Saturday, April 23, 2016

Illinois River carp

I've been on the road a lot this spring, so it was nice to check out some spots close to home for a change.  A biologist with the DNR gave me two local spots to try for black buffalo.  One was an old lock channel on the Illinois River, and the other was the mouth of the Spoon River.

Paul Kessler, another Peoria-area fishing enthusiest, joined me for the day.  We started off at the old lock, chumming with corn and alfalfa pellets, and then rigging up with corn and nightcrawlers.  The corn took a while to bring the carp in, but Paul was able to hook into one right away using a nightcrawler.  It was a good start to the day!

Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio)

My bottom rig with corn got picked up next, and instead of being a common carp or buffalo, it was a grass carp, which was a species we did not expect!  Grass carp usually feed on vegetation and are often seen near the surface.  I guess they feed off the bottom too!

Grass Carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella)

About an hour after we started chumming the common carp really showed up in force.  We probably caught fifteen to twenty of them.  We weighed one of the larger ones at 9 lbs 10 oz.

My next fish was the largest of the day.  We didn't get a weight, but it was a big fat fish!

Paul had a lot of fun catching carp.  This was a new type of fishing for him, and I'm glad we had a lot of action so he could get the hang of it.  Paul is a quick learner, and now he knows everything I do about carp.

The only fish besides carp were a bunch of small drum and one white bass.  Drum are fun when they're big, but they're a nuisance when they're small.  They're also infamous for swallowing the hook so deeply that you have no choice but to cut the line.  Fortunately, most of the ones we caught were hooked in the front of the mouth.

Freshwater Drum (Aplodinotus grunniens)

After the old lock we drove down to the Spoon River and launched our kayaks.  We paddled down to the mouth where it joins the Illinois River.  I fished from shore for a while and caught some drum.  Paul explored the Illinois a bit, then he came back and we both fished the mouth from our kayaks.  We both caught drum, and Paul got one small channel catfish.  I'm sure this is a great fishing spot, but we weren't getting anything else so we didn't stay too long.

The search for a black buffalo continues!

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