Monthly Archives: February 2011

Wasn’t Supposed to be This Cold

I had applied for a part time job at a big box outdoor store. Fishing, hunting, camping, canoeing and kayaking, basically nothing I didn’t know anything about. The first interview went well. Work days would be Saturday and Sunday and I had what they needed.

A few days later the second interview went well with the manager of the department. Work days would now be Saturday, Sunday and Monday. More hours would be good and I informed them that I had another part time job promising more hours, but that I would set aside more time for the one that needed me more. I was told the decision would be made the next day and they’ll call.

A week later I called them. The position was filled. They decided they needed someone on two more days and since I had another part time job, they went with the other person. I reminded them of our conversation at the second interview.

“Oh, I forgot.”

Yeah, oh.

Pleasantries of course were exchanged while in my head I had a visual unfolding. I was taking a roll of toilet paper and shoving it through my phone, down the phone lines and out their phone and into their lap. In my head I was saying, “here, you’re going to need this to wipe the shit off your head after you extract your head from your ass.”

More pleasantries were exchanged, let me know if anything changes, I’d still like the opportunity to come work for blah, blah, blah. I don’t think so.

In that week of waiting we had warm weather, which melted off all the snow. Rain helped it along. The Fox River had come up a couple of feet, but I had already walked down to the river for a look. I can tell from a distance what the clarity of the river will be by it’s color. Since the ground is still frozen, not much dirt is washing off into the water and the clarity wasn’t bad. All the ice was gone, which is what really mattered.

If the river comes up a couple of feet I wouldn’t advise that you go out wading. It is a potentially dangerous situation, unless you know where you’re going to go fish is now a series of big, slow moving eddies. Normally the water is 12 to 18 inches deep and now its a little over 3 feet. No big deal. Just don’t step out into the current.

The air temperatures were supposed to reach 40 degrees, they lied. It never made it past 35, but that’s above freezing so I thought I would go decompress by standing in the water. I didn’t allow for the wind and even before making my first cast my fingertips were getting numb. That could be why I missed the two hard hits I had in the first 10 minutes in the water. There’s also the chance that I missed them because I was already feeling the cold water seeping in through the leaks in my waders. Makes it difficult to concentrate.

Though I was fishing a warm water discharge, the discharge didn’t seem all that warm. I think the higher colder water was mixing with the warmer water much quicker. I had missed a couple of hits, I could put up with damp feet if the hits continued.

I wandered down stream in the big eddy created by the higher water. The eddy came out from shore a good 50 feet and was well over 100 yards long.

A couple of trees had moved around along the shore and helped create what appeared to be some perfect fish holding water.

The water this day was flowing along at about 3,100 cfs. I figured out years earlier that my limit for wading this stretch was when the water was at 3,500 cfs. I figured that out by fishing this stretch when it had hit the 4,000 mark. Though the river had come up 3 feet that day, I thought the stretch along the shore was tolerable, even if a little high. What did me in was trying to go around a tangle of downed tree limbs. I made the mistake of stepping into the faster moving water. I started to get sucked under the trees. Of course, I wasn’t going to let go of my rod or toss it onto the nearby shore, it could break or I could lose it to the river. Instead I hung onto it with one hand while fighting to stay above water by hanging onto tree limbs with the other. That didn’t go well. The rod was sacrificed with a wild toss to the shore while I clung onto the biggest limb with both arms wrapped tight around it.

When I finally got out of the mess I made, I picked up my rod, got back in the water behind the tangle of logs and continued to fish. Vowing never to do that again.

This day with the water at 3,100, I wasn’t worried. I did notice that when the water reached my waist, the leak in the crotch of my waders had not magically fixed themselves over the winter. I could feel the cold water seeping in and giving me a severe case of shrinkage. I decided it was tolerable.

I was hanging a simple jig and twister in front of a log, letting the current work the lure along and under it. A hard hit and I thought for sure I had hooked a nice smallie, it felt like one. Instead, a carp had been hooked in the snout.

I’ve hooked them this way in the past. I can’t tell if they’re trying to eat the thing or if I got lucky and hit them in the face just right.

