Monthly Archives: October 2012

Where’d the Water Go?

Because of the drought this year, the creeks around me were lower than I had ever seen them.

With an afternoon off, on a whim I decided to go wander around Little Rock Creek. Haven’t been there in a few months and wanted to see if the recent rains helped it’s water level.



Came across the oddest thing I’ve seen yet.

When you go north on Creek Road out of Plano, you go over a bridge. There’s water flowing under the bridge, slow, but flowing.

A little further north the creek comes close to the road. For as far as you could see up and down stream the creek was bone dry.

It’s all private property through there so I had to really fight the urge to go walk up and down the creek bed. I should have taken the walk, I had waders on, the buckshot wouldn’t have hurt that bad. They’re supposed to be puncture resistant.

In the next photo, you can see the creek bed heading off in the distance. The occasional boulder lying on the creek bottom, only that boulder just about in the middle of the photo isn’t a boulder. It’s a tire. Even out in the middle of nowhere, tires seem to migrate to flowing water.

One photo I took in this area didn’t turn out the way I wanted. Couldn’t shoot good enough through the trees. You have to appreciate what this area looks like. Few homes line the creek, there’s not much here. One landowner with a big chunk of land, lots of trees, went through the trouble of building a big mound of leaves in the middle of the dried up creek bed. I guess all those other acres of land weren’t good enough for a pile of leaves.

A little further up the road I turned east on Miller Road, there’s another bridge right there. The water was again, low but flowing.

Still further up, at Jay Woods Forest Preserve, the water was low, but it was a bit lower over the summer. It had a flow to it.

I checked out a big pool on a bend. It’s a good 150 feet long, 50 feet wide and the deepest part, even in this low water situation, is at least six feet deep. There was water flowing into it and on the other end, flowing out.

So, where did all the water go in that stretch in the middle? How does it go away and then start up again?

I’ve come across pump pipes in all the creeks that feed the Fox River and the Fox itself where people are sucking water out for their own use. Towns all up and down the river take water out for drinking, but this is really odd.

The section that is dry is directly across Creek Road from a nursery, a tree farm.

Could they be doing this or is there something else going on back there that requires the creek to be diverted?

If it is being sucked out, I thought taking that much water out of a creek or river was illegal.

Somebody from the nursery was watching me wander along the road taking pictures, so maybe soon it won’t be an issue.

The weird part was how there was water in the creek down stream again. In creek miles, less than a mile down. Legally, by federal law, I can go anywhere I want in a creek once I get in it without trespassing. I’d like to see where the water started up again.

I sent an abbreviated version of this to some people I know in the hopes someone knows what’s going on or can look into it. I got a response from Brook McDonald, President and CEO of The Conservation Foundation:

I took a kayak trip down that section of the creek a few years ago with a friend. Darn near killed myself. There are so many twists and turns and major log jams. Got sucked under a few. There is also a dam in that section that has a major log jam behind it, just upstream from where you were taking pictures.

Now I’m curious about this dam. There was water flowing through the creek further upstream. Even if there was a dam, it should have filled up behind it then continued on down stream.

Now I wish I would have taken that walk.

To: Fox River Waterfowl Hunters Below Yorkville

From: The Guy That Lives on top of the Hill Above the River

Some advice…

When you put your boat in the river at 4 a.m. at the boat ramp six blocks away…
When you start up you’re noisy little outboard motor…
I can hear you like you’re right outside my bedroom window.

The river has some pretty decent current through here.
It’s also not that deep.
So don’t be surprised if you hear a crunching noise come from the underside of your boat.
If you miss that shallow spot, turn around and try to come up stream…
Now you sound like you’re driving your boat through my living room.

I’ve been out on my front porch at that hour listening to you go through this.
There’s something you probably don’t notice because of all the noise you’re making.
Every duck and goose within a mile of you is now flying away from the river, squawking and honking like crazy.
Must have been hundreds of them down there.
Quite a few are flying over my house.

Try this, put your boat in at the ramp near Route 47.
Let your boat drift down the river to the blind you want to use.
DON’T START YOUR MOTOR. FIGHT THE URGE.
You have plenty of time and when you get there and shooting time arrives, you might actually have something to shoot at, instead of sitting there listening to all the gun shots coming from either side of the river.
Those are all the birds you normally would have sent their way.

