July 31, 2008

What’s Biting? Normal Man Reels in 43-Inch Muskie at Evergreen

By Scott Richardson, The Pantagraph, Bloomington, Ill.

Jul. 31--HUDSON -- A couple of weeks ago, The Pantagraph featured a story on night fishing for muskies. It told how anglers could take big fish after dark when angling pressure was less and muskies were actively feeding and vulnerable.

A few days later, guide Thad Hinshaw and friend Bob Park proved the theory. Hinshaw, who has caught loads of muskies around the clock, led Park to a 43-inch bruiser at Evergreen Lake. Time: 8:56 p.m.

"This type of fishing is not for the casual fisherman or the faint of heart," said Park, 44, of Normal. "Unless you don't have a pulse, you can't help from getting excited."

Park usually fishes for walleye, crappie or bass. He's caught big northern pike. He had also caught a few small muskie by accident, but this was Park's first trip on the water to specifically catch muskies. Hinshaw is a devoted muskie guide and tournament angler who rarely fishes for anything else unless ice covers the lake. He didn't need to read a newspaper article to learn how to catch them after the sun goes down. He's done it plenty of times.

The pair targeted drop-offs and flat weedy areas.

"We used a variety of muskie baits from giant spinner-baits of different colors to crank baits of various color combinations and sizes, to slow-rolling big top water lures," he said.

After nearly 3 hours of casting, they had nothing to show for their work. But as it happens with muskies, the evening quiet was shattered in a single breathtaking moment. The water exploded, and the muskie grabbed Park's lure as he worked it passed wood in just 2 feet of water.

"The fish jumped out of the water twice trying to shake the giant surface bait," Park said.

Hinshaw got the net under the fish in time; it broke the heavy leader. After pictures, the beast was freed to fish another time.

What's biting

Crappie -- Good at Shabbona; fair at Banner Marsh, Lake Bloomington, Clinton, Dawson; slow elsewhere;

Saugeye -- Fair at Evergreen; slow at Dawson;

Sauger -- Slow on the Illinois River;

Walleye -- Fair at Lake Bloomington, Dawson, Clinton, Shelbyville; good at Shabbona;

Largemouth bass -- Very good at Clinton, Shelbyville; Good at Sangchris, Shabbona; Fair at Bloomington, Evergreen, Spring Lake, Weldon Springs;

Smallmouth bass -- Fair at Powerton, LaSalle Lake;

Striped bass -- Slow at Clinton, Sangchris, Lake Bloomington;

White bass -- Good on the Illinois River and Shelbyville, but you must be there early or late; fair at Clinton;

Catfish -- Very good at Sangchris, Clinton Lake, Shabbona. Good at Shelbyville, Illinois River, Powerton, Spring Lake; Weldon Springs, Dawson. Fair to good at Evergreen.

Muskies -- Good at Shabbona; fair at Evergreen;

Bluegills -- Very good at Sangchris, Dawson; Fair to good elsewhere.

Got a fish story, a hot spot, big fish or lots of them? Something funny happen? Phone Pantagraph outdoor editor Scott Richardson at (309) 820-3227 or e-mail


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