Tag Archives: canoe

Strolling and Fishing

I guess it could be considered a hike since it’s over a half mile of walking through this. And this is the easy part.

For now, I have it all to myself. That will change in a few years, but till then I plan on taking advantage of my good fortune. This place is pretty well off the beaten path, not much around it either, so there’s a chance even years from now no one will come here. Few like to hike in, an absolute must here. I know other places like this, but they don’t have ponds.

Four ponds to be exact. Three of them I found out, with some pretty healthy fish.

I couldn’t figure out why the fish were reflecting bright orange. Every picture of a fish I took had that orange. I’d turn them away from the sun, more orange. The sun wasn’t doing that. It wasn’t till I looked at the close up of the bass, the reflection off it’s eye that I remembered I was wearing a bright orange hunting vest, given to me by this guy as I was heading out to the ponds, just in case.

This day was a perfect sunset day. Surprisingly not much color, but no wind, wisps of clouds and bright blue. A flock of about 30 doves hung out around the pond all afternoon. Restless, as they roosted for no more than 10 seconds, then would explode out of the tree and circle the pond. Again and again, but never when I snapped off a shot.

End of the day was quickly approaching, I was heading out. Not sure what it would be like hiking out of here in the dark, didn’t care to find out. One pond, never fished, because there is virtually no shore access and what could be seen of the pond seemed small, shallow and weed choked. I was able to bush whack my way in at two spots. The weeds are all gone, the pond is much bigger than I thought and much deeper. After two others, the last fish of the day.

Just one more fish, but the next cast saw the lure snapped off on a submerged log.

It was time to go. It was getting a bit dark.

That last pond was haunting me all the way back to the car. Still is. Next year, all grown over again, how the hell was I going to do this? Small canoe? Too long of a hike. Float tube? The idea seems sound, but the logic of floating around in a little tube disturbs me. Cut more paths in? No, I like the impenetrable shore…

Think, think, think.

And Then the Fish Were Gone

I thought I would try the same spot for the 3rd of three days in a row. I normally don’t do this, but I wanted to see if the fish were still moving up the creek and if the bite would eventually die. Die it did.

It didn’t help that as I headed for the best spot, a couple of guys in kayaks were making their way up this small creek. They were struggling against the current and flailing their paddles through the water. When they couldn’t handle the current any longer, one of them got out and walked through the rest of the fish holding spots, empty kayak in one hand and his buddy in the other.

So much for fishing those spots right away. I dawdled while I let the spots settle down, hoping a fish or two may return.

Under the old abandoned bridge, the bottom of which was a good 10 feet above the creek bed, part of a railroad tie was jammed into the structure.

We’ve had a couple of floods over the last few years that could have caused that. One as early as May of 2011. There was one other flood in August 2008 that was even higher than this.

It’s a winter shot, but the same tree in the foreground when the creek is flowing normally.

This used to be the main road over the creek, but it’s hard to tell how long ago it was shut down with a newer one built a little further down. I know the farmer on one side of the creek continues to use it.

I would imagine it’s just a matter of time before he regrets that decision.

After the pool settled down a little I was able to pick up a couple of fish. Had a couple self release as well.

To get these took awhile. Another angler was seen heading for this pool. He had his two young kids in tow so I thought I’d give up the spot and go do some exploring up stream. I’ve always toyed with the idea of paddling down these little creeks, but there are hazards.

For the last few years, me and logs in the water haven’t been getting along very well. They keep trying to suck me under them. Even scrambling over the top of these made be a bit apprehensive. I couldn’t imagine negotiating this pile of wood with a canoe or kayak. Seems like far too much work.

Further up stream I came across what I thought would be a familiar gravel bar. Only it wasn’t where I remember it to be. It’s been about three years, but I remember the gravel bar being on the right hand side with all the water going to the left. That flood must have decided to do some rearranging.

Going beyond this pool posed a challenge. The remnants of an old dam are strewn along the banks and the bottom of the creek here has quite a bit of the old concrete on the creek bed. Walking on shore to get around it is not an option.

I wasn’t up for the challenge today. I settled on fishing the pool for one more smallie and one that decided to self release at my feet.

