Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 As Good As It Gets!

Hooray for spring! Oh, wait a minute, it's the first few weeks of winter, but you wouldn't know it if you looked outside of our house. The sump pump is working hard in the basement to keep up with the melting snow, and heavy rain, that fell last night over Chicagoland. It's hard to believe that just three days ago my son, nephew and I were sitting on our buckets over ten inches of solid ice and complaining of freezing fingers (from catching a mess of bluegills).

How quickly the weather can change here in Illinois. The old saying goes something like this. If you don't like the weather here in Chicago...just wait two minutes. Without a doubt, the weather here is about as up and down as it gets. After forty-three years you would think I would be used to it.

The kids, Bryan and Tyler (son & nephew) made quick work of the bluegills on Tuesday as we caught 82 fish in 1 hr 45 min. Monday we had 51 fish in 2 hrs 15 min, 48 bluegill & 3 grass carp. Most of the fish were around 7 to 8 inches and taken over about 15 feet of water on wax worms. They both outfished me again, and I think that Bryan needs to start removing his own fish from the hook to slow him down a bit. However his hands would have been cold then (like mine) and he wouldn't have wanted to keep fishing. Get out this winter on some of your neighborhood ponds and experience this great angling action. The kids love it, and it can make them forget about video games for a few hours!

The break in the fantastic ice fishing we were experiencing gives me time to reflect on one of the best years of my life. I'm being really honest here, even while being unemployed for all of 2010, I have learned to enjoy the simple things in life more than I have ever before. The time that was available to me, made it easy to concentrate on my fishing, plan a few more days out on the water (& ice), and gave me moments to reflect on how special it is to spend our time outdoors.

What a fishing season we had in 2010! (see photo collages below) Ice fishing locally last winter for bluegills & bass. April gave us a beautiful a day on Lake Michigan searching for jumbo perch, although we never found them. May trips to St. Germain, WI (Little St Germain) for crappie, perch & pike, and Fremont, WI (Wolf River) for whitebass & catfish. June included our first trip to Whitewater Lake, in south central WI for largemouth.  Don't forget the outstanding week we had in August at Pelican Lake in Orr, MN catching big smallmouth. The fall brought us back to the St. Germain area and Big Arbor Vitae, for muskie action. In between all of that fishing we found time to pond hop local hot spots and wade the Fox river. Now you know why I had the best year of my life!

I'm looking forward to 2011 and many new opportunities for Cappy's Pond! The Outdoor Blogger Network has made my blogging experience the best it could be, while also increasing the site views and following. Can't wait to see how many people come fishing with us in 2011!

Lastly I wanted to take a moment to thank all of you for the great comments you have added over the year to Cappy's Pond. Without you, the readers, this blog would be nothing! When I see a link from someones blog roll to Cappy's Pond I immediately think back to when this all started and what little if no future at all I thought this blog would ever have. Now I am thinking about taking Cappy's Pond to new waters in search of more than just a place to share a few thoughts about fishing.

Have a great start to 2011 and remember to take the pledge to introduce someone new to fishing this year!                         

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Gift of Family & Friends

I wanted to take the time today to wish you all A Very Merry & Blessed Christmas Season. No matter what religion or beliefs that you follow, we can probably all agree that there is no greater gift than the gift of family & friends. My hope is that all of you can share in that special gift with the ones you love!
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from The Cahills & Cappy's Pond!                 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ice Fishing Update From Labor & Delivery

Today started out with some excitement as I sat down with my laptop and a fresh cup of coffee. While reading the home page of the Outdoor Blogger Network  I noticed I was selected by the random number generator for the Frabill Deadstick Rod/Reel Combo! What a way to start out your morning. I will put that combo to good use this winter across the frozen lakes and ponds of Chicagoland. Stay tuned for my upcoming review at the OBN!

Currently, Shirley & I are sitting in the "New" Sherman Hospital, Elgin, IL in Labor & Delivery waiting for the arrival of our new grandbaby. It's going to be a girl and I already know the name but just in case it is a boy or they change the name, I can't let the cat out of the bag too early. We are both so excited! Shirley is not quite as relaxed I am, which is why I brought along the laptop to do some blogging while she nervously paces the hospital waiting area. It's going to be a long (great) day!

Yesterday we managed to get out on the ice at Pickerel  Lake in Dupage County for a great day of ice fishing. A perfect winters day for being on the hard water, we managed to catch an assortment of bluegill, crappie and bass while fishing in 12 to 15 feet of water, less than two feet off the bottom. The ticket was a wax worm tipped on a small blue ice fishing jig (see picture from my last post). The kids had a tough time getting the fish to take the bait, as it took some persistance and teasing to entice them. I caught the most fish (again) as I clued in on the trick. While leaving the rod in a deadstick position for a few minutes and then moving the jig upward quite slowly, the fish would be a little more aggressive. The bass however, were a little bit different as they slammed the bait and took off running... just like the Bears!
I was glad to see the boys having a good time as everyone caught a fish! We got them to put the video games down for a bit, and get them all outdoors. I think they had the most fun drilling the holes in the ice and now that I'm going to be a grandpa that's going to save a little wear and tear on old Cappy.
I don't think we could have enjoyed the day anymore than we did except that we forgot the portable grill and the Johnsonvilles! That will never happen again, while ice fishing.

