I know tomorrow it is supposed to feel like spring, but our rivers will be a lot closer to winter than the air feels. With that disclaimer, here is a larger, spring-type Midwest Fishing Report for rivers.
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. The lakes and areas MFR will follow shortly.
Normally, I post the online MFR, both the rivers and lakes/areas sections, by Wednesday 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 email@example.com.
For an overview of nearby river conditions, click here.
Hope to have reports from Jeff Nolan and sundry others shortly.
DES PLAINES RIVER
From Andrew Ragas, Counsellor of the Fish Parliament www.fishing-headquarters.com:
Water levels have finally come down to respectable levels, but catches
and consistency remain spotty. Water clarity is improving. As of
Tuesday, flows are at 1400cfs, and the gage height is a 4.5. Shoreline
fishing is a for-sure, boat fishing is iffy, and wading is out of the
Since last week water temperatures in both the main river and
backwaters have been holding steady between 40 and 43 degrees. What's
preventing the action from heating up is the colder weather. However,
looking at the long-term forecast, that is likely to change very soon.
Pike are sill holding in the backwaters, and will still be for the
next few weeks. Males and egg-bearing females mostly, but more will be
moving in with warmer daily temperatures. Once that occurs, a feeding
frenzy should result. Most fish are in the range of 20-28 inches. Some
big ones should be in the mix also but they haven't been showing up
yet. Spinnerbaits like Northland Reed Runners and Terminators are
still catching, as are Sims-Spinner inlines in #5 single and double
In addition, some anglers wandering and fishing the shores are
catching some staging pike out in mid-river. Jerkbaits (X-Raps and
Husky Jerks) have been best. Drifting shiners beneath a float is also
catching fish per usual.
River is completely open, including the backwaters and channels from
Lake County down through Will County.
Some sauger are being found in deeper pools with moderate current. Jig
and plastics, and jerkbaits fished very slowly through the pools are
scoring a few pre-spawn, staging fish. Sauger and walleye will be
attempting their [unsuccessful] spawn as well in the coming weeks.
Very few Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass are being caught. Warm weather
will obviously help anglers targeting them and all other warmer-water
species - any day now.
DuPAGE & FOX RIVERS
Frank Macikas will start his DuPage reports shortly. Looking at the weather, I am going to bet there will be a report from him for next week.
Ken Gortowski sent this:
Getting out fishing in the first half of March is still jumping the gun, but you never know. The 40 degree and higher air temps feel good to us, but they're not doing much for the river. Getting out to fish is just an excuse to get out. Fishing gives us something to do while out, but it won't be till the water temperatures hit 45 degrees or higher that catching will become the norm.
Was out in Geneva briefly on Friday, walking the wall. I'd say the river is up almost 3 feet, not quite. Water clarity was excellent and easily 2 feet. Once the ground thaws more, more mud will go in with the rain and dirty up the river. But the water was cold. I don't bother with readings anymore, now I just stick my hand in the water. Yep, cold water.
Along with the limestone wall, I walked south of the railroad tracks dropping lures behind the rock and chunk concrete that lines the shore. Still nothing there yet. My patience level wasn't up for continuing this search for more than an hour, so I cut things short.
Wound up hitting a creek on Saturday about 9 miles up from the mouth where it empties into the Fox. If I'm going to struggle for March fish I may as well do it up a creek. I have this theory that smallies winter over in this one relatively big and deep hole.
Caught 3 smallies in the 12 to 14 inch range. There's an 18 inch smallie that lives in this hole, at least one. I've caught at least 3 of them out of here over the past few years and the patterns on them have all been different. I don't know if the patterns work like fingerprints, if so, then they are different fish. I had it on this time and got to see it roll near the surface before it dove to the bottom and spit out the jig.
If the jig and twister wasn't being dragged painfully slow and hopped across the bottom, there were no hits. These fish were definitely not up for chasing anything, I tried. A slight bump and a tug, no different than dragging it over a rock, was the only indication that a fish was on.
I really don't think these fish migrated that far up stream this early. Was here over the winter. This creek gets some ice, but it never freezes over, which means it's spring fed. I already knew that based on the water temps during summer months. You can wet wade this during the summer, but you better not mind missing part of your anatomy for a few hours. It will take that long for them to come back down out of your abdominal cavity.
Catching these smallies this early in the year proves to me that these fish are wintering over here. Been looking to prove that and I think this does it.
Hit another creek on Saturday, but the flow was a bit high and fast. Didn't spend much time hitting the deep holes on this one since the current was moving through them pretty good. Wound up fishing a pond I have permission to fish that adjoins the creek. It's already known that there aren't many big fish here, but I was able to squeak out a couple of largemouth bass and a couple of bluegills that hit harder than the largemouth.
Was hoping some friends would take the hint, go fish the DuPage River and get back to me with how they've done. Nothing to report yet. I can only be in so many places at once. I may have to make a small road trip. The river is showing to be a little high, but coming down at a decent pace.
Sporadic rains are in the 10 day forecast, so it's a wait and see game with what it does to the rivers and creeks. Nice part was all the projected 50 to 60 degree days. The quicker the water temps hit that 45 degree mark the better.
ILLINOIS RIVER: STARVED ROCK AREA
Time on the Water Outdoors reported the river dropping, clearing. Sauger remain variable, most effort early this week was at Starved Rock, but fish are throughout. Most are jigging, but all methods are producing. The IWT goes out of Spring Valley on Sunday.
River is probably in the best spring shape of all our local rivers. Ed Mullady sent this:
walleye improving in Point, north of English lake on jig and minnow *jig and crawler *weedless Doctor spