Monday, May 20, 2013

Return to southern Illinois: toothy gar, massive carp, and awesome micros

Last weekend I met up with some species fishing fanatics for a whirlwind tour of Illinois. Miciah and Bryce run the websites and, and Ken has the fishing blog Keep an eye out for reports on their respective sites. Ken and I started in Chicago, driving south to the Kankakee River (Illinois River drainage) and tributaries of the Vermilion River (Wabash River drainage). We caught a lot of nice micros, racking up quite a new lifer count for Ken. The next day we drove down to Carlyle to fish below the dam with Miciah and Bryce. The water was high, but we were able to continue the species count by catching smaller fish near shore among the rocks. After Carlyle we drove further south to Rend Lake to fish below its dam. The gar there were spectacular. Finally, we drove back to some of the spots I fished earlier in the spring, a nice clear stream full of micros and Horseshoe Lake in Alexander County. With the water warmed up, the spillway was full of hungry fish. Finally, on the drive back to Chicago Ken and I hit up a few spots to take notes for future trips.

Carmine Shiner (Notropis percobromus)

Rainbow Darter (Etheostoma caeruleum)

Central Greenside Darter (Etheostoma blennioides pholidotum)

Stonecat (Noturus flavus) - netted, not hook & line

Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) - two hooks means you can catch two fish at once!

Shortnose Gar (Lepisosteus platostomus)

Shortnose Gar (Lepisosteus platostomus) - new personal best 33.5 inches

Orangethroat Darter (Etheostoma spectabile)

Ozark Logperch (Percina fulvitaenia) - new hook & line species #102

Bleeding Shiner (Luxilus zonatus) - the Fishes of Illinois does not have record of this species!

Bluntnose Minnow (Pimephales notatus)

Striped Fantail Darter (Etheostoma flabellare lineolatum) - new hook & line species #103

Slender Madtom (Noturus exilis) - new hook & line species #104

Pirate Perch (Aphredoderus sayanus) - netted, not hook & line

Weirdo micro fishermen looking for orangespotted sunfish and western mosquitofish

Shortnose Gar (Lepisosteus platostomus) - caught with the famous Lambo lure

Spotted Gar (Lepisosteus oculatus)

Bowfin (Amia calva) - Miciah and I caught these back to back

Bighead Carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis) - new hook & line species #105


  1. I love that Central Greenside Darter.

  2. Wonderful photos! All I can say is "more, more!"

  3. Nice pictures! Where did you get the Bleeding Shiner?

  4. Yo, the bleeding shiners were from southern Illinois in the Shawnee Forest.

  5. Cool, do you remember what stream? There aren't many records for southern Illinois.

  6. Where did you get that tiny little tank in which you had the Ozark Logperch in????

    1. Hi Chelsea, that was an acrylic Q-tip holder from the Container Store. I would recommend you get something larger though, because a lot of fish couldn't fit in that small container. It also had some issues with distortion because the bottom edge was curved. You can use a flat piece of clear acrylic to gently press the fish up against the front of the container so you can take a nice perpendicular photo.

    2. Thanks Ben! I'm a biologist working with imperiled minnow species in Florida and my pictures are never up to par, this should help! Your blog is fantastic!