Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Sam and Chris fish the Fox

Normally when I head out into the "wild" to go looking for some fish to catch, I do it alone. It's not that I necesarily disklike company when fishing, but more often than not I find myself standing in the river casting by myself. Being surrounded by other people most of the day on the Metra train, on the bus, in downtown, even in the lab, sometimes it's nice to be in the middle of a river only surrounded by fish.

Saturday was different- I'd been texting/emailing with Sam Bennett (of heysambennett fame on WCF and his own blog). Sam is starting up a new website for Fox River fishing and has asked me to contribute. You should definitely check it out- it's live at foxriverfishing.net. In our discussion of the site, Sam and I figured out a time and a place to go wading. In the middle of the afternoon I found myself in a parking lot, my green Mini cooper parked next to Sam's monstrous white Ford pickup.

We reached the water's edge, and already I'd learned a ton from Sam. He is a river fishing veteran, and as is obvious by my posts and few fish per outing, I'm still a newbie! Turns out Sam is the one who originally inspired me to start making my own lures, via a post in his blog. I just met the guy, but I'd been following his posts for some time now. We fished an eddy for a while, but after no interest was shown to our lures we hopped in Sam's truck and headed north.

The next spot seemed extremely fishy; lots of riffles (I think that's what they're called) and some areas of deeper water. Sam and I worked a variety of areas (well, I mostly fished one area. I don't move too fast in the water, partially because I'm still new at this and don't want to fall in). By the time I'd finished fishing a series of seams, Sam had pretty much fished the entire stretch of the river!

At one point I yelled "Fish!" only to land a thin but fish-like stick. I felt pretty lame in front of my new friend until the same thing happened to Sam later.

We weren't getting anything there, so he suggested we move again. This was great! I only knew one stretch of the river, but he knew many spots.

This new spot also looked very fishy, although the current was about the strongest I'd ever waded in. Once again Sam's experience and wading chops helped him get out into the river, while I almost tripped over every rock, my calves burning against the current. I was fairly positive I was about to fall in the river. Then, somehow, I didn't.

After a while here, both of us caught more than our share of weeds, and we moved on. We hit another spot that appeared to be super likely to hold fish, and Sam said in the past this was a dynamite spot. Of course it wasn't for us that day, so we headed to our final stop.

Along the way Sam told me about the mighty flathead catfish, his personal obsession on the river. After catching the biggest fish I'd ever caught last year - the 24" catfish out of the pond - it occurred to me that there are many more species of fish besides bass. What a shame it would be if I concentrated on only one species when there are so many different kinds of fish to catch! Hearing stories of 40 pound catfish, an apex predator on the river, I knew I would have to go fishing for them.

We reached a dam that is known to hold walleye, Sam continuing to give me tips and help me navigate the water and submerged rocks. We stood in the water casting crankbaits as the sun set, hoping to connect with some walleye. One of the many species I haven't caught yet is a walleye, and I was so glad to have Sam's help in finding one! I tried my purple X-rap (the one I found at Busse, thanks to Navyfisher for snagging it there) and then snapped on my $3 minnow from Meijer (I can't explain why, but I love it).

After some time the sun was completely set, and it was beginning to get pretty dark. Fishless, we emerged from the water. I didn't realize how cold I was until I was in Sam's truck with the heat on. My breathable waders didn't protect so much from the cold water! My big toes felt numb, like they might fall off... But they didn't. Soon I could feel the lower section of my body again, which was a nice change.

Sam drove me back to my car, sharing some more river secrets on the way, and giving me more mental images of giant catfish to daydream about. Although we hadn't found any fish, it had been a great outing with an experienced fisherman, and I learned a great deal!

1 comment:

  1. Too bad that X-Rap didn't bring you any luck. I know it found you for a reason, maybe next time. :D


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