Author Archives: Ken G

Was it the Fudo that Helped Get us Here…

Three weeks ago we rented this new house, getting us out of a slum lord situation and the shit hole we were renting from him.

My wife has heard me talk about Fudo’s in the past, but being a non-believer in damn near everything, I think she just humored me.

A couple of months ago I hung a Fudo outside the door of the shit hole. We had been struggling to find a place to move and nothing was coming our way. Within 3 weeks of hanging that Fudo, we found the place we just moved into.

It feels good here, like a home.

In the picture, if you look, you’ll find the Fudo. The wife insisted that it hang prominently centered on the front porch. I’ve mentioned moving it elsewhere, but she insists that it stays where it is. As she says… it found us this place, it stays put.

Robin, if you’re reading this, I read everything you put up, I just don’t participate much anymore. But if it weren’t for you and your site, Rusty Ring, it makes me wonder if I would have wound up here, now, with a happy wife. All because of a Fudo… or so she says.

Note to Self

Note to self and others…

If you go out wandering around in the early spring…

And you find the skull of a year old buck with the antlers, some hair and meat still attached…

And you decide to take it home to salvage the antlers…

More than likely you’ll toss it in the trunk of your car to bring it home.

Then, you decide you’ll cut the antlers off the next day and you leave the skull in your trunk.

You don’t want to do that…

I guarantee you will not like what you find crawling around in your trunk 24 hours later…

In Memoriam

For those of you that follow along on Facebook, this is old news.

Last week when I started looking for pictures of my dad for a memorial, I was finding pictures in folders everywhere. I’m sure there are still more that I missed. All of these were posted to Facebook over a couple of days.

That’s not good enough. I wanted to put something up here where I can go to and thumb through the pictures without having to wander all over Facebook posts looking for them.

I’m doing this for me and I’ll be adding more pictures to the gallery as I come across them.

My dad had a very narrow view of what is right and what is wrong. In his world, there was no gray and in my whole life, I can’t remember him ever being wrong.

You were either doing things right, or you were wrong.

I want this here so that on a bad day I can come here and look at these pictures to remind me of where I came from. Remind me that somewhere in my head is this view of what is right and what is wrong. This view of the world that has been instilled in me since birth.

Only now I’ll have to imagine how the rest of it all went.

Those times he vehemently disagreed with me.

I’ll have to imagine that firm tap on the back of my head.

And I’ll have to imagine that low growl as he said… what the hell’s wrong with you.

Even now, 60 as I write this, I imagine I can use both of those admonishments now and then.


After trying a few times over the last two years or so, he finally got what he wanted.

Kenneth H. Gortowski
June 30, 1931 — January 16, 2017

It doesn’t take much thought on my part.

In my eyes, in my mind and in my heart, I had the perfect dad.

I’d like to say I’m going to miss him, but that would be impossible.

As long as I live, so will he.

Love ya dad…

fox river sunset

Why I Quit Fishing

There are a few reasons why I quit fishing, but the main reason is pictured above.

My favorite time of the day to go out fishing was always the last three hours of the day. Sunsets seem to last longer. Now I still go out for the last three hours of the day, but with a camera rather than a rod.

I didn’t fish much and never a river before I turned 40. After that, fishing the Fox River and the creeks that feed it became an obsession. For 19 years that’s all I really cared about doing.

It was all about the fishing and even though I was out on the water during hundreds of sunsets, there were fish to be caught. If I stopped for a second I might get off a half way decent shot of the sunset, but I had to get back to fishing. I was losing my light.

19 years later and 10,000 smallies caught, give or take a couple of hundred, enough was enough. This would have been my 20th year, but I didn’t see any point and going out to catch one more fish.

Now I go out at those same hours of the day and pace back and forth in one of many areas where I know the sunset could be spectacular. It doesn’t always happen, but the anticipation is worth it. I get to watch the light slowly wane and change and glow and reflect off my surroundings. Something I never did when catching a fish was the point of being out there.

To me, being in the right spot to photograph the sunset pictured above, along with the 70 or so other photo’s taken that evening, was much more important than being on the other side of the river, behind the island, drifting lures in the fast and slow running water. All to catch smallie number 10,000 and one.

Standing and pacing and watching the play of light is much more rewarding.

Over those 19 years I’ve also cruised many, many miles on back roads all along the river and to it’s creeks.

back road

It was rare that I ever stopped very long, maybe long enough to get off a quick shot. I had a fishing spot to get to, fish to be caught.

Now, I cruise those same back roads during those same last 3 hours of daylight. Only now I don’t hesitate in stopping if something catches my eye.


Now I go out looking for the perfect sunset clouds.


the barn

Or I’ll head out if it looks like a good storm will be passing through.

the barn

I think it’s time better spent than chasing still another fish and letting my surroundings go ignored.

I have no clue if my photo’s are all that great. I don’t know if I care one way or the other. But like fishing once was, I now can’t imagine being out there and not trying to capture something.

For those that have followed along with all that I’ve written over the years, why I quit fishing probably seemed inevitable. My writing and the photo’s that went with them never really had anything to do with fishing. At least I tried to give that impression, but in my head I had to be there for the fish. Now I want to focus on the photo’s and all those spots I walked and drove right by.

If anything comes of that, that would be nice. If not, that would still be nice.

In an effort to take this new direction seriously, I’ve already started a Facebook page for Ken Gortowski Photography where photo’s have been going up.

I also have a website up and running called that is still under construction as I figure out the design and then populate it with all the photo’s I’ve taken over the years.

I’m looking forward to how this all pans out.

In the mean time, in my spare time, I’ll still be out wandering around those last few hours and minutes of daylight. Revisiting back roads I breezed down in the past, heading out to the river and creeks and concentrating on the details I passed up over the years.

And, just like when I used to fish, I’ll stay out to the very end, for that last little bit of light, for the perfect conditions.

And, just like fishing, you have to stay to the very end.

The very end tends to produce the best results.


First You Have to Get There

First you have to get there, that starting point upstream on the creek.

That’s what the picture at the top shows. Sure, there are other ways in, but after years of getting to the starting point, this is the easiest way in. The path is there, right down the middle. See it? If you ever see me put up photo’s like this, I always try to make it easier on people by putting the path dead center.

See that little spot of sunlight back there? Head for it. After that, you’re on your own.

Once in the creek it seems like nothing has ever changed, probably for hundreds of years. Quiet, sound of water over well worn rock, trees that look like they’ve been standing there forever and you wander down without a thought or care in the world.

Till you get to the spot where Mother Nature decided to rearrange the furniture over the last few months.


I’m at the point when I’m confronted with this need to rearrange things, the only thing running through my head is… I’m getting too old for this shit.

Stuff to climb over, all of it dumped in the best spot on the opposite side of the creek. If you look, no point climbing up there to shore fish. Not much of a shore to fish from.

This used to be such an easy wade.


After a couple of hours or so, you’re at the end of your trip. You’ve gone nearly three quarters of a mile down the creek and now it’s time to leave.

Good luck with that.


The path, it’s right there.

Right down the middle.

I’m assuming this explains why I never see anyone where I go on the creeks. I rarely see another set of footprints. It should also explain why I never wet wade. First you have to get there and when you get back, do you really want to be bleeding profusely and be covered in a poison ivy rash?

I didn’t think so.

After all these years I think of these creek adventures as normal. When confronted with a wall of woods when I want to get to a creek, I just look around a little bit and there it is.

The path, it’s right there in front of me.