Tag Archives: geese

Please Don’t put up Pictures of Fog

But I like fog.

I like the way it visually cuts me off from my surroundings. This one wasn’t horribly dense, but you could see nothing beyond the trees on the opposite shore of the river barely 100 yards away. Even those were indistinct shades of gray.

In the tree on the left are a couple of bald eagles, no, really.

Fishing in fog like this is one of my favorite things to do. It makes you concentrate and focus on what is readily apparent rather than letting your mind wander on what is down stream and around the next bend. You can’t see the next bend.

This morning I had already been out on my porch listening to the bald eagles talk down on the river. The geese were being unusually noisy this morning too. Maybe because of the eagles. With the air temperatures just above 40 degrees, it was time to go for a walk. We’ve had a long stretch of below freezing temps and this year my bones are paying the price. Today they didn’t feel so bad.

I could tell by the sound that there were a lot of geese along the river. They were thick on the ice and in the shallow water below the dam when I got there. Some were already getting nervous about me walking along the shore and took off.

The geese that hang out around here all year don’t get so nervous. I can always tell how wild the geese are by how close they let you get. The more domestic ones will let you walk right up to them, they get used to people tossing them food. The wilder ones will start honking and moving around, getting agitated.

I decided to make matters worse by walking out on a spit of land that got me even closer to the geese. The honking kept getting louder.

It wasn’t long before they started leaving in small groups.

This kept up for a few minutes.

Till they were all pretty much airborne.

I quickly realized there were now a few hundred pissed off flying crapping machines over my head.

I flipped the hood onto my head and stood on the end of the spit of land to watch what I started. The honking was deafening and there were so many geese low over my head that I could feel the vibrations from displaced air coming off their wings and onto my eardrums. It took them a few minutes to realize I wasn’t leaving and they headed off down stream.

The other benefit of fog is that it deadens the noise of human activity, but I noticed that it had practically no affect on the sound of the birds on the river. I noticed how clearly I could hear the eagles this morning though they were two blocks away. As I walked home in the same direction the geese flew, I could hear them still pissed off and honking, but I couldn’t see them.

I think I’ve always noticed this, but not so distinctly as today. There must be something about the sound waves from their noises that cuts through the fog. I would assume so they can continue to know where each other are even if they couldn’t see each other.

The geese were heading down stream making a ruckus. I could hear them flying around and remembered that there were few places for them to land. The river further down was already filled with birds and I’m sure no further company was wanted. A half hour later I went in the house. The birds were still squawking loudly.

My mother-in-law was sitting in the living room and commented on the sounds of the geese as I walked into the house. She could hear the noise building out on the river two blocks away even in a closed up house.

Yeah, that was me. I decided to have a little fun with the geese.

“They didn’t sound like they were having fun.”

Geese at Sunset

The last hour of daylight, everyday,
massive flocks of geese fly directly over my house
in and endless stream, returning to the river,
squawking incessantly as they go.

You can hear a popping noise
as they twist and turn,
dumping air from beneath their wings.

Now and then a V of ten to twenty geese
will float overhead without making a sound.

Out over the river
the geese move in unison
like large flocks of grackles
looking for somewhere to land.

Along the river the sound is deafening.

Even with the house closed up for the winter
you can hear them through the walls
though they’re a few hundred yards away.

A walk along the river will make your ears ring
and conversation is impossible.

I love this stuff.

The Ducks and Geese
Don’t Know How Lucky They Are

By the time 2001 rolled around I had already been exploring the Fox River in the long stretches below Oswego and Yorkville. Back then I lived in Elmhurst and would drive 40 miles one way to spend the day exploring the river and it’s islands. The Orchard Road bridge had yet to be built, so the stretch below Oswego still had a certain wild charm.

During my exploring I kept coming across duck blinds tucked onto islands. Most had seen better days and looked like they hadn’t been used in years. One I came across was in pretty good shape and on a short pole sitting off to the side was a sign that said it was a designated waterfowl blind.

That same year a friend gave me all the guns he didn’t use anymore and told me to put them to use. A couple of them were perfect for waterfowl. I was 45 years old at that point and had never hunted a day in my life. I had never shot a gun either except for a BB gun. I knew it would take me awhile before I could hunt effectively.

I had searched the IDNR website looking for information on waterfowl hunting on the Fox River. There was no information to be found. One day while exploring down stream of Yorkville I stopped by the office at Silver Springs State Park.

An older woman was behind the counter. I asked her about waterfowl hunting out on the river. I was told there wasn’t any and none was allowed. I knew she was lying to me, but kept my mouth shut. I knew I had just run into some kind of Good ‘Ol Boy network and I wasn’t Good ‘Ol boy enough for her. I let it go. I wasn’t ready for waterfowl hunting anyway and spent that year upland game hunting for the first time.

The following year while out fishing and exploring, I came across more blinds with more of the yellow signs next to them. I stopped in at Silver Springs again. The same older woman was there behind the counter and I asked her the same questions as the year before. I was given the same line of crap I was given then. This time I politely let her know she was lying to me.

At that moment a guy walks in the door, goes behind the counter and sits down at a desk. I turned my attention to him and asked him the same questions. He reaches under the counter, pulls out a map and continues to go over all the designated waterfowl sites throughout the whole area I had been asking about. He noted all the ones I already knew about.

The older woman scurried out the door and said under her breath “I don’t know why anyone would want to hunt along here, the Fox River isn’t a flyway anyway.”

