And we're back! I've moved to Peoria, IL to start a new job. I'll miss Madison and the fishing around south central WI, but now it's time to look forward to what's next. Peoria sits on the Illinois River, which is in rough shape but also offers some new opportunities.
Illinois River cons - Asian carp invasion (silver, bighead, common,
grass), perpetually muddy water, and limited shore access, especially at
its lock and dams.
Illinois River pros - Cool backwater spots, good populations of species
that will be new for me (smallmouth buffalo, black buffalo, longnose
gar, skipjack herring, gizzard shad, river carpsucker, highfin
carpsucker, grass carp, goldeye, redear sunfish), and a DNR that has a
positive view of native species and is currently reintroducing alligator
gar and redspotted sunfish (among others) to the river.
Today I met up my friend Brad from work to check out some Illinois River
backwaters south of Peoria. I was hoping to encounter some of the
species listed in the pros section above, especially the buffalo and
gar. We encountered muddy water, some amount of submerged wood, little
to no vegetation, and lots of mosquitofish and minnows hanging around
the shoreline. Every so often we would see a gar surface for a breath
of air. They looked like shortnose and spotted, not longnose or
alligator. Fishing was slow. Worms on the bottom produced one bluegill
and one largemouth bass. A small silver and orange Mepps spinner
caught this small spotted gar.
Spotted Gar (Lepisosteus oculatus)
Unfortunately, despite a few hits and momentary hookups, Brad wasn't
able to get a gar to shore. Expect to see a picture of him holding one
in the future though! On the way home, we stopped at the Powerton
Cooling Lake in Pekin. I set up Brad with my micro gear and he quickly
caught a big female mosquitofish. He is now officially a
Western Mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis)