Heartlander Abroad: Kinkaid Lake, IL
By Josh Gowan
For those of us that work a regular 5-day a week job, a 3-day holiday weekend is a magical thing. It’s hard to wrap your head around what it must have been like for a bunch of brave, adventurous Europeans, building a new life in a strange land while being oppressed by taxation from across the Atlantic, to rise up and fight. To proclaim that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were worth dying for, and then to prove it. Our independence is celebrated with fireworks and barbeques, but it was won with blood and bravery. So while dropping a “Benjamin” on fireworks to appease our children, a little insight on who the man was and his connection with the holiday wouldn’t hurt (maybe dig out a $1, $10, and $20 as well!)
Alright, on to the great outdoors! So the truth is, I was only slightly “abroad”, but with towering cliffs and crystal clear water, I might had well of been in the Galapagos Islands! There aren’t many crappie fishermen that travel north for a fishing trip. Most folks go south where the fish are generally bigger, but some lakes are exceptions.
Being that I was already in Jackson, Mo for the holiday, Kinkaid Lake was only an hour away, and the reports from there lately have been phenomenal. It always has a good summertime bite, but there is an issue which I am not accustomed to dealing with that arises around 10am. At only 2,400 acres, the lake is not very big, but its deep, clear waters attract a monumental number of invasive species, I’m of course talking about the dreaded recreational boaters!
My buddy Perry Jackson and I knew about the party crowd, so we were determined to get there as early as possible and take advantage of the first calm, unmolested five hours of fishing. The problem we encountered was acquiring bait. Kyle Schoenherr, one of the best tournament fisherman in the country and a guide on Kincaid Lake, among others, told me that minnows were out-catching straight jigs 10-1, and those are not odds I take lightly! I called the only bait shop I could find in the area, and they told me they opened at 7am… That is the equivalent to a church only being open on Tuesday or a bar only opening for breakfast, depending on your religion.
Fortunately one amongst my wide network of friends is Gary Seabough, who owns Jackson Bait and Tackle in Jackson, Mo, and while he regularly opens at 5am, said he’d meet me at the shop at 4:30am so we could get an early start. We were a few minutes late due to circumstances beyond our control, but still on the road with bait by 4:45am, only to cross the Emerson Bridge in Cape Girardeau into a wall of dense fog that didn’t let up until we were nearly at the lake.
We put in and planed Perry’s War Eagle out, taking in the beautiful surroundings while heading towards a cove of standing timber. I brought 1/32 oz. jig heads with extra-light hooks, which we tipped with a minnow, and lowered slowly down the stick-ups. We picked up a few fish here and there, and were still trying to pinpoint exactly where the fish were when I got a huge “thump”, I set the hook, and brought in (with the help of a good net-man) a big hybrid crappie. Kyle told me he’d been catching some natural hybrids, which are a rare mix of a white and black crappie, so I was on the look-out. The crappie resembled a white, but the vertical bars were somewhat offset, and faded into specks, and while her mouth, measurements, and body type were indicative of a white, she had seven dorsal spines, which is a sure sign of a black, unless of course, it’s a hybrid! A few trees later and Perry hooked into one just as big, and I slid the net under her! That was about the time the ski boats came out in full force and ended our day! It was a great trip and I can’t wait to go again!
Kyle Schoenherr owns and operates All Season’s Guide Service in Southern Illinois, and is one of the best in the business. To contact Kyle call 618-314-2967 or go to www.allseasonsguideservice.com.