Week of November 5, 2012

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Last Open Water Walleyes

By Daniel Quade

Late autumn and early winter can be an intimidating time to chase walleyes. With more anglers sitting in treestands instead of boats, fishing reports get a little sketchy. Plus, the demise of the thermocline means old marble-eyes is free to roam the entire water column -- opening up a wealth of potential habitat. Fortunately, some of late fall’s finest fishing is a satisfyingly simple and straightforward affair.


“As soon as the water temperature hits the low 50s, migrations of lake-run minnows, tullibees and other baitfish begin arriving in the shallows,” explains veteran guide Jon Thelen. “Hungry walleyes follow, and the fish often hang around to take advantage of the forage through freeze-up and beyond.”


The ensuing feeding frenzy often creates fast action for anglers, although few capitalize on it. Thelen cites a prime example; “For one of my trips this October, I found a small lake where the water temperature was 48 degrees,” he said. “The water was cooler than in some of the surrounding lakes, so I knew there was a good chance of finding walleyes shallow. Sure enough, the fish were snapping in just 7 feet of water, and I had the entire lake to myself.”


To tap the shallow bite, Thelen sets his sights on near-shore structure. He says that it typically outperforms offshore humps, flats and reefs because water temperatures close to the mainland better hit the preferred range for baitfish. “Shoreline breaks and points are good, as are humps that are either connected to the shoreline or adjacent to it,” he says. “Having deep water close by is a plus.”


The aptitude of likely structure is further improved by the presence of cover in the form of vegetation, timber or rocks.


After identifying promising fishing grounds on a lakemap, he motors in close with his main engine, kills the outboard, fires up his electric trolling motor and edges closer to scan the deep, structural perimeter with his electronics. “Stealth is important in shallow water,” he notes. “So I move in quietly from deep water, watching for fish on my electronics.”


Once fish are marked, he drops a minnow-tipped jig to bottom and slowly but surely begins fishing his way into shallower water until the action stops.


Depths vary by lake and conditions, but Thelen rarely fishes deeper than 15 feet once the cold-water shallow bite heats up. Even when walleyes aren’t feeding high on the structure, they don’t automatically zoom out to depths of 30 feet or more, he says. They rest close to their feeding areas. By fishing my way up the structure, he catches some of these inactive walleyes while working toward the most aggressive ones.


Thelen’s go-to presentation is vertically jigging a Lindy Watsit Jig tipped with a 3-inch rainbow chub. “A bulky bait is key in the fall because the forage is large and the walleyes are aggressive,” he says.


The jig sports a chunky soft-plastic body, and its portly aura is further

enlarged by a wide, undulating tail and tantalizing trio of jiggling

appendages on each side of the bait, making it perfect for such “sumo” duty. Watsit Grubs are available in three sizes, and Thelen invariably opts for the largest, the 2-inch “Fat” version, when targeting hot-to-trot fall walleyes.


Key colors hinge on natural tones, such as blends of brown and white. “Earlier in the open-water season, when walleyes are roaming around eating a variety of food and the water may be a little stained from algae blooms, bright colors like chartreuse can help them hone in on your jig or lure,” he says. “But this time of year when the fish are focused on large concentrations of the same type of forage and the water is clear you’re not going to fool them with gaudy presentations. You want jig and grub colors that match the norm.”


A lively rainbow chub adds bulk, beefing up the jig’s profile while sweetening the deal with the scent and taste of real meat. And, since Thelen gently nose-hooks the minnow, it stays alive and lively, ensuring even the slowest of deadstick maneuvers enjoys a bit of enticing, tail-wagging locomotion. In a pinch, a variety of livebait works well, including everything from small “light-pike” sized sucker minnows to the baitshop’s brawniest fatheads.


When it comes to animating the presentation once it’s been dropped into the strike zone, Thelen keeps jig-strokes on the subtle side.


“Less is more,” he grins. “Snap the rod tip 6-inches or so to lift the jig and get the walleyes’ attention. Then let it fall to just off bottom and hold it still, before lowering it all the way to the bottom and setting it there for a few seconds. Raise it again, snap the rod tip and repeat the process.”


Walleyes, being the moody, ever-fickle fish we all love, require some experimentation with the the intensity of the lifts and duration of holds. Sometimes, successful variations of (or additions to) the snap-drop-hold-drop cadence include dragging the jig along bottom, such as when slowly slipping down-current in a river.


Too, there are times when nothing beats a Lindy Slick Jig dressed with a mid-sized minnow impaled through the mouth and out the side so it writhes and swims sideways like a dying baitfish. As a bonus, if there are jumbo crappies in the vicinity, you’ll know it because they’ll smash it as fast as a walleye.


