Category Archives: Fly FIshing

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Illinois Catchable Trout Program

Three years ago I put up a post that does a decent job of treating the Illinois Catchable Trout Program like the joke that I think it is. I actually wrote it 15 years ago but never bothered doing anything with it till then.

Illinois Catchable Trout Program or Fishing in Hell

Since Illinois has no native inland trout, I can’t find anything that says it ever did, trout native to California are imported here and then placed in rivers, lakes and ponds that get too warm to support them and they eventually die.

That’s why the stocking for this program occurs in early spring and fall. Maybe the water will stay cool enough for them to survive a little while.

In the mean time, fishermen are charged a fee for the privilege of going out and catching these trout and you can keep and kill five of them I believe on a daily basis.

I think money better spent would be on trout from a half way decent fish market, at least then you stand a better chance of getting fish meat that doesn’t look kind of gray and doesn’t smell and taste a bit like cat food.

Spring and fall are when some native Illinois fish are aggressively active, like crappie and bluegill, so why not catch them. Plus, they taste much better then trout.

But I hear there’s a lot of nostalgia surrounding this program and I found out at many a dam removal meeting that nostalgia always wins over logic and reason.

So the chances of making this program go away is probably nil.

Though I don’t do it much, I do know how to fish lakes and ponds. A couple of decades ago, when I was in a rod and gun club in Virginia and had access to three private lakes, I read about and fished lakes a lot, at least out there.

One of the books I have is about catching big bass. It’s packed in a box somewhere and I don’t remember the exact name or author. You’ll have to figure out how to search on this sparse info.

The guy that wrote it lives out in California.

The reason bass get so big in the lakes in California is because one of their favorite meals is rainbow trout. High fat content and all.

The reason this guy catches so many big bass, among other reasons, is because he uses things that look and act like rainbow trout.

I tried these techniques on the one spring fed lake in Virginia where we threw in handfuls of rainbow trout every now and then.

Worked like a charm.

I can understand the pleasure of fishing for these trout here in Illinois. On a good day they fight a little better then a wet sock.

But this is a bass state after all, small and large mouth.

So, while fishing for rainbow trout, I think fishermen should reconsider taking these bland tasting things home for dinner.

I think they should gently and quickly release these trout back in the water from where they came.

Chances are the waters where these trout are being caught are already full of small and large mouth bass.

Chances are the fishermen will be back later in the year to fish for those bass.

Why not release all those trout year after year and let the bass eat them, year after year.

Imagine the size of the bass we’ll be catching in a few years.

So, here’s the new name for this changed program:

Illinois Catch and Release Trout Program.

Only this one will have a slogan:

Feed the Bass.

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I was Reading the Latest Gray’s Sporting Journal

I was reading the latest Gray’s Sporting Journal, an endeavor that could take a few weeks considering I only read it while sitting and eating a leisurely meal. How many stories I finish in one sitting depends on the quality of the meal and how leisurely I feel like being.

Day one I got through the first two stories, which weren’t bad. The writer of the first one at one point makes a reference to John Gierach. For some reason that reference stuck in my head.

The second writer winds up doing the same thing, references Gierach. I thought this odd. I’m sure the two writers don’t even know each other and yet, while describing their own experiences, they somehow felt it necessary to mention Gierach.

I dwell on the stupidest things sometimes.

An hour later I put this up on Facebook:

Got the new Gray’s Sporting Journal today. Read a couple of the stories. Both quoted Gierach. SP?

I’ll bet Gierach doesn’t quote anyone and neither should they.

And I mean that.

If I wanted to read what Gierach thought, I would pull one of his books down off my shelf and read Gierach. I was much more interested in the personal experiences of the two writers, but somehow felt that they had watered down that experience with their chosen references.

I can’t recall ever being out and about, or ever writing something down after being out and about and giving any thought to what Gierach might think.

He wasn’t there, what the hell would he know?

This issue of Gray’s is their fly fishing issue. Maybe this referencing of other fly fishermen is just something fly fishermen do.

Today I read story number three. It was, by John Gierach.

I was wrong. Even Gierach references others.

One was a reference to somebody named Wendell Berry. I wasn’t impressed. I have no clue who Wendell Berry is and just out of plain stubbornness, I refuse to look him up.

Another was to Bob White when Gierach was describing his surroundings. I can live with that one. Bob White is a passable artist and it did it’s job, I could picture the surroundings.

The third was an outright quote. Normally I find those the most offensive, but he quoted Marilyn Monroe.

Fishing for ocean run steelhead on a Washington State river and quoting Marilyn Monroe.

I can live with that.

And I was impressed.