I worked the back side of the log. I thought for sure there would be smallies hanging out in this big eddy. More three foot deep, slow moving water extended down along the shore. The water should have been about 55 degrees, but the leak in my crotch was telling me that wasn’t true. A half hour of waist deep water was enough. Any longer and a search team would have to be called in order for me to take a piss.

The river had done it’s magic. The useless employment conversation had been all but forgotten. Would have been nice though. A company discount had been offered. They had a pair of 5 millimeter neoprene waders hanging on the wall in my size. In those, even with a slight leak, I can stand for hours in any water no matter how cold.

A Citizen’s Guide to Preserving the Fox River

Udate 3/14/11
The April 1, 2011 deadline for advertising in the book has some flexibility. If you’re interested, all the contact information is in the post below.

If you live, work, fish and hunt somewhere in the Fox Valley, please take the time to look this over, along with the associated links. They are putting together a coffee-table style book that will have a run of 25,000 copies and will be distributed through out the Fox Valley. They have an April 1, 2011 deadline for sponsorship and advertising opportunities for the book. Seems worth it if you have a business, club or group that is looking for a new advertising venue.

On February 1st a note came up on Facebook from The Conservation Foundation:

A Citizen’s Guide to Preserving the Fox River

We are starting a new education and outreach effort to preserve the beautiful Fox River:  “A Citizen’s Guide to Preserving the Fox River”

Our overall goal with this project is to engage more local residents in protecting their Fox River.  This is a new project that will be kept alive through the ongoing work of The Conservation Foundation and the Fox River Ecosystem Partnership.  We will increase the overall awareness of the Fox River in the lives of the people who need it, use it, and rely on it for their quality of life; and inspire residents to “take action” by making changes to their lives and properties that will benefit the Fox River.

For the past 5 years I have done virtually nothing regarding Fox River conservation efforts. I decided when I saw this that I would get back in touch with these groups. I worked with all of them years ago when there was a big push for dam removal on the Fox. My role back then was to get the angling and hunting communities involved not only in the dam removal initiatives, but in Fox River conservation efforts in general. I’m hoping to reach out to the same fishing and hunting groups with this new project.

I got the following from Brook McDonald, President/CEO of The Conservation Foundation when I contacted him to let him know I’d be interested in helping. It helps that he is a kayaking fanatic and loves fishing rivers and creeks:

As you know, since the DNR has been sliced to hell, many of the ecosystem partnerships have gone somewhat dormant.  The Fox River Ecosystem Partnership (FREP) wants to remain active.  The Conservation Foundation has always been involved in the FR, but mostly in the lower stretches.  Frankly, we have spent the majority of the past 20 years focusing on the DuPage River in DuPage (both branches) and now working on the lower DuPage in Will County.

When this current project idea came up, it was an opportunity for both TCF and FREP to work on something together to benefit the Fox River.  FREP works on a comprehensive watershed approach to the river, while this project is focused on some of the education/outreach goals in the watershed plan. 

For this project, we are working directly with Becky Hoag, who is the “staff person” for FREP and she is in charge of the web site  She’s just getting started.  For the magazine, we are working with Paul and Valerie Burd from Yorkville.  They do all of the local municipal magazines up and down the river.  Valerie does much of the writing and layout design, and Paul does the photography and helps me with some ad sales.  Dan Lobbes is organizing all of the conservation organizations and local river communities to help promote the project, in particular the web site and magazine pick up locations.  We have a couple other people helping on various tasks, too.

The specific goals of this project are to increase awareness of the wonderful virtues of the river, and to get people to take some sort of action that will benefit the river, even if it’s as simple as installing a rain barrel on their downspout and hope they understand the link to that and the river.  The more people know about the magazine and the web site, the more people will, hopefully, want to do something.  In addition to these outcomes, we also will be building 2-3 community rain gardens in river communities and certifying a bunch of “environmentally-friendly” yards/properties through our Conservation @ Home program.

It sounds like your contacts in the media, and “hook and bullet” crowd would be beneficial.  I can see links to other projects we are working on, too, on the Fox River, particularly in Kendall and LaSalle. Hopefully, this project will engage enough people that other projects will develop as a result, and breathe new life in the effort to preserve the Fox!