I knew the dad and the kids wouldn’t last much longer, it’s tough to get kids to last more than an hour. They were still making the best of it, so I headed down stream, fishing my way to the mouth of the creek. Not even a tap. There were also no schools of suckers seen heading up stream. This part of the spawning run seemed to have come to an end.

I called it quits at the same time as the dad. We struck up the usual fishing conversation as we headed for the cars. Apparently, for as good as I thought the fishing had been the last couple of days, the previous weekend was even better. The price you had to pay was putting up with a much bigger crowd. Meatheads, as he called them.

I think my choice of coming during the middle of the week was a much better choice. I still think I did pretty well the last few days and other than the bowanglers, I had the place to myself.

Now I’ll give it a rest, skip fishing creeks for a few days. The fish need time to negotiate past the log jams and figure out the new configuration of the gravel bars as they make their way up stream.

Come Tuesday, I have a pretty good feeling I know exactly where they’ll be.

Seems Like a Perfect Weekend for Paddling Down a River

Instead of sitting around bemoaning the fact that summer is almost over, rejoice in the fact that there could still be over two months of decent weather left. Time to get in a canoe and go for a drift.

Of course I’m partial to the Fox River.

The lower reaches of the Fox can be stunningly beautiful. The further down stream you get from Aurora the fewer people you see. And as I like to say, at that point You Could be Anywhere.

Start making plans now, or don’t make plans and just give the following shops a call on a whim. They may have canoes or kayaks available. However you do it, you should go.

Paddle and Trail of Aurora

Geneva Kayak Center/Yorkville Outdoor Center

Freeman Sports

Ayers Landing

These are the ones I know and like. I’m sure there are others if you’re partial to the northern reaches of the Fox. You’ll have to do your own research though.

If you’re interested in other rivers, the Des Plaines, DuPage, Kankakee, Kishwaukee… that’s why God made Google. Plug in a name and see what comes up.

A trip down a river via canoe is always worth it. If timed right, a fall color trip will have you making up your own stories.

Get out, get out, get out.

It’s Lunch Time my Friend 8.18.11

You’ll have to excuse my own lack of posts lately, I’ve been busy.

This week it’s time to quit reading the stories of others and start making plans for your own.

Instead of sitting around bemoaning the fact that summer is almost over, rejoice in the fact that there could still be over two months of decent weather left. Time to get in a canoe and go for a drift.

Of course I’m partial to the Fox River.

The lower reaches of the Fox can be stunningly beautiful. The further down stream you get from Aurora the fewer people you see. And as I like to say, at that point You Could be Anywhere.

Start making plans now, or don’t make plans and just give the following shops a call on a whim. They may have canoes or kayaks available. However you do it, you should go.

Paddle and Trail of Aurora

Geneva Kayak Center/Yorkville Outdoor Center

Freeman Sports

Ayers Landing

These are the ones I know and like. I’m sure there are others if you’re partial to the northern reaches of the Fox. You’ll have to do your own research though.

If you’re interested in other rivers, the Des Plaines, DuPage, Kankakee, Kishwaukee… that’s why God made Google. Plug in a name and see what comes up.

A trip down a river via canoe is always worth it. If timed right, a fall color trip will have you making up your own stories.

Get out, get out, get out.

And if you really do need a dose of good writing, the bloggers have been busy. The ones I read are all in the column to the right. You know the routine.

Guiding, Fishing, Working,
Ascent into Heaven and a Walk

These things will keep you busy when you spread them out over the course of a few days. I should get in the habit of carrying a note pad or some kind of voice recorder. There is a tremendous amount that will run around in a persons head while out in the water, walking the woods or staring blankly at a computer screen wondering why the thing you are working on is now all screwed up.

Got Brad and Jason out guiding one day on the Fox and a creek. The bite had been slowly dying the last few days, so either fish were on their beds or just coming off. Whatever the excuse, the bite was tough. We covered every imaginable type of water and threw everything at the fish. A few were had, but it was work.

A fine creek hawg.

It helps to have a couple of guys out that have a decent sense of humor. Learning was important, fishing came next, exploring a long expanse of river so they can come back at their leisure became most important.