When you’re done, DON’T START YOUR MOTOR. FIGHT THE URGE.
Just let your boat drift down stream and get out at the boat ramp at Silver Springs State Park.
The other hunters in the other blinds up and down the river will thank you for this…
…and then they don’t have to fight the urge to shoot the motor off the back of your boat as you go by.

Sincerely,

Ken G

Dear Cabela’s — No More Boots from You!

The best wading boots I’ve ever owned were a pair of Cabela’s boots that I vaguely remember being called Guidewear. They had all leather uppers and rubber soles that weren’t lugs, but a soft rubber pretty much guaranteed to not slip. I put them through hell for two years before they wore out. When I went to purchase another pair of them, they had quit making them. At least the rubber soled version. All they had were the felt bottom version.

Felt is worthless around here. To get to the river you have to eventually walk on mud. Felt on mud is like walking on the slickest ice imaginable, out of the question.

Since then I’ve been trying different types of Cabela’s wading boots with varying degrees of success.

Back in April of 2011 I wrote about how a two year old pair of Cabela’s Guidewear wading boots bit the dust, These were similar to what I had used years earlier. Only problem was, I no longer had the budget for them and I had to get newer cheaper ones, I put up a post about what ensued from there.

Dear Cabela’s

In March of 2012, those boots had all but disintegrated and I documented that pretty well too.

Dear Cabela’s — Your Wading Boot Suck

Within a few days of putting up that post, the boots had self destructed completely.

Almost immediately I was contacted by Cabela’s customer service. They wanted to send me a pair of their latest greatest Gold Medal Wading Boots to try out. For free. Free is hard to turn down and I promised I would put up a review after I put them through their paces.

Six months later and they’re looking like I put them through a meat grinder, at least the bottoms. They are no longer useable and at the moment, I can’t replace them. Luckily they’re self destruction coincided with the end of the fishing season. Would be nice to get out a few more times, but I may have to give up on that idea. Unless I fall back on the old Simms boots I still have laying around. Ugly, but still useable.

So without further delay, here’s the review of the Gold Medal Wading Boots.

First, the details:

Cabela’s Gold Medal Wading Boots

• Wading boots that double as hikers
• Removable EVA insoles and 1/4″-EVA footbed liners
• Hard-rubber cleat receptacles
• Microscreen drains rapidly release water
• Waterproof, full-grain nubuck uppers

Extend your footwear options to accommodate a range of ground surfaces without having to invest in multiple pairs of wading boots. The hard-rubber cleat receptacles are compatible with both steel and carbide tipped cleats to double your ground-gripping options. EVA insoles and 1/4″-EVA footbed liners remove to make room for stockingfoot waders, or leave them in place for an added layer of warmth while feet are submerged in a cool stream. Dual-density rubber outsoles provide traction over a wide range of wading and trail conditions. Microscreen drains rapidly release water, while simultaneously blocking unwanted pebbles and sand from entering. Waterproof, full-grain nubuck uppers. Imported.

On March 23rd, they arrived on my doorstep.

Out of the box, they looked pretty good.

I knew right off the bat a couple of things were going to be an issue.

There was no way I would ever use these as hiking boots. After they had been marinating in the Fox River for a number of hours, there would always be some kind of layer of rubber or neoprene between my feet and the boots. I have no clue what’s in the Fox at any given time and I didn’t want to find out if the flesh on my feet would get eaten away by something I was wading in.

I would also never use cleats. I don’t understand the idea of screwing sharp objects into the bottoms of your boots, then applying nearly 200 lbs. of downward pressure to them on a regular basis. I would imagine it’s only a matter of time till it’s like walking on a bed of nails.

Before I got them wet, I tried them on while only wearing my usual pair of socks. I left both the insole and bed liner in the boots and they fit and felt well. I could see using them as a pair of hiking boots, but that’s not why I needed them.

