Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pike fishing the DPR

Another great day to be out
I'd read - on the internet of course - that fall was a great time to get into some nothern pike. Astute blog-readers or facebook fishing album stalkers might notice that nowhere is there a picture of me posing with a northern pike. This is not on purpose; I'd kayak-fished the DPR a few weeks back with the sole purpose of landing one of those toothy buggers. But that was not to be. 

In my research, it seemed like somewhere - maybe anywhere on the DPR would give me a good chance of finding some. The Fox apparently had a tiny pike population, I'd never heard of pike in the big lake, and I wasn't even going to consider Busse. So the DPR it was! I'd seen some recent posts of people landing pikes on the DPR, so I tried to figure out a good spot. I'd heard that farther north or farther south might have better populations. Based on some recent reports, I chose Allison Woods as my spot, and loaded up the car.

Saturday morning I headed out a little later than usual. I'd heard that pikes either have really good vision or really bad vision; either way, apparently they're easier to catch when there is more light. Seems to contradict other fish, but hey, if the internet says it it must be true. Armed with a selection of white spinnerbaits, mepps black furies, and roostertails, I drove with dreams of pike in my head.

I got to the entrance at 6:55am, almost 15 minutes after the published sunrise - which is when the park "opens." It wasn't open, there was a gate, which was padlocked. There was no way I could open it. I don't blame the guy who opens it- there's probably just one guy who has to get up early and open every entrance to every Cook County forest preserve! I don't know if that's true, but that's the way it seems.

I put my car in park, turned it off, and did some google searching for last-minute pike information.
who or what did this?
After 20 minutes, my patience had run out. Maybe there was a different entrance, that was open? I backed out my car and headed down the road, watching the woods for anything paved suggestion another entrance. I found one, but it too was locked. Damn! I turned around and headed to the first gate.

The gate-opener guy had just unlocked the gate, and was driving into the preserve. Awesome!

Within a few short minutes, I had a spinner in the water, near what looked like a canoe launch. There wasn't much current, and I couldn't see any weeds. I was pretty sure pike liked to hang out outside of current and in or around thick weeds. Wasn't sure how I was going to find them if I couldn't find those things!

Doing my best impression of a river angler, I tried to present my bait in a variety of ways, trying to hit where I thought a river snake might be waiting to ambush some unsuspecting bluegill. I worked my way down the shore, hiking through the woods trying to get back to river access. I had my trusty LL Bean boots, but wasn't prepared to wet-wade in the muddy mucky water.

I found a place that had obviously been fished before- people had put sticks in the ground in such a way they would be perfect to hold rods in place. But that wasn't what gave it away. The entire roll of monofilament line, THICK monofilament line (seemed thicker than 20# test) had presumably been dumped, and was wrapped in a mess all around the foliage near the water. I couldn't pick up every stray soda can or beer bottle, or every McDonald's cup; I wouldn't have been able to carry it all to a trash can (which I hadn't even seen). But the least I could do is prevent some poor bird from getting tangled in this and dying. I'd seen the results of littered mono before, and if there's anything I can do to prevent that from happening, I'll do it.

a big mushroom
Using my clippers, it took about 5 minutes to rid the bushes of the ridiculous length of line that had become intertwined, like some kind of plastic vine. I ended up pulling off a lot of leaves too, but at least the line was gone. I shoved the huge armful of mono and leaves into my backpack, hoping I'd see a trash can somewhere.

I continued to fish, but I'll cut to the chase. I didn't catch any pike. At one point I thought I might have had a hit, but it was small and was not repeated on the next few casts. In another spot, there was a huge splash and out of the corner of my eye I saw the fish. It did NOT look yellow (i.e. carp) but I have no idea what it was. Of course my mind told me it was definitely a pike, but I had no idea if pike ever jump.

Saw some scary looking animal tracks, along with some I recognized as deer, squirrel, and maybe possum or racoon. The scary ones were really big, and reminded me of Walter's paws, but much much bigger. I looked for accompanying human tracks, like the owner of a big dog, but there were none. I gingerly scanned the forest, hoping I wouldn't lock eyes with a coyote, cougar, or wolf. I didn't know if there were any of those animals in the area, but these tracks belonged to something.

Probably just a random dog, I told myself, as I entered the forest again to find another route to water.

big tracks
I did a lot of hiking, and for what it's worth it was beautiful and enjoyable. The few squirrels I saw were clearly fattening up for the winter, and I saw some other cool things. An awesome looking mushroom, a tree that looked half cut down.. but by an axe? or teeth? I don't know.

At a certain point my belly was grumbling, I was annoyed at my lack of fish, so I headed back to my car. Then I remembered there was a bridge over the river. I couldn't leave without casting there a few times, so I did. I climbed down the loose rocks until I was at the water, then casted.

Not getting anything, I figured there might be some panfish around. I was pretty sure this kind of structure was called rip-rap, and the internet says there are often panfish around rip-rap.

Sure enough, there was!

After catching this guy- on a tiny jig and grub - the lightening convinced me to head home. At least I wasn't skunked.

pumpkinseed... or is it bluegill? either way it's a fish

No comments:

Post a Comment

Tell me what you think!

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.