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Smallmouth bass gaining attention
By Mike Jackson | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 9/13/2007 12:06 AM

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The phone conversation lasted for almost an hour, and because of what Ron Lindner had to say I suggested he join me on my outdoor radio show.

Lindner, a Chicago product, is half of the Al and Ron Lindner media gold mine, a Freshwater Hall of Fame member, inventor, innovator, and my friend for more than 40 years.

Months of research on smallmouth bass and that species' rise to the top of many anglers' wish lists led me to pick Lindner's brain as to why he thought this fish was rivaling largemouth bass popularity?

"A 2- to 3-pound smallmouth will jump higher, pull harder and race away faster than a typical largemouth of equal size," he declared.

I agreed.

"And smallies have always seemed to captivate the fisherman with the way it attacks a lure or piece of live bait," he added.

And then came perhaps the most interesting part of the conversation.

I already knew what he was going to say, but I had to be careful so my questions would not be construed as a tad political. I suggested smallmouth bass are seeing the positive aspects of global warming. I already knew, however, that Lindner used to argue that global warming was a creation of the more liberal side of the political spectrum.

"I'll admit that there have been climate changes and seasonal abnormalities," Lindner said. "Smallmouth bass in the upper Midwest are experiencing longer growing periods mixed in with more active feeding spurts. That, in itself, is giving us bigger fish."

I explained to this ex-Chicagoan that some anglers working their favorite stretches of the Fox River have located 19-21 inch fish on a fairly consistent basis.

"That's where we'll find the better class of fish, in rivers," he explained, "and it's because of a heavy variety of food sources and water clarity."

Lindner explained that many of the rivers in Wisconsin and Minnesota, for example, have become more pristine and clear. Minnows, crawfish, leeches, grubs and other table fare seem to be more readily available.

But it's the warmer autumn seasons we've experienced that keep the smallmouth on the feedbag.

"We've caught these fish right up to ice forming on the lakes and skim ice on some rivers," he noted. "And most of the fish we took were larger than past year's averages."

The "we" he referred to included brother Al and son James, both of whom are also in the Hall of Fame.

"Fishermen are going to see lots more big fish in river systems throughout the Midwest," he said, "and it's safe bet that more people will focus more so on this species in the very near future."

Ron's favorite smallmouth haunts are river systems, so I asked him what kind of lures he suggests for smallie angling in the fall.

"I like a football-head jig with a Power Bait on it. But if someone likes live bait, they'll never go wrong using a large chub on a weedless hook, or a mushroom-head jig," he said. "Work the slackwater pools and anywhere there's dead trees sitting in the water."

Make no mistake about it. The smallmouth bass is a favorite for many fishermen, and because of that you will definitely see more articles in the national magazine about this great freshwater battler.

Deadly deer virus

An outbreak of an acute, infectious virus that kills white-tailed deer has been detected in Illinois, the state Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources reported this week.

Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD), an often-fatal virus that causes high fever and severe internal bleeding, has been confirmed in captive deer herds in Franklin and Randolph counties. It also is the suspected cause of death in wild deer in at least 28 counties throughout central and southern Illinois.

"One farm, in particular, has been devastated," Dr. Colleen O'Keefe, IDOA division manager of Food Safety and Animal Protection, said in a media release. "The farm, located in Franklin County, has lost 16 of its 20 deer."

EHD poses no risk to humans, according to Dr. O'Keefe. Other wild ruminants also are susceptible, including elk, mule deer, pronghorn antelope and bighorn sheep. Domestic animals such as livestock may become infected, but rarely exhibit signs of the disease or develop serious illness. EHD is spread by biting midges, or gnats. The midges transmit the virus from infected to uninfected animals as they feed. There currently is neither a vaccine nor an effective treatment for the disease.

"The only viable way to control the virus is to control the insect population," Dr. O'Keefe said. "Short of spraying for insects, there's nothing much a landowner can do to prevent the disease other than wait for cold weather."

Fishing report

Another summer is about to go into the books with fall knocking on the door. All the signs are here, with angling getting hotter.

Fox Chain: Crappie action on Lake Marie and Channel Lake greatly improved. The muskie bite is good on Lake Catherine and Bluff Lake. Look for a highly improved walleye scenario on Channel Lake in current areas. The no-wake restriction is now a thing of the past.

Fox River: Excellent smallmouth angling from shore at Elgin; South Elgin; Batavia and Geneva.

Bangs Lake: Expect a very good largemouth bite during mid-afternoon periods right in the weed pockets of the north shore.

Lake Michigan: Perching is still active, but fish seem to have gone deeper off Waukegan and Lake Forest. King salmon have moved closer to shoreline areas in Chicago and Waukegan.