When it comes to fishing I have a bit of a disorder. I cant go to the same place again and again. I cant fish the same water over and over. I get it, there are Bass in there. You can catch them. Some are big and some are small. Repeat, repeat.
Ive been fishing an area in Illinois called Mazonia. It is a series of Strip Mine Lakes. Some with access, some without access. Some with Bass, some with Bass and Gar and Pike and Crappie and … who knows what. The Mazon river runs right along it and spills in time and again which keeps some of the lakes more diverse then others from what I’m finding. Just this past weekend a buddy and I hit this area up with an eye to a small pocket lake that would include some hill climbing, bushwhacking and hill sliding to access. All with fully loaded Kayaks in tow.
These texts between 4:30 and 5:30am say it all.
Luckily we didnt need a Machete. We arrived and unloaded at a boat ramp and paddled out a bit until our GPS said “Your here!” We looked at the shore and were pleasantly surprised to find out the little tiny line in Google Maps was indeed a nice access into the unknown. It looked to be the best place to try and get through. And it was.
Pulling the Kayak in wasnt hard, hauling it straight up was.
Once at the top we dragged the kayaks through the brush to the next lake then had to drop them down another shorter, steeper bank to get in. But once there it was worth it. Bass on.
We paddled to our seperate areas of this new water and got busy. I was traveling lite. I had two main rods and one smaller rod to troll off the back. ( no hits on it the whole trip aside from some Gills.) I also had a small lunch cooler and a small tackle bag. That was it. I was stealthy and nimble and was having a blast.
Until the storm.
Right after I caught the above Bass a few rains drops starting hitting, winds picked up and I started worrying. Ive never been so far and deep off the grid with the yak when weather broke bad. I immediately recalled a small Duck Blind that I saw with canoe access right in the middle of this lake. ( thanks to the Duck Hunters that wore down the initial path we found to this lake!) I paddled as fast as I could to get to it as the rains started slamming the lake and the winds made maneuvering almost impossible. It was as good a time as any for a Summer Storm as both of my main rods had tangled lines beyond quick maintenance and now I had some time to work them out.
I pulled into the Duck Blind and unloaded my lunch, rods and thermos into the shack and climbed on up.
I put my lunch on the small bench and starting digging in to a Bratwurst with Mustard! YUM! I downed a coke and then pulled out my coffee. I stood there for a good while watching the rain hit and putting off untangling my lines. Never being in a Duck Blind before I started poking around. In one corner there was a small Burlap covering with some shot gun shells and garbage around it. I bent over and lifted it up.
The snake started rattling. Im told it couldnt have been a rattlesnake this far north in Illinois.. but it rattled and continued to none the less. I moved to the other side of the Blind and mouthed a mutual agreement between us. You stay there, Ill stay here.
I untaglend the lines and stood at the railing waiting for the rain to stop.
I had previously texted my buddy to meet me at the Duck Blind. Turns out he was off the water as soon as the first rain drops hit. I was a man alone in the middle of a lake in the middle of no where in the middle of a storm. With a snake.
Not horrible. Not great. I had shelter and waited it out. 30 mins later after lunch, detangling and a cup of coffee, the storm had passed. I hopped back into the Yak and headed back out!
10 mins later I was cleaning up again! The largest Bass I caught all day was 16”. A few 14” and the rest were smaller 10-12” Bass. No monsters and no other species caught. I was a little disappointed but I couldn’t beat the area and it wasn’t a Skunk by a long shot.
After another hour or so I decided to brave the trek back and hit another one of these strip mine lakes. I headed to an entirely different section and unloaded again. The yak felt a lot heavier this time and I was a bit fatigued. This launch included the Trolling Motor. I wasnt up to paddling anymore.
I launched and trolled out to a nice section. Water was gin clear and visibility was about 10′ or more in some sections. I motored out to one of the furthest points and stopped to set up my gear. I poured the last of my coffee and started digging through my tackle plano for a Jig. One fumble later and half of my tray dumped into the kayak. UG!
I picked up all the hooks and jigs and put them back in their respective compartments. I grabbed my cup of coffee and went to drink only to see a slight reflection in it. I poured the coffee out with my fingers as a strainer.
MAN! That sucked. Better then taking a huge gulp of Jigs and hooks though.. Classic.
I was skunked beyond belief. I covered a lot of water, shallows and deeps and only came across a few small and large Gills and some tiny bass. I took to exploring and screwing around though.
I scampered up the front deck of the Ascend FS128T and decided to try paddeling from up front. Worked out great! The view was AMAZING. I was coasting over beautiful water and the stability from up front was actually better then standing on the main deck. I can attribute this to the 40lb battery in the back. Ill have to try it again without the rear load.
After an hour or so of just exploring I made my way out of the maze of Strip Mines and came back to the shore. I backed the Sante Fe up to the ramp and loaded the Yak back on. I was exhausted, sweaty, a little crisp but had an AMAZING day on the water. I was out from about 6am to 3pm. Cant wait to do it all again..
Of course next time, new-ER water..