OUTDOORS: Big fish starting to show as weather heats up

May 6—There are lots of big fish being caught now that the weather has straightened out in our area. Some nice bass and crappie are being caught at this time but the water in some of the strip mines is crystal clear due to the lack of rain throughout are area.

When the water is gin clear, it is hard to keep the fish from seeing you as they react to movements from a boat or from the shoreline. I don't like to wear light colors when fishing this clear water.

Once we hit this point in the year, I think an angler can catch a fish on most any type of lure. During the early spring, that is not always true but, now that the water has warmed up it is time to bring out your entire arsenal.

This is the time of the year when you might see a fox around your property, especially near an out building as they are looking for a spot to have and raise their young.

Please leave them alone and let them raise their pups in peace! They won't stay around forever and, once the pups are grown (about 12 weeks) they will leave.

Fox populations are fairly stable with the red fox inhabiting our area and the gray foxes being more prevalent in southern[PVC1] and western Illinois. There are gray foxes in our area but the population has declined over the years with coyotes filling the niche of the gray fox.

Did you know that a gray fox can climb a tree while a red fox cannot. I only seen this once while squirrel hunting but I knew when it jumped trees that is sure wasn't a squirrel!

Foxes got a bad wrap back in the day when they were always accused of raiding the hen house. Back when I was a kid it was normally a weasel, a mink, or a raccoon. Foxes are carnivores and they do eat meat, but generally feed on rodents, birds and small mammals.

If you are fortunate to have a den of foxes, watch them, learn from them, and enjoy the time they are there; they won't be around very long!

The First Lake Vermilion Qualifier was held on April 15th. The results are as follows:

First Place with five fish weighing 14.75 pounds. (Mike Schull)

Second Place with five fish weighing 14.25 pounds. (Rick DePratt/Tony Kirkpatrick)

Third Place with four fish weighing 10.23 pounds. (Mitt High/Jon Bishop)

Fourth Place with three fish weighing 9.30 pounds. (Derek & Ty Coon)

Fifth Place with three fish weighing 8.37 pounds. (Vern Mayberry/Jim Thomas)

Big Bass: Vincent Melecosky 5.97 pounds.

Sam Van Camp writes about the outdoors on Saturdays. Fax: 446-6648. E-mail: