Prairie State Canoeists
A Northeast Illinois Canoe and Kayak Club
I saw the email encouraging stories of padding so I thought I would submit the following. After joining PSC in I think January 2020, I was so looking forward to getting out on the rivers with like minded paddlers. I bought my kayak the previous fall and only took it out a couple times on solo trips on local lakes before winter, so I really couldn’t wait for spring and venturing out with others to explore natures wonder from the rivers throughout this beautiful area. But then, the coronavirus hit, and life changed for us all; in June, I got laid off. But l like many of us, I channeled my extra time to other activities and outdoor ventures, biking, hiking and yes, exploring local lakes via kayak. I wanted to get out on the rivers, but since the shared car-shuttling thing was discontinued due to covid, and being new to the group, I didn’t know exactly how to go about that in order to participate. And I know from personal experience and warnings from others that its not safe to go solo on moving water, so I stuck to the calm lakes. But it turned into such a wonderful experience, a wonder for the soul! I started to plan day trips every week, packing a picnic, and venturing out. I got really good at getting my gear together and loading up quickly. I found I didn’t have to venture too far to check out several lakes in the area, and the same lake would look different early morning versus late in the afternoon, and even went on a few sunset paddles on warm summer evenings. I enjoyed Silver Lake at Blackwell F.P., Mallard Lake, and Deep Quarry Lake at West Branch F.P. I loved seeing the critters and creatures that live in and around the lake, and of course the duck, geese and cranes overhead. It turned into a magical experience every time I went out. It was always fun to talk to the people fishing on the docks and lakeshore as I made my way around, sound travels easy across the water! Early on I found a few fishing lures and bobbers that got away from the people fishing, so I’d rescue them and give them to the kids on the docks who were so happy to have ‘new’ lures. Since the shallow waters of the perimeter seemed to have more activity that was fun to watch and photograph, I tend to stick to padding the whole perimeter, sometimes a couple times. All kinds of creatures going about their business, turtles sun bathing, frogs floating with eyeballs barely above waterline, beavers building forts, herons hunting fish, and geese preening and chatting away. I started to notice more and more abandoned and broken fishing equipment too, beautiful lures wrapped up with lines caught in the brush and shoreline trees, and bobbers moving on the edge of the lake. I would pick them up whenever it was safe to do so; I had to acquire a cutting device which helped. If I didn’t see kids on the docks when I exited, I kept the fishing lures. I started to acquire more and more, and they were pretty cool looking. Talking to my brother about my finds, who happens to be an avid fisherman living in Oregon, he tells me that this is the universe’s way of telling me I need to take up fishing! How’s that for a true fisherman? Well I am considering it, if I can get past the gross parts of live bait and removing the hook from a live fish, yuck, still working on that. But I do have the patience it takes, and I love being out there. In the meantime, I feel like I’ve contributed positively to the beauty of our lakes by helping clean up the environment and preventing some creature’s injury from these inadvertently jettisoned lures and bobbers. I would definitely be interested in participating in the clean up paddles that I've seen posted previously. It’s 2021 and the pandemic rages on, but I feel like we’ve learned how to navigate through it better. I am hoping that I can figure out this car shuttling thing so that I can join this group on the river; I’m sure we can do it in a safe manner for everyone. Looking forward to a spring and all nature has in store for us. I enjoy following this groups stories and photos. Meanwhile, happy new year and stay safe and healthy!