Sport Fishing

Introduction

Hello, my name is Ken Schumacher. I have enjoyed fishing as a hobby for most of my life. Sure, there have been years when I have done very little fishing, but it's a very rare year when I don't get out and do some fishing. Like most of my hobbies, my involvement can be somewhat cyclical. As I write this introduction, I'm definitely into a rather active phase, and almost all of that with a fly rod. I make no claim to be any kind of expert. I have been re-learning and getting back into fly fishing, a type of fishing that I first learned late in High School. It has very quickly become my favorite method and I've greatly enjoyed my rediscovery of this type of fishing. In 2003, I spent a lot of time fishing soft plastics as well. I think I have finally learned how to fish those. I especially enjoy helping others learn to enjoy fishing. It has been my pleasure to teach a unit on Fishing for the 6th grade classes from St John Lutheran School in Wheaton each year since 1998, during their Sept. week of outdoor education.

Purpose of these pages

Like most of my web pages, I am writing this for my own use. You are welcome to browse the page and I hope that you find information and/or links with some value to you. I try very hard to make my web pages informative. Having said that, the pages are designed to help me get back to the information that I browse for. There are a variety of links to vendors, fishing guides, product info and places I've been. Unless noted otherwise, I have personal experience with each of the items I have linked to. I try to make these pages valuable by adding my comments and recommendations when I link to someone else's web site.

Recently I have separated out a "jump-list" as a separate web page. I guess such a page is commonly referred to as a Links page. That page is updated much more frequently than this one. I would appreciate your constructive feedback on the content and/or presentation you find here. If you know a website that you think fits in with other things you find here, please let me know and I will check it out (before I add a link).

What's New



Local Waters

My favorite local ponds include White Pines Pond at Blackwell Forest Preserve and Casey's Pond at Fermilab, where I work. I've also fished the bigger lake (Silver Lake) at Blackwell, but not very often. I prefer the smaller White Pines Pond. Regrettably, Fermilab has had to implement some access restrictions in light of Department of Energy policies and increased "Homeland Security". Watch Fermilab's current status web page for the latest access conditions. Note that even though access to Fermilab's ponds is somewhat restricted, you can get to them. Since this is not "private property", all the normal IDNR rules and regulations do apply. Anglers over 16 years of age do need a valid IL fishing license.

I tried river fishing for the first time in 2002, working both the Fox River in Kane County and the Kishwaukee River in DeKalb County. I've fished the Fox mostly in Geneva, Batavia and North Aurora. I have a favorite spot on the Kishwaukee River near Kingston, IL. I have begun to explore the West Branch of the DuPage River, which is closer to home for me, in 2003. My biggest problem there is figuring out access to the stretches I want to fish in Winfield and Warrenville. In 2004, I was introduced to areas of the DuPage river to the south, primarily in Will County. This is not the same DuPage river that I avoided 25-30 years ago, and this is a very good thing. I have become a fan of "moving water" and a big fan of Smallmouth Bass.

Another hobby of mine is Photography. The following digital photos were all taken by me, unless noted otherwise. I use high resolution versions of some of these photos as backgrounds (aka. wallpaper) on my computer. I also use them as part of a "slide show" type screen saver. You can click on any of these images to see a larger version.

White Pines
		  Pond in the early morning White Pines
		  Pond at sunset

White Pines Pond, Blackwell Forest Preserve, DuPage Co., IL at about 6 AM, late July 2002

White Pines Pond, Blackwell Forest Preserve, DuPage Co., IL at about 8 PM, Aug 6th 2002

Kishwaukee
		  River, South Branch Kishwaukee
		  River, South Branch

Kishwaukee River near Kingston, IL, Looking West, Taken 3 Aug 2002, midday.

Kishwaukee River near Kingston, IL, Looking East, Taken 3 Aug 2002, midday.

12" Smallmouth 45" Musky

Casey's Pond - Smallmouth Bass

45" Musky caught in June 2001 on Lake Catherine in the Fox Chain of Lakes, Lake County, Illinois. Photo by Rich Wren.


