Tag Archives: trout

When I’m there, the Fish Aren’t.
Like Usual.

A few years ago I went to a creek to fish about this time in April. I stood on a spit of land created by the creek flowing by to my right and a washout created by an eddy that spun slowly like a plugged toilet directly in front of me.

By the time the bite died, I had caught 17 white bass, a half dozen nice crappie and my feet and legs were numb from not moving for a half hour. I wandered down stream about 150 feet, got the feeling back below my waist and started casting again. By the time the bite died and my feet and legs were numb again, the total for an hour and a half of fishing were 35 white bass, the half dozen crappie and a 16 inch smallie.

I had been fishing this creek off and on for a number of years and this was the first time the fishing had been this good. It was also the last time it happened. A year later I went back and struggled to catch a half dozen white bass. There was one other angler fishing. We struck up the usual conversation. I told him my story. Apparently I missed that exact same scenario by 3 days. He had been coming back every day to see how the creek was reacting. Each day fewer fish. Apparently I’m not the only one a bit OCD about fishing.

I decided to give the creek a try again a few days ago. This spring, things seem delayed a bit. Not many wild flowers covering the forest floor. Not many flowers at all and even the green things are taking their time getting greener.

The creek showed no signs of life. No baitfish cruising the shallows. No carp and suckers migrating up stream. Not a single tap to be had in an hour of casting. Fishing is when you catch fish. I was practicing casting. The whole experience was so mundane, except for some vague thing I might have learned, I didn’t even bother taking any pictures. I remember turning on and raising my camera. Apparently the view in the screen was totally uninteresting and the button never pressed.

Off to another creek.

This is the one where I’ve been going 9 miles inland. It was in excellent shape, but the hike along its shore to the fishing hole revealed that what bait fish had been there a week or so ago had all disappeared. Not a good sign.

I think I learned my lesson about walking on logs.

Since it was a beautiful day, quiet and I was in no hurry, I picked apart the hole with a few things I knew would get ignored. The fish cooperated in ignoring what I threw. There was nothing under the surface moving.

A couple of wood ducks raced through the trees hanging out over the creek. They make an odd screeching noise as they fly. I assumed they weren’t happy to see me. I decided to head down stream and hit another slow moving pool. The wood ducks swung low over my head, screeching. Not happy with me at all, or so I thought, till the eagle jumped up out of the tree over my head.

I didn’t think I was that intimidating to a couple of ducks.

One deeper set of riffles started producing the tell-tale taps of creek chubs. One hit hard and leapt. A foot long flash of red-orange came flying out of the water. Illinois trout, that’s the best we can do.

A fine example of Illinois trout. A chub trout.

The next pool was in ideal shape. Clarity was good, good looking banks, a couple of boulders just down stream and not a single tap, nothing. The water was cold. Colder than I remember from the following week. I’ll blame the cold water.

Good looks mean nothing some times.

Along the shore was an old rotting log. For all the high water and floods that have come through here over the years, this old log refuses to move. There was more green things growing on the old log than in big parts of the woods.

I think it was the grass that caught me by surprise.

Off into the woods I wandered to check out remnants of old farm land. In a few weeks the growth will be too dense to see anything. Walking will be a trick. Came across more sculptural pieces, this time man made and getting slowly ravaged by time.

When I studied and made art in my other life, this degradation of materials was planned into the look of the object years down the line. Degradation became part of the art process. One of the topics of conversation back then was whether or not art like this should ever be restored, or should it be left to simply disappear over time. Some times, a long time.

On the way back, I stopped at the pool where I started. Had still another different thing tied onto the end of my line. A perfect pin point cast into a narrow strip between shore and a big deadfall lying in the water. A tug on the line thought to be an under water branch, until the branch moved off to the right, rolled near the surface and spit out the lure. It was one of the bigger fish that lives here. Figures I would miss my only chance when mistaking a hit for a snagged branch.

