Since June 21st we've been losing about a minute a day of sunlight. Luckily it seems to be evenly split up between the sunrise and the sunset. Either way I'm losing a little bit of my sunset fishing every day.
This is exacerbated by a relatively new 50 mile one way commute from work. Ninety eight percent of the commute is all highway driving, but that's not always a good thing. Speed and time can be determined by something so simple as one car pulled far off the shoulder and just sitting there. I know I need to slow down to about 5 mph, I may be missing something extremely important if I don't slow down enough to gawk at a parked car.
Speed and time can also be determined by how many curves and hills, this is Illinois remember, have to be navigated on I-88. It doesn't matter that the road itself has been designed to safely accommodate 70 mph speeds or more, apparently all curves in the road must be navigated at about 25. Throw in a slight rise that could be, might be considered a hill and now we're down to 10 mph.
Even when we think we're moving right along on a straight, flat stretch of road, everyone has to suddenly and dramatically slow down then speed up again. I got to the root of this phenomenon one day as a passenger in a car being driven on a highway by my ex-wife, not known for her driving abilities. I kept pitching forward as brakes were hit to slow down well below the speed limit. Then I would be slammed back into my seat as we accelerated back to the speed limit. This would happen every few minutes. Of course, I had to ask.
"What the hell is wrong with you? Why are you driving like this?"
In a panicked voice, "there's a truck next to meeeee!!!!!!"
I guess that was explanation enough.
Needless to say it takes about an hour fifteen to an hour forty five to get to a decent, fishable stretch of the Fox River or one of it's creeks. This time of year even seconds count and to see it get too dark to see at 8:45 PM is a major disappointment.
Throw into this mix the strange corporate tradition that seems to be growing where, during the summer months, most people don't even bother going to work on Friday. I guess it saves employees from having to come up with a variety of excuses on why they can't come to work on a Friday, and it saves managers a tremendous amount of time in not having to listen to that bullshit. Win/win situation all around.
This made Friday evening the perfect evening to get in a good two and a half hours of fishing. Nobody was on the roads for the rush hour ride home.
With the water up a little bit, this made getting out into the middle of the river more of a challenge than I cared for. Combing the shoreline was in order and the fish cooperated accordingly. Well over a dozen fish were caught and just as many were missed with around 90 percent of them being within 5 feet of shore.
Now and then one would be caught that had some size and weight to it.
But for the most part, the bulk of the fish that were hitting were nothing but dinks. I like catching dinks, they don't know they're small.
This is also a good sign. At the end of August 2008 the Fox came up higher than I've ever seen it. It topped out at 19,900 cubic feet per second, normal is about 700. Since then these little fish all but disappeared. Some say they get wiped out while others claim they get pushed far down stream. All I know is that for the last almost 3 years they've been nonexistent.
Barring another major flood event, this bodes well for the next few years. The way these fish were hitting means they were extremely hungry. Fish that eat all the time grow faster. One can only hope.
I've noticed too that the bug hatches have been more substantial this year than the past two. Still another good sign. When all else fails, the fish go after the bugs.
The main reason I like the sunset fish is, well, for the sunset. Even though I don't sleep much, getting me motivated first thing in the morning is next to impossible. Coffee needs to kick in, the dream haze needs to wear off and the next thing you know, a couple of hours of daylight have been wasted. This doesn't happen in the evenings. I fish till I can't see any more.
Saturday evening found me with about 3 hours on my hands at sunset. No clouds, too much heat and few cooperative fish, but still a few to be caught.
Again, the few were all within 5 feet of shore.
I think I spent most of the time on Saturday sitting on the shoreline, sipping water and staring off into space. Nobody was around, nobody seems to wade these stretches any more. That's good for me. If my theory is right about the dink fish, this could be good over the next two or three years.
I get to see my babies grow up and I get a few miles of the Fox all to myself.
Life will be good after all.