The primary purpose of this trip was to hunt for a few long coveted targets.
Perhaps the most important of all was the Shovelnose Sturgeon. A few years ago, I visited Illinois to fish with Ben with hopes to fish for this species of Sturgeon on the Mississippi River. However, historically high water level forced us to abandon the plan. We planned to fish the Mississippi on this trip, but yet again, we were met with flooding condition. Luckily, Ben presented to me a Plan B (and we'll discuss this plan on Day 5 of the trip).
Two other targets were next in significance. I have caught all but two remaining Lepomis species and this trip was planned to offer me a shot at the Bantam Sunfish and Redspotted Sunfish. I've arranged to fish with an online friend to pursue these species in his home waters. However, our plan was thrown into a bit of uncertainty (and we'll discuss this on Day 3 of the trip).
There are still two more targets that would simply make this trip. The Ozark area is known for two Ambloplites species. The Ozark Bass and the Shadow Bass. Ben has fished in this area last year and found these two fairly easily. These were two A's in my pocket that could safe a poor trip, as long as the weather cooperates (and we'll discuss this on Day 2 of the trip).
In addition, Ben suggested a number of spots to fish that will give us opportunities at a myriad of micro species, including beautiful Darters, the enigmatic Sculpins, and perhaps some Minnows adorned in their spawning colours.
A major thanks to Ben is in order at this point. Without his help, we wouldn't even know where to start, and what species to target. I basically told Ben that I wanted to plan a trip to target Shovelnose Sturgeon and he suggested to me so many areas to fish and so many species to target that we have more options than necessary. That's a good problem for species hunters. Ben's intel was solid and he saved us a couple of times on this trip when we were scrambling for info and places to fish.
Thus, Michael and I departed Toronto on Wednesday afternoon full of hopes and dreams. Our first evening consisted of a marathon 8 hours drive to Anderson, Indiana where we would grab 4 hours of sleep that night before we departed early toward Illinois.