Tag Archives: ken gortowski

Post storm.

Like Fishing in a Sauna

Checked the USGS gauge of the creek I wanted to fish before leaving work. 4.78, the cfs gauge has been broken for months. I’m getting used to reading the feet by comparison. A few days earlier the creek had shot up to nearly 7. I plugged in a 90 day view, that’s the highest so far this year. Usually it’s April that gets like that, didn’t happen this year.

I’m sure I’ve fished this creek when it was at 5. Maybe it was 4.5 or 4. Whatever, can’t be that bad.

I get to the creek, get suited up and one big lone cloud full of rain and lightning parks its ass directly over head. Partly cloudy skies all around it. I sit it out in the car for twenty minutes. The rain did not cool things down, made it worse.

Got to the creek and it was high, fast and muddy. I’m not going in there, at least not past my ankles. Bunch of casts and nothing. Considered calling it quits.

Decided to put my exceptional high, fast and muddy fishing skills to work instead. It’s not the river, so it’s not so bad. In about an hour and a half and 200 yards I went 11/5 on smallies. I was glad I stuck around. One fish in particular hit hard, then practically crawled along the bottom. Drag humming and pulling out line. Couldn’t lift it off the bottom. Never jumped. I’ve landed a number of 18 inch smallies so far this year and I’m thinking this one has to be pushing the 20 inch mark to be doing this.

Finally get it near me and out of the water. I’ll bet it wouldn’t have measured 11 inches. I was impressed.

It wound up being the smallest fish of the day.

Was glad I wore the waders anyway. Everything was soaked from the rain. Back at the car and stripping down, the inside of the waders were wetter than the outside. Sweat was pouring off my head and down my shirt. This should smell good after a day or two in my trunk.

Walking through a swamp in April is easy, in June after a rain and everything is now thick and taller than me, not so much.

The wife says I should learn how to fear lightning.

The woods look like a jungle.

The sound of frogs was at times deafening only I couldn’t find a single one.

Like usual, I had the whole place to myself.
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Back at home, leftovers. Bow tie pasta, shrimp, garlic, butter, olive oil and parsley from the garden. More olive oil in a pan. Throw in all that stuff. Add the stripped off flowers from the basil plants in the garden. Toss in the first pepper of the year from the garden. More olive oil. Done and plated, add some parmesan and a couple of slices of garlic bread.

I smell wonderful.

The stronger taste of basil flowers has become my favorite part of the basil plant.

You can’t have too much basil.

Or olive oil.

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Lost up the Creeks

Since the last week of March I’ve been spending the bulk of my fishing time getting lost up the creeks that feed the Fox River.

I don’t keep detailed fishing records like I did over a decade ago. For the past few years I barely wrote any totals down at all. This year, since I’m trying to send Dale Bowman a fishing report every week, I’ve been putting most of my results up on Facebook. On my personal page I only have 45 friends, I eliminated about 100 others over the past year. Of those 45 only six fish. Of those six, maybe two will get out to the places I fish, but even that I doubt. I already know nobody reads anything I send to Dale, tested that over the past year.

So, all that wonderful information being read by maybe 10 fishermen total did exactly what I planned.

I run into virtually no one out there and it’s extremely rare that I see another set of foot prints where I go.

Best I can tell is that I started fishing this year toward the end of March and have got out on average three times a week. Lately 4, sometimes 5, but we’ll stick with a 3 average. That makes approximately 33 fishing trips which I know is on the low side.

I didn’t bother writing some of it down, but I know I’ve been on the Fox a half dozen times and the rest have all been spread across 5 different creeks. The totals so far this year show 273 fish caught, 98 percent of those are all smallies. I hooked but blew the landing on another 198.

Those numbers do show that I suck at setting the hook.

Treble hooks on some hard lure would probably fix that, but they destroy the mouths on fish and I don’t think I’ve used treble hooks in well over a dozen years because of that. Single hooks on a jig is all I ever use. I catch smallies all the time that have severely damaged mouths from treble hooks. It’s very apparent that the average angler pretty much sucks at extracting treble hooks from the mouth of a fish. One of the other things I don’t like about them is how a smallie will take the front hook, thrash around and get a back hook jammed into it’s gill plate. You’ll see the result of that in the pictures below.

Impressive numbers overall perhaps until I compare it to previous years, at least what my memory allows. This has been the slowest spring of the past three. I did much better the last few years. Last year alone in this same time frame I hit the same amount of water. I only bothered counting the fish caught on one creek and the rest I didn’t bother with, but I remember doing well.

On the one creek alone that I tracked my caught/miss ratio last year, by now I had stopped counting at 300 caught and another 200 that I blew the hook set on.

That was on one creek.

So, what’s this mean? Brutal winter, delayed spring, less than usual rain keeping the fish from running up the creek. I know nowhere near as many carp and suckers came up the creeks, they never materialized like years past. Who knows, rivers and creeks are too hard to judge. Moving water will screw up theories quickly.

I guess I’ve had a good start to the year and should shut up and be happy with what I’ve caught so far, but the half of my brain that is always asking questions is badgering me for answers as to why. Why are things different this year?

