Iris Catches the Unicorn

As parents, we want our kids to be better than we are and to do better than we have done. The other day I got a little taste of this idea in action. My daughters have fished as long as they’ve been able to hold a fishing pole. Both of them love it. But Iris, age 9, has developed a fishing addiction that rivals my own. All winter we talked about the fishing we’d do… Continue reading

Shortnose Gar Bonanza! (includes underwater video)

  The Spot There’s this spot. It’s on a river. Tough to get to: a long hike in wet grass, a rocky downhill, slipping in mud and stumbling and rolling on loose stones. Poison ivy everywhere. Trail barely visible unless you know where to look. Then you get to the river, where you slip and trip some more, and lots more poison ivy. Most of that is not exaggerated much. You won’t like it, even… Continue reading

Shorthead Redhorse Spawning in Living Color

Spring is the best season. Anyone who says otherwise is wrong. Anyone who claims fall is better is secretly paid to say it. Among the surest and most exciting signs of spring are the annual spawning runs of various fish in local waterways. The arrival of White Bass (Morone chrysops) in large numbers makes for exciting fishing. Though futile from a reproductive standpoint, the runs of Coho Salmon and Steelhead (Rainbow Trout) up Lake Michigan… Continue reading

State Record Shorthead Redhorse Caviar

I have asked myself many times what I would do if I happened to catch a record-sized fish. I suspect most of us who fish obsessively have thought about this. There are really only two choices. You either kill it, take it to a certified scale, fill out paperwork and get the record, or you photograph the hell out of it, measure it every way you can think of, then release it and bask in… Continue reading

Garz! (In hoc signo…)

A neon sign that says "GARZ."

Passed this sign the other day on the way to a river with a good population of Shortnose Gar (I still can’t get used to the idea that it’s now the accepted practice to capitalize common names, but I’m trying). The plan was to catch some. The sign seemed to promise me success. (In hoc signo vinces, right?) The obvious promise was broken.   As long as I’m posting signs of the coming of The… Continue reading

Illinois Gar Summit I, Feb. 2014

Illinois Gar Summit I, 2014: Bill Meyer, Olaf Nelson. Solomon David and a cenury-old (plus) Alligator Gar in the deepest recesses of the Field Museum in Chicago.

After months of hopeful but vague discussion about getting together to talk gar (and other cool fish), three of the most gar obsessed citizens of Illinois finally managed to meet at the end of February. Solomon David, Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Shedd Aquarium (and see primitivefishes.com), hosted Bill Meyer (founder of garfishing.com and the Gar Angler’s Sporting Society [GASS]) and me for a full day of fish nerding. We enjoyed a tour behind the… Continue reading

Another Gar and Roughfish podcast to download (not me this time!)

Want to hear what it means to talk without ambiguity about something you really love? Doing his part in our ongoing effort to storm the halls of fishing power and supplant the trout and bass overlords, Garman appeared recently on the same public radio outdoors show I was on a couple weeks ago. He is much more entertaining than I was. I promise. Download it here: Thanks again to Dale Bowman for the coverage and… Continue reading

Gar and suckers (and me) on the radio (and iTunes) today

As if the newspaper article about my deviant fishing tastes and the alligator gar I caught wasn’t enough, today a radio show is being broadcast on the same subjects. I was actually allowed to sit in a recording studio and talk for half an hour about my thoughts on fish, fishing, and more. After a week of imagining all the stupid things I might have said and strange sounds I might have made, I’m relieved… Continue reading

Moxillumination

Sunshine and a cooperative little shorthead. Is there a word or term for that zone of both rays and barely-formed scales, or for the stage of scale formation where they are more hints than scales? If not, there ought to be. Suggestions? This little channel catfish (8 or 9 inches at most) also had a healthy glow when x-rayed by the sun. Continue reading

Gar fans, take a look at these sites

Two gar- and bowfin-related sites I found a few days ago are worth looking at if you’ve caught that particular sickness. Both are run by Solomon David, currently a postdoctoral research associate at the Daniel P. Haerther Center for Conservation & Research at the John G. Shedd Aquarium and jointly at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Limnology. (I took that text straight from the About page of one of the sites.) Tropical gar at… Continue reading

Two brothers, two days, two Illinois state record redhorses

This story is a few years old (the following is based on Dale Bowman’s report in the Chicago Sun-Times on May 14, 2008, linked below), but it’s a beauty: Brothers Andrew and John Chione were fishing the Fox River west of Chicago in 2008 for carp, catfish and anything else that would bite. On April 24th,13-year-old John caught a 25.5 inch, 6.71 pound silver redhorse, got it weighed on a certified scale and had the… Continue reading

December Redhorse Dorsal

a dorsal fin

Got out fishing in a favorite creek today, and though it’s December 2nd, for a while a long-sleeved t-shirt was too warm. For the first time in months, a sucker was caught. I’d really hoped to get one more before snow, ice and holidays derailed my fishing. The rock bass were on fire, including one that missed becoming the new Illinois state record (1 pound, 10 ounces) by only a few ounces. Largest rock bass… Continue reading

Northern Illinois Greater Redhorse, April 2012

How often do you get to meet a new fishing buddy, discover half a dozen excellent multi-species fishing spots within an hour of home, sample the fish resident in those new locations while learning a bit about handling several different types of seines, learn a bit about photo tanks and fish photography, and see and handle dozens of new fish species, including one that’s listed as endangered in the state? Not very often. In April… Continue reading