Fly Fishing

Fly fishing is by far my preferred method of sport fishing. In 2002, I pulled out my long dormant 6 wt fly rod and got reacquainted with this mode of fishing. It was by far one of my best years of fishing ever. I enjoy fly fishing on several local bodies of water. I have caught Bluegill (and other panfish), Crappie, Bass and even an 18" Black Catfish on my fly rods. Most of my fishing has been on local lakes, ponds and rivers. In 2004, I was introduced to a new section of the DuPage River that I had never fished before. I got out on that piece of the river at least 5 times.

It seems that whenever one reads about fly fishing, things seem to turn toward a discussion on Trout fishing. In July of 2003, I got to fish the Wind River in Wyoming and caught my first couple trout. That was a great outing, until I slipped and was washed into a deep hole. That mistake ruined my digital camera and taught me a valuable lesson about carefully wading new water. So far that is the extent of my trout fishing West of the Mississippi River.

In July of 2004, I made my first trip up to a SW Wisc. spring creek. I had some hints and suggestions from my friend Jim at work. He was unable to join me, which was probably for the best. There was a cold front through on Friday and Saturday was chilly with clear skys. I was skunked that day. I was able to meet up with Jim in 2006 for some spring creek action. The Friday evening action was rather slow, but it did allow me to get used to this different sort of water. Saturday was a very nice day with several energetic trout. That was a much better outing and well worth the drive (4 hours travel each way). So I can say I have been fly fishing for Trout, but my first love is still Smallmouth Bass.

My Equipment

Fly Rods and Reels

St Croix Imperial 4 wt outfit

In July 2002, I acquired a St. Croix 4 weight fly travel outfit (Mdl. IKT804). The bundle includes an 8 foot, 4 piece Imperial Fly rod, English made St. Croix reel, 20 lb. backing, Weight forward fly line, tapered leader and a case that holds the rod and reel. The tag on the case even plugged the fact that the outfit is designed so you can unpack it, tie on a fly and start fishing. No Hassles. All that is true. I would go on to describe it as a great buy!

Sage XP 5 wt and Ross Rhythm reel

In Feb 2005, I attended a fly fishing show in Tinley Park, IL. I was there representing the ISA. I wandered all the vendors at that show, soliciting donations of door prizes and such for the club's annual fund raising banquet. As I stopped to talk with each vendor, I would sign up to get mail about their products or offerings. And I entered every raffle I saw. I only won one raffle, but I will never forget that day. I won an 8 foot 5 weight Sage XP flyrod. This is a very fast rod which probably ought to be listed as a 5 1/2 weight.

It was not until a couple months later that I got a Ross Rhythm R2 fly reel (as a birthday present) to match with this rod. Previously I had always used a less expensive reel, saving my money to buy the best fly line I could afford. But this Ross reel is a true piece of quality craftsmanship. I loaded that reel with a Rio Clouser fly line. Like the rod, this line is labeled as a 5 wt but is actually more like a 5 1/2 wt, so it has been a great match up.

So the lesson I have learned through all of this is the truth of the statement that "You get what you pay for". The MSRP on this rod was $600. The MSRP on that reel was about $175. The only part I paid for was $60 for the fly line (with backing and loaded by the dealer). The difference between this top of the line outfit and an entry level outfit is truly remarkable. Your probably thinking, that is all easy for you to say since this top of the line outfit cost me $60. But please read on and see the next rod that I bought.

Sage XP 8 wt Rod

Several years ago, I would have told you how cold a day it would be, in that special place reserved for poachers, before I would spend the money on an XP class fly rod. But as it turned out, there were a few other rare circumstances that came together and made it possible for me to buy this 8 wt rod. Sage has discontinued the XP series of rods. Then my favorite local fly shop was closing its doors and offering some nice discounts. So while I got a much better deal than MSRP, I did pry open my wallet during the summer of 2006 and get this rod. I have only fished it so far with a borrowed reel with the Rio Clouser line on it, but I tell you it is really sweet. This has allowed me to throw some of the bigger deer hair bass bugs that I have learned how to tie, even on a somewhat windy day. I am hopeful that I will be able to get out this year and try to hook up with some larger game fish like a Northern, Musky or Steelhead. Perhaps I can get out with this rod when I vacation in Florida later this year and go after Redfish, Ladyfish, Sea Trout or an AmberJack.

