The local paper did a story on me last month. I guess what I do is unique. No one would go through the trouble I do unless they fish. So here is what I like to do. I have always enjoyed nature and watching wildlife. I bought a good camera in about 2004 and slowly moved up to a DSLR which I went to in 2010. Like everyone else, I bought the camera and then went around looking for things to take photos of. I think I could delete most all my photos from the first few years and for the last three years it all came together and I have more good photos than I know what to do with. I just keep replacing what I have with better photos of the same thing.
With high water we get so often anymore, fishing can be tough and I am on a retirement budget so I can’t make long drives to fish where the good fishing is like I used to. So if the fish aren’t biting, I go looking for wildlife to take photos of, which is mostly birds. On windy days I like to go to the Rock River and drift down river. I enjoyed doing this so much, it became part of my everyday on the water. I guess it started by going deep into backwaters on the Mississippi River, getting away from it all, looking for birds or wildlife. The drifts on the Rock River were much more successful. The river has a lot of curves so I can get out of the wind, and even though I stand out like a soar thumb, going around curves I could catch wildlife by surprise. Even better is to have the sun at my back to blind what ever was in front of me.
When I go to the Mississippi River, I try to find places where I can drift or troll. Sometimes I don’t even fish, I just go to get photos. It is gambling, I am betting I will see something and usually do. This year the water has been high on the Rock and my drifts are so fast it is hard to get photos, so I have been going up to the next pool to a backwater lake to troll around. I was more than happy with what I saw there and from now on when the wind is right I will be going in there instead of the lower pool. This year I saw a coyote, a few deer, river otters which are extremely rare around here, night heron which I have never seen before, green heron whom use lures to fish for their catch, an eagles nest with 3 eagle chicks, adult eagles bringing back who knows what to the nest, lots of blue heron, egret, pelicans, cranes, cormorants and lots of cool songbirds. I heard a deer give birth. I had an otter feeding right in front of me, and swam around to look at me without the sun in it’s eyes. I watched the eagle chicks grow up and fledge. The fishing wasn’t very good but I always saw enough to get me to want to go back.
On the Mississippi River the year started out seeing Falcons hanging around the clinton bridge feeding on pigeons. They tolerated me pretty well. They hung around for a couple weeks. I would also troll and drift around and one morning I saw 3 pileated woodpeckers making a big racket and teasing a Sharp shinned Hawk, trying to get it tio leave. One climbed up a tree and faced it within inches, until the hawk tried to catch it. It then used a wing to lure the hawk and quick dodged around the tree. I saw a mink and noticed a huge wound on it’s back and eagles sitting in trees nearby. One eagle had a huge gash in it’s throat and I think I just missed a fight between them. I am watching a family of mink now, where I saw a family last year. They are different mink, not sure what that story is. There is a family of ground hogs in the same exact place. Mink will attack and eat ground hogs. There is an eagle’s nest right there too, with only one chick. These eagles don’t like people this year. Last year they were pretty tolerant, probably a story there. There was a merganser duck hanging around there, but it is missing. Could have been a meal for mink or eagles. I didn’t think it would last long. And that’s why I keep going, hoping to catch some of this action with my camera.
One of the reasons I like to take photos instead of fishing is that I don’t have to worry about guys following me around. It is still annoying though when I see guys following me when I am just taking photos. The other day I went up to the dam to do a drift and the 3 boats fishing up there all followed me down one of the cuts. It would be funny, but they spook all the wildlife away.