Tag Archives: wadauwant

What to do What to do

One of these days I’m going to figure out what to do with all these pictures I take.

I find myself out wandering just shooting with no real thought given to them.

Most turn out quite bland and yet, in my head is an image stew.

Back when I used to paint I used to paint images over images over and over again.

My head is telling me to start combining these somehow.

Orderly, abstract, disparate, just put them up together somehow, one after another, above and below each other, nice neat lines, sporadic and let the images figure out whether or not they play well together.

I open folders and browse, couple of seconds per image. Playing the possibilities out in my head. Putting things together. Rotating them. Flipping them.

I have a memory for images, not words.

I walk away and they keep playing in my head.

Wake up in the middle of the night and the slide show continues.

One of these days I’m going to figure out what to do with all these pictures I take.

If for no other reason than I need to get some sleep.

Sunset in the Neighborhood

Sunset in the neighborhood.

You take what you can get.

Or, you take what you got.

I live a short block from some busy railroad tracks.
Tiki the Bitch Queen likes to go for extended evening walks along the tracks.
Lots of fresh and new smells I guess.
She can shit where she wants and neither of us give it much thought.

Sunsets are more urban, more industrial, but I grew up that way a long time ago.
I guess back then I was an inner city kid.
Punk kids, I recall being called.
There are some things you’re perpetually used to.
Urban sunsets are one of those.

It’s no longer what I want, what I prefer.
But, you take what you can get.
Or, you take what you got.

Last Fish of the Year

Apparently my intolerance for cold is long standing. I remember hating it as a kid. December of 2001, I wrote this in a post:

In my nightmares, hell has 3 feet of snow on the ground, steady 40 mile an hour winds and icicles hanging down from the ceiling.

A normal winter has usually dumped a good foot of snow on the area by the last day of the year. Many of the ponds are frozen solid by then and it’s not unusual to see a lone figure sitting out on an overturned five gallon bucket, staring down into a little hole drilled into the ice.

Going down to the Fox River can be disconcerting. You know it’s a river and it’s supposed to be flowing, but it can be locked with ice for as far as you can see.

My brain takes awhile to process a stationary river. I know it’s flowing, it has to be. I can feel my body making an involuntary pushing motion, like I’m trying to help it along with what it’s supposed to be doing. But all my shifting and shrugging and hand movements pushing downstream do nothing to move the solid ice along. I resign myself to the fact that this is what the river will look like for awhile.

There are a half dozen creeks that feed the Fox River within 15 minutes of my house, two of which never freeze during the winter.

I already knew they were spring fed when I went from the river to the creek on the first day of September a few years ago. The river water was reading 80 degrees while the creek only made it to 60 degrees.

I would prefer to fish nothing but creeks and only periodically fish the river, but the amount of time I spend fishing would devastate a creek. Not because I would keep any fish, the fish would get trained and shut down.

From what I can tell, the creeks average about 20 feet in width. There will be a few pools that widen up even more and get fairly deep, but the bulk of the creeks are made up of narrow shallow riffles broken occasionally by waist deep pools . They couldn’t handle too many people wandering around in them fishing. The fish would quickly run out of places to hide and simply leave, head back down to the river.

The final month of 2011 wasn’t really all that bad. One of the warmest Decembers on record. According to my records, I hadn’t been out fishing since November 15th. To go that long without fishing is very rare. I need to disappear on long stretches of moving water to quiet the conversations and images running around inside my brain. Moving water seems to be the only way I get those things organized and can start making sense of them. I think it’s the soothing sound of water over rock that does it for me. Must do something to my brain wave patterns. I should suggest that as study to see if I’m imagining it or not.

Since I always look at long range weather forecasts, I had decided 10 days earlier that I would go fish a creek on the last day of the year. On the last day of the year I stepped outside to be greeted with overcast skies and an air temp that couldn’t be more than 40. I went online and looked up the weather. It still said it was sunny and 47 degrees, it had been saying that for 10 days.

One of us got it wrong.

The plan was to fish a pool nine miles up a creek. The pool is almost 100 feet long and I think the depth is somewhere around the eight foot mark.

This shot doesn't do this pool justice. I'll have to try it again over the winter from a higher vantage point.

I had caught smallies here into November and in the first week of March 2011, I had landed a respectable 18 inch smallie. These fish, in theory, shouldn’t even be here at those times of the year. They should have made a mad dash to the river to find suitable wintering holes. But this little creek also has more creek chubs and river shiners than any other of the Fox creeks I’ve fished. If I were a smallie, I wouldn’t leave.

I expected to have the whole place to myself. It’s rare that I run into anyone, even on the nicest of days. A couple of bikers came by as I was suiting up. Found out they were taking a New Year’s Eve cruise through the back roads of the county. Of course the conversation focused on fishing. I surprised myself at the amount of detail I gave them. I knew they would never be back. In the 5 years I’ve been fishing here I’ve only come across one other set of foot prints down on the creek bed.

