.com.