I wasn’t skunked.

And it was opening day at LaSalle Lake, the cooling lake south of Seneca, a time always filled with hopes and expectations.

But let me tell, that was as brutal weather wise as I have fished opening day at LaSalle.

I think some combination of the post-frontal conditions and the sheer impact of the wind and cold (teens to start) made for very tough fishing. At least, for most of us.

But then this evening, Jason le messaged that his group managed to pick up some good hybrid striped bass when they moved around along the south shore line.

I think they were the most successful on a very slow day.

Let me try and use stats to show what I mean.

As usual, I came over the night before. Considering the weather, I figured I could arrive later than usual. And I was correct. When I pulled in just before midnight Tuesday night, I was only No. 12 in line. There have been nights before the opener where I would have been all the way back near the road by then.

It was so brutally cold, I allowed myself to get overly chilled and awoke around 2:30 a.m. and could hardly warm up, even burrowed into sleeping bags.

Soon enough, we were all stirring and awaiting the gate opening at 6 a.m. Temperatures were in the teens and the wind humping out of the north-northwest. I thought the winds might be high enough to close the launch, but it opened.

Apparently, a lot of boaters feared that. When I walked by the launch, after parking in the back lot for shore fishermen, I only counted six boat rigs. That is the lowest number I ever saw for an opening day.

And only the hardcore fishermen were fishing from shore.

The cold wind on the warm water rolled a very dense fog over the south bank as we walked out. It was scenic and eerie all at once. The sunrise was striking enough to bring me pleasure.

Normally by the time the sun rises, I’ve caught or at least missed my first fish. Not this year.

Walking out, I walk enough to warm up, then I would gingerly walk down the ice-coated riprap. Down by the water, I fancasted, alternating between a popper or ChatterBait and a bladebait. Bladebaits are usually the go-to bait of choice for multiple species at LaSalle. Not this morning.

A bluegill helped keep the skunk off on opening day at LaSalle Lake.
Credit: Dale Bowman

And repeated the process, fruitlessly the whole way until I reached the east side. My plan for today was to focus on catching some big bluegill from the east bank. Well, the east bank was even more ice-covered and snow-covered than the south bank.

But I managed to get down to the water’s edge without breaking an ankle or falling in.

And I caught a couple bluegill right off the shore in the rocks. And lost one good one. But even that was slow. And the wind and cold finally made me realize that I should probably begin walking back in the couple miles to save myself.

Walking back, I repeated the process of walking a few hundred yards, cautiously navigating the iced riprap, then fancasting. On the way in, I stuck with fancasting bladebaits.

No strikes. No missed fish. Nothing.

With that in mind, once again, I offer up thanks for bluegills.

I made it make to the parking area around noon. Never thought I would make six hours today, but it had warmed up enough to survive the whole morning by the lake.

Conservation Police were there and checked me out. As I chatted with them, they said they had only seen two hybrids and a couple small channel catfish. But they did say the hybrids they saw were nice big ones around 19 inches.

My main takeaway is that some times the weather can be tough enough to even tamp down the thrill of opening day at what I consider the top spring fishing spot near Chicago fishing.

The weather was brutal enough to make even the rudiments of getting down the riprap treacherous; to make casting tough; to ice up the rods; and to just physically wear you down.

LaSalle is open daily, 6 a.m.-sunset. Boaters cannot launch when the wind is 14 mph or higher.

There was no concessionaire today, but the trailer was there. Not sure what that means. No bait was in the vending machine that I saw, but there was soft drink vending.