Rock + Sugar

One of Illinois most scenic rivers in Illinois, The Rock River is a great place to get your game fish on.

Rock + Sugar

Postby Skifish1 » Oct Sun 18, 2015 11:21 pm

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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Re: Rock + Sugar

Postby Aux Pleins » Oct Mon 19, 2015 5:25 am

Weird experience on the Rock that's for sure. Kudos for the exploration.
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Re: Rock + Sugar

Postby joetrain » Oct Mon 19, 2015 5:53 am

Joe my hat is off to you. I like the way you are willing to search out and explore more options and catch fish as well. I give you 5 stars. ~JOE~
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Re: Rock + Sugar

Postby FISHdank » Oct Mon 19, 2015 8:42 am

Very cool skidada, like an old fisherman i still know said, its not so much about the fishing or catching its more about the adventure as a hole. That fisherman was you.
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Re: Rock + Sugar

Postby Dr. Utssab » Oct Mon 19, 2015 8:50 am

Way to get out an explore new waters!

Sucks about the guys harvesting pike. Just because you have rights doesn't mean you NEED to exercise them to the fullest extent.
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Re: Rock + Sugar

Postby Skifish1 » Oct Mon 19, 2015 9:18 am

Well doctor these guys were well equipped equipment wise and my impression was they would be CPR but that wasn't the case. They were European and although I could understand them there English was not good. It's more of a cultural thing with some euro types where they want to bring catch home. Like I said nice guys and it's their choice and I have met a lot of fisherman who may have not been born in the states necessarily but choice is harvest instead of CPR. Nice people friendly I don't judge them or suggest release if legal fish I just commend them for the nice catch
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Re: Rock + Sugar

Postby Dr. Utssab » Oct Mon 19, 2015 10:52 am

Yeah I don't automatically assume someone is a scumbag for taking fish. Maybe they only do it every once in awhile....maybe it was their first and last time. Who knows?

I was out 2 days in a row on the south DPR last month. Same guy there both days...took 3 smallies each day. 1 guy fishing a small stretch of water while constantly removing healthy adult fish will deplete a population significantly over the course of a year....hell, over the course of a few months. Imagine if the Dupage regulars kept 1 smallmouth every outing or if the DPR pike guys kept a fish even every other outing. There'd be hardly any decent fish left in a pretty short period of time. We thought the oceans had an endless supply....now look at the tuna situation.
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Re: Rock + Sugar

Postby achotrod » Oct Mon 19, 2015 11:03 am

Way too get out and about! I agree if its legal I wouldnt say anything, but it sure is sad to see especially a big momma like that that will never get a chance to produce hundreds of fish like her.
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Re: Rock + Sugar

Postby Zenfish » Oct Mon 19, 2015 11:25 am

Nice outing(s) Ski. I like the way you write your post. It meanders while being reflective like a Twain narrative. I cringe when I see fish taken as well but I respect the cultural legacy that is being practiced by the Europeans. It's not just Europeans that do this. We're the exception in the world when we follow the practice of CPR.
The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope. -John Buchan
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Re: Rock + Sugar

Postby polishfly » Oct Mon 19, 2015 11:38 am

I'm euro as fuck (but somehow all CPR) and I can for sure say its cultural. My mom gives me shit every time I stop by with pictures of fish and no fish...I think it may be a pride/macho thing? I don't feel the same, in fact, I feel bad for the live bait sometimes and just use lures.
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Re: Rock + Sugar

Postby Skifish1 » Oct Mon 19, 2015 11:54 am

The sad thing about the monster fish is the vast amount of spawn they produce. Taking the rare big females from self producing non stocked waters is probably a bigger impact than we realize.
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Re: Rock + Sugar

Postby apetersen » Oct Mon 19, 2015 1:15 pm

Skifish1 wrote:They were European and although I could understand them there English was not good.


I think you meant their English was not good. Sorry, couldn't help myself.
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Re: Rock + Sugar

Postby rigmewacky » Oct Mon 19, 2015 4:12 pm

Good read Joe. Sounds like an adventure. Bummer about the big pike but like you said it's their choice.
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Re: Rock + Sugar

Postby ccorso » Oct Mon 19, 2015 6:56 pm

Nice report, glad to see some new water being explored. Around ten years ago I was out on the rock river and had a pretty good day catching quite a few walleyes, not sure if the walleye fishing is still any good there.
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Re: Rock + Sugar

Postby coyote » Oct Tue 20, 2015 6:22 am

Cool to see your always searching for new water, i would be intimidated and no clue what to do. Props for being so adventerous.
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Re: Rock + Sugar

Postby urbanHog312 » Oct Tue 20, 2015 9:23 am

takes a brass pair to explore, especially alone. reminds of when i started turkey hunting my freshman year of college. walking around thousands of acres of public land with a 12 gauge, running in to other hunters and horseback riders, chasing gobbles i heard off in the distance, not knowing if i crossed on to private property, getting lost in the woods. but all that stuff turns you in to a far more experienced hunter/fisherman.
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Re: Rock + Sugar

Postby Rambler » Oct Wed 21, 2015 4:56 pm

I've stopped along the Sugar a few times in the past 2-3 years. Never caught one damned thing! Glad to hear someone has had some luck.

Had sort of a strange experience though. I was fishing up at the North end of the Colored Sands & kept hearing something splashing in the water off to my right. Couldn't manage to see it until it finally came by me. Saw it for only a split second & can't figure out what it was. It wasn't a fish and it wasn't anything like a mink, otter, beaver, etc. I've spent a lot of time in the woods for over 60 years and have no idea what it was. Guess it'll remain a mystery.

Too bad about those guys taking the pike.
Keep calm and fish on...

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Re: Rock + Sugar

Postby Skifish1 » Oct Thu 22, 2015 6:38 am

Rambler wrote:I've stopped along the Sugar a few times in the past 2-3 years. Never caught one damned thing! Glad to hear someone has had some luck.

Had sort of a strange experience though. I was fishing up at the North end of the Colored Sands & kept hearing something splashing in the water off to my right. Couldn't manage to see it until it finally came by me. Saw it for only a split second & can't figure out what it was. It wasn't a fish and it wasn't anything like a mink, otter, beaver, etc. I've spent a lot of time in the woods for over 60 years and have no idea what it was. Guess it'll remain a mystery.

Too bad about those guys taking the pike.


Well colored sands was where I was at. As for the creature you really haven't described it so its hard to comment but you named the most obvious larger mammal types but perhaps snapper or large green turtle is possibility.

It is cool seeing something surprising last year on kish I thought I seen a small black bear scurry up a tree that was right on shoreline as it was jet black but farther away. Most likely it was a pine martin though
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Re: Rock + Sugar

Postby Rambler » Oct Fri 23, 2015 3:09 pm

Yeah - it wasn't a turtle. As I said I only saw it for a split second so it's pretty hard to describe it. I've been trying to convince myself it was a carp but my gut says no.

I've never seen a martin in IL. Never heard of one either. Could it have been a mink? They actually get pretty big. I saw one along the DPR at Irving a few years ago that was pretty big. It would be very cool to see a bear out that way.
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Re: Rock + Sugar

Postby JustinCarf » Oct Fri 23, 2015 7:54 pm

Way to get out there and explore, and find some fish on new waters, Ski!!!
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