Even during a hot bite, a cool hand is key to turning takes into catches. “If you set the hook the second you feel a fish you’ll often pull the jig the out of the walleye’s mouth,” Thelen said. “Wait for the second ‘thunk’ before setting.”


A low-stretch superline aids strike detection, though he adds a 3-foot length of 6-pound-test Silver Thread Fluorocarbon to the business end for reduced visibility. He uses a Lindy No-Snagg Swivel to join the lines, noting that the swivel also limits line twist, which is a common challenge when jigging beefy presentations.


Add it all together and Thelen’s shallow-water system can produce banner catches throughout the glory days of late fall. Best of all, it’s an easy-to-fish pattern for picking apart prime structure, and it’s a heck of a lot more fun than freezing in a treestand.


Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels for November 2, 2012 


Prevailing winds out of the north this week have caused temperatures to be cooler than average in most places across the Great Lakes basin. Over the last six days of October, the Lake Erie and Lake Ontario basins each received over 1.5 inches of rain. Looking at the entire month, each of the Great Lakes received above average rainfall for October. Expect temperatures to remain below seasonal averages through the weekend with continued chances of precipitation near lakes Erie and Ontario.


The water level of Lake Superior is 1 inch lower than its level of one year ago, while Lake Michigan-Huron is 15 inches lower than its level from last year. Lakes St. Clair, Erie, and Ontario are 13, 16, and 13 inches, respectively, lower than their levels of a year ago. Over the next month, Lake Superior and Lake Michigan-Huron are each forecasted to drop 2 inches from their current levels, while the water levels of lakes St. Clair and Erie are expected to fall 5 and 2 inches, respectively. Lake Ontario is predicted to remain near its current level over the next thirty days.


Lake Superior's outflow through the St. Marys River is projected to be below average for the month of November. Lake Huron's outflow into the St. Clair River and the outflow from Lake St. Clair into the Detroit River are

also expected to be below average throughout the month of November.

Lake Erie's outflow through the Niagara River and the outflow of Lake Ontario into the St. Lawrence River are predicted to be below average in November.


Lake Superior and Lake Michigan-Huron are below chart datum. Users of the Great Lakes, connecting channels and St. Lawrence River should keep informed of current conditions before undertaking any activities that could be affected by changing water levels. Mariners should utilize navigation charts and refer to current water level readings.





St. Clair



Level for Nov 2






Datum, in ft






Diff in inches






Diff last month






Diff from last yr







Bass Pro Shops plans 7th Florida Store

Bass Pro Shops will open a 70,000 square foot Bass Pro Shops Outpost store in Tallahassee, Florida. The new location is targeted to open in 2013. The store will initially generate about 200 jobs, which will be offered to the outdoor enthusiasts in the Tallahassee area.


Bass Pro Shops opened its first Outpost store in Branson, MO in 2006. On May 12, 2009

Bass Pro Shops received from the U.S. Patent and Trademark office

registration No. 3, 621, 050 for Bass Pro Shops Outpost® for: retail stores featuring clothing, home furnishings, fishing supplies, hunting supplies, camping supplies and sporting goods.


Additionally new Bass Pro Shops outdoor stores have been announced for Anchorage, Alaska, Loveland, CO, Colorado Springs, CO; Atlantic City, NJ; Bristol, TN; Little Rock, AR; Memphis, TN; Bridgeport, CT and Sayreville, NJ.


More guns, still less crime

According to the most recent crime data released by the FBI for 2011, violent crime is down for the fifth straight year. When one drills down into

the data, the long-term trend is astounding: Violent crime has fallen 65 percent since 1993

Lake Michigan

IL DNR to hold open meeting Nov 15

Chicagoland meeting on Lake Michigan stocking & Fishing

The Illinois DNR is holding an informational public meeting. Topics of discussion include changes to the Lake Michigan salmon stocking strategy, status of yellow perch and changes to black bass regulations in the Illinois waters of Lake Michigan.   


There will be presentations and time for questions and an open discussion on matters of mutual concern.  It is important to note the lakewide DNR's

have already formulated their stocking cuts for 2013 and have made adjustments in their egg taking tallies for salmon this year.  


The meeting will be held Thursday, November 15, 7:00 PM at 9511 Harrison St, in Des Plaines, Illinois.  


Park on the south side of building and enter through south doors.  If you have any question call 847-294-4134.


Chicago Mayor should share blame for Mayhem, Says CCRKBA

BELLEVUE, WA – Anti-gun Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel should shoulder some of the blame for his city’s on-going bloodbath because his policies are leaving citizens defenseless against the violent criminal element, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms said today.


