Friday, October 29, 2010

So Many Lakes & Rivers... So Little Time

Over my forty plus years of fishing I have been quite lucky to have traveled to some of the finest fishing destinations in North America. I wanted to share with you a few of my favorites over those years, and to look ahead at the places I'd still like to cast a line, even if only to fish for a day or two.

There are so many lakes and so little time that I wonder how I managed to catch as many fish in as many locations as I have. The people that surround me, grant me those opportunities and to them I am forever grateful. My family and friends understand what fishing means to me, and fear from knowing what I would be like without it.

Each year I try to plan as many trips as I can, but vacation time, raising a son, and financial obligations cut into the amount of days I can dedicate to fishing. Many of these destinations have become repeat trips year after year, making it even harder to travel to new locations. So here is a few of my favorite places to fish. I hope you can make time to experience these special waters.

Alaska - I don't think it matters where you fish, or what you are after here, the scenery will make any day of fishing one to remember. We spent our day deep trolling for pacific salmon in Ketchikan. A picture perfect day.

Seal River, Manitoba - About six hundred and fifty miles north of Winnipeg this home to the arctic grayling, northern pike, walleye & lake trout is a true fisherman's paradise. Moose, bears, wolves and eagles, added to the excellent fishing. A wilderness fly-in that will never be forgotten.

Lake of the Woods, Ontario - I have been to Lake of the Woods a number of times, and I love the diverse fishery that it provides for any angler. Crappie, smallmouth bass, walleye, northern pike, lake trout and muskie. Around every corner of this famed lake is another unique experience. I'll be back there again soon!

Wolf River, Wisconsin - This river is home to the town of Fremont, "the white bass capital of the world" and for good reason. Each spring hundreds of thousands of white bass migrate up river to their spawning grounds. If you time your trip right to the Wolf it is the fastest fishing action you will ever see.

Pelican Lake, Orr, Minnesota - Our family has been vacationing at Pelican long before I was born. An action packed fishery with some of the best largemouth and smallmouth fishing in northern Minnesota. Pan fish abound in this beautiful lake. Pelican holds a special place in my heart. Take your family, and when you return, tell us about it.

The problem with being a fishing fanatic is that there just isn't enough time to fish all the places that we'd like to. I am no exception to this rule. Here is a few destinations, where a few casts would certainly be appreciated, hopefully before too long.

The Florida Keys - I can only imagine what it would be like to wade the flats and cast a fly ahead of a cruising bonefish. This is one that has to be experienced!

Ireland - The one overseas place I would love to visit because of my Irish heritage and the beautiful pictures I have seen. I'm sure I could find a few places to fish while I'm there. Wouldn't you?

Lake Okeechobee, Florida - I love bass and the bigger the bass the better. Give me a big white spinnerbait with double willow leaf blades and let me cast "The Big O". I might not return to Illinois until sometime next spring.

Blackfoot River, Montana - I think this is one place I wouldn't mind being lost, then I would never have to return. We have all seen the movie "A River Runs Through It" if you haven't go watch it right now!

Lac Seul, Ontario, - Walleye are all over this huge body of water. I think this will be a trip forthcoming soon. A great fishery for numbers of fish. Can I go wrong with this lake for my son Bryan's first Canadian fishing trip? I don't think so.

How come every single time that I sit down and share my thoughts with you I want to go fishing? Do I do that to you too? I certainly hope so. I think it's time to start planning our next trip. Where do you think we should go? Wherever it will be, I am sure it will be right where we belong.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Thoughts That Blew In From Somewhere

For most of us, life is a constant change from day to day. We roll with these changes as best we can, enjoying the highs, dealing with the lows and somehow we manage to level out once in a while.

Today, Chicago was awaken by a powerful storm that made us all feel a little bit smaller in relation to the bigger picture. I received a phone call around 7:00 AM, that woke me from my slumber. My nephew Tyler (who is becoming quite the fisherman) told me about the tornado sirens that were blaring in his neighborhood. I only live a mile or so away, so I was quite surprised that I didn't hear them at all. Maybe it was the rain that was pounding against my living room windows at such a force that I couldn't hear them, or was I off in some peaceful dream catching another crappie or bluegill from a submerged tree?

I quickly grabbed my family and headed for a safer part of the house, waiting for the storm to subside. Within a few moments the rain had stopped, the wind let up a bit, and the all clear was posted. There was no damage to my home or anyone around us but the "what if" segments have played back in my head a few times throughout the day.

Life is like that sometimes. It kind of slaps you, when it needs to, and reminds us who we are, where we have been and where we are going. I'm glad that it does. Wouldn't we find life a rather boring place to be if it didn't shake us up once in a while? I know I would.

