Actually, I just went fishing. I like fishing. I like fishing for smallmouth bass.
Signs of active wildlife above the water line can some times be a good sign for life below the water line. Or so it’s said. When I came close to hitting a turkey as I drove on a road that lines the Fox River, I took this as a good sign. Especially since I’ve driven down this road quite a few times over the last 10 or more years and had never seen one before. Instincts got the better of me and I tapped on the brakes instead of the gas.
I forget how to do the math, but I can’t imagine hitting a 20 pound turkey at 20 miles per hour is good for the front end of a car. Probably not good for the turkey either. Two hours later and a couple of hundred yards down the road is where I tied into…
But I get ahead of myself.
I decided to go try a stretch of the Fox River I’ve been telling other anglers they should be fishing at high water. I hadn’t done it for years. It’s one of those more urban areas I’ve been trying to avoid.
You have a busy road. Ten feet in and you have a popular bike/walking path. Ten more feet in and you have the river. You can walk this for quite some time. In the river, lots of rock, street drains, undercut banks and gravel bars all within easy reach of the shore. Most of the time right at your feet.
The first 100 feet of fishing got me a couple of hits that didn’t want to stay hooked. Both were less than a couple of feet from shore. Since there was about a mile or more of this, it was starting to look like it could be a good day.
The next couple of hundred feet got me another missed hit. Then I noticed the road noise level and was starting to get a bit annoyed.
Then a walker came by. “You should be up at the dam fishing a floating Rapala for walleye.” All right, thanks.
I had no interest in fishing anywhere near the dam or for walleye, but there was no need to go into details. If walleye hit while I was fishing, that would be nice. If they didn’t, that’s fine too.
A few more feet and another walking angler. “You should be fishing a rooster tail instead of that jig and twisty thing.” Really? I have one of those.
At home sitting in the pile of fishing stuff I never use.
I like my jig and twisty thing. On good days they catch me a lot of fish. On bad days the only thing better than a jig and twisty would be home made pipe bombs the size of sticks of dynamite. I still remember how to make those.
There’s no catch and release when doing that though.
I decided that I had enough of traffic noise and fishing conversation. Packed it up after barely 20 minutes and went searching for somewhere else to fish.
Wound up in an area that I guess you could call urban. There was a bridge and I parked next to it. There was a road, but it was a dead end road so there was little traffic. There was no shore to walk on, you had to get in the water. The water was a bit high, but I knew if I watched where I was going, I wouldn’t be in water over my waist. It would push a little hard, but that’s not a big deal.
Within a few casts I hooked and lost a nice sized smallie. I got to see it jump and throw the hook.
Next cast I thought I set the hook on an underwater tree. Then the tree moved, but I thought for sure I had snagged a carp by the way it was hugging the bottom. Then it came to the surface. A very nice smallie.
When I got it lipped, the jig and twisty fell out of its mouth, perfect timing. The thing looked like it had eaten a baseball. I don’t measure fish anymore, but go by horse measurements. This one was just shy of 5 hands, which would put it in the 19 inch range.
A few feet further down and more missed hits with another one finally landed. I figured out I had to quit moving the lure up stream and just let it swim around vertically. Only I figured this out a bit late.
The rest of the trip was a nice walk in high water, which had me questioning my sanity.
Before this bridge was put in, few people came down here. Apparently the shore was a popular dumping ground for construction debris. Concrete and old pipe poured down the shore and into the river. I don’t mind tripping over rounded boulders, but a banged leg on the jagged edges of concrete tend to cause a little more pain.
A few more trees have come down along the shore over the winter. They are the only things that make me a bit nervous while wading. Once they disappear under the water, you have no idea what you’re stepping on and over. Feet tangled below the waters surface, especially when you can’t see your feet, is a bit unnerving.
One of the big boulders that litter the river through this stretch looked a bit odd from a distance. At first the pattern looked like a big truck tire that may have wedged itself on the upstream side of the boulder. Not even close. It was a mattress.
I can’t even imagine the thought process required to dump a mattress in a river. I did get a tentative smallie tap from behind it, but I’d forego the tap to not see these things littering the river.
One of the reasons I came here was because I can wade this stretch of the river regardless of how high the water is flowing. I know about two miles of this stretch like the back of my hand.
What I’m waiting for is the water to come down. From where I live on the Fox down for around 20 miles or so, I only know a handful of miles. Most of those have nothing but, well, nothing, along both shores. Exploring at high water would be dangerously stupid. Stupid I am, but my years of putting myself in danger to catch a few fish are pretty much over.
But then I tell people where I go and what I’m doing when the water is considered normal. I’m told that sounds pretty stupid.
I guess stupid is a matter of perspective.
I like to think of it as experience.