Turning A Coalfield Into An Angler’s Paradise

Science can make an average fishery into a life-changing destination!

Nate Herman is wowing ‘em in Peoria—well, in Canton, Illinois, to be exact—where he is turning 50-plus lakes and ponds into some of the finest fisheries in the Upper Midwest!

Want to grow a monster musky in your home lake?

Nate Herman will oblige.

Want a lake that regularly produces bluegill in the pound-plus class or the kind of bass water your wildest dreams couldn’t conjure?

Nate has the formula.

Want 52 intimate waters teeming with nearly all the favorite freshwater sport species found in North America?

Consider it done…or at least well underway!

Giant Goose Ranch is dream project of the Herman family, owners of Herman Brothers Lake and Land Management based in Peoria, Illinois, whose services span everything from lake design and fish management to building docks and lakefront homes.

They purchased Giant Goose Ranch and its strip mine lakes from former coal mining operations from the Little Texas Corporation in 2013 with a plan that puts all the Herman talents and resources to work. Currently, they are building lakefront cabins, maintaining campsites and managing undeveloped acreage for upland game.

But GGR’s most ambitious efforts by far are the 52 fisheries themselves, each earmarked for well-defined species and results!

Nate is the Herman who literally eats, sleeps and dreams (his specialty) about fish and fish projects. He has turned central Illinois farm ponds into smallmouth bass factories; turned strip mining pits into “Canadian lakes” with spectacular walleye, smallmouth bass and (tiger) musky fishing; and turned backyard lakes into premier fisheries for catfish, largemouth bass, bluegills, crappies and other species.

His creative “all things matter” approach often defies conventional fisheries management practices, but his showcase projects stand as proof of his principles.

“I identify the limiting factor(s) for a particular species of fish for that body of water—whether that is water quality or water temperature or preferred food source at any given stage of that species life cycle and address them,” Herman explained during a tour of one of his favorite projects. “And we have different routes to take to overcome that limiting factor and, ultimately, to grow what’s not natural in a natural lake or pond.”

He has a blueprint for every lake and pond on the 828-acre property as well as a “first class fish hatchery.”

The ranch’s namesake lake—121 acres and 81 feet deep with 20-foot visibility—features brook trout, rainbow trout, big bluegills and trophy largemouth bass. Heavily fertilized Spool Lake hosts tiger muskies, walleyes, largemouths and braggin’ size panfish.

Bo’s Lake will be managed as a super-slab crappie lake. Herman even has plans for some of his small and remote waters to host “specialty species such as alligator gar, redbreasted and longear sunfish, hybrid bluegills, smallmouth bass and forage minnows.

Giant Goose Ranch currently offers seasonal, annual and other camping options; on-site cabin purchases; and annual fishing memberships. Guided fishing trips for members and non-members are also available.

Bull Bluegill Basics: Protect the Alpha Males

North American Fisherman Top Stories