There was one more pool I considered going to fish, but it meant crashing through the woods for a good half mile. The sun was below the tree tops and just above land. That told me I had enough time to get there and fish, but I would be walking through the woods in the dark to get back to the car. Considering the punji sticks of beaver chewed saplings lining the creek, tripping and falling on one of these in the dark seemed likely and not very appealing.

I convinced myself that next time would be better. Unless better had already happened 3 days ago. I tried not to think about that as I headed back to my car.

When all else fails,
write a fishing report

I can tell when I’m preoccupied by issues that have nothing to do with fishing. Rather than expound on anything in general or in particular, I write fishing reports. They keep me writing, but require virtually no thought. I wrote a couple of them this week.

I should move north.

Based on reports showing up on Fox River fishing forums, those fishing further north are doing much better than those fishing further south. But then, it’s extremely rare that I see any reports of any Fox River fishing south of Geneva. I’m talking over the past 5 years, not just now. I know one guy who does pretty good not far from me and I think it’s a spot I used to fish over 10 years ago, but him and his spot will remain nameless.

I guess saying that is an insult to those that take the writing of their fishing reports seriously, but for me it’s routine. Go here, park there, walk to the river this way, use this, cast at that, current seams, laydowns, rock outcroppings and eventually whether or not a fish was caught. When words and letters are in your head like the opening salvo of a game of Scrabble, better to spell cat than attempt catatonic.

The water is still up a bit, but no big deal if you know where you’re going. Tuesday I decided to hit a half mile stretch near Orchard Road. The shore is one long eddy. Lots of rock and gravel along with downed trees and boulders.

I did get one carp to inhale a jig and twister right at the start, but after an agonizingly boring hour of nothing, I scrambled up the steep 30 foot bank and headed for a creek.

I guess somebody found out that there is no shore line fishing here. They won't be back.

If I was going to continue to get skunked I was going to do it on a creek.

Did I mention the walk along the railroad tracks and the carpet of white wild flowers on the forest floor.

Seems like we're a couple of weeks behind, these are usually all in bloom the first week of April.

How about the smell of spring, that musty smell that comes up from thawed dirt and rotting vegetation. How about the ancient culvert holding up the railroad tracks, a continuous flow of water that seems to be coming from an endless spring.

Even in a dry year there's always water.

Over the past week I’ve had the chance to check out 4 different creeks. All of them had hordes of bait fish in the shallows. Usually the smallmouth come in to feed on them before they get chased out by an onslaught of carp and suckers on their spawning run. One creek nine miles inland keeps producing smallies, but I think it’s because they are wintering over there. None of the other creeks are producing.

Along the creek I fished on Tuesday, which proved to be barren, is a small pond I have permission to fish. Here the fish finally turned on. Caught a number of good sized bluegills and missed quite a few more.

The picture was for the color, not the size.

A few small largemouth were hooked and I had on two of the heaviest fish I’ve ever hooked in this pond. The biggest largemouth to date taken was about 2 pounds. These were considerably heavier than that. Of course the big ones always get away.

I wound up wandering through the woods quite a bit. The sculptural qualities of the the trees and vines are more apparent. Pretty soon a machete will be needed to do this type of wandering and it will be next to impossible to find things like this.

With the weather we’ve had over the past month, it seems that the smallie migration up the creeks is off to a late start. With the coming cold front for this weekend, it might get delayed again. These screwed up weather patterns make it hard to predict anything. I plan on hitting the creeks as often as possible in the next two weeks. One of those days should produce something.

The last stretch I hit, pretty much right at sunset, there were dimples on the water. Trout anglers would be salivating at the repetition of rings dimpling the surface. Here in Illinois, we scratch our heads and say to ourselves, what the hell is causing that? Nothing thrown, no matter how small, could hook a fish. Lots of nips, but no takers. That is a good sign though. Game fish next perhaps.

There ain't no trout roun' here.

I know I brought this up last year. For the past 2 years, since a big flood we had on the Fox River in September 2008, something has changed. I’ve been fishing areas from Montgomery down to Millbrook that used to produce 15 to 30 fish days on a regular basis. With an occasional 50 fish day thrown in for good measure. I haven’t had a 15 fish day since that flood.

