Friday, August 19, 2011

Journey to the Edge of Chicago

the edge of Chicago

Decided to go check out Northerly Island at lunch. I've heard of some big fish caught on the south side as well as the lake side. I'd really like to catch some trout or salmon this fall, and apparently this is one of the places to do it. Discovered that I can get on the #130 bus from very close to work, that takes me all the way to the planetarium. The other end of the #130 route is Union station, which is super convenient: a straight shot from Union to Burnham Harbor. Awesome!

Anyway, I walked along the west edge of Northerly until there was no more path, just rocks. I fished a little bit- some bites, but nothing major. Didn't land anything except a solitary goby. I threw my amazing magical green tube jig, jig with white mr. twister, and some other various lures. I also had cooked salad shrimp - strange, I know - but hey, it catches fish! Sometimes.

some geese I saw
No non-gobies were interested, and I couldn't blame them.. It was the hottest part of the day, barely a cloud in the sky, and the most boat traffic I've ever seen! But you'd think fish who hang out there would be used to it. The air show jets were practicing again, creating extremely loud booming and explosion sounds as they flew around.. I have it on good authority that's what shut off the bite on the river yesterday.

I wanted to walk to the east side, the lake side, but couldn't quite figure out how to do it. I climbed the wall and hiked through the grass, brambles, and flowers until I got to a bike path. When I turned around to see where I came from, I saw a sign that said "Restoring prairie, please stay on the path." I felt really bad! I didn't think the peninsula was developed at all, but clearly they're trying to make it into a nice nature-preserve type area. I noticed a lot of bicyclists and people walking, enjoying the very nature-y area with the very urban-y backdrop of downtown Chicago.

there's the path
I followed the bike path, but according to google maps it never actually went to the shore. When I squinted, I could kind of see a little tiny foot path in the satellite photos that went all the way to the rocky shore... So I walked north until my blue dot in Maps was due west of the path, then I walked due east. Sure enough, extremely hidden in the tall prairie grass, was a path not a foot wide. It's funny that I couldn't find it with my eyes, but it was clearly visible by satellite. There were some rocks on either side of it, delineating the path. Awesome!

I made my way down the path, which at this point felt a lot like hiking. If you count this experience, this would only be my third time hiking, ever. I like the outdoors now! After about a minute of walking, the grass opened up to piles and piles of rocks, beyond which was the lake. There was a very strange area between the grass and the rocks that seemed very post-apocalyptic to me, with some manholes, dirt, rebar, and lots of what looked like sidewalk chunks.

Chicago after the zombie uprising?
Finally I got to the lake, and it was great! The water was very blue, the sound of the waves was great, and there were what seemed like hundreds of sailboats and motorboats and jetskis and dinghys all over the lake all the way to the horizon. To my far right I could see (I think) Northwest Indiana, and a cloud of brown haze over everything in that direction. That sucks.

I fished a little bit, got no bites. I noticed to my left the penninsula jutted out to a point. The internet has told me a good place to find fish is points, so I decided to move. I followed the path along the shoreline, and got to the point.

The waves here were CRAZY big, and there were very big boulders? sidewalk pieces? strewn about on land and in the water. There were sun-bleached wood beams jutting out the water, I wondered if this used to be a pier. In quick succession I lost 3 lures caught on either rocks, rebar, or who knows what else. I enjoyed the scenery for a minute, and decided to head back toward Burnham, and maybe I could catch that catfish I saw swimming around today... it looked like the same one I caught last week.

thanks for saving me from the skunk,
Mr. Rock Bass
Made my way back to the water on the west side of Northerly (aka the marina) and my catfish friend was nowhere to be found. I did see some small fish swimming around. I always learn a lot fishing when I can see how the fish react to my presentation, even when they're small. It was enlightening; with shrimp the fish would swarm and eat it no matter what, with white twister tails they would only be interested if it was moving. Makes sense! Surprisingly, out of nowhere a rock bass busted in the middle of all the gobies and took my bait.

At this point, I'd been in direct sun for quite a while, and I was sweating profusely. The fish were doing the smart thing, chilling out in the shadows, I should do the same. 

I packed up my stuff and walked back to the #130 bus stop, and headed back. It seemed like I had left civilization for a while, and visited the remnants of some bombed-out and overgrown Chicago... I was glad to be back in town, even though I never really left. I was also glad to have caught at least one somewhat respectable fish! Thanks rock bass, I can always count on you.

the surreal view from Notherly Island

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