No wonder I don’t sleep much.

I recently went through all the photos I’ve taken since the end of March. I haven’t felt much like dealing with them so far. The ones I liked are all below.

Unless I get distracted by fishing, watching the garden grow or sitting and staring off into space, maybe I’ll put another post up in July.

Based on the lip damage this smallie had, I’m certain the gill damage was done by some kind of stick bait with multiple treble hooks.

I thought there were five.

Two weeks later, over a quarter of a mile inland, same fish.

Why there are never any shore fishermen around here.

A gratuitous wild asparagus hunting shot.

This spot on this creek has changed dramatically over the past dozen years. This used to be a braided shallow set of riffles.

I missed the more impressive flower show that goes on here.

Church of the Holy Fish

It was mating with a much bigger one, but the big one got camera shy.

The hike through the woods to fishing spots are always hard, but sometimes I get a bit of a break.

One of the few trips to the Fox was met by a massive bug hatch.

I only find them on the edge of the water lines. Makes me wonder if the bulbs are washing out of yards further upstream.

My Little Dickie is insisting on getting aired out more often this year.

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A Walk in the River

A walk in the river is all I expected. After a few weeks of casting practice in sterile creeks I gave up and hit the Fox River. Levels were abnormally low for spring, perfect wading conditions instead of nearing flood stage.

As I stepped into the river I parted a massive school of bait fish. This told me where to cast when I got around to it. On the opposite side of the river the gravel bars on the upstream side of the islands glowed white. Can’t recall ever seeing that before.

With the winter we had I hear a massive amount of salt was dumped on roads. Along the river it eventually has to wind up in the river. Up close, it sure looked like salt crust. And yes, the next two shots are in color.

I’m used to seeing water lines on rocks with the rock beneath the line a lighter color from being washed by the river. But I’ve never seen this.

If it is salt deposits, I wonder if it will have any affect on the fish. Two fish caught and three fish missed later, I would have to say no so far. They were all hanging around the rocks along with a bunch of jumping carp. Where there’s carp there’s smallies. Maybe they like salt.

Paired up geese were everywhere. The smart ones were already nesting on the islands. Smart move. Fewer ground dwelling predators.

The ones nesting on shore are already regretting that decision.

A mini waterfall was explored. No matter how dry it gets, this always has flowing water. I’ve known of it for 15 years now. I have never looked for it’s source.

The walk was made that much more brutal by the constant rush of wind. I heard later it was over 20 mph with gusts up to 40.

But it’s not so bad inside a duck blind, blocking the wind and a long bench to stretch a back on.

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McDonald’s, I don’t get it

McDonald’s, I don’t get it. And yet they recently reported a $6.9 BILLION profit for the last quarter. That’s profit. I didn’t hear how much was brought in for the quarter, just the profit. Total income for the quarter has to be enormous, you would think.

I’m sorry, I bet the picture at the top gave you the impression this was going to be about fishing. That is a nice fish. A first week of April smallie to be exact based on the lack of leaves on the trees in the background. Fox River at North Aurora to be specific based on the bridge.

Unless you’re one of those anglers that must make a McDonald’s stop while out and about, then I guess this has to do with fishing, but not really.

I’m not much of a fast food person, never have been. I’ve done my share, but I’d just as soon not bother. I do have a penchant for a bacon cheese burger, large fries and chocolate shake from Portillo’s when the occasion arises, but that’s about it.

Twenty years ago the death knell came for McDonald’s when between jobs, I stopped and grabbed something quick to eat. A major mistake. Within the hour I was in the throes of food poisoning. Nothing like seeing anything McDonald’s coming out where it just went down. That pretty much killed my desire for anything McDonald’s.

Because of an impending move, the wife and I have been busy the last couple of days cleaning and painting the new place. On the way home the wife decided to go the easy route to dinner and stopped at McDonald’s. She brought me a bacon double cheeseburger and some fries, figuring it was a safe bet.

Well, safe it wasn’t. The first negative comment came from my mother-in-law. She would not be considered to have a discerning palate, so the comment was a bit of a surprise.

“The fries are always too salty.”

She immediately set them aside.

And they were. And they were also far too skinny for my liking and to top it all off, they tasted like shit. Then I started in on the bacon double cheeseburger. I think my long drawn out culinary review went something like this…

“This tastes like shit too.”

And it pretty much did. The flavor kind of resembled beef, but not quite. The bacon had bacon flavor, but I could see the cheese and that was about it.

I was hungry so I kept eating it and had a running commentary going on the $6.9 BILLION profit McDonald’s just made and what that said about the total lack of taste the average human being must have.

How do people eat this shit and, after the first time, why the hell do they go back?

Told the wife not to bother getting me anything the next time she makes a quick stop.

I’d rather dig through the kitty litter box.

I finished this wonderful meal at 5:50 PM. As I type this it’s 6:35 PM.

Food poisoning always strikes within the first hour.

So far no rumbly’s in the tumbly.

But then, I got another 14 minutes to go.