Fisheries & Fish Industry

Bearing down on the New Year: Of football, fishing and New Year’s

Bearing down on the New Year: Of football, fishing and New Year’s

The thing about community fishing holes is, well, they are community holes. Their good and bad points are as entangled as a couple in an unhealthy relationship.

Thing about a bad Bears season is, well, it frees my Sundays. In this balmy fall, I worked in my garden several Sundays, did a couple hikes and raked leaves instead of watching complete Bears games. (Bears brass would do well to read that carefully.)

On Sunday, I planned to watch the whole game because it was the last of the season. By halftime, I scrapped that and went fishing for a New Year’s Day smallmouth bass or walleye. My plan was hit a community hole or two on the Kankakee River, my second favorite nearby getaway. (The Mazonia lakes are my favorite getaway.)

The good side of community holes is they hold or attract fish; the bad side is that everyone knows the spots hold or attract fish so they hold and attract fishermen as well.

The confluence of Soldier Creek with the Kankakee by the Court Street bridge is a perfect example. Multiple species are there year-round. In Kankakee fishing guru Norm Minas’ terms, there are inflows from the bridge drains and Soldier Creek. There’s varied depth with pools and eddies, changes in contours, flow-altering bridge pilings and rocks.

It’s fishy, in the good sense.

To my surprise, no one was there. I first worked a rattle bait with the current and slowly against the current. Not even a bump. So I switched to night crawlers on jigheads worked very slowly.

Boom, third try, I latched into a big fish. But I handled it like Matt Barkley passes in the red zone; and the fish came unhinged before I could see it. My guess was a big catfish. That was it on hits. I tried downsizing, moving and altering casting angles. Nothing. Skunked to start the New Year.

Being a community hole meant there was trash around, so I did what most fishermen do and picked up as much as I could. It wasn’t all from fishermen, but a good bit was.

All in all, the afternoon set the tone for a new year.

I even stopped fishing early to watch the darkness settle through altocumulus clouds.

It was time.

On my way out, I dropped the trash in a can. As I did, I saw three big fish in the bottom. Not sure what that was from, but their mysteries weren’t enough to throw my new year off.

ILLINOIS HUNTING: I will post updated deer harvest from the late-winter seasons when numbers come. . . . Pheasant and quail hunting ends in the north zone on Sunday, Jan. 8.

STREAK: Paul Pezalla’s streak of catching a carp in the Chicago area ended at 203 months straight when he did not catch one in December. A year ago, he hinted he might try for 500 straight.

He recently moved to Port Barrington along the Fox River and noted, “I do have plenty of carp in my back yard but it is a little tougher to catch them in the winter than it is in the Chicago River.’’

STRAY CAST: If Chet Coppock had hosted on WSCR-AM, the sports-talk station would have have as much chance of celebrating 25 years as I have of catching a 15-pound, 2-ounce walleye.

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