Tag Archives: fox river fishing


I Went Fishing

You would think that the simple statement of I went fishing would be a given for me and up until this year, it was.

I went fishing for the past 18 years 3 to 4 times a week, sometimes more, sometimes year round.

The astute reader that also happens to follow along my WDJ Facebook page would have seen this back on August 1st, the last time I went fishing:

Rather than fishing the Fox River this early evening, time better spent would have been sitting on the toilet and picking my nose for two and a half hours.

I’ll probably hit a few creeks that feed the Fox the first week of September to see if the smallies are making their annual fall run.

No doubt come April and May I’ll be fishing those same creeks.

I still enjoy living two blocks from it and walk down to it’s shore every night. I still enjoy my walks along the river and the spots I’ve found where I photograph sunsets over the river.

I’m sure I’ll continue to explore other stretches of the river, but with a camera in hand.

As for fishing the Fox, I’m done. 19 years, over 10,000 smallies, who knows how much bycatch, waded over 20 miles of it over and over again, easily adding up to hundreds of miles, possibly well over a thousand.

There’s nothing more for me to accomplish on that river when it comes to fishing.

Since waking up on Saturday morning I considered going fishing. The final decision to go never happens till the hour arrives when I should leave if I’m going to go. I had a need for solitude, some quiet, to get some exercise, to get out of my head.

The Fox River has been at normal or below normal flow for the whole month. A recent spike from some recent rains had it still below normal, but new water tends to turn on fish. The creeks were low and I don’t like fishing them then. Like fishing in a barrel and I feel like I’m torturing the few fish that will be in the relatively deeper spots.

I got to the river around 4 PM. Weather was absolutely perfect. Temps just right, the right amount of clouds around to cut the glare of the sun off the river, a nice breeze. I did wind up seeing three other anglers out there. One was a shore angler, they’re trapped by their decision to fish from shore so I don’t pay them much attention and the other two came hiking downstream, got to within a couple of hundred yards of me, turned around and went back the way they came.

Had the whole place to myself, like usual.

I went into this expecting nothing but the serenity of being out on the river. I expected no fish, so to catch 10 and and have 7 others self release was a nice bonus. Having two of the 10 being a solid 17 inches was even nicer.

One of the things I wanted to test was my boredom level. It’s been crushing this year while out fishing.

Didn’t get bored for a second.

Maybe I’m on the road to some kind of recovery, but from what?

The first 17 inch smallie.


Finding things along the river.


Almost forgot about the drunken flotilla.


Not quite right. I was about 5 miles downstream from one dam and about the same distance to the next.


The second 17 inch smallie.


This is where the second 17 inch smallie was caught. If you can find this spot and duplicate the catch, and here’s a hint, I’ve caught bigger ones here, then more power to you.



Fox River Scum

After a few weeks of going through a lack of interest in fishing the Fox River, I didn’t think I’d wind up spending three hours chasing down the source of Fox River scum.

I really did want to go fishing.

Thought I would go hit Saw Wee Kee. Crossing the river on the Orchard Road bridge, I sized up the river real quick and didn’t like what I saw.

Up close and personal it got even worse.

It looks like a giant plugged up swirling toilet bowl covered in floating shit.

The shore under the bridge:


As I drove drove the road along the river, I stopped to talk to a couple that lives in one of the houses along this stretch. They said this had appeared a couple of days earlier. They also mentioned that it was here last year, but we all agreed this was considerably worse then last year. They live on one of the best spots for smallies, but the guy said he won’t throw a lure in that.

A few more shots of the stretch between Orchard Road and the Saw Wee Kee canoe launch. It’s about a mile:

Did I mention I just wanted to go fishing?

After seeing this, the old Boy Scout in me, the one I’ve been trying to kill off for years because he can’t just walk away from shit like this, decided to wander up stream to see if he could find the source of the problem.

I had no choice but to tag along.

These two shots were taken in Oswego:



About another mile up stream in Oswego. I think it’s called Troy Park. I noticed far fewer shit balls here:


A little further up stream at Violet Patch Park, took a quick shot of a couple of kayakers floating down the river. I felt sorry for them:


Mainly because just to their right, all along the west shore, they had this to enjoy:


Looking up stream form the same vantage point. Under the bridge where I’m standing are riffles. Things seem to get worse when the scum gets churned up in the riffles:


The upstream side of the Fox Metro plant. After this, didn’t seem to matter to go check the outflow:


The Route 30 bridge is the one I was curious about. Last year when I traced this problem back, I stopped here because it seemed to dissipate at this point. This shot is of the east channel. Doesn’t look that bad. I live nearby and the night before I was sitting on the east shore watching the sun set and didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary:


