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Annual East Central IL Lower Vermilion River outing Sept. 22nd

Rob G

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September 22nd, Sunday Central Illinois Outing on the Lower Vermilion River system.

We will be fishing the Middlefork, the Saltfork, and possibly the Northfork branches of the lower Vermilion River system. Wading will be available and I will be more than happy to run a shuttle for those that are wanting to canoe or kayak. I should be able to give you more information as to water depth as the date draws nearer.

We will be meeting at the Pit Stop restaurant, 500 N Oakwood Rd. Oakwood, IL. on the south side of Interstate 74, exit, #206 at 8:30 AM.
If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me by PM or post here.

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Fred and others,

I checked on river conditions today for both Salt Fork and Middle Fork Rivers and both not surprisingly are quite low and clear. Excellent wading conditions but the Middle Fork would be impossible to float. The Salt Fork IMO would also be difficult to float at this time as well. I'm not saying it can't be done but I'm afraid you would get tired of picking up canoe or kayak and dragging it over gravel bars or where normally you can float around downed trees, now it will be more work to get by them. If you're still game for a float, I will put you on the deepest sections. It's a shame this outing is never scheduled earlier in the year since then we know you will have a nice float. By August it is hit or miss depending on the rainfall and we have not been getting a lot of rain down this way.

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I'll plan to wade. Got a 5-yr olds birthday party early afternoon, so I'm guessing the Middle Fork is quick to get to. Just need someone to point to the area more likely to be productive. A HS classmate was at my 50th reunion this summer, told me he fly fishes in Conn. This week I received a couple of flies he thought might work on Smallies. Anxious to try them out.

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I'll plan on being there early, like to get over to the river before the fish wake up. But breakfast is always good. Is this a new or different place? Seems they tore down the place we used to meet. As far as my friends flies, one looks a lot like some we tied. The other is more like what I use on a spinning rod. But I'll bring and probably try them, so i can report to him.

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We had a nice turnout for our outing this year. Since we're well off the beaten path down here in east central Illinois, I never expect big numbers but we had 8 of us that showed up for breakfast and fished. We spread people out over the Middle Fork and Salt Fork rivers and were faced with a true Bluebird sky kind of a day. Bright sun, little wind, and not a cloud in the sky, all of which makes for pleasant wading but unfortunately can make for tough fishing conditions during the middle of the day especially when the water is so low. Water temps continue to fall as the clear chilly nights are starting to take their toll. At least that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. I caught about a dozen smallmouth and one spotted bass after several hours of wading but no size whatsoever, lots of dinks. The better quality fish remained hidden all day. The saving grace was that if you're not going to catch much, then at least you had a beautiful day to enjoy the nature, the scenery and meet new friends. Not bad at all.

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Thanks a ton for hosting us. We were more than satisfied, and the "dinks" were a blast on 3wt. rods.






I fished a 6'6" 3wt. Kabuto rod and my dad fished an 8'0" 3wt. Elkhorn rod.






We ended up catching about a dozen smallies, a dozen rock bass, and a couple dozen pumpkinseeds and chubs.


Lots of action all day, but nothing huge.


Fish were caught on #10 leeches, #8 clousers, #8 poppers, #10 hoppers, and #10 buggers.




My 4 year old daughter helped paint these poppers, which turned out to be pretty productive.





The pumpkinseeds, while smaller, rival any trout for their colorful markings.












The most exciting fish came from a series of shallow pools (maybe 2.5' deep) spaced between riffles. There was grass along the far side. It just looked like the perfect spot for a hopper. As per Rob's advice before we left breakfast, I tied a number 10 hopper on and about 6 casts later it landed right in the middle of one of the pools. Within a couple seconds it was smashed by a 13" smallie. He just nailed it. It was cool seeing him hit a fly that I associate with trout primarily. He made a trout's take look boring. And I saw the whole thing.





Thanks again Rob!



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George M, a newer member of ISA who has fished the Middle Fork a lot, and I went to a likely looking area, lots of holes, but apparently either our flies were too big or we were too noisy or something. George got a large mouth that I pictured on my iphone. I'd show it if I could figure out how. From Colt's account, my flies may have been too big for the things hitting my hoppers. We each caught a dink, had a few others try, but when I had to get going @ 12:30 not much to show. It was a beautiful day and now I'm better acquainted with the river.


I got to the 5-yr old granddaughter's birthday party, very late. I don't think they had missed me much anyway.


We need to return to this area next year earlier, when water is higher, assuming it ever rains again.


Neat thing about the day was we had folks from Chicago, Kankakee, Peoria, Bloomington, Champaign-Urbana and Danville. Almost everyone had to travel a bit. Ask Rob about the great breakfast at the Pit Stop, or whatever it was called.

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thanks for posting the photos and yea, those long eared sunfish are colorful. Glad you had a nice time.



didn't you think the Pit Stop breakfast sure tasted a lot like McDonalds breakfast food. Ha You guys probably will never let me set up the food anymore after last year's pizza that was supposed to be delivered to us at the Bloominton fire station but ended up at the fire station near Peoria. I'm not sure if there would be any interest but the Kickapoo State Park is near by and both tent-only and RV camping is available in case some would want to come for the weekend. Or next time we could arrange a cook out after you guys come off the water, I could have some burgers and brats waiting for all. Something to think about anyway.

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where I fished the keys were staying out of the water as much as possible, making longer casts to the water, shade and some depth to the water.


in the shallow skinny stuff if there was a little slot or depression with a fair amount of current, I got smallmouth, albeit small ones. in the deeper water I got a bit bigger smallmouth, nothing over 15 inches, a channel cat, hooked three musky, landed 2 lost one and the rattlebait to a bite off.

I think I had an advantage with the spin rod as I didn't need room for a back cast, sometimes I was closer to the trees behind than the water.


rattlebaits primarily, bandit 200 crank, worked stop and go against the current, bumping as many bigger rocks as possible and a 1/0 weighted keeper hook with the old Berkley power pulse worm. I didn't see another soul until I was taking the waders off back at the car.


got to meet some new folks, other folks I don't see often, fish some water other than my home river, catch some musky which I don't have at home and watch the Bears win that evening. Plus I got paid to do all that, vacation day.


The bacon, eggs and pancakes at the Pit Stop were like something I'll never taste.

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