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Catch us on the following networks:  Comcast Sports Net Chicago / UPN14 Madison

 

1. East Fork Lake

 

While we have fished East Fork many times, it’s hard to pass up this great Illinois lake. This time, we were pushing the calendar a little. Temperatures in the 20s, a little snow, and a lot of wind couldn’t stop us from catching a few bass. Whenever you take a chance on an early season fishing trip, you run the risk of getting there on the wrong day. A few days earlier or later could make all the difference.

 

 

 

2. Lake Jacksonville

 

This is my favorite show for many reasons.  First, and most importantly, I was joined by my favorite fishing partner in the world, my nephew, Dan. I was with him when he made his first cast, caught his first fish, and won his first junior tournament. I’ve always wanted to film with him, and, we finally got the chance on the best lake in the state. Again, it was cold, windy, and a much better day for sleeping in, but both of us caught quite a few bass. This was a trip that I will never forget.

 

 

3. Big Green Lake

 

We previously filmed one time on Big Green and got blown off the lake.  It was just as windy this time, but a lot warmer. We fished with my friend, Tom, and got a lifetime of info on the lake in just one day. But as luck would have it, we ended up catching most of our fish in a spot that he had never fished.  Adjusting to the weather conditions forces you to try new things.  Both Tom and I learned a few new tricks this day.  I’ll be back to Big Green soon.

 

 

4. IHSA Busse Lake

 

This show was filmed last year as one of the first Illinois High School Bass Fishing Regional Tournaments. There were kids of all skill levels fishing near a busy metropolitan area and catching fish. The excitement level was unbelievable. While some of the kids were making their first casts this day, there were others that we will see on the tournament trails someday.  I can’t wait to do it again this year.

 

 

 

5. Yahara River 1

 

This show started out to be a completely different show. The morning began on Lake Wisconsin in the midst of a late season cold front.  I managed to catch a few small bass on Wisconsin, but it was easy to see that we weren’t going to get a full show.  I tried to think of another body of water in the area that was wind protected and that might give us a chance to catch a few fish.  After a 30 minute drive, I launched my boat on the Madison Chain and made a short idle into the Yahara River. We started catching them immediately.  It was so successful, we stayed a second day.

 

 

6. Yahara River 2

 

Continuing with what we found the day before on the Yahara, we had a great time. Fishing mostly soft, plastic jerkbaits, we caught several species of fish.  This is not a place to catch a giant bass, but a big pike or walleye are not out of the question. As many times as I’ve fished this body of water, I’m still amazed that you can be this close to a major city and be all alone.

 

 

 

7. Southern Wisconsin Cold Front

 

This show was filmed with my friend, John, on a small southern Wisconsin Lake. We fished the shallows all day using different baits. John used a buzzbait most of the time made by Lavalle Trophy Tackle. Two of the fish he caught were pushing five pounds. The bites weren’t fast and furious, but, at the end of the day we were very successful.

 

 

 

8. Lake Michigan Salmon

 

Every once and a while it’s nice to sit in the back of the boat and see how the other guys do it. Every spring, Shimano sponsors a Lake Michigan salmon trip to check out the latest trolling gear.  It’s always interesting to me to see the skill of anglers that concentrate on a totally different way to fish. I’ve been lucky for the last two years to go out with Best Chance Charters. These guys are as dialed in as it gets on the big lake. When you watch them work, it looks easy, but its taken years to learn what they have learned. I can’t wait until next year’s trip.

 

 

9. Browns Lake

 

From the beginning, we tried to highlight great fishing spots in the Midwest.  Here’s another one for the list. Browns Lake looks just like all of the other lakes in the area, but it is not. Browns Lake has a lot of big fish for someone willing to put in the time. Because of its relatively small size, you can get a pretty good idea of the structure on your first day. When planning your 2010 fishing trip locations, save a day for Browns.

 

 

 

10. Lake Sangchris

 

I fished Sangchris two days in my life and both times came away with a show. That’s a great record with almost no time spent there. Each time, I was lucky enough to put together patterns that worked and the fish were in very specific areas. There are probably thousands of places that hold fish on Sangchris, and, I only found a handful of them. I need to get back there soon.

 

 

 

11. Center Lake

 

Center is another sleeper lake located in southern Wisconsin. This trip was at the end of the spawning season. The bass were cruising in the shallows.  It took a little while to figure them out, but I did. This show was fun for many reasons. I will never forget one bass. We stared each other down for a bit, but I was able to trick her into biting. If you like fishing gin clear water with finesse baits, you’ll like this one.

 

 

 

12. Mississippi River Pool 13

 

We have filmed Pool 13 a few times before and had good success. This trip was a tough one. We were there in early fall and the bite was not fast and furious. We ended up catching almost all of our fish in Millers Lake. This show isn’t filled with giants, but we did put a plan together that got us a limit of fish. Some days a limit is a victory.

 

 

 

13. Southern Wisconsin Finesse

 

There are days when the fishing technique is the story. Anyone that has watched this show knows that my favorite way to fish is using small finesse baits in gin clear water. I love being able to see the fish I’m trying to catch. In this show, my skipping technique was working and we caught a bunch of nice fish from a small lake.

 

 

 

14. Golden Lake

 

Another small lake located in Southern Wisconsin is Golden Lake. At first glance, Golden doesn’t look much different than other lakes in the area. We were there on perfect late summer day, overcast, just a little rain, and a tiny bit of wind. I was able to catch some really nice fish on a lipless crankbait. Usually I use these baits in the spring, but it was the perfect bait for this late summer show.

