It looks a lot colder than it was

Although I’ve been keeping busy with music making (recently released a new album), lure making, cooking, watching awesome shows like “The Walking Dead,” and of course work, I’ve had a pretty strong urge to get out there and do some fishing. I really thought by now we’d be covered in two feet of snow, every body of water would be covered in ice, and the only way to fish would be through a little hole with a little tiny rod. As it turns out, there’s still plenty of water that is open and fishable!

I’ve been hearing about perch action along the lakefront (well, last week) and some reports of brown trout and steelhead around… That was enough to get me to the lake. I probably should have gotten some live bait, or at least some fish eggs to put on a hook, but instead I just brought along my new tackle box filled with homemade inline spinners, some jig’n’twisters, and a few wooden crankbaits.

In preparation for extreme wind and icy conditions, I wore my only pair of long underwear (I need more!) thick socks, a thermal long sleeve shirt, my new L.L. Bean super warm flannel/fleece shirt, and my big a** thick winter jacket. On my head I wore my trapper hat, and as soon as I put it on my head began to sweat.

I walked out to the water, expecting to be overwhelmed with cold; instead, I immediately took off my jacket. And hat, and scarf, and gloves. What I saw around me didn’t match up with the temperature- the cement piers were all covered in frozen waves, the sky had a lead-grey hue to it, and there were literally little icebergs floating in the harbor. All around me the sun melted ice on the piers, which occasionally fell into the water with a huge splash, joining the other little icebergs.

At one point I hooked into an iceberg with a spinner, and got stuck! As the ice floated out toward the lake, my drag complained and I worried about being dragged into the water! I got some new line for Christmas, and I had just put some of this fancy fireline on my reel… This stuff is super strong and thin- but I was worried I wouldn’t be able to cut it if necessary..!

Thankfully I was able to unhook myself, and my spinner came whizzing back very close to my head. Whew! Never thought I’d get hung up on ICE!

Marinas look strange without all the boats…
Although I do really like being the only one fishing!

I fished for about 2 hours, throwing mostly everything I had in my box. As I fished I regretted not getting live bait, maybe that would have been more successful. Then again, the whole trip was incredibly awesome- it was extremely nice out (51°F!! In January!) and it was very nice to be outside wetting a line. It was also nice to see how some new homemade inline spinners worked in the water. I made a few earlier in the week that had propellors and little jingle bells on them; combined with a bucktail-dressed hook, they looked pretty awesome in the water! I also learned that spray-painted colorado blades do not last when bumped against underground rocks- I’ll stick with the “Hard as nails” nail polish thank you very much.

At one point I thought I had a small hit on a homemade hair jig, but it didn’t happen again. I probably was fishing too quickly for lethargic winter fish…

I watched the sun go down, and I knew it was about time for me to leave. I wasn’t too upset to go home empty-handed, as realistically I knew I probably wouldn’t catch any fish. This was a good start to the year, and I have to say I’m very happy to have fished open water in January! On the other hand, I’m worried about what this weather will do to the whole ecosystem- I know almost nothing about biology, but it seems like extremely warm weather like this during winter could potentially mess a bunch of animals up. Hopefully they all do ok, and are ready to be caught and released by me in large numbers come this Spring…!

Sunset at Diversey Harbor


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