Emanuel, former chief of staff for President Barack Obama – who adopted Chicago a after the Supreme Court ruling in 2010 essentially nullified the city’s ban on handgun ownership.”


“Rahm Emanuel has some blood on his hands,” CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb observed. “He and the city council have done everything possible to prevent law-abiding Chicago residents from exercising their restored Second Amendment rights in the two years since the Supreme Court’s landmark McDonald ruling. They have stalled, dodged and road-blocked efforts to bring sanity to the city’s restrictive gun regulations, all in an effort to discourage citizens from arming themselves against criminal violence.


“And what does the city have to show for it,” he mused. “So far this year,

all Chicago can offer as a measure of its gun policy effectiveness is a

body count of more than 435 people, which is more than all of last year. It is despicable that the city under Mayor Emanuel continues to envelope honest citizens in bureaucratic red tape while it is clearly unable to curb the violence.


“It is time for Emanuel and his council cronies to stand aside and let citizens have the tools to fight back,” Gottlieb stated. “The high court made it possible for Chicago residents to exercise their right to have a firearm for personal protection. The city under Emanuel has adopted an anti-gun strategy to deliberately thwart the court’s intentions.


“Mayor Emanuel, like his former boss in the White House, doesn’t have a plan that works,” he said. “Since he seems unwilling to follow the court’s wishes, and appears unable to lead his city out of despair, perhaps he should just get out of the way and give his citizens a level playing field against violent criminals.


“Emanuel’s failed policies show that elections have consequences,” he concluded. “That’s something to consider as his former boss is looking at a second term, during which he might try to take these policies to a national level.”

Hunting opportunities at Marseilles State Fish 7 Wildlife Area

Deer and upland game hunting opportunities begin Nov 7th

MARSEILLES, IL –The Illinois DNR announced the continuation of hunting opportunities at the Marseilles State Fish and Wildlife Area in Marseilles, IL.  Deer and upland game hunting will be allowed on Wednesdays through Sundays this season beginning November 7th.    The site will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. 


Legally permitted hunters can access the site starting at 5:30 a.m. Wednesday-Sunday and must exit the site by 7:30 p.m. on available hunting days.  Normal hunting hours (one-half hour before sunset to one-half hour after sunset) still apply.  During the Firearm Deer Season, a manned check station will be open an hour earlier at 4:30 a.m.  Detailed information can be found on the IDNR website at www.dnr.illinois.gov or by calling Illini State Park at 815-795-2448.

DNR to hold open meeting Nov 15

Chicagoland meeting on Lake Michigan stocking & Fishing

The Illinois DNR is holding an informational public meeting. Topics of discussion include changes to the Lake Michigan salmon stocking strategy, status of yellow perch and changes to black bass regulations in the Illinois waters of Lake Michigan.   


There will be presentations and time for questions and an open discussion

on matters of mutual concern.  It is important to note the lakewide DNR's

have already formulated their stocking cuts for 2013 and have made adjustments in their egg taking tallies for salmon this year.  


The meeting will be held Thursday, November 15, 7:00 PM at 9511 Harrison St, in Des Plaines, Illinois.  


Park on the south side of building and enter through south doors.  If you have any question call 847-294-4134.


Fishing Banned at New Indiana Sea Lamprey Barrier

Fishing in the area near the new sea lamprey barrier that was completed earlier this year on Trail Creek in Michigan City has been prohibited by the DNR by emergency rule.   The purpose is to protect migrating trout and salmon.

The rule, which took effect today, prohibits the taking or possession of fish within 100 feet upstream of the barrier and from the barrier downstream to the Pottawatomie Country Club Golf Course property line, which is located adjacent to Springland Avenue in Michigan City.
The rule was needed because as migrating fish approach the barrier, a concentrated number of them develops. Some fish jump over the barrier, and others are directed into a trap. This makes the fish particularly vulnerable to illegal snagging and other means of poaching.

So far this season, DNR biologists have trapped and transferred 2,000

trout and salmon over the barrier. Countless others have jumped the barrier on their own.


The barrier was installed to block upstream migrations of the parasitic sea lamprey as the species returns to Trail Creek to spawn. Each adult lamprey can kill about 40 pounds of fish in Lake Michigan during its lifetime. Before the barrier was installed, repeated chemical treatments were needed to control the lampreys. The barrier eliminated the need for such treatments.

Construction of the barrier was a cooperative project involving the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the DNR. The emergency rule can remain in effect for up to one year. In the meantime, the DNR will seek to include the closed area in a permanent rule change.