I beg to differ.

A few years later that map finally showed up on the IDNR website.

Ten years later and we are having one of the mildest winters I can remember. Usually by the middle of January the Fox River is pretty well covered in ice except for the areas immediately downstream of dams. This year with all the open water, coupled with the fact that the river is flowing below normal levels, the river is filled with ducks and geese. I’ve been driving up and down the river the past week and have seen more waterfowl on the river than ever before.

A few weeks ago I read an IDNR report on the progress of the waterfowl migration. It was bleak for those that live south. They were barely getting 10 percent of the birds they normally see. In the north zone the season for Canada Geese ended on January 7th. In the zones further south, just barely further south, they can hunt these geese till January 31st. I imagine they aren’t seeing all that many.

There are thousands of them hanging out in the barely 10 miles of the Fox River that I’ve checked. A friend that lives nearby estimated four or five hundred of them were flying over his house the other day.

Today’s check on the geese was kind of ironic.

Plenty of them hanging out within shooting range of a blind.

For as far as I could see up and down the river from that point, there were hundreds more ducks and geese. Except for the very edges, the river was pretty much ice free.

I knew that not much further down stream were a couple of more designated blind sites. Sure enough, not much further down stream there were quite a few more waterfowl.

We’re ten days out from February. Usually by then things are starting to warm up and the ice locked river starts to open up. Though the ten day forecast shows nights dipping below freezing, all of the day time temps are above that. This just might be the first year I can remember when the river doesn’t freeze over.

In a way I feel sorry for all those waterfowl hunters further south that were hoping for some Canada Geese, but it doesn’t last long. If the weather continues the way it’s been going all winter, we can have an unusually warm river come March.

That means in about six weeks I can be out there tying into some pretty good smallmouth bass fishing. I’ll probably have to kick ducks and geese out of my way to get to the best water, but I can live with that.

And for all those waterfowl hunters further south sitting around waiting for geese to show, well, there’s always next year.

People Target these Things?

I decided to go fish a creek. I knew it would be a little high, I assumed it was going to be muddy. I’ve fished it under worse conditions, if the fish were in there I’d be able to get a few.

With the unusually cold and cloudy April we’ve had, we’re about 2 or 3 weeks behind where we should be when it comes to things growing and smallmouth bass moving into the creeks. There were surprisingly few wild flowers littering the forest floor. Rather than spend the time fruitlessly looking for things in bloom, I concentrated on the fishing.

The creek was a little high like I expected. The surprise was the clarity. Hardly any mud at all with a good 2 foot clarity. With the increased depth there were more places for smallies to hang out. I had my hopes up.

In the first 5 minutes I had two fish on. I knew they were both smallies by how and where they hit. The first one didn’t stay on long before it tossed the lure. The second one hit hard and had a fair amount of weight to it. It came to the surface to spit the lure out. Would have pushed the 18 inch mark for sure.

If this was how it was going to be, I was looking forward to a good day of fishing a little creek.

An hour later and not another hit. I was in the process of giving up, making a few more casts before moving on. With 8 feet of line out I saw a decent sized fish come up and nip the jig and twister. I set the hook and realized it was either a small pike or muskie. I pulled it up on shore. It was a pike a couple of feet long. It barely put up a fight.

They look menacing, but that's about where it ends.

People target these things? . . . was went through my head. The most uneventful landing of a fish I’ve ever had. I’ve had smallies take a lure with that much line out and they fight like hell to get away. This thing rolled over and gave up. I’ve fished the Fox for 15 years and have landed maybe a half dozen pike. I’ve hooked more muskie in one year. It seems like this year I’m going to land every other species in the river before I tie into a quantity of smallies.

Could have got a few good dinners out of this.

I considered keeping the pike. I’ve eaten pike before and this one was good for quite a few filets, but since I don’t keep many fish I never read the limits of the different species. If I’m targeting a meal of smallies, I have to go back and read what the limits are. I can never remember. Since I couldn’t recall reading anything about pike, it was lucky this day.

I decided to go fish a more urban area I don’t fish much anymore. Now I remember why I’ve given up fishing the more urban areas. I can’t stand them. Too much noise, too many people and nothing visually interesting. I half heartedly threw a lure around, but I could tell at that point I could care less.

So I started to follow the geese around. I wanted to see how many goslings were out and about already. There were quite a few.

At first you didn’t notice them, there were just a bunch of geese bedded down on the ground. But then I noticed that a few of the geese were sitting with their wings slightly spread out. The wings were being used as blankets for the goslings.

Didn't notice till I looked at the pictures at home. This one has a band on it's leg.

For all the geese and goslings I’ve seen over the years, I’ve never seen them do this. Some had just a couple of young ones while a few others were trying to cram up to a dozen of them under their wings.

WIthin 10 feet of this was a lone goose bedded down. I’m assuming the male, but I could be wrong. All I know is that if I got too close, I’d get hissed at.

Don't even think about it.

I’ve been chased down narrow paths on islands by pissed off nesting geese. The hissing is the warning sign. I kept my distance.

I was surprised at how quickly I gave up on the fishing. I guess I’m not cut out for fishing like this anymore. I’d rather be skunked in an area that is inherently beautiful than put up with this. Not worth it to catch a few fish.

The creeks are coming down before the river, like usual. I think I’ll be heading back up them to wait for the smallies to come to me. While I’m waiting, I’m sure I’ll find other things to keep me occupied.