Monthly Archives: March 2012

Fishing in the Wind

It seemed simple enough.

Drive around for a little over 100 hundred miles, stop and talk to a couple of people and wind up on a fishable stretch of the Fox River by 2 p.m. I had planned on fishing a couple of creeks, but the weather was perfect for fishing the river. While I drove around I planned out my whole approach, where to walk, where to cast and where to sit and take a break at the end of the day.

Though the river was flowing a little high, it was at a level where wandering around the river wouldn’t be much of a problem. The more I thought about it, the more I was looking forward to fishing the river. Everything went according to plan, except for the wind factor. It kept getting worse throughout the morning and early afternoon.

A few minutes before 2 p.m. I drove the road along the river, right on time. Wind blown white caps covered the river and were heading up stream. All of the spots I normally read and cast to were indistinguishable from everything else. I knew I could still pick things apart, but the wind was coming straight out of the west and I would be walking straight into it.

Back to my original plan of fishing a couple of creeks.

The tall narrow valley of the creek did a good job of diverting the winds. The noise rushing through the tops of the trees gave away the strength of the wind, but down on the floor of the creek valley the winds were barely noticeable.

I was hoping the smallmouth bass had made it up stream to this spot nine creek miles from the mouth. Hasn’t happened yet. Out of the first stretch I had to entertain myself with catching some decent sized creek chubs. The males are just now starting to get their bright spawning colors and the knobs on their heads. Since I didn’t feel like scaling down my lure, I landed a few decent sized creek chubs, but none were picture worthy.

Or I’m getting tired of taking pictures of creek chubs.

The next 20 minutes or so was just a walk in the woods as I stumbled along to the next likely fish holding spot. I was in no hurry to get there. I had a feeling it would be empty.

Everything is starting to green. With no thick canopy yet, the forest floor is all lit up.

A thin carpet of flowers on the forest floor adds a touch of color.

You would think that in the 15 years of wandering for miles through woods like this in the spring, I would have found morels by now. At least one. No such luck so far, but I do seem to know where the skunk cabbage live. I hear you can make a tea out of them that will help if you have asthma or bronchitis. Not sure I can convince my wife and mother-in-law to give it a try for their asthma issues.

I know there’s a type of tree fungus that is edible, I found some last year, but it was on Forest Preserve property, which makes it illegal to remove. The fungus found today looks like something between the edible and inedible fungus. It was best to leave it alone.

I could tell I wasn’t into fishing this creek, I felt more like wandering around. When I got to the fishing spot, I cast for awhile, got to watch what looked like crappie pecking at the tail of the lure and I could tell that was the best it was going to get. The smallies weren’t here yet, I could feel it.

The next creek I fished was more out in the open. The wind had also started to come out of the north, blowing straight down the creek. All line control and the ability to feel the taps of fish were lost. I somehow managed to catch a couple of smallies, but it was pure luck since I couldn’t feel the hit on the lure.

I found myself wandering down the shore, casting aimlessly and trying not to step on frogs. Avoiding the frogs turned out to be the more interesting of these endeavors.

I knew the fishing wasn’t going to improve when I got attacked by the killer geese. My interest in fishing after that waned dramatically. The incessant wind wasn’t helping.

I gave up and went wandering through the woods. I think in order to make the morels show up we need a little rain. It’s been a little too dry around here. I also think the only way I’m going to find a morel is to stumble and fall flat on my face. As I’m lifting my nose out of the ground, one will be staring back at me.

Of course, as I headed for the car and walked past one last fishing spot, I had to make a couple of more casts. I didn’t even know I had a fish on till the huge bow of wind blown line was pulled taught. The smallie had to hook himself, there was no real effort or skill involved on my part.

I was done, beat up by the wind and I headed home.

An hour or so later I stepped out my front door for a smoke of a cheap cigar. The air was still, no sound of wind rushing through the trees. The wind had completely died. I considered heading down to the river for those last few minutes of daylight. The effort required to accomplish that seemed daunting.

A nearby chair had my name on it and the hell with daunting. I was just being lazy.

Info Meeting on the Blackberry Creek Dam Removal Project

To play catch up, you can read the past progress reports here.
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It will be interesting to see what they have to say about the details of the Blackberry Creek dam removal project. I’m sure there will be a question and answer period. I think I can come up with a question or two.

Thanks to the Kendall County Record for this information.

A public informational meeting on the Blackberry Creek dam removal and stream bank restoration will be held on Tuesday, April 3 at 6 p.m.

The meeting will be at the Yorkville-Bristol Sanitary District, 304 River Street, Yorkville.

Representatives from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and Army Corps of Engineers will be present.

When Fishing a Creek,
Don’t Step on a Goose Nest

On the second creek I decided to fish this day, I stayed in the water while fishing rather than walking up on shore. A flood a few years ago channeled the creek to at least six feet deep out in the middle. The shore had been sheared off and varied from three to five feet high. If I stayed within two feet of the sheared off shore, I could walk along at creek level in water about a foot deep.

This was going pretty well. Then a goose appeared out of nowhere and while honking and beating it’s wings, landed on the water within casting distance from me. It continued to beat it’s wings, stirring up the water. I knew it had just killed any smallie bite from this stretch of the creek. I think the comment I made out loud to the goose was “you son of a bitch.”

I continued to cast in the hope a stray fish may still be around and I figured the casting would scare the goose away. The fish were gone, but the goose wouldn’t leave. It stayed on the other side of the creek about 30 or so feet away, honking at me now and then.

Since the goose wouldn’t leave, I gave up. I figured the bite was dead, may as well climb up on shore and hope the fishing would pick up further down. As I stood up on shore, now about 3 feet above the water, the goose headed toward me honking up a storm. It was soon directly under me, looking up and honking like crazy. I turned to head down a narrow animal path that follows the creek. Another honk came from directly in front of me.