On the surface, things look like they always have.

I can usually squeak out a fish on any given day, but the numbers days are gone. I’m hoping today’s foray on the river isn’t a sign for how the rest of the year is going to go.

I’m getting a little tired of that trend.

I guess a fishing report is better than nothing.

Illinois Catchable Trout Program or
Fishing in Hell

“Our Catchable Trout Program is a perfect example of a program that is completely self sufficient and funded entirely by sportsmen. This program is enjoyed by thousands of youth, families and experienced anglers and I wish everyone a great spring season,” said IDNR Director Marc Miller.

My friend Bruce and I have been talking of going out to one of the local trout stocked lakes in order to catch a limit of rainbow trout. There are few fish that taste better than rainbows. Sunday morning bright and early he called to let me know he was heading out to try Spring Lake.

On the drive out I had to rummage through the pile of junk on the seat next to me. My sunglasses always seemed to wind up at the bottom of the pile. I took my eyes off the road for a couple of seconds and a bright flash blinded me briefly. When I could see again I was still heading straight down the road. Nothing worse than straying out of your lane on a two lane road. Must have been a reflection off something. These bright sunny days will do that.

I pulled into the parking lot near the lake. It was already filled with cars and pickup trucks. Every one of them must have had some kind of sticker somewhere on the car or truck that let everyone know what kind of fish the owner liked to pursue. I took the last empty space. I didn’t see Bruce’s car anywhere, so I got my usual gear together and headed for the path. I thought I would just use what I normally use on a river in order to try to catch these trout. No reason I could think of why the fish wouldn’t hit what I had. I tied on a black and white rooster tail as I walked.

The trail was well worn and went straight from the parking lot and up a slight hill. Just enough of a hill to block the view of the lake. The opposite side of the hill was a little steeper, but the trail followed the same perfectly straight line. At the bottom of the hill there had to be 100 guys lining the shore of the lake. It seemed like they were evenly divided on either side of the trail, 50 going off to the left and 50 to the right. There was barely a foot of empty space between them. As I approached I noticed there was just enough space to fit one more person.

“Hey buddy, c’mon up and make yursef comfortable,” said one of the anglers as I approached, “plenny a room.” Well, almost. I got up next to him and I was suddenly shoulder to shoulder with him and the angler on my left.

“I’m Joe,” he said, “putcher bucket down and make yurself at home.”

My bucket? I don’t carry a bucket. I suddenly felt a heavy weight in my left hand. I looked down to see a 5 gallon white bucket hanging from my arm. It was filled with fishing gear, most of which I had never seen before. Big bobbers, a spool of 20 pound test fishing line, huge hooks, about a ton of lead, a ruler, a fish scaler and a filet knife that looked about the size of a machete. Startled, I opened my fingers and dropped the bucket. It made a loud thud.

“Hey ace, you wanna be a little quiet, yur scarin’ away all duh fish,” someone said from further down the line. All the anglers laughed, almost in unison.

Joe poked me in the ribs with his elbow and chuckled, “donchu mind dem,” he said, “dere ain’t much dat’ll scare away dese fish.”

What was this all about? I don’t ever carry a 5 gallon white bucket around with me, so where did this one come from? And what about the gear? I don’t use stuff like this, it’s all way too heavy, I like light gear. My right arm was aching a little. I held up my rod. What was a six and a half foot medium light fast action St. Croix rod matched with a 2000 series Shimano Spirex spinning reel with a front mount drag system, was now a Shakespeare Contender spinning combo.

The rod was 7 feet long and rated medium action, but it looked much heavier. The spinning reel was massive. The combo was rated for up to 25 pound test and that’s exactly what it looked like it was spooled with. A five inch long Little Cleo was tied onto the end of the line. The reel was being held to the rod with the cable ties that were probably put on back at the factory. The reel seats had been completely ignored. I heard a sickening groan start somewhere deep in my gut, rumble its way up and out my mouth. My fingers opened and I dropped it on the shore line.

