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.
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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