Archive for August 2016

FISHING FOR WHITE BASS IN THE FALL   Leave a comment

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Fall fishing for white bass is just the opposite of the spring pattern. In spring they move to staging areas and then into the spawning areas of lakes and rivers.

As the water temperatures begin to fall below the mid-fifties the white bass seek deeper water at the end of summer. Generally they suspend over structure or on the bottom of creek channels.  This is when vertical jigging comes into play.

White bass are a cousin of the saltwater striped bass and as such have much of a savage instinct found in their brethren. They hit light tackle and give the angler more than he can handle.

The average size fish taken by anglers tends to run about 3/4 of a pound. Some will go over 2-pounds.

Catching white bass is easy. Finding them is the tough part.  Good electronics and the ability to use them are vital.

White bass are active fish that feed constantly. Whites prefer to spend their time in water deeper than 10-feet.  But they often move into shallows to feed.  Their favorite meal is shad.  If the angler can find large schools of shad chances are white bass are near.

On warm days they tend to feed on the surface. Concentrations of seagulls pinpoint the location for the fisherman.  At close range he can find them by spotting the splashing water caused by the feeding fish breaking the surface as they chase the shad.  At times the fish will stay up for 10 to 15 minutes.  More often they feed for only a minute or two and then dive back down to the safety of deep water.  Usually they surface again a short distance away.

Later still the whites become more difficult to find. The easiest way to find them is to go where all the other boats are and join in the action.  If you do not have someone else to follow it is possible to find white bass by trolling small deep-diving crankbaits.  Begin in the mouth of the feeder creeks and work back up river until you find the fish.  Once you find the white bass dig out the jig and minnow combinations.

Light tackle is a must for white bass. Small jigs are good with line in the 4 to 8-pound test range.  Small tube jigs tipped with plastic grubs do a good job.  The grubs should be ones with contrasting dark and light colors.

Perhaps the best rig at this time of year is the tandem rig used often by crappie anglers. Tie the main line to a three-way swivel.  Next tie leaders of different lengths to the other parts of the swivel.  Some good lengths are 12 and 24 inches.  To each of these leaders tie a jig with a small minnow attached.  With this rig one can fish on the bottom and also just off the bottom at the same time.  It also allows one to set the hook when a fish hits one jig and then wait for another white to hit the second jig.  The astute angler will notice the size of the bait fish and match his lure to that size.

Angling success tends to be dependent on year hatches. A year with incredible numbers can help carry the population over lean years.  The best fishing in a particular body of water is likely to be about two years after a large year hatch.

 

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FALL FISHING LOCATIONS IN SOUTHERN ILLINOIS   Leave a comment

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Lake Glendale in Pope County tops the list for nice peaceful fall fishing locations in southeast Illinois. Pope County is one of the prettiest counties in the state during the fall color changes.  The lake is located in the Shawnee National Forest and is part of the Lake Glendale Recreation Area.  It is located three miles north of the junction of Illinois Routes 145 and 146 and about 25 miles south of Harrisburg via route 145.

The heavily forested area near the lake provides excellent campsites for the fall hunter/fisherman. Because the lake waters come from a heavily forested watershed, it is clean and clear.  This makes it popular with swimmers, boaters and picnickers.  Swimming is limited to the beach area only.

The lake itself is 80-acres with clean clear water and an abundance of vegetation that is home to some nice bluegills and channel catfish. The largemouth bass are present but only about 12 to 14-inches in length and below the 16-inch legal size limit for keepers.  Regular stocking the lake has resulted in a steadily improving fishery.

There is a boat ramp at the northeast side of the lake and a 10 horsepower limit on motors. Anglers can access the lake from a variety of locations along the shore.  Boat rentals are available.

For those wanting to fish additional waters, Sugar Creek Lake is located just west of Lake Glendale near Dixon Springs. The crappies, catfish and bass are good in Sugar Creek Lake.  Shore fishing is good and boating is allowed with electric motors.

Outdoorsmen fishing and camping at these two lakes can easily take advantage of the ample hunting lands of the Shawnee National Forest.  Deer, squirrel, quail and turkey are found there.

For the hunter/anglers who wants a quiet place to camp and participate in hunting or fishing activities these two locations are ideal. They are perfect for a day or several days cast and blast vacation.  For more information contact the Lake Glendale Recreation area at 618-949-3807 or the U.S. Forest Service at 618-658-2111.