Fishing on Platte River prohibited Jan. 1 - March 31  

Closure meant to protect steelhead

The Department of Natural Resources has announced the Platte River spawning closure will return to its historic timeframe of January 1 through March 31, in 2013. In 2012 the closure was extended through April 28 to assist in the DNR’s efforts in protecting returning steelhead. This closure affects the Platte River from the Platte River State Fish Hatchery down to Platte Lake.


In addition, no fishing will be allowed within 300 feet of the upper hatchery weir whenever the weir is in place (which was August 15 through September 30 in 2012). This closure provides enhanced protection of migrating coho salmon, many of which are used as broodstock for hatchery operations.


A spawning closure is put into place to protect key stretches of river where high-levels of natural reproduction are known to occur or where broodstock fish can potentially be collected. All fishing is prohibited during a closure.   These spawning closures will go into effect on January 1, 2013 and will read as follows in next year’s fishing guide: “The Platte


River is closed to fishing from the US-31 bridge at Veteran’s Park downstream to Platte Lake, January 1 – March 31” and “The Platte River is closed to fishing within 300 feet of the Upper (hatchery) weir infrastructure, whenever the weir is in place.”


Since 2010, DNR’s Fisheries Division has been annually stocking the Platte with 20,000 yearling steelhead. This stocking program is anticipated to increase the steelhead population to a level that could support a back-up egg take facility at the Platte River State Fish Hatchery and thus enhance angling opportunities on the Platte River. 


“Moving the date of spawning closure last spring offered a good level of protection for the first group of steelhead that returned to the river following our stocking efforts,” said Heather Hettinger, DNR fisheries biologist for the Platte River. “Now that we have had a chance to see our efforts are beginning to work, we feel confident we can restore angling opportunities and protect these fish at the same time.”

For more information, please review Fisheries Order 204 at www.michigan.gov/fishing.

State Park offers snowshoe building classes
Sleepy Hollow State Park will offer several two-day snowshoe building classes in December and January. Participants will learn how to weave a pair of traditional wooden snowshoes similar to the ones Native Americans made for generations.

The cost for making a pair of snowshoes is $170, and includes the pre-formed wooden frames, lacing, high-quality bindings and personal instruction. Classes are designed to be fun, informative and interesting. Because this is an activity that requires concentration over long periods of time, it is recommended for ages 16 and older.

The handmade snowshoes participants will produce can be used for hiking throughout the winter, given as holiday gifts, or used as a home decoration. Snowshoeing is an easy, inexpensive way to get outdoors and burn some calories during the winter months.


The classes will be held at Sleepy Hollow State Park’s headquarters, 7835 E. Price Rd, Laingsburg (Shiawassee County). Please note the classes are split over two days.

Classes are scheduled for:

  • Friday, Dec. 7:         5 to 9 p.m. (Part 1)
    Saturday, Dec. 8:     9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Part 2)

  • Friday, Jan. 11:        5 to 9 p.m. (Part 1)
    Saturday, Jan. 12:    9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Part 2)

  • Friday, Jan. 25:        5 to 9 p.m. (Part 1)
    Saturday, Jan. 26:    9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Part 2)


Class size is limited to a maximum of eight participants; reservations are required. To make a reservation, call Sleepy Hollow State Park at 517-651-6217, or email Denise Smith at [email protected]. For more information about Sleepy Hollow State Park, including a map and directions, visit www.michigan.gov/sleepyhollow.


A Recreation Passport is required for entry to the park. www.michigan.gov/recreationpassport. For information on Passport Perks shopping discounts or how businesses and retailers can enroll in the program, visit www.michigan.gov/passportperks.

Other Breaking News Items

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A year after the Wisconsin concealed-carry law, gun sales stay red-hot

Nov. 1 marked the anniversary of Wisconsin's concealed-carry law. Since the law went into effect, handgun sales in the state have been red hot. The Wisconsin Department of Justice already has issued more than 151,000 concealed-carry permits, and handgun sales are up 90% since 2010.


Anti-wind lawsuits stacking up in Ontario
A group of Ontario landowners from Wallaceburg has filed a lawsuit against a wind power project, the latest in the escalating legal skirmishing over renewable energy.


Low Great Lakes water levels predicted into 2013
The Lake Michigan/Huron system is at great risk of seeing an all-time low water level in the next six months, according to statistical projections that will be released today by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.


COMMENTARY: The Great Lakes need a presidential patron: Rick Unger
Before we give our votes away on Nov. 6th, President Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney must acknowledge the importance of the Great Lakes basin and commit to maintaining funding for restoration and creation of an effective defense against the Asian carp.


Border security going more high-tech
The Sault Star (10/31)
As Canada and the U.S. increasingly cooperate to watch maritime borders, authorities are using hi-tech radar systems to track the baddies.




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