Deer crossing the Fox

I’ve been keeping a little log of my fishing adventures this year. Each time I head out fishing, I add a line to the little text file with the date, location, number of fish caught, and what I used. It’s been pretty interested to see my catch rate improve drastically since January 5, which was my first outing of the year. This is how I know that, at the time of this “writing,” I’ve been out fishing 80 times this year. 80 times! I’m clearly obsessed. But that is generally how I roll; it’s rare I just like something and that’s the end of it. When I like something, I like it a lot and tend to do whatever it is a bunch. As the weather gets nicer and nicer I can only imagine I’ll be out fishing more and more! (If you’re reading this on, you can see my “species scoreboard” to the right: all the fish I’ve caught this year to date.)

Since my last post, I’ve fished 7 more times! At this rate, I certainly can’t write a novella about each little fishing adventure. As much as I tend to ramble and write long accounts of every detail of each trip, I simply can’t allow myself that luxury every time. I don’t want to bore anybody reading this either! To that end, I’m going to try to keep this post nice and succinct.

First fish of the morning
(looks like it has some battle scars)

Thanks to the NATO summit in downtown Chicago, I had both Friday and Monday off. Friday morning I got up well before sunrise, loaded the car, and was in the Fox River as the sun rose. I really enjoy being outside anytime, but especially like that period of time right around sunrise. Everything is getting started, animals are doing their thing, things are quiet. I tend to beat most fishermen to the water when I fish that early, and I like having the river to myself. Birds and fish and deer and bugs excluded; the river is always theirs.

Second smallie of the day

After a very informative series of posts on Windy City Fishing about the smallmouth bass spawn, I wanted to avoid specifically fishing spawning females. I want to ensure future generations of giant smallies. Also, I wanted to try fishing areas with more current. The past few outings on the Fox my inexperienced legs have been no match for the relentless flow, but the river has calmed down as of late.

A few feet from shore, about a foot from fast current and hanging out in the slightly slower water, I pulled out two (male?) smallies and a surprising green sunfish. I hadn’t caught anything but smallmouth bass in the Fox until then, and I like catching lots of species! All three fish were caught
on a good old jig and twister. A question comes to mind as I write this: are pumpkinseeds and green sunfish the same thing? I’ll have to figure that out since I seem to be pretty good at catching them, whatever they’re called.

My first non-smallie catch on the Fox
As much as I enjoy fishing for bigger fish, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love catching any fish regardless of size. Although those bigger females put up quite a fight, the smaller males don’t just sit there. And river fish seem to always have more fight in them than still water fish, at least in my limited experience. I fished for a while, then decided to hit the road and look for a new spot.
I’ve been wanting to explore Poplar Creek for a while, reading great posts about it, and having caught my first Illinois smallie at its entrance to Bode Lakes two summers ago. I drove north along the Fox River, passing through many surprisingly rural areas. Looking at google maps certainly doesn’t give you the feel of these places; I enjoyed driving on the highway, windows open, through the country. My tube jig hanging from my rear-view mirror swayed as I drove.
After stopping for a coffee refill and second breakfast, I made it to Poplar Creek. What I found was an extremely slow-moving creek, no fish that wanted my offerings, and a sunken shopping cart with a white twister tail attached.
By this time it was around 10am, and I had plenty more time to explore. I hopped back in my Neon and headed east. When we used to live in Hoffman Estates, I fished Bode Lakes quite a few times. Once I accidently found myself driving through Shoe Factory Woods, admiring the dense foliage and remoteness of it all. Upon a later google maps exploration, I saw there was a good sized pond in the middle, far from the published paths. Perfect! Ever since that detour, I’d wanted to explore it and find out what treasures swam through its water.
After a beautiful hike through the woods, the sounds of car traffic fading behind me, I made it to what seemed like an amazingly remote pond in the middle of a seemingly deserted prairie. As I walked the shore, about a hundred big frogs yelped and jumped in the water. I started casting, not seeing any movement, nor did I notice any bass on beds. There was obviously a lot of wildlife here though; the entire muddy shore was covered, every single inch, with raccoon and deer tracks.
Whenever I find myself in such remote-like areas, I think about Minecraft. For those who aren’t in the know, it’s an open-ended survival computer game which I can’t recommend enough. It’s pretty cheap too, and extremely addictive. It combines a bunch of my fa
vorite things: video games, zombies, the outdoors (virtually) and fishing (you can build a fishing rod and catch fish).
Wilderness? Reminds me of Minecraft.
A few minutes later I heard some movement on the path behind me, and I saw a man walking with a bucket and a spray apparatus. I guessed he worked for the park district or something. I wondered if he’d tell me there’s no fishing allowed.
“There’s no fish-” expecting him to scold me for fishing, instead he fished his sentence with “… in there.” He explained they miscalculated the aquaculture or something or other, and the pond completely drains every year. No fish in there. I said I saw lots of frogs, “Well sure there are, there aren’t any fish to eat their eggs!” Makes sense. I packed up and hiked back to the car, admiring the forest around me.
I stopped at home to play with Walter the dog, refuel my stomach with a quick lunch, then I headed back out to the pond/lake with carp. I spent the next many hours sitting next to the water, two rods in the water with corn on the end, catching little catfish. While I waited for the fish to find my bait, I cleaned up two plastic bags worth of trash- including an entire six pack just left sitting there! People, seriously, is it so damn hard to clean up what you bring with you? I like beer as much, nay, more than the next guy, but if I bring stuff with me I clean it up. It’s not that difficult.
I tried a new spot as well, where I found a half-eaten little carp sitting on the shore. The flies were having a field day. I saw wakes in the water that suggested fish, so I threw out my lines and waited. Not having any rod holders, I did my best impression of an outdoorsy person and dug a couple holes in the grass, sticking my rods in the ground. Worked great!
Didn’t catch any carp, but thoroughly enjoyed the outdoors for a huge majority of the day. Caught some fish, saw some animals, and put in my time fishing. Practice makes perfect.

2 responses

  1. You’ve managed to catch some significant amount of fish this time. Also, I laughed a bit when you mentioned about the field looking like some minecraft scene. Seems like I’ve found a young heart inside an adult person.

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