July 23, 2012

More Lake Front Fishing

Bill Matteson
Uptown  Chicago History Correspondent

We had lake front fishing at its finest—perch, still the best eating fish bar none. Whether fishing with cane pole or trolley, the fishing was always great. Herring came in twice a year and smelt came in April.

I would bike to Gompers Park with a fly rod for pan fish. Sometimes I would fish the lagoon at  the Waveland Golf Course just east of Montrose Harbor. Carp snagging at Belmont Harbor was one of my favorites. The north end of Belmont Harbor was shallow and clear. I would rig my casting rod with a treble hook and a 1/2 ounce lead weight. There weren't any snagging hooks commercially available in those days, so we had to make them. I would tie a piece of white cloth  to the line about a foot above the hook. This would allow me to see where the hook was in the water.

We would walk along the edge of the harbor, spot a carp, and then cast over it, and by watching the white strip we could tell where the hook was as it approached the carp. We gave a hardy pull, and if every thing worked right, would snag the carp. All hell broke loose when that fish tried to get away.

There were only  2 or 3 of us that ever did this type of fishing, knowing it would never catch on as an Olympic sport. In addition to carp,  people would throw in their gold fish, and these fish would grow to large sizes, looking like the koi fish of today.

Some years later while fishing with my youngest son, age 11 at the time, we were at the dam in Jefferson Wisconsin and I noticed a lot of carp in the still water. So I said, "Dan, watch this trick." I got out a treble hook and cast out to snag a carp, at which time some DNR  guy said, "You're under arrest"! Wisconsin had just passed a no snagging law.

I explained to the DNR guy that meant Lake Michigan for salmon, and since there are no salmon in the Rock River, it doesn't apply here.

Well, he had an interpretation that was a little different than mine. The outcome was four hours later; a daughter came up to bail us out. $200 later we were on our way home.

Son Dan wanted to know that if I had any more tricks to show him, if I'd just keep them to myself. We  went to court and the judge hollered at the DNR guy for being stupid and wasting his and the court's time and me, I just wanted some of his blood.

1 comment:

Fred Olin said...

My grandfather would sometimes fish with a "powerline." This was a grappling-hook sort of anchor attached to a long, strong rubber band, which was further attached to a fairly long piece of strong fishing line which had a series of fishhooks dangling from it. The fisherman would throw it way out in the water, the anchor would grab in the sand. Then he would pull in until the hooks were reachable, put minnows or "crabs" (crawfish tails) on them and let it go back out. The landward end was attached to a little bell, and when they got a bite, it would ring and they'd pull it in to retrieve the fish. At the end of the day, they's pull extra hard and retrieve the anchor and go home. Occasionally the rubber strand broke and you lost your anchor.

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