When the Fox River is flowing above 4,000 cubic feet per second, I don’t recommend that anyone go in the water unless they know the water when it’s flowing at 750 cfs, which is normal. I learned the hard way that you should never try to go around log jams when the water is flowing at 4500 cfs. Log jams tend to want to suck you under them. And yet, I’ve stood 50 feet out from shore on a gravel bar when it was flowing at 5500. The water was barely up to my waist.
There really is no reason to be out there wading when the water is up. My wife claims I have some kind of odd death wish. I like testing my limits, hopefully they won’t kill me.
At high water the fish are all pushed up against shore and a lure dragged tight to shore structure will likely get hit. But there is always that one spot that is barely knee deep when normal, now it’s just above my waist. There’s a pile of upstream obstructions creating a big, long slow moving eddy. Of course I had to go walk around in it.
When I think I’m crazy for being out there, a boat goes by to prove I’m not alone. He did have the perfect set up for a river with what looked to be a Go-Devil Engine on the back. Only he was riding in style with a high backed plastic lawn chair for relaxing while driving.
This was going to be a strictly fishing outing. An hour and a half in high water and hope a fish could be caught. Oncoming storms had fallen apart when they got near, so the threat of severe weather was gone.
The river was high, fast and muddy. I think it’s the muddy part that should make the casual high water wader cautious. I can walk this area with my eyes closed, I know it that well. With the water clarity less than a foot, if you don’t know the river bed, you have no idea where you’re stepping. Not something you want to experience with fast water pushing on you at the same time. I was able to move around pretty easily, only once having to back out of a deep spot.
All the upstream casts proved fruitless. It wasn’t till I turned around to work the current seam and slow moving eddy that I got hits. The one fish I landed nailed the lure hard.
The other two hits were more tentative. The only thing that got them interested was hanging the lure in front of their faces and letting it swim around. You can’t do that with upstream casts.
After working this area over thoroughly, I considered finding more spots. When I got to the top of the bluff overlooking the river, I surveyed the flow one more time.
I was done. The places I wanted to fish were few and far between. Not worth burning off the gas. I got a fish, that was good enough.
As the day waned a small cold front came through. All the clouds, heat and humidity were pushed out. It was suddenly a beautiful day. The sun was lighting up the high branches of the neighborhood trees. Because of all the trees, it seems to get dark around my house a little early. I headed down to the river. The sun sets practically down the middle of it and lights up the river valley.
The sun was fading fast when I got along the shore.
One minute the tops of the trees and the edges of the shore were all highlighted in gold. The next minute it was gone.
I can take all the pictures of this I want and some will turn out all right. What’s not captured is the smell. I don’t even know how to describe the smell of fresh air. All I know is that when down along the river, you can tell the difference.
When I lived in the city and the closer in suburbs, the air didn’t smell like this. You can’t help but sit along the river with your nose up like a dog. You know you smell something different, but you don’t know why. It’s just there.