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Joined: 07:33am - Feb 15,03
Posts: 1593
Location: Yorkville

Post Posted: 07:41pm - Jan 30,04 
Air temperature 20 degrees, water temperature about 39 degrees, cloudy skies, water normal, visibility unlimited, 7:30 a.m. to noon, wax worms with split shot, hook and float.

The rumor was that steelhead, or at least rainbows, were being caught in open water not too far away. Normally I don't put much stock in rumors, but this one was backed up by pictures. Vague pictures with cropped off heads, but plenty of shots of fish along with shots of the habitat that produced them. Rich Delaney and I decided a trip to go look for these fish were in order. It's been awhile since we tried something different and fishing when the air temperature doesn't make it above 20 degrees is new to us. Plus, these were going to be small, crystal clear creeks. We are used to that, but not used to the type of fish.

We could have easily asked where the creeks were and I think we would have got an invite to tag along, but there's no sense of adventure in that. We like to explore, to take the wrong turns and exits and see where we wind up. This is exactly what happened. We blew past the exit without ever seeing it. Since we had planned on spending the day wandering around, we decided to reverse the order of our exploring. Since we were further then we expected, we hit the far spot first.

What probably threw us off was one of our conversational tangents. I can't remember what sparked it, but Rich started talking about man's natural tendency to fish and hunt critters into extinction. I believe bison were mentioned and I know we were talking of critters dating back to the caveman era. Rich started rambling on about Ugluk and Mugluk, a couple of cavemen living in Siberia.

"I go hunt woolly mammoth for dinner," said Ugluk.
"You hunt woollies yesterday, no need more meat,"said Mugluk.
"Plenty of woollies, I take all I see," said Ugluk.
"Why not save some woollies for future cavemen," said Mugluk.
"Plenty woollies for everyone, DNR propaganda says not many left," said Ugluk.

So Ugluk went off and killed all the woolly mammoths in Siberia and eventually they had to cross the Siberian land bridge into Alaska so Ugluk could kill off all the woollies in North America.

Okay, we thought it was funny. Just goes to show how little has changed over the eons. Seems like the average fishermen or hunter hasn't changed their attitude much.

We did get some vague directions from Bob Long, who has spent some time in the past wandering these creeks. But his directions tend to be almost too vague. "Go to such and such an intersection, find a place to park and look for the creek". Okay. We did just that and were hard pressed to find a parking spot. Eventually we came across a public access point right next to a bridge. It even had a map that showed the edges of the property where it was legal to fish without trespassing. We got suited up in our winter coats and waders. Already our hands were freezing. It's tough to tie knots and shoes and put away small items with gloves on.

We wandered off with the intention in mind of finding where one creek entered the other. We figured where the two meet would be a good place to try. Along the way we stopped at many of the bends in the creek. The outside bends all had deeper water with undercut banks. The only problem was the ice. The creek was open, but there was a fair amount of shore ice and ice forming all around the downed trees. We knew fish had a penchant for setting up all over trees lying in the water, but there were very few trees that weren't encased in ice. We wandered upstream from hole to hole, watching the ice get thicker on our lines. So much for subtle presentations in clear water. The ice was making the line look as thick as a jump rope.

We kept wandering upstream. It seemed a little odd that we didn't come come across the mouth of the creek, but I know I assumed it was because there wasn't any scale on the map, so IÊfigured if we just kept wandering, eventually we'd get to the mouth. We followed another set of tracks that seemed to be dragging a sled. They had to know where they were going, so we thought. So much for that theory.

We kept walking along the creek. There were animal tracks everywhere. Squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, mice and what we figured were coyote. Either that or there were a lot of stray dogs wandering around the creek. The one set of tracks I expected to see the most never made an appearance. We didn't see a single set of deer tracks. I'm sure we covered a good mile.

"Well, I think we are officially trespassing as we go," I said.
"No, we're definitely not trespassing," Rich said.
"How do you figure that?" I asked.
"It's a matter of intent," said Rich. " You're trespassing if you willingly go on someone elses property to do something. We have no idea where we are, so we're just lost."

Sounded like a plausible argument to me.

We turned around and headed back, fishing along the way. Rich was sitting along the bank of the creek at one point when a nice steelie came shooting out from under an ice shelf. I ran back and got to see this one fish running from us. Encouraging at least. I wandered off ahead of Rich to look for the creek mouth.

I finally found it. We had practically walked right past it on our way out. There was simply nothing around. No fish, no sign of fish. I fell down the steep embankment one more time. I had to at least try. Rich finally caught up and we headed back for the car. We would try one more spot right near the car. For sure we would be trespassing if we went downstream. Never stopped us in the past, but we wanted to go check out the creek we passed on our way here, so it would just be a few casts and we're gone.

