A Few Days of Creek Fishing

You've probably noticed I never talk about the nuts and bolts of fishing. I guess that would be the hook and tackle (hooks and tackle?) of fishing. Whatever it's called, I don't do it.

Twelve or so years ago I gave it a try, but noticed that I was constantly repeating myself. That happened in a little over a year. The 10th time I caught myself talking about how to fish current breaks in rivers, I gave up. Since anything you want to know about fishing is somewhere on the internet, now if anyone asks I give them key words to plug into Google and tell them to look it up.

I give virtually no thought to the equipment I use. A couple of friends taught me what good equipment to use and I use that good equipment they taught me. Rod types, guide types, reel types, gear ratios and the wide variety of lines available to use all mean nothing to me. I never mention lures, lure manufacturers, what kind of hooks I'm using, how to sharpen them or whether or not I attach my treble hooks to my hard body lures with or without a split ring.

That kind of obsession with mechanics probably comes from the same area of the brain where the obsession for the details of sports statistics comes from. I don't watch or pay attention to any sports so I have a feeling I'm simply missing that part of my brain. Frees up a lot more time for fishing.

There once was an outdoor writer I liked to read, then one day he disappeared. Articles by him stopped appearing anywhere. About a year later I ran into him and asked him why he quit writing.

"I ran out of ways to tell guys how to rig and fish a plastic worm."

I found it interesting that I ran into him at his new job. In a fly fishing shop. I don't recall him ever mentioning that he fly fished.

In Illinois, if you fish rivers and creeks you're primarily fishing for smallmouth bass.

You could fish for catfish, but why?

There are no trout here in Illinois, whatever those are out in Lake Michigan don't count. As soon as you start fishing for smallies it's assumed you're after the pigs, hawgs and bombers of that species.

I just like to catch fish, species and size don't matter.

That's the benefit of fishing creeks, you never know what is going to wind up on the end of your line. Sometimes there's some size to them, most of the time not.

Fish that you normally think of as lake dwelling fish will suddenly school up and that's all you catch.

My friend Bob Long, Jr. once told me that I was a bass angler with a trout anglers sensibilities. I'm assuming he meant my penchant for not caring about fish size. Trout anglers seem to have no problem showing off their hand sized catches with pride. Though I have noticed that even they talk more and more about trophy trout and the pursuit of stream hawgs. Even Bob's revered trout sensibility seems to be getting replaced with the bass neanderthals pursuit of big meat.

I still prefer the pursuit of anything willing to hit.

My friend Ed Schmitt sent me an email recently with a simple question and comment.

"If you had to pick the Fox River or the creeks to fish the rest of your life which would you pick? You can only pick one and fish nowhere else."

Creeks, was my simple answer.

I like to think I have a certain sensibility in conveying what it takes to seek out and fish the smaller creeks. The search alone takes you down roads easily passed when pursuing larger waters.

Once out on a creek you have no choice but to pay closer attention to your surroundings. You're surroundings are right up on top of you. Standing tight against one shore to make the short 20 foot cast to the opposite shore forces you to look around and possibly notice what is normally unnoticed.

With no where to go but down stream, everything eventually goes there. The force of water through narrow channels, combined with massive downed trees, makes sculpture that looks effortless.

A little distraction from the surroundings is always welcome. Another tug on the line and another species caught.

Of course there are those that think they own the creeks. They think they have the right to keep the wading angler from wandering down the waterway along their property.

He's just a private citizen now, but you would think that during his years in Congress someone might have brought up the federal river laws. I'll assume the sign on the edge of his property means no fishing while standing on his property. There really is no need to contact the United States Capitol Police Chief if I happen to feel like wading down the creek. As I said, he's a private citizen again and, he should know better.

Two creeks fished 3 times over the last few days. My fascination with them never seems to end. Around each bend is a whole new creek to learn, each small stretch is completely different from the last one.

Ed's comment didn't say I could only fish Fox River creeks. In the collection of junk on my computer I recently came across a list of creeks with detailed directions on how to get to them. I have no idea where this list came from. Maybe whoever made it and sent it to me will get in touch.

There are over 30 creeks listed, spanning an area from Chicago to the Mississippi River and from the Illinois/Wisconsin line to about I-80. Considering how long it's taken me to cover the amount of miles on the creeks I've covered so far, I would need a second life time just to cover what's on this list.

I guess I should get started soon. Time's a wasting.

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