Big walleye earns Fish of Year
BY DALE BOWMAN For Sun-Times Media December 24, 2013 4:42PM
Bob Anderson holds the Fish of the Year, a 31.5-inch walleye caught from the slip north of 87th Street. | Ray Hinton/For Sun-Times Media
BUCK OF THE WEEK
Cormac McGrath made his first buck a worthy one. The 12-year-old from Palatine shot a wide 10-point on the evening of opening day of Wisconsin’s rifle season.
‘‘It was cold and windy,’’ his dad, Jim, emailed. ‘‘Cormac took his buck at about 130 yards. I’m very proud!’’
Send Buck of the Week nominations by Facebook (Dale Bowman), Twitter (@BowmanOutside) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
MIDWEST FISHING REPORT
LAKEFRONT PERCH: The hottest spot has been 87th Street. But ice is solidifying around Chicago harbors again, which opens more spots to perch fishing. NOTE: With ice reforming or solidifying, use care when releasing undersized perch back into busted holes at places such as 87th or Navy Pier. It is bad form to have ice littered with tiny perch. PIER PASSES: Available at Henry’s.
AREA LAKES: Cold is resolidifying shorelines that gave way in the rain. It should be a good week for ice fishing. For public-site regs, go to the expanded fishing report at Stray Casts (voices.suntimes.com/category/sports/stray-casts).
CHAIN O’LAKES/FOX RIVER BACKWATERS: Triangle: Bluegills caught in weed pockets; top spots include south side of Channel or the T-Channel. Crappie being taken in back channels. Walleye being caught on tip-ups on flats or current areas (use extreme caution). For Chain access, go to the expanded fishing report at Stray Casts (voices.suntimes.com/ category/sports/stray-casts).
DELAVAN/GENEVA LAKES, WISCONSIN: Brian Gates, Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle: Conditions are tough with snow on top of slush or water. On Geneva, ice fishing off the launch and open water farther out. On Delavan, bluegills and crappie on west end by the island and walleye by west end of Lake Lawn (limited parking).Some bass and pike on tip-ups on Como and Pell.
LAKEFRONT: For perch, see top. Capt. Augie Ralph, Salmon Stop: Ice fishing at North Point. Some perch and panfish jigging. Pike on tip-ups.
MADISON LAKES, WIS.: D&S Bait: Good panfish on upper Mud, OK panfish on Monona Bay and Waubesa. Mendota is frozen but not safe overall.
NORTHERN WISCONSIN: MINOCQUA: Kurt Justice, Kurt’s Island Sport Shop: Pike (tip-ups over weeds in 8 to 12 feet) and perch (25 to 30 feet) are good to very good. Other bites vary greatly with weather. He expects weather and new moon (Jan. 1) to spike action. EAGLE RIVER: Chamber of Commerce: Walleye, pike and panfish are good to excellent. Ice at 6 to 10 inches and building.
NORTHWEST INDIANA: Mik-Lurch: Willow Slough should be back for ice fishing by the weekend. Spawn sacs or black jigs with b-moths floated on streams, especially Salt, are producing steelhead.
SHABBONA LAKE: Ken ‘‘Husker’’ O’Malley: Crappie and bluegills on brush piles in 14 feet; try tungsten jig tipped with colored spikes.
WOLF LAKE: Mik-Lurch: Some pike coming from both states. Ice building.
Updated: January 26, 2014 6:35AM
Nothing was usual about Bob Anderson’s perch-fishing trip Monday.
When South Side fisherman Ray Hinton called and said he had my Christmas story all wrapped for me, he wasn’t kidding.
While we’re at it, make that the end of the debate on Fish of the Year. Anderson caught the FOTY, a 31.5-inch walleye, from the slip north of 87th Street.
‘‘I felt like there were paparazzi around me when I was holding it up, like a celebrity,’’ Anderson said late Monday.
There are several reasons Anderson earns FOTY honors. First, a 31.5-inch walleye is notable in Chicago fishing. Second, where it was caught — on the private-property side of the slip north of 87th — is the hottest addition to Chicago fishing. Third, the sheer excitement brought by the occasional walleye catches off Chicago in recent years shows how much walleye reintroduction or revival could mean to fishing in the city.
Anderson, a 31-year-old construction manager at the University of Chicago from Mokena, and brother-in-law Dan Kolodziej had the day off and decided to go perch fishing. They stopped by Anglers Outlet in Markham to stock up on fatheads.
‘‘Usually, we perch-fish at Navy Pier, but we heard about 87th,’’ Anderson said.
Once there, they walked to the west end of the slip. That is private property, owned by a developer. The tip of the slip by Calumet Harbor is public, part of Park No. 523, which perch fishermen have been using extensively for the last couple of months.
I hope the developer sees what a draw fishing in the slip is and includes fishing as part of the ambiance in the development during the next couple of decades.
Back to the fishing.
Anderson did the typical setup for perch fishing — fatheads on a crappie rig — and primarily was catching dink perch, though he and Kolodziej ended up with about 10 good keepers.
‘‘All of a sudden, I had a big thump,’’ Anderson said. ‘‘I thought my fishing pole was broken. I was thinking it was a carp or a big cat. Then it rolled, and I said, ‘What the hell is that?’ ’’
It was a big walleye.
‘‘It was crazy,’’ Anderson said. ‘‘I could have sworn I was snagged.’’
The problem was getting that big a fish up the wall on 6-pound line. A seasoned fisherman — if anybody knows his name, I would love to give him credit — had an extension net in his vehicle. The net was retrieved and the fish netted.
Anderson is acquainted with walleye fishing. He and his dad get around to places such as Lake Shelbyville and Lake Winnebago to do some walleye fishing.
Even so, he said, ‘‘I have never encountered a walleye like that.’’
The fish is going up on his wall, a wall-hanger of a FOTY.
And you can feel the buzz that walleye bring to fishing on the Chicago lakefront.
Dan McNeil coming back to sports-talk radio is like fishing early ice.