Brook McDonald, President/CEO
The Conservation Foundation
10S404 Knoch Knolls Road
Naperville, IL 60565
(630) 428-4500, ext. 12

I’ve already contacted Becky Hoag at Fox River Ecosystem Partnership and it looks like Dan Lobbes, Director of Land Preservation at TCF, is going to be the lead person on this project. I’ve worked with both of them extensively in the past on the dam removal issues on the Fox and even going back 15 years when I helped get Salt Creek Watershed Network off the ground.

Dan sent me the following with some info he was requesting. I’ll be pulling together the information I have and passing it on, I hope those that are interested that I don’t know will contact him directly:

Would you be able to put together contact information for some of the hook & bullet groups in the Fox Valley? This project covers the Fox from the Wisconsin border to the south end of Kendall County. I’m planning on sending a letter describing the project and asking for their support, whether it’s just promoting it to their membership, distributing the free magazine or actually buying a small ad or something. I’d need a person’s name, the address and if possible an email address as well.
Anything you can do would help.

Dan Lobbes
Director of Land Preservation
The Conservation Foundation
10S404 Knoch Knolls Road
Naperville, IL  60565
630-553-0687 x301

Though I know a lot of the fishing and hunting groups in the area, I don’t belong to any one group anymore. I do know they are out there and paying attention. If all you can do is help spread the word on this with the appropriate contact info, that would be great.

Sorry for being so long winded on this, but what else is new for me.

I think what they are trying to do is pretty cool. I’ve noticed in the past 5 years that there just aren’t that many people out along the river in the stretches I go to. I run into virtually no one while out fishing and wandering around. I went 2 years recently without running into a single angler while out wading, and I was going a good half dozen times a month. These are stretches where I’ve had over a hundred guys out for guiding and fishing classes, as well as talking about them endlessly for the past 15 years.

Pass this along if you can. Sometimes that’s the best you can do. Would be good to see the angling and hunting groups participate. We do have a vested interest in the health of the waters and waterways of where we fish and hunt after all.

FTA – 2/22 and 29/04 Fox River WWD and exploring / Part 2

From the Archives – I have 100s of posts that were made on fishing forums starting around 1998. When I have nothing new to say, I thought I would start putting them up on my blog. I hope you like them.

2/22 and 29/04 Fox River WWD and exploring / Part 2

Air temperature 38 to 50 degrees, water temperature 36 to 40 degrees in the river and 56 in the discharge, clear to partly cloudy skies, water normal, visibility about 3 feet in the river and unlimited in the discharge, split shot with hook and small plastics and jig/twisters.

Too much work, then none. Crappy weather then fine. It all came together for a couple of days a week apart and I was able to get out for awhile each time. Total:

1 smallmouth bass,
1 channel catfish,
1 sucker,
1 walleye,
3 carp.

I knew I couldn’t get out for another week, but every day I would take a break from work out on my porch to see what was moving around. Flocks of geese were flying high over my house with that determined speed and altitude that tells me they aren’t stopping any time soon. Rabbits, squirrels and a wide variety of small birds were all over my bird feeders. One day there were four doves reestablishing their nests in my yard. Two of them were trying to build a nest in the wood pile. Not a good idea. Besides the fact that I wasn’t done burning the wood this colder season, we use our back door alot and need to walk within inches of the wood pile. When a dove explodes unseen from a wood pile at a level even with your head and only twelve inches away, if you don’t drop dead of a heart attack right there, then there’s a good chance your heart is just fine.

We had 3 days in a row where there weren’t any clouds. The nights would get pretty chilly and the mornings greeted me with thick frost covering everything. With the bright sunshine this would slowly disappear, but the frost in the shadows stuck around for another hour or two. I’ve always loved the patterns this makes on the lawns and the roofs and I’ve paid for it when out walking and slip on an ice covered shadow on a sidewalk.

The koi in my pond would start each day hunkered down on the bottom and by the end of the day, were moving around. Not alot, but at least they weren’t comatose. My wife had unplugged the pond heater a few days earlier and now the pond was reacting only to the swings in the weather. I have yet to see any correlation between the koi activity or inactivity and my ability to catch fish on the river. I’ve paid a little bit of attention to it, but haven’t been consistent in my record keeping. Maybe this year will be different. But then again, these are basically colorful carp and I’m not sure it would make any difference. Unless I start targeting carp. Which is highly unlikely.

