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Gentleman drowned in my favorite fishing spot

William81William81 Member Posts: 23,443 ✭✭✭✭
edited August 2006 in The Fishing Hole!
Just goes to show you, if you do not know what you are doing, bad things can happen.....

OREGON - Anyone who frequents the Rock River here and has felt its powerful current knows it's no place to wade. At least not without a life jacket.

The anglers who linger on the river's popular east side near the Oregon dam, where a Chicago-area man drowned Sunday, say they live by a simple rule: If you don't know the river, don't go in.

That maxim might be unfamiliar to out-of-towners who hit the park, known for a good catch, during weekend fishing trips, said Matt Barzso, a Sycamore angler who said his five years of fishing near the dam have taught him where he should and shouldn't venture.

"If you don't respect the river, something's going to end up happening," Barzso said. "Yesterday is a perfect example of that."

The river's current dragged down two Chicago-area men as they tried to wade from the eastern shore to an island about 250 feet away. One of them, Adem Zukanovic, 39, of Skokie was swept to another island where teams of divers were able to quickly rescue him. He was taken by ambulance to KSB Hospital in Dixon where he was treated for minor injuries and released.

But his cousin, 29-year-old Samir Zukanovic of Chicago, never surfaced.

Firefighters found his body more than two hours later - a fishing trip ended with fatal steps.

The site of the drowning, said Don Heller, chief of the Oregon Fire Protection District, is where he sees some accidents, but no one had drowned in Oregon in at least six years. The Winnebago County coroner's office reports just one accidental drowning in the county in the past two years, though it's uncertain where it happened.

The stretch of river by the dam in Oregon is about 500 feet shore to shore, Heller said, with the island in the middle. The width of that part of the river and its quick current also made the search difficult, Heller said. Firefighters from at least seven area departments and a helicopter were called to aid the search.

A large sign in plain view from the shore warns - in bright, red letters - about the river's "dangerous current and uneven bottom," and the possibility of death for swimmers. Staying on shore seems like common sense, Barzso said, adding that the river's calm appearance can be deceiving.

"You can walk off the shore and it's just knee-deep, and then it's neck-deep, and then it suddenly just drops," Barzso said.

That's typical near dams, said Sgt. Robert Frazier of the Illinois Department of Conservation. The powerful flow of water as it crashes over a dam erodes the river bottom at different rates depending on what lies below, Frazier said. The water pressure can dissolve a patch of sand quicker than it can a chunk of rock, leaving the river's floor craggy and uneven. Of course, you wouldn't know that from just looking at the surface, Barzso said.

He said calm water is a sign that it's deep, while shallow water is marked by white ripples and noticeable rocks.

Currents near a dam, faster than in other spots along a river, can quickly change depending on rainfall, Frazier said. That type of speed can also create a kind of whirlpool that sucks swimmers underwater and doesn't let them up. But it's more likely that the man who drowned simply fell into a deep hole underwater and couldn't scramble out, Frazier said.

There are four dams along the Rock River in the area: Rockton, Rockford, Oregon and Dixon. Swimming is common in the river and is generally permitted in Winnebago County, except in parks and forest preserves, said Sgt. Stephen DePauw of the Winnebago County Sheriff's Department. Waders should avoid walking into fast-moving water and look for spots where the bottom is visible, he said.

"If you're familiar with what you've got there, it may not be a hazard," DePauw said. "If you're not familiar with it, it may be a very significant hazard."

If there's any question of safety, stay on dry land or wear a life jacket, said Jan Prose, owner of TJ's Bait/Tackle and Canoe Rentals in Oregon. Prose said she offers that as advice to the many local people and travelers who wander into her shop daily asking her advice on where to locate.

If all else fails, Barzso said, he relies on one last crutch - simple, common sense.


  • COLTCOLT Member Posts: 12,637 ******
    edited November -1
    ...poor guy, maybe he couldn't read? I have seen people around lakes and rivers do some really stupid things. Watched a guy running a trot line drown once, cause I don't guess you can drown twice([:D])

    I was bass fishing about 25 yards from where there was a jug marking a trot line. A jonboat with 2 older guys pulled up to the jug to run the trot line...both had beer bottles in their hand, and no life jackets. The guy driving the boat pulled up so the other guy could lean over and grab the trot line w/a pole w/a hook on it. After the guy grabbed the line and took off one fish, the guy driving hit the throttle! Off balance at the sudden burst of spped...and at least one of the trot line hooks sinking into the guys arm, he went over, and down....the line was weighted and set about 4' under the surface.

    I got my line in and anchor up, started the boat and went over, the guy was nowhere to be seen, man, he dissappeared in like 2 minutes...and he had been hooked by at least one trot line hook. I dumped my pockets and went in, carefully with the trotline there. I looked all around the area for probably 15 minutes, nothing...the water was about 20' deep there. His friend stayed ther and I went to shore and called the police, no cell phones then.

    Lake patrol, game wardens all came out...gave me a 4-5' metal bar w/about 4-5 12" chains with hooks(BIG UGLY SHARP HOOKS![:0]) on the end of the chains to drag behind my hook the body. Took about 2 hours to hook the guy, he was about 50' from where he went in. Had 2 hooks w/leaders in his forarm, in struggling to get loose he had apparantly broke the leaders free from the trot line...didn't help him though, held him under long enough.

    I got a hook from a trot line caught in my ankle once, and held me just below the surface, scared me so bad I ripped the damn thing out kicking like a mule...a huge freakin hook, someone had set a trot line for big cats I guess. I must confess, I cut every trot line I find, thats unmarked...[;)]

  • jhimcojhimco Member Posts: 2,075 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    If you read his name it seems foreign.
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