A goose jumped up off a nest and spun around to face me, honking and hissing up a storm.

No big deal, I’ll just scoot right past her and be gone. I couldn’t go too far to my left because the brush was so dense. Getting back in the water was out of the question. Since I had to stay tucked in tight to shore, this would have put me right at eye level with the goose on the nest. Didn’t care to know how that would turn out. The goose out on the water was now near the other goose and they were both honking and hissing at me.

The dense brush forced me to get closer to the nested goose than I wanted to be. I assumed she would jump in the water till I got out of the way, but all she kept doing was put her head down and hiss at me.

As I got past, I thought I was free and clear. Then the goose in the water flew up on to shore to get between me and the nesting goose. The honking and hissing was intense and it would spread and flap it’s wings at me. I missed getting a picture of that the first time, so, like an idiot, I stood there trying to get him to do it again. He obliged.

I barely had the camera away from my face when it leapt into the air and started to fly at me feet first, honking and hissing and beating it’s wings. I know that the wingspan on a goose can be impressive, it can be anywhere between four to six feet wide. This is really impressive when these wings are connected to a pissed off, honking and hissing goose three feet from your face. I was so impressed that I said out loud the only words I could think of at the time, “holy shit!”

The only thing that kept me from getting smashed in the face by this goose was the stray, six foot tall weed stubble left over from last year. The goose’s wings hit the stubble and forced it to swing off and crash back into the creek.

With the intimidating goose out of the way, I figured I may as well get another photo of the goose with the eggs.

I was going to get even closer, but the honking and hissing and beating of wings was getting closer to me on my left. The other goose was making a headlong dash to get between me and the nesting goose.

I decided that I didn’t care to find out what it feels like to get hit in the face by a goose weighing 12 pounds or more. I gave them their little section of the creek.

I moved a bit down stream, but I never did catch another fish. All the while the goose on the water kept circling and honking, making sure I was keeping my distance.

In order to write this up, I had to look up some goose facts. I didn’t know that in the wild, geese can live up to 24 years. I did know they mate for life. They average 4 goslings per brood, but this nest had 5 eggs. Eggs hatch in 28 days.

Considering the amount of raccoon tracks in the area, I have a feeling these eggs won’t last very long. Either way, I’m not going to wait 28 days for the eggs to hatch before fishing here again.

Looks like I’ll be doing this again next week.

Should be interesting.

April 1st – Smallmouth Bass – Catch and Release

Don’t forget, April 1st marks the start of the catch and release ONLY period for smallmouth bass here in Illinois.

This runs till June 15th.

I think the law makes no sense.

I’m not convinced it’s being done based on science, but to placate small groups of smallmouth bass fishermen.

On the Fox River there used to be a stretch that was strictly catch and release only.

I was told by a fisheries biologist that they were finding more bigger smallmouth bass outside of the catch and release zone than in it.

The regulation was dropped years ago.

On the Fox, you’re allowed one smallie 12 inches or over and two under 12 inches.

I may have to get out every day for the rest of this week and stock up.

The hard part will be catching those dinks this time of year.

I’ll have to put in some hours.

M M M M M, smallmouth bass, it’s what’s for dinner.

Hidden Ponds

I’ve known about these ponds for a little over a year. Research shows that nobody knows if there are fish in them and nobody knows if anybody goes their to find out. I was encouraged to give it a try and fill in the blanks. I already knew most pond fishermen would never go looking. 95 percent of pond fishermen won’t travel more than 100 yards from their parked cars. These ponds were a good half mile hike through the woods.

I tried to do this over the summer of 2011. There are only two spots off the side of a little used road to park. You can’t go there if the ground is saturated with water, there’s a good chance your car won’t get out. The time I went I was met with what seemed to be an impenetrable wall of green. I decided to wait till winter or spring to give it another try.

Winds up it’s not as bad as it looks. There’s a well worn animal trail that goes all the way back to the ponds.

Deer paths are everywhere through these woods and I spooked up a few deer as I walked. All along the path and heading in other directions through the woods were hedge rows made up of Osage Orange trees. I’ve never seen as many as I saw here anywhere else I’ve ever wandered. They were also some of the oldest Osage Orange trees I’ve ever come across.

There are four small ponds out here. I didn’t bother bringing any fishing gear because I assumed I was going to have to do some pretty extensive bush whacking. Not the case at all, it was a cake walk.

Not sure which of these ponds will hold fish. The first one only had a couple of accessible shore spots and seemed shallow, but rings were being made by fish in a few spots.

The next pond seemed to be about as big as the first. This one had virtually nothing along it’s shores except for a few cattails and weeds. It too seemed kind of shallow, but there were rings appearing on the surface here too.

The third pond was the biggest of the four. Looked pretty impressive for it’s small size and I could tell it had some better depth.

Would be interesting to drag a small canoe or kayak back here for this pond. Much better casting angles from the water side of the pond.

The fourth pond was the smallest, but it was also the clearest. Couldn’t get a good read on how deep it might be.

Remnants of what this used to be lies along one shore. I have a pretty good idea of what it was used for, but that would be giving away too much information.

There is a fifth pond, the biggest of all of them, but it sits out in the middle of a field. I got close, but didn’t bother walking around it or directly up to it. I could see nothing that indicated that there was anything along it’s shores. Besides, the wind in the open field with the colder air was kicking my butt and I didn’t feel like dealing with it.

Next trip to these ponds should be within a week. I want to get there before the shore line grasses make casting that much more difficult.

Now I have to go dig around in my fishing tackle. I know I have pond fishing lures around somewhere.

Unless I sold them all off.