Sarley: Dave Kranz shows his skill on Delavan Lake

Kyran Hicks of Carpentersville caught this 42-pound flathead catfish on the Fox River in Algonquin off Route 31. Remarkably, it was caught on a nightcrawler.
Kyran Hicks of Carpentersville caught this 42-pound flathead catfish on the Fox River in Algonquin off Route 31. Remarkably, it was caught on a nightcrawler.

Let me finish my tale of my day on Delavan Lake with Dave Kranz and Bill Baker. First, I must go into “mea culpa” mode again.

Last week I wrote, “Kranz uses top-shelf Daiwa rods and St. Croix reels.” Of course, everyone knows that St. Croix makes rods, not reels, and they are known as “the best rods on Earth.” Daiwa does manufacture both rods and reels, but Kranz uses Daiwa’s reels.

Thanks to Rich Konecnik of Crystal Lake, who immediately caught my egregious errors both times the past two weeks.

I explained why I thought Kranz would make a good guide. He finds fish and is a good teacher with ample patience and a pleasant demeanor.

He is also an Costa FLW Series tournament bass fisherman and used to fish many local events on the Chain and in southern Wisconsin.

I think he will be a good one, and I have a story to explain why.

We were fishing the shallow flats along the shorelines on both sides of Delavan coming out of the bay where the launch is located. The bass were in the post-spawn mode. You could see beds on the bottom, but the female bass had vacated the spawning grounds but were still in the vicinity. They weren’t feeding aggressively, and we had to work hard to convince them to eat.

Kranz has exceptional vision. He sees everything happening in the water. He saw fish that I never knew were there. He also is extremely attentive. He never misses a trick.

He spotted a huge mama bass hovering just off a bed in 6 feet of water. He casted toward her a few times. She wasn’t interested and drifted away. Kranz hooked a nice fish, and after reeling it in, he knew it wasn’t the big female.

We moved off the spot and continued to cruise the weedy flats. About 30 minutes passed when I noticed Kranz had returned to the area where we had seen the giant. He said she needed a little time to relax and not be spooked by us casting baits toward her for a while. He started to methodically work his presentation getting closer and closer to the bed area. Wham! The big girl ate the Senko, and the fight was on. He landed the fish and released it after a couple of pictures were taken.

This episode showed me that, besides great vision, Kranz has the ability to think like a fish. He understands what they are doing in the water and why they are doing it. He is extremely methodical and has the patience to be able to do what it takes to catch a fish and doesn’t care how long it takes him to accomplish the task.

It is a real pleasure to spend time in a boat with a fisherman like Kranz to watch and learn how to do what he does.

I just hope it doesn’t take 10 years for it to happen again.

• • •

This sounds like a great event, and I only wish the organization would have sent this to me earlier. A big tournament is headed our way, The only problem is that it takes place this weekend. I hope that some of you can make it.

Jack Baker, the tournament director for the North American Bass Circuit, wrote to say that they are coming to the Chain of Lakes on Saturday. They are launching out of Musky Tales in Antioch on Route 173.

A big incentive for joining this event is that the winner will advance to the NBAA National Championship in spring 2020 with all entry fees paid and a chance at the top prize: a new aluminum Ranger Boat.

The NABC 2019 format has an affordable base entry fee of only $200 a team. The prizes and pot will build upon the successful option pot model that NABC has used for years. The option pot opportunities have been expanded for 2019, and the payback is 90% for all levels and only to those teams that pay into them. All entries will pay out one place for every six entries, which means maximum benefit to the teams that finish in the money and everyone can choose their own entry fees.

Registration is open right now. For information, visit or contact Jack Baker at 580-716-4291 or via email at or


Northern Illinois: Dave Kranz from Dave’s Bait, Tackle and Taxidermy in Crystal Lake reports: “The dams at McHenry, Algonquin and Carpentersville go up and down as the rains come and go. Hot summer weather is traditionally a great catfish time. Use cut bait or stinkbait for channel cats or try large minnows for the giant flat heads.

“McHenry County Conservation District has Lake Atwood in the Hollows. Summertime is good for lots of bluegills, but they are not very big. No minnows are allowed here, so try using waxworms or nightcrawler pieces on a small No. 8 hook.

“Crystal Lake’s Vulcan Lake at the Three Oaks Recreation Area also is a no-minnow area. The water is very high here, and boat rental is the best way to fish here at this time. The shoreline is just too mushy to walk on. I use a Defender jig with a craw trailer in 8 to 30 feet of water for large and smallmouth bass. You can try rigging a drop shot with a Big Bite plastic or a live crawler for good action, also.

“For more info on northern Illinois fishing, call 815-455-2040 for an updated report.”

Fox Chain O’ Lakes: Chris Taurisano of T-Bone Guide Service ( – 630-330-9090) sends word, “Fishing this week has been very up and down. A few really nice muskies have been caught. When the water temps are under 80 is a great time for muskies. When the water is warmer, you should stop fishing for them for the safety of the fish. They don’t release well in warmer water and often die. Medussas are a good bait for Chain muskies. There are no large numbers of walleyes being taken, but a few good ones between 24 and 27 inches have been caught. It’s a good time to be using leeches. Bluegills are active on worms in the shallow weeds.”

Lake Michigan: The Lake Michigan Fishing Report is provided by Capt. Caleb Weiner of Migrator Charters: “Fishing this week has continued to be very good. Mixed bags of coho salmon, rainbows and lakers can be found from 100 to 200 feet. Our best level has been 180 to 190 feet. The coho have really liked blue/green/gold flies and blue/black/purple flies, both with little red dodgers. The hot rod for rainbows has been a five-color with the RV Moonshine Flounder Pounder or a 200-copper with RV Blue Flounder or Wonder Bread. The lakers have continued to be down by the bottom and have been biting very well before 10 a.m.

“We are seeing lots of calm weather and clear skies. Come out and enjoy the lake. Give us a call at 224-234-3704 or check us out at”

• Steve Sarley writes about the outdoors for Shaw Media. Write to him at Steve does a weekly podcast about fishing called “WeFishASA.” You can find it at

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