A word about Casting Lessons

I took a fly casting class in 2004 and now have a much better understanding of what the rod can do for me. I believe that money spent on a casting class, so you can really learn how to get the most from whatever rod you own/choose, is a very good investment. Consider for a moment the last time you were fly fishing with a group. it is not hard to pick out those with the best casting skills. One thing you should notice quickly is that those with the best skills are also the ones who don't seem to be working as hard or getting tired as quickly.

I have done lots of reading about casting and casting instruction. I am considering an attempt to get certified as a casting instructor. I got to attend a Lefty Krehy casting presentation at the Great Waters Fly Show (Feb 2007) in Itasca, IL. His hour long presentation was probably the most valuable time I have spent considering fly casting. He has a great presentation and obviously knows his stuff. I won't soon forget seeing him take the top section off a 3 piece rod and use just that section to make 30-40 foot casts. And he made it all look so easy.

My first fly rod - circa 1977

I also have an older fly rod which the label has worn off of. Based on some trial and error and with the help of George from my local fly shop, we have determined that this is a 6 wt rod. It is a two-piece 8 foot long fiberglass rod. I have a no-frills but quite durable reel of unknown make and model. It holds the line and a bit of monofilament backing nicely. I have a level 6 wt floating line on that reel. Last summer (2003) I picked up another slightly larger reel and loaded it with a Scientific Anglers 6 wt WF floating line.

My "Bamboo" Rod

A friend from Church gave me a neat little wooden box with a Bamboo rod in it. He tells me that his father bought this while overseas with the Navy. It is of Japanese origin and according to some research that I have done these were mass produced. Thousands of these were sold to service men over the years. The rod appears to be so new it has never been cast. The varnish (applied in a dip tank) is still on the line guides. The line guides are a bit small for fly fishing but it handles my six weight line pretty well. It is a three piece 8 foot rod (came with two fly tip sections). By turning over the handle where it attaches to the butt section, it can be set for spin fishing using two pieces, base and a heavy tip. All together there were 5 rod pieces in the kit as well as some monofilament, a jig and yarn five flies.

Waders and Boots

I Feb 2003, I acquired a pair of Simms Lightweight stocking-foot breathable waders. Regretably, this particular model appears to have been discontinued going into the 2007 season. These have been a great value at $199. I researched this purchase very carefully. I believe that Simms makes the best waders on the market. They also offer a very informative website.

In Jan 2003, I got a pair of Patagonia's 2001 model of Wading Boots through Sierra Trading Post, for $40 (normally $130). They are seconds, but the only "flaw" is that the pull loop (for helping get them on) is missing.

Update: Near the end of the 2003 season, I came out of the Fox River and found that one of the felt soles was missing. I ordered a pair of new soles through my local fly shop. George recommended a local shoe repair shop which has experience putting replacement felt soles on wading boots. They did a very nice job at a reasonable price. The soles now appear to be holding up better than the boots themselves, which are starting to show serious signs of wear. No more discount house seconds for me. Going into the 2005 fishing season, I got a new pair of SIMMS L2 lightweight wading boots. These boots are very nice, simple to get on and off and quite sturdy and stable.

Fly Tying

I am really getting into fly tying. I am convinced it is a fun and economical way to keep myself stocked with flies. Yes, I know that there is a considerable up front investment in vise, tools and materials. Tying my own should work out to 40-80 cents per fly for hook and materials. Store bought flies are easily 3 or 4 times that or more. I can now carry a dozen pheasant tail nymphs with me in several sizes. I doubt I would walk into any fly shop and buy a dozen of the same fly at retail prices.

Tying Equipment

I started with a Thompson Pro-vise and some starter tools. I took my first, albeit short, tying class in Jan 2003. It was put on through the ISA. That left me itching for a longer class. This spring (Mar 2004) I took a 4 week beginner level tying class through the local fly shop. That is where I learned to tie the Pheasant Tail nymph, the first fly I ever tied a dozen of. I have now upgraded my vise and added a few more tools and materials.

Before this latest class, I was tying mostly Woolly Buggers, in two different sizes (6 & 8) and three different colors. I was also tying Clouser Minnows, but only had materials for one combination of colors of Buck-tail. I've tied several different nymphs in this latest class, including Pheasant tails, Princes and Fox Squirrel nymphs. We have also tied a couple Dry flies and will be tying some Streamers. Over the last year, I have been learning more fly patterns aimed at Smallmouth fishing.

