Been meaning to hit a couple places that have been on my list for a couple years...didn't want another year to slip by without checking them out.
Had a particular area of the Rock picked out that looks great, like the more remote location, and other factors about it. It required a long dolly on a hiking trail and about a 30' drop on a very high cut bank on side of a hill. Was going to turn around and leave but decided I would give it a go so lowered the yak down the steep using my anchor line. As it turns out there was a couple fisherman down at a small landing on the shore and they were nice and gave me a hand bringing it down. No room besides a small gravel landing so they moved their gear so I could launch. Water was way up where this was and water was in the trees and grasses I believe they must have lowered some dams on lakes in Wisconsin as they said it raised quickly recently. Water was too fast to chance going up or down river and a lot of volume it was pushing a lot of water up in bellowing swirls and whirlpools. Luckily there was a big pool in the vicinity and some backwater so I fished the immediate area for about 1.5hrs or so. The other 2 fisherman were floating large roaches and casting also. They were chasing pike and this was a pike location and before I got there they took one and while I was there I seen them catch a 2nd. The 2nd fish was about 43-44" fish. Yes it's true there are big pike in the Rock. Unfortunately they were also pike harvesters also so as soon as they caught the big fish they quickly packed up and left. They have the right to keep fish I don't have a problem with it just don't quite understand why you would harvest an area you fish a lot. I just had one solid bump but feeling stuck in the big pool I decided I would leave and go elsewhere - I will be back there and find an easier launch when the water is lower and more conducive to paddling.
Up the hill and back down the trail and packed the van and then drove to the Sugar river farther west near the Wisconsin border. Not known to be a stellar fishing river (at least in the Illinois section) it sure has enough volume but 95% of it is a sand bottom no weeds whatsoever and minimal rock. Plenty of laydowns and beautiful and very little fishing pressure. Water was moving pretty fast and I had a hard time finding any quiet water, wanted to find some quiet water with the water being cold fish are slowing down. Extremely enjoyable I only paddled a couple miles upstream and floated back down really enjoyed it and I was able to eek out 5 opportunities (3 smallies gave it a go and 2 pike). I know the fishing won't be stellar on the Sugar but I will give it a go a couple times next year when the water is warmer just for the remote and scenic aspects about it.
Just a couple pics from the Sugar nothing special size-wise, almost embarrased to post them, but I always get a kick out of catching fish for the 1st time from a new river and especially when they are self producing native species.
Two long days of fishing this weekend and too much driving but worth it with the nice weather and changes tree colors.
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