Tag Archives: kayak

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.

The Tribune Needs an Outdoor Writer

I fish, hunt, wander, hike, camp, canoe, kayak, bird watch lately and pay attention to conservation issues that impact all of these activities. I don’t travel much to take part in any of these activities, so the bulk of it all occurs within the Greater Chicago Area. Sometimes I’ll venture into other areas of northern Illinois, but not that often.

If I want to read about these activities, I guess I should be satisfied with reading outdoor writer Dale Bowman of the Chicago Sun Times. With his two weekly columns and his daily entries on his blog, I’m on the Sun Times site practically every day. He does a great job.

Now and then I’ll go check out Mike Jackson of the Daily Herald or Steve Sarley of the Northwest Herald. Don Dziedzina is still writing for ChicagoNow and I look at what he has to say. Bob Maciulis, owner, editor and writer of the long running local magazine Outdoor Notebook is hard to find in any newspapers lately, but every month I pick up the latest issue of his magazine and his articles are the first that I read.

I should be happy with this.

Today I went out and for the first time in seven years bought a copy of the Chicago Tribune. That’s right, the one actually printed with ink on paper.

I went directly to the sports section, the section that normally includes anything on the outdoors. There were numerous articles on all the sports that I don’t pay any attention to. Hockey, basketball, football and sometimes stories by different writers covering the same team from different angles. Just below the fold on the front page of the Sports section was a story about figure skating. On the inside somewhere was something about the Australian Open, that’s tennis I think.

I went to the Chicago Tribune website and found more of the same. It’s amazing how many different opinions on the same subject can be bandied about and yet, not a single article on what I like to follow. Considering how many people are actively involved with the types of activities I like to do, not just sitting in front of a tube and watching others be active, there’s nothing in the Tribune’s paper or on their website to read.

I found a few details from a 2007 impact statement that drives home my point:

Fishing ranks as the 5th most popular participation sport in the nation. It ranks ahead of bicycling, bowling, basketball, golf, jogging, baseball, softball, soccer, volleyball, tennis, football and skiing. Only walking, camping, swimming and exercise with equipment are more popular.

More Americans fish than play golf and tennis combined.

More Americans fish than play soccer and basketball.

Considering the economic impact these outdoor activities can have on the local economy, and here they are only talking about fishing, how does the Tribune justify completely ignoring such a large reader base.

I’m a late bloomer when it comes to fishing and hunting. I didn’t start fishing with a passion till I turned 40 in 1996. The hunting didn’t start till I was 45. Starting in the late 80s I began reading Tribune writer John Husar religiously. It was his passion for the outdoors, his ability to tell a story and his love for conserving the outdoors that swayed me. Without him, I may not have bothered.

After Husar died in 2000, it took awhile for the Tribune to find a replacement. Then when that didn’t work out, it took a few more years to find another outdoor writer. And now, here we are again. We’ll probably have to wait two or three years for the Tribune to get around to having an outdoor writer. If they even bother.

They’re missing an opportunity. The largest group of people in the U.S with expendable income, that would be the baby boomers, are all starting to reach retirement age. Quite a few others, like what happened with me, can no longer play sports but want to remain active. Their kids are now coming to an age where they don’t want parents around so now the parents have to go find something else to do.

The Tribune is going to miss the boat on this one if they don’t act soon. I mentioned above what to look for in a writer: a passion for the outdoors, an ability to tell a story and a love for conserving the outdoors.

Finding such a person can’t be that difficult.

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.