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Completely new to fishing - Pls help

12447 Views 28 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  Augy
Hello all,

Quick history: Recently purchased a house on the Fox River; previous owners left some fishing stuff, so I thought I'd give it a go. Did some research online and asked those nice people at Gander mountain to give me a beginners load of tackle. And off I went to the bottom of my yard.

Now, in the last week or two I have had lots of, well I guess you'd call it success. I have 4 rods, usually use only 2. One has the thickest line on it ever (seriously, it's about 1/8th of an inch diameter). There's a treble hook coming from a triple swivel thing on about 8" of line. There's a big heavy #4 weight attached from about 12" line on the other part of the swivel. The other rods have a sinker freely moving to a swivel then maybe 12 to 18 inches of line to a single hook. All have 12 Lb monofilament line on them (re-done by those nice people at Gander, who suggested it then took my money)

I have, so far used corn (the 'default' bait as the wife doesn't mind it in the fridge), chicken liver (yuck), red worms, nightcrawlers and something called 'Cheese-O' from the Gas station.

well over 200 Carp.
One Drum.
One 4 inch Catfish.

The biggest carp was maybe 20". Hauled it in, no fight whatsoever. The catfish was a suprise and broke up the monotony of carp :)

My spot is at the end of my yard, which lies pretty much midway between the Saint Charles and Geneva dams/weirs.

Help needed: I don't know what else to do - Carp are getting a bit tiresome, especially as all I need to do is reel in and there they are. They don't even fight. I catch one every 3 to 4 minutes between 6pm and 8 pm with 2 lines in the water. Some specifics though:

- It's alittle too hot to stand at the edge of my yard throwing jigs(?) out for Bass, although I would love to. Any other ways to fish for bass?

- The hooks seem to rip the fishes mouth sometimes, and it is worrying me. I don't want to hurt them (I throw them all back in btw). Is there a way to stop this?

- Am I doomed insomuch as Carp are all that live at the end of my yard? How can I catch catfish or pike or some bigger fish? With 'simple' baits that won't freak either my wife or me out?

- Is it possible to float fish without the float always ending up next to the bank?

I don't really want to spend too much money (house renovation is draining the funds) but am willing to buy new equipment if it's really necessary.

Many thanks and apologies for the long post and long list of questions.


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200 carps in two weeks! yikes! What is your address? (Even though carp isn't gamefish, so not everyone is thinking what I am thinking...) I am sensing an unofficial WCF carp outting in your backyard for the near future!! j/k. We wouldn't invade your space like that--unless you make the invitation... *hint*hint* j/k

First, to avoid the tearing of the mouth in the carp you are catching, try switching to regular bait hooks instead of treble hooks. You may not catch as many fish, but they will be much easier to get out of the mouth without hurting them.

To target gamefish, I think most of us would recommend simply using larger hooks and different baits. You will probably need to fish a little more actively than tossing the rig into the water and waiting. You are right in that most of the lures you just toss out will eventually float back to shore, so you'll have to work them a little before they do (twitches and jerks as you reel them in).

A personal suggestion would be to try some heavier plastics/rubber lures, like stick worms (that look like dying baitfish), your wife will probably not complain too much about those--except maybe about their cost. The heavier plastics will sink at where you've dropped them and stay put longer on the bottom. I'm sure if you leave it there, they will eventually be next to shore due to the current, but they should stay put longer. You'll still want to do the twitching and jerking action though. The carp shouldn't go after the plastics, especially if you are using 1/0+ size hooks to rig them.

Many of the guys here are much more familiar with the Fox, so I will leave it to them to provide you with more helpful suggestions on location and stuff.

Welcome to WCF, good luck and do keep posting your successes in the backyard. We are all very envious.
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Welcome to wcf Gal. Sounds like you've hit the carp jackpot. My suggestion, don't limit yourself to fishing your backyard. The fox is a great river for all kinds of gamefish. Fish below the dams. They are hotspots for many gamefish. Perhaps get yourself a small boat/canoe and fish different areas. or get yourself a pair of waders.