 

 

 

15. Lake Coffene

 

Our first trip of the year was to Coffene. We never filmed Coffene before. In fact, I never seen the lake until that day. Coffene is another of the central Illinois power plant lakes that has a 25hp motor restriction. If you want some great early season bass action, Coffene is for you. We started fishing right near the boat launch and in the next five or so hours caught a bunch of nice fish. I’ve now had one day on Coffene but I promise that it won’t be the last.

 

 

16. Lake Michigan Smallies

 

We are now in our fifth season. Some have been hard and others have been easy. This season, filming was a lot of fun. I’m not sure if I could pick a favorite show, but if I had to, this one would be one of the finalists. We fished with a friend which always makes it fun. Capt. Ralph Steiger spent the day showing us how and where he likes to catch big, early season smallies on Lake Michigan. I’ve been able to fish for smallies all over the Great Lakes and this trip was right at the top for quality of fish.  I can’t wait to go again next year.

 

 

17. Lake Sangchris

 

Not far from Coffene, where we filmed our first show of the year, is Sangchris Lake. Sangchris, like Coffene, is another 25hp restricted central Illinois power plant lake. Like Coffene, the first time I saw Sangchris was the morning we filmed this show. I expected the two lakes to look the same, but they did not.  Coffene looks a lot like Newton, mud banks, scattered wood, and an occasional weed bed. Sangchris has a lot of shoreline structure. It’s hard to even reach the bank because of the brush in the water. There is also more vegetation.  Lily pad stems played a part in this show. Like Coffene, I’ll be back to Sangchris.

 

18. Lake Maxincukee Largemouths

 

I was introduced to Maxinkuckee quite a few years ago by my friend, Mick. We went for an early season attempt at some smallmouth and largemouth action. Maxinkuckee is located in Culver, Indiana, and, for the Chicago area guys, if you took Lake Geneva and put it in Indiana, you would have Maxinkuckee. Our trip was early season and pre-spawn. Our previous trip consisted of throwing jerk baits over deep water in the main lake. The water temperatures were only in the 50s and I hit a few boat channels to find active largemouths. About half way through the day, I discovered a pretty interesting pattern. You never know how you’re going to catch them.

 

19. Lake Delavan

 

Our first four shows were on lakes that we had never filmed. We were going to try five for five and do a show on Lake Como, in southern Wisconsin. However, weather and water temps weren’t cooperating, so we put the boat on the trailer and made the short trip to Lake Delavan.  Delavan is a fish factory and this trip wasn’t any different. We caught a bunch of easy fish close to the launch. Sometimes, it just should be easy!

 

 

 

20. Crystal Lake

 

Getting back to our new lake theme, we headed to Crystal Lake in south central Wisconsin. I had heard about Crystal from a friend, but when we got there, Crystal was not at all what I expected. Crystal is a lake that just doesn’t fit the area it’s located in. Most southern Wisconsin lakes are deep, clear predictable bodies of water. Crystal is shallow, stained, and full of wood. I decided to fish it more like a southern reservoir than a Wisconsin lake and it paid off. This lake differs from any other in the area, but it is well worth the trip.

 

 

21. Lake Ripley

 

For many years, I have traveled Rt. 12 in Wisconsin to Geneva, Delavan, Whitewater, and Madison. Almost every time, my eyes were drawn to the little sign that said, Lake Ripley. I knew that Lake Ripley was the lake that produced the Wisconsin state record bass many years ago, but I always drove right by. This year we stopped. Lake Ripley is great little lake. The weather conditions were horrible, but, somehow, we caught a few. Ripley and the weather didn’t give us a fair chance, I’ll be back.

 

 

22. Lake Shangri-La

 

This was another return trip. I fished Shang many times in different seasons. You can usually find a few predictable ways to catch them.  Buzz baits, Chatterbaits, Chug Bugs and Senkos all work great on this lake. This time, we were presented with a different opportunity. It’s fun to catch bass on a frog and, this show, the frog was the right bait.  It’s interesting to me to be able to go onto a lake that you have fished many times, and learn something new.

 

 

23. Maxincuckee Smallies

 

Earlier this season, we aired a show on Maxincuckee largemouth. This time, we were after the smallies. If there is a better jerkbait than a Rapala X-Rap, it’s a secret to me.  I used an X-Rap to search for both large and smallmouth all over the country. It’s always fun to have a one-bait day and to put all of the other rods away, and know that the one you are using will get the job done. The X-rap was both a search bait and fish catcher. We had fun on Maxincuckee.

 

 

24. Lake Geneva

 

We filmed on Geneva many times. This time, we met Phil Piscatello for a deep water, drop shot trip. As far as the drop shot goes, Phil kicked my butt. I finally got him to go in and fish some docks, and, while I caught some nice ones, I pretty much got my butt kicked there too. Anyone that fishes a lot has a day like this one. I’m not too broken up about it, though, Phil is a great fisherman and a good guy. I’ll just chalk this one up and take another shot at Phil next year.

 

 

25. Whitewater Lake

 

Whitewater has always been a favorite of mine. It can be tough at times, but I know that there are plenty of good bass that live there. This show was easy.  I caught the heck out of them on a wacky rigged Senko. I wish that I had found these fish back in my tournament days. The fish that I caught during this show would have won a few bucks.

 

 

 

26. Lake Jacksonville

 

Illinois has many great bass lakes.  There are lakes where you have a chance at catching a giant, and there are other lakes that produce great numbers of fish. Jacksonville does both. Use any formula that you want, but, in my opinion, Lake Jacksonville is the best bass lake in the state. We filmed this show with Tom Vogelsang. Tom won the trip as part of a contest we ran at Riverview Marine in Spring Valley, Illinois.  We caught several bass that day and had a lot of fun. I wish that all of our shows were this easy.

 

 

 

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