Leisurely pick apart this.

The water was still a little high when we crossed the river in a couple of spots. Brad and I both weigh in at about 190. Jason barely pushed 160. We’ d forget that now and then as we went over waist deep in some fast water. Jason would be doing a little side step dance trying not to get blown down stream. We’d go back to create an eddy for him to hide behind.

That took it’s toll on him. When we got to the creek, he was done. Sat on a rock fishing for a bit, then hiked the half mile back to the car to take a nap. He seemed perfectly happy at that prospect. Brad and I finished the day.

I knew the fishing was going to be tough, the fish were in some stage of the spawning process. I knew this because of the only fish I caught that day. As soon as the lure hit the water I saw the bass bed and the bass come charging off to hit the intruder. I hate doing that, but if you don’t see it first, what can you do.

I was in the area of where an old broken down dam blocks the flow of the Fox River. I hadn’t seen it in years. The plan at one time was to have it removed, but I haven’t heard anything one way or the other for a long time. With the way it looks now, they may as well just let it fall apart on it’s own. Cheaper that way in the long run.

The next day the world was supposed to end. I decided to work all day. I thought about blowing off the work. If the world was going to end at 6 PM, what difference would it make. But then if the world didn’t end, Monday morning the client would be pretty pissed when I missed the deadline.

Considering that since Jesus ascended into heaven there’s probably been one nut a year interpreting signs of the end times, and none of them has happened, it probably was wise of me to do the work. When 6 PM came the ground didn’t open up, I was still sitting at my deskā€¦ I figured what the hell, may as well go fishing now.

I think the rapture did happen, but He decided to only take the fish in the stretch where I was wading and fishing. I sure as hell couldn’t catch one. At one point the sky was lit up, reflecting off the water. It was stunningly beautiful. This had to be it. I stood still trying to feel the ground shake. I closed my eyes with face turned heavenward. I raised my arms and waited.

Nuthin.’

I went back to work.

I think He has decided that we make our own heaven or hell. It’s what we chose to live.

I probably live on the very edge of what could be called the Chicago Metro Area. A few blocks down the road from my house starts the farm fields. These back roads just west of my house will take me through nothing but more of these fields all the way to the Mississippi River. One of these days I’ll have to take that ride.

In the mean time, on nice days toward sunset, my wife and I drive a simple five miles west to Silver Springs State Park. There we walk, for miles on the trails.

Today we hugged the paths around the ponds. Along the edges were hundreds of bass fry.

On another pond we saw more largemouth bass cruising. A couple of more bass on beds. Bluegills were everywhere and we came across about 20 of them just starting to build nests. I tried to get a picture of them, but they had kicked up so much silt that it was impossible to see them in the shot.

Ponds like these make me wish I had kept one of my canoes or kayaks.

Fishing from either of those in rivers that can be waded, makes no sense to me. I guess if you want to hop from spot to spot to fish you can, but at that point you’re passing all of the other fish. Why would you do that? But on little ponds like this with inaccessible shores, it opens up a whole new world of possibilities.

The rest of the time was spent wandering the trails through the woods. We both like looking for the different sculptural forms growing and fallen trees take on. My wife pointed out one tree and gave it a name.

I took a picture of it.

We'll leave it unnamed.

“You’re not going to put that up are you?”

“Yes, and I’m going to call it what you called it.”

“I’ll never speak to you again.”

“Promise?”

We turned up one small trail through the woods only to find it occupied by a raccoon that didn’t feel any need to get out of the way.

We let him have the trail.

As we headed for the car I thought for sure the rapture was upon us. The setting sun was too beautiful.

Maybe this lunatic got the timing wrong and screwed up the date. I closed my eyes, face pointing heavenward, arms outstretched.

“What the hell are you doing?”

“I’m waiting to ascend into heaven.”

“He may be crazy, but you’re an idiot.”

“I hear there’s a special place in heaven for idiots.”

“You’ll probably be in charge of them.”

I waited a few seconds, opened one eye to see what was happening.

Nuthin’ again.

I need to find me a new lunatic. One a little more accurate.