Tag Archives: kayak the fox

What? What’d I do Wrong?

A few times a week I take a walk. I live a little over a half mile from the Yorkville dam and it’s a nice hike there and back. Actually have a decent steep hill to walk up and down to test and stretch my joints and muscles.

Whenever there are fishermen hanging out fishing around the dam, you can bet at some point one of them will be fishing in the, well, that’s the problem.

Is it a bypass channel?

Maybe a kayak chute?

Or is it the Marge Cline Whitewater Course?

The average fisherman is a pretty simple human being and when it comes to fishing, you can’t tell them where they can or cannot fish. Especially if you’re not making it painfully clear to them.

Once you start having a conversation with them, trying to explain to them that they can’t fish in a certain area, the conversation gets turned around. It gets twisted in a way so that the fisherman at least thinks he’s winning the argument. He’s going to fish there. He’s going say whatever he has to say to make that happen.

By the time you are done, you’ll be doubting your sanity and wondering if there isn’t a camera crew from TruTV hiding off behind a bush somewhere filming the whole thing.

There are signs on either end of the kayak chute saying No Fishing in the Bypass Channel. I knew when I saw the sign that it was a waste of time. The type is too small.

Look at the bottom of the photo. There’s a guy standing behind the sign fishing. When I told him he couldn’t fish there, I got “I didn’t see anything on any sign.” When he didn’t argue with me and packed up and left, I knew he was lying.

That’s what fishermen do.

Take a look at the last line of small black type. No Fishing in the Bypass Channel. In order to be an effective no fishing sign you have to have one this big with nothing else on it but the no fishing warning. The no fishing warning has to fill the whole sign and, even then, you’ll find fishermen standing right next to it fishing and when you say something you’ll get the exact same response I did.

Part of the problem is, what the hell is a bypass channel? You can bet that’s running around the in the fisherman’s head.

I wandered all over the park. I know this is called the Marge Cline Whitewater Course, but I couldn’t find a sign anywhere stating that. The name should be on the sign to make it clearer to the fishermen. They have no clue what a bypass channel is, but they do understand putting titles on important things.

Not that they care.

To simplify it even more, since there are usually kayaks playing around in the whitewater course, even fishermen know what a kayak is.

Call it a kayak chute, put that on the signs and be done with it.

No Fishing in the Kayak Chute.

In the long run it still won’t matter. It didn’t matter the other day when I was wandering around along the kayak chute. There were two people fishing the fast water of the chute. While a guy in a kayak was telling one they couldn’t fish there, I thought I would take pictures of the other.

He saw the other fisherman getting shagged off, so he hurried things up a bit and fired off a few casts all the way across the chute.

As the guy in the kayak floated toward him, the fisherman turned his back on him, walked further up the shore and started fishing up there.

I already know if you were to confront this guy he would first deny seeing the sign, which would be a lie. Then he’d say he didn’t know, which would be another lie. Then he’d say he wasn’t fishing around the kayaks, which is irrelevant.

You can see how this would continue. He’d always have something to say in his defense, even if his defense is pointless.

That’s what the average fisherman does.

The guy in the kayak saw me taking pictures and wandered over to where I was standing. We talked awhile about the ignorance of fishermen. The other thing that came up was the hazards of hooks getting lost in the chute. Inside those little kayaks, all they have on their feet are neoprene socks, no shoes or boots. The other day while wandering around the kayak chute, I found these lying around.

These hooks are relatively small, but to a kayaker that flips over and has to put his feet down, getting one of these in your foot is going to suck. Even worse, I found one of these on the bottom of the river the other day.

That can cause some pretty major problems.

The kayaker and I talked about signage, it’s size, what it should say and where it should be put. That night, I put a comment on the City of Yorkville Facebook Page saying that they need to do something about this. They need to put up more and bigger signs.

Today when I wandered down to the river, someone had put up a new sign.

That’s not going to work. The type is even smaller than what is on the big yellow sign that the fishermen say they never saw.

