When Brandon Troupe stopped by to chat about the Braidwood Lake riprap on Tuesday, he had already caught and released six largemouth bass. Troupe, who worked at Henry’s Sports and Bait as a teenager, is now a Chicago police officer.
I suggested he take another one so I could take a picture.
Within a dozen throws, he caught another bouncing a ChatterBait off the shore rocks.
There are the comforts of an old home on opening day at Braidwood, the refreshing lake in southwest Will County.
I walked out of the south riprap in the dark with Tony Principe, our conversation drifting away from those that drifted away from the Florida bass.
Jimmy and Chaser Ellison walked past while I was fishing. Two years ago I fished the opener with father and son. They offered a ride, but I wanted to stay ashore.
While they were working, they lost a good big mouth on the boat. From this spot, Troupe grabbed his bigmouth photo.
District fisheries biologist Seth Love understood this when he emailed: “I expect [bass] angling is similar to last season.
In the fall survey, bigmouth fitness was excellent across all size groups, and 26% of respondents were 15 inches or taller. Two bigmouth tournaments topped 7 pounds in 2021.
Tuesday I focused on bluegill and channel catfish, trying to catch the keepers. I caught lots of fish, but no keepers. The best catfish were 12 inches, the bluegills were about 5 1/2.
In the fall survey, small fish dominated for bluegills. Numbers of 11-inch channel catfish have increased “significantly”, while adults over 16 inches have declined slightly. The tallest was 36 inches.
“If you were to investigate catfish anglers, I would expect most people to say they can catch fish, but none of real size,” Love speculated.
The average length (28 inches) of the blue catfish has increased, the largest has increased to 30.5 inches.
Love predicts the 2022 stock will be similar to last year: 24,000 blues, 55,000 largemouth bass and 52,000 hybrid striped bass. He would like to hear from anglers on hybrid catches at [email protected]
The flathead catfish, stocked years ago, appears to be reproducing. Two were raised last fall (14.5 and 36 inches).
“I definitely wouldn’t go to Braidwood to catch a flathead, but an angler might get a nice surprise if they’re lucky!” Love joked.
The rules are the same. The site is open daily from 6 a.m. to sunset.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources Chicago Urban Fishing Program and the Chicago Park District (must be a Chicago resident) are looking for teachers/fishermen for summer fishing programs (primarily). Details are displayed here.
The weather is near perfect – days above freezing, nights below – for maple syrup weather.
Trucking convoys are as common as herring in southern Lake Michigan.
GO & SHOW
Friday-Sunday, March 4-6: Northwest Indiana Fishing & Outdoors Show, Lincoln Community Center, Highland, Ind. Saturday, March 5: Indoor Fishing Flea Market, Rolling Meadows High School