Tag Archives: yorkville dam

Please Don’t put up Pictures of Fog

But I like fog.

I like the way it visually cuts me off from my surroundings. This one wasn’t horribly dense, but you could see nothing beyond the trees on the opposite shore of the river barely 100 yards away. Even those were indistinct shades of gray.

In the tree on the left are a couple of bald eagles, no, really.

Fishing in fog like this is one of my favorite things to do. It makes you concentrate and focus on what is readily apparent rather than letting your mind wander on what is down stream and around the next bend. You can’t see the next bend.

This morning I had already been out on my porch listening to the bald eagles talk down on the river. The geese were being unusually noisy this morning too. Maybe because of the eagles. With the air temperatures just above 40 degrees, it was time to go for a walk. We’ve had a long stretch of below freezing temps and this year my bones are paying the price. Today they didn’t feel so bad.

I could tell by the sound that there were a lot of geese along the river. They were thick on the ice and in the shallow water below the dam when I got there. Some were already getting nervous about me walking along the shore and took off.

The geese that hang out around here all year don’t get so nervous. I can always tell how wild the geese are by how close they let you get. The more domestic ones will let you walk right up to them, they get used to people tossing them food. The wilder ones will start honking and moving around, getting agitated.

I decided to make matters worse by walking out on a spit of land that got me even closer to the geese. The honking kept getting louder.

It wasn’t long before they started leaving in small groups.

This kept up for a few minutes.

Till they were all pretty much airborne.

I quickly realized there were now a few hundred pissed off flying crapping machines over my head.

I flipped the hood onto my head and stood on the end of the spit of land to watch what I started. The honking was deafening and there were so many geese low over my head that I could feel the vibrations from displaced air coming off their wings and onto my eardrums. It took them a few minutes to realize I wasn’t leaving and they headed off down stream.

The other benefit of fog is that it deadens the noise of human activity, but I noticed that it had practically no affect on the sound of the birds on the river. I noticed how clearly I could hear the eagles this morning though they were two blocks away. As I walked home in the same direction the geese flew, I could hear them still pissed off and honking, but I couldn’t see them.

I think I’ve always noticed this, but not so distinctly as today. There must be something about the sound waves from their noises that cuts through the fog. I would assume so they can continue to know where each other are even if they couldn’t see each other.

The geese were heading down stream making a ruckus. I could hear them flying around and remembered that there were few places for them to land. The river further down was already filled with birds and I’m sure no further company was wanted. A half hour later I went in the house. The birds were still squawking loudly.

My mother-in-law was sitting in the living room and commented on the sounds of the geese as I walked into the house. She could hear the noise building out on the river two blocks away even in a closed up house.

Yeah, that was me. I decided to have a little fun with the geese.

“They didn’t sound like they were having fun.”

What? What’d I do Wrong?

A few times a week I take a walk. I live a little over a half mile from the Yorkville dam and it’s a nice hike there and back. Actually have a decent steep hill to walk up and down to test and stretch my joints and muscles.

Whenever there are fishermen hanging out fishing around the dam, you can bet at some point one of them will be fishing in the, well, that’s the problem.

Is it a bypass channel?

Maybe a kayak chute?

Or is it the Marge Cline Whitewater Course?

The average fisherman is a pretty simple human being and when it comes to fishing, you can’t tell them where they can or cannot fish. Especially if you’re not making it painfully clear to them.

Once you start having a conversation with them, trying to explain to them that they can’t fish in a certain area, the conversation gets turned around. It gets twisted in a way so that the fisherman at least thinks he’s winning the argument. He’s going to fish there. He’s going say whatever he has to say to make that happen.

By the time you are done, you’ll be doubting your sanity and wondering if there isn’t a camera crew from TruTV hiding off behind a bush somewhere filming the whole thing.

There are signs on either end of the kayak chute saying No Fishing in the Bypass Channel. I knew when I saw the sign that it was a waste of time. The type is too small.