I had pretty much the whole weekend free. A rare treat this time of year. The Illinois Smallmouth Alliance was having their big annual fund raiser, so I was committed to working that all day Saturday. If I could behave myself and not have one beer too many, I could get out early on Sunday and spend the whole day fishing.

Behaving myself proved difficult. I seem to be hanging out with too many guys a few too many years younger than me. I didn’t wind up drunk so much as full, and extremely tired. But, like usual, I couldn’t sleep when I got home and eventually got out of bed and hit the road. It was only 5:00 a.m.

This proved difficult for my head. It wanted nothing to do with being out this early, but I forced myself. It was going to be another beautiful day with temperatures over 50 and I wasn’t going to lay in bed moaning about how I shouldn’t hang out with young guys. As it was I couldn’t get any of them to come out and meet me. They were all hunkered down in their beds, the sissies.

I started out in Batavia and checked out a small creek where I like to seine my own minnows. It was completely free of ice, but also completely free of living things. I didn’t really feel like carrying around live bait, so I was actually relieved that there was nothing in the creek. Not going to the bait shop was easy. Instead, I tied on some small plastics and covered a three quarter mile long stretch of the river.

With the water now at 40 degrees, I thought for sure I would get a few hits, at least of walleye. But nothing. Ducks and geese covered the low water areas and the slack water in the eddies. I saw at least 5 different types of ducks, but my brain wasn’t focusing enough to recall their names. I was already feeling a little sore and stiff, the aftermath of being on my feet all day at the fund raiser, but I decided to meet up with Jamie and Rich and continue on with the day.

The next stop was North Aurora. We combed a couple of stretches that are normally good spring spots, but since this wasn’t really spring, not much was happening. Jamie did get a good sized sucker to hit a crankbait and I think we all came up with scales on our hooks after sticking them into the sides of carp. Other than that, not much happening.

We made our way even further down stream and eventually met up with Gary. Along the way fish were being caught and seen, but the bite was extremely slow. Jamie wound up getting an even bigger sucker on a Gulp worm and Gary was the only one to land a couple of smallies. I seemed to do nothing more than snag the occasional carp that bumped into my lure.

As we walked down stream Jamie and Rich, the young guys, were well ahead of me and Gary, the old guys. I wanted to give Rich plenty of room anyway since he was throwing a monster shad for muskie and having it slap the water.

“Dude, you’re scaring away all the fish,” I said.
“It’s just a shad,” Rich said, “they’re used to seeing just a shad.”
“Not dropping out of the sky with a huge thud on the water,” I said.
“It doesn’t bother them,” Rich said, “It’s just a shad.”

I wasn’t convinced. Gary and I decided to wander across the river to try a point where we’ve successfully taken walleye in the past. The wind was now gusting upstream and casting to a specific spot became guess work. You cast, let the wind take your lure and basically hope it lands somewhere in the proximity of where you wanted it to land. After 5 minutes of this, I gave up and turned around in time to see Gary trying to walk through another hole where we’ve been successful at catching walleye in the past. I was going to warn him about the depth of the hole, but I figured its a rare opportunity to learn everything there is about a hole, at somebody else’s expense. He didn’t fill his waders, but came real close. At least now I know more details about this hole.

Me and Gary, the old guys, decided we had enough. I could barely move my legs and my head was somewhere between throbbing and spinning. We headed back upstream to make a few final casts and sit on the shore to wait for Rich and Jamie. On the way upstream we noticed that all the minnows were back in the shallows, by the hundreds. I remembered back in December when the edges of the river were just turning to ice that I stepped on a sheet of the ice, it went under water and popped back up. The surface was covered with minnows. The minnows were hiding under the ice. Gary and I simultaneously pointed out that the only difference between today and a week ago was that now there was no ice. All those minnows must have been in the shallows under the ice. With the ice gone, they were back. A very good fishing sign for the next few weeks.