Plus they call it a Whitewater Park. Now you’ve got the fishermen even more confused. Still another term. I already know a fisherman is going to tell you he wasn’t fishing in the park.

So, here are my suggestions. Call it a kayak chute. Simple and to the point. No Fishing in the Kayak Chute. Six words I know is a lot, but I can’t figure out which one to get rid of to make it even shorter for the fishermen to understand.

Make the signs big, huge, bright yellow with gigantic black type that fills the sign from top-to-bottom and side-to-side.

One has to go on the south side of the river near the footbridge. If necessary, get two of them, that way they can be seen from a variety of directions.

Another one needs to go on the bridge. As you walk to the end of the bridge, the whole field of view should be filled with the sign. This photo will give you an idea of what I’m talking about. As you walk, all you should see at the end is nothing but sign.

The other option is to have a bunch of 3 foot by 4 foot signs made up, again, filled with No Fishing in the Kayak Chute. All along the kayak chute, on both sides, one of these signs should be placed every 50 feet. From the beginning to the end of the kayak chute.

I have a feeling that won’t be all that visually appealing.

Even then I already know that idea is doomed to fail.

One day you’ll go down to the kayak chute and there will be a fisherman.

He’ll be standing smack dab in the middle between a couple of the signs, fishing the kayak chute.

He’ll be so centered between those signs that if you got out a tape measure and measured, you’d find that he missed dead center by less than an inch.

If you go up to him and tell him he can’t fish in the kayak chute, his eyebrows would go up, his eyes would widen, his head would slowly turn both up and down stream.

Then he’d look you dead in eyes and without batting an eye he’d say…

“I didn’t see no signs.”

His Own Personal River Cleanup

Sunday was a stunningly beautiful part of the long Labor Day Weekend. I spent the last 4 hours of the day wandering down the Fox River attempting to catch fish. The catching of fish kept interfering with the river wandering, but I can’t seem to just go for a stroll down the river without a fishing pole. Since I have the fishing pole I may as well cast to likely fish holding spots. This day the fish were cooperating too eagerly. I guess I should look at that as a plus.

In that short time at least 15 canoes and kayaks came drifting down the river. This is the most I’ve seen come through here in one day since I shut down my canoe shop a few years ago. I thought the interest in drifting this section of the river had died off.

People always seem to be amazed at drifting past some guy standing less than waist deep in the river. I think they think the river is much deeper. It is, in some parts, but not many. The question from the passersby is invariably “so if I fall in, I should just stand up, shouldn’t I?”

“You can swim, but you’ll wind up scraping your knuckles,” is my usual answer.

Near the end of the day a canoe and a tandem kayak drifted by about 100 yards away. The kayak had a couple of kids paddling it and they appeared to be barely teenagers. The canoe had a guy that looked to be my age, mid 50’s, paddling solo.

The whole front half of his canoe was piled high with what appeared to be garbage, it was hard to tell from the distance. Definitely looked like garbage, I’ve done the same too many times to be mistaken.

River cleanups are hard, backbreaking and filthy work as you try to lift garbage off the shoreline and the riverbed. There’s a rotting stench that goes along with the garbage that makes it even a little more unpleasant.

I used to organize and help with river cleanups years ago. One year on Salt Creek we did a few cleanups that removed 19 tons of garbage from a relatively small stretch of a relatively small creek.

Think about that, how does 19 tons of garbage get dumped in and along a small stretch of a creek.

I’ve done a number of cleanups out on the Fox River too. I used to try to get anglers involved, I assumed they had a vested interest in keeping the waters they fish clean. I assumed incorrectly, getting them to show up was next to impossible. Once we got other groups along the river involved, groups that have nothing to do with fishing, things went much better and a fair amount of garbage would get picked up.

I’ve never understood that.

I had to give up doing river cleanups, my back has let me know that it will no longer cooperate in hauling mud covered garbage out of rivers. That’s a shame, I always enjoyed the picture opportunities. You just never know what you’re going to come across.

Here this guy was, drifting down the river on a beautiful day with a couple of kids, picking up the garbage of others as he went. No organized event, no one asked him to do this, apparently just something he does.

