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The Rock Island Conservation Club postponed its January Winter Fishing Tournament until March 3. This is in hopes of having an open-water event, such as was conducted a few years ago, when it change from an “ice” fishing tournament to a “winter” one.

The rules of fishing from shore with terminal ice tackle may puzzle some people, but it isn’t all that difficult. Just think of ice fishing with the addition of casting.

If the water opens up during the winter, or in the early spring, fish normally are still holding around their wintering areas, or in deeper water areas near water that is warming quicker, such as riprap and southerly facing shores.

The best way to fish any of this is with long rods of at least 7 feet in length. The reason for longer rods is twofold. First, it provides longer casts, and second, if the holding area is close enough, the rod can reach out and drop the bait directly into the area that could be holding the fish.

Back when the Rock Island Conservation Club first held this event, the late Jim Garcia won the overall bluegill weight category by fishing along a riprap area with a normal 20- to 30-inch ice fishing rod. He had forgotten to pick up his open-water rods and reels, so out of necessity he fished with what he had in the truck, and won. So at rare times, short rods can perform better than long ones.

Next is how to use the terminal ice tackle. I would select Custom Jigs & Spins Ratfinkee and Ratso in the number 6, 8 and 10 sizes, and a 1/32 ounce Panfish/Trout Road Runner, attached with King Sling loop knots, tipping all with a wax worm or Crappie Nibble, and give them an application of Kick’N Bass Crappie scent. Another rig would be a Daiichi Bleeding Bait salmon egg hook or Tru Turn Blood Red panfish hook, with a small split shot and wax worm or spikes. With all they would be fished under a float.

This is fished over the potential holding area by using a few different retrieves, if there is no wind. A slight wind is best because the wave action will jig the lure as it drifts over the desired fishing spot. However, in the case of no wind, or very little wind, place action on the lure by bobbing the float. This can be done with a constant bob, as would be done with the wind, bob-and-pause, or “rocking.” This is done by pulling the float forward two to three feet and then stop and reel up slack while the jig falls back down. The rocking retrieve has been my best tactic with the Panfish Road Runner, as it uses the lure’s small willow blade to its fullest benefit of spinning on the pull, and fluttering on the drop.

For more information on the Rock Island Conservation Club’s March 3rd Winter Fishing Tournament, call 309-787-4770, or go to their website at

On the shooting side of things, I’m happy to report that Mark Millichamp’s Women Only Illinois Carrying a Concealed Weapon, or CCW, classes in January were a great success. Because of that success, Mark has decided to conduct another such set of classes on March 17-18.

For anyone wanting to take the course before that time, Mark has an open course coming up Feb. 24-25.

Both the February and March events will take place at the Sherrard Fire Station. They start at 9 a.m. and walk-ins will be accepted. Veterans are only required to take the second day of the course, which consists of state rules and regulations, plus qualification shooting.

Remember it will take 90 to 120 days for you to receive your permit after completing the course. So, if you want your permit by summer, it would be best to take a course now.

If you would like further details on these courses, contact Mark at 309-235-9619.

Dan Galusha caught his first solo fish at the age of 3, started his fishing career in 1973, wrote for newspapers and magazines, hosted radio and TV shows, won awards in fishing and media, conducted seminars, completed in and ran tournaments, and in 2012 was inducted as a Legendary Communicator in the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame.