During busy week for Shabbona Lake, we go ice fishing for crappie

SHARE During busy week for Shabbona Lake, we go ice fishing for crappie
SHARE During busy week for Shabbona Lake, we go ice fishing for crappie

SHABBONA, Ill. — There’s nothing like the smell of anise oil and petroleum jelly on a single-digit morning.

After he drilled seven lucky holes Monday at Shabbona Lake with his 8-inch power auger, Ken “Husker’’ O’Malley rubbed his hands with the petroleum-jelly blend to cover the fuel odors of the auger. He quickly gave credit to Jim “The Crappie Professor’’ Kopjo.

In football, there’s the Bill Parcells coaching tree. In crappie fishing at Shabbona, there’s the Kopjo tree.

Shabbona, the most heavily fished public lake in Illinois, has a lot going on this week.

On Thursday, there’s a meeting about the future of Shabbona Lake State Park, including a possible “Friends of Shabbona Lake’’ at 7 p.m. at the Resource Bank School House Meeting Room. RSVP to molly.hasemann@illinois.gov.

Saturday is the second night-fishing day when ice fishermen may fish late (out of the park by 10 p.m.).

O’Malley loves ice fishing at Shabbona.

His plan was to fish brush piles, cribs and rock piles he had marked on his GPS. Those are marked on many maps, including ones from Lakeside Bait Shop.

Nearly everybody else fished in the deep trees. O’Malley suggested we go off by ourselves and fish south of the bait shop.

“Get away from the crowd,’’ he said. “Just like in open water, I don’t like being on top of other people.’’

I was all for that. I enjoy looking for fish almost more than catching them.

We slid a sled with gear and a two-man Clam — “All the comforts of home’’ — across the ice (12-14 inches) to the point. We had the Clam as a backup warming shelter with the propane Mr. Heater Little Buddy Heater.

By the forecast, we will have ice fishing into March.

O’Malley caught the first crappie after he switched from a silver tungsten jig with a spike to a gold tungsten jig with a wax worm. He finds tungsten jigs essential for their quick drop.

That was the only crappie landed there, so we moved to the boat-launch area before noon. We had more action. Cribs produced all our crappie and most bites; the rock piles and brush piles were quiet.

By mid-afternoon, it was time, and I had to drive home. O’Malley gave our first spots a final try.

Lakeside — (815) 824-2581, shabbonalake.com — rents nearly everything you need to ice fish from shelters to flashers.


B.A.S.S. will live-stream the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro — Friday through Sunday on Lake Hartwell in South Carolina — on Bassmaster.com daily, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

Pheasants in Cook

The annual banquet for the South Cook County chapter of Pheasants Forever is Saturday at the Lansing Knights of Columbus. Contact Curt Nelson at (219) 558-8071.

Stray cast

Points in the NBA All-Star Game are more common than fish at a trout farm; defensive stops are less common than badgers in northern Illinois.


Joe Cochrane of Nature’s Image in Lombard finished mounting Timothy Nichols’ 17-point buck from Will County (right) in time for the Illinois Deer & Turkey Expo (deerinfo.com/illinoishome.asp), Friday through Sunday at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in Springfield.

◆ The Lake Home & Cabin Show (lakehomeandcabinshow.com) is Friday through Sunday at the Schaumburg Convention Center.

◆ One of the last 10-day outdoor shows — the Ford Indianapolis Boat, Sport and Travel Show (indianapolisboatsport-andtravelshow.com) — opens Friday at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.

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