Night soliloquy on Evergreen crappie

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Fish jumping in other coves. Kids playing at camp sites. Metallic bangs from distant boats. At night, sounds carry over water as if hand delivered.

The dampness of the night settles on skin like a fresh experience. Lightening in another state seems close enough to be a threat.

Night fishing pulls me into a near dream state. Every sense sharpens. Life grows livelier.

Only near sight diminishes.

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There must be light

Think of this as a sensory poem to a late June night of crappie fishing on Evergreen Lake.

Jim “The Crappie Professor” Kopjo has night fishing down.

And he sure gets into the whole experience too, and all the way to extending his learning curve with such tricks as a green Hydro Glow Fish Light he picked up from “old-timer in Arkansas.”

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I had a chance to fish Evergreen with him at the end of last month.

There is something wild and inspiring about watching the minnows–drawn into the circle of light–grow more plentiful and bigger as the night deepens.

The scene becomes mesmerizing.

Why do the minnows all circle in one direction? I tried to find the answer, but could not.

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After the minnows, the crappie are drawn in too.

For that time, Kopjo is preparing.

As befits the construction worker from Brookfield, he has the mechanics of night fishing down.

With a 12-foot rod with a lure, he hooks his floating crappie light and extended its halo away from his boat. Off the same side of the boat, he drops a green Hydro Glow Fish Light. For night fishing on Evergreen, his favorite night fishing spot in Illinois because you can stay out all night, he targets brush on breaks near deeper water. And, if needed, he moves: Give them 15 minutes, he said. If they’re not there, move. He uses the basic summer set-ups: fatheads on a No. 6 Aberdeen hook with two split shot a foot above under slip floats. On the slip float, he snaps an OmniGlow green/vert slip bobber cliplight. When you see two, it is the light and the reflection, Kopjo said. When you see one, it is under the water and set the hook.

We–Kopjo, fellow Riverside Fishing Club member John DeCillo, a retired locomotive engineer from Mount Greenwood, and I–didn’t set the hook as often as we would have liked, but we caught dozens.

Finding keepers–the daily bag for crappie is 15 with a minimum of 9 inches–out of those dozens was the tougher side, which had Kopjo fretting. He wanted to get a photo with a rack of big crappie. He later sent me such a photo from an earlier trip.

“Here is what the lake has to offer when the conditions are right,” he said.

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For Kopjo, call (708) 485-2518 or e-mail him at echo29@sbcglobal.net.

Evergreen, which has a 10 hp restriction, is Illinois’ top saugeye fishery, and one of the best for muskie and crappie. I really should fish it more often, and it has a great setup for camping and swimming.

For lake info, go to www.mcleancountyil.gov/Parks/. For their fishing report, go to www.mcleancountyil.gov/parks/parkscm.aspx?divid=1.

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