Tag Archives: fox river

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In These Woods

In these woods, no one would hear you moan.
Oh, baby.
Oh, baby, baby.

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All I can tell you is that it’s on an island.
Just before walking up on this, I spooked a family of turkeys.
Two adults and at least 10 young ones.
Which means they are living on this island.

Nearby I found a stack of unfinished wood.
I think this was built onsite with driftwood out of the river.

The no trespassing signs all over the place are to be taken seriously.
Depending on the mood of the owner, a trespasser will either be arrested or shot.
At least shot at.

Except for me. I have permission to be here.

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Oh, oh, baby…

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Last Weeks Fishing Report

Last weeks fishing report that Dale Bowman of the Chicago Sun Times didn’t include in his weekly summary. I kind of liked it even though I didn’t get out fishing much and didn’t catch much either. Didn’t write much, but I put in a few paragraphs by someone that did. I don’t know, I liked it…
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Not much to report this week, only got out twice and both were short ventures. Two creeks, two smallies caught, two missed. The creeks were high running chocolate. Hit the river once, it was even worse and produced nothing.

The spot on the river I hit is a good spot I used to frequent and while living in Yorkville, I didn’t get to it much. Now it’s just upstream. Nobody goes there cause it’s pretty much a haven for the homeless. They even put a bike path and bridge over the river. Now the homeless don’t have to walk over the rail road bridge to get to the island.

I’ll go back there. Me and the homeless get along well for some reason. I don’t judge them and I’m good for a cheap cigar.

I think that makes the following from Big Two Hearted River a good thing to run, if you feel like it and nobody else sends you anything. Just substitute smallie for trout. Wish I ran into more river anglers that embody this sentiment. They seem to have all disappeared.
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Nick looked at the burned-over stretch of hillside, where he had expected to find the scattered houses of the town and then walked down the railroad track to the bridge over the river. The river was there. It swirled against the log spires of the bridge. Nick looked down into the clear, brown water, colored from the pebbly bottom, and watched the trout keeping themselves steady in the current with wavering fins. As he watched them they changed their again by quick angles, only to hold steady in the fast water again. Nick watched them a long time. 

He watched them holding themselves with their noses into the current, many trout in deep, fast moving water, slightly distorted as he watched far down through the glassy convex surface of the pool its surface pushing and swelling smooth against the resistance of the log-driven piles of the bridge. At the bottom of the pool were the big trout. Nick did not see them at first. Then he saw them at the bottom of the pool, big trout looking to hold themselves on the gravel bottom in a varying mist of gravel and sand, raised in spurts by the current. 

Nick looked down into the pool from the bridge. It was a hot day. A kingfisher flew up the stream. It was a long time since Nick had looked into a stream and seen trout. They were very satisfactory. As the shadow of the kingfisher moved up the stream, a big trout shot upstream in a long angle, only his shadow marking the angle, then lost his shadow as he came through the surface of the water, caught the sun, and then, as he went back into the stream under the surface, his shadow seemed to float down the stream with the current unresisting, to his post under the bridge where he tightened facing up into the current. 

Nick’s heart tightened as the trout moved. He felt all the old feeling. He turned and looked down the stream. It stretched away, pebbly-bottomed with shallows and big boulders and a deep pool as it curved away around the foot of a bluff. 

Nick walked back up the ties to where his pack lay in the cinders beside the railway track. He was happy. He adjusted the pack harness around the bundle, pulling straps tight, slung the pack on his back, got his arms through the shoulder straps and took some of the pull off his shoulders by leaning his forehead against the wide band of the tump-line. Still, it was too heavy. It was much too heavy. He had his leather rod-case in his hand and leaning forward to keep the weight of the pack high on his shoulders he walked along the road that paralleled the railway track, leaving the burned town behind in the heat, and he turned off around a hill with a high, fire-scarred hill on either side onto a road that went back into the country. He walked along the road feeling the ache from the pull of the heavy pack. The road climbed steadily. It was hard work walking up-hill. His muscles ached and the day was hot, but Nick felt happy. He felt he had left everything behind, the need for  thinking, the need to write, other needs. It was all back of him.

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A Walk Down to the River

It was starting to snow and 14 inches were being called for within the next 36 hours, I thought now would be a good time to take a walk down to the river.

On the other side of the river is a huge field ringed with trees. There are no homes in that stretch. Three deer could be seen in the field. They looked like they were playing in the snow. They would run, then stop. Then run again. Whenever they would stop they would look across the river at me. I had to be a good 150 yards away, but they were still cautious of this lone figure wandering down the hill toward them. Then they would go back to playing.

The river was pretty empty. A few geese were in the open water and I counted a half dozen blue herons spread out and hunkered down on the edge of the ice. Hunting I assume.

I got to the edge of the bluff, still a good 30 feet above the river and started wandering down the thin tree line. In one of the tallest trees that hangs out over the river were a couple of adult eagles. Of course I had to see how close I could get to them.