LABOR DAY FISHING WITH THE FAMILY   Leave a comment

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The last holiday weekend of summer presents an opportunity to reinforce the fun of fishing in the minds of youngsters. School begins soon and they need fond memories of the summer past.

For children to enjoy fishing, it is important to know the child. Pre-school children are more interested in chasing minnows and casting rocks than they are in spending a day “chunkin’ and winding” a bass rod.  It is important adults recognize the short attention span of young children.  To them fishing is something that you do for a little while until bored.

Adults need to watch for signs of boredom and then switch the activity either temporarily or for the day. It is important youngsters catch fish in order to maintain interest in the activity.  Just sitting and watching a bobber float on the water will get old in a hurry.  That is why bluegill and sunfish are such a great fish for kids.  They are also easy to find in the late summer and early fall.  Youngsters can actually see the fish swimming in the water.  Small sunfish are voracious eaters and will take a piece of night crawler presented by young anglers.  The tug on the line is exciting to the novice angler even if it is not from a giant bass.

Regardless of how many fish the youngster catches it is important to be able to recognize the opportunity of teaching “catch and release.”

Picnic lunches and snacks are good alternatives to fishing for the bored child. Remember that children get hungry more quickly than an adult.  Talk along a cooler with snacks and plenty of liquids.  Be sure that everyone stays hydrated.  Nothing can ruin a future fisherman’s love of the sport than a trip to the hospital for an IV to combat dehydration.

A bat and ball or football to throw around can be a break from the rigors of fishing.

It is important to have and use sun blocker. Fond memories of a trip will be ruined by sunburn.  It is also a good idea to have any child near water wear a personal floatation device.  You cannot watch them every second.  Kids have a way of finding a way of falling into the water when you are not looking.

The ultimate idea is to make fishing a fun time and then youngsters regard it as an experience they will wait with anticipation all winter to repeat.

ILLINOIS PUBLIC DOVES AND DOVE HUNTING   Leave a comment

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To some a dove is a diabolical way to humble the wingshooter. All that is required are the 3 P’s: Patience, Persistence and Plenty of ammo.  Here is everything else you need to know to plan a good dove hunt on Illinois public land.

Doves are one of the most widely distributed and abundant bird species in North America.  Yearly harvests fluctuate due to liberal bag limits, habitat conditions and the vagaries of the fall migration.

Illinois is over 350 miles long from the Wisconsin border to the Ohio River.  As a result the weather conditions can be significantly different from one public hunting area to another.  Doves are very susceptible to weather, especially temperatures.  Extended low temperatures will cause the birds to move south their wintering grounds.

The best shooting is during the first few weeks of the season. The first cold front usually sends the birds on their way followed by migrating birds from up north.  Shooting often continues through the end of the second season.

Illinois has two dove seasons.  The exact dates and length of each vary from year to year.  However, they usually begin in early September and early November and extend for a few weeks.

Hunters in certain areas are required to get a free dove hunting permit for the first 5 days of the season.

Often holders of the permits will not appear on the days designated and a drawing is held before the hunt for unclaimed locations. Information about these drawings and license requirements is available the site superintendent at the location of the hunt.  The phone numbers and addresses of all the public sites are contained in the Illinois Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations available free from IDNR offices and license vendor sites.

With backswept wings and long pointed tails, these little gray rockets have a cruising speed of 30 to 40 mph. They can reach 60 mph hour in short bursts.  Their ability to bob and weave at the same time makes them a challenging target.

A little pre-season practice on the skeet, trap or sporting clays course will go a long way toward improving ones shooting skills. An inexpensive mechanical trap or hand held thrower and an open field can help.  Try tossing clay birds to present targets coming toward the gun, crossing and doing things that the little gray rockets are likely to do.

Steve Schultz, a national shooting instructor, maintains that good dove hunters work on their shooting style. Things such as looking only at the head of the bird when aiming and employing the correct mounting of a shotgun are important.

One “trick of the trade” employed by Schultz is to back away from a mirror with an empty shotgun so as to make sure you will not hit the mirror with the gun. With weight evenly on both feet, slowly bring the gun up to your cheek and then into your shoulder.  Check the mirror to see where your eye appears.  If done correctly, you will be looking right down the barrel.  Your eye should appear to be floating just above it.

Dove hunters are encouraged to use steel or other non-toxic shot in order to spare doves and other wildlife from potential lead poisoning. Number 6 or 7 steel shot works well with shotgun chokes one size more open than used for lead.  Improved cylinder is a good idea.  If using lead shot, number 9 shot is the most popular.  Seven and one half or 8 can also be effective.

