Category Archives: Wandering

IMG_1278

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.

IMG_1267

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.

IMG_1258

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.

Larry_Eagle_2

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.

IMG_0899

Last Fishing Trip of the Year

Got out Sunday morning for what will probably be my last fishing trip of the year.

Well, maybe, but all indications are that it will be my last.

The first indication was the night before. I’m still down my car and I didn’t bother loading up the wife’s car with my fishing gear. Very unlike me when I know I’m going to go out fishing. I must have still been thinking about it.

Sunday morning I open an eye, reach over to the clock on the night stand and turn it around toward me, 5:42. I turned it’s hideously glowing red numbers away from me.

What seemed like a few minutes later the wife stirs and gets out of bed.

What the hell ya doin’?

“I gotta pee like a race horse, I’m surprised you’re not out fishing.”

I’m thinkin’ about it.

I reach out and turn the clock toward me, 6:45. I’m obviously sleeping like shit. Maybe I should go fishing.

Somewhere between 2000 and 2005 I fished the Fox River every month of the year determined to catch a smallie each month for as long as possible. Eight months out of the year that’s an easy task. Come January, not so much. One January I almost got skunked, but managed to catch one on the very last day of the month. After four and a half years of doing this, I gave up. I had made my point and proven I could do it, no point beating a dead horse.

I got out of bed and got the coffee going. I could tell by how I was moving that I didn’t care about getting out one way or the other. I knew it was around 26 degrees out there, but it had been in the 50′s on Saturday and it was going to be in the 50′s again today. Maybe there was a creature a stirrin’ out there.

But I was still dawdling.

By the time I got the car loaded up, out to the fishing spot, suited up and in the water it was 8 AM. That all took about 45 minutes longer than it usually did. The picture at the top shows what I was up against. The river was already getting it’s winter level and clarity and it wouldn’t be long before that sun was on the water and the fishing would go to hell in a handbasket.

In a short time I did manage to catch five smallies.

I also foul hooked a couple of carp and one shad. The rolling of lure over carp was endless. In with the countless carp I got two hard, powerful hits and brief fights with heavy fish, but landing them never worked out.

On my way down the river channel three deer on the opposite island decided I was a spectator sport and stood and watched for awhile. I never did find out if the deer on the islands can be hunted. A brother-in-law wants to give this a try too. What makes it so intriguing is that these deer must never see humans come out to their little homes. When I was done fishing for the day I cut across the island and walked right up on the three deer. Every time I do this on every island I cross, the deer just stand there and watch me. I couldn’t get a good shot of the deer, the brush was too thick and the camera wouldn’t focus, but they let me walk within 50 feet of them before they decided to turn and walk away. They don’t even bother running.

Back at home I spent some time winterizing the house. By 1:30 I was done. Sitting down for a few minutes didn’t work. I could feel that flushed feeling coming over me. Crap sleep, cold air, a long walk in cold water apparently wore me out.

It was take a nap or go for a walk.

I opted for the walk.

Came across this little guy, barely six inches long, sitting in the middle of the trail.

He had a little cut in one side, probably from one of the other many hikers using the trail that thought he was just a stick. He was very happy to be relocated to the leaves and quickly disappeared beneath them.

An Interesting Series of Pictures

Well, okay, they’re an interesting series of pictures to me.

I know enough about cameras that you shouldn’t point them directly into the sun to take a picture, but I do it all the time. You just never know what you’re going to get.

It doesn’t help to have a simple point and shoot camera, a good one, but a point and shoot none the less.

The controls are limited, banding of colors is likely, lens flare… but as I said, I do it all the time and at times things work out well.

In this series of pictures something odd happened.

I can explain away the dot of light in the upper left of these images. About a year ago I dropped my camera and put a tiny ding off to the side on the glass that covers the lens. But even then, after many, many pictures taken I’ve never seen it show up in another image.

The rest, no clue.

I was at Silver Springs on Sunday for the last two hours of daylight. I thought for sure the sun was going to come out, but the cloud cover moved in and made for a less than spectacular sunset.

At the very end the sun slipped below the clouds along the horizon and I thought for sure it would light up the whole underside of the clouds. That didn’t happen. Instead I got what follows.

I took one shot about every 30 seconds or so. After each shot I would look at it on the small screen on the back of the camera. I never saw what I see in the bigger images. Granted, it’s a tiny little screen, but still.

The third image is the one that creeps me out the most, but the whole progression just seems so odd. Even the wife looks at them and with her cynical attitude has to agree that they are a little creepy.

She calls it an angel. She thinks it means someone I know is going to die soon. I’m hoping she’s wrong.