Monday, January 9, 2012

First fish of 2012

I hear hair jigs are good in the winter, so I made some
(They aren't perfect, but I'm learning!)

Saturday I made some hair jigs (thanks again to Mark for letting me borrow his fly tying kit) with the intention of hitting the Fox Sunday morning/afternoon. I consulted with the good folks at, and got some tips (thanks Ken!) I was excited to hit the water, especially to return to the Fox. Although each place I've fished has it's own appeal and everything, I think fishing the Fox River is my favorite- the smallies there are so fiesty, the scenery is so beautiful, and traveling out there is like taking a mini-vacation. As much as I enjoy fishing Lake Michigan 10 minutes from my job in downtown Chicago, there's something to be said for "getting out of town."

Anyway, I had my tacklebox full of my new hair jigs, some of my crankbaits, spinners; my goal was to just catch a fish- any fish. It would be great to catch a smallie, but even better to land a walleye! As far as I know I've never even hooked into a walleye or pike; to that end, they are my main goals for 2012! Of course I'd really like to catch some salmon or trout from Lake Michigan, but that almost seems like a completely different sport.

So Sunday morning I packed up the car, loaded my gear, put on long underwear and many layers of flannel, but couldn't find my wallet. Long story short, Claire I spent about two hours looking for my dumb wallet; I checked the movie theater we'd been to the night before, as well as the pizza place, and nothing. My wallet was gone.

That put a big dent in my fishing plans, and really messed everything up! I had a lot of things in that wallet, most importantly my credit cards, driver's license, Metra and CTA cards... and my fishing license!!!

As it turns out, a few months ago I upgraded my license to include a trout stamp- but I still have my non-trout stamped one! I think that still works, of course I can't fish for salmon or trout.

After a few hours of searching, we concluded it was GONE.  I quickly jumped in the car and drove to the retention pond with hopes of catching something today. There wasn't enough time for the Fox- it would be dark by the time I got there!

Frozen everywhere except the MIDDLE...
When I got to the retention pond, my hopes sank... In the 24 hours since I last checked it, the pond had mostly frozen over. There was still open water in the middle, but I couldn't reach it! There was a tiny bit of open water by the pipe, but it was completely dead. Nobody wanted my offerrings, even my brand new homemade hair jigs.

I glanced at my watch (the new awesome one I got for Christmas that tells me the moon's phase as well as sunrise and sunset - very helpful) and make a quick decision to hit one more place that might yield some fish. Hopped in the car, headed about 2 miles away, and about 10 minutes later I was at my spot on Salt Creek.

Looks cold! It was actually quite pleasant, around 45°F and no wind
I'd caught tons of little fish here, mostly bluegill and sunfish, a few crappie and one tiny largemouth. This time I had the good sense to bring some nightcrawlers with me- I was on a mission to CATCH A FISH!

I don't normally fish with a bobber- I like to work my lures through the water - but I had limited time and thought that might be the most successful. I had two rods- one I rigged with a bobber, the other with a hair jig.

First "cast" (more like a plop into the water) the bobber started jumping around like crazy. Fish! For the next 15 minutes I tried to hook one of the many tiny fish terrorizing my crawler, to no avail. I caught glimpses of them through the water, little sparks of silver that immediately disappeared into the dark but clear water.

Finally, after letting my bobber sit there for a while, I managed to land my first fish of 2012!

What a lunker!
I'd never caught a fish like this, and had no idea what it was... I think it's some kind of minnow, maybe a creek chub? Edit: thanks to Dan the Impractical Fisherman  this fish has been identified as a shiner. And yes, I know it's tiny... But they can't all be huge! That also means my catches of 2012 can only get bigger from this point on.

A while later, while fishing a (not homemade) panfish marabou jig (I think that's what it's called, in bright chartreuse and black) I got a BIG hit from something, but I couldn't entice it to chomp down again. The sun was setting, the wind was picking up and it was getting colder; time to head home.

Great start to 2012. I wonder how many times I'll be able to get out before it gets real nasty out there... Maybe winter will only last a month, and I can start kayaking in March. That would be awesome....


  1. Next time you go to Salt Creek, go below the dam off York. You might get that walleye or pike, especially now. Used to fish it a lot when I lived in Elmhurst. First moving water I ever fished back in 1995 or 96.

    Next warm day, go where I initially told you. Especially the mouth of the creek. South side of the creek, ignore the No Trespassing signs. Nobody cares.

  2. gotta start the year somewhere, any it will only get better. kudos for making it out there so early in the year

  3. thanks! thanks again for the tip Ken, I'm planning on getting on the Fox asap..


Tell me what you think!

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