Thursday, May 01, 2008

A Not So Urban, Urban Experience.

Since my career choice dictated I work in a large city for thirty years there are times when I think I have seen it all.


Chicago has more negatives than positives for me because I'm a country mouse, not a city mouse. When I worked there full time I would get in, get out and get on with my life. If I liked the urban experience I would not be out here in the small town turning to guns or religion or antipathy. Doing the country squire thing suits me well. To each his own. Live and let live.

Been working a contract job in Chicago this week. I do not eat lunch out at fast food or casual dining restaurants if I am working downtown because…I can’t bill for it. Being on hourly my lunch is micro waved homemade chicken noodle soup or leftover weekend food. Works for me because I get more work done. But when it’s nice outside I will take a stroll for a few minutes with my camera just in case I encounter a, you know, unique urban experience or something.

Walking across the Dearborn St. Bridge I saw this.

Here were two guys in a Ranger bass boat doing some bass fishing on the once polluted Chicago River. One guy was the obvious boat owner. I could tell by his NASCAR style Ranger Boats logo shirt. So I took that shot of them from upper Wacker Drive. Again, this is Chicago not some southern rural reservoir so I sure got a kick out of it.

Being curious and wanting to get some cityscape shots from lower Wacker I walked down the stairs. They were friendly. The guy in the Ranger shirt told me he was supposed to be working. I told him I was supposed to be fishing. We laughed.

So I hung around hoping to get a shot of them catching a fish. They used their bow mount trolling motor to go to the west side of the bridge. I followed. They were pitching jig n’ pigs, a typical bass bottom bait.

Note that they had over one dozen rods in the boat (click photo to enlarge). Each had a specific color and type of lure. This is common for bass anglers and each rod & reel is designed to work that type of lure. When I go out to fish I take three rods. More than that is inviting a flesh-hooking mishap or a broken $100 rig or both. I prefer a lot of safe deck space.

So here are some shots from the west side of the bridge.

Within ten minutes they caught a fish. Nothing big, it looked like it was about 12”, which I believe is a legal bass in Illinois. He let it go. These guys probably don’t keep anything less than a trophy bass anyway.

I don’t keep bass either. Bass are not my favorite table fare as far as fish go. But I love catching bass for fun.

Many years ago Mayor Richard J. Daley (the first) predicted at a press conference one day that downtown workers would be able to catch fish on the Chicago River (which was extremely polluted and fish-free at that time) and grill them on the shore for lunch. The press laughed out loud. He swore he was not joking.

The old man was half right.


Carl from Chicago said...

Ha that's funny. I have seen those guys down there too, but I don't know enough about fishing to have an informed conversation with them.

johnnyj said...

I think that one of the BASS qualifiers was in Chicago a few years ago and almost all the fish were 'dinks.'

I use to do BASS tournaments and it really is a second job (a fun one though). I even have a couple of wins under my belt!

Fishing in urban areas isn't my favorite (especially tournaments). People gawk at you with amazement (like you're half crazy). Which is partially true, most full-time fisherman have a screw loose...

oh-I'm sure these guys were likely practicing for a tournament and they probably released the fish. BASS anglers very rarely keep any.

I wouldn't eat anything out of that river either...

Alderman Jon said...

If they were fishing near where Carl and I work they would have a bunch of people looking on in amazement, especially at lunch time.

These guys would probably have better luck going up on the north branch where I don't think the barges go through multiple times a day.

Gerry, this is a great post, I'll have to show it my brother in law who loves fishing. He'd probably laugh and go why would any fish in the city when they could get peace and quiet in the country. I grew up on a inlet creek to the Kankakee River, and now live in a town where the Kankakee River is a main attraction.

Gerry from Valpo said...

johnnyj, B.A.S.S. held the Bassmasters Classic, their annual big money invitational, in Chicago on Lake Michigan about six years ago. I went to the final weigh-in at Soldier Field and yes, by southern reservoir standards most were dinks. Talked to the legendary Rick Clunn that day. He gave me a bait as a souvenir. Nice guy. Smallmouth bass now thrive in the big lake along the rocky shoreline, many going up to 6lbs.

alderman jon, I was definitely in amazement, that's why I published this. And I agree, a quality outdoor experience cannot be had in an urban environment. My family owned 60 acres of bottomland swamp on the Indiana section of the Kankakee near Thayer. That was my deer hunting paradise.


johnnyj said...

Gerry-Now I remember, I wasn't sure if it was the classic or a qualifier (chicago tournament) ...I think Kevin Van Dam won that classic?

-"I just loves my Ranger boat outfitted with a 250 Merc and my Motor Guide trolling motor! Fish with the best, fish with Ranger!"

-Ha, gotta love your sponsors (I use Triton)!

Gerry from Valpo said...

Could have been Van Dam, a Kalamazoo, MI boy I believe. Don't remember.