When the young guys finally showed up we told them we were done, going home. We had to endure the old fart comments, but Gary is on a diet and slowly trimming down and next time I won’t spend the night before going pint for pint with these young punks. We’ll show them who can out last who.

Fox and DuPage Rivers – Fishing Prospects

Today’s fishing prospects start out brought to you by Lightnin’ Hopkins and his song Last Night, which is playing in the background . . . you should fall down on your knees and pray.

Tuesday found me with the need to drive along one side of the Fox River almost to Aurora. Across the river in a couple of spots. Across 5 of the creeks in this area that flow into the Fox and finally winding up just south of Plano at the mouth of Big Rock Creek. As I pulled up to a stop sign that T’s at the creek the bald eagle comes drifting down the little creek valley.

Makes my day.

The ice that was covering the river and it’s creeks is now an afterthought. The recent thaw and rains has washed all of it away. Nothing along the edges, no sheet ice floating downstream, a beautiful sight to see. This years ice age is over, at least for the rivers. I don’t recall too many years past where lingering arctic blasts have occurred this late.

Of course, we now have slightly elevated water levels. Runoff and rain has to go somewhere. I made the mistake of briefly watching the local news on Monday. I gave up on local news around 6 years ago and it’s rare that I see any of it. It’s local, but not much news. The doom and gloom of the day was rivers at flood stage. I checked the real time stream gauge, it didn’t make it past the 4,000 cfs mark. That’s not flooding, that’s elevated. I wandered down the hill to the river. These people are idiots, the river is fine.

This next section is brought to you by Koko Taylor, with Keb Mo, hammering out the song The Man Next Door . . . hey baby, baby, baby, tell me how you want you’re rolling done.

The river is also on it’s way down already. The next couple of days will see temperatures in the 40’s. There is plenty of open shoreline to go wander, the Fox is known for that. Bike paths, forest preserves and foot paths are everywhere. The water is still going to be cold so finding those areas that have enough still water bordering the current will be important. Geneva comes to mind. Batavia through the Glenwood Forest Preserve, but that won’t be easy. Shoreline trees with undercut banks, perfect, but not easy to fish.

It’s kind of pointless to go down the list of where to go, go somewhere and give it a try. The information for access is out there. If you must wade, know the water where you will be stepping. Current moving at 3,000 cfs can still knock you down and that water will be cold. I might try a stretch of the river or a creek mouth on Wednesday. Fish slow, don’t hurry and you never know.

The creeks are a little high. I was hoping to go try a few spots 9 miles up one creek to see if I’m right about wintering smallies. That may have to wait. With the creeks up it might not be worth it.

This next section is brought to you by Baby Face Leroy Trio doing a decent version of Rollin’ and Tumblin’ . . . I know my baby, she goin’ to jump and shout.

A couple of weeks ago I drove over the DuPage in a couple of spots. It was already ice free then. The gauges show it high, but not awful.

The communities along the DuPage have been doing a pretty good job of buying up the shorelines and turning them into park land. I know at Hassert Boulevard is one relatively new chunk of land. Down in Shorewood a number of homes along the river were torn down and is now a park. I’ve parked at a few bridges the last few years and walked right into the river.

Your options are becoming pretty much limitless. Bollingbrook through Plainfield through Shorewood, it’s really a matter of getting a map and figuring out where to park. I’ve done well walking the shore through Shorewood, so the high water shouldn’t matter. If the plans in my head get put into motion, since I’m starting up my guide service again, guided trips along the DuPage through here won’t be out of the question. I like fly fishing this river, I imagine others would.

I still think the DuPage River should be the river of choice in the next few days. I think the odds of tying into smallies there are pretty good. But I also think I’ll get lazy and stay close to home. I feel like being in the water and I know where I can go to do that on the Fox. Now it’s a matter of Fox creek or Fox River. I imagine that decision will be made as I pull out of my driveway.

We’ll end this with Baby Face Leroy sorry that My Head Can’t Rest No Mo’ . . . when a man ain’t got no money, you knows dem women don’t want dat man aroun’.