Look at the bottom of the photo. There’s a guy standing behind the sign fishing. When I told him he couldn’t fish there, I got “I didn’t see anything on any sign.” When he didn’t argue with me and packed up and left, I knew he was lying.

That’s what fishermen do.

Take a look at the last line of small black type. No Fishing in the Bypass Channel. In order to be an effective no fishing sign you have to have one this big with nothing else on it but the no fishing warning. The no fishing warning has to fill the whole sign and, even then, you’ll find fishermen standing right next to it fishing and when you say something you’ll get the exact same response I did.

Part of the problem is, what the hell is a bypass channel? You can bet that’s running around the in the fisherman’s head.

I wandered all over the park. I know this is called the Marge Cline Whitewater Course, but I couldn’t find a sign anywhere stating that. The name should be on the sign to make it clearer to the fishermen. They have no clue what a bypass channel is, but they do understand putting titles on important things.

Not that they care.

To simplify it even more, since there are usually kayaks playing around in the whitewater course, even fishermen know what a kayak is.

Call it a kayak chute, put that on the signs and be done with it.

No Fishing in the Kayak Chute.

In the long run it still won’t matter. It didn’t matter the other day when I was wandering around along the kayak chute. There were two people fishing the fast water of the chute. While a guy in a kayak was telling one they couldn’t fish there, I thought I would take pictures of the other.

He saw the other fisherman getting shagged off, so he hurried things up a bit and fired off a few casts all the way across the chute.

As the guy in the kayak floated toward him, the fisherman turned his back on him, walked further up the shore and started fishing up there.

I already know if you were to confront this guy he would first deny seeing the sign, which would be a lie. Then he’d say he didn’t know, which would be another lie. Then he’d say he wasn’t fishing around the kayaks, which is irrelevant.

You can see how this would continue. He’d always have something to say in his defense, even if his defense is pointless.

That’s what the average fisherman does.

The guy in the kayak saw me taking pictures and wandered over to where I was standing. We talked awhile about the ignorance of fishermen. The other thing that came up was the hazards of hooks getting lost in the chute. Inside those little kayaks, all they have on their feet are neoprene socks, no shoes or boots. The other day while wandering around the kayak chute, I found these lying around.

These hooks are relatively small, but to a kayaker that flips over and has to put his feet down, getting one of these in your foot is going to suck. Even worse, I found one of these on the bottom of the river the other day.

That can cause some pretty major problems.

The kayaker and I talked about signage, it’s size, what it should say and where it should be put. That night, I put a comment on the City of Yorkville Facebook Page saying that they need to do something about this. They need to put up more and bigger signs.

Today when I wandered down to the river, someone had put up a new sign.

That’s not going to work. The type is even smaller than what is on the big yellow sign that the fishermen say they never saw.

Plus they call it a Whitewater Park. Now you’ve got the fishermen even more confused. Still another term. I already know a fisherman is going to tell you he wasn’t fishing in the park.

So, here are my suggestions. Call it a kayak chute. Simple and to the point. No Fishing in the Kayak Chute. Six words I know is a lot, but I can’t figure out which one to get rid of to make it even shorter for the fishermen to understand.

Make the signs big, huge, bright yellow with gigantic black type that fills the sign from top-to-bottom and side-to-side.

One has to go on the south side of the river near the footbridge. If necessary, get two of them, that way they can be seen from a variety of directions.

Another one needs to go on the bridge. As you walk to the end of the bridge, the whole field of view should be filled with the sign. This photo will give you an idea of what I’m talking about. As you walk, all you should see at the end is nothing but sign.

The other option is to have a bunch of 3 foot by 4 foot signs made up, again, filled with No Fishing in the Kayak Chute. All along the kayak chute, on both sides, one of these signs should be placed every 50 feet. From the beginning to the end of the kayak chute.

I have a feeling that won’t be all that visually appealing.

Even then I already know that idea is doomed to fail.

