A question I'm asked quite often by most Illinois Muskie anglers is, what is my favorite lake close to home? Without hesitation my answer is the Fox Chain O'Lakes in Antioch IL. While this may surprise some due to the high amounts of pressure the Chain gets, in this weeks blog we will discuss ways to unlock the secrets of the Chain!
First and foremost, I can not stress enough how dangerous the Chain can be on the weekends. If I must fish the Chain on the weekends I know my day is done by 10 or 11am. The amount of boat traffic out there is insane! Jet Ski's, Water Skiers, and big Power Boats run wild out there. Unfortunately those driving these vessels have no regard for us anglers as they run dangerously close to us while running wide open. If you can, fish the Chain on a weekday otherwise be ready for a short day on the weekends.
I fish the Northern half of the Chain. I focus on Channel, Catherine, Marie and Bluff lakes. If you are looking for a great boat ramp that puts you right in on this good Muskie water, I recommend Bob's Marine on Lake Catherine. We can literally come right out of Bob's channel and drop the trolling motor and start fishing.
Catherine, Channel and Bluff lakes can be fished just as any "classic" Muskie waters. Weed edges come straight out to the main break lines. We can fish these weed edges with great success and we can fish the weed edges that go around the entire lakes that we just mentioned. However there is a little trick that some Muskie guys may miss.
There are 4 BIG weed flats in the lakes mentioned that we will break down a little further. The North end of Channel Lake, just off of Mentones Point on Channel Lake, the South Bay on Channel Lake and Airport Bay on Bluff Lake. These areas mentioned are massive weed flats. Don't just focus on the weed edges on these flats! Take your time exploring these flats. Start your first pass on the outer edge, then move up on the flat and keep working your way up the flat, even fishing the inside weed edge. So much is talked about Muskies being on the outside edges but they also roam the inside edges!
Now the odd ball of the group of lakes, is Lake Marie. The weed edges here come nowhere near the main breaks! In fact some areas may have 20 to 30 yards of bare ground, mostly mud, before the break line. The weeds may be anywhere from 2 feet of water to 8 feet of water but they hold Muskies! The weeds may be thick at times and it forces us to find pockets in the main flats to get a bait through but we can also fish the edges of these flats.
Now here's an interesting tid bit for ya, and this applies for all the lakes mentioned, fish docks. Yep, you read that right! Docks aren't just for Bass guys anymore! Muskie on the Chain relate to the docks as cover and an ambush point just like Bass do.
For those of you that like trolling, the Chain produces many Muskies this way. Short line trolling is a preferred method out there. We can troll break lines and my favorite trolling tactic is something we've called "Zombie Trolling". So many fish out there roam, suspended over open water. We can cover depths from 9 feet of water to 40 feet of water. However there is no reason to run baits deep. Muskies suspended over open water tend to sit in the top 6 feet of the water column. With another angler in the boat with me, I'll run a 4 rod spread. The two outer rods with Planner Boards and shallow running baits and place my two inside rods right in the prop wash. Always have your rod holders positioned so your rod tips are in the water. Due to the high boat traffic there is a ton of floating, cut weeds out there and having our rod tips in the water keeps the weeds on our rod tips and not sliding down the line to foul our baits.
When we are casting, we can throw anything from Bucktails, Tandem Spins, Jerkbaits, Twitchbaits, and Top Waters. Trolling, I prefer shad body baits, like a Super Shad Rap, Monster Shad or a G&M Shad. Spring and Fall more natural colors work well as the water is clearer. During the summer months the water can turn to chocolate milk and bright colors are a must!
Using some of these little tricks can help you become a better Fox Chain angler. The numbers of Muskies in this chain is amazing. Multiple fish days are VERY common and the potential for a BIG fish is there! Take the time to explore this body of water close to home and you will see why it is one of my favorite Muskie lakes in the Chicagoland area.
As always if you have any questions or comments or would like to see a certain topic covered in our weekly blog, drop us an email at email@example.com Thanks for reading and tight lines everybody!