Outdoors: The truth about fishermen

Ask McHenry’s Spence Petros how big these bass were that he caught on Lake Geneva and  his answer likely will be correct, right down to the fraction of an inch or an ounce, because he keeps a log book.
Ask McHenry’s Spence Petros how big these bass were that he caught on Lake Geneva and his answer likely will be correct, right down to the fraction of an inch or an ounce, because he keeps a log book.

I just finished a new book by John Gierach called “All Fishermen are Liars,” published by Simon and Schuster. It was a decent read, and I may review it for you later. Right now, I’d just like to discuss the book’s title.

Are all fishermen liars? It would seem to be that way if you were to believe the common stereotype. I don’t. Are fishermen totally honest? Well, that’s a totally different story.

If given a dose of truth serum, I’d have to admit that a few fishermen lie, a larger number may fib just a little and a large number tend to exaggerate to various degrees. It just comes with the territory, I guess.

I was fishing in Canada with McHenry’s Spence Petros when he asked a couple of guys coming off the water how they had done. They responded, "We caught four 40-inch northerns.” Spence responded, “What kind of 40-inch northerns were they? The 36-inch kind?"

There are a lot of sizes that get rounded up. There is a lot of talk about fish measurements from 40-inch northerns, down to 10-inch bluegills. You know how many bluegills I have caught from local waters in my life that measured more than 10 inches?

One. That is it – a grand total of one. It was so rare to me that I had a wood carving made of it. Gills like that one are seldom seen, let alone seeing schools of them. An 8-inch bluegill is a big gill, but it doesn’t measure 10 inches long

I swear to you readers that I always try to be as absolutely honest as I can be. If I don’t catch any fish, that’s the way I write the story. If I catch one fish, then so be it, that’s the way the story is written. I am not afraid to admit to having a bad day or doing something wrong.

When Spence Petros tells a story about a certain day of fishing, he may say, “We got two muskies, 15 pike and 22 walleyes.” He then can tell you what the lures were that his group had used. Is he telling the truth? Is his memory that absolute? I am not sure, but his log books are perfect. Not only does he remember every day he has fished, but he has it all committed to detailed logs to prove it.

Whether it is Petros or Joe Bucher, Jim Saric or Babe Winkelman, I find the greatest fishermen always tell the truth. I am not kidding, they don’t even fib.

Well, maybe they exaggerate a little on the rarest of occasions.


Northern Illinois fishing: Dave Kranz from Dave’s Bait, Tackle and Taxidermy in Crystal Lake reports: “I am getting good reports for northern pike from Three Oaks Recreation area in Crystal Lake using size No. 12 or No. 14 Rapala Husky Jerks. The best colors have been fire tiger, clown or Tennessee shad. Try fishing in 4 to 8 feet of water. Bass can be caught in the weed pockets or sandy spots on Yamamoto Senkos and in the deep water on drop shot rigs or Defender jigs. High water on the Fox River has the catfish in the slack water areas and they can be caught on cut bait or stink bait. Flat head catfish are hitting at night. Use a 4- to 6-inch sucker on a heavy rod with Power Pro braided line. I like the 50-pound test for catfish.”

Call 815-455-2040 for an updated report.

Honest John from C.J. Smith’s resort on Grass Lake sends word, “Fishermen are having great success on the Chain. Walleye action is very good and the hot spot is the south shore of Petite Lake east of the willow tree along the steel seawall. Also try drifting the sandbar in Lake Marie and just north of the Spring Lake Bridge for some nice ones. XL fathead minnows, nightcrawlers or large leeches are the best baits. Largemouth bass are biting well. Work the weedlines and any brush piles along lake shorelines and the Spring Lake channels to find them. Try crankbaits, rubber worms or, of course nightcrawlers are working well too. Bluegills are in the channels, with Spring and Bluff Lakes being good spots to hit. Work under piers and boats docked along the channel.

To see the statewide fishing report for Illinois, please go to

As of Tuesday, the Upper and Lower Fox River and the Fox Chain all were deemed to be open for boating by the Fox Waterway Agency. For up-to-the-minute water conditions on the Fox Chain and Fox River, visit or call 847-587-8540.

Lake Michigan fishing: ”Fishing in the waters of Lake Michigan has slowed down this past week. Some Coho salmon, king salmon, steelheads, and lake trout are being caught, but there is no pattern to catching fish. This time of year, you have to cover as much water as you can to catch fish. Moonshine's Nightcrawler spoon has been one of the best to catch all species. The good news is the big kings will begin to show up shortly to tear up your fishing tackle for the rest of the fishing season.”

The Lake Michigan Fishing Report is provided by Captain Bob Rossa of Migrator Charters based out of Northpoint Marina –

Wisconsin fishing report: Call Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan Fishing Hotline at 414-382-7920 to hear the latest fishing information for Lake Michigan and its tributaries.

Boaters cited: Illinois Conservation Police Officers cited 14 boaters for boating under the influence during last weekend’s Operation Dry Water campaign. Operation Dry Water is a nationwide effort that the Illinois Department of Natural Resources has taken part in to raise awareness and provide additional enforcement of laws prohibiting the operation of a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Seventy-five Illinois Conservation Police Officers were on duty statewide during the weekend of Operation Dry Water, June 27 to 29. During that time, they made contact with 472 boaters. Officers also issued 259 boating safety warnings.

Be careful. The conservation gendarmes will be out again in full force this holiday weekend.

Conservation Police trainee exam: The Illinois Conservation Police Officer Trainee Exam will be offered to qualified applicants on July 14 through 17. Veterans have priority and they are encouraged to submit their military documentation prior to testing. The exam will be offered at several Central Management Services testing centers throughout the state. The tests will be administered on a walk-in basis at the Springfield and Chicago testing centers. For more information, please visit or call Lt. Curt Lewis in the Conservation Police Training Section at 217-785-8407.

• Steve Sarley covers the outdoors for Shaw Media. He can be reached at

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