Tag Archives: silver springs

Silver Springs Assholes

Went out to Silver Springs State Park to my usual spot far off in a field to see if the sunset would amount to anything.

I first heard the buzz of their little engines far off to the southwest. I assumed the landowners on the edge of the state park were out running around their fields.

I soon realized they were circling around me, off to the south, then off to the east. I knew they would be coming down the same trail I was standing in. I decided, the hell with them, I’m not moving.

Four of them came around the bend. I couldn’t see their faces because of the full helmets they were wearing, but their body language said “oh shit.”

I refused to move, they barely slowed down as I made them brush up against the tall grass.

As they went by I raised my camera and took a picture, then realized I still had the lens out to 300 mm and I knew it didn’t work. One of them saw me take the picture.

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I fixed the lens to 55 and raised the camera. The one that saw me take the picture had turned around, stopped and was now facing me. I had the feeling he was going to come back to say something I had no interest in, so I called his bluff and stuck my hand in my pocket.

He had a decision to make. Am I going to take my hand out of my pocket with nothing more than my Little Dicky and car keys in my hand, all that I had in there, or, in this day and age of concealed carry, was I going to take something out of my pocket that could kill him. I would have preferred the latter, but me carrying a gun around is probably not a good idea.

The bluff worked, he spun around and I snapped off another shot as he left.

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Every day it’s proven to me that the world is full of assholes that think the laws and rules don’t apply to them.

I didn’t think I would run into them out here, out in the middle of nowhere.

I come here to get away from the assholes.

Deer Hunting at Silver Springs?
Might want to have a Plan B

Archery deer season ends January 15, 2012, but at Silver Springs State Park it pretty much ended in November.

Because I am currently unemployable and have time on my hands to kill, by 3 PM every day I’m buggy and wander the five minutes down the road to Silver Springs State Park for a walk. I also check in to see how the pheasant hunters have been doing and if there is anyone out deer hunting. I seem to do this at least every other day.

With the mild December weather we’ve had, the pheasant hunting has been pretty good. I noticed that practically every one on the list gets their limit of birds. There’s a sign on the bulletin board saying that this year has seen a record harvest of birds. You feel sorry for the occasional hunter on the list that records a zero for the day.

According to my only source at Silver Springs, Larry is his name, there are fewer hunters getting out. He said that there was only one day where they couldn’t let all the standby hunters go out. Getting out on standby here used to be pretty rare. The afternoon hunts seem to also always have open slots, but they don’t allow standby hunts in the afternoon for some reason.

Up until the day after Christmas, I can’t recall seeing more than a half dozen deer hunters on the list. 10 deer hunters are allowed out at a time. The day after Christmas the list was filled twice. Twenty hunters had got out and a few were still out in the woods for the sunset hunt.

The areas set aside for deer hunting at Silver Springs are pretty small. Most of the land is set aside for pheasant hunting and another big area doesn’t allow hunting of any kind. The day after Christmas was the first time I had noticed, stuck to the bulletin board, a deer harvest list. I forgot to write down the exact numbers, but for October about 5 deer were taken. For November I recall only 5 or 6 deer taken with the last one on the 24th.

For December, only one doe was taken and that was on the 18th. Considering the amount of pressure these small areas get, that didn’t surprise me. I also drive through Silver Springs on a regular basis on my way to other places. Along the road, through the areas where you can only bird hunt or not hunt at all, I regularly see deer. In the surrounding areas, I see deer out wandering around all the time. A friend that regularly explores the nearby Hoover Forest Preserve has been posting pictures of quite a few deer in the preserves, including a nice shot of a good sized buck. Of course, you can’t hunt in the preserves.

It’s impossible to tell where they are coming from, but someone has been getting deer in the area. So far this year, dumped on the edges of the hunter parking lots at Silver Springs, have been the remains of seven butchered deer. One deer, a doe, was never butchered. It had been gutted then dumped about 20 feet off one lot. Seems like such a shame to waste all that good meat.

For the remainder of the deer season, if I were a deer hunter, I would find someplace else to go. I have a feeling the chances of getting a deer at Silver Springs aren’t going to improve.

For the pheasant hunters, Silver Springs is one of the Public/Private Partnership Sites run by T. Miller. Hunting for birds will continue there till January 8th. Since the other Chicago area controlled pheasant hunting areas are shutting down, a quick check of the T. Miller site shows that there are no more permits available. Up until now, there were quite a few permits that could be had up until the last minute. If you really want to get out and don’t live that far, it might be worth going on standby.

You just never know.

A Walk in the Park

One of the benefits of living on the edge of town is having the ability to drive a few minutes west out into nothing. In a two minute drive I can be at Hoover Forest Preserve. A five minute drive will get me to Silver Springs State Fish and Wildlife Area.

My wife and I simply call it the park.

The end of the day usually finds us at one or the other going for a walk. Today we opted for the park. With temperatures in the 90s’ all day, we were hoping the small lake and surrounding ponds would cool things down a little. We hoped correctly.

I have no clue how far we walk, we walk till we get tired. But it’s always near the sunset hours.

Nice to have some shade for the walk on a hot day.

I was told to bring a fishing pole. I keep spinning gear and a fly rod in my car at all times. I declined the offer. My last visit here strictly for fishing had water devoid of fish. Of course, this time, the fish were everywhere. Panfish and bass were cruising all over the lake and the ponds. In and out of the weeds, cruising the weed lines. Even saw a big carp swim off toward the middle of the lake with a big bass just under it cruising right along with the carp. Proves a little theory of mine, but more on that some other time.

