I decided to go to Big Bend Lake in Des Plaines today and got there around 4:00 PM. After throwing some casts into the lake, I saw another angler out on the other side of the lake and so I decided I'd get closer to where he was to try my luck. I wasn't sure how to get there, but since the lake isn't all that large, I figured my best bet would be to just start walking along the perimeter of the lake until I got to him. Along the way, I kept casting into the lake but I got nothing. I finally reached his area and saw two other people fishing there too. I looked over to the left side of the pathway and found a "stream" there and thought I'd give it a try since I didn't really want to disturb the other people there. It turns out that it wasn't really a stream, but rather it was the Des Plaines River (DPR) which runs right next to Big Bend Lake at that point.
I threw out my line into the DPR perhaps 10 times and was just about to decide that maybe it wasn't worth fishing in this area and then WHAM! I actually saw the fish strike my lure and then jump! It was maybe 8 feet away from me because I could clearly see him strike it. Man, he hit it hard! It took me totally by surprise! The fight wasn't too long since he was so close to me already, but it did take some pulling and tugging to get him to shore. When he hit, I could clearly see him... a Northern Pike! After dragging him onto the shore (I could not lift him easily on the fishing rod), I put my my gear next to him to take a photo of him with my cell phone. I didn't have camera gear with me, so the phone was the best I could do. I had pre-measured my rod so I knew exactly where 18 inches was and he was way past that point. Later, I measured the rod to the point where he lay and it turns out he was 23 inches! I used my Boga Grip to hold onto him (pike have sharp teeth) and to weigh him... 3 lbs.
To date, he's the largest fish I ever caught and I released him with the help of the other angler whom I had seen from across the lake. He came over to see what I got. Afterwards, we had a good time talking a little about fishing in general and then he went back to his own fishing. He was fishing for carp, which to me is a little boring since you just put some corn on your line and put it in the water and wait for something to grab it.
For me, I prefer to continuously cast and retrieve. For this pike, I caught him with a "buzz bait." I used my new baitcaster rod and reel to catch this fish, also my first time using this kind of equipment. In the past, I only used spinning gear, but I always thought that baitcasting gear would allow me to be more precise in my casts. I was right. This is better for me!
The other angler told me that he had never seen anyone ever catch a pike with a buzz bait before. Apparently, pike usually lie in wait and then ambuse their prey, so maybe they don't usually go to the top of the water to attack? I don't really know...
Persistence finally paid off! I had had a really bad run of luck this season, but then again, I have been using this season to learn different techniques in fishing. I have fun just being out there to cast and retrieve even if I don't catch anything.