Ken Gortowski, after ruminating on fishing the Fox River
in a fall heat wave, gives specifics for such fishing, then adds a late Tuesday report.
Here's his basic breakdown of fall heat fishing on the Fox in the western suburbs of Chicago fishing:
The lack of rain this fall has dropped river levels all over the area. Except for the Fox River. The continued drawdown of the Fox Chain has kept the river in near perfect condition for over a week. It's actually running above normal for this time of year.
What hasn't happened is the usual expected turn on of fish. I'm still catching smallies, but the wonderful weather we've been having should have produced much better numbers than the few I've been catching on each outing.
I was looking through my archives of writing to see if there was some kind of pattern. There isn't one. November has always been a numbers month for not only smallies, but white bass and walleye too. So far, that's just not happening.
I found reports from November of 2002 that paints a totally different picture. This month back then there were schools of gizzard shad, numbering in the hundreds, moving throughout the Montgomery area. On one of the days I was seeing the shad I had caught 50 smallies and a few walleye and white bass. That was November 26th.
I checked my reports dating back to 1998. Every November showed numbers days. Smallies and white bass being the two most caught with walleye a far third.
This past weekend I was out on Saturday for those last 3 hours of sun. A few smallies were caught and a few more were on. It doesn't help to have a couple of ignorant anglers see you working your way down the river and then race ahead and get in the water. Normally this doesn't bother me, but this time one of the anglers did a good job of walking all around in the water where the fish usually held. A nice slow moving spot with a couple of feet of water that sits in the sun. He stomped all over the area so he could throw a spinnerbait all the way across the fastest riffles and then reel it too fast back to himself. In the middle of August when the river water is near 80, this might have been a good idea. First week of November with water temps barely reaching 45, you couldn't pick a dumber way to fish.
His partner didn't make a cast as far as I could tell, he just stomped all over the other area that usually holds fish. Eventually they headed across the river to the side where even during the summer there aren't any fish. I could see them both casting away to some of the most unproductive water in the area. Good riddance and good luck.
I took my time getting down to the areas they effectively ruined for the day. I was able to coax a few tentative hits from both, but nothing solidly hooked. For the next couple of hundred yards, a stretch that slopes from ankle deep to almost chest deep, the lack of landed fish was my own fault. After the third one that got away I sharpened my hook even though it didn't need it. Didn't help, missed the next two.
The last spot I fished, a slow moving chute with some nice depth, I got a nice solid hard hit. Big smallie maybe? A foul hooked carp? This fish had some nice weight to it and then I had my line fluttering in the wind. I reeled it in and checked, a nice clean bite off. This is no easy feat considering that I use PowerPro and don't bother with any kind of fluorocarbon or monofilament leader. I've never noticed that the fish care about leaders one way or the other, so why bother with them. I have caught or seen few northerns in the Fox, but two of them came from this exact spot. Those two were small. I think this may have been their big relative.
The weather over the next few days is going to be exceptional, then back to something more normal November. The past shows the next few days could be some ideal fishing. It also shows that this cold spell shouldn't matter. The fishing should be nothing short of excellent.
But there's a rumbling among many anglers that things have changed and it's been changing for a couple of years. I just shrug my shoulders. Life is cyclical. All aspects of it. Why should fishing be any different. Only way to find out one way or another is be out there fishing.
I did a brief description of where to go for walleye this time of year for guys on my site. It pretty much holds true for just about any species right now. Deal is for giving away this kind of information, someone has to give a report. Successful or not.
St. Charles from the dam down on the west side.
Geneva from the dam all along the west side down to the tracks, then fish the heck out of that whole pool in front of and under the railroad tracks.
Batavia, fish in town, but I would also head behind Funway and fish around where the old dam used to be. Then skip down stream till you get to the bluffs, that would be Les Arends Forest Preserve. From where the islands end and the pool near the bluffs begin, verified rumors of 14 pound walleye exist.
North Aurora from the dam down to under I-88. You'll figure out the deeper spots.
Indian Trail, east side from the bridge to the end of the water plant.
Aurora, west side. You'll figure it out.
Montgomery, doesn't matter. They used to be everywhere. Railroad tracks by the treatment plant. That whole big pool upstream of the tracks, from one side to the other. Just don't try to walk under the tracks on the west side. You won't make it, but you do want to fish it. Then go down to the flats down from the treatment plant. That big pool from the island to the power line. The whole thing. The east side is deep so be careful.
Down from there all the way to Yorkville, don't bother. Never caught a walleye from Oswego down and I've fished the heck out of it.
Yorkville, from the dam down past 47 to the first island just down from the mouth of Blackberry Creek. Anywhere in there. Go slow.
Mouth of Big Rock. Best spot is the other side. They like to sit in the lift at the end of the pool. (As I write this on Monday night I had already talked to Ed Schmitt. He fished this area in the afternoon and saw others out there. Nobody got nothing. Another where'd the fish go theory, they should be there).
Down from there you're on your own. Unless you can figure out how to get to the old Millhurst dam. Could be worth the effort.
Last 3 hours of daylight, first hour of dark if you must. Then go home.
But then the mornings are pretty good and I've always done well smack dab in the middle of the day.
Print this out, commit it to memory, but it would be worth going back to these areas for the rest of November. Then there's the pictures in my collection that I found of 16 to 20 inch smallies that I apparently caught at the mouth of a creek. In December. After a fall similar to this one.
But I'll worry about those reports in December.
And he added this update late Tuesday after a bit of rambling around the Les Arends area and catching a 20-inch or close to it smallmouth:
To the mark on my rod measures 19 inches. I didn't close it's mouth or straighten it's curled tail or pinch down it's tail like your supposed to when measuring. So a little bigger perhaps.
I should take my own fishing advice more often.
I have a lame arms length shot of it, never does them justice.
Guilt tripping over finding work will probably keep me from going back the next couple of days. I put up a post on my site that someone should go try that stretch. Hopefully someone will go, and leave details.
Click here for his site.