We roll on again after a morning like today, taking a piece of it with us, leaving a piece of it behind. Just as we do every time we go fishing, on our favorite river, lake or pond. To me fishing is that leveled out time of our lives, the one constant that pulls it all together and allows us to roll with these changes. It is always there for us, like a mother to a child, and a master to his dog. Providing a space for those of who love the outdoors and fishing. Keep on rolling!

Please join our Facebook group at Cappy's Pond, and thanks for reading. Please share the link with family and friends who love to fish. -Cappy-

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Apple Tree, Fried Shrimp & Perch

Saturday was one of those days you never look forward to, but once it's over you're glad you were there to experience it. The morning started early, with a drive to drop off Shirley at the hospital, where she works in outpatient registration, followed by Bryan's basketball game back here in Elgin. We won the game 22-14 but only had six kids that were able to make it, so it was a little tough to keep five fresh sets of legs on the floor. Nonetheless we have two wins in two games so we'll take it. After basketball we went out for breakfast with my mom and step dad, who came out to watch Bryan, then headed home for a quick stop to let out Scruffy.

After taking care of our jack russell terrier we got back in the car and headed to Cabela's to exchange a few shirts I had bought the night before. I think Cappy's mid section is filling in a bit, watching an endless supply of football and hockey, while probably not fishing as many hours as I should. With a little bit of luck I will be able to sell that excuse to Shirley and free up more time to be out wading the river.

On the road again, we headed in to Chicago to help my aunt Rita trim her dwarf (not if you seen it) apple tree. My brothers met us there and within about four and a half hours we had trimmed the tree back from the power and phone lines, and cleaned up all the debris. As my family and I always do, we made the most of the time together, with good conversation, some great laughs, and a few tasty beers to wash it all down.

Aunt Rita asked if we would stay for dinner, and we all agreed that after some hard work and calorie burning it was a good idea to refuel before heading home. Hagen's Fish Market is just down the street from my aunt's house, and one of our favorite places for fried shrimp and perch. I took the short ride with aunt Rita to pick up the food, looking around the store at the fresh fillets, smoked fish, and special sauces and seasonings that make Hagen's a special place in Chicagoland. The business opened in 1946 and is still owned and operated by the same family, now third generation. Hagen's Fish Market has the only remaining indoor hardwood smokehouse left in Chicago. If you are going to pay a visit to Chicago you have got to experience a few pounds of fried shrimp and perch the Hagen's way.

We enjoyed our dinner, said good night to aunt Rita, and rolled out the door. On the way home I thought to myself, I might be going back to Cabela's to exchange those shirts for the second time.

Please join our Facebook group at Cappy's Pond and remember that you can't catch any fish if your line isn't in the water.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Name Change to Cappy's Pond!

Cappy's Blog - Stories from an American Angler will be permanently changing the name to Cappy's Pond - Stories from an American Angler. The search engines were picking up other Cappy's Blogs and I didn't like being on the second page for a search of Cappy's Blog. This should help to clarify things a bit. If you have Cappy's Pond -Stories from An American Angler listed on your blog roll please make the change when you get a chance. Thank you again for your support.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Suick In The Air

I shot this picture from my cell phone camera October 3rd, during the 22ND Annual Greater Wisconsin Muskie Tournament, St. Germain, WI. The photo was taken with a Sprint LG camera/phone and is the original photo just as it was shot. I was taking pictures of the sun coming up over the trees and fog. I did not know that I caught the suick in mid air until reviewing the photo later that morning. I think this is my brother Kevin's suick which he proceeded to catch a 39 inch muskie only a few casts later. He finished in 7Th place for the tournament. It is quite an impressive shot considering the events of the day. I hope you like it!

Remembering The Beginning - From The Godfather.

My first godchild Danny, is having another birthday tomorrow, and I seemed to have misplaced the years that have passed since he was born. I'm certain that it was just yesterday when my sister Cindy and husband Mike asked Christina (my first wife) and I to be the godparents for their new baby boy. We both were very proud and honored to be chosen for this important role, and to this day he will always hold a special place in my heart. Cindy & Mike named him Danny, after my father, for he was the first boy born into the family. A perfect tribute to dad, and our grandfather.

I'm not going to sit here and write a long story and tell you all the funny things that Dan (that's what he likes to be called now) has done over the years, but rather show you in a few pictures, why I am so proud to be his godfather. Happy 19th Birthday Dan! Wishes for you for the best year ever. Keep giving life the best that you can, and you will be rewarded.


Uncle Kirk

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cappy's Blog Joins The Outdoor Blogger Network!

