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Ramble with Gortowski: Talking turkey on the Fox River

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gortowskirs Ken Gortowski ruminates on another guide following in

his steps, considers the meaning of the turkeys and wildlife around his house and has a fishing report for the Fox River mixed in.

Here's Gortowski's extended and wide-ranging rumination:

I was able to get out once in the past week and then only for around an hour and a half. In that brief time and quarter mile of river I got 8 hits, but nothing solid enough to let me hook and land them. I thought I was doing pretty good till the sixth one hit and got away. By then I figured I wasn't going to land anything, but I may as well keep fishing and getting hits.


Part of that is my own fault. Though I've been saying that now is the time for live bait, it's been years since I've bothered using live bait myself. I tend to hike a good distance to get to the stretch I want to fish. Then I'll hike a good bit in the stretch I'm fishing. By the time I'm done fishing I have twice the distance to hike back to my car. I just don't feel like hauling around a bait bucket to do that.

I could tell what the fish were doing. I've felt it hundreds of times in the past. In this cold water they aren't as aggressive and will pop a bait fish in their mouth, then sit there. Almost like they're tasting it to make sure it's edible. Then a few seconds later you'll feel a second hit when they decide it's something they would actually like to eat. That's when you set the hook. The fish don't hang on to plastic. There is no second hit.

Another part that's my fault is that I'm paying attention to the waterfowl on the river rather than concentrating on fishing. In this small stretch I spooked 2 decent sized flocks of ducks, a flock of about 15 geese and had another flock of about 30 geese land in the river a couple of hundred yards in front of me. You can't hunt in this stretch of the Fox and the birds seem to know that. It's been a long time since I've had the resources to do the traveling I used to do in order to hunt. I can't get that out of my head.

I've had plenty of time in the past week to get out to do more fishing. Instead I found myself wandering along the river trying to see if there was a pattern to the birds coming to the river. The colder air filtering in from the north seems to be pushing more birds this way and everyday I saw more, in the areas where you can't hunt.

There's one blind that I can get to with an easy walk. I spent a lot of my time wandering along the river in that stretch. Saw a few ducks a quarter of a mile up and down stream of the blind. That's an encouraging sign. With the weather change coming this week, I expect more birds to start showing up. I have a couple more days of scouting to do as the weather changes and then I may go sit in this blind. Nobody seems to go there during the week and I still have some free weekdays. With the blind just 7 miles from my house it won't eat up much gas to get there. I have decoys, shotgun, box of shells. I think I just convinced myself on what to do.

And then there's the pheasant and rabbits I haven't chased in a few years. No squirrels this year yet. Chased deer in Virginia, but not here yet. No wonder I can't catch any fish, far too many other things on my mind.

In the mean time, for those that still want to go fishing, do as I say and not as I do. You'll have to go through Dale's Midwest Fishing Reports for the past 2 weeks to find all the details I've given away, no point putting them here again, but it will be worth it if you're going fishing.

A group of friends have been making ventures out to the Fox on weekday evenings for the past few weeks waiting for the walleye to turn on. A couple of solo outings by Cory Yarmuth of Legend Outdoors (click here for his site and click here for his blog) has him out finally tying into these walleye. On his site you'll see his link to his blog, Legend Outdoors with Cory Yarmuth, where you can read about his night time walleye adventures.

One of the other links you'll see on his site is one that says Guiding. Besides guiding for salmon and trout, Cory is offering wading and walking trips on the Fox River. For those that have bothered reading what I've written over the last 12 years, that will sound familiar. For 6 years I offered wading and walking trips on the Fox, in the river fishing classes and had the pleasure of speaking to a number of local fishing clubs about the endless wading possibilities on the Fox. In 2006 I ended all of that to take care of life issues.

I've been waiting for someone to come along and pick up where I left off.

When Cory first mentioned his plans to me I made sure he borrowed anything he wanted from what I did. Why reinvent the wheel. For now he's going to be offering Fox guiding trips up north since he lives that way. He recently mentioned Algonquin and Dundee, but my limited trips to those towns showed not enough wadeable water to my liking. I'm hoping to show him everything I know of the river below Geneva for about 20 miles or so. Then there's all the creeks. Guys liked booking trips on the creeks.

If we don't find the time to hit all that water together, I plan on giving him all my spots. Not just the general ones I keep mentioning every week, I have spots on spots you know, and GPS built into my head.

I think the fact that he was the first of the group to tie into walleye speaks for his talent and persistence. I can tell you that if anyone hires him for a guided trip, you'll have a good time.

The Fox needs a service like this. There's too much river that few seem to be fishing anymore, at least in the lower stretches where using a boat is a waste of time. I don't know why the interest died, but maybe Cory can bring some of that back.
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Got back mid afternoon Tuesday after scouting spots on the Fox for a potential waterfowl hunting trip. I've been living on the same street in Yorkville for 5 years. The two houses we've rented are on the edge of a wooded ravine that gets visited by turkey and deer. The house we're in now is about 100 feet from the ravine, the first one was right on the edge.

We've always kept the wildlife well fed. Corn and a variety of seeds kept the turkey and deer coming back on a daily basis when we were in the other house. Since we moved, it's been a little more difficult to coax the turkey out into the open. The deer we hardly see anymore.

Persistence pays off and the turkey have been venturing out into the neighborhood. Every year they bring their new brood to an area where they know they are safe and well fed, we see them each spring, then they hang around for most of the year. I wish I could have them tagged, would be interesting to know if they are the same ones returning year after year.

As I pulled into my driveway I had to wait for them to get out of the way. There are only 4 this year, in the past we've had up to 14. When they see me they don't seem to be in any hurry to get away. The one big male looks me over, then goes about pecking for food like I'm not there. Makes you wonder if they recognize you. Today they sauntered over to peck the ground beneath the bird feeder just outside my front window. It's interesting how they'll peck a few times, then look up, then back to feeding. This time they kept looking in the windows.

I have a couple of cats that are very interested in these oversized birds and the young one likes to scratch at the window trying to get to them. She's ignored. The old claw-less one is allowed to go outside. The turkey are so used to him that they ignore him when he starts walking around between them while they're feeding.

At night they roost in the trees along the edge of the ravine. At sunset you can see them trying to get as high up into the trees as possible. Not a graceful undertaking and numerous times a branch will snap under their weight and the process starts all over again. Later, when it's dark, you can see their black silhouettes high up in the trees standing out against the night sky.

No, none of them can be taken for dinner. They've become the neighborhood pets and no one is allowed to touch them. Negotiations with respective wives around here have broken down and the wives have won, for now.

No wonder I don't go fishing much. Wasted a perfectly good fishing afternoon looking for ducks and geese, then playing with turkey in my front yard. Being unemployed has it's benefits I guess. I won't miss being broke, but I'll sure miss my play time.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on November 24, 2010 4:59 AM.

Stray Cast: Hot-stove league & ice fishing was the previous entry in this blog.

Midwest Fishing Report: Perch in & first ice is the next entry in this blog.

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