So a few more hours from now I should be holding my new granddaughter and telling her how much fun she is going to have fishing with Grandpa Kirk & Uncle Bryan! I think we are all going to have a perfect Christmas together...I hope that you all do too!    

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

No Really People, I Do Fish

It seems lately, that every time I write a new post I'm telling you that I am planning on going fishing. Once again that plan still hasn't been carried out. The rain we had on Saturday, scared me back into my man-cave to avoid drowning. This could have happened above or below the surface of the backwaters of the Fox river, as it was really coming down in buckets. Ice buckets to be exact.

The cold winds came overnight and the rain changed to snow but I couldn't try setting up a portable ice fishing shelter in fifty mile an hour wind gusts. Or could I? No. Sunday was another day to just hang in the man-cave, curl up with the dog, and dream of crappies and bluegills, instead of catching them.

The good news was that the Packers lost to the Lions and the Bears were on next. This football game will help me forget about ice fishing for a while.(forward to end of first quarter) That didn't last very long and I again had to find something to keep me busy. Lucky for me the Christmas tree still needed to be put up, but the assembling of the eight foot pine only made me long for the north woods cabin and the frozen lakes that abound there.

Sometimes this can be the most difficult time of the year. Too much ice to take the boat out and not enough ice to make it safe for a group of anxious fisherman. With the cold weather again here to stay, a few more nights will give us that safe ice we are waiting for here in Northern Illinois. Today will be spent lubing up a few more ice fishing reels, sharpening a dozen or so ice fishing jigs, and loading up a couple more maps into the portable GPS.

The Bears don't play until Monday so the weekend looks free to go fishing. I won't waste the time on Sunday to worry about the Packers beating the Patriots, they too will fall victim to superior coaching and talent. Another day to ice fish! My son Bryan is off of school starting next week and I will have to find something to keep him busy (hint, hint). So, hopefully in the next few few days I will go fishing again, and I can't wait to tell you all about it.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Christmas Collector of Unused Fishing Gifts

This weeks writing prompt from the Outdoor Blogger Network asked us to come up with a Christmas wish list to provide for our friends and family to help ease their holiday shopping. I took a little time to think about this one...and here is what came to mind. Please do not buy me anything for Christmas. I have a better idea!

Last week my 23 year old stepson Jeramie moved out of the house to begin his adult life with his girlfriend Jackie. Along with their new apartment they are expecting a baby girl to be born in the next couple of weeks. A new born baby at Christmas is about the best gift that our family could ever receive. Shirley and I are excited about becoming grandparents but are also concerned for the challenges that await for their new family. We wish them all the best of luck.

Shirley, Bryan and I need to come up with a plan for all the extra space that we now have in our home. One less car parked on the street makes it easier to back the boat into the garage when it's not at my brother's house or in winter storage. An empty bedroom that could be used to...I don't know...maybe a fly tying room? How about a nice warm place to hang my fishing rods, store my reels and decorate it with a few replica mounts of that muskie I'm going to catch next summer?

Our crawl space now has room for all kinds of things. I could store extra tackle boxes, boat cushions, life jackets, an ice fishing shanty or say a new power auger. Whatever we decide to do with the space is still yet to be determined, but it's nice to have the space.

I bet most of you wish that you had more of that space? Well, Cappy is here to help all of you and save the day. Here is my idea. Go through all of your fishing tackle and equipment, and whatever items that you have never used, just send them all to me! See... I told you I didn't want you to buy me anything. I'll go through all of the stuff, use whatever we can, and pass the rest on to my nieces and nephews.

All of the fans of Cappy's Pond will be helping me fill up some unused space and I will be doing my part to give you some extra room that you so desperately need. A win win for all involved. I told you I had a good idea!

No items will be refused (as long as they have to do with fishing) just contact me to get my address and ship the items prepaid (of course) and I'll take care of the rest. If I catch a fish while using one of your items I'll give you a plug on our facebook page at Cappy's Pond. What a service I will be doing for all of you, fishing with all the equipment that you never use. So send me an e-mail and I'll get you that address so your items will be sure to get here by Christmas.

Thanks in advance for helping me....and I assure you that it's no problem at all.

Enjoy your newly cleared space!


Monday, December 6, 2010

Fishing Thoughts At 12:38 AM

I was just about to turn out the last light in the house when I took a look outside the kitchen window. A few stars were shinning brightly above the rooftops of Mulberry Grove and I could see the steam from the furnace flues as it made its way across the night sky. The snow cover below had a glistening sheen to it, now that the frozen winter chill had begun to settle in.