One day you’ll go down to the kayak chute and there will be a fisherman.

He’ll be standing smack dab in the middle between a couple of the signs, fishing the kayak chute.

He’ll be so centered between those signs that if you got out a tape measure and measured, you’d find that he missed dead center by less than an inch.

If you go up to him and tell him he can’t fish in the kayak chute, his eyebrows would go up, his eyes would widen, his head would slowly turn both up and down stream.

Then he’d look you dead in eyes and without batting an eye he’d say…

“I didn’t see no signs.”

Wild Asparagus, a Bridge, Beer and Leaf Burning

Who are you? Carnac? What does any of that have to do with fishing.

Everything is related somehow. Sometimes you just have to wait awhile till they all catch up with each other.

Saturday was a work day. There were things that needed to get done around the yard and it was going to be a gloriously beautiful day. Mid 60s, mild winds and plenty of sunshine.

The house I rent sits on a 100 X 150 foot lot. I guess that’s big. It’s bigger than anywhere else I’ve lived. By neighborhood standards though, it’s one of the smaller lots. On the lot and immediately bordering it to within a few feet are a dozen trees. A couple of big maples that refuse to change colors or drop any leaves. A couple of big old oaks that aren’t having that problem. A couple of big black walnut trees and a few that defy identification, mainly because I’m too lazy to look it up.

Except for the two maples, most of the other trees are almost done shedding their leaves. Most of the leaves wound up on my roof, in the gutters and covering just about every square inch of the yard. Starting on the leaf removal process had to wait though. We had a heavy frost over night and everything was covered with a thin layer of ice, including the roof. My wife may like to refer to me as the idiot, but even I’m not dumb enough to go climbing up on an ice covered roof.

I knew it would take till at least noon to dry everything out, there’s no point in trying to rake and blow around soaking wet leaves. This left me with a bit of spare time to kill.

On the side roads I take to get to the main road to work, I’ve found a stretch where wild asparagus seems to be growing quite well in that strip of land between the road and the corn fields. I decided to go do a little more exploring.

It’s much better than I thought. For over a mile, both sides of the road have one wild asparagus plant after another. This time of year they’re pretty easy to spot as they go to seed. Considering the amount of traffic this little two lane road sees, I’m surprised it hasn’t been picked clean. But then, I guess those living in the subdivisions not that far away would probably prefer getting their asparagus from a grocery store.

Over the summer I found a massive bunch of wild asparagus on an island in the middle of the Fox River. If nothing else, I know nobody will get to that bunch. It’s a shame I now have to wait till spring.

On the way home I stopped at the Marge Cline Whitewater Course. There sitting on shore was the new bridge that is to span the whitewater course so people can walk out to the small island between the dam and the course.

I was hoping this was forgotten about and the bridge was never going to be put up. I had sung the praises in a previous post of the benefits of having fewer anglers in this stretch. I’m afraid putting in the bridge will bring them all back along with all their garbage. I was just starting to get used to seeing this stretch of the river nice and clean.

Back at home everything was dry and I spent the next 4 hours blowing leaves out of gutters and then moving endless piles of leaves out to the curb in any way that worked. Blowing worked up to a point, the point where the leaf pile was 3 feet high and still had to be moved another 20 feet to the edge of the street. At that point it was quicker and easier to move it all with a rake. Low tech is some times better.

Of course one big pile was collected around the fire pit. It was time. A good beer was brought out and all it took was one small flame on one leaf to begin the next hour of burning.

And burn I did. To build it up even more, I went through the hoard of mother-in-law junk that’s stacked in the garage. Anything that was busted and broken and made of wood got tossed onto the pyre.

Too soon I was out of things to burn.

I settled into a lawn chair. Flames in the fore ground, waning light as a back drop, I opened another good beer and sat staring into the flames until they died into a pile of smoldering ash. I looked up into the maple that refuses to give up its leaves.

Sure looks like I’ll be doing this again next week.

