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The good, the bad, and the big hearts of Prophetstown

Kaya Jones, daughter of columnist Matt Jones, walks through squirrel forest last fall.
Kaya Jones, daughter of columnist Matt Jones, walks through squirrel forest last fall.

As an outdoor dad, I just heard them words I have been hoping I would here. 

While watching a random deer hunting show on the Outdoor Channel, my daughter pipes up and mentions that she wants to deer hunt again this year. 

Now, after last year's cold weather and missed opportunity, I thought her days of deer hunting might have been over. However, I was wrong….again.

When she realized she could hunt in early October, that made her even more excited. Of course, I am off-the-hook pumped about this and cannot wait for October to get here.

This year's youth season is Oct. 12 and 13, and permits become available Aug. 1 at your local retailers. I know I will be there with bells on, happier than a camel on Wednesday.

Aug. 1 also ushers in another of my favorite pastimes. Yep, that's right – squirrel season arrives the first of August here in northern Illinois.

Now, I know August can be one hot, sticky, evil, nasty month. But if you wait for the time to be right, you can cash in on some awesome bushy tail action.

Wait for one of them there mid-summer cool fronts to move through. You know, the ones when we go from 90 degrees to 50 overnight with some evening thunderstorms. Then, you wake up in the morning to cool dry air, that's when you need to be chasing the bushy tails.

The woods will absolutely come to life with movement, and the action can be a freakin' hoot. On top of all that, squirrel is right up there with any wild table fare, so don't miss out on a chance to bag a mess of 'em. I know me and my old Marlin .22 are anxiously awaiting the first nice morning in August.

With August rapidly approaching and river levels finally starting to approach normalcy, the fishing action is heating up big time. The channel cats are wrapping up the spawn, and the bite has really started to improve. The flathead are right smack dab in the middle of theirs, but soon they will wrap it up, and fishing for both species will be phenomenal. 

I have been getting some reports of a good smallmouth bite right now and have seen some truly bull-sized bluegills. So along with great cat action, there is a little for everyone.  

The Rock has just been a bear this year. Up and down and cold and hot, then cold again then hot again, then low again then high again. You get the point. This really makes for some inconsistent fishing or frustrating fishing, as I like to call it.

But never the fear: The dog days are here. Currently, the Rock is only about 10 inches or so above normal level, and the surface temperature is at 80 degrees. So what are you waiting for? Go on, and get some fishing done.

In closing this week, I am sure you all heard of the terrible events that took place in my hometown of Prophetstown this week. Please pray for the homeless, and send praise the way of those who came to our aid that fateful morning.

The outpouring of support from the people here in Prophetstown and the surrounding communities has been incredible. Of course, I am not surprised. That is what Americans do in times of tragedy – they bond together and get things done.

I am proud to live in this small community full of big hearts. To quote a favorite song of mine, "Every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end."

The past is now behind us. What does the future hold? I'll keep you updated. Until next time...

Go Catfish!

Flats N Cats upcoming

The first Flats N Cats fishing tournament will be held Aug. 3 at Glenn Miller Marina in Erie.

Registration will open at 4 a.m. the day of the event, and a captains meeting will precede fishing, which will go from 5:30 a.m. to noon.

Registration is $50 per team, and the tournament is a 100 percent payout event. Teams consist of two people, with the exception of a third partner under 16 or over 65. The limit of five five channel cats or flatheads must be caught with rod and reel.

For more information, call Adam Tiemann at 309-945-6827.

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