I Went Fishing

You would think that the simple statement of I went fishing would be a given for me and up until this year, it was.

I went fishing for the past 18 years 3 to 4 times a week, sometimes more, sometimes year round.

The astute reader that also happens to follow along my WDJ Facebook page would have seen this back on August 1st, the last time I went fishing:

Rather than fishing the Fox River this early evening, time better spent would have been sitting on the toilet and picking my nose for two and a half hours.

I’ll probably hit a few creeks that feed the Fox the first week of September to see if the smallies are making their annual fall run.

No doubt come April and May I’ll be fishing those same creeks.

I still enjoy living two blocks from it and walk down to it’s shore every night. I still enjoy my walks along the river and the spots I’ve found where I photograph sunsets over the river.

I’m sure I’ll continue to explore other stretches of the river, but with a camera in hand.

As for fishing the Fox, I’m done. 19 years, over 10,000 smallies, who knows how much bycatch, waded over 20 miles of it over and over again, easily adding up to hundreds of miles, possibly well over a thousand.

There’s nothing more for me to accomplish on that river when it comes to fishing.

Since waking up on Saturday morning I considered going fishing. The final decision to go never happens till the hour arrives when I should leave if I’m going to go. I had a need for solitude, some quiet, to get some exercise, to get out of my head.

The Fox River has been at normal or below normal flow for the whole month. A recent spike from some recent rains had it still below normal, but new water tends to turn on fish. The creeks were low and I don’t like fishing them then. Like fishing in a barrel and I feel like I’m torturing the few fish that will be in the relatively deeper spots.

I got to the river around 4 PM. Weather was absolutely perfect. Temps just right, the right amount of clouds around to cut the glare of the sun off the river, a nice breeze. I did wind up seeing three other anglers out there. One was a shore angler, they’re trapped by their decision to fish from shore so I don’t pay them much attention and the other two came hiking downstream, got to within a couple of hundred yards of me, turned around and went back the way they came.

Had the whole place to myself, like usual.

I went into this expecting nothing but the serenity of being out on the river. I expected no fish, so to catch 10 and and have 7 others self release was a nice bonus. Having two of the 10 being a solid 17 inches was even nicer.

One of the things I wanted to test was my boredom level. It’s been crushing this year while out fishing.

Didn’t get bored for a second.

Maybe I’m on the road to some kind of recovery, but from what?

The first 17 inch smallie.

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Finding things along the river.

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Almost forgot about the drunken flotilla.

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Not quite right. I was about 5 miles downstream from one dam and about the same distance to the next.

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The second 17 inch smallie.

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This is where the second 17 inch smallie was caught. If you can find this spot and duplicate the catch, and here’s a hint, I’ve caught bigger ones here, then more power to you.

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10 thoughts on “I Went Fishing

  1. Mike Kane

    “The serenity of being out on the river.” YES!

    ” Maybe I’m on the road to some kind of recovery, but from what?”
    One of Life’s Mysteries.

  2. Richard Velders

    Beauties! I had to go to the IL River to find that size. Heading out at 5:30 am there has been a good Striper bite plus smallies. I should have checked your fishing schedule as I wouldn’t have bothered looking for you along the Fox. Dick

    1. Ken G Post author

      They’re all over the river Dick, just not easy to find. Now is one of the better times if you go looking. Putting on the feedbag and all.

      Getting out has been a rarity this summer. I’ve actually enjoyed the time away from the river.

  3. RK Henderson

    Awesome catch! We’ve got one lake in the area that’s known for smallmouths, but they rarely top about a foot. (The North Coast isn’t great bass country, though we do get respectable largemouths in some lakes. They’re all invasive; when the settlers arrived, it was all trout and salmon here.) I’m especially intrigued by the fact that you caught 10,000 bass in a river. Our rivers here carry only salmonids. (With the occasional sturgeon.) Those introduced spinies can only be had in lakes.

    I’m also guessing that the Fox must be full of crawdads. The one local lake with all the smallmouths is famous for that; I’ve caught them there with crawdads literally still in their mouths.

    Robin
    Rusty Ring: Reflections of an Old-Timey Hermit

    1. Ken G Post author

      All the rivers around here Robin are smallmouth dominated. The Ohio River valley is supposedly where they all came from. Put in the time and catching 500 to a thousand smallies a year isn’t all that difficult, but it does take quite a few trips.

      The Fox for some reason is more of a minnow factory. I’ve caught smallies with their mouths so full of minnows, you wonder why they hit your minnow look alike. The craws are there, you just don’t see them much. There are a couple of other rivers around here where the crawdads are so thick on the bottom, you quit looking down while you walk and just learn to live with the guilt of stepping on them as you walk.

      I read a book a few years ago about a guy in northern California that hunts down monster largemouth out that way. His lures of choice are big lures that look like trout. Maybe the smallies out your way are picky eaters.

      1. RK Henderson

        I’ll say this, Ken: the trout fishermen out here hate bass. My nephew and I were fishing on the lake one day and a fly fisherman came motoring by. He asked us if we’d caught anything, and we told him we had, but were casting for bass. And he shouted back, “Good! Get that shit out of my lake!”

        It’s a fact that the Midwestern fish have profoundly altered our water; there’d be no trout left in any lowland lake if the government didn’t stock them. Between sunfish predation and the way the carp have ploughed up the beds, salmonids can’t spawn anymore.

        But I love fishing for warm water fish. I can see why the settlers planted them, even if it wasn’t a good idea.

        Robin
        Rusty Ring: Reflections of an Old-Timey Hermit

        1. Ken G Post author

          Back when the settlers did it, it was for survival reasons. Bass tolerate wide ranges of temps better, reproduce more and grow faster. If the settlers had relied only on trout, they all would have starved to death.

          Carp are a whole other issue. Drives me nuts to hear C&R preaching on carp. They’re great fertilizer for gardens. Use them for that.

  4. Howard Levett

    I don’t know about everyone else, but I miss you documenting what’s going on down there even if I’m not down there. Glad to hear you went out. Hope you found what you were looking for my friend.

    1. Ken G Post author

      I have no clue Howard, was nice to see that I didn’t get bored. It’s been a nice reprieve, not documenting everything. Maybe I just need the battery recharge. We’ll see.

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