You can Still Fish at the Yorkville Dam, but why Would You?

For almost six years I’ve been living within walking distance of the Yorkville dam. I think I’ve fished near the dam, that would be between the dam and the Route 47 bridge, only once in those 6 years.

Prior to that, when I would make the drive to this area from Elmhurst, I started out fishing near the dam just to get a feel for how the river behaved in this stretch. I quickly migrated down stream of the Route 47 bridge and rarely went back.

I remember one time I was fishing a few hundred yards down from the bridge. From the bridge down for as far as I could see, I had the whole river to myself. Between the bridge and the dam I could see anglers milling around like a bunch of ants. I counted 27 of them in that small stretch of the river.

To fish around that many other anglers would drive me crazy, but it was a pretty common sight around this dam. The average angler thinks that the only place to fish on a river is near a dam. I found out over the years that there is no convincing them otherwise.

Years ago there was a big push to remove as many dams as possible from the Fox River. The Yorkville dam was a big issue. I wanted the thing gone, it served no purpose. The community came out strong in keeping the dam, which was expected. What surprised me was the amount of anglers that came out in favor of keeping the dam. No amount of science or logic would convince them that removing the dam was the best thing you could do for the Fox River and fishing. Which would be good for the fisherman.

They didn’t want to lose their fishing spot and that was that.

So much for that.

The dam has been rebuilt, the Marge Cline Whitewater Course is in place and anglers can’t fish anywhere near it. They’ve been effectively cut off from the dam they fought so hard to keep.

There is no poetic justice sweeter than that which sticks it up the asses of people that should have known better.

Am I gloating? Why, yes, yes I am.

The plan is to put a bridge over the whitewater course. This will allow anglers access to a manmade berm, I guess island, and they’ll be able to fish along the dam again. Fishing will never be allowed within the whitewater course itself. According to the project manager the bridge will be done late summer/early fall. Since this whole project took longer than anticipated, I don’t expect to see it done this year. But you never know.

You can still wade out in front of the dam, you can’t wade through the whitewater course to get there.

I wander down along the whitewater course fairly often. It’s a nice walk from my house, decent exercise. Based on conversations with anglers along here, they had no idea you can no longer fish along the south shore. You don’t see the signs when you pull into the parking lot, they’re down along the river.

They are also completely unaware that the shore on the north side of the river is a public park. I went looking for it on the Yorkville Parks and Recreation site and it’s not even listed there. Since I got this info from former Yorkville Mayor Valerie Burd, I’ll take that as a legitimate source of information.

The park on the north side of the river extends from the dam down to the Route 47 bridge. If you turn east onto Main Street off of Route 47, you’ll immediately see a small parking area. I would imagine you can park along Main Street as long as it’s legal. It even looks like you can park just up from the dam, but I never checked this out thoroughly.

Once you get there, if you don’t go out wading in the river you’re going to have a problem. This shore is not lawn chair or upside down 5 gallon bucket friendly. It’s been a long time since I walked down the channel between the north shore and the island, but my memory is of ankle deep water when the water is at normal levels. I don’t see the point of sitting along that shore, if it’s even physically possible.

If you can get to the south shore of the island, at least you’ll be fishing some deeper water. I remember one spot in particular that I avoided going near while out wading.

It is kind of interesting to see how this area has changed. The Geneva Kayak Center opened at the head of the whitewater park and every weekend there are lots of cars in the parking lot with canoes and kayaks strapped on top. Quite a few venture out in their kayaks trying to figure out how to deal with even this small whitewater. The kayakers call it play and you can see the difference an experienced kayaker makes, they play.

Whitewater Ice Cream opened up right on the edge of the parking lot selling ice cream, along with Creative Kernels selling pop corn and a variety of other things I believe.

And the number one thing I’ve noticed, the area is a lot cleaner, virtually no garbage.

It’s a sad day when you realize you have to ban anglers from a stretch of river in order to ever see it clean again.