Glowing nearly orange in the reddish sunrise, a doe grazed by a wood lot as I barreled down Essex Road. I wanted to ascribe meaning to the deer.
When I need to sort things out, I disappear. On Monday, it was to the North Unit of Mazonia State Fish and Wildlife Area in Will County.
I needed to sort out George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police, our children’s reactions, whether we should join the protests and fears brought on by the protests and the tangential rioting.
I moseyed in on an overgrown path dotted with deer and raccoon tracks baked into the dried mud.
It took a half-hour to reach the spot I wanted to fish because I stopped to cast at every opening in vegetation on the way. At one, I ticked off red-winged blackbirds, who went into attack mode. It reminded me of my single days at Waveland Golf Course (now Sydney R. Marovitz GC), where one hole was notorious for dive-bombing red-winged blackbirds.
Over the years, the shoreline vegetation at Mazonia — the North Unit has more than 200 lakes and ponds from reclaimed strip pits — has become even more overgrown. Some regulars keep knives or machetes for opening access in the shoreline vegetation. I generally use earlier openings or stomp down an opening for myself.
Even with the side stops, I finally outwalked the last dried boot print and set up at a submerged duck-blind landing.
My rubber boots came in handy because the water was still higher than normal. A couple of years ago, I started wearing high rubber boots at Mazonia to help ward off its notorious ticks.
The first catch, a small largemouth bass on a popper, came at 6:45 a.m. June 1 is the latest I’ve caught my first topwater fish in many years. Then came green sunfish, bluegills and more largemouth.
After an hour, I bushwhacked to another spot. Common carp splashed and spawned all around. While packing down an access point, I slipped down the straight drop of a strip pit but came away with no worse than a water-filled right boot.
The move was a good choice, as the fish suspended tight to the shore drop. I caught the best largemouth, a 3-pound common carp and the two best bluegills from a mess of them on a mix of spinners or a tungsten jig and crawler pieces.
At 8:30 a.m., my wife interrupted my escape to say our second son’s car was dead. Real life — mundane and profound — awaited.
It was time.
The Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant has its buoys back on southern Lake Michigan.
Waterfowl-blind drawings, the wildest social event in Illinois outdoors, have been pushed to August by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
#BlackBirdersWeek runs through Friday. Corina Newsome started the week in reaction to the harassment of black birder Christian Cooper in Central Park in New York.
As bereft of basic human empathy as a winter weasel is of brown.