What happened to my gear? I can’t fish with this stuff. I never could understand why guys bought this stuff and I always hated the fact that the sales people never bothered to show them how to mount the reel in the reel seats. I could feel a sense of panic building up. I wanted to turn and run but all I could do was turn at the waist. My legs felt like cement posts embedded firmly into the ground.

“Dis is duh stuff you use when you go out fishin’ for meat,” Joe said. “Dat light weight stuff ain’t gonna do you no good. One a dese big ol trout would bust dat little stuff right in half.”

“How did you know what I was thinking about?” I said.

“I could sees it in yur face,” he said. “All you newbie meat hogs ask duh same ting anyways. Dis ain’t none a dat catch and release crap. We’re here to catch meat and dere ain’t no apologizin’ for it. An if you wanna catch meat, ya gotta use meat catchin’ tools, dats duh way it works.”

I looked to my left and slowly around to the right. All one hundred of these guys were using the exact same setup that I now had. All their lines were about the same distance out into the water. At the end of each of the lines was a red and white bobber about the size of a baseball. They bobbed gently in the slight roll of the water. Every now and then a guy would reel in his line, lift it out of the water and examine the dead nightcrawler hanging from a massive hook. He would then cast it back into the lake and it would land right back where it started. The younger guys stood in front of their buckets holding their rods, while the older guys sat on their upside down buckets with a rod holder staked into the ground in front of them. Half of them had cigarettes tucked into the corners of their mouths. No matter how hard they sucked on the cigarette, it never got smaller and none of them ever had to get a new smoke.

“I hate fishing like this,” I heard myself say. “This isn’t fishing, you’re just hanging out because you don’t want to be at home puttering around the garage or the basement. You’re wives probably constantly nag you about all you’re unfinished home projects and the only way any of you can think of to shut her up is to say you’re going fishing. This isn’t fishing and what’s with the floating baseballs?”

“Dose little wimpy Thill floats don’t cut it when yur tryin to tie into dese babies,” Joe said, and he pulled his stringer up out of the water. There were at least 50 rainbow trout hanging from it, none of them longer than 4 inches.

“Don’t you believe in limits,” I said.

“Dere ain’t no limits here,” he said. “When tings slow down, we call dem on our cell phones and dey come out right away wit anudder truck load a trout. I’ll betcha we getta new batcha fish every udder day.

Besides, when duh action dies down, it gives us duh chance to talk sports.”

“Who do you call and where is here?” I asked. He ignored my questions.

“Besides, I hate sports and especially the way most guys talk about sports,” I said.

I could feel I was aching for an argument. I didn’t get this and I wanted answers. My feet still wouldn’t move. Joe was busy rehashing the 1993 Bear season with the guy next to him, playing that “what if” game that drives me nuts. What if this poor shmuck wouldn’t have dropped the pass in that fourth quarter and they won the game, you think they could have gone all the way to the Superbowl? They started talking at length about all the details of all the players on the team that year. I started listening up and down the line. They were all doing it. This group was playing “what if” over the ’87 Hawks. Further down it was the ’94 Bulls. There was a heated discussion going on about this years high school football prospects and a couple of guys were talking grammar school basketball.

I could feel the blood pounding in my head. Then the catch phrases started, trying to pass for conversation.

“Dey just didn’t have duh stuff.”
“Ya gotta give it 110 percent.”
“Ya gotta step up to duh plate.”
“Pull yourself up by duh bootstraps and get back on duh horse that trew ya.”

I was going to need a lot of aspirin to get rid of this headache.

“Will you guys knock it off and tell me what the hell’s going on here?” I screamed at them.

“Exactly,” said Joe.

“Exactly what?” I said.

“Donjew get it, haven’t you figgered it out yet?” he said.

“Get what, what are you talking about?” I grabbed him by the front of his coat and shook him.

“Hey, don’t kills duh messenger,” he said.

A laugh came from down the line, “but Joe, you already dead,” and he laughed again.

“What’s he talking about? What does he mean you’re already dead?” I screamed.

