Dangling a hook proves popular
Native species include channel, blue and flathead catfish; spoonbill catfish, a.k.a. paddlefish; carp; buffalo; drum a.k.a. sheepshead; largemouth and smallmouth bass; walleye and its kissin' cousin, sauger; several panfish such as bluegill, crappie, rock bass, and sunfish; striped or white bass; muskie; and some trout.
The Mississippi River is undoubtedly the most fished venue of those available. The ``Father of Waters'' offers extraordinary angling opportunities year round.
Early spring draws walleye and sauger seekers to the swift water tailraces below the roller dams. It also brings catfish, panfish and bass anglers to the Mississippi.
Later in the spring, but before summer heat, Dam 14 near Hampton provides an angling experience somewhat unique to our area -- snagging spoonbill catfish. These leftover prehistoric creatures also are known as paddlefish because of their elongated nose, which resembles a beaver's tail.
Spoonbills feed solely on plankton, making them impossible to catch on conventional hook and line. Regulations allow snagging which can be a real thrill when a fish of more than 50 pounds is on the end of your line.
Spring also is when bass anglers can be found searching the river's backwaters.
Catfish is king in summertime. Early summer finds fishermen by the dozens angling along rocky shorelines, like Moline's Butterworth Parkway, catching spawning cats, which, incidentally, is not difficult to do.
Later, when the water is warmer, flatheads of more than 50 pounds are taken regularly by experienced anglers using bluegills for bait.
Fall, when water cools and many species of fish go on a feeding frenzy to prepare for winter, can be absolutely sensational for fishing.
Winter can produce quality action for the heartiest of anglers, not only from the open water just below the roller dams, but also through the ice in backwater areas where there is little or no current.
First ice and last ice -- the first ice of the year strong enough to support a person, and the last ice hard enough -- are commonly known as the best time to drill a hole for fat bluegills and crappie.
The Rock River has flatheads bigger than 60 pounds. The steel dam, near Milan, is an angler's paradise from spring through fall, and bank fishing can be tremendous for nearly every fish species.
While most of the water below the dam is too shallow and rocky for boats, it is just right for anglers willing to wade the fairly swift current. Novice waders should seek the company of seasoned veteran waders before venturing forth.
The pristine Hennepin Canal stretches on for miles, offering bank anglers, canoeists and belly boaters great opportunity for bass, panfish and catfish.
Lake George, in Loud Thunder Forest Preserve west of Andalusia, may be the most picturesque fishing area in the region. In addition to bass, panfish, walleye and catfish, the 167-acre lake also offers muskie fishing.
A then-state record muskie was caught in Lake George a few years ago. The county-owned facility has a boat ramp and boat rental concession.
The Green River has quality catfish, and in some areas, smallmouth bass. However, nearly all the shoreline is privately owned, thus landowner permission is needed for access.
For those who want to relax in a lawn chair, daydream or take a nap while kind of pretending to fish, Moline's Prospect Park lagoon is periodically stocked with trout; and Moline's Riverside Park lagoon is stocked with catfish.
Timely fishing advice, tips, equipment and live bait are available at several area shops.
-- By Bob Groene (February 9, 1998)
Copyright © 1998 Moline Dispatch Publishing Company, L.L.C.