Sunday, May 22, 2016

Creek fishing by Charleston, Illinois

Towards the end of May my friends Ken and Michael were doing a road trip through the midwest.  They were in the Ozarks while I was busy working like a normal person, but over the weekend I was able to join them in eastern Illinois.  We fished a small creek in the Embarras River drainage near Charleston.  This creek has a good mix of micros and non-micros, and Ken and Michael were hoping to add quite a few to their lifer count.

Longear Sunfish (Lepomis megalotis)
There isn't much in this creek I haven't caught before, so I messed around with sunfish, bass, and suckers while Ken and Michael cursed at their darters and madtoms.  Longear sunfish in this drainage are really beautiful.  The bluegill were handsome as well, even if they don't have eyepopping colors like the longears.

Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus)
This creek is one of the best spots in Illinois to reliably catch spotted bass, which are at the edge of their range.  Ken and Michael were both excited to catch theirs.

Spotted Bass (Micropterus punctulatus)
Besides the obvious spots on the white belly, one way to ID spotted bass is to look for the rectangular shaped tongue patch.  Largemouth bass sometimes have a faint one, but it's more prominent on spotted bass.

There was a mixed school of redhorse and hogsuckers, so I tried for them as well.  A big hogsucker actually broke my line, believe it or not, but I redeemed myself by catching a few golden redhorse.

Golden Redhorse (Moxostoma erythrurum)
Most of them had spawning tubercles that were starting to fade, but this one still had pretty good ones.  There were some shorthead redhorse mixed in as well, but I wasn't able to land one.

Ken and Michael did pretty well with darters, but the brindled madtoms proved to be quite difficult.  I gave a few pointers, but for the most part they worked on them on their own.  In my experience madtoms are initially frustrating, but eventually something clicks and you're able to find and catch them consistently.  Ken and Michael will get there!

Brindled Madtom (Noturus miurus)
After a hard day of fishing we drove up to Champaign-Urbana to eat at one of my favorite BBQ places from my undergrad days, the Black Dog.  As usual, Ken ate way more food than would seem possible, and all of us enjoyed kicking back and relaxing back in civilization.

More to come soon!

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