“Hey buddy c’mon, lighten up and let go a duh coat,” he said, “I could tink a worse places tuh wind up.”

“No, no way,” I screamed. “I am not in hell, I am not going to spend eternity doing the thing I hated most when I was alive. This isn’t happening. I’m going to wake up soon.”

“Suitcherself buddy,” Joe said. “Likes I told ya, I could tink a worse.”

I tugged violently at my feet. I could feel them breaking free. I pulled so hard that I thought my legs were going to pull apart at the knees. My feet came up and I turned and ran up the hill. I kept telling myself, don’t look back. It’s just a dream. I’m going to wake up at the top of the hill.

At the top of the hill the path went into thick dense woods. I don’t remember this. The parking lot is supposed to be here. This is just part of the dream. It’s just making it harder for me to wake up. I just have to get through the trees and its over. I pushed my way through the dense under brush to the clearing on the other side. There was Joe and the other 99 anglers and I was back on the banks of the lake.

“Hey, yur back,” he said. “I saved yur spot. We was startin’ ta worry. We tought you mighta got lost. Next times jew gotta go just use one a dese.”

He handed me a coffee can.

“No point missin’ out on all a duh action.” He grinned and winked.

__________________________

I wrote this in June of 1999. My sentiments about and opinion of fishing like this hasn’t changed much. Once upon a time I actually cared what people thought and I didn’t want to offend other anglers so it never appeared on the web or in print. I no longer have that problem. One of the benefits of age. Or blows to the head as my daughters claim . . . remember that time you were jumping up and down in that space THAT WAS TOO SHORT FOR YOU!!!

I Pity the Poor Trout Angler

I feel sorry for anglers that pursue trout.

I hear nothing but laments about the overcrowding of the rivers and streams they like to fish.

I hope they taste good, otherwise it's just not worth it.

Being an angler of smallmouth bass in rivers and creeks here in Illinois, here being in an area home to 9.2 million residents crammed into one corner of the state, you would think I would have cause for concern.

There are those that complain about their smallie spots being over run by anglers, hence the whole secretive nature of talking about fishing rivers. My usual response is, maybe you should learn more of the river.

Who is that in the background?
Why, no one.

Through the guiding I’ve done, fishing classes, talks before fishing groups and writing, there are hundreds of anglers, if not thousands, that know where I fish. In 2008 and 2009 and numerous trips to the Fox River and it’s creeks, I ran into no one. From March through November and some of the best fishing times possible, not a soul.

Add a couple of more rivers to that mix, a few more creeks, still no one.

There's a lonely bass angler in there somewhere.

Over the past 5 years I’ve noticed the dumbing down of river bass anglers. Lots of questions about putting in bass boats at various launches. I used to respond to let them know that, yes, you can launch your boat there as long as you don’t mind having it sit in a foot of water 10 feet out from shore. Now I don’t bother.

Go look for yourself.

In the last year or so I have seen more anglers.

Six I think.

Maybe 10.

But they move too fast and cast to all the wrong spots so they don’t last very long out in the water. I simply follow behind them, pick apart the spots, cast to where the fish live and have a pleasant day on the water catching smallies. Their disappointment in not catching anything is probably why I never see them again. Nothing like a good skunking to whittle away at your river fishing enthusiasm.

In a way I’m grateful for groups and magazines like the Bass Masturbators and In-Fishermen.

Vertical jig in-water humps that are 5 feet below the surface, let your presentation sweep over the hump at the same speed as the current.

Okay, I’ll do that.

Somewhere in the 40 or so miles of the Fox River and its creeks that I’ve waded, this condition must exist.

One of these days I’ll find it.

Maybe it's over there.

Fish Porn – Rated for Mature Audiences Only

When I started writing this a few days ago, I didn’t know there was a Bassmasters Classic that was to be held over the weekend down in Louisiana. I don’t pay attention to those things. I’d rather sit around watching golf on TV with my dad if I needed something to make me go brain dead.

