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#417642 07/04/15 12:41 AM
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Bocomo Offline OP
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I took a trip to the Giant Goose Ranch with my two brothers and a friend for my bachelor party, and we had the time of our lives! The GGR is near Canton, IL, and is a fishing camp set on several hundred acres of converted coal pit lakes in the middle of corn country. It's run by the Herman family, especially Nate Herman, and it's already a fisherman's wonderland. With Nate's fisheries management plan, they're going to be pulling state record fish out of those waters in just a few years.

Friday morning when we arrived, Nate met us at the office and said, "Just go fishing and we'll get you checked in to the cabin later. You'll fish here today, and then tomorrow we'll go over to my place." I had no idea that we were going to be invited to fish the main attraction, but boy was I excited.

So off we went, two with Justin, and two with Mike, to search for LMB in Big Lake and Ski Lake, two lakes that Nate is managing for big LMB. The rain began in earnest as we climbed into the boats, and it didn't let up all day. The fishing was difficult. Flat light, cloudy water (for those lakes), and rain meant fish were holding tight to cover. The senko bite was off, and pulled in a few fish to 12" on spinnerbaits and topwater poppers. The fishing was slow, especially by Goose Ranch standards. We lucked into a lone 12" walleye on a small swimbait to bump up the species count.

Towards the end of the morning session, we finally found some quality fish (to 4#) in a newly-flooded area in Ski Lake. Some 2-3# fish as well in the same area made it a pretty good outing, or so we thought. But when we gave Nate the news back at the office and he looked pretty disappointed. The man has big plans for his lakes, and our count for the morning was just not good enough. So we switched gears for the afternoon and went to find some YP.






The YP-focused lake also has LMB, crappie, and BG. Nate is culling LMB from this lake to give the YP some breathing room. We found the YP, and they were biting! We tipped small jigs with waxworms or minnows, bounced them off the bottom, and pulled in at least two dozen YP for the two boats. We also boated a smattering of BG and crappie, and several small LMB which we culled per Nate's request. All the while the rain came down and everyone got thoroughly soaked.





We gave Nate the fishing report back at the office around 4 pm. He seemed much happier about the YP than about the LMB. We were more than satisfied -- LMB to 4# and dozens of YP is a pretty good day by any standard! We made plans for the next day's fishing at the Herman's and Nate promised to pick us up at 7:30 am sharp. The other fellows on my trip had no idea what was in store for the them the next day, but I did. I was so excited I couldn't stop thinking about it!

We checked into our cozy cabin and set about getting dry clothes and starting up the camp stove. The rental cabin has a bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen on the main level and a loft that sleeps two more. The kitchenette had a microwave, pots, and pans, so we brought the camp stove. There was a patio in the back that partially overlooks a catfish lake, so we caught a couple while we grilled up some steaks for dinner.




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After a fitful night's rest despite the comfortable bed (too excited), I woke the boys up at 6 so they could start making me my bacon & eggs before Nate showed up. It was my party, after all. Nate rolled up right on time and gave me a lift over to their place in his pickup. On the way over, he filled me in on his plans for the Goose Ranch and what his overall goals were for the place. I thought it was pretty good already, but let me tell you, if Nate can accomplish even half the fishery he has planned, it's still going to be one of the best in the country. If everything works out just the way he wants...look out.

When we rounded the last bend I got my first look at Norris Lake. It's an old coal washing retention lake built on top of a hill. It's about 25 surface acres and up to 50 feet deep. We were greeted by Noah and Chad Herman, who'd already been up for a couple hours catching small bluegill by the dozen to use as bait.
We tied on a few select lures up at the house and then headed down to the dock.




I want to pause here and take a second to appreciate the hospitality of Nate Herman and his family. I'd previously only 'met' Nate through the Pond Boss Forums, and here we were, me, my brothers, and Tim, standing in his parent's house at Norris Lake, about to have the best fishing day of our lives and certainly a bachelor party we'll never forget. Amazing.

Last edited by Bocomo; 07/04/15 12:46 AM.
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On with the show! Unlike the day before, there wasn't a cloud in the sky and I had to suit up for the sun (I burn really easily). We clambered aboard their boat and headed out to some shallow flats to look for cruising stripers. No one was home in the weeds, so we moved out a bit deeper and started tossing senkos.

