Cool Water Fishing

Cool Water Fishing
We may have the urge to go hunting but don’t put the fishing rod away yet. Don Dziedzina shows off a late season bass caught in November.

Were we are in November and everyone’s thinking of walking in the fields hunting upland game, getting ready with the ole shotgun for the first firearm deer season or getting into the duck blind or goose pit for a few birds.

How can anyone say that this is not an interesting and exciting time of year? It’s a fun time to be outdoors for sure.

With winter right around the corner, we’re already experiencing the cold nights and relatively cool days. Even though our T-shirts and shorts have been packed away for the year, we can still have some days in November where a light jacket is not needed when outdoors. All in all, it is pretty safe to say that it’s cool out but not so cold that the water will start to freeze.

This basically means that even though you have a strong itch to scratch, and that is to go hunting, don’t give up on the fishing just yet.

I love fishing at this time of year. On the big drink we have perch moving into the reciprocal area off 95th Street. Heading across the boarder into Indiana, November hosts the beginning of some big lake trout fishing right off the reef by the Port of Indiana.

In the Cook County Forest Preserve Lakes, much like a lot of the smaller ponds in the Chicago metro area we can find all sorts of fish biting. Bring a bucket of minnows to the banks and you’ll find northern pike, walleyes, bass and crappies.

Speaking of crappies, I have to share with you that this is my favorite time of year to fish for them. If anyone ever asks me when is the best time to go after some slabs, I have to say that it would be in November and December. Getting out on the water before anything starts to freeze up is prime time for crappies.

I’ve done a couple TV shows on crappie fishing in the Chicagoland area at this time of year. When the air has a nice nip to it and all of the big pleasure boaters are gone, that’s my call to get on the water for crappies.

Two of my favorite crappie holes are the Illinois River and Lake Calumet just off the Calumet River. How do you find the fish? We’ll that’s easy. Just look for vertical structure with calm water. That vertical structure can be a wood or steel barge pilings, a bridge abutment, or a concrete wall. As long as it’s vertical and there isn’t a big current blowing through or by it, you will find crappies.

I’ve fished many of my crappie “hotspots” throughout the year and sometimes I will catch them. But for some reason, during November and December the fish are considerably larger and in greater numbers.

Bass fishing is good too believe it or not. I’ve tried a lot of different baits but seem to always going back to using crankbaits. Any crank that is a minnow imitation will work.

A lot of the weeds will start to turn brown now but, if you can locate the greenest weeds in the area, chances are that you’ll find a bass.

I normally don’t fish with live bait for bass, but this is a good time to use a big minnow. I’d fish them a couple of different ways. If I don’t plan on moving around a lot and have shallower water, I’ll use a slip bobber and place the bait around the weed edges.

For deeper water, I’ll use a wide gapped, short shanked hook. I’ll hook the fish from under the chin and up through the nose. A split shot will be placed about eighteen inches above the hook and dropped into the deeper water. While drifting along a drop off or deep weeds, the minnow will look natural and be easy prey for a hungry bass.

And don’t be surprised if a big ole catfish takes a minnow or two away from you. A lot of people think of catfish be easy pickings only during the dog days of summer. Believe me when I tell you that I’ve seen guys catch many many cats through the ice at Shabbona Lake. Why? They’re fish, just like crappies, bass and muskies. They may slow down a bit, but they still eat.

Now talking about muskies, November is definitely time for that fish of ten thousand casts. Whether you’re fishing the Fox Chain of Lakes or heading further south to places like Spring Lake near Peoria or even further south like Lake Kincaid, the month of November means musky action here in Illinois.

Panfish, game fish, and monster fish; they’re all waiting to bite on the end of your line. Don’t for a minute take any time away from your hunting, but when you have one of those nice warm and calm days, head for the water. The fishing is still good and you shouldn’t let it pass you by. Up north, it’s nothing more than early winter. Down in southern Illinois it’s simply late fall

I say it all the time, great fishing is not that far away. Although we’re excited about the 2013 hunting season, let’s not put the fishing rods away just yet.

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