About a week ago I received a Facebook invitation to join the Outdoor Blogger Network. I hit the like button, just as I do for any group that pertains to fishing and the outdoors. I read the description, clicked over to their web page and browsed around a bit, stopping abruptly when I saw "Submit Your Blog For The Directory Today". Within a few minutes I had done just that and my blog has now found a permanent home.

Within the last year I have worked very hard at getting Cappy's Blog to a prominent position within the blogosphere. I have published posts on two separate locations to try and drum up a few more readers. Most of you have been following the blog from this location, but I have also posted the blog on WordPress at Cappy's Pond. I will continue to do this for some time because I feel it will extend my readership to different demographics throughout the web. However, I have already noticed a spike in page views since joining the Outdoor Blogger Network, a place where people will go to read blogs about fishing and the outdoors, instead of stumbling upon my blog while searching for other interests and never staying to read a full post.

So it is with great appreciation for what is being started here at the OBN that I invite you to take a look for yourself at the Outdoor Blogger Network!

Please join our Facebook group at Cappy's Pond, and thank you, as always, for stopping by and sharing a few minutes of your day with us.

Remember, you can't catch any fish if your line isn't in the water.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

River Woes

Tuesday, after Bryan went off to school and Shirley had gone to work, I decided to hit the river for a few hours of fishing. I tried a section of the Fox that I hadn't fished for quite some time, hoping to find a few white bass and smallies to do battle. Reports from around town had told me to try an area a little further down river than I normally fish and that the white bass were schooling down there.

I parked the car, got in my waders, tied on a new spinner and hit the water. With the air temps in the upper 70's the water felt cool on the legs but not like it should for the middle of October. I made a few casts, snagged a few floating leaves and had a small (and I mean small) white bass hit the spinner right at the end of my fourth cast. OK! So far so good. After another 50 casts I realized this wasn't going to be as easy as I thought.

Wading down river for the next two hours I managed to catch two smallies and two largemouth none of which had exceeded 8 inches in length. I circled up the other side of the river and saw nothing other than a few carp swimming carelessly over the shallow rocks. Where have all of the fish gone? A good question is sometimes followed up by a good answer.

For the last sixteen years I have been chasing smallies, walleye, white bass and crappie in the Fox river from Elgin to Montgomery, IL. There have been numerous days in those sixteen years of twenty-five plus smallmouth bass on spinners and small twisty tail jigs. I remember a June evening where I caught six good walleye casting from shore to the middle of the river with a plain Fuzzy Grub jig. Catfish would always hit my spinners and jigs, and I snagged a carp almost every time I would wade. Freshwater drum, an occasional muskie or northern pike would always join in on the action.

In the last five years the fishing on the Fox has steadily declined, and I'm betting that I know the reason why. The reconstruction of bridges, parks, and buildings have taken it's toll along the river. Some of these changes were needed and the cities have done a great job to limit the destruction of natural habitat, by replacing rocks after construction, adding wing dams and returning native plants along the edges of the river. But with everything in nature it takes time to re-create what has been lost.

A reconstruction project such as the one at Elgin's Walton Island took a few years to be completed and the long term effect on the fishery may be just starting to show up now. The riverbed, banks, rock walls, pilings etc. were all changed and the larvae and small insects that lived beneath them were disturbed to say the least. The replaced structures take years before all the algae growth returns. Algae that is needed to sustain life along the river. One or two years of disturbed spawning habitat near bridges or dams could cause a long term effect on the numbers and size of fish.

The Stearns road project that is nearing its two year completion, consisted of building a new four lane bridge over the river about a mile and a half south of the existing South Elgin dam. With about six more miles of river below the construction site, until the Saint Charles dam, it is potentially blocking the migration of fish northward into South Elgin. Fish that would travel north during normal to high water stages have been turned away by the constant noise of construction and the changes to their natural habitat.

In spring of 2010 illegal dumping of toxic chemicals was reported in South Elgin, IL. Fish were found dead along a creek that flows into the Fox just north of the town dam. There is no doubt that many fish were lost during this illegal dumping, and who knows just how long it was going on.

Catch and release has always been a priority amongst the many local fisherman who wade the Fox river. These anglers have witnessed time and time again, the removal of undersized fish, and catch and release only species that were taken illegally from the river. State of Illinois cutbacks from the Department of Natural Resources in recent years have limited both the manpower that patrols the Fox, and the funds for additional signs, education, and public awareness. These cutbacks are also having a negative impact on the river.

