Fishing for Illinois Bass

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Dated: 27th September 2007
Location: USA/Illinois /Illinois/Robinson
From our Robinson Fishing Correspondent Tim McDaniel
Fishing for Illinois BassFishing for Illinois Bass
My brother Todd and I headed back to our old high school stomping grounds for a Robinson High School Alumni Golf Outing at the Quail Creek Country Club in Robinson, Illinois. This has become an annual event for us and last year we caught quite a few nice largemouth bass before and after the golfing.

I went back this year with great expectations surrounding our upcoming fishing adventure. The first night we arrived just before dark and we hastily grabbed some gear and headed out to the pond on the front nine of the course. We tried several different lures; I had several bites on soft plastics but no hook ups but then we finally settled on my old favorite, the Rat-L-Trap. Todd was the first to hookup with a quality 2.5 pound largemouth. As I tried to take a quick photo of the fish, I realized based on the faint beeping I was hearing that I forgot to put the memory card back in my camera. Damn the bad luck but I remember I had a spare memory card in my camera case. I told Todd to keep the fish in the water and took off running for the cabin which was about 200 yards away; that was my second mistake of the evening as half way there I pulled my calf muscle. It was quite painful but I hobbled to get the card and hobbled back to where Todd was impatiently waiting. I took a couple of shots and we proceeded to get back to fishing as I limped along the banks with my sore leg. We caught several more nice bass before the sun went out of sight but nothing huge. We headed back to the cabin and off to sleep while I dreamt of the lunker bass I would catch the next morning before we went golfing.

The next morning we awoke and headed out to the pond again. This time Todd stuck with a ˝ ounce Rat-L-Trap while I tried a ˝ ounce swim bait as well as a top water lure but was having no luck. After watching Todd hook into several nice bass I decided it was time to switch back to a Rat-L-Trap and try to catch up. Immediately after tying on a baby bass colored ˝ ounce Rat-L-Trap I hooked into a nice 3-pounder and the fight between Todd and I was on with both Todd and I hooking into bass after bass. We had a great time that morning catching bass ranging from 1 pound up to 4 pounds with the average bass being around 2.5 pounds for the day.

After grabbing some breakfast in town and a quick trip into Walmart to pickup a few more Rat-L-Traps it was back to the room to change for golf and to apply more Aspercreme to my badly aching calf muscle. After a long round of golf and a much needed shower, we ended up heading into town for some dinner. There’d be no fishing tonight but we planned to get up early the next morning and hit the pond on the back nine which is rumored to hold some larger bass but tends to get a little more fishing pressure.

The next morning we overslept so we went back to the smaller pond near the cabins. This time I tried a Rapala shallow diving minnow and caught a couple of smaller bass. Todd tried a couple of other lures also such as a small spinner bait but didn’t have much luck with any of them. We both switch to ˝ ounce Rat-L-Traps again and the bite was on. Todd hooked into a quality 4-pounder from the middle of the lake while I cast along the shore line. I was hooking a lot of weed but no fish for many casts. At one point I was retrieving my Rat-L-Trap and near the end of my retrieve a huge white side took at stab at engulfing my lure but missed and disappeared into the murky water as quickly as it appeared leaving a large swirl in the water where just a half a second ago my lure had been. Damn the bad luck. I threw the Rat-L-Trap out in the same spot and had another fast retrieve to keep it off the bottom, once again another attack but this time I hooked into a very solid 3-pounder. What a thrill! We continued to work our way around the banks casting and catching many bass.

At one little cove we could see the backs of large bass chasing bait into the shallows so we cast our Rat-L-Traps out and drug them back into the shallow water, I had a hit but no hook-up. I cast again with the same result. Several casts later it was time to move on but neither of us hooked a fish even though they chased our lures into the shallows multiple times. At this point I continued around the pond into the shallow end and Todd decided to go back the way we had already been. We’d hookup at the other side of the pond and tally the score. At this point I had a 2 fish lead on Todd and I was confident I’d widen the gap with the virgin water ahead of me.

Immediately around a set of trees I hooked into two more fish. Great, a 4 fish lead but I had no idea if Todd had caught anything yet. I continued on, hooking into only two more fish by the time I reached another shallow point where I could see Todd still working the deep - dam side of the pond. I yelled to see how many he’d caught and he yelled back that he’d caught seven - we were back to even. I’d lost my bass colored Rat-L-Trap in a overhanging set of tree limbs so I had to go with an orange colored, crawfish pattern one. I wasn’t having much luck with that but while casting it out toward the depths and reeling it back into the shallows my retrieve was stopped flat and I could see a very large swirl at the top of the water. I kept the line tight and ensured that my drag was not too tight so that the line wouldn’t snap but even with that the bass was able to get itself free of the treble hook and then I watched across the pond as Todd pulled in another nice bass to take the lead. We were both hungry so we decided to head into town and head over to the lake on the back nine of the country club later in the evening after the homecoming football game was over.

Since there are many trees around the big lake we decided to use one of the paddle boats to cruise the shore lines in search of some bigger fish. We weren’t having much luck. I caught a small bass but there didn’t seem to be nearly the same amount of activity on the big lake as there was on the pond. We went away from the shore line and began casting up into a shallow flat and pulling our Rat-L-Traps back into the deeper water. After a little while of this my retrieve was stopped dead, as if a freight train hit it and the fight was on. This was a much bigger fish than the majority of the ones we caught on this trip as it could take out the line whenever it chose to do so. At one point it came to the surface to try to shake the lure and I saw that I had a nice one on. After a bit of a fight I was able to get it to the side of the paddle boat and get a good grip on its jaw. This bass engulfed the little Rat-L-Trap. I got all of the hooks out and realized that, once again, we did not plan well and the camera was back at the truck. I kept a good hold on the fishes jaw while holding it under water and we paddled back to the dock and Todd jumped out and got the camera. We measured the bass – a nice 6.5-pounder (picture on the SFW site), Todd took a couple of quick photos and I released this great fish unharmed back into the lake. We then paddled back over to the shallow flats and began fishing again.

On one cast Todd heard something splash into the water. He said he wanted what that was and began looking around the paddle boat to see what might have fallen out. It was when he started to crank his Rat-L-Trap back into the boat that he realized his crank nut had come off somehow and the handle had fallen into the depths. I manually spun the spool of his reel while he pulled in his line by hand until we retrieved his Rat-L-Trap. It was a valuable lesson to check the nut on the crank to ensure that it is tight. I suggested that we return to the truck where my extra spinning rod was patiently waiting for use but Todd said there was only a little while of daylight left and for me to continue fishing.

I continued to cast around a nearby slough and even though I saw bait fish being harassed in the shallows I could not entice a bite. As we got back out to the shallow flats I began casting up into the shallows and retrieving my Rat-L-Trap back into the depths just as I had done when catching the last big bass. After a couple of casts I had another solid hookup. This time after a shorter fight I had a nice 3+-pounder at the side of the boat. It was getting dark so we decided to paddle back to the truck and call it a day.

It was quite a nice couple of days of really good fishing. We both look forward to heading back to Robinson next year for the annual alumni golf outing and hopefully another great weekend of fishing. ...Tim McDaniel