Considering the question of what the rain will do, I have some trepidation putting together this rivers section of the Midwest Fishing Report.
This was a high water scene Tuesday afternoon before the latest round of rain came overnight and today. At least some of our rivers will be heading into flood stage over the next couple days.
But there is still fishing. And we have the first Des Plaines River report of 2011 from Andrew Ragas.
This is the extended online version of the MFR, which appears on the Sun-Times outdoors page on Wednesdays. Well, this is the rivers section for rivers around Chicago fishing.
Normally, I post the online MFR, including the rivers section, by Wednesday morning. With a pair of sick boys, I am behind this morning.
I think I will probably separate out the rivers section like this until the fall.
If you have suggestions, post in the comments section or let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For an overview of nearby river conditions, click here. And in times like these, it is helpful.
Waiting on my guys to become regular again. So to speak.
DES PLAINES RIVER
From Ragas, Counsellor of the Fish Parliament www.fishing-headquarters.com:
The main focus for the next few weeks will be on northern pike. We are in the beginning stages of their spawn season and this can be one of the best times of the year to find fish in both numbers and size if their locations are found.
First trips of the year took place on Friday (3/4) and on Tuesday (3/8). Both outings took place with Dan Sims and friends, Mark Matejka and David Mannion. On 3/4, river was high, but flowing at 1,500cfs. It was also sunny and 55 degrees out. Water clarity in the backwaters was very clear with temperatures at 42 degrees. Fish were staging, but somewhat active. Some small males in the range of 20 inches were caught.
Then came the weekend. Unfortunately it rained far too much, and on 3/8 our productive river backwater system turned to dark brown water with a temperature reading of 40 degrees. Main river was flowing at 2,000cfs, and water levels came up nearly 2 feet in the backwater. Zero fish were caught, but we saw a few staging. However, action was nothing like compared with before the weekend rainfall.
Signs indicate that the spawn has just begun because majority of fish being encountered are staging males that are marking territory and waiting for their females to come. Very little feeding activity and fish movements are occurring In the coming days, and for probably until the start of April, more pike will be moving in and utilizing these areas.
Best activity is taking place between the hours of 1pm til 4pm. Whatever fish we are running into are interested in spinnerbaits such as Northland Reed Runners. Best colors are the following:: Black & orange/ White & chartreuse / White & red. In addition, smaller bucktails and inline spinners are getting action. My favorites are Sims Spinners, size 5 in single or double, in the colors of black/orange, black/red and chartreuse/brass. We have tried everything else from weedless spoons to jerkbaits, rattlebaits, and jigs. Nothing has been coming on those but it is always important to bring a variety of everything. You just never really know when the fish will be responding on what!
Backwaters are the places to be, from Lake to Will County. In addition, creek arms and ditches deserve some consideration. Most backwaters are now completely open and ice free, although I received word from anglers that some in Lake County are sill locked in. Most fish are running in the 15 to 25 inch range, but some far bigger may be found if you come lucky. Reports of fish larger than 30 inches are being confirmed, but I cannot verify any of it or have proof.
To make a long story short, fish are still getting ready to spawn. This is just the beginning.
As for all other species, many are still dormant, but a few active carp and channel catfish are being found by shoreline anglers near the Joliet area.
At this time, and if fishing near spawning grounds, it would be extremely wise to bring pliers and necessary catch & release tools. Now that fish are carrying eggs it is more important than ever to take care of them and to fish responsibly.
Haven't heard from Frank Macikas: yet, so here is something from Ken Gortowski:
The DuPage is running high, but those that know where to walk the shores now might do pretty good. There is one stretch of that river system that has trout escapees. We'll leave it at that. I think the days of answering the question "where were you fishing?" are pretty much over. I usually give it away, but if all I do is hint, it's enough of a hint to figure out where I am. Chances are this is being read on your blog, on the internet.
It's called Google. It has a great search function. Time for people to figure that out.
FOX RIVER: WESTERN SUBURBS
Gortowski sent this:
Looks like my fishing for the next couple of days isn't going to happen. Did get out to the Fox River on March 1st and 3rd.
I seem to be missing more fish than landing and finally managed to land a smallmouth bass.
I know more of them are hitting, I can tell the difference, but I'll be damned if I can land one.
Doing well on the bottom dwellers though as I seem to have no problem hooking carp in the lips lately.
Lots of fish moving around. Some big bug hatches occurring on the warmer days. More anglers seen wandering aimlessly along shore lines.
It's still early, the water is cold and a little high and patience is needed. A few more weeks and all that will change.
Long string of 40 degree days coming up. That will start to change things dramatically.
ILLINOIS RIVER: STARVED ROCK AREA
The river is running near or slightly above flood stage, depending where you are. This is one to watch for the next few days and make a judgment call.
The Kankakee as of this morning was in the best shape of our local rivers. Whether that holds remains to be seen, and it is high.
Ed Mullady sent this:
Even though the river is up and muddy in many places some fish have been caught from Indiana portion of the Kankakee. Northern pike in the Point area north of English Lake on bigger minnows *#5 Mepps Spinner *Weedless Doctor Spoons. Walleye best on *jig and minnow *jig and crawler, esp. at ditch mouths.
In Illinois, walleye are being caught on *jig and minnow *jointed plugs*spinners. Pike on *bigger minnows", Dardevles *Dr. spoons *Mepps Spinners. Best for all fish near Momence *Below Kankakee Dam *Below Wilmington Dam* and near Aroma Park.
Some smallmouth bass being caught throughout river on *minnows *spinners*twisters.
ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN
From the Wisconsin DNR report:
Root River Fishing Report for March 8, 2011
Water and flow conditions
The Root River's water depth was up over the weekend with the recent rainfall and snow melt. The river was flowing pretty fast and holding a fair amount of sediment. This produced a brown stained flow with low visibility for Friday and Saturday. The sediment filled water along with cold air temperature over Saturday and Sunday probably contributed to the low catch rates. Conditions became a little better by Sunday afternoon but angler effort was minimal. Water temperatures taken on Sunday were still low, holding just above freezing at 33 degrees Fahrenheit.
In Lincoln Park, angler effort was high Friday morning. Most anglers were concentrating downstream from the weir around the first river bend. Despite the rainfall, moderate temperatures, and overcast skies few steelhead were landed. Most anglers were drifting small spawn sacs with a bobber set about 3 feet down. On Sunday afternoon a few anglers were fishing upstream from weir toward the Colonial Park boundary but had no success. They were drifting spawn sacs and small jigs tipped with a wax worm.
Fishing at the Horlick dam over the weekend had low but steady fishing pressure. The higher water and fast flow made fishing here a little more challenging. A couple anglers where fishing near the foot of the dam and off to the side were able to land a pair of nice steelhead. One harvested steelhead measured 28.5 inches and 7 pounds was caught on a small orange stonefly. No fin clips were present and the sex could not be determined but it was very healthy looking with a slight pinkish hugh along its side.
ST. JOSEPH RIVER, MICHIGAN
BJ Sports reported some steelhead at Berrien Springs over the weekend, just a few whitefish off the piers.
CHICAGO AREA CHAT/REPORTS
CHICAGO AREA INFO
MICHIGAN DNR REPORT
WISCONSIN DNR REPORT
IOWA DNR REPORT
INDIANA DNR REPORT