If you still insist on fishing your backyard, and I understand why you would want to, use minnows. Medium and large minnows will deter carp and panfish. Bass will hit crawlers but so will panfish and that can get little annoying. Using live bait is great when your starting out or want a relaxing day of fishing, but soon you'll appreciate the artificial stuff and want to fish actively. Also, sometimes the artificial stuff will outfish live bait.

If your having trouble with your floats coming ashore, you can fish bottom. Get yourself some floating jigs and some splitshot weights. Attach the floating jig at the end of your line and attach the splitshots a foot or more above the jig. Depends on how far off the bottom you want your bait. This is basically a ghetto version of the lindy rig.

One other method would be to freeline a minnow. attach the minnow either thru the lips or slightly thru the dorsal fin and toss him out there with no weight. if the water is deep, add a small splitshot a little above the bait and it will keep the minnow down in the water column.

There are many other ways to fish but these methods are pretty basic and should land you some gamefish. If they are there that is. :wink:

Read previous posts from our members and check out some of the information available online. has some great information about the different species of fish and how to catch them.

Good luck! Don't hesitate to ask more questions, it's what this forum is all about.

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Thanks for the quick response guys. I see no reason why we can't have a small gathering (3-4 people) for a few hours (5 pm to 9pm?) when the wife is away :)

I think I understand about the 'jerks' etc to bring the lure back in - What is the timing on these jerks? Every minute or so? Also, suggestions on baits on these bigger hooks? I was given some plastic/rubber worm type things (they smell of licquorice) that what you mean? So a big weight, then swivel, then 12" line then hook with plastic thing on and throw it out and periodically jerk it until you get it back to shore, rinse and repeat?

@Augy - I don't know what a crawler is...I assume thats a bait..maybe short for Nightcrawler? And I don't know what a panfish is either. I do have a boat (came with the house) - A metal rectangular thing, well, I mean the front is the same width as the back. Next door neighbour said a 'trawling'? motor (battery powered) was ideal for it, but thats a bit pricey for me at the moment. Also, it has a very small leak (takes it in hour to fill up the 2 small channels running longitudinally along the boat), no idea how to fix that....Caulk?

I'll try to get some bigger hooks today and try some jerky movements. Will try the minnows at the weekend. Blatantly avoiding work right now to go read fishresource for some tips.


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Panfish are smaller fish: bluegills and the like. Crawlers is Nightcrawlers.

Jerks are a bit more regular, jerk-pause 5-10 seconds-jerk-pause 5-10, etc.

You also might try tight-line fishing with minnows or golden shinners. A 3/4oz weight at end of line then a three way swivel up about two feet and off the third eye a two foot leader with a circle-hook and the minnow. Toss this out and the weight will keep the line aa little tight, and the bait in place. You then watch the rod tip for a fish on.

I agree with Augy, live bait at first will help you to get familiar with fishing. Lures will come later as you get tired of live bait....
trolley motors aren't all that expensive if you search on ebay. you can get some sweet deals. of course you'll need a battery too.

as far as patching up the boat, sorry, can't help you there. duct tape???

jerking and twitching are two different things. twitching is more like small hops of the lure along the bottom to make it look alive. jerking is a stronger more sharp jerk of the rod to create the action of the "jerkbait". you would twitch live bait such as a crawler along the bottom but jerking is used with artificial stuff to create a lifelike motion. of course you can twitch an artificial worm along the bottom as well.
if you want to twitch something i would say go and get a pack of senkos they are a great bait, i have had a lot of success with them. i use 4 inch smoke with black and purple and a 1/0 or 2/0 hook, just read the senko article in the tacklebox part it helps alot
The frequency of the jerks depends on what type of plastic worms you are using. The ones that the garmin guys gave you probably requires a little more frequent jerking and reeling than others. If you want to jerk only once per minute or so and target some large mouth bass, I would recommend buying one pack of Gary Yamamoto senkos (purple with some flakes on it) 4" for $5.99 at your local baitshop just to test out. Keep your line tight after each jerk though. Rig them texas style (yahoo search on the internet for pictures of how to do that) on a 2/0 sized offset hook. Remember to set your hook once the fish has the senko in its mouth.

