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Dreams, fishing spots: Potomac to Skokie rivers; restricted ponds

Some see the beauty of the Potomac River from the back porch of Mount Vernon; some of us wonder how the fishing is by the wharf.
Credit: Dale Bowman

Several of us were standing around telling fish stories in May while waiting for the high school bass fishing sectional to end at Skokie Lagoons. Talk turned to dreams of fishing the ponds at the Chicago Botanic Garden. The Skokie River links both. There’s massive fish in the Botanic Garden (fundraiser idea!), but fishing isn’t allowed.

That is but one of many places I dream of fishing, just like many other fishermen.

Down by the wharf along the Potomac River, eyeing grass clumps and wondering about fishing at high tide.<br>Credit: Dale Bowman
Down by the wharf along the Potomac River, eyeing grass clumps and wondering about fishing at high tide.
Credit: Dale Bowman

Thought of that again Saturday when my wife dragged me on a tour of Mount Vernon. The view of the Potomac River from the back porch was spectacular. But I wanted to see the shoreline of the tidal river up close and hiked my wife down to the wharf.

Sure enough there was scattered grass patches through the sand. I figured at high tide, when the fish were up close, I could either burn a buzzbait over the top of the clumps or drag a big purple plastic worm through.

I’ve had similar thoughts when walking around the Tidal Basin by the Jefferson Memorial. And, yes, the District of Columbia does have a fishing license.

It’s hard to get away from the idea of trying new spots.

Ask any fisherman who, when barreling toward Downstate, notices the borrow pits on the sides of Interstate 55 or 57 and wants to stop to test the waters.

That is the key, the desire to test the water. I am glad I am alive enough to still want to test the water.

When my wife and I drove to Washington D.C. last week, we took a break at Dawes Arboretum near Columbus, Ohio. At the Japanese garden, I spotted largemouth bass first, then many

striking and big koi. I took photos to tease Chicago’s reclusive koi aficionado Saul Lipsistick. Koi are nearly impossible to catch on hook and line.

Same desire to test the water applies to golf courses.

More than a few fishermen stuff a short rod or Ron Popeil’s most famous pitch, the Popeil Pocket Fisherman, into their bags with the irons, wedges and drivers.

Sports talker Dan Bernstein took it far enough to use golfing/fishing as a fundraiser years ago.

Nearly on par (forgive me Pun Father, for I have sinned) are the ponds by offices or business parks. A buddy has a series of such ponds in the near north suburbs. There’s one pond along Route 394 that screams “Big-hand bluegill’’ to me every week when I pass it. Two weeks ago, sure enough, a guy was pulled off and working the shoreline. I was right, it’s a fishy spot.

That’s what I’m dreaming of, a different sort of fishy spot to explore.

MUSKIE NOTE: Another piece to Illinois and the ongoing budget saga. The Fox River Valley chapter of Muskies Inc. paid the $1,800 outstanding bill for a feed supplier, so feeding of small muskie being raised at Jake Wolf Memorial Fish Hatchery could continue until they were switched to minnows in the last week.

WILD THINGS: I heard my first annual cicadas last week on an evening walk at dark.

STRAY CAST: Donald Trump considering Mike Pence as a running mate is like pondering a hybrid of round goby and deepwater sculpin.