Rich was making the casts and I decided to head for the car. I had to break through a layer of shore ice along the shore and the water under it was relatively deep. Deep being up to my waist. I started getting in even deeper than my waist. I knew from experience that the type of location I was in could have a surprising wash out at its base. I got up on a rock and stepped off onto another. My foot slid off the rock and I didn't feel bottom. I kicked forward knowing that these types of holes were usually very small. I felt bottom with my toes and flailed with my arms trying to keep my upper body above water. I learned a long time ago that the water near the surface moves a lot faster than the water near the bottom, which is what makes it so hard to stand up when you fall over in a river. Exactly what happened this time.

I flailed my arms some more to keep my head from going under the water. Though my arms had gone under water, I wasn't too concerned. The coat was waterproof and I keep the sleeves tight just for this possibility. Hardly any water came up my sleeves. I was going to be okay after all. Or so I thought. Then I stood up, looked down and saw the water rush down into my waders. I knew it wouldn't be so bad till it got past my coat. Then it reached my crotch. "Oh man that's cold," I heard myself say. I raced the rest of the way across the river. Luckily the car was only about 100 feet away. By the time I got there my waders and my gloves were frozen solid. Even though the gloves were waterproof, the cold was going right through them. I couldn't bend my fingers and ripping my gloves off my freezing fingers was a heck of a lot more painful than I thought it would be.

Rich still had to get across the creek and I looked back to see that he was struggling through the same area I had just walked through. I couldn't be too concerned though because I was freezing solid and below the waist I was soaked down to my feet. I started up the car to get the heat going and rushed to peel off my soaking wet clothes. From the waist up I was bone dry. The waterproof coat had done its job. But from the waist down I was soaked to the skin. I was going to be all right. A little wet for the ride home, but at least it was now warm water.

Rich and I stopped at the other creek anyway. One of us may as well go check things out. While Rich was wandering to the other creek, I got out of the car and walked around the parking lot just to see if I could handle it. My legs froze up immediately and I could feel parts of my body receding into interior parts of my body to keep warm. The reports from Rich on his return were encouraging. As soon as the weather warmed up a little and melted the ice now covering the creek, we'd be back.

On the way home IÊproved still another one of my theories. I can outlast fishermen and hunters much younger than me. Rich could barely keep his eyes open and his forehead from hitting the dashboard. Poor guy. The plan was to stay out all day fishing the two creeks. Luckily for him IÊdid fall in the water. Staying out any longer would have killed the poor boy.

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Joined: 06:35pm - Feb 18,03
Posts: 4571

Post Posted: 10:13pm - Jan 30,04 
Great report Ken, enjoyable read.
Next time give me a ring, love to hit the creeks with you and Rich, and show you some spots. There is still alot I haven't explored yet either. Try to hit a new area each time out there. There is alot of nooks and crannies.

Oh, and the article in The Outdoor Notebook was great as well.

Image Kevin

Ignorance and Apathy, I don't know and I don't Care. W.C. Fields

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Joined: 03:35pm - Feb 11,03
Posts: 6059
Location: Not too far from Windy

Post Posted: 10:26pm - Jan 30,04 
A real fine adventure and a great tale Mr.G.
I enjoyed every word of it.
Thanks for sharing.

"The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive yet obtainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope." John Buchan


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Joined: 10:35am - Feb 11,03
Posts: 8606
Location: Naperville

Post Posted: 04:44am - Jan 31,04 
Great report Ken.
I really miss those detailed ones.


I've got to stop wishin'. Gota go fishin'...

Twin Fins



Joined: 09:16am - Feb 9,03
Posts: 1396

Post Posted: 08:06am - Jan 31,04 
I'm glad your still around to tell the Tale Ken, it doesn't take too very long to lose control of motor functions in freezing cold water
I posted the following a while back, it was intended for icefishermen, but it also applies to all you creek-freaks who feel the need to immerse yourselve's in frigid waters during times of subfreezing temps.
Ken..notice line item #3 I've highlighted it in red so you can't miss it!
Bob Hicks
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Joined: 09 Feb 2003
Posts: 1552
Location: Crestwood IL.
Posted: 08:09am - Dec 12,03

What else do I need besides the flare gun!!

a set of spikes worn around your neck to help extricate yourself from "suddenly soft-water"

a rope to help extricate your neighbors from "suddenly soft-water"

a dry change of clothes and/or blanket in your car...just in case

a spud to check thickness of ice out in front of you ( I'm terribly negligent in this dept.)

a "heavier than you friend" who walks faster than you do (I think this covers 99.999% of everyone I know, so I'm covered on the no spud thing)

a bottle of something at least 90 proof to prevent shock, to be used only while changing into dry clothes and thereafter.

a good pair of ice cleats or chains for your boots to prevent fractured tailbone and busted noggin syndrome.

a whistle around your neck, you may get too cold/weak to shout, but you can blow as long as your sucking air and not water.

I'm sure I'm forgetting something...I always do....

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