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Chitown-Angler

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

Post Posted: 10:20pm - Mar 9,03 
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Air temperature 28 degrees, water temperature 40 degrees, partly cloudy skies, water low, visibility about 24 inches in the river and unlimited in the discharge, 2:00 to 6:00 p.m., jig and twisters, jig and minnow, split shot and minnow.

There are days when the fishing gods are looking down upon you and they do everything in their power to give you a break on the river for no other reason than you're looking like you desperately need it. Total:

6 smallmouth bass,
2 walleye,
2 suckers that were foul hooked.

Everything came into alignment today. Clients got me everything on time and the projects came off without a hitch. By noon everything was done and I was hanging out killing time. My wife had come home for lunch and noticed my anxiousness. "You're not going to wait till 2:00 are you?" she said. This wasn't a question really, but more of a statement. I was going to wait till then before heading out. I thought I would give clients plenty of time to screw things up. But I knew it wasn't going to happen. Heading out a little early was a definite possibility.

I was out the door soon after. On the way out to the river I gave Rich Delaney a call. We were planning on heading out on Saturday and I wanted to make sure we were still on. I let the phone ring till it dropped into his answering machine. A few sentences into a message and Rich picks up the phone. He was definitely awakened from a nap. 30 years old, the man works maybe a couple hours a week more than being unemployed and he's taking a nap on a Thursday afternoon.

The reason for his exhaustion and mid day nap, he assured me, was because he was out at dawn at the very location where I was now heading. I didn't want to know this. Not the reason for his mid day nap, the assumption is that guys earn these in spite of what their women say, but I really didn't want to know how he did when out fishing. Since I was on a cell phone I was just going to hang up on him and not bother calling again. Blame it all on a bad cell. That does happen. "I guess we got cut off," I'd say the next time we spoke. Since it was just about fishing, not calling back wouldn't have to be explained, it was just a fishing conversation. It's not that important, we all know that.

But I had to ask. "So how'd you do?" I heard myself say.
"One smallie in about two hours of fishing," he said.

Why do I do that to myself. Rich was just as disappointed as I was. He thought for sure that after my success at sunrise a few days earlier he would have a similar success. I guess it wasn't meant to be. I could tell he was struggling to put words together. The nap obviously had knocked him out and he was having trouble dealing with being awake. I bid him goodbye.

Even though I had my minnow bucket in the car I wasn't convinced I was going to be putting it to use. This conversation proved to me that I had no choice. If I was going to catch anything, minnows seemed to be the way to go. Smitty's in Aurora has always been generous to me with their minnows and I haven't been there in months. Four dozen should be more than enough for today and for Saturday when I planned on getting out again.

Image

I got to the river and to the spot I wanted to fish. Two hours later and two smallies later I was sitting on the shore lamenting the lack of bite, even with minnows. Snow covered the island across the channel. I could see all the way through the island across the opposite channel and to the shore beyond. I sat staring blankly across the river wishing for the thickness of the green growth of summer. I wouldn't have to hear the traffic on the opposite shore, the growth would buffer that. I wouldn't have to see the homes in the distance, a reminder that I was still in an urban area. I enjoyed the silence of running water over rock. A few more weeks and my surroundings would close in on me. Though I'm claustrophobic I find it curious that I would want things close in. Maybe it's people that I have that reaction to, not natural surroundings.

Slush ice was floating down the river and the disappointment of having ice in my guides temporarily reminded me that someone had lied. It was supposed to be in the mid 30's today, but it never got above 28 degrees out here. No wonder my fingers were so cold. I tucked my hands into my waders hoping to warm them up. I was considering going home, but I had talked to Steve Jung and told him I would be out here. I sat on the edge of the shore watching the water flow by. Larger chunks of ice were going by and I was glad I wasn't out in the river getting whacked by the ice. A large chunk of ice floated by. A duck was sitting on it. It looked around as it floated by as if it were sight seeing. I guess sitting on an ice floe drifting down a river beats having your butt sitting in ice cold water. Besides, I always wondered if ducks did anything that could be considered entertainment.

Steve called, he was on his way. I warned him that things were tough and he didn't care. The desire to get out, more like the need to get out, was far too strong. He had to show up regardless of how good or bad the fishing was. That's the way it works and there is no rational explanation. I went back to fishing and in the 15 minutes it took for him to show up I caught 3 more smallies. I was hoping this meant the start of an outstanding sunset fish.

When Steve arrived he looked like a model for spring fishing. Everything he had on looked brand new. I think just about all of it was. Apparently he had been spending the last couple of days getting all of his gear together. The night before coming out here he was trying everything on for fit and comfort. His wife came down into his basement as he stood there in his waders with all of his gear on.

"Do you have any idea how ridiculous you look?" I think that's what he said she said.

Women always think they're telling us something we don't already know. Of course he knew he looked ridiculous. The alternative was not doing it and that was unacceptable.

Image

We fished for almost two hours. I know I caught one more smallie. Both of us were getting these strange hard hits and we would reel in to find our minnows gone. Odd. We chalked it up to smallie hits or walleye bites, but it kept happening with no fish on the ends of our line. Eventually Steve got hit and reeled in a sucker that had hit his jig and minnow. I remembered Rich Delaney talking about this. Apparently suckers don't like to have other little fishes around them. The fastest way to make them go away is smack at them. This would explain the hard hits we were getting and the the sucker hooked near the mouth.

Image

Then a few minutes later I hooked a walleye. Definitely a different type of hit and maybe all the others were just a bunch of ticked off suckers. At 6:00 p.m. I had to get going to one of what seems like an endless stream of dam removal meetings lately. I consoled Steve on his lack of fish hooked but he didn't seem to care much. I have a vague recollection of hearing "I just needed to get out." Not much longer and Steve and I have a spot where we both know the fishing will be outstanding. Less ice more warmth and we'll be there. Not much longer.

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