Outdoors - Steve Sarley

Sarley: Huge muskie caught on Fox River near Algonquin Dam on Tuesday

Carpentersville 23-year-old fisherman estimates muskellunge at 50 inches

Photo caption – No, Carpentersville’s Nick Wechet wasn’t in Canada when he caught this monster musky. Nick caught it from shore on the Fox River below the Algonquin Dam on Tuesday, April 26.
Photo caption – No, Carpentersville’s Nick Wechet wasn’t in Canada when he caught this monster musky. Nick caught it from shore on the Fox River below the Algonquin Dam on Tuesday, April 26.

Sometimes you just get the urge to go fishing, you know? Carpentersville’s Nick Wechet woke up on Tuesday morning and his fiancée said to him, “Come on. Let’s go fishing.”

It wasn’t the promise of glorious weather, to be sure. It was cold out with a forecast of clouds, windy weather and colder temps. Weather aside, the engaged couple headed to the banks of the Fox River.

You don’t need a super-duper muskie boat to catch a trophy fish. Sometimes the shore fishermen do as well as the boaters. Wechet proved that fact.

The 23-year old Wechet, who grew up in Lake in the Hills, and his fiancée, Nicole Malkowski, are engaged to be married in 2017 and enjoy fishing together. Although Nick owns a fishing boat, this trip was to be from the banks of the Fox.

Sign up for Fox Waterway News Text Alerts for boating conditions, news and updates on the Fox River and Chain O’Lakes

“I know this is going to sound crazy, but this was the first time we had gone out fishing this season, in all honesty,” he said.

They positioned themselves below the dam and, after about 30 casts, at approximately 10 a.m. Wechet got a tremendous hit. He was throwing a Devil Head spoon on 80-pound braided line when a big muskie decided to have a meal. It hit the spoon close to shore in fairly shallow water. It felt the pressure and began to run.

“It didn’t take to bring the fish in," Nick said. "I had no net but I was able to grab the fish from the water when I worked it close to the shore line.”

Pictures were quickly taken. Unfortunately, Wechet had no measuring instruments, neither tape nor scale, but he estimated the fish at 50 inches. It was the biggest fish that Nick Wechet had ever caught.

Giant Fox River muskie not eligible for Illinois state record

The fish was quickly released back into the water to be caught again another day. The thought of keeping the fish to become a trophy for Wechet’s wall was never considered.

“After I let it go, I sent pictures to some friends and they told me I was crazy for letting it go," he said. "I didn’t really know what to do but I figured it would be to have respect for the fish and to let it go. I had to respect the fish.”

Wechet is an avid fisherman and has been one since he was 5 years old in Lake in the Hills, where he lived for most of his life. He has always been a fan of fishing for catfish on the river. He just started fishing for muskies in the last year or so.

“I always considered myself to be a big catfisherman," he said. "I guess, from now on, I am going to have to consider myself to be a big muskie fisherman.”

Outdoors notes

I recently ran across an incredible book. It is Vin T. Sparano’s “Complete Guide to Camping and Wilderness Survival” published by Universe Publications, a division of Rizzoli.

I’m not really a camper nor am I a survivalist, so why did this book impress me so much? It’s a treasure trove of information for anyone who spends time in the outdoors. It is chock full of great tips for fishermen and hunters, as well as for campers and hikers.

It contains great information about fishing and outdoor cooking that is as complete as you’ll find in any book. Its section on first aid was enlightening and easy to understand. Its section on weather was highly informative. I definitely recommend Vin T. Sparano’s “Complete Guide to Camping and Wilderness Survival” to anyone who enjoys the outdoors

Morel mushrooms – All-around outdoors guy, Mike Miller from Lake in the Hills tells me, “Although I thought it might be too early, I had to go look. I picked 14 but they were pretty small. All were 1 to 3-inches. This was at a spot that they come up early, too. I'd say this weekend (April 30 & May 1) will produce, but Mother's Day weekend will probably be best depending on weather.

Northern Illinois – Dave Kranz from Dave’s Bait, Tackle and Taxidermy in Crystal Lake reports: “The cooler days slowed the bite down a bit but those fish are still in the shallows and should hit during the warmest part of the day. Ice jig with a wax worm will work for the bluegill. Small crappie minnows on a Mini-Mite or a chicken jig will work for the crappie. Catfish can be caught on cut bait with a sliding egg weight. Largemouth bass will hit Chatter baits, Spinner baits, Senkos or jigs with a craw trailer. Walleye will hit a jig and minnow combo or a Berkley Flicker Shad I like purple tiger or silver with black or blue.” Call 815-455-2040 for an updated report.

Fox Chain report – Chris Taurisano of T-Bone Guide Service (www.tboneguideservice.com - 630-330-9090) sends word, “Fishing has picked up with water temps now getting into the 60’s. Panfish are excellent on jigs and plastics. Walleyes are good on crankbaits and jig-and-minnow combos. Muskie are coming out of their spawn and starting to feed. Bass are shallow on crankbaits.”

Fishing club

The Lake Geneva Fishing Club meets on May 11 at Cabela’s in Hoffman Estates near the intersection of Routes 72 and 59. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in the upstairs meeting room next to the Café. The meeting is open to guests for a charge of $5. The fee is deductible from your dues if you decide to join the club. The club’s dues are $35 per year with $5 charge for processing new members. For further information call Bob Clark at 815-527-5109 or send an e-mail to robtmclark@aol.com. The featured speaker on May 11 will be John Trossen, noted Geneva guide and the owner of The Pier bait store on the lake. His topic will be, “Successful Geneva Lake Tactics.” While John is probably best known for his trophy walleye catches and ability to hunt down the lake’s crappies, he is well versed on all species the lake has to offer.

Loading more

Digital Access

Digital Access
Access nwherald.com from all your digital devices and receive breaking news and updates from around the area.

Home Delivery

Home Delivery
Local news, prep sports, Chicago sports, local and regional entertainment, business, home and lifestyle, food, classified and more! News you use every day! Daily, weekend and Sunday packages.

Text Alerts

Text Alerts
Stay connected to us wherever you are! Get breaking news updates along with other area information sent to you as a text message to your wireless device.

Email Newsletters

Email Newsletters
We'll deliver news & updates to your inbox. Plan your weekend and catch up on the news with our newsletters.