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Your Membership has Expired

Your Membership has Expired

Did you get my message? It’s time to renew your TU membership. With your support, TU will continue working tirelessly to protect, reconnect, restore and sustain America’s trout and salmon habitat. Make your $35 contribution today and you’ll receive a new TU car decal and $30 off your next purchase of $100 or more at Orvis.com.

Oh, I got the message.

This one along with the other 20 or so I’ve got in the last two months through both snail mail and email.

No, I will not be renewing my membership. The primary reason being that there are no trout in Illinois and I don’t travel to try to catch them. I did make an effort to pursue trout over a decade ago in a couple of trips to Wisconsin. I quickly learned that the pursuit of trout bores me to tears.

But I kept renewing my membership.

Over the years I like to think I’ve done quite a bit to protect, reconnect and restore some of the rivers and creeks here in the northeast corner of Illinois. Why not support a group that is attempting to do that nationwide, if not worldwide.

Then a few years ago my interest in anything outside of my limited world here in the Fox Valley began to wane. I’m now officially not a member of anything. No groups, no clubs, no organizations. No more board seats for local organizations. Over the last two years I’ve let my guiding service die. No more fishing classes and just last year I turned down a handful of opportunities to speak to groups or clubs about fishing.

This self imposed isolation is twofold.

First, my spare time has become very limited and what little I have is extremely precious to me.

Second, I put this at the end of a recent post:

And with this, I am done with my Blackberry Creek Dam Removal Updates.

There will be no more.

I’m sure I will go fishing on the creek come March, I’m sure I’ll catch some fish, I’m sure I’ll take some pictures and I’m sure I’ll write something up about the fishing trip.

But I will no longer mention the creek by name. There will be no recognizable photos of the creek posted. As far as anyone else is concerned, it’s just another one of the seven or so creeks I fish that happen to feed into the Fox River.

This is going to be done for purely selfish reasons.

The interest level in fishing the Fox River and it’s creeks, at least in the areas I like to fish, has dropped off considerably over the past eight years.

I run into practically no one while out there fishing.

And I want to keep it that way.

I was going to expand on this a bit, it’s all in my head, but I’m going to leave it there.

I think that pretty much explains everything.

I will give it to you though TU, you almost had me. You almost had me renew my subscription and it wasn’t anything you did directly.

In a recent issue of Gray’s Sporting Journal, there was a photo essay. A couple of guys in Minnesota that went out trout fishing in the middle of winter on a small stream and they were using light spinning gear.

I don’t recall any derogatory remarks about their choice of equipment. A shot was included of a small floating Rapala. More shots of a beautiful little stream being walked by a couple of guys, with spinning gear. Mention was made of numerous trout caught.

There was even a shot of one of them lighting up what appeared to be a damn fine cigar.

I thought, there’s hope for these trout guys yet!

But it didn’t work. It didn’t win me over.

Instead, this year I’ll be out somewhere in the Fox Valley in pursuit of smallmouth bass during one of my 70 or so fishing trips. With spinning gear. Only, if anyone bothers to read what I’ll be writing, you’ll know I’m in the Fox Valley somewhere, but where?

You won’t even realize I’m out there fishing and observing and extolling the virtues of my surroundings and I don’t even have a fly rod in my hand. It’s an inefficient tool for accomplishing a simple goal, to catch a fish, so why bother with it and why even bother mentioning what’s being used?

As a tip of my hat to the world of trout though, I just might include some shots of me lighting up a…

Who am I kidding, I don’t smoke damn fine cigars.

As the wife calls them… your little shit sticks.

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Welcome to my world.

Carp on a Stick

So, what kind of stick were you using?

A common question I hear from fishermen.
Always curious about what was being used
to catch a fish.

It varies, but it could be just about anything.

Spinning gear seems to get used a lot.

The weight of the spinning gear varies,
but generally pretty light.

Yeah, okay, that might be a sucker.
On a Rat-L-Trap.

There are those that will dig out
an old fiberglass favorite
just to see if it still works.

Then there are the long sticks.
A Tenkara rod comes to mind.
Before they telescoped,
they were made of sticks.

Bamboo is a stick
made into a long stick
or short, depends.

Some get out light long sticks
for the challenge.

While others insist
on the perfectly balanced long stick.

Shit, wait, how’d that species get in here?

I’ve come across sticks
and other things that could be sticks
tucked into the shore
with line tied on the end
and trailing out into the water.
Big hook on the other end of the line
with a gob of worms
or rows of corn attached.

Then there are those
that catch a carp on a stick,
take them home
and actually eat them.

But no, this is carp on a stick.

Literally.