Fish Porn – Rated for Mature Audiences Only

When I started writing this a few days ago, I didn’t know there was a Bassmasters Classic that was to be held over the weekend down in Louisiana. I don’t pay attention to those things. I’d rather sit around watching golf on TV with my dad if I needed something to make me go brain dead.

I normally wouldn’t put something like this on my blog. Though I can and do swear profusely at times, I don’t do it while I’m typing. Normally, write ups like this go on a semi-private site for friends. They get the humor, or don’t. Don’t like it, don’t read it is generally my attitude.

But the coincidence of this is just too good to pass up. So, you were warned. Rated MA for adult content and language. Don’t like that, don’t read it.

When I hear the term Fish Porn, I immediately think of the pictures that are popular on the web and in the magazines. Young, healthy men and women thrusting the heads of big fish into the wide angle lens of a camera. You can’t help but look because of the effect a wide angle lens has on subject matter. Distorts it just to the point where it starts to look deformed, but you can still distinctly make out the details.

That is also the problem with using camera equipment like that, just about anything you shoot is going to look interesting. It’s so out of the realm of how we actually see things it will be interesting solely for calling attention to its distortions. The effect is so simple to achieve that I’ll bet I can take a well trained chimpanzee and show it how to take interesting photos.

I quit reading the majority of the mainstream fishing magazines a long time ago. Lost interest in the big name fishing shows about the same time. I don’t have any interest in spending $30,000 on a boat and then driving it across a lake or down a river at 50 mph just to catch a fish. I don’t use that gear, I don’t use the lures they use . . . it’s all information that is pretty much wasted on me. I’ve been out of the loop with things like that, I didn’t know how things have changed.

I was wandering around Bass Pro Shop the other day. I never go to buy anything, just wander around looking at things. Don’t know why I do that, just do, shiny objects.

I stopped in front of a television on a shelf. What caught my attention was the gaudy bright colors of the shirt the angler was wearing. That’s nothing new, I’ve seen that Nascar type shirt on pro circuit anglers before, this one just seemed so bright. He’s standing on the deck of an expensive boat, in the background is a beautiful wooded shoreline. Between the two are weed beds and some lily pads.

I have no clue who the guy was, I don’t pay attention to that stuff. All I had in my head was that this guy is standing in a beautiful, pristine environment wearing one of the most disgustingly gaudy shirts I’ve ever seen. And he didn’t seem embarrassed.

Someone came and stood next to me to watch the show. I wasn’t in the mood for company so I turned to him and said “I have a couple of gay friends that would be more than happy to help him with his little fashion faux pax.” He stood looking at me, eyelids starting to blink faster like windshield wipers on high. I knew some brain cells behind those eyes were thinking over that statement. Without a word, he turned and walked away.

The fishing peacock was going on about some new lure. I heard a weight mentioned of about an ounce. Things were taken apart and put back together. That was supposed to do something, but I missed the point. I was so fascinated by that shirt I couldn’t concentrate.

Then they started showing the lure swimming through the water, over and over again. I kept expecting to see a bass come up and smash it, but it never happened. My head was saying, figures, if I were a fish I wouldn’t eat that piece of shit.

Finally the peacock stands up on the boat deck. The camera cuts in tight to show him using a two handed grasp on a broomstick like rod and flinging this lure into the air. I couldn’t believe he needed all that effort just to fling a lure 50 or 60 feet. I could have done that with a pretty simple flick of the wrist, maybe a little effort from my elbow down. I don’t think I’ve ever needed two hands to cast anything.

You could tell by the way the clip was edited that they probably made a lot of those casts before a bass dumb enough came up and hit the lure.

He set the hook on it like he was setting a hook on a tarpon. Arms tucked down tight in front, jerking the rod back and back and back, the whole time saying, “Oh yeah, that’s good, that’s a good one, oh yeah.” Jerk, jerk, jerk on that rod and I’m thinking “Oh my god, I’m watching some guy jerk off with a fishing pole in his hand.”

They cut to the fish. He’s lifting his line to make the fish jump, it’s an old trick. “Oh yeah, oh baby that’s a good one, oh baby.”

I can’t believe what I’m hearing, this is just wrong.

