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Excitement of opening day isn’t just for baseball



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Updated: March 19, 2013 10:56PM

MARSEILLES, Ill. — Anthony and Roxie Tate were swinging bluegill up into the rocks Friday afternoon when I finally reached the east bank of LaSalle Lake. On my first cast, I pulled a 71/2-inch bluegill out.

That was my goal: Catch big bluegill on opening day at the cooling lake south of Seneca.

But it’s so easy to be distracted at LaSalle. There’s many options.

So many shore fishermen had big hybrid striped bass — 4- to 5-pounders — on stringers along the south bank that I spent more than an hour trying to catch one with a lure. Let me say, chicken liver is more effective than lures.

Just a reminder, the daily limit on striped bass, hybrid striped bass and/or white bass at LaSalle is 10, only three of which may be 17 inches or longer.

The Tates, faithful readers from Chicago, had a bunch of channel catfish and one big hybrid when I first met them. He said, “The paper said there were big bluegills.’’

I told him on the east bank and I was headed there, eventually. They packed up and walked out ahead of me.

An east wind in the afternoon thinned the ranks. When I finally made the east bank, it was everything fisheries biologist Ken Clodfelter had suggested for bluegills on the east bank and south side of the center dike.

I caught only one smaller than 7 inches and two topped 8 inches: thick, shouldered bluegill. I used an ice jig tipped with a red worm or wax worm, switching when action slowed.

Anthony, whom I’ve bumped into on several opening days, said, “You wondered why more people don’t do the bluegills? For some of us, it is the walk.’’

He has a point. They were fishing wax worms on a plain hook under a float. The counterpoint came a few minutes later.

“I can’t do no more, they are jumping out of the bucket,’’ he said.

They headed in.

I wanted one more good one and switched to a black Mepps spinner (a good multi-species bait at LaSalle). It paid off with an 8-inch male in spawning colors.

It was time.

From my spot on the east bank to my car was a 48-minute trek with gear and a bag of keeper bluegill.

The new concessionaire, after all these years, is expected shortly. In March, LaSalle is open 6 a.m. to sunset, Wednesday through Sunday.

Fishing events

Henry’s ninth annual Coho Derby ( is 6:30-10 a.m. Saturday along the Adler Planetarium north seawall.

◆ The 27th annual Masters Walleye Circuit tournament ( is Saturday and Sunday on the Illinois River from Starved Rock to the Henry bridge. Weigh-ins begin daily around 3 p.m. at Barto Landing in Spring Valley. Park at Hall High School, then take the shuttle.


Capt. Ralph Steiger talks to the Fish Tales Fishing Club ( at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Bremen Township Building in Oak Forest.

In memory

Visitation for Capt. Bob White, an early charter captain on the Chicago lakefront, will be from 4-8 p.m. Friday at the Dunn Funeral Home in Oswego.

Wild things

Canada geese are taking their time nesting compared to last year.

Stray cast

The NCAA basketball tournament is like smelt netting: more social gathering than sporting event.

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