That's when we found the smallmouths. Bronzeback after bronzeback on senkos. Big, fat, angry, tail-dancing, head-waggling, thumping bronzebacks peeling drag and tossing hooks. LMB were in the mix too, as were some ambitious helmet-headed BG and HBG that chased crankbaits and ate up the poppers for hours. Every fish was a quality, memorable fish -- that's what was so remarkable, the consistency! Each one of us caught a personal best for at least two species that day.






Last edited by Bocomo; 07/04/15 12:52 AM.
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Nate spotted some huge blow-ups about 100 yards away, and set about trying to put us on the action. He fired up the motor, pushed the throttle and...nothing. The prop had come loose and spun out into 15' of water! Chad climbed into the prow to set up the trolling motor, and...dead battery. My heart sank. I saw my visions of the best day ever slipping away, so close yet slipping through my grasp.

But Nate and Chad unhurriedly picked up paddles from the floor of the boat, and with the help of the prevailing wind, deftly maneuvered us into striper territory. Nate said, "John, go in the live well and pick out a bluegill, the smaller, the better, and freeline it. Cast it out as far as you can, and try to hit the corner of the dock." I found a 3" BG, rigged it, and surprised myself by failing to totally flub the cast and pitched it right at the dock. About five seconds after the bait hit the water, I felt a huge tug. I counted to five, set the hook, and the reel started screaming. Then I started screaming. Especially when I got the fish near the boat and my brother Tyler couldn't seem to get the net in the right place! What a fish, that HSB!





Last edited by Bocomo; 07/04/15 12:50 AM.
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We tied up at the dock and Nate started the tour. He showed us the gamefish pellets he feeds to the HSB, as well as the grow out ponds for the BG, HBG, and LMB. With the turn of a few gates, he can flush all the fish out and down into the main lake.



We then headed for the Man Cave -- it was a bachelor party, where did you think we would go? It's the only place I've seen where you can watch football, drink a beer, and ice fish with all the comforts of home while sitting on the sofa. I'll have to schedule my next trip for the winter time.




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All too soon, it was time to head back to the cabin. We had lunch on the way back to the Ranch with Nate and Chad so we could swap some more lies about fishing and learn about what life is like as a TV star.

Back at the cabin, I fileted the HSB for dinner and then Nate showed up again. He went back out on the lake "to look for the prop," which he didn't find, but somehow in the process he did find several enormous nesting channel cats that he wrestled onto the boat. Next time he loses something in the lake I'll be the first to volunteer to help him "look." We fileted the catfish too but gave it to our neighbor at the adjacent campsite as we already had plenty of HSB for dinner. We coated them with buttermillk and cornmeal and pan-fried them in butter. What a meal.





Last edited by Bocomo; 07/04/15 12:49 AM.
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Sunday morning was a mostly a travel day for us. We packed up the camping gear and made the long drive back to the airport. But we have memories that will last a lifetime. So thank you, Herman Brothers, thank you, Noah, thank you, Chad, and especially thank you, Nate Herman. You really went above and beyond to make sure we got on some quality fish. Tim, our novice, had never fished before and I think you probably ruined him on fishing as there's no other place that can give that kind of result. We will be back!


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Bocomo, outstanding report and pics. It certainly looked like a great time was had by all.


AL

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WOW, almost makes me want to get a divorce and marry again just for the Bachelor party.


It's not about the fish. It's about the pond. Take care of the pond and the fish will be fine. PB subscriber since before it was in color.

Without a sense of urgency, Nothing ever gets done.

Boy, if I say "sic em", you'd better look for something to bite. Sam Shelley Rancher and Farmer Muleshoe Texas 1892-1985 RIP
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Great report! GGR is an amazing property, and Norris is off the chain completely. Phenomenal places to wet a line, both.


"Forget pounds and ounces, I'm figuring displacement!"

If we accept that: MBG(+)FGSF(=)HBG(F1)
And we surmise that: BG(>)HBG(F1) while GSF(<)HBG(F1)
Would it hold true that: HBG(F1)(+)AM500(x)q.d.(=)1.5lbGRWT?
PB answer: It depends.
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Awesome! Awesome!!


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Very nice report. Thanks for sharing.

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Bocomo Offline OP
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Originally Posted By: Dave Davidson1
WOW, almost makes me want to get a divorce and marry again just for the Bachelor party.


We said several times we were sad that I was the last unmarried man on the boat!

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Great report , beautiful fish and location !!!

















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