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LaSalle Lake: Timing the much anticipated opener

Hundreds of shore fishermen hit LaSalle Lake, many of them along the south bank, Tuesday for opening day.
Credit: Dale Bowman

MARSEILLES, Ill.–Camp fires, flashlights, hat lamps and trunk lights dotted the gravel road to LaSalle Lake Monday night.

People were ready for the reopening of the cooling lake south of Seneca.

10:30 p.m. 20 vehicles in line when I pulled in.

4:30 a.m. Tuesday. Rigged four rods: a firetiger Rattlin’ Rapala, a drop-shot rig with chartreuse Mini-Mites, a white Pop-R and a Beetle Spin. “Riggin” in the Dark” sounds like a parody song. (Hello, Dan McNeil.)

5:30 a.m. Vehicle line stretched out to the blacktop, then another half mile.

6 a.m Gates opened. My eyes are too bad, too old (Hello, Stacey King) for fishing in the dark, so I walked on.

6:45 a.m. I stopped a mile in to cast from the east bank. A boater said the water was 62 degrees.

7:15 a.m. I popped a small smallmouth bass on the Rattlin’ Rap.

Panfish, many in spawning colors, on the side of LaSalle Lake made for a fun time Tuesday on opening day.<br>Credit: Dale Bowman
Panfish, many in spawning colors, on the side of LaSalle Lake made for a fun time Tuesday on opening day.
Credit: Dale Bowman

9 a.m. I spent an hour working a favorite bluegill spot. Finally pressed on when I hit 10 fish, mainly yellow bass and bluegill on either the Beetle Spin or a Mepps spinner tipped with a crawler pinch.

I watched Aaron Drop photograph his brother Adam with a solid blue catfish. The brothers from Westmont were fishing cutbait (carp).

9:45 a.m. Caught two catfish in the northeast corner before the second dike. On the other side of the dike, a clot of bike and walking fishermen caught lots of cats.

10:10 a.m. I reached the end of shore fishing by the hot chute. A boater told me it was 75 degrees. I drew a largemouth bass to shore, but it did not finish on a Wiggle Wart.

It was time.

A hard walk back three miles with four rods and two camo wet bags awaited.

Darryl Turner had the right feel for LaSalle Lake Tuesday on opening day.<br>Credit: Dale Bowman
Darryl Turner had the right feel for LaSalle Lake Tuesday on opening day.
Credit: Dale Bowman

10:45 Darryl Turner of Matteson chilled on a chair, watching his rods. With cutbait (bluegill), he had the best blue I saw all day.

“Blue catfish will be quite historically good,” district fisheries biologist David Wyffels had aptly predicted.

Turner said last year two days before LaSalle closed in October, he caught a blue that went 38 pounds.

Blues have surpassed bass as the fish at LaSalle.

11 a.m. I passed the Brothers Drop. They were up to two good blues and two small ones.

Along the south bank, dozens of shore fishermen caught a few hybrid striped bass, some quality fish.

12:15: I was dragging when I reached the family van.

As to the analytics (Hello, Dan Bernstein), I caught a smallmouth, five bluegill, four yellow bass and three channel cats, and only missed three fish.

LaSalle Lake is open daily, 6 a.m.-sunset.

WILD THINGS: Friday was the big migration day for sandhill cranes.

John Vukmirovich captured it from a Lemont visit, “But as those cranes circled, the sky was filled with the cacophonous calls of hundreds more, with still more coming. Small skeins merged into larger ones. Large skeins teamed up with others into flocks, and then all merged, or perhaps coalesced, into what was really an airborne colony that finally proceeded on, north by northwest.”

STRAY CAST: Never thought I would say the state of perch fishing is better in Illinois than the state of its college basketball.