One didn’t like that and took off. The other didn’t seem to mind so much.

Debbie Granat and her daughter pulled up on the side of the road and I wandered over to talk. Her husband Larry started the Facebook page The Kendall County Bird Page and I rely on him for all things eagles in this stretch of the river. One of these days I’ll have a better camera and I can quit asking him for eagle images. Or, I’ll never tell him I got a better camera, keep borrowing eagle images and give him the publicity he deserves.

That sounds better.

After they left I turned around and the skittish eagle was back. I tried stalking up to them again, and again the skittish one took off. Decided to leave them alone and head downstream.

Off on the island was another eagle. In that short period of time, more geese were coming down to the river and a couple of hundred of them were circling the area.

I live about 80 feet away from a pretty heavily wooded ravine. I walked along the top of the bluff, heading for the mouth of the ravine. The tracks of deer, squirrels and what I assume are either coyote or fox were all using the ravine like a highway. I tracked them to the top of the bluff overlooking the ravine.

On a good day wandering down the steep slope of the bluff is a no brainer. Conditions did not make this a good day. All I could imagine was gravity taking over and suddenly finding myself in a heap at the bottom. The tracks being seen were all old, I convinced myself. No point wandering down there.

A juvenile bald eagle drifted overhead and landed in a tree a hundred feet away. This one was on to me, it took off long before I could get any closer.

In that short time, hundreds more geese had arrived. The honking was starting to echo down the river valley. The only ducks I can recognize from a distance are mallards, but I can see that others are different even if I can’t identify them. I saw a couple of other different types of ducks mixed in with all the other waterfowl.

The other day while out shoveling snow at sunset I stopped counting the geese flying overhead when I got to 500. Today, the geese weren’t coming in from north or south. The bulk of them were coming straight down the river out of the west.

This is what I’m going to miss when I move at the end of the month, that ability to wander down a hill and see such a variety of wildlife. Granted, I’ll still be living two blocks from the river, but it’s slightly more urban. There will still be plenty of geese and ducks around, but for the deer and coyote and the bulk of the eagles I’ll have to walk a good half mile downstream.

Maybe a little less.

I’ll try to think of that as a motivating factor, hiking that extra half mile.

I could use the exercise.

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It’s 7 PM and I just came in from wandering around while smoking a cheap cigar. It has to be about 30 degrees out there, no wind, the snow is falling straight down and the neighborhood is dead quiet.

Down on the river a few geese were honking and at the mouth of the ravine, coyotes were howling.

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Eagle Watching on the Fox River

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think there would come a day when I could go eagle watching on the Fox River. And yet, from my front porch I see them all the time floating down the river at eye level. My house sits on a bluff that’s probably 60 feet up from the river and it’s hard to mistake these big birds for anything else.

Now and then one will come floating over my house. A couple of years ago, in order to get away from a flock of annoying crows, one even landed in the tree in front of my house, directly over my head.

There are a few eagles that live along the Fox River somewhere year round. I see them all the time in a couple of stretches I like to fish, but during the winter over the past three years they’ve been arriving in ever increasing numbers.

This colder than usual December has locked up the river with ice much sooner than usual. Normally it doesn’t look like this till nearly the end of January. At the end of January of this year I did a couple of reports on the eagles I saw. Twenty one day before I quit counting and 39 on another. If you have an interest in seeing the eagles near the Yorkville area, I give more details on how to go about it in those two posts.

Bald Eagles on the Fox River

Bald Eagles on the Fox River Update

This year the reports started appearing early. Larry Granat, who took all the photos in this post on December 12th, put up a report of seeing 6 bald eagles in the stretch below my house in Yorkville. If you haven’t done it, you should Like Larry’s Facebook page called The Kendall County Bird Page. He takes quite a few interesting photos of the bird populations around the area.

Of course, over the weekend I had to walk down the hill to the river to see this for myself. Below my house, out on the island, were four eagles. Down the road a bit, closer to the dam, were two more. The next day I ran into Larry out at Hoover Forest Preserve. That morning he said he saw 14 eagles in that same stretch.

Earlier this week I heard from another friend that likes to stay anonymous about another dozen eagles seen near the dam in Montgomery.

And a little while ago I got a note from Bob France about seeing 25 eagles up in Elgin today. He said 13 to 14 of them were all in one tree. You should go check out his Facebook page Bob Outdoors where he’s put up a bunch of photos he’s been taking.

When I was a kid I assumed that by the time I got to this age I would never see an eagle in the wild. Or I would have to go to Alaska or somewhere in Canada for the opportunity.

Now I walk out on my front porch and there they are, floating up and down the river. I go fishing over the summer and one will come floating by over my head. This weekend I’ll go for a drive up the river and I’d be surprised if I don’t see at least 30 of them.

I think it was Dale Bowman that said that one day I’ll take them for granted and view them as common place.

So far, that hasn’t happened.

I hope it never does.

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All photos in this post courtesy of Larry Granat of The Kendall County Bird Page on Facebook.