Maciulis: Fishing for a Cure returns to Braidwood Lake on May 18
February 24, 2013 8:04PM
Updated: March 26, 2013 6:04AM
They’ve done it again!
When the private and public sectors join hands, good things happen. One of the cornerstones of America’s unique outdoors traditions is the willingness of its outdoors people to help their neighbors, the same way America’s original environmentalists protected and preserved our wild places.
On May 18, 100 teams of tournament anglers will “cast a line to support the Alzheimer’s Association in the 12th annual Fishing for a Cure tournament at Braidwood Lake.”
The 2,640-some acre cooling lake is managed in a joint agreement by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and is located southwest of Wilmington in Braidwood Township.
What quietly began barely a decade ago as a way for Exelon Corporation’s Braidwood Nuclear Generating Station to help fund some local charities has mushroomed into a huge annual bass fishing tournament that’s raised nearly a quarter of a million dollars for charity.
In fact, Braidwood Generating Station Communications Manager Neal Miller said, “Fishing for a Cure raised a record $48,000 in 2012 for four Braidwood area food pantries.”
Miller explained in his most recent release that the Alzheimer’s Association has been designated at this year’s recipient charity.
The rules are simple: The tournament will start from Braidwood Lake’s Kankakee Road (south) Ramp. The entry fee is $150 per team, with all proceeds, including 100 percent of all tournament entry fees, going to the Alzheimer’s Association. Rules and entry forms are available online at www.exeloncorp.com/fishing.
To learn more about the Alzheimer’s Association, visit www.alz.org. Contact Miller at email@example.com or
Several years ago, local fisherman and outdoor writer Mark Fenske explained his formula for catching fish, especially largemouth bass, on the cooling lakes, most notable Braidwood. Fenske is a popular outdoor writer today but a decade ago he taught junior high in Bourbonnais and lived minutes from Braidwood Lake. We revisit some of Fenske’s tips for early season on Braidwood.
“For those who like to fish for bass,” Fenske said, “this is a prime time to cash in on some of the year’s best fishing to be had at Braidwood Lake. Summer-like water temperatures, compliments of Exelon’s dual nuclear generators, compiled with erratic structures of inundated strip mines and a swift current pulsing through the lake create a surreal atmosphere, but those hungry for the feel of a hefty bucketmouth or feisty bronzeback at the end of their rod easily look past this!”
Fenske didn’t mirror the anxiety that most weekend anglers have about conditions. In fact, learning how the fish react to weather is more critical on these vast, open cooling lakes than on the small, sheltered lakes most anglers vacation on.
“Don’t shy away from the wind,” Fenske said. “Being a perched lake, Braidwood, much like LaSalle and Heidecke, can become very choppy. Four-foot waves are commonplace and during the early spring they can be expected. During times of high winds many anglers opt to fish the sheltered coves and behind the many islands of the lake but if you can stand the wave induced pummeling seek out the wind swept areas of the lake and concentrate your efforts there.”
“Wind does a number of things to improve spring fishing,” Fenske added. “It concentrates numbers of baitfish in one area, especially numbers of a dying shad population. The acclamation period from the cold water of winter to the warming waters of spring cause a considerable die-off of shad which results in a feeding binge on the weak members of the population and the shad population in Braidwood is not immune to this phenomena. A bank pounded by wind will concentrate heavy numbers of shad too weak to (fight their way off) the bank and this often results in concentrations of bass gorging themselves on the easy meal.”
Since most anglers determine their tactics based on their own comfort, a wind-blown bank usually will be deserted after the initial flurry of opening hour activity.
“If possible,” he said, “endure the wind, but never attempt to fish an area that is dangerously windy.
“Reefs, spoil heaps, flats that are adjacent to deep water, funnels with heavy current and irregular breaklines that drop quickly into the many inundated strip mines of former years are secret hot spots that take some doing to find, but when you do happen upon one, the fishing is often very good.”
“Another area worth mentioning,” he said with a final tip, “are the weed beds on the flats of the north end. Situated in 3 to 5 feet of water, these patches of vegetation are scattered, submerged and camouflaged to the naked eye. But the few anglers who ignore the temptation to bombard the rock jetties of this area and look for the green with either sonar or by trolling crank baits, find uncanny numbers of hidden bass.”