Usually individual shooting locations are determined by a drawing for stake locations. The hunter is required to remain within a short distance of his stake for safety.  On days when the hunting pressure is less or when no stake requirement is in force, a hunter is wise to choose a location that places him within 40 yards of the dove flight path.  Wind direction and structure on the ground influences flight paths.

It is wise to choose a location where you will not be shooting into the sun. Nothing spoils a shot like swinging into the sun just before you pull the trigger.

Once you select a location find concealment. Locations on the edge of grain fields or beneath a large tree with bare limbs are ideal.  Doves like to land in such trees to survey the field.  Once convinced there is no danger they drop down into the field to feed, or quench their thirst.

Make your location as comfortable as possible. Fidgeting only attracts attention.  Early September in much of Illinois is hot weather time requiring plenty of water and sunscreen lotion.

DO NOT FORGET FALL TURKEY SEASON   Leave a comment

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In fall high turkey numbers provide the opportunity and hunters need only provide the preparation. Success is when opportunity meets preparation.

The changing seasons mean an anticipation of fall turkey hunting success throughout the entire country. Midwest turkey hunters have hunted spring turkeys with great success and look forward to fall birds.

Many of the tactics used during the spring season also work in fall. The birds are just as wary and frustrating.  Hunters are quick to discover all hunting can be just as heart pounding.

There are a few more wrinkles to fall hunting. Turkey hunters should shoot their shotguns to make sure they are delivering the kind of pattern needed.  It is not unusual for identical guns and ammunition combinations to throw different patterns.

One of the turkey patterning kits made by Birchwood Casey simplifies the job. It contains turkey head targets at which the hunter shoots.  Once the turkey head is the center of the pattern, the hunter knows where his point of impact is in regard to the sight or scope of the gun.

Once the point of impact is determined, hunters can shoot shells with different pellet sizes, or from different manufacturers, to find the best load combination. Many companies make special turkey loads that have the right pellet weight combined with velocity needed to penetrate the vitals of a turkey.  These loads deliver a pattern density that is superior and places more pellets in the vital zone of the turkey target.

If shooting with a bead sight, the hunter might want to make the sight more visible. Birchwood has touch‑up pins in white or fluorescent red.  Once painted the sight is brighter and more visible in low light conditions.

The calls, box, slate, glass and diaphragms, will work well in the fall, as they did last spring. Turkeys still yelp, cluck, purr and gobble.  The one addition is the young turkey’s “kee‑kee”.  This is the sound made by young‑of‑the‑year birds that are lost and looking to regroup.  You can produce this high pitched call with a diaphragm call or one of the aluminum calls.

Fall hunters begin by looking for birds where they found them last spring. The most difficult part of hunting turkeys in the fall is finding them.  Food sources such as acorns, corn or soybeans are a lure of fall birds.  During dry periods, water is a major attractant.  The fall birds tend to roost in the same areas they use in the spring.

Drive back roads, check harvested fields and talk with local landowners. The best times to locate turkeys are in the early morning and early evening.

Hunters who traditionally use a decoy in the spring leave it home in the fall. The turkeys usually ignore them except during the spring mating season.

Once a flock of birds, usually a family group of hen and young‑ of‑the year, are found they are “rushed”. The flock scatters as each bird takes an “everyone for himself” approach.  Once the action has quieted down, the birds begin to call to one another in an attempt to reassemble.  These flocks are large and can contain as many as 40 birds.

There are two other types of flocks in the fall. Males group in the summer and stay together until the following spring.  More rarely found are groups of barren hens.  The male groups can range in size from 3 to 15 birds and the hen groups are small and more difficult to find.

Once adult hens begin with their assembly yelps, the hunter takes up a position and allows the woods to calm down. He then begins calling by using yelps and kee‑kees to let the scattered and confused birds know where to find him.  As they begin to re‑assemble, the hunter can pick his quarry and concentrate on getting it into the range of his shotgun.

The fall season is usually an either‑sex hunt but one should still be sure of target identification. A safe and responsible hunter is sure of his target before aiming a gun at it.  Adherence to safe gun handing skills is an utmost priority.

While hunting fall birds is different, it is usually more successful from the hunter’s point of view. With advance preparation fall turkey hunting is an excellent way to get a bird for the Thanksgiving table.

