Category Archives: Wandering

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I was Going to go Fishing

I was going to go fishing, but I knew the creeks were running crystal clear and would be devoid of fish.

I was going to go fish the Fox River, but the wind was howling with gusts up to 40 and where I wanted to go would have me standing out in the open facing this head on. With the bite still virtually non-existent, hardly worth the effort.

I was going to go for a walk, but after 100 yards I couldn’t get out of that relentless wind.

I thought of sticking around for the sunset, but the wind had blown all the clouds away. As beautiful as a sunset with sky blue skies and gold on the horizon can be, I’ve seen enough of those. I wanted more.

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I wandered over to the abandoned bridge over a creek and stared down into the water.

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I looked behind every rock for life, for a fish holding out of the current. Not a thing.

Then my mind went blank.

I know I’m thinking, of something, at that point, but it’s undefined.

My dad, my ma, the wife, the kids, the job, the car, or am I just thinking about the creek.

The play of light over running water over rock.

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Maybe it was muslims, Iran, Israel, Indiana, LGBT, Jesus, Easter, bunnies, employment counts, bank accounts, terrorists, methodists, baptists and the KKK.

Or maybe it was just the play of light over running water over rock.

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I was going to go fishing. In a way, I guess I did.

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Gnats Enougha Gnat

Gnats enougha gnat… I crack myself up. No wonder I’m always giggling in my head.

The gnats have actually been around for a couple of weeks now. Living a couple of blocks from the Fox River, small clouds of them have been floating around the yard and they love plastering the sides of the house that sit in the sun.

The cats have been having a field day with them, chasing them from window to window and fighting for the occasional one that makes it into the house.

Ran into a few clouds of them while out creek hopping over the weekend. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Took a walk along the river the other evening, waiting out the sunset. The gnats were no big deal, till I started walking across the footbridge over the river. The dense cloud of them extended all the way across the bridge, nearly 100 yards. By the time I got to the other side, they were crawling all over me. In my eyes, nostrils and mouth. Down my shirt and in my coat. I can only imagine how many wound up lodged in my lungs.

Of course I had to do this four times in order to truly savor the experience.

Tried to capture the gnat clouds, but the real clouds were low and gray and there wasn’t enough contrast between the two for a decent exposure.

It’s been 24 hours since I was out there. Looking at the pictures, sitting here thinking about it, my hands instinctively start rubbing my arms, legs and scratching my head.

I swear I can still feel them.

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Not Quite What I Wanted

It’s not quite what I wanted, but at least it’s a fish.

The desire to fish the Fox River in the early months of the year disappeared a few years ago.

Now I wait till the conditions are right to fish the creeks that feed the Fox.

A few years ago, by mid March, conditions were perfect with an unusually warm March and the fish cooperated accordingly.

Not so lucky the last couple of years.

Got out today to do some creek hopping. Chose to hold off on baptizing the new waders yet, conditions aren’t right to be combing long stretches of creek. The weather has been a little colder than normal, so I opted to hit a few key spots from shore.

Wound up hitting three spots on two creeks. Both creeks are crystal clear and perfect depth.

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I think that’s a creek chub that I caught, but there’s something out of the ordinary about it, so I may be forced to look it up, some day.

This was nine miles up a creek. I didn’t expect to see anything moving in the water this early and this far up from the river, but minnows were in a few of the deeper pools and the gut on what I caught shows that it’s feeding on them. Plus, it hit the usual small twister tail I use, so that’s a good give away.

The next creek was more of the same. Clear, but only here there were no signs of life in the water. Walking the shore was made easier by the lack of growth. Normally the grass in this stretch is well over waist high and will be in a few weeks. At least now I could see all the ruts in the ground instead of taking a back breaking, bone jarring hike.

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Where the two creeks come together there were more minnows in the slightly deeper pools. With a warmup coming this week, next week may be a good time to baptize the waders and take this all a little more seriously.

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It was nice to see that after nearly 5 months of no fishing, I haven’t lost my casting touch. Forty to fifty foot casts were made with little effort. This called into question whether or not I will bother using a fly rod this spring. Over the winter I looked at a lot of other blogs and all the pictures they put up. The bulk of them are all fly fishing centric. I came to understand why so many fly fish. There was virtually nothing along the shores except rock or grasses. Trees were almost always far back from the shore. There was nothing hanging out over the water.

This is a far cry from the creeks I fish. Trees and high brush line the shores. The arching trees create a cathedral effect over the water with some nearly touching the surface of the water. Today I was standing in and under canopies of leafless trees on the shore. I had just enough room to flick the lure out over the water. The light gear and light lures I use are no different than a 5-6 weight fly rod and clousers. There was simply no way I could have done the same thing with a fly rod. Moving out into the water is not always a better option. Still no room for back casts and going too far over head is a recipe for disaster.

