Dream of big muskies? Heidecke Lake might be the place

MORRIS, Ill. — Our local newspaper ran the lunar tables for best fishing times when I was a kid.

I didn’t care. I fished when I could but read everything outdoors-related.

In recent decades, lunar times picked up a following among muskie anglers.

According to Samantha Baxter’s 2022 article in FishSens magazine: ‘‘The moon’s effect on fish behavior has long been of interest to both biologists and anglers. That’s especially the case with muskie, where long, fishless spans can give anglers plenty of time to ramp up the lore. The lunacy of the Muskellunge is a common discussion for its anglers today and those of decades past. The idea was popularized in 1936 by John Alden Knight with his publication of ‘The Modern Angler,’ wherein which he lays out his ‘Solunar’ tables.’’

On to Heidecke, the former cooling lake near Morris that reopened to fishing Monday.

In previewing Heidecke, district fisheries biologist Seth Love mentioned: ‘‘I hope that muskie anglers will really target Heidecke this year. I think the news of state-record qualifying fish being in the lake made some anglers realize that there are some big fish at Heidecke and that Illinois can offer good muskie-angling opportunities.’’

A 49.1-inch, 39.8-pound muskie was netted in the Heidecke spring survey last year. Matt Carmean caught the Illinois-record muskie (38 pounds, 8 ounces) on April 20, 2002, at the Lake Shelbyville spillway.

In-Fisherman’s free page, ‘‘Solunar — Best Fishing Times,’’ listed times that didn’t work for me. Instead, I
fished around moonset, 10:45 a.m. Monday in Morris.

Only a few boats were out, but people were shore-fishing. At the bridge, Paul Strand had caught a 20-inch walleye and saw another keeper caught. The minimum length for keeper walleye is 16 inches.

Several anglers west of the bridge on the south side of the dike caught yellow bass while bottom-fishing bait. One boater I talked with said others caught bass by flipping jigs inside the bay by the launch. A young man farther west on the north side of the dike had caught a 20-inch-plus walleye.

At the far end of the dike, I began seriously casting a No. 7 Flicker Shad, a size that theoretically might entice muskie, walleye or smallmouth bass.

Alas, hopping north to south on the dike, I caught nothing other than green moss on nearly every cast.

Strand texted me that he also had caught a hybrid striped bass.

It was time.

Walking back, conservation police officer John Farber was walking all the way out. After he checked my license, we caught up. He said a couple of other hybrids were caught. At the handicapped pier, a guy had caught a drum.

Wild things

The Illinois Morel Progression Map for Monday at the Illinois Morel Mushrooms Facebook page had confirmed finds as far north as Will County.

Stray cast

Opening days of sports and outdoors share much this year.

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