Sunday, April 17, 2016

Quick stop at Rend Lake spillway

I couldn't complain after catching two new lifers in Kentucky (bluntface shiner and bandfin darter), but after the sharp rocks of death and the bulldozer pushing mud into the creek, I was ready to head back to Illinois.  My route took me past Rend Lake, so I stopped at the spillway to fish for a bit (a bit ended up being multiple hours, funny how that happens).



The water was fairly low, and surprisingly there weren't many people fishing.  Usually the concrete ledge separating the rocks and the side channels is packed with people.  I was able to grab the spot right up near the discharge.  I tied on a white curly tail jig and immediately started hooking up with gizzard shad.  None of them were hooked inside the mouth though.

Gizzard Shad (Dorosoma cepedianum)


I saw a few of the shad chasing my jig and actively biting at it.  The jig was pretty big, so I tried switching to a smaller size.  However, with the current and turbulence I wasn't able to get it down to them.  I should have rigged something up with jigs above a sinker.  Oh well.  I switched back to the heavier jig and hooked up with a really nice hybrid striped bass.  This was great, because I need a photo of one!  I kept it in my landing net as I got my camera out, but someone how it spit the hook and flopped back in the water.  Really glad it wasn't a lifer.

For a while the bite really died down, but an hour or so later it picked back up, and this time it was freshwater drum that were biting.  Drum on artificials is unusual for me, and they were nice big fish, so catching them was a lot of fun!

Freshwater Drum (Aplodinotus grunniens)


I was catching them at the current seam between the discharge and the side pool.  My 8 lb line was plenty strong for low current situations, but here I had to be careful not to let the fish head downstream in the current discharge.



Each one was bigger than the last.  They weren't monsters, but they were fun.



The drum bite died off as quickly as it had turned on.  I stopped getting hits, and the only fish I pulled in after that was a foul hooked smallmouth buffalo.  It was a male with spawning tubercles.  I didn't try bottom fishing at this spot, but I'm curious if buffalo could be caught in the pools on either side of the discharge.  Future trip perhaps?

Smallmouth Buffalo (Ictiobus bubalus)


Buffalo are handsome fish, that's for sure.



I didn't pay attention to the time, so I had to make the long drive back to Peoria in the dark.  It was midnight when I finally arrived home.  It was a tiring but very productive trip.  Five new lifers in a two day weekend is not something to be taken for granted!

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