Sunday, January 31, 2016

Winter fishing in Champaign County

I almost let January pass by without catching a fish!  On the last day of the month I decided to fish one of my friend Jeff's spots in Champaign, IL.  This winter has been unseasonably warm in Illinois.  The high was 60 that day, but the water still felt awfully cold through my chest waders.  The spot isn't the most scenic in winter, but as usual I had it all to myself.

Usually I fish with bait, and as a result I often worry that my lure fishing skills are getting rusty.  This was a good opportunity to leave the worms at home.  I started out with a small inline spinner.  Striped shiner was my first fish of 2016!

Striped Shiner (Luxilus chrysocephalus)

Next I switched to a christmas tree colored curly tail jig.  It turned out to be the color of the day.  Usually I stick with white because that's what works well below spillways for fish like crappie and white bass.  I wonder if the christmas tree color reminds them of crayfish.

Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieu)

They just kept hammering it!

A smaller jig caught the only creek chub of the day.  This is pretty typical for this creek.  You won't catch them very often, but when you do they're good sized ones.

Creek Chub (Semotilus atromaculatus)

I worked my way further downstream to shopping cart pool.  My friend Jeff came up with the name.

The deeper pool had rock bass mixed in with the smallmouth bass.  They were really agressive.

Rock Bass (Ambloplites rupestris)

This creek is full of longear sunfish, but honestly I was pretty surprised when I caught one.  They usually don't bite until the water warms up spring.

Longear Sunfish (Lepomis megalotis)

I got one green sunfish towards the end of the day.  Their numbers used to be much higher when the water quality was poorer, but now they are outnumbered by the other sunfish and basses.

Green Sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus)

Since the fish were biting well, I tried out a few lures that I have never used before.  One was a rattle trap.

It worked!  First fish on a rattle trap.

Next I tried a spinner bait.  A rock bass and a smallmouth bass both hit it.

It seemed like a good idea to end on a high note, so after my spinner bait bass I packed up and made my way home.  Thanks again Jeff for sharing this spot with me!