I had planned to fish some of my favorite soft plastic baits to start out in the late afternoon but those plans were pretty quickly shelved after I noticed the water clarity(not much more than a foot) and not getting a bite for the first half hour on a magnum lizard. Even though it was still only about 6pm and the sun was still shining bright, I decided to try the frog. I made my first cast with a poppin' booyah padcrasher frog along the edge of a drainage ditch where the depth went from about 10 feet to 5 feet and almost immediately had a big blowup that I missed. I let the east wind(not forecasted) blow me along the ditch until I reached a point where the weeds began again near shore at the end of the ditch. There were lots of bluegill feeding on the surface at this choke point, it looked like a perfect place for a bass hangout. On my first cast to this area a nice 17" bass came completely out of the water to smash my frog.
|First Emiquon bass|
|Like an anorexic in the buffet line, something is not right|
|Great first day|
|Next time I'll have to bring some catfish rods|
The second day I arrived at Emiquon shortly after sunrise, it looked like it would be a good morning to continue frog fishing.
|Hard to decide where to fish|
|This 18" bass came off of a flooded tree|
|View from the top of the museum, Emiquon on the horizon|
I returned to the lake late afternoon for my final outing for this trip. Things did not start out well as I probably missed my first ten hits on the frog. I was getting frustrated by fishing poorly and making too long of casts over thick weeds so that even when I hooked a fish they managed to get off when they got into the slop. I moved to more open water on the outside of the weeds and started getting better hookups. I shot some video while fishing the frog with my hatcam both evenings and got some good blowups on video. The cool thing about the Emiquon bass were the violent strikes, in more heavily fished local ponds a lot of times bass will just suck the frog under, not here.
The late evening bite was good again with another dozen bass or so landed and seven fish over 16". In all I would guess I caught somewhere around 35 bass in 11 hours of time on the water over one and a half days. 21 of those bass were over 16" and logged for the DuPageAngler.com team on the Kayak Wars website.
A couple things I noticed were that the bass seemed to relate to patches of American pondweed more than the clumps of floating moss.
|Finding the weeds with leaves was key|
Emiquon is a cool place, it is amazing how what was mostly farmland only 10 years ago transformed into a phenomenal fishery so quickly. The Experience Emiquon website has a lot of great information on this preserve if you are wanting to learn more. Keep in mind there are some unique rules to the lake if you plan on fishing it. These include restricted access to only the west half of the lake, no gas motors(not even on your boat), no shore fishing, and no live bait other than worms. Also, you must pickup a free lake access permit at the museum before you can fish the lake.
One final thing I should mention is there has been some controversy surrounding the preserve in recent years after The Nature Conservancy revealed their plans for a "water management" structure to be constructed to allow Emiquon to become part of the natural floodplain of the Illinois River. While I understand the desire to give more floodplains back to the river by modifying levees, I fear what this may mean for the bass and other fish species that currently live in Emiquon. The Illinois River is very different from what it was 100 years ago, most notably with the presence of Asian carp, which now account for an estimated two-thirds of the biomass in the river. By connecting Emiquon to the Illinois River, Asian carp will have the opportunity to enter Emiquon, which they surely will do. Experience has shown us that once Asian carp become established in a new area, they can quickly overwhelm that waterway, endangering native fish and plant species.
An online petition has been started to try and prevent this project, it can be found here.
Fish caught: Largemouth Bass - ~35
Bowfin - 1
Successful Baits: Booyah Poppin' Pad Crasher(shad frog, swamp frog), Booyah Pad Crasher(bullfrog), 5/16 oz Crabby Bass Swim Jig(white/blue) with Big Hammer trailer.
Weather: Mostly Sunny, calm winds in the morning shifting to ESE 10mph, upper 70's.
Water Temps: unknown