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Apple River and Mental Gymnastics

Apparently on June 5, 2011 I went fishing out on the Apple River. This is something I used to do a few times a year, but according to my records I went once in 2010 and can’t find anything for the few years before that. I also haven’t been back since.

On June 13, 2011 I started writing what is below. I also went through the trouble of picking out a few pictures from that day. For some reason I started typing all of this directly in WordPress, which I never do. I do all my writing and editing and composing in a word processor then simply copy and paste into WordPress. For some reason I got part way done with this, stopped, saved it as a draft and never came back to it.

Till today.

Every day for nearly three years, there it sat, saved as a draft, staring me in the face. The other day I actually clicked on it and read it, something I haven’t bothered doing since I saved it as a draft. It didn’t start out too bad, but there it is unfinished.

The Mental Gymnastics required to justify driving over 250 miles round trip to catch a few fish had started over a week earlier.

Filling the tank with gas would cost a bit over 50 bucks. Somewhere along the ride I would have to fill it up again. Years ago when I drove out to the Apple River gas was going for under $2 a gallon. I didn’t think twice about filling the tank and going.

The destination was well worth it, but still…

Both Mapquest and Tom Tom agreed, it would take 2 hours and 23 minutes to reach my destination. Neither had factored in the 20 ounce cup of coffee pit stop that would become a necessity at some point. I figured it would take 2 hours and 30 minutes. I left the house at 4 A.M. and I arrived on the banks of the Apple River at 6 A.M. This time included the cup of coffee pit stop in Stockton, Illinois.

It’s not that I speed, I don’t slow down much.

The first few casts got the first fish of the day. I thought this was a good thing.

I wandered up stream like I usually do. Had to crawl under an obstruction. I’d like to see these obstructions gone from all Illinois Rivers in my life time, but I have a feeling the ignorance of Federal river laws will keep that from happening.

And that’s where I ended it back on June 13, 2011.

I sat here looking at it for a minute or two when it dawned on me, this is the exact moment that my Give a Shitter broke. I recall when I typed in that last sentence nearly three years ago, I stalled. I had no clue where to go from there. I realized at that moment that I no longer gave a shit about Federal river laws or harping on them any further. That had a snowball effect. I realized I no longer gave a shit about dam removals, river clean ups, any conservation groups locally or nationally that had anything to do with rivers.

This culminated in a post I put up recently called Your Membership has Expired. Why repeat it all here, I said it pretty well in that post.

Over the next two years the affects of my broken Give a Shitter expanded well beyond all things rivers and I know I’ve touched upon some of that over those couple of years. Tough economic times will do that to you. Makes you focus on what is important.

This morning I was listening to talk radio drone on about the growing crisis in Crimea and the Ukraine. I thought about that for a second and the only thing I could hear in my brain was “who cares.” I can’t come up with a single reason to care about Crimea or the Ukraine, regardless of the emergency that it is being made out to be.

No, I’m going to wander around like I usually do, take more pictures if so inspired, write a few words about them if I can think of any. I’ll go to work every day and come home. Kiss the wife hello and goodbye every time I walk in and out of the door. Tell her I love her after each kiss. Tell her to try not to die on me today, will ya?

I’ll call my parents and have a chat now and then and do the same with my two daughters.

That’s enough. It’ll keep me busy.

As for all those other things that kept me busy over the years, all those things I thought I cared about, all those things I’m told I should care about, count me out.

They’re not important anymore.

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Rolling Carp

After a brutally cold winter with a near record accumulation of snow, I had to get out even if the end result would be just rolling carp.

Scouting already told me that the creeks were out of the question, frozen over except for the shallowest sections flowing over rock.

Sunday was predicted to be mostly sunny and 40 degrees, a virtual warm spell very late in the making. That never happened. Clouds appeared out of nowhere and kept the sun from warming things up. I waited till 1 PM when the thermometer finally said 32 degrees. 32 is the limit on the low side for when I’ll go out fishing. Fishing in air temps lower than that is simply barbaric.

Even then I hemmed and hawed about going. The wife said… you’ve been such an asshole lately, just go even for the walk.

A correct assumption on her part. It’s not SAD or any of those other winter time blues like affectations. I simply need to be outside, to sit, to go for walks or I start climbing the walls. I’m slightly claustrophobic and in the winter, it shows, bad.

The start of the walk down to the river had me first sliding down a hill on snow, then mud, then a long walk through soft, heavy, foot deep snow. I kept telling myself, this is fun. And in a way, it was. I was at least warm. Burning off calories at a high rate will do that to you.

It looked interesting at the time.

In January I put up a post about how this will be the year that I make an effort to run into no one on the river. To not tell anyone where I’m fishing so no one shows up in any of those spots.

I jinxed myself.

Before I had even tied on a lure, before I had even stepped in the water, before I had even wet a line, I ran into three other fishermen. Luckily, fishermen being the creatures of habit that they are, they were all fishing the same spot. I’m sure that’s where someone told them to go and heaven forbid they stray from that by even one foot.

So I headed downstream.

A new catfish attractant I’m developing.

Half the river was still frozen over while the other half had sheets of ice the size of cars floating down river. I had no hopes of catching anything, so the familiar tap of a smallmouth bass went unnoticed till too late. I could only feel lure against water when I lamely made an attempt at a hookset.

Still further downstream the carp rolling began. I figured I may as well have some fun with it and see how far my line would travel sideways while on the back of some carp. The bonus would be one of the walleye that also happen to hang out in this area, so you just never know.