I did issue them a fair warning. This time of year it’s relatively easy to wander through the woods. Come mid summer, things are drastically different. Sometimes you have to crawl like a penitent begging for salvation. And just like salvation, you won’t know if you’ll receive it once you arrive until the very last moment, that moment when you make your first cast.

Just this past summer I wanted to fish a little bit longer stretch of this creek. Since I wade, cast and fish downstream, it requires that I hike upstream on shore as far as possible. The first three quarters of a mile were tough, but not unusual. I wanted to go another quarter mile.

One hundred yards into the dense brush I found myself lying on the ground. The animal path had degenerated into being useful only for things that stood about 18 inches high.

I could feel the throbbing pain of a thorn that had punctured my waders and embedded itself into my thigh. I held up my arms, the long red scratches felt like they were on fire. I could feel the same thing across my forehead. I eventually made it that extra quarter of a mile, but I paid for it dearly.

Maybe I didn’t mention that to the bikers. Oh well, they’ll figure it out.

I prefer the creek, any creek really, in the spring through fall. My eyes need the color from the surrounding woods. Winter just isn’t the same. The starkness of the creek and the trees along the shore does brings out the structure of The Church of the Holy Fish though. I just have to get used to it’s winter cathedral.

Luckily there was some color to be had. Some lichens and mosses were clinging to deadfalls.

You really had to look and it was a pleasure to find, but soon this too will take on the the brown gray drabness of it’s surroundings.

The pool itself has been slowly changing over the last 5 years. A couple of massive downfalls on the opposite shore had disappeared last year. A mile long search down stream never showed any sign of them. Still more massive logs appeared on the near shore. All of this was affecting the swirl of the pool. A long narrow sand bar was slowly being created that jutted out into the middle of the pool. It was still under water by a couple of feet and I have a feeling the yearly floods will keep it that way.

I scaled down my lure choice to something a creek chub might eat. My goal was to catch a small one then use it for bait in the deep pool. The chubs were uncooperative so I stuck with the small lure and swam it painfully slow through long stretches of the hole.

I learned in past winter fishing outings that live bait is a good choice, but you have to fish everything slow. With an oversized minnow on the end of a hook, you’ll eventually feel an initial tap. If you set the hook then all you’ll get back is a minnow with most of its scales missing or just it’s head. You have to hold still and wait for that second tap.

With artificials you don’t wait after the initial tap, you tap back immediately. And if everything goes right, you get to land a perfect little 14 inch smallie hooked right in the top lip.

The coloring on this fish was unusual for a smallie. Usually out of clear water their vertical bars distinctly stand out. But they are also like chameleons in how they change their colors to fit their surroundings. This one was taken off the leading edge of the sandbar and it matched the color of the sandbar perfectly.

The smallie was eye balling me intently, these fish always do that. It will creep you out if you project intelligence onto fish. What are they looking at?

I fished till the cold of the water penetrated the layers of socks protecting my feet. Then stayed for just a handful more casts. I had got what I wanted, but I was reluctant to leave. I never get enough of what it is I need.

Back at the car still another visitor showed. It drives my wife nuts, but I have this ability to start conversations with just about anyone. As much as I detest the group mentality of most of humanity, I can’t seem to help myself in bringing people out of themselves.

Somehow us standing in the parking lot on the edge of the woods got us to talking about more personal matters. Which got us to talking about the mental health benefits of being in the woods, the beneficial aspects of being around all those negative ions coming off water. This of course segued into talking about fly fishing for creek chubs and smallies. Which of course led to the appropriate casts to use for such tight quarters.

And don’t forget the flies to use.

Which of course led to giving him all the best ways to get down into this creek, which he promised he would do come spring. I hope so, but I’ve heard that before.

I could hear my wife sighing and a repeat of a conversation.

“How do you get total strangers to tell you their life stories and why do you do that?”

“I don’t know, I can sense that they need something, need to get something off their chest. I just ask a couple of questions.”

“Yeah, but you take it all in like you’re their best friend on earth at that moment. Did it ever occur to you that’s why you can’t sleep at night?”

“I’ve thought of that, but I bet they went home feeling better.”

“But how about you?”

“I’m fine, I have my creeks. That’s where I go to unload.”

Funny How? Funny Like a Clown?

Well, I thought it was a little amusing anyway.

No, not the picture.

Nine months out of the year my car has everything in it that I could possibly need to pull over on the side of a road somewhere and go fishing. Waders and boots, a change of clothes that include warmer layers for those colder days, both air and water. Sometimes I get that wrong and my nuts make a mad dash for the deep recesses of my abdomen in a vain attempt to keep warm. But for the most part, I’m pretty well covered.

