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Making fishing memories with 'Grandpa'

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I had a chance Saturday to do what every angler ought to do more often - I took a kid fishing.

My partner was nearly 4-year-old Kylie. She is the daughter of my stepdaughter, Kathy O'Connor, who grew up in the Twin Cities. She's now a high school teacher in the southwest suburbs of Chicago with two children of her own.

Gavin is 11 months, a happy guy. But he'd rather eat and toss things than fish. Maybe next year.

But Kylie, who melts my heart when she calls me "Grandpa Scott," was the perfect age to enjoy an outing at a Cook County nature preserve near my daughter's home.

The lake has bass, crappie, catfish and bluegill. We concentrated on the bluegills using a slip bobber rig with a threaded bobber stop, a Lindy float, a Rat Finkee ice fishing jig and a rubber core sinker to balance the bobber and avoid damaging the line like split shot can do.

We found a place near some young guys having a blast catching 2- to 4-pound largemouth on weedless lures. The fish were just beyond the weedlines.

We tossed a wax worm closer to shore among the lily pads. Kylie had her first fish on her brand new Zebco ultralight in less than 30 seconds. Her smile said it all. She wound up catching about two dozen in all. We had a great time making a memory.

The scene was similar at Miller Park in Bloomington, where the McLean County Sportsmen, the Pantagraph, the city of Bloomington, the state Department of Natural Resources and the Bloomington VFW hosted a free fishing clinic during Illinois Free Fishing Days. About 180 adults and kids braved the rainy, cold weather to have a great day catching bluegills and catfish.

That's what it is all about.

What's biting

Crappie: Fair to good at Shabbona, Evergreen, Shelbyville. Fair at Dawson, Banner Marsh, Spring Lake, Weldon Springs, Clinton, Lake Bloomington, Sangchris.

Saugeye: Very good at Evergreen.

Sauger: Spotty on the Illinois River.

Walleye: Fair at Dawson, Clinton, Shelbyville.

Largemouth bass: Good to very good at Sangchris, Shabbona, Dawson, Weldon Springs, Spring Lake, Shelbyville, Banner Marsh, Clinton, Evergreen, Lake Bloomington.

Smallmouth bass: Good at Powerton.

Striped bass: Good in spillways at Clinton and Decatur.

White bass: Good at Shelbyville, Decatur.

Catfish: Good at Clinton, LaSalle, Sangchris, Shabbona, Powerton, Evergreen, Illinois River, Lake Bloomington, Weldon Springs, Dawson.

Muskies: Fair at Shelbyville, Shabbona, Evergreen.

Bluegills: Very good at Sangchris, LaSalle, Spring Lake, Banner Marsh. Good at Evergreen.

Got a fish story, a hot spot, big fish or lots of them? Something funny happen? Phone Pantagraph outdoor editor Scott Richardson at (309) 820-3227 or e-mail srichardson@pantagraph.com . Read past fishing reports and outdoor columns and take part in online discussions at www.pantagraph.com /blogs.

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