Next I put on my waders. I wear a pair of socks like those pictured above. Over that I put on a relatively thick pair of socks made of merino wool, then slip on the waders. I wound up taking out the bed liner, the boots were a little too snug with them in place. They felt good.

Another issue became apparent. They don’t work with built in gravel guards. The boots don’t come up high enough. As soon as I started walking the guards crept over the top of the boots in the back. For the next six months I had to put up with rocks, gravel and sand getting in the boots. They might work with gravel guards that you just wrap around, but I don’t use those. It’s just two more things for me to lose.

As the little tag on the boots said…

For some this might work. I just needed wading boots.

I then proceeded to put them through hell for the next six months with over 75 wading trips. The soles, without adding cleats, did a decent job in keeping me from slipping. But then, this is the Fox River, not some clear mountain stream. I could see doing a bit of sliding on bigger rock structures. For the Fox, I’ve had better, but these did alright. The uppers are just stiff enough to keep my ankles protected from twists and turns and the boots are light enough that wearing them for extended periods of time was not a problem.

In October they started to fall apart. I had noticed a month earlier that the layer of rubber between the boot and the sole wasn’t looking too good. My feet were noticing this too.

It also felt like the rubber was getting compressed by that nearly constant 200 lbs. of pressure I was putting on them while I walked. Why I refrain from screwing things in the bottom of my boots also became apparent. I could feel the rubber nubs on the bottom of the boots pressing against the bottoms of my feet. I have no doubt the screws would have come up into the boot and I’d be getting stabbed in the feet by the points.

On Tuesday, October 23rd, the sole started pulling away from the boot rendering them now useless.

It’s too bad. The upper part of the boot is holding up really well. Much better than the last pair of boots I had bought from Cabela’s. I would like to recommend that another supplier of shoelaces be found. I kept cutting and patching these together every time they broke, rather than replacing them, just to see how they wound up at the end of the year. There has to be better shoelaces that can be supplied with wading boots.

So, would I buy and use these boots again?

No, too many issues for me.

Can I recommend them to others?

Well, maybe.

I think you have to look at your own wading and walking habits. Maybe someone who only wears these in crystal clear streams may not have the same issues. Once they dry out, maybe wearing them for a hike won’t bother you. Marinating them in a semi-urban river like the Fox and then putting them close to your feet? I wouldn’t do it.

They definitely don’t work with built in gravel guards. I do know a few anglers that use the separate gravel guards, that might work from what I’ve seen, if they don’t get lost first. It’s also just a bit too much fussing for me.

I would hate to think that based on my review of the Cabela’s Gold Medal Wading Boots that they would be rejected outright by others. They didn’t work for me on the river I fish the most. I think someone with different wading habits and a different locale needs to give these boots a try and do a review.

I think that would be a much fairer approach.

If you think these boots might work for you, go here:

Cabela’s Gold Medal Wading Boots

The Fewer Dams the Better

A simple post was put up today, Friday, October 26th, on the Facebook page of Marc Miller, Director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Governor Quinn Announces Completion of Hofmann Dam Removal

You can’t remove too many dams from waterways and it looks like a few more are in the works.

This is a good thing.

Of course, I had to leave a note in response on Facebook with my own wish list…

Geneva, Batavia, North Aurora and Montgomery on the Fox would be nice. On it’s creeks, Mill Creek has one that could go away easy enough. There are a few more small ones on Big Rock north of Plano, but no more ramping those please…

It’s just a wish list, no hurry. My lifetime maybe, but I don’t know how much of that I have left. 20 years perhaps.

The Fewer Dams the Better

A simple post was put up today, Friday, October 26th, on the Facebook page of Marc Miller, Director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Governor Quinn Announces Completion of Hofmann Dam Removal

You can’t remove too many dams from waterways and it looks like a few more are in the works.

This is a good thing.

Of course, I had to leave a note in response on Facebook with my own wish list…

Geneva, Batavia, North Aurora and Montgomery on the Fox would be nice. On it’s creeks, Mill Creek has one that could go away easy enough. There are a few more small ones on Big Rock north of Plano, but no more ramping those please…

It’s just a wish list, no hurry. My lifetime maybe, but I don’t know how much of that I have left. 20 years perhaps.