Books

I picked up my first two books on fly tying. The first was a very basic book. It has excellent step by step instructions, with quality photos, for Woolly Buggers, Hare's Ear and Pheasant Tail patterns as well as three or four other good starting projects. I've learned to tie Woolly Worms as well. The second book is called Nymph Fly-Tying Techniques by Jim Schollmeyer and published by Frank Amato Publications. This book covers the techniques used to tie almost any sort of nymph fly as well as patterns with materials lists and instructions. The book is loaded with photos, is very easy to follow and is just overflowing with good information.

I've added a section of tying recipes to my jump-list pages. Many of these recipes are based on patterns I've found elsewhere on the Internet. I don't include recipes that merely list the materials used. I am still new enough that I look for more direction that that. I only list those recipes that include step by step instructions (sometimes more detailed than others). In some cases, I have tried to add details to instructions when I find a pattern with either non-existent or overly simple instructions.

Recommended Websites

I've found several neat sites with good stuff for fly fisherman and fly tiers.

Fly Tying Forum

This has to be one of the best discussion forums I've found, if not the best. There is an awesome group of members with a diversity of expertise. Any time I have posted a question, it has been answered quickly and answered well. One of the things which helps make this a great site is the software they run on. Whether or not you tie your own flies, this site is worth visiting.

HotSpot Fishing

On March 25th 2004, this was #1 on the Fly Fishing Top 100 listing. This was the first forum that I found and joined. The site allows one to make a page of your own which has been referred to as a "sub-site". My sub-site has some pictures of some of my trophies (more significant catches) and I've just added my first fly recipe. There are hundreds of recipes or patterns on the site. I am very interested in the 'fly swaps' that they run. I participated in my first swap, their June 2004 "Coachman" swap.

Other sites

There is a Google directory site for fly tying that has LOTS of links. To be honest, many of these links lead you to sources of commercially tied "Ready to fish" flies. That's not exactly what I expected for something that bills itself as a directory of fly tying. Still, there is some good stuff there.


Organizations and Links

ISA - Illinois Smallmouth Alliance

This is a great organization. I joined the club in Jan. 2003. My very first fly tying class was put on by a few club members. Not only were Craig, Rich and Jim good teachers, Rich and his wife fed us lunch. This club has some very helpful and friendly members. Since early 2003, my primary fishing partner has been Jamie Riani, also of the ISA. Between time spent fishing with these guys and other ISA members, I have learned so very much about freshwater fishing (and not just Smallies). I credit Jamie as the guy who finally taught me how to fish soft plastics (and a few other baits/lures).

The club sponsors outings to various smallmouth waters where an ISA member "show"s a local waterway which he or she is familiar with to those who are not yet experienced on that piece of water. I went along on a Fox River outing in 2002 hosted by Ken Gortowski. It was a very valuable experience.

The organization is also responsible for placing many of the yellow fishing information signs that you can find along some of our local waterways. These signs help anglers identify the fish they catch, remind them of bag limits and other regulations and encourage the practice of "catch and release". Conservation efforts are an important part and a primary focus of the ISA.

In addition to the outings, signage and conservation efforts, they have a wonderful message forum for discussions on many topics. There are some excellent articles, written by members, under their Education listing. They also sponsor an annual banquet, held each February.

ISA Fly Tying sessions

In the summer of 2004, we started holding regular fly tying sessions at Fly & Field. We meet on the fourth Monday each month at 6:30pm and tie one or two patterns. The store is kind enough to stay open late for us. We try to keep things simple enough to be of interest to a beginning fly tyer with enough variety and a few more advanced flies to make it worth the trip out for a more experienced tyer. No experience is required. Materials are provided. I have been sort of "hosting" these events and would ask that you drop me an e-mail if you plan to attend, so we can plan ahead and have enough materials available.

In previous sessions we have tied my Green Cactus Chenille Damselfly, my Wolly Worm, Rich's Foam Gurgler, and Craig's "M&M Fly Candy". In Nov 2004, we did a Fox Squirel Nymph, so some of these guys could try dubbing for the first time. It also introduced tying on a soft hackle. We agreed to skip Dec 2004 since the forth Monday was so close to Christmas. In Jan 2005, we will be doing the Elk Hair Caddis and learning a bit about handling hair. The Caddis will also introduce dry fly hackle. After that, we will see if we are ready for a Kaufmann Stimulator. That pattern involves dubbing, dry fly hackle (two kinds) and some hair for the wing. Wish us luck.