Augy's recommendation of using live minnows (also from your local baitshop) on a hook attached to a swivel and sinker is also a great bet as well. It will probably be cheaper than plastic worms rigged texas style (because they tear easily). However, your wife may complain about those if they ever make it into the house. Let us know how things go.
Fill ur boat up with water and observe (hopefully its on a trailer so you can view the bottom). Put it above somewhere where you can see water spots i.e. grass wont work. I used a tarp.
On my boat I used marine grade caulk and caulked whatever had a leak. Dont overlook ur drainplug I ended up caulking all the rivets on my boat and still had a slow leak. :x Turned out to be the drain plug, damn wallyworld drainplugs. :evil:
Hey Galileo, welcome to WCF!

I've actually had 3-4 chances to go out to the Fox River (well this large creek running out of it in southern Wisconsin). I caught lots of carp using corn and nightcrawlers -- It seems like you've got the hang of rigging them up, I'd recommend a larger weight if there's a stronger current.

In terms of gamefish, I pulled out two species -- 3 Northern Pike and 1 Largemouth bass. I caught the pike using a gold colored spoon lure (there are many kinds and they should only cost 3-4 dollars max) but it's basically a ~2" metal blade/"spoon" with a treble hook on it, and all you have to do is cast into the current-areas and reel it in at a medium pace. This will cause the "spoon" to flash as it reflects the sun, it wobbles causing vibration, and looks like a baitfish (golden roach or something of that sort). This is a very easy lure to use, that's why I'd reccomend it. If you don't have one, I'm sure an inline spinnerbait bait will work as well. You will know if you're using the lure properly if you feel that vibration/wobbling at the end of your rod tip.

If you don't have luck with the spoon, you can also try using a 2-3" white Mister Twister on a 1/8 oz jighead. This is basically a small plastic worm/grub slid onto a jighead (hook w/ a lead ball "head"). You can cast this out and reel it in at a medium pace, or just cast out and jig it up and down. I caught a pike this way as well.

The largemouth bass I caught was pretty small but I caught it using a nightcrawaler.

If you don't have any luck with these two lures, I'd recommend using minnows -- this should always prove effective for gamefish in illinois rivers like the Fox and even Des Plaines river and most lakes.
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WOW! Props to the guys at WCF for chiming in so fast. You guys are the best!

First of all, Galileo, welcome to my site and we all look forward to your upcoming fishing adventures. You certainly live on a gold mine there on the Fox River.

Second... don't worry about not knowing all the fishing terminology, lure names, etc. We're a good bunch here and will get you going in no time.

Now... sounds like you've done a fantastic job with using the equipment on hand and have certainly conqured the "Carp in Your Backyard" technique. GREAT first step.

I'd be interested is seeing some pics of your fishing equipment and boat. Photo posting info is on the boards here, or you can just email me a pic or two and i'll post them myself.

Everyone has had some terrific suggestions for you. I'd like to see you get on some smallmouth bass, being that smallies are very popular on the Fox River, and are very likely in or near your backyard (send a pic of your backyard fishing spot as well).

Live bait such as minnows or leeches are very productive - but DO require more "active" fishing. And all artificial baits/lures require active fishing as well. Now "active fishing" doesn't mean you need to go out and buy a bunch of stuff and go all over the river finding fish; rather, it means letting the beer get warm and not sit around waiting for another carp while you target some good "gamefish" (smallmouth bass, walleye, musky, largemouth bass).

Also, I'll be happy to post some pics of lures, rigs, techniques, etc., to help you on your path to becoming a good fisherman.

