Saturday, March 31, 2012

Saturday on the creek

The view from the water
This is why I go outside!
It was Saturday, and it wasn't a blizzard or thunderstorm, so I went out fishing.

Sometimes can't figure out how I choose where to go. This morning was no different- somehow the idea of wading Salt Creek near my house popped into my head. So I got suited up and headed to a spot where I could get in the water.

After my first cast, I realized I wouldn't be satisfied with this... At this stretch, the creek was mostly about a foot deep, and there was next to no structure. Just muddy flats. Since my kayak happened to be strapped to my car, parked a short walk away, the choice was obvious.

I paid no attention to the strange looks I got from local residents as I took my kayak down and got it ready to go. I quickly carried it to the creek, slid down the steep grassy bank, and was back in the water. I carefully pulled the kayak down, easing it next to me in the water.

My new plan was to kayak up to Busse (Busse, the skunk that keeps on skunking me) and fish the Arlington pool. Supposedly there were pike and walleye in there, which just so happened to be on my fishing "to do" list. I hopped in the kayak and started paddling. Only recently have I started kayaking wearing my waders, and I have to say it's simply amazing. Paddle, stop, wade, fish, paddle some more, wade; it's just great.

Salt Creek @ Arlington Heights Road
(All I could think of was the musky caught here a while ago...)
I slowly made my way up to Arlington Heights road, passing a variety of interesting things. There seemed to be at least ten baseball games going on on the east bank, and there was a baseball floating in the water. I picked it up and plopped it in my yak. Lately trash and debris have really been bothering me. I'm not sure what exactly got me this way; perhaps spending a lot of time on the Fox and other mostly pristine areas makes me hyper-sensitive to trash where I'm fishing. I don't just like fishing, I like fish and birds and otters and beavers and all the other creatures that live around water; I want to catch fish, but I also want these animals to have a nice place to live. Sometimes I wonder how certain trash got in the water (a giant beach ball I found today and somehow stuck in my kayak) and other times I know (fishing line caught in trees near fishy-looking spots).

The other day at the pond, I spent a little while cleaning up a ton of trash. I just got tired of it sitting there, and thought I should do something about it since there's a good chance I use the pond more than anybody else. To my dismay, most of the trash was fishing-related stuff; discarded line, hook packages, and the most offensive to me, a six pack of empty beer cans just thrown into the weeds. What the hell, people.

But I digress... Back to the paddle: At one point something was swimming along next to my kayak, just below the surface. At first I thought it might be an otter, but I watched and it never surfaced for air. It didn't seem like a carp, and all I could think of is it was the elusive Salt Creek muskie. Probably not, but that's what stuck in my head.

Finally I made it to Busse, and there must have been 15 people standing on the east shore, fishing. This was one of those moments when I loved kayak fishing. The west side of the pool is relatively hard to access, and I had it all to myself. I pulled out a rope, tied it to a stump, and started fishing.

I noticed a dead fish floating near some downed branches and fishing line. Not having any luck fishing, I decided to investigate. It was a walleye! And a nice sized one too. There was a ton of monofilament fishing line everywhere, and a couple of heavy jigs caught in the branches. I wondered if these had caused the death of this fine specimen of a fish. It ocurred to me I would be beside myself if I caught a walleye that size. At least this confirms they do in fact inhabit these waters...

Fairly positive it's a walleye...
Not sure what killed it, but the fishing line everywhere doesn't help
Then I got upset, and noticed the jungle of fishing line that was covering branches everywhere. I remembered a previous trip to this pool where I found a dead goose wrapped in a mess of fishing line. I decided to do something about it. I went branch to branch, untangling as much line as I could. Some of the line was too high for me to reach, but much of it was kayak-level. After about a half hour, I had rid the whole area of most of the unsightly and dangerous (to animals) fishing line.

That's a lot of line
And not only that, but I found a ton of lures in the process!

I find a lot of lures while fishing...
...Then again, I also lose a lot of lures
I'm particularly interested in this yellow one. I did some googling, and I think it might be a Hellin Flatfish. It looks almost handmade. Either that, or really old. Regardless, I like it! It has a nice wobble to it in the water.

I don't have any lures like this one
A shore fisherman mentioned to me he got some bites on leeches, which got me back to fishing. I didn't have any leeches, but I did have a leech-like worm I texas-rigged. No takers. I decided to head back downstream.

I saw a bunch of little fish eating caddis flies (I think that's what they are) on the surface of the water. The other day on the Fox there were about a million of these little tiny moths everywhere. I tied on a little jig'n'twister to see if I could catch one, whatever they were. I got tons of little hits, but no commitments. Based on what I've been reading, I thought they might be creek chubs.

As I paddled down the river, I got perplexed looks from people doing yard work in their yards, which of course backed up to the creek. I said "Hello," and they stared back looking at me strangely. When I passed under another bridge, some high school girls saw me and thought it was hilarious I'd be fishing in the creek. I'm not sure what's so hilarious... don't they know there might be a muskie in there!!??

Although I didn't catch any fish, it was a great paddle- it turned out to be a beautiful day, I helped clean up some trash, and got some awesome new lures!

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