In October 2004, I was asked to take on a role as one of the ISA Fly Fishing Coordinators. Basically, I'll be doing a little more of what I am already doing. I will continue to host the fly tying sessions at Fly & Field. I'll be more involved in the planning for BassBugger outings and not just along for the fishing. I hope to contribute to the club's newsletter. I will also help represent the club at the Feburary Fly Fishing show. This year, the show moves to Tinley Park. There are other things in the works, but I won't say more until these things come together a bit more.

I encourage you to visit the membership information page. Even if you are not interested in joining, their pages do a much better job than I do of explaining what this fine organization is all about.

DRiFT - Du Page Rivers Fly Tyers

Another really neat organization. I've met a few members at my local fly shop and they seem like a really great group. I had watched several of them tie flies and was impressed that they made it look much less complex then I had envisioned. Now that I have had more tying classes, I sometimes sit in and tie with them. I was impressed that they seem to offer quite a few educational opportunities (Casting, Tying, Entomology). They provide local resources for Boy Scouts working on merit badges. Visit their web site to learn more about their organization.

Fly'N'Field

I have mentioned "my local fly shop" many times on this website. So I just have to tell you which shop that is. In downtown Glen Ellyn, IL, there is a quaint little shop called "Fly'N'Field". The guys that work here are the best. They carry excellent merchandise and they know all their products very well. They are one of the vendors who offered prizes for the 2004 Bronzeback Blowout (ISA annual fundraiser/banquet)

When you walk in the front door one of the first things you see is a fly tying table. It is semi-circular so someone can sit inside the curve and demonstrate how to tie a pattern while up to six others can sit around the outside and learn. This is where I took my beginner level tying class in March 2004. I've learned to tie several patterns while visiting this store. Any of the guys who works here can show you a pattern you have questions about. I've seen different methods by having different guys show me how they tie a particular fly.

To summarize and keep this from getting too wordy, these guys have the right stuff for what you need and they are a wealth of knowledge worth your time to visit. Tell them Ken sent you, or don't. Just go there and see for yourself. If you have the time and think of it, please drop me a note and let me know what you think, after you visit.

One More Cast

One More Cast is a fly shop located in Countryside, IL. Countryside is a bit of a drive from my home in the far west suburbs (Wheaton) of Chicago. The store hosted a fly tying session open to ISA members on June 22nd, 2004. The store's website has several informative articles and such and is definitely more than just an on-line catalog.

The store is run by Joseph Meyer. I first met him at the fly tying session. He was one of the vendors who offered prizes for the club banquet. I've read postings by Joseph on the ISA message forums, especially the fly fishing section. The BassBuggers (fly fishing enthusiasts) of the ISA have held meetings at One More Cast. In short, Joseph has been quite supportive of us fly fishing Smallmouth Bass fans. I have always had a great respect for businessmen who give back to the customers by supporting organizations like this.


Misc. Links

I've moved these links off to a separate Jump-list. Since a jump-list is an attempt to organize a long list of links to other sites, I thought it best to separate it from this page. I hope this list will lead you to lots of valuable information I have tried to add something on each link that I've included, so that the page offers more than just a long list of links to other sites. Check it out. I hope you will find it valuable.


My "wish list" of fishing equipment

I like to think of myself as a smart shopper. If you have advice regarding any of the following, please drop me an e-mail. One can never have too much information when making a significant purchase.



Like everything on the Internet, this page is being updated all the time. I'll ask your patience if you find portions of the page to be incomplete or out of date. Constructive comments are always appreciated. Please send your comments (yes, you) via e-mail. Also, please let me know how you found your way to this site.

You might also find me on-line via MSN using the screen-name of "ken.schumacher@gmail.com", AIM or Yahoo (screen-name: n9kju). I use the GAIM messenger client so that I can be connected to several of these services at once.

The URL for this page is http://home.fnal.gov/~kschu/hobbies/fishing.html
© Copyright 2002-2005 by Ken Schumacher
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Last modified: Mon Sep 24 14:34:49 CDT 2007