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Rainy Day on the River

by: Rob Piorkowski
Winter has finally hit, and my rods are cleaned and put away for the winter. This past year I fished the Fox River more than ever. I've learned about new spots and techniques, and caught more fish than last year. I also proved to myself that it definitely takes spending more time on the water to become a better fisherman. Last month as I was driving over the Fox River near Geneva, Ill, I started thinking about summer time fishing. I remembered one day when there was miserable weather, but it was great for fishing.
It was late summer, and the sky was very overcast. Clouds were looming, and rain was in the forecast for the afternoon. I rigged up the 9-foot flyrod and waded into the river. I started out throwing to the bridge supports, then thoroughly fished the breaks. I fished a number of pools, by letting the fly float down with the current. I also stripped the fly across the current breaks, searching for fish hiding in the slow flow. I tried several combinations of colors, including white, green and chartreuse. After about 2 hours, I decided that I needed to make a change. The flyrod was not producing, and I had one light hit all morning. The chart/white clouser minnow wasn't the hot bait of the day as usual. The fly I was throwing was only 1- inches long, and I needed more mass and length for enticing the fish. I put the flyrod away and decided to hook up the spinning rod to determine what was going on in the river. I love to flyfish, but sometimes its best to get out the spinning tackle and discover what is going on under the surface. By switching to the spinning rod, I would be better able to determine depth of concentration and a feeding pattern.

I headed over to Riverside Sports, bought some bait and headed back to the river. By this time, conditions were tough. It was raining steadily with a slight wind, and I was wet and fishless. Rains had increased the current turbidity, and the feeding pattern had changed. Under these conditions, I knew that fishing should be great.

Once I found a good looking pool, I moved all around and fished at different angles. I kept casting to the pool until I found the retrieve that started to produce some action. Counts of 0-4 seconds produced nothing. Counts of 5-6 seconds produced hits, and counts greater than 6 were usually conducive to snags. Basic technique was quarter casting out and letting my jig drift down current. Most of my action occurred during a slow retrieve. Hits were predominately soft taps so at first snags resembled fish. Near the dam, the best method was to cast into the boil, count to 5 or 6, and then slowly retrieve your bait. This pattern got the bait directly to the strike zone, and produced a hit almost every cast. (Depending on water flows, vary the timing to get the best sink rate for your area). I also think the condition of the bait effects the fishing. To benefit your catching, keep using fresh bait, and ensure that it's hooked properly. At least for smallmouth and walleye, it seems to help keep a straight bait alignment. (On the otherside, I have purposely rigged bait to twist out of control when fishing for trout). Stinger hooks would've caught the short biters, but of course those were in a new package in my trunk. Stinger hooks either hand tied or purchased can greatly increase your catch.

Finally after feeding almost all of my bait to the fish, I hooked a nice smallmouth. The fish headed straight downstream, and wanted nothing to do with me. After a short fight, I grabbed the fish, removed the hook and admired my rainy day catch. For several hours of work, I had a lot of hits and caught one 14-inch smallmouth. Just as I released the smallmouth, lightening started booming overhead. I had been fishing in a downpour, but lightening added a new twist. Unlucky for me, the lightening started and I hastily got out of the water. Besides, I only had one nightcrawler left for the smallies lunch. Lucky for the fish, I had discovered their feeding pattern but was forced to exit the water.

I remember the loud booming lightening, and frantically wading back to shore. On the bank, I looked back at my hotspot and tried to envision it remaining the same until next time. The rain had washed away all traces of my fishing. The area looked as if no one had tossed a line, or hooked a fish. I remember driving home that day thinking about the feeding pattern I had discovered. With a little more time, I could've caught a ton of fish. But because of the lightening, I new I'd have to make a return trip to test out my new fishing pattern. Another excuse to go fishing.



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Added: Fri Oct 03 2008
Last Modified: Thu May 14 2009

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