The efficiency expert in me won’t allow me to waste time and expend energy to make a simple cast for the sole purpose of catching a fish. In my eyes, they’re all just tools and the tool lends nothing to the experience of being out, enjoying the surroundings, fishing small water and catching fish. If you have nothing between your ears that will allow you to enjoy the experience of fishing and all that it entails, using an inefficient and clumsy tool isn’t going to fix that for you.

I think I just made a decision about how much I’ll be fly fishing this spring.

Well, anyway..

I’m enjoying taking these shots of light on shallow running water. I may have to play around with this some more. Maybe try a movie, add the sound of water over rock.

If I can find that damn feature in the camera menu somewhere.

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Sunset Panorama Test

I’ve played around a little with making panorama’s in Photoshop, but never one of a sunset. So I thought I would do a sunset panorama test.

I already knew the software could handle sharper, brighter images, but I was curious if it could handle the more muted tones and less sharp edges of a sunset. While out Saturday evening watching the sunset at Silver Springs State Park, I took a few shots with making panorama’s out of them in mind.

So far so good and I’m pleased with how they are turning out. Of the six that I tried, only one failed. The software couldn’t find enough of an edge on one I guess in order to merge them correctly.

Once the images are merged and I figure out how to crop them, on three of them I wound up with images that are 13 X 29 inches and 240 ppi. That means I could double it’s size to 26 X 58 inches and still have enough resolution to get a decent print out of it at the bigger size. Only seems appropriate to go bigger on panoramic sunsets, but I could see them working at 6.5 X 14.5 inches or even smaller.

Ideally I want to see them at 26 X 58 feet, but that’s a different story and sunset panorama test.

The three images that wound up at that size were all shot with the lens at 18 mm. It’s an 18-55 mm lens.

The other two shots you’ll see in the gallery below were shot with the lens at around 30 mm. If I try to get as much image as possible out of the merged images, that gave me final sizes of 14 X 24 and 13 X 26. Not enough width to my liking, especially when shooting here in Illinois out over an expansive area of basically prairie. They still look decent, but some of the expansive feel is gone.

I’ve always known that my horizontal peripheral vision goes beyond 180 degrees and I recently heard that peripheral vision can go to almost 210 degrees. I haven’t looked up what it is vertically.

Which will eventually bring me to my next sunset panorama test. I know I’m losing a lot of sky vertically, my vertical peripheral vision is much greater than what the camera can do. So next time I’m going to shoot vertically and pan for 5 shots. I already know the software can merge 5 horizontal shots with pretty good end results. Now to try it with vertical shots. I’m hoping to wind up with final shots that feel like how I see things. I’ll probably have to use a tripod to accomplish this. The times I’ve tried before shows that it’s a bitch to try to pan evenly horizontally over 5 shots.

The math in my head is telling me that shooting vertically and merging five shots will give me a final image of about 20 X 60 inches and 240 ppi. Which means in theory I could do a print of 40 X 120 inches and still get decent results.

Of course, I want to do a print of that at 40 X 120 feet. I have that all figured out with even more details, but that’s a different story I’ll tackle later.

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End of Day One

The end of day one of the new year had the potential for a beautiful sunset.

Plenty of blue sky. Enough clouds around to add color to the setting sun.

Headed out to an area I like for sunsets and decided to try a different section. There are narrow bands of pine trees divided by prairie and corn fields. I hiked the quarter mile out to the end of one of the tree lines.

With air temps at 29 and winds blowing at 15-20 mph (feels like 18 according to the Weather Channel), I thought the trees would give me a break from the wind.

They didn’t.

I had a good hour and a half to kill and took my time on the hike. Even taking my time I guess I cover a quarter mile relatively quickly.

I stood around watching the sky and the changes from the setting sun. On the horizon where the sun was heading was a low bank of thick clouds while just 50 miles to the north there was plenty of blue sky. The wind was blowing directly out of the west, into my face and the wind had no warmth.

The sun disappeared behind the low clouds. In the distance a bank of trees kept the horizon covered. I couldn’t tell if there was a break in the clouds on the horizon. The sunset was nice, but not what I expected.

After standing around for nearly an hour I was freezing my ass off. No matter how much you layer up for this kind of weather, it really only helps if you’re moving around, even a little. Since I couldn’t feel my fingertips any more and my toes were numb from standing still, I left.

You’d think I’d learn by now.

Fifteen minutes later I look in the rear view mirror while heading east and the horizon is lit up like it’s on fire. Taunted me all the way home. There was no where to stop on the roads and no good vistas anyway.

I had been standing in the perfect spot not 15 minutes earlier.

Did this same thing three times last year.

I must be a slow learner.

Note to self, stay till dark.