Opening day: Good bass fishing for Braidwood opener & prospects for coming season; plus the Stray Cast
A snapshot showed good bass fishing in the first hours of opening day at Braidwood Lake, the cooling lake in southwestern Will County, and is combined with the fishing prospects there for this season; plus the Stray Cast.
When Brandon Troupe stopped to chat Tuesday on the Braidwood Lake riprap, he had already caught and released six largemouth bass. Troupe, who worked at Henry’s Sports and Bait as a teenager, is now a Chicago policeman.
I suggested he catch another so I could get a photo.
In a dozen casts, he caught another bouncing a ChatterBait off shoreline rocks.
There’s old-home comfort to opening day at Braidwood, the cooling lake in southwest Will County.
I walked out the south riprap in the dark with Tony Principe, our conversation wandering from ones that got away to Florida bass.
Jimmy and Chaser Ellison swung past as I fished. Two years ago I fished the opener with the father and son. They offered a ride, but I wanted to stick to shore.
As they worked down, they lost a good largemouth at the boat. From that spot, Troupe caught his photo-largemouth.
District fisheries biologist Seth Love nailed it when he emailed, “I’d expect [bass] angling to be similar to last season.”
In the fall survey, largemouth body condition was excellent for all size groups and 26 percent of those surveyed were 15 inches or longer. Two tournament largemouth topped 7 pounds in 2021.
On Tuesday, I focused on bluegill and channel catfish, trying to catch keepers. I caught many fish, but no keepers. Best catfish went 12 inches, bluegills were around 5 1/2.
In the fall survey, small fish dominated for bluegills. The number of 11-inch channel catfish increased “greatly,” while adults topping 16 inches declined slightly. The biggest was 36 inches.
“If you were to survey catfish anglers, I’d expect most folks would say they can catch fish but none of any real size,” Love speculated.
The average length (28 inches) of blue catfish increased, biggest went 30.5 inches.
Love anticipates the 2022 stocking to be similar to last year’s: 24,000 blues, 55,000 largemouth and 52,000 hybrid striped bass. He would like to hear from anglers on hybrid catches at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Flathead catfish, stocked years ago, are apparently reproducing. Two were surveyed last fall (14.5 and 36 inches).
“I certainly wouldn’t go to Braidwood to catch flathead, but an angler might get a nice surprise if they’re lucky!” Love quipped.
Regulations are the same. Site is open daily, 6 a.m. to sunset.
Both the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ Chicago Urban Fishing Program and the Chicago Park District (must be Chicago resident) are looking for teachers/anglers for summer (mainly) fishing programs. Details are posted here.
Weather is nearly perfect—days above freezing, nights below—for maple-syrup time.
Trucker convoys are as current as herring in southern Lake Michigan.
GO & SHOW
Friday-Sunday, March 4-6: Northwest Indiana Fishing and Outdoor Expo, Lincoln Community Center, Highland, Ind. Saturday, March 5: Indoor Fishing Flea Market, Rolling Meadows High School