I pay for this Boy Scout – Be Prepared attitude by endless comments from those dumb enough to get in my car.

“It stinks in here.”

Open the window.

“It won’t open.”

Oh yeah, the short. Damn electric windows. Open the back window and I’ll drive faster, get a breeze going.

“It’s not helping.”

You didn’t want to take your car, remember?

This being the end of the third week of November, the weather wasn’t awful. Air temps were in the mid 40s, I assumed the water temps would be about the same. I’ve done days like this before and have still been able to catch a few fish.

I was looking through my old reports for a November pattern. Back in 2002 we had a fall very similar to what we’re going through now. Relatively warm days and the evenings haven’t gone below freezing all that much. Back then I used to keep meticulous records and November 2002 shows that I caught 318 smallies alone. The individual reports from that month show some pretty good days of walleye and white bass too, with one day producing 75 white bass. I haven’t kept detailed records like that in years, no interest anymore.

The one thing I did notice in the individual reports was that just about all of them mentioned hauling around a bucket of minnows and using a simple hook and split shot for all my fishing. Back then I used to seine my own bait fish from a ditch that fed the river. It seemed to never run out.

I don’t seine for bait any more and even though I have a wading bucket, it’s one of the few things I don’t bother taking out of the garage. I just can’t bring myself to haul a bucket of bait fish around any more.

When I wandered out the door today, I had a couple of stretches of the Fox in mind. Within 10 minutes I was letting the car idle along a mile long stretch. On the opposite shore were spots I’ve fished in Novembers’ past. The river was up a bit, but that wouldn’t affect getting across the river. It would actually make some of the shore line spots bigger and deeper. In other words, perfect.

I’ve pulled perfect fish from these spots in the past. This one is from Thanksgiving weekend in 2002. The light sweatshirt gives away the air temps.

I mentally ran through all the other spots along here where smallies have been caught in November.

It seemed to be pretty consistent over the years.

Today, I drove away. Headed for another stretch further up stream.

The same thing happened here. I drove along checking out all the spots where I’ve caught fish in the past in November. It was a pretty extensive mental list that consisted of a few different species. I think this stretch was where back in November 2002, I had a 50 smallie day, plus a handful of walleye and other species.

I drove up and down the river, stopping at the different parks along the way. Walleye hole over there, smallie hole here. I remember catching a bunch of white bass out of that spot. I did this for a good 3 miles of the river, never getting out of my car. These were just a few of the many miles of the river I’ve covered endless times over the years. I’ve done them year round. I suddenly no longer had the urge to stop, suit up and go through all the machinations of fishing.

In the famous words of Brian Eno…Been There, Done That, Been There, Don’t Wanna Go Back.

I headed home. Part of me expected to be disappointed at my attitude, but that part never appeared. I laughed it off instead. I seem to be taking on the attitude that this has all been done before. How many times can the same information be regurgitated and be called something unique. I did a Google search on Fox River Illinois Fishing and got 1,060,000 results. I think somewhere in there is all the November Fox River fishing information anyone is ever going to want and need.

No point adding any more.

So, I won’t be heading out fishing much for the rest of the winter, now what.

I totally screwed myself this time. Something happened a few years ago when I shut down my canoe shop and got divorced at the same time. I took on a real “don’t give a shit attitude” that I’ve probably let go too far. On 90 percent of what makes up our daily lives, it applies and can be applied liberally. Go ahead, try it. Start telling me about banks, the recession, occupy anything, Republicans, Democrats, religion, anything to do with sports, Greece, the Euro, Israel, Iran, China, trade, manufacturing decline in the U.S., 30 percent of kids don’t graduate from high school and on and on and on. Don’t give a shit, really.

But when it comes to not taking the time to change the address on your FOID card, then not getting the renewal notice in the mail resulting in the expiration of said FOID card right at the beginning of hunting season, then a rethinking of that “don’t give a shit” attitude may be in order.

One must have priorities.

Every Picture Tells a Story, Don’t it?

Never did like that song much, but the premise is hard to argue with.

Got in and along the Fox River today. Lots of color, but I wouldn’t say it’s peak color. An awful lot of leaves missing and falling and floating down the river. Might have made the fishing tougher than it needed to be, but still caught a few.

Missed more, like usual.

What we need is cold, crisp air. The heat is generating a haze, which is keeping the colors from being as bright and crisp as they could be. Still look good, but I’m looking forward to the next cold snap.

Not much in the mood for words today.

It was a nice day.

We’ll let the pictures tell the story, won’t we.

For those that bothered to scroll all the way down here, he did do a few songs I liked a long, long time ago.

This would be one.

I’m Losing You

Then I came across this.

Funk 49