Tag Archives: bug hatch

Testing the Water

When I walked out the door I had every intention of going out to a couple of creeks to start testing the water.

Got to the first creek to find a couple of cars parked there. Wandered onto the abandoned bridge to survey the water. Unlike the river it was in perfect condition; crystal clear, excellent level, but devoid of life. Not a thing seen in the water.

One of the anglers came back and we struck up a conversation. He saw and caught nothing and then asked my name. Winds up he reads here and he recognized me, not by my stunning good looks, but the cigar.

Not sure that’s a good thing.

The other angler shows up, more conversation with nothing to show for fishing efforts.

Two other anglers pull up and get out of their car. One looks familiar and I ask his name. Winds up it’s someone I used to run into on the creeks all the time, but it’s been a good decade since I saw him last. I mention that to him and say… “I assumed you got married, had kids or were dead.”

“Got the first two right at least.”

More conversation, then time to move on.

At the next creek I hesitated and went walking around before deciding if I wanted to go fishing. Couple of different bug hatches going on, but like the first creek, not a single thing seen in the water. I stood around mesmerizing myself with flowing water and tried to capture the why of it all.

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Back at the car, still debating, the bugs must have liked the warmth of my car. They were in mating position and covered it pretty well.

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Another angler shows up and a conversation starts. We had met at this same spot a couple of years ago. He was heading where I was thinking of going and he had been out there a couple of times so far this year. Barren water. I decide to wait another week or two and try again. A walk in the woods would be time better spent.

At a nearby big forest preserve, a hike through an area I haven’t done in a few years.

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Sometimes I take pictures of the things that trip me.

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The hike took me to still another creek that as far as I know has no name.

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This is a tiny little creek, shallow enough to walk through in most parts without getting your ankles wet. Neck down stretches that you can jump over and every now and then a deeper pool. Deep being relative and barely knee deep.

And yet, in these little pools, signs of life that weren’t in it’s bigger cousins.

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Since my plans had changed I decided to stay out till sunset to see if it was worth capturing. It was looking like the clouds were getting blown out of the area with nothing but blue skies. Not enough to make for an interesting sunset.

So I went home.

An hour or so later I was proven wrong. Enough clouds had stuck around on the south edge of the sun to make the sky interesting, nothing but blue skies on the north edge of the sun.

No time to hop into the car and go someplace with a vista view. Just enough time to walk down the street in this neighborhood full of light manufacturing and railroad tracks and see if I could get something interesting out of it all.

Not what I prefer, but it will do in a pinch.

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Music to Fish and Wander By

I get songs stuck in my head.
For awhile, this one has been stuck there.
It will open in another window…

Donovan, Hurdy Gurdy Man

Thrown like a star in my vast sleep
I open my eyes to take a peep

To find that I was by the sea
Gazing with tranquillity.

Like my words, my outings have been few. I think.

I’ve lost track. I have a few pictures that helps me remember.

The heat has been repressive, unbearable at times. Standing in the water of the river does nothing to alleviate that feeling. If nothing, it makes matters worse.

The water is low, murky, at times weed choked.

The fish are cooperative, at times. Most times not. Dipping a hand in water is not a refreshing sensation. It too makes matters worse.

‘Twas then when the Hurdy Gurdy Man
Came singing songs of love,

Then when the Hurdy Gurdy Man
Came singing songs of love.

Water isn’t supposed to do this. It’s supposed to be refreshing, invigorating and inviting. An opportunity to cool the core, achieve balance.

Hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, gurdy he sang.
Hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, gurdy he sang.
Hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, gurdy he sang.

Histories of ages past
Unenlightened shadows cast
Down through all eternity
The crying of humanity.

‘Tis then when the Hurdy Gurdy Man
Comes singing songs of love,
Then when the Hurdy Gurdy Man
Comes singing songs of love.

Hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, gurdy he sang.
Hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy.
Hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, gurdy he sang.

Hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, gurdy he sang.
Here comes the roly poly man and he’s singing songs of love,
Roly poly, roly poly, roly poly, poly he sang.

Hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, gurdy he sang,
Hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, gurdy he sang

This song came out in 1968, I was 12.
I had a paper route, I always carried a transistor radio with me.
I would turn up this song till the little speaker vibrated.

Even then I thought the words and the music were diametrically opposed.
Singing songs of love with the music being so ominous and his singing tone so dry.

I always wondered about the electric guitar and who played, only I never bothered looking it up.

Found out while doing this, it’s probably Jimmy Page.

Makes sense to me.

Speaking of Butterflies

I was out wandering the other day and stopped at a creek. The main goal was to see what kind of shape it was in after the recent rains. The other goal was to simply wander around a little.

There’s an old abandoned road near the creek. Each time I wander down it a little further. I know it’s trespassing, but it seems that landowners don’t mind gray beards with cameras wandering harmlessly on some parts of their property.

“Getting any good photos?”

I never know till I look at them later. You don’t mind do you?

“No, not at all. Feel free.”

And I do.

It was nice to be out with sky blue skies bringing out the intense greens of the rain soaked trees and grass. Luckily I was also watching where I was walking.

A large black and yellow object fluttered past my head. I knew it was a swallowtail butterfly and assumed it was a yellow swallowtail, but I noticed it was more black than yellow. It landed on a nearby tall blade of grass. I quickly shot a photo figuring it would quickly flutter off.

Since it didn’t move, I took a few more, always expecting it to fly off.

That never happened. It sat there, wings spread wide, soaking in the sun. I kept getting closer, pushing my luck.

It let me get within a few inches of it.

Then, apparently annoyed, it flew off.