I normally wouldn’t put something like this on my blog. Though I can and do swear profusely at times, I don’t do it while I’m typing. Normally, write ups like this go on a semi-private site for friends. They get the humor, or don’t. Don’t like it, don’t read it is generally my attitude.

But the coincidence of this is just too good to pass up. So, you were warned. Rated MA for adult content and language. Don’t like that, don’t read it.

When I hear the term Fish Porn, I immediately think of the pictures that are popular on the web and in the magazines. Young, healthy men and women thrusting the heads of big fish into the wide angle lens of a camera. You can’t help but look because of the effect a wide angle lens has on subject matter. Distorts it just to the point where it starts to look deformed, but you can still distinctly make out the details.

That is also the problem with using camera equipment like that, just about anything you shoot is going to look interesting. It’s so out of the realm of how we actually see things it will be interesting solely for calling attention to its distortions. The effect is so simple to achieve that I’ll bet I can take a well trained chimpanzee and show it how to take interesting photos.

I quit reading the majority of the mainstream fishing magazines a long time ago. Lost interest in the big name fishing shows about the same time. I don’t have any interest in spending $30,000 on a boat and then driving it across a lake or down a river at 50 mph just to catch a fish. I don’t use that gear, I don’t use the lures they use . . . it’s all information that is pretty much wasted on me. I’ve been out of the loop with things like that, I didn’t know how things have changed.

I was wandering around Bass Pro Shop the other day. I never go to buy anything, just wander around looking at things. Don’t know why I do that, just do, shiny objects.

I stopped in front of a television on a shelf. What caught my attention was the gaudy bright colors of the shirt the angler was wearing. That’s nothing new, I’ve seen that Nascar type shirt on pro circuit anglers before, this one just seemed so bright. He’s standing on the deck of an expensive boat, in the background is a beautiful wooded shoreline. Between the two are weed beds and some lily pads.

I have no clue who the guy was, I don’t pay attention to that stuff. All I had in my head was that this guy is standing in a beautiful, pristine environment wearing one of the most disgustingly gaudy shirts I’ve ever seen. And he didn’t seem embarrassed.

Someone came and stood next to me to watch the show. I wasn’t in the mood for company so I turned to him and said “I have a couple of gay friends that would be more than happy to help him with his little fashion faux pax.” He stood looking at me, eyelids starting to blink faster like windshield wipers on high. I knew some brain cells behind those eyes were thinking over that statement. Without a word, he turned and walked away.

The fishing peacock was going on about some new lure. I heard a weight mentioned of about an ounce. Things were taken apart and put back together. That was supposed to do something, but I missed the point. I was so fascinated by that shirt I couldn’t concentrate.

Then they started showing the lure swimming through the water, over and over again. I kept expecting to see a bass come up and smash it, but it never happened. My head was saying, figures, if I were a fish I wouldn’t eat that piece of shit.

Finally the peacock stands up on the boat deck. The camera cuts in tight to show him using a two handed grasp on a broomstick like rod and flinging this lure into the air. I couldn’t believe he needed all that effort just to fling a lure 50 or 60 feet. I could have done that with a pretty simple flick of the wrist, maybe a little effort from my elbow down. I don’t think I’ve ever needed two hands to cast anything.

You could tell by the way the clip was edited that they probably made a lot of those casts before a bass dumb enough came up and hit the lure.

He set the hook on it like he was setting a hook on a tarpon. Arms tucked down tight in front, jerking the rod back and back and back, the whole time saying, “Oh yeah, that’s good, that’s a good one, oh yeah.” Jerk, jerk, jerk on that rod and I’m thinking “Oh my god, I’m watching some guy jerk off with a fishing pole in his hand.”

They cut to the fish. He’s lifting his line to make the fish jump, it’s an old trick. “Oh yeah, oh baby that’s a good one, oh baby.”

I can’t believe what I’m hearing, this is just wrong.

The fish finally gets close to the boat. I’m expecting the peacock to reel up as much line as possible, lean over and lip the fish. That’s what I would do. Instead, with too much line out on the rod, he lays down on his back with his spine as the dividing point between what is on and what is off the boat. All I hear is “what the fuck are you doing?” It’s me talking to the damn television.