The fish finally gets close to the boat. I’m expecting the peacock to reel up as much line as possible, lean over and lip the fish. That’s what I would do. Instead, with too much line out on the rod, he lays down on his back with his spine as the dividing point between what is on and what is off the boat. All I hear is “what the fuck are you doing?” It’s me talking to the damn television.

Now he’s sprawled on the deck of the boat. Rod in his left hand and he’s extending it as far as he can to tighten up the too much line he has out. With his right arm he’s extending it as far as he possibly can in a desperate reach for the bass. I hear this coming out of the television. “Ohhhh that’s a good one, oooohhh that’s good, c’mon, c’mon, ohhhhh that’s good.”

At this point I have beads of sweat forming on my forehead, I wipe it off. This is just sick. Just as he is putting his fingers under the gill plate of the bass and saying “Commmmeee onnnn,” I hear my voice . . .

“Stand the fuck up, reel in the line, bend the hell over and just lip the goddamn thing.”

I stood there for a second, remembering why my kids are always saying “daaaad, must you?”

The peacock lifts the fish out of the water and says the words I despise, “look at the size of that hawg.” My mind goes into flashback mode. The movie Deliverance suddenly appears in my head. “You Sure Gotta Purdy Mouth Thar Boy.” Ned Beatty naked on all fours with some hillbilly behind him pulling on his ear and screaming “squeeeaaal, squeeeeaaaal, like a pig, c’mon, squeeeeealllllll.”

My brain goes into a cramp. Pig, hawg, oh god please tell me I’m wrong, there’s no way.

I stood up straight looking straight ahead. I turned my head. The guy behind the counter about 20 feet away was looking at me. I was quiet for a second, then shrugged my shoulders and pointed at the television, “Fucking idiot.” Then I walked away.

I couldn’t believe what I had just watched. Some guy laying on his back on a boat deck trying to land what wound up being barely a 3 pound fish and moaning and groaning like he’s having the best damn orgasm he ever had in his life. I’m so out of the loop, I didn’t know that this is how bass anglers are depicted. No wonder the fly guys and trout anglers think we’re neanderthals, we are. Shit, they are. I don’t want to be lumped into this.

That depressed the shit out of me. No wonder bass anglers can’t be relied on for anything when it comes to conservation, volunteering time to causes, river cleanups, you name it. Anything good for the resources and it’s next to impossible to get them interested. At least the average guy. He’s too busy at home watching fish porn with his pants down around his ankles and . . . I don’t want to think about it. The guys that are showing up to help are probably the ones that ain’t gettin’ themselves none back at home.

Then I realized things aren’t that much better on the trout side of the world. The world where I thought snobbery and elitism would keep that kind of showmanship at bay. But even though the trout guys aren’t picking up on the lack of fashion sense, we’ll have to wait to see if Orvis or Simms picks up on the trend, they are no stranger to the fish porn.

I’ve noticed far too many of those thrusting-head first-red fish in spawning color types of images lately. John Holmes goes fly fishing. Really, you didn’t notice the phallic symbolism when you shot that image?

My ex father-in-law had that habit of kissing a good sized bass on the head before releasing it back to the lake where it originated. I always thought that was a bit odd, but we were in Virginia, that might be normal there. Then he taught my daughter this. I’ve seen her kiss rock bass and even creek chubs on the head before releasing them. “You do know that’s not right?” But she thinks they’re cute and they probably need a kiss. Fish porn crosses the gender line and I can’t stop it.

No wonder I fish alone so much. No groaning, no hawg or pig comments, no “ooohh babbbby, c’monnnn baby.” Hook a fish, reel it in, look it over, take a picture maybe. As I’m finning it in the water letting it regain it’s strength I’m thinking, keep it and eat it or let it go. Let it go usually wins, unless I really have a taste for beer battered smallmouth.

Now and then you have no choice but to go along with what you find out on the river. Cold or warm blooded, everything has some form of sex. Sometimes you sit there watching because, well, what else is there to do. Then you take some pictures for the heck of it because what you found was interesting after all.

Then you get home, look at the pictures and something in the back of your head keeps mumbling, “you know, that’s just not right. Not what they’re doing, but the fact that you stood there watching, then took pictures.”

“They’re turtles for gods sake!”