As a kid I had a fascination with butterflies. I think it came from frequent visits to the Field Museum. I remember cases full of butterflies, pinned to backing with their wings spread wide like this one. I remember having a book about butterflies, loaded with pictures. That was 45 years ago or so and the memory of names and colors are long gone.

From what I looked up later, this one winds up being a Giant Swallowtail. And that it was, with a wingspan that was easily 5-6 inches. I found the pattern fascinating. It looks some what like a face, mouth open. I’ll assume it sits like this, wings spread, to intimidate predators. I never did find anything mentioned about that being a possibility.

I kind of like that idea though.

Fishing with Ed

Got out the other day with the Four Season Angler Ed Schmitt. He gets off work just in time to go fish the last couple hours of the day, so I had some time to kill before his arrival.

The weatherman said the rain was supposed to be clearing out. Till that was supposed to happen, it drizzled. I can tolerate that, especially when it’s combined with no wind. The closeness of the low clouds and thicker air lets you focus on the task at hand. Few distractions by the surroundings and the rain gear cuts off my peripheral vision, forcing me to into tunnel vision.

Working over the first stretch got me a couple of immediate hits and the eventual landing of a smallie.

Being forced to always look forward still brought some rewards. The goslings are out. Pairs of adult geese swam protectively with their broods. Heads down as they swam, protecting their young from river currents by making them swim in their wakes. Circling their little ones and always wary of me, the only possible threat in sight. Couldn’t help but think of how many people I know that could learn a lesson from watching geese and their young.

There was a small mayfly hatch coming off the water. Did my best to capture one and then, couldn’t get it to pose for me correctly.

When Ed called to let me know where he was, it started to rain, hard. Not a torrential downpour, but this was definitely not the clearing the weathermen called for. Ed chalked it up to his usual luck when finding the time to get out fishing.

By the time Ed made it across the river I was up to 2/5 on the catch/self release scale. Nothing hot and heavy so far. The stretch we fished for the last couple of hours of daylight is only a couple of hundred yards long, but for some reason it always holds the highest concentration of fish.

After some initial misses for Ed, he switched to something that resembled a crayfish and dredged the bottom of the river, while I stuck with something I could swim through the current. Both choices were the correct choices and we were both casting to the same areas and getting hits and hooked fish. Ed got fish of the day.

A couple of casts later I was able to pull one out of the exact same spot where Ed got his FOTD.

Resulting in one of the few images of this angler seen in the last 7 years.

That happens when you fish alone 98% of the time. Plus I don’t care to have my head in all the shots of me holding a fish. I’m starting to like my arms length fish shots.

Even with the steady rain, it wasn’t that bad of an evening to be out. Of course the rain pretty much ended as soon as our cars came into view and we were done for the day.

Wound up taking about two and a half hours to comb this small stretch. I wound up going 6/8 for the day and I believe Ed landed four. I know he missed an equal amount at least. This stretch is odd that way. There is no discernible difference in over a mile of river, yet this one small stretch always seems to hold the highest concentration of fish. After 12 years of fishing through here I’ve determined that the pattern is that there is no pattern.

You have to be there, fish like you want to catch something and hope for the best.

Looks like we picked one of the better days.

Attack of the Killer Gnats

Yes, I know they’re midges. If I would have used that word instead, everyone would think this had something to do with teenage girls from the early 60s named Midge that have run amok.

Everyone hates gnats though. My wife and her family call them pecker gnats.

I’ve never asked, nor do I want to know, why.

The gnats from hell started appearing about a week earlier, but for some reason they were only on the north side of the Fox River. Hovering over the fallow fields of corn and soybeans, drifting over the grasses of fields never sown, a day of warming had them appearing out of nowhere it seems.

It took a few more days for this to start happening on the south side of the Fox River. No clue why something like that would happen. The first day they appeared in the neighborhood was no big deal. They looked like puffs of smoke hovering over spots on a few lawns. The next day it was like a plague description right out of the bible. The things were everywhere. Huge swarms of them appeared to want to get into my house.

Luckily storm windows were still down and windows shut tight. It was bad enough to have to walk under them.

A walk around the neighborhood showed that they were everywhere. Breathing was difficult, they would get sucked in with every breath. I’m sure they weren’t burrowing into my skull, but my immediate reaction was to keep scratching my scalp. It was interesting to stop and watch them against the cloudless sky. Wave after wave were dancing in the wind.

The reaction to the gnats on all things social media was fascinating to read. Some residents of Yorkville were in panic mode. Apparently something easy to achieve when residents are clueless about the workings of nature.

Some wanted Yorkville to come out and spray them like they do for mosquitoes. Others were going to run to Menard’s to buy what they could to kill them off. Techniques for spraying around houses to protect themselves were described.

I believe my comment was pretty simple…this happens every year, they’ll be gone in a day or two.

And that they were. The next day they were all pretty much gone. There were a few stragglers floating around, but nothing like the waves of the previous day. A few days later you can see the occasional dozen drifting on the wind, but it’s rare.

The benefit of the hatching of all these gnats is that they brought a big influx of birds into the area. Saw the first robins of the year. Quite a few new songs being sung up in the trees and for some reason the hatch really got the woodpeckers going.

Now that the gnats have been gone for a couple of days I’m sure this bug hatch is pretty much forgotten by people. For some reason you don’t find their little bug bodies covering the ground. Next year the gnats will be back on the first warm days of the year and next year people will panic and freak out about all those horrible bugs.

I have a feeling it might be an even bigger event than this year.

I caught a couple of those hideous creatures already making plans.