Although there is great concern for the future of the fishery along the Fox, I believe that we will once again see the return of numbers of fish in Elgin and South Elgin. Once the reconstruction projects are complete and the State of Illinois budget is restored, the river will return to being one of the best places to fish in Northern Illinois. For now, I will continue to enjoy my time on the river, without the crowds, and prepare for the good ole days that lie ahead.

Please join my Facebook group at Cappy's Pond, or register to follow this blog on the right side of this page. I thank you as always for reading the posts and sharing it with friends and family. Remember, you can't catch any fish if your line isn't in the water. -Cappy-

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Cold Front Muskies In the Fog

We arrived at the boat landing a little after 6:30 am on Saturday morning, dressed in multiple layers and a wind whipped drizzle. The outside air temperature was in the low to mid 30′s and our Evinrude 120 V4 took a little extra time before it was warmed up and ready to leave the launch. Our fishing team (we were # 99 “The Great One”) consisted of the Cahill brothers (Kevin, Keith, Kirk) and a good friend of Kevin, Walter Zimmerman. Four people in a boat can be tough when throwing large baits for muskie, but with years of practice we have become quite efficient at making the most of the tight quarters.

The first obstacle we had to overcome was the mildew smell that had permanently entrenched itself within my rain gear. The 17 foot Lowe boat that we own, was stored outside for a few weeks near Kevin’s cabin. Numerous days of rain had seeped into my gear and had created quite a stench. At least I didn’t have to take a shower for the rest of the weekend, I could just blame it on the rain suit.

We started to fish not far from the launch site and noticed that most of the weeds were still quite green. Knowing that muskie will be relating to these green weeds, we were quite positive that we would see some fish, and we did. A small fish under 30inches took a swipe at my Buchertail just after I completed my figure 8 and was removing the bait from the water. I missed him but it gave us the confidence that we were doing the right thing and that patience was going to be the key.

After a few drifts through the weeds with no takers we decided to move out to some mid lake points and deeper structure. The rain was spotty and the sun now made its way in and out of the showers for the better part of the morning. Our team continued to work the deeper weed line throwing Bull Dawgs or Curly Sue’s and our favorite, the Suick over and along the weed line. Occasionally we would work the inside edge of the weed beds looking for active fish, and again we found no muskie. Knowing that we had been fishing in prime muskie waters for the body of water we were fishing, we concluded that the fish were not aggressively feeding. It would be a difficult task to catch a fish under these cold front conditions.

The rain was gone now and the wind continued to blow. Air temperatures now were around 45 degrees with high pressure building in behind the front. Kevin said we should go back near the landing to the shallow weeds and give them another try. It was the only place we had seen any action at all, so we all agreed. Keith made a few casts again with a Suick and had a mid 40′s fish blow up on the bait just after he made his first jerk. The muskie missed the lure completely and the team was quite deflated, but had reason for hope, we again had sighted a muskie in the shallow water. We fished until the end of tournament hours (7:00 pm) returned to the cabin and regrouped for the next morning.

Sunday came and we awoke to a heavy fog that had settled in among the warm water lakes. The four of us have fished enough times for muskie to know that the low light conditions with the fog were optimal for any chance for success. We started casting again around the landing and the shallow cover. I was taking a few pictures of the sunrise over the top of the fog when a muskie slammed Kevin’s Suick and he belted out “Fish!” After a few good runs and a dive into the weeds the muskie made its way to our Beckman net. Now we had to find a boat to verify our catch. Walter had heard a boat about a hundred yards away from us and we headed in that direction until we came upon them. Kevin’s muskie was measured at 39 inches and released after a few quick pictures.

After the measurement and signature on our slip, we parted ways with the other boat and headed back towards where we had caught the fish. Within 15 minutes we heard the other boat yelling and slapping high fives over another muskie. We knew they were excited and with good cause, in fifteen years in the tournament they had never boated a legal muskie. This was a big moment for team #102 and muskie fisherman Todd Klingaman. They made their way over to us and we measured and verified the 40 inch muskie and watched its release back into Big Arb.

Our window of opportunity was now quickly fading away as the sun began to burn off the remaining fog. We tried a few different locations to give ourselves a lucky chance but the high pressure and clear blue sky would make our remaining hours quiet ones. After all the slips were tallied and the winners were awarded their trophies, only 4 fish had been caught on Big Arbor Vitae and we were witnesses to two of them. I guess we were doing something right. Weren’t we? Of the 250 fisherman spread across 10 lakes in the region, there were 21 muskie caught and released. I know the next time we encounter conditions similar to what we had last weekend I’ll be holding on a little tighter waiting for another cold front muskie in the fog.

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You can’t catch any fish if your line isn’t in the water!

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