Category Archives: Wandering

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In These Woods

In these woods, no one would hear you moan.
Oh, baby.
Oh, baby, baby.

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All I can tell you is that it’s on an island.
Just before walking up on this, I spooked a family of turkeys.
Two adults and at least 10 young ones.
Which means they are living on this island.

Nearby I found a stack of unfinished wood.
I think this was built onsite with driftwood out of the river.

The no trespassing signs all over the place are to be taken seriously.
Depending on the mood of the owner, a trespasser will either be arrested or shot.
At least shot at.

Except for me. I have permission to be here.

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Oh, oh, baby…

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I Gave up on Morel Hunting

I gave up on morel hunting this year.

For over a decade while out creek hopping and wandering through the woods in the spring, I scoured the woods looking for morels. Everything I ever read about them or heard others talk about them told me that they should be where I’m wandering.

It never happened. I never found a morel.

So I gave up this year.

A couple of weeks ago I even made the crack that now, of course, I’ll find one.

Of course, that’s what happened.

The first one I nearly stepped on in an area where I would never have purposely looked for them.

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Not five minutes later I glance at the base of a tree I’m walking past and see more.

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I mean, really, what are the chances of this happening.

All those years of wandering around, walking around hundreds of trees in ever widening circles and never finding a thing.

If I knew finding them would be this easy, I would have given up looking for them years ago.

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A Walk in the River

A walk in the river is all I expected. After a few weeks of casting practice in sterile creeks I gave up and hit the Fox River. Levels were abnormally low for spring, perfect wading conditions instead of nearing flood stage.

As I stepped into the river I parted a massive school of bait fish. This told me where to cast when I got around to it. On the opposite side of the river the gravel bars on the upstream side of the islands glowed white. Can’t recall ever seeing that before.

With the winter we had I hear a massive amount of salt was dumped on roads. Along the river it eventually has to wind up in the river. Up close, it sure looked like salt crust. And yes, the next two shots are in color.

I’m used to seeing water lines on rocks with the rock beneath the line a lighter color from being washed by the river. But I’ve never seen this.

If it is salt deposits, I wonder if it will have any affect on the fish. Two fish caught and three fish missed later, I would have to say no so far. They were all hanging around the rocks along with a bunch of jumping carp. Where there’s carp there’s smallies. Maybe they like salt.

Paired up geese were everywhere. The smart ones were already nesting on the islands. Smart move. Fewer ground dwelling predators.

The ones nesting on shore are already regretting that decision.

A mini waterfall was explored. No matter how dry it gets, this always has flowing water. I’ve known of it for 15 years now. I have never looked for it’s source.

The walk was made that much more brutal by the constant rush of wind. I heard later it was over 20 mph with gusts up to 40.

But it’s not so bad inside a duck blind, blocking the wind and a long bench to stretch a back on.

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Both Fascinating and Frustrating

The reluctance of the fish to head up the creeks has been both fascinating and frustrating. Not just smallmouth bass, but any kind of fish.

I really shouldn’t be all that surprised considering the winter we had.

I forget what these flowers are, names of things don’t really mean much to me anyway, but I finally came across a small batch of them, very small. Like, this was it.

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Usually by now they’re everywhere and have been for a few weeks. Like the fish, they’re taking their sweet time showing up.

For the past few weeks I’ve been hitting five different creeks, from nine miles inland to the mouths. Except for slightly increasing bug hatches, they’ve been completely devoid of life.

Today I combed a half mile of a creek. A half mile inland to the mouth. Starting from the inland side, the first few hundred yards were again completely devoid of life, except for the bugs.

A couple of hundred yards from the mouth I finally spotted two huge schools of minnows, bait fish if you will. One was hugging tight to the bottom of a shallow sandy area and the other was one big undulating ball of bait in a hole over five feet deep. I took this as a good sign for the two hundred yard walk down to the mouth.

I took it wrong.

Not another living thing seen.

Well, almost.

At the mouth a couple of quillbacks decided to play porpoise. There’s no mistaking their back when they briefly come up out of the water.

I stood in one spot that lets me cover a lot of water with virtually no movement on my part. Not a thing hit and that really came as no surprise.

But I kept casting and casting and casting far beyond the limit I set for myself when the fish aren’t biting.

It was too nice out.

We haven’t had nice in a long time.

It was a nice sunset.

I haven’t stood in the water and watched a nice sunset in a long time.

Friday I’m going to repeat this.

By then the water will be a bit warmer.

More bait fish will probably have moved up and I’m sure the bug hatch will be bigger.

And maybe the bite will finally turn on.

We haven’t had a turned on bite in a long time.

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Watching People Watching Eagles

I took a drive today from Yorkville to Montgomery along the Fox River and wound up watching people watching eagles.

Before the rains came and a bit of a thaw and the river came up, I took this same drive earlier in the week by chance due to a closed road. The river was pretty well frozen over and in one stretch where warmer water enters the river I saw eagles. I stopped counting them when I got to 30. I called Larry Granat to give him this information knowing that he wouldn’t sit on it. I knew he would have to get out and go look. He wound up counting 52 of them.

I guess I should mention they were all in a stretch less than a mile long.

Today I saw more people out watching the eagles then I saw eagles.

I almost stopped to take a picture of the people taking pictures of the eagles. Some were taking this quite seriously with their tripods and cameras with long lenses. Definitely needed the long lenses, almost all of the eagles were on the opposite side of the river.

I almost stopped to tell the photographers… you know, there’s a way to the other side of the river.

But I decided against that. Give the eagles a break and my way to those areas on the other side of the river aren’t really all that safe for the not so sure footed. Lord knows I’ve damn near killed myself enough times over there.

Best to leave well enough alone, even though, I have a feeling I’m going to get a phone call from Larry.

I did see 15 eagles. Far fewer then the other day, but the river had opened up with much more flowing water and less ice.

I was wondering about this. Where do the eagles go when the river opens up again? How many eagles are there in the Fox Valley? How does the Fox Valley compare to the usual eagle watching hot spots in Illinois?

Like reading my mind, Larry Granat, who also runs The Kendall County Bird Page on Facebook, put this up today:

Bald Eagles’ Numbers Soaring in Illinois

As much as I’ve despised this cold winter and the intense cold spells we’ve been having, I guess I could put up with one more cold spell as long as it locks up the river again with ice.

I want to see that concentration of eagles again in that one mile stretch.

Photo of the eagle at the top of this page courtesy of Larry Granat.