Now he’s sprawled on the deck of the boat. Rod in his left hand and he’s extending it as far as he can to tighten up the too much line he has out. With his right arm he’s extending it as far as he possibly can in a desperate reach for the bass. I hear this coming out of the television. “Ohhhh that’s a good one, oooohhh that’s good, c’mon, c’mon, ohhhhh that’s good.”

At this point I have beads of sweat forming on my forehead, I wipe it off. This is just sick. Just as he is putting his fingers under the gill plate of the bass and saying “Commmmeee onnnn,” I hear my voice . . .

“Stand the fuck up, reel in the line, bend the hell over and just lip the goddamn thing.”

I stood there for a second, remembering why my kids are always saying “daaaad, must you?”

The peacock lifts the fish out of the water and says the words I despise, “look at the size of that hawg.” My mind goes into flashback mode. The movie Deliverance suddenly appears in my head. “You Sure Gotta Purdy Mouth Thar Boy.” Ned Beatty naked on all fours with some hillbilly behind him pulling on his ear and screaming “squeeeaaal, squeeeeaaaal, like a pig, c’mon, squeeeeealllllll.”

My brain goes into a cramp. Pig, hawg, oh god please tell me I’m wrong, there’s no way.

I stood up straight looking straight ahead. I turned my head. The guy behind the counter about 20 feet away was looking at me. I was quiet for a second, then shrugged my shoulders and pointed at the television, “Fucking idiot.” Then I walked away.

I couldn’t believe what I had just watched. Some guy laying on his back on a boat deck trying to land what wound up being barely a 3 pound fish and moaning and groaning like he’s having the best damn orgasm he ever had in his life. I’m so out of the loop, I didn’t know that this is how bass anglers are depicted. No wonder the fly guys and trout anglers think we’re neanderthals, we are. Shit, they are. I don’t want to be lumped into this.

That depressed the shit out of me. No wonder bass anglers can’t be relied on for anything when it comes to conservation, volunteering time to causes, river cleanups, you name it. Anything good for the resources and it’s next to impossible to get them interested. At least the average guy. He’s too busy at home watching fish porn with his pants down around his ankles and . . . I don’t want to think about it. The guys that are showing up to help are probably the ones that ain’t gettin’ themselves none back at home.

Then I realized things aren’t that much better on the trout side of the world. The world where I thought snobbery and elitism would keep that kind of showmanship at bay. But even though the trout guys aren’t picking up on the lack of fashion sense, we’ll have to wait to see if Orvis or Simms picks up on the trend, they are no stranger to the fish porn.

I’ve noticed far too many of those thrusting-head first-red fish in spawning color types of images lately. John Holmes goes fly fishing. Really, you didn’t notice the phallic symbolism when you shot that image?

My ex father-in-law had that habit of kissing a good sized bass on the head before releasing it back to the lake where it originated. I always thought that was a bit odd, but we were in Virginia, that might be normal there. Then he taught my daughter this. I’ve seen her kiss rock bass and even creek chubs on the head before releasing them. “You do know that’s not right?” But she thinks they’re cute and they probably need a kiss. Fish porn crosses the gender line and I can’t stop it.

No wonder I fish alone so much. No groaning, no hawg or pig comments, no “ooohh babbbby, c’monnnn baby.” Hook a fish, reel it in, look it over, take a picture maybe. As I’m finning it in the water letting it regain it’s strength I’m thinking, keep it and eat it or let it go. Let it go usually wins, unless I really have a taste for beer battered smallmouth.

Now and then you have no choice but to go along with what you find out on the river. Cold or warm blooded, everything has some form of sex. Sometimes you sit there watching because, well, what else is there to do. Then you take some pictures for the heck of it because what you found was interesting after all.

Then you get home, look at the pictures and something in the back of your head keeps mumbling, “you know, that’s just not right. Not what they’re doing, but the fact that you stood there watching, then took pictures.”

“They’re turtles for gods sake!”