There are halves of clam shells all over the river, which I’ve been told can be 100 years old. It’s rare I find a live one.

On one cast my line was getting pulled, unusual for a rolled carp, so I pulled back. It pulled back and we had a little tug of war going. Definitely not a carp and it was behaving like a bigger walleye. After letting it run around on the bottom of the river for a bit, I raised my rod tip to bring the fish to the surface so I could at least see what I might be up against.

Well, sonovabitch. A muskie about three feet long.

That’s not unusual for this area along with the bigger walleye and the occasional northern pike, it’s just unusual for me to hook one considering the size of the lures I use. I do hook toothy critters frequently enough, I just don’t land them much. Generally, they cut the line long before I get them up next to me.

This one I had hooked in the corner of the mouth. If I kept my rod tip up and turned it right, I could keep it from cutting the line. I’ve done this numerous times and numerous times it poses the same dilemma.

I’m wading, I’m usually standing in crotch deep water and now I have this obviously pissed off thrashing fish with big teeth less than five feet from my crotch.

You tell me how you’re going to land this thing.

I backed off and dragged it towards shore. It didn’t like that much and the thrashing was pretty strong. I finally got it to within a foot of shore and was starting to bend over to figure out how to lift it when it had enough. A twist, a roll, a thrash and the little jig popped out of the corner of its mouth. I reached down to grab its tail, but it was done with this game and took off for deeper water.

Ingrate, not even a picture for all that trouble.

I went back to rolling carp and thought I felt the hard thump of a smallie. A minute later I landed a quillback carpsucker. I actually don’t mind hooking these, they put up one hell of a fight and they’re nowhere near as slimy as their carp cousins. Handling them is no big deal.

Like carp, a face only a mother can love.

At that point, I was done. The river did what I wanted and let me become a somnambulistic casting machine for a couple of hours. No real thoughts, no real concerns, I can’t recall thinking about anything other than cast there, then there, then there.

I have no doubt that even in what appears to be random casting, there are billions of brain cells making decisions as to why I should cast there.

But I couldn’t find any other brain cells that gave a damn.

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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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Nope, You’re Good…

…it’s not cancer, just an old gnarly callus.

That ended today what I knew was being considered months earlier.

The months culminated on Christmas Eve when the dentist first said it out loud… I don’t like the look of that lesion, it looks precancerous. Later, skip the pre shit. Looks cancerous. I know in my head I heard… Merry fucking Christmas to me.

A few weeks later, another doctor, a specialist. Poking and scraping and more poking.

Well, I’m 95 percent sure it’s nothing, but let’s do a biopsy in a couple of weeks to rule out that 5 percent (yeah, that’s what he told me, said the dead guy).

Back the day before my birthday (happy fucking birthday to me). Needles, scraping, cutting and the removal of a good chunk of flesh. Enough to require stitches to hold what was left together.

I’m sure it’s nothing I heard again. Come back in a week and we’ll have the results.

Nope, you’re good, I heard today.

Better safe than sorry, I guess.

Nope, I’m good.

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McDonald’s, I don’t get it

McDonald’s, I don’t get it. And yet they recently reported a $6.9 BILLION profit for the last quarter. That’s profit. I didn’t hear how much was brought in for the quarter, just the profit. Total income for the quarter has to be enormous, you would think.

I’m sorry, I bet the picture at the top gave you the impression this was going to be about fishing. That is a nice fish. A first week of April smallie to be exact based on the lack of leaves on the trees in the background. Fox River at North Aurora to be specific based on the bridge.

Unless you’re one of those anglers that must make a McDonald’s stop while out and about, then I guess this has to do with fishing, but not really.

I’m not much of a fast food person, never have been. I’ve done my share, but I’d just as soon not bother. I do have a penchant for a bacon cheese burger, large fries and chocolate shake from Portillo’s when the occasion arises, but that’s about it.

Twenty years ago the death knell came for McDonald’s when between jobs, I stopped and grabbed something quick to eat. A major mistake. Within the hour I was in the throes of food poisoning. Nothing like seeing anything McDonald’s coming out where it just went down. That pretty much killed my desire for anything McDonald’s.

Because of an impending move, the wife and I have been busy the last couple of days cleaning and painting the new place. On the way home the wife decided to go the easy route to dinner and stopped at McDonald’s. She brought me a bacon double cheeseburger and some fries, figuring it was a safe bet.

Well, safe it wasn’t. The first negative comment came from my mother-in-law. She would not be considered to have a discerning palate, so the comment was a bit of a surprise.

“The fries are always too salty.”

She immediately set them aside.

And they were. And they were also far too skinny for my liking and to top it all off, they tasted like shit. Then I started in on the bacon double cheeseburger. I think my long drawn out culinary review went something like this…

“This tastes like shit too.”

And it pretty much did. The flavor kind of resembled beef, but not quite. The bacon had bacon flavor, but I could see the cheese and that was about it.

I was hungry so I kept eating it and had a running commentary going on the $6.9 BILLION profit McDonald’s just made and what that said about the total lack of taste the average human being must have.

How do people eat this shit and, after the first time, why the hell do they go back?

Told the wife not to bother getting me anything the next time she makes a quick stop.

I’d rather dig through the kitty litter box.

I finished this wonderful meal at 5:50 PM. As I type this it’s 6:35 PM.

Food poisoning always strikes within the first hour.

So far no rumbly’s in the tumbly.

But then, I got another 14 minutes to go.