Our furnace kicked on again, my toes quickly warmed from the heat coming up from the register. I made a cup of hot tea and stood and watched in wonder at the cold winters night. Our resident bunny was making his way through the back yard, looking for a little food and maybe a warmer spot to seek shelter from the frigid night air. A cough from upstairs, from my wife Shirley, reminded me as to why I had been inside all day. My cold which started on Thanksgiving is still lingering on and Shirley's is just a few days behind me.

The blower on the furnace shut off again, and and a peaceful quiet was once again in the house. Shirley fell back asleep and I sat down at my laptop to check my email, facebook, and share a few more thoughts with you. On and off the furnace went and I thought it must be really cold out there. I checked the thermometer and it read only 7 degrees. That explains why the heat keeps coming on.

New thoughts raced through my head. A week of this weather and we will have nice ice conditions for next weekend in Northern Illinois. Ice fishing before Christmas is very rare for me as I tend to be on the safe side and wait for a few more inches of ice than the die hard winter angler. What a special week it will be if I can get out on the Chain-O-Lakes on Friday or Saturday and catch a few bluegills and a crappie or two.

The furnace shut off again and a chill began to nip at my toes under the kitchen table. A few last warm drops of my tea and off to bed I go. Winter has indeed arrived in Illinois. It's 1:50 AM. It's 7 degrees outside, and I can't wait to go ice fishing!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Gummy Worms!

This photo from a past vacation is a real treat! My good friend Krystn took this shot. We were sitting around the campfire eating Gummy Worms and pretending to be different species of fish. This one captures Cappy eating a lemon-lime flavored gummy while imitating a Pelican Lake bluegill. I'm sure I washed this one down with an ice cold Budweiser. The "King of Beers" most likely had played a small role in getting us to behave like our finned friends from Pelican Lake.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

December Ramblings

Well it's Thursday morning the 2ND of December, 2010 and as I try to conjure up another fishing story from the past, I am reminded that there are only 23 days until Christmas! The good news is... that there is only three more weeks until the holiday rush is over and our wintry thoughts can now focus exclusively on ice fishing. Until then I will try to make the most of this Christmas season.

Snow flurries fell in Chicago yesterday! The flakes didn't add up to much but it really looks like winter is here to stay. Forecasters predict a few inches of white powder for Friday night and cold temps for most of next week. The ice should get to forming quickly but in Chicago there are no guarantees that safe ice will stay during the beginning of December. We will keep our fingers crossed.

Shirley has now fell victim to the head cold that has plagued me since Thanksgiving day. I hope she will recover a little bit quicker than I have. It could be a long day around here fighting over the better couch, the tissue box and the TV remote. Something tells me she will not be up to watching fishing videos all day.

This cold infected mind couldn't come up with a new fishing story, so I thought I would share with you a post from about a year ago. I read it all the time and it is probably my favorite post. I hope you enjoy it!

The First Snow...

As my son Bryan walked down the stairs this morning, his first word was "WOW!" The sight of the first new snow of the season had filled his eyes. It can have that affect on you. Although I knew that a coat of fresh new powder was waiting for me, I followed him down the stairs with almost the same reaction. I grabbed my first cup of hot coffee, bundled him up for school, and sent him out the door. "Is it snow or is it Christmas sugar?" I asked. "Christmas!" he shouted back.

He walked toward the bus stop with an extra bounce in his step. I closed the door and stopped to take in the beauty of the new Christmas snow. Then I began to remember my youth and the excitement of that first snow. Sitting in a classroom at St. Theresa's and watching the first new flakes falling from the sky. How I couldn't wait to spring from that chair to go out and become a part of its wonder. As I stared out the now half snow covered window, a sudden pull of the rope from Miss Gorman had now closed the shade and I was quickly reminded that I still had half of the school day to complete. Those last 3 hours seemed like they would last forever.

I headed back to the kitchen to pour another cup of coffee, and I started to think. How lucky we are in the Midwest to be able to enjoy the splendor of the four seasons. I couldn't imagine living anywhere else. The first new fallen snow, the warm days of spring, the golden evenings of summer, the bright red and orange maple leaves of fall. We are truly blessed with what we have been given.

As a fisherman I experience that magic many times during the cycle of the seasons. It never stops amazing me. Raindrops falling on a still lake, the rings how they merge together. Each sunset on the water is more beautiful than the one I had witnessed the day before. Reflections of the fall foliage on a calm bay as my lure makes that first splash. The sound of ice shifting beneath your feet on a quiet overcast winters afternoon. Those are the moments were time stands still. A picture, painted in my memory forever. I had one of those pictures painted for me today, of my son, standing on a snow covered sidewalk shouting "Christmas." Thank you God!

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