 

 

PRESERVES PROVIDE EARLY WARM UP FOR THE SEASON   Leave a comment

Quail0008Hunters waiting for the waterfowl migration, upland hunters and those wanting to teach a person new to the sport of shooting, all find the hunting preserve a great hunting option.

Most hunting preserves cater to groups and individuals who want a quality hunting experience but do not have access to land or maybe have a physical disability. The hunting season begins early on preserves offering the hunter extended time in the field.  The game and dogs can make or break a preserve hunt.

Some hunters may be waterfowlers. They may want to continue a hunt after a morning of hunting or, when ducks and geese are not flying.

Most hunters are people with hunting experience. Clubs usually have a clay target trap set up for shooting practice before taking to the field.  It also gives the guide a chance to evaluate the skill level of the hunter and their safe handling of firearms.

Some hunters want to bring their own dogs. Clubs often encouraged hunters wanting to get some field experience for their canines.  If the client wants to try hunting over other dogs or does not have his own, then the preserve usually has numerous dogs available.

Pointers, retrievers, setters and Brittany’s are popular dogs for the upland field hunting usually found in the preserve situation. Labrador Retrievers are popular in a pheasant hunting situation in that they are good under voice control.

A lot of dogs will point a pheasant and when it takes off they will chase the bird. They just do not know how to handle such a big bird.  It is preferred that the dog pull out and go to the end of the field, then come back to cut off the bird.  Finding such a dog can be difficult.  A good pheasant dog should cover the field quickly and be able to stay put when the bird flushes.  Some dogs point a quail but will not be bothered with a pheasant.

A good dog ranges 50 to 100 yards out from the hunters. On a preserve you do not need a field trial dog.  Field Trial dogs range further out from the hunter or handler.  Dog handlers train them to do just that.  On a preserve the closer ranging dog is better for the physically challenged person who rides a 4-wheeler or hunters who ride a horse while hunting.  The horse hunting is a carry over from the old southern plantation style of quail hunting.

The dog points the bird and the hunter dismounts, loads his gun and walks to the location before flushing the bird. Another variation is that the hunters ride in a horse drawn wagon until the dog finds the bird.  Then the hunter gets down from the wagon, loads up and walks in to meet the dog and handler.  The approach causes the bird to flush.

It is generally impossible to break a dog of hunting any further than he desires. You can break a dog from hunting too wide or make him come back.  It takes a lot of training work, patience and is better to leave that to the experts.  The hunting preserve then provides an opportunity to keep the dog in practice.

Sporting clays practice before coming to a preserve to hunt is a good idea. It offers the hunter a chance to practice shooting clay targets under simulated hunting conditions.  It also helps the hunter to become more comfortable and familiar with the particular gun he is planning to use in the field.

Most hunters of upland game use 20 or 12 gauge shotguns. Some shooters like the 28 gauge on preserves.  For pheasants, the recommendation is a number 6 shot size.  For Quail and Chukar usually hunters prefer a 7 ½ or number 8 shot.

For the physically challenged hunter some preserves offer 4-wheelers or truck transportation to get into position. They are the only hunters allowed to hunt from a vehicle in this Illinois.

In other states it might be best to have the less physically fit person be a blocker at the end of the field to flush running birds into the air.

Many physically challenged hunters have a vehicle of their own. Regardless, preserves often have certain fields set aside for such hunters.  They can drive them on roadways and move through the field on vehicles with no problems.

Physically challenged hunters can be either a driver or a blocker depending upon their desires. The hunter just follows the handler and the dogs lead.

 

Many clubs also have at least one father/son or mother/daughter hunt each year. These are a great bonding experience.

A preserve hunt might make a great birthday or holiday present.

 

DEER HUNTERS ASK YOURSELF THESE QUETIONS   Leave a comment

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When evaluating land for deer hunting, here are some questions you might ask yourself.

Does it present habitat that attracts and holds deer? Are there ample food, shelter and water sources present?

If deer are present, where do they travel and why? In the morning deer travel toward bedding areas and toward feeding areas in the evening.

If water is present close to the bedding areas they will not move from them during the day. If not they will get up occasionally and move to creeks, puddles, ponds and rivers for a drink.  Learn what they are doing.

Regardless of the time of day, deer leave well-worn trails in the areas they frequent. Study those tracks and learn their patterns of behavior.

If you know why deer do what they do, it improves chances of being able to be in a position for that important shot opportunity.

 

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