One shore line must have been a popular spawning ground. A couple of weeks ago, the baby bass were not much more than black specks in the water. Today they were a good half inch long. Odd how they continue to stay along the same stretch of shore.

All around the perimeter of the lake, tall plants with lily like flowers were growing. They grew directly out of the water rather than further up on the shore. Added a subtle lavender ring around the whole lake.

The rest was just a walk. Of course the far ponds were loaded with fish. I believe I was told I told you so. We wandered along the path on the edge of the ponds and woods. Taking pictures of the play of light on and through the trees. I have no clue if they could be considered good pictures from a photo standpoint, but they are good enough to recall the play of light for us. It’s not always about what it might mean to others.

I don’t even know what attracts me to take the picture. Play of light on trees, shapes created by trees, reflections on water, overhanging branches framing a scene or some combination of all of these things. Keep taking pictures and worry about what they look like later when they can be viewed bigger.

We always make it back to where we started right about when the sun is getting ready to hide behind the tree line. My wife knows I’ll be stopping to watch and there’s no point trying to move me along. I’ll leave when I’m ready. I have a sunset to watch.

The last few steps to the car a lone goose feather was sticking up out of the grass. It was too perfect to be accidental, but then there was nobody else around. The geese were not far away, so maybe it was no accident. I left it where it was. Someone else had to come by sooner or later. Maybe they’d appreciate it.

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Pond and Lake Fishing, Seemed Simple Enough

A few days earlier I had gone for a walk with my wife around the lakes and ponds at Silver Springs State Park. There were hundreds of bass fry swimming along the shore line. In the small ponds, largemouth bass were cruising. At least a dozen of them were milling around with a few well worth catching. Lots of bluegills were swimming around with quite a few of them eating size. There was a school of gills building beds along one shore.

As we were leaving there was a stunning sunset event. At least I thought it was stunning.

I made a few jokes about the failed rapture, the spiriting away of fish instead of people and I thought I had pretty much laid that joke to rest. Or so I thought.

In a write up from the other day, I had the arrogance to announce the following:

I was going to hit another high water spot on the way home where I’ve been having a fair amount of success, but decided to just go home instead. Saturday will be another day. The creeks will be blown out, the river will be high. I’ll need to go out fishing, but I can’t do that again.

Instead I’ve decided to test my limits. I’ll be heading to a crystal clear lake that gets a tremendous amount of fishing pressure. I’ll walk the shores and fish, and I’ll catch fish. I know I will.

I was so confident in this arrogant stance that I decided to use the most inefficient means possible to put a lure in front of a fish, my fly rod and some kind of fly.

My reasoning behind this was sound, I had watched other anglers throwing all kinds of lures in the water. Lures that probably had names like Lucky Craft Sammy 100, or Strike King spinnerbait 3/16oz, or Terminator T1 spinnerbait 3/8oz Bright White Shad, or Strike King Series 5 Pro-Model Crankbaits Color: Blue Gizzard Shad.

They got nothing for their efforts.

Instead, I thought I would throw lures at them with names like spider, bumble bee, hellgrammite and minnow. I thought for sure I would clean up.

4 PM rolled around and in spite of the spotty rain, I headed out. Fishing in the rain is not a problem. Waving a stick around in the air with lightning in the vicinity, that was a problem. Luckily the lightning had moved off and I thought for sure the overcast skies and continued sporadic rain would make things that much better.

The first stretch of the lake and a pond I had to skip. I don’t care how good a person is at a roll cast, that wasn’t going to happen here. Not with any real success. As I moved down the pond I noticed a decided lack of fish. There were a few small pods of a few small bluegills and that was it. I put a spider on top of their heads.

The result was a major disappointment. These normally hyper aggressive predators that attack anything that touches the water swam up, stopped and stared. A couple would come up and nip at the fly.

No, no, no, these are supposed to be hits with abandon from fish that have no fear. These are the fish that if they grew to two pounds, people say they would quit fishing for bass. They’re not supposed to sniff around nipping at things. I kept wandering down the shore line making perfect casts to pods of gills with the same lack of interest shown every single time. By the time I got to the end of the first pond, I realized there was a complete lack of bass milling around.

I headed back to my car for my spinning gear. Drastic measures were required for the next pond.

The next pond was even bigger. The opposite shore was in reach with a little more effort than usual put into a cast.

I was nailing all the likely fish holding spots.

Now why wouldn't there be fish hanging out here?

This was where gills and bass cruised just a few days earlier. Beds full of gills were supposed to be lining the shore. Only they were all gone. There was not a single sign of a fish anywhere. I threw my homemade topwater lure, nothing. I dredged the bottom with worms and crayfish, still nothing. I went over to the lake side, all the bass fry were gone.

I gave up.

Back at the car, gear all stowed away, I looked out across the lake. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Still another sign of the rapture occurring directly over the lake. Probably back for any fish that might have got missed. I like to have a little fun at the expense of those with such zealous religious fervor, but even I like to think I know when to stop.

Whoever is in charge of the universe, I’ll meet you half way. I’ll quit making jokes, you quit doing shit like this.

It’s not funny any more.

As I stood taking pictures of this, a guy turned around to see what I was taking pictures of. I believe the direct quote is "holy shit." Yeah, no kidding.

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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 desk… 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.