I wandered over to the west side and that’s where it got odd. Can’t tell if this is light reflecting off the scum, which covered the whole west channel for as far as you could see, or if it was some kind of film:


The next couple of shots, you can see the scum that covered the whole west channel:



Down the street from where I live in Montgomery, didn’t look too bad:


North Avenue on the south edge of Aurora. Still there, but it wasn’t looking as bad:


This next one caught me by surprise. Right at the North Aurora dam looking up stream along the west shore. Upstream is the Mooseheart shit plant with a small outflow. It’s at the mouth of Mill Creek. Would have added an hour to get there to look, it’s a hike in, and I was running out of time:


Last two shots are from Batavia. You can see some scum, but nothing like further down stream. There is a certain amount of this I’m used to. It’s an urban river and I’ve seen it at all kinds of stages year round for 20 years. Still wouldn’t call this normal, but it’s closer:



The next few shots is what I documented last year and never did anything with. I had already been standing in it while fishing and this shit was a bitch to get off my waders. While wandering around down around Millbrook, I came across a bunch of it and tracked it back to Route 30 when I gave up. It didn’t look too bad at that point. I thought this was bad last year. It pales in comparison to what is going on right now:

I have no clue if this has anything to do with the scum, but the last couple of years they rebuilt and expanded Route 30 on both sides of the river. For miles on the east side. I know they installed all new drainage/sewer pipes, I saw them lining the road last year. I wanted to blame last year’s event on that.

This year in Aurora on Route 31, they rebuilt 31 for a few blocks. I read they were replacing sewer lines to solve combined sewer issues.

Those both could be incidental to all of this. I’ll never know.


A Couple of Creek Walks

Went on a couple of creek walks Friday and Saturday. Decided to finally hit the Fox River on Sunday.

I’ll take the creeks.

The fishing in the creeks has been less than spectacular this year, but doing okay is better than doing nothing at all. I still think it’s because we really haven’t had that much rain this spring. Enough to keep things growing, but we’ve had no major high water events on the Fox at all. I think the fish have had no real reason to head up the creeks for their annual spawning run. Why run up a creek if staying in the river is working out just fine.

But, what do I know. I’m no fisheries biologist. I just wander around and observe things, then my brain makes all the connections gathered over the years and draws a conclusion.

The creeks are stunningly beautiful right now. Bright greens of spring, dense under growth, all kinds of flowers and a wide variety of wildlife.

Fishing seems secondary, which it pretty much has become.

My one venture out into the Fox on Sunday resulted in catching one smallie and seeing a gar for the first time ever in this stretch of the river, but not once did I raise my camera to take a picture.

Too wide, too far away, not interesting.

I may have talked myself out of fishing the river much at all this year. The creeks have so much more to offer, at least in terms of sights and sounds.

And if the smallie fishing sucks, so be it. I’ll scale down and play with creek chubs.

The river simply doesn’t provide what I need. The quiet, the closeness, the solitude and the wildlife practically sitting on your shoulder and talking into your ear.

Yup, sounds like I’ve convinced myself.

From Friday’s creek walk:

From Saturday’s creek walk:

From Sunday’s river walk:

I got nuthin’.


High Water Dabbling

Years ago I used to do high water dabbling all the time. Now it seems to have lost some of it’s charm. The best place to do it is urban areas, but urban areas mean people which means I can’t relax.

People make me tense.

If I wanted to fish this weekend, I had no choice. The creeks, besides being barren, were all blown out.

The river was just high enough that I didn’t feel like wandering around in 3200 CFS current. I can do it, but why?

So I walked an old familiar wall with 8-10 feet of line out and dabbled a lure vertically along the wall.

There is something to be said for this. Tying into a 16 inch smallie with so little line out gives you one option, lift it out of the water and lip it. This is really why even when casting I keep the casts short. It’s also why I switched to braid years ago.

I don’t play fish to exhaustion and then bring the poor defeated creature to hand.

I get them up next to me as quickly as possible, lip them and let them show all their fury.

These are extremely muscular creatures after all and I want to feel that muscle. Plus, they are pissed and want you to know it.

There’s something about looking a pissed off smallie in the eye. They give it right back. If fish could talk I imagine… okay you sonuvabitch, you won this one, NOW PUT ME BACK IN THE WATER!!!

And I oblige, quickly and efficiently. Kind of. I keep them lipped and put them in the water. What little strength they lost comes back quickly and I release their lip when they’ve had enough of this game.

I usually get a going away bath for my troubles. Which I deserve.


The edge of a wall, amongst all the garbage, if you have eggs in you that have to come out, I guess that will do. I gave her the distance she deserved.


I thought this was funny.


Then, of course, under clear blue skies, the play of light on moving water. This made the wall walking a little precarious. I almost walked off the wall twice after staring at the water too long.