Again, welcome to WindyCityFishing, my friend!
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Hey all,

Last night didn't go so well unfortunately.....aside from being a bit hot I lost 4 senkos in 30 minutes using a "Carolina" jig that the bait shop person showed me. I just kept on getting stuck on the bottom and no pulling, moving angles, etc made them come loose. This was using 4" Yamasenkos (purple) and 2/0 hooks and brass weight with a bead. Seems to get caught up every cast, maybe it's the area.

Thanks for the tips on the boat; I will try that over a tarp.

And thanks for the warm welcome

Minnows at the weekend I think. I'll go and get some pictures of the tackle and the spot today and post them later on.

Wasn't a total wash out - Got 3 carp on nightcrawlers. More to come later!


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I'm surprise to hear that the senkos are falling off. Although I don't think carolina rigging them is causing that to occur, maybe you want to try texas rigging them. Just hook and the senko (no swivel, bead, or bullet weight), with the tip of the hook embedded in the worm. This will still get caught up in fallen branches, but not weeds.
Hm... Yeah you might want to try getting rid of that brass weight/bead and fish the senko weightless with just the 2/0 hook like Edai said. However, I've never had too much luck fishing soft plastics in the river (unless it's a grub that has a swimming action to it). The problem with fishing a senko or softplastic jerkbait in a river is that the current sweeps it off to the side and affects how it twitches and how it falls, maybe try fishing these closer to shore near structure (fallen tree or something) where there isn't much current. You probably lost your 4 senkos because the brass weight took your lure/hook all the way to the bottom of the riverbed which is probably full of rocks and who knows what else. Good luck, lookin' forward to seeing you hook into some fish!
Do you have any clue how lucky you are to have a house on the river? Thats my dream.

You are going to lose alot of lures on the river thats just the nature of the beast. No snags No Fish.

I know that you dont want to but I would just start out using a 1/16th oz jig and 2" twister tail. Its not always needed but I usually tip them with a med Fathead minnow.

They are cheap and it no big deal replacing them. Colors mainly use: Chartruese,Black,White and Motor Oil. They seem to be the best producers. I dont think the color of the jighead matters. 1/16 oz works well in most situations I have found that 1/8 oz hangs up way to much. I like to cast cross current and either bounce the jig off the bottom,let the current take it or slowly retrieve it so the jig is just off the bottom.

I would cast anywhere there is a disruption in current, boulders trees, gravel beds, bends, etc..... u get the point.

Fish I have caught or someone I was fishing with caught using these techniques include: SMB,LMB,Pike,White Bass, Yellow Bass, Crappie, Bluegill, Perch, Flathead and Channel Cats, Carp, Drum, Quillback. I am sure I am missing something.

You literaly catch anything on a jig, it is considered the most versatile lure out there. Just like fishing itself without patience nuthing will work.

And just so you know, the river is very humbling. One day the fish are there te next they is gone. Everytime I fish the river I learn something.
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and when you ain't catchin nothin, drink a few cold ones and catch a buzz! makes the slow day of fishing much more satisfying. :mrgreen:
A belated welcome to WCF, Galileo. You can't go wrong with any of the suggestions above, but in particular, I'll just second the ones from MrB about using twister tails on small jig heads and krnfishboy's suggestion about using inline spinners (they're also called rooster tails sometimes, which is the name of one particular brand of inline spinners, I think). Twister tail jigs are not only one of the most versatile options for game fish, but they're also one of the cheapest options. Inline spinners are great for catching smallmouth bass in the Fox river, or any river for that matter. Good luck in your back yard :)
Welcome Galileo
i'm also new shore fishing so the only advice i can give you is read as much as you can and ask question everyone here has been a great help to me and i'm sure they will be for you also
good luck looking foward to reading your posts
Hey gang...

Here's the pics of Galileo's fishing area, equipment, etc. Now when everyone is done drooling about having a spot to fish like this in his backyard, let's give him some more tips and advice. Thanks!

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