The Garbage Armada

Took this weekend off from the big lake to take part in a lake cleanup organized by one of my fishing buddies, Colin Belle. While I could spin this into a "I'm such a good person to volunteer some of my time to help pick up some garbage", I won't do that because my intentions weren't nearly that pure. You see, the name of the lake is Windsor and it rests in the lovely town of Loves Park. The history, from what I was able to gather, is that it was some sort of quarry at one point, then some musky fishing rich guy bought it to build a private musky mecca. Then the Rockford Park District took it over and opened it up to the public. See where I'm going with this???

Yeah, don't let all of my recent salmon trolling posts fool you into thinking that musky on the fly isn't still an addiction that runs through me like...well, like something that's addicting.

The actual clean-up didn't start until 11 so we got there early in order to fish for a few hours. Colin and one other beat us out there but they hadn't really seen that much fish activity. When I got there, I learned that this lake had a pretty sizable fish kill so I had a feeling that one of two things could happen. The first is that all the musky were dead. The second is that since a lot of the bass and carp that the musky eat were dead, the musky would be extra hungry. I was banking on scenario two.

I quickly headed toward the deepest parts of the lake with the most distinguishable edges that I could find and started casting. I continued to cast....and cast....and cast...and cast...and cast....Nothing. Not a follow, no big arches on the fish finder...nothing. I was quickly beginning to think that my optimism for scenario two was somewhat foolish. What I did notice, though, were the wildly varying thermoclines all over the lake. In some spots they were just a couple of feet deep and in others they were ten feet deep so I decided to switch it up a bit.

I put the fly rod away and started throwing an orange craw rattle trap instead. I figured that if I could at least find some bass, then the musky wouldn't be too far away since bass are one of the main food sources in that lake. Plus, plenty of musky have been fooled by a rattle trap - especially early in the season.

I cast...and cast....and cast...and cast...boom! Twelve incher! OK, OK. I found one, now let's see if I can find another to try to put some pattern together.  Yeah...that second fish never happened and before I knew it, more volunteers had shown up so it was time to start the clean up. Perhaps this could work in some good karma from the fish gods.

Most of the volunteers were on foot so I let them work on the shore closest to the meet up spot while I jumped in my kayak and headed to the opposite shore where I had seen a TON of trash earlier in the day. I think I spent a good hour there and found so much trash that I had to come up with the most efficient way to get the majority of it. What I ended up doing is starting at the farthest concentration of trash and just threw it towards the beach. I guess you could say I kicked the can down the road a bit. I mainly focused on things that don't really break down naturally. In other words, things like plastic, styrofoam, glass, and aluminum cans. By the time I made it back to the boat, I had enough of that stuff to fill two 55 gallon trash bags. I loaded them up on the back of the kayak and started the paddle back to the meetup spot.

Oh yeah, I also found an old degraded plastic lawn chair half buried in the mud
The sad part is that all of the other volunteers had filled up at least ten more of those. Even worse, we could easily go back tomorrow and fill up another twenty. I guess my point here is to pick up your damn trash!

Once the clean-up was over, I decided to stay at the lake and put some of that good karma theory to the test. I hit a few new areas with a gold jerk bait  hoping to entice a musky into thinking there was an easy carp meal but it just never happened. In the end, it was a nice day on the water, I got a sunburn, I did something good, and I was able to finally put a couple things to the test.

Test one was standing in the Hobie Outback. I absolutely loved how easy standing and casting was in my old kayak and have been sort of concerned that I wouldn't be able to do that in the new one. That concern is now gone!

Test two was to see if I could actually go backwards in a Hobie Outback! The answer is a resounding yes!! It's so stupidly simple and obvious, too. The trick? Turn the mirage drive backwards and then adjust your peddle arm length. Normally mine is set on five so I set it to two! I was so excited that this actually worked that I forgot to make a video of it. I'll see if I can get one up later in the week but in the meantime, flip your mirage drives around and go backwards!!

All for now



  1. Wow, that's quite the clean up haul! Sounds like a ridiculous amount of trash picked up, and still left. Crazy/sad to think places can be so littered.

    1. Totally. Although, in all fairness, I am sure a lot of it isn't intentional. A gust of wind, raccoons rifling through the garbage cans, etc...stuff happens.

    2. Never ever thought about the raccoon's, and how big of a mess they make around garbage cans. Those little rascals!

    3. Until a couple of weeks ago when I had one of those rascals open the lid to my garbage can, pull out a bag of fish guts, and spread them all over my patio, I had never thought about them either. Bastards. There is now a big cinder block on top of the can and have had no further raccoon invasions. lol

  2. That sounds like our twice yearly clean up of the Boise R. in town, seriously slobbed by the tubing community among others. In other words, those who trashed it did not, do not, pick it up. That goes for every other water around here cleaned up by the community. Interesting about your fishing, must have been a long winter with a lot of Ice to deplete the Oxygen.


    1. Ahhh yes...the recreational tubers. Fun loving group looking for a way to cool off and down some beers. There's a river down here with a very popular stretch frequented by tubers on the every warm summer weekend. It's also loaded with garbage.

  3. Unintentional litter is not always so unintentional. I have literally seen people pile garbage into a can stacked so high the wind was takign it right up and blowing it in the lake and because that was the closest garbage can it kept getting used.

    1. Sometimes, you just gotta give some people the benefit of the doubt

  4. Great for you to clean up! Its good image for the public to see and glad to see you guys taking stewardship over your waters.


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