I was impressed. I wonder if the kids that were with him were impressed with what he does. They should be, it’s not something they’ll see very often. Would be nice if this guys efforts made a lasting impression on them.

When I got done fishing and back at the parking lot, there was the garbage, stacked up under a tree.

The park district is pretty good about picking up anything that’s dragged out of the river. Just leave it in a pile in a relatively easy place to pull up a truck and they’ll take care of it.

The most common thing I’ve found on the shore and the riverbed are car tires. Here was another one in the collection of garbage.

Over the last 39 years I’ve owned a number of cars.

I can’t recall ever losing track of one of my tires.

I wish I had the opportunity to meet the guy that dragged all this garbage out of the river. Would have been nice to say thanks, thanks for your efforts. Thanks for making my walks in the river a more pleasant experience.

I also know, back be damned, I would have given him my phone number.

“Call me next time you go out. I’ll show you a few spots we can clean.”

Aurora Paddlesports Festival,
June 11 and 12 in Aurora, Illinois

If you’ve been thinking of buying a kayak or canoe, you may want to hold off one more week.

This coming weekend, June 11th and 12th, is the Aurora Paddlesports Festival to be held at Phillips Park in Aurora, Illinois.

There are far too many things going on at the event for me to start re-listing them here. Better that you just click on the link above and spend a little time looking over their site.

This is a great opportunity to try before you buy, as well as to take advantage of some training that will be offered throughout the event.

There are a number of paddling events and trips also scheduled. This will be worth checking out if you are seriously considering the purchase of some kind of paddle craft any time soon.

Speaking of which, shop local, buy local. You won’t get this kind of attention and information from the Big Box stores.

There are a number of local shops in the area that may be worth visiting. Down my way in Yorkville, there’s the grandaddy of canoe shops, Freeman’s Sports.

One newcomer to Yorkville is the Geneva Kayak Center, which opened the Yorkville Outdoor Center along the new Marge Cline Whitewater Course.

Another newcomer to the area is up in Aurora. The Paddle and Trail of Aurora opened shop recently right in downtown Aurora.

Visit their sites for a considerable list of events being held on a day-to-day basis.

I have no doubt there are more all over the area, but these are the ones in my neck of the woods. I’m sure more will be at the Aurora Paddlesports Festival. I think it’s important to support the local shops. Best way to keep them in business is to visit and buy from them whenever possible.

This year Aurora’s Art in the Park will be running in conjunction with the Aurora Paddlesports Festival. The two combined makes for quite a weekend.

With the weather cooling down to the mid 70’s and no rain in the forecast for the weekend, for now, it would be worth it to pay these events a visit. When the kids get bored, don’t forget that Phillips Park also has a zoo, pretty nice visitor center and a family aquatic center.

Plenty to do for everyone.

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.

Geneva Kayak Center Open for Business

I thought I would put up a few pictures I took of the Grand Opening Event on Saturday. I have to verify if this is going to be called the Yorkville Outdoor Center or not. They have put a lot into their shop and have pretty much everything a kayaker needs as far as I can tell. Worth a visit here before hitting a big box store. You won’t get this kind of knowledge at one of those.

I’ll add more to this later. Will probably have a couple of more posts made about this. We’ll see how my week goes.

Also, the official word from Yorkville Mayor Valerie Burd about fishing the Yorkville Whitewater Course . . . it flat out isn’t allowed, ever. But there’s more details that might make up for that.

Had a great time Friday night at the Kendall Pub watching Kent Fords’ film Call of the River and got to meet some interesting kayakers.

I like slick logo designs.

A lot of kayaks on display in a compact space.

I was intrigued by the colors and angles, in case you couldn't tell.

If I had a wide angle lens I would have taken a better shot of the interior.

After watching them play in the chute for a few hours, I know I can handle anything the Fox River or any other river around here throws at me while paddling a canoe or a kayak, I’ve done it. But I don’t think my back has the flexibility needed any more to be able to play around in this chute. Unless I don’t mind doing it upside down.