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By Cynthia Haggitt
Learning about fishing and owls is always an interesting topic. Urban Fishing Coordinator Scott Isringhausen will do his best to teach, hook and prowl through the night to keep your interest.
Isringhausen will be conducting an Owl Prowl-Night Hike and Fishing Program on Nov. 6, at the Visitor’s Center in Grafton.
“It’ll start at 5:30 p.m. and we’ll meet at the educational bluegill pond, and I will have a 10 or 15 minute presentation on fishing. It will be pretty basic information on how to cast, information about water safety and an informational demonstration on how to handle a fish,” he said.
Isringhausen said he can pretty much guarantee every single child who comes to the fishing pond will catch a fish. He said last week we had one of the kids actually catch 13 fish in about a 45 minute period.
“The chances of someone catching a fish will be pretty successful. Kids will have an opportunity to learn about hybrid bluegill, which are a cross between a green sunfish and a regular bluegill. They are pretty easy to catch, so if you want to come to the fishing part of the programme, please get there at 5:30 p.m.,” Isringhausen said.
“I will also have the urban fishing trailer there, which people can walk inside so that people will be able to see specimens of state record bluegill, but all kinds of fish inside that trail would be taxing. I mean, it’s just pretty neat, too, Isringhausen said. “The programme will last from about 5:30-7p.m. We will then meet inside the Visitors Center. I will do a programme on the eight different species of owls that live in Illinois. It will include a video, but I have every single species that are taxdermied, so a person will get to look at an actual owl and be able to identify the different species which live here.”
During the program, Isringhausen mentioned that a person can learn about what they eat, learn about their habitats and why owls live in this area.
After that part of the programme, there will be a two mile guided hike up through the woods.
“This hiking opportunity gives people a chance to learn about the barred owl, which is also called the hoot owl,” Isringhausen said.
Isringhausen said this type of owl is the one that makes the most distinct sounds. He said it kind of sounds like someone is saying who cooks for you, but there will be alot more owl sounds, especially the first half a mile during the night hike.
“Since we will be in the area of the uphills, I will prepare everyone by telling them that I will use my mouth as well as a tape recorder to try to simulate a couple of different things, and hopefully we’ll get the response we desire that answers from my calling to the owls.,” Isringhausen said. “Owls are really territorial, they kind of think it’s a stranger coming into their home turf, however there are no guarantees we will hear one or see any.”
When hikers reach the top of the planned hike,( which is called a twin), if it’s a clear evening, hikers will get to see the lights over in Saint Charles.
“We’ll see the river valley off in the distance. Then hike down what we call the trail, which kind of wanders through some neat rock formations and eventually end up back here at the log cabin.” Isringhausen said.” The ending destination is adjacent to the new visitor centre. “
Isringhausen said his favorite part of the night is the weenie roast that is held at the end of the hike which is back at the cabin where the program began.
“We will have hot dogs, have drinks, roast marshmallows over a campfire and just kind of talk a little bit about the programme. It will probably be between 10:30 p.m. and 11 p.m., but the whole programme should be over by 11 o’clock.”
The program, given by Isringhausen, is all free. He said the fishing is free, the programme and everything that is supplied for the fishing program, such as the bait or poles.
“You do not need to bring anything with you. Food and drinks are provided for a person too. It’s just a great time. It’s just really neat. It’s not something you can normally do legally,” Isringhausen said. “You cannot hike on the hiking trails after dark here in the park, but because of this program we do this two or three times a year.”
For more information on the Nov. 6 event, you can call 618-786-3323 and the address is 13112 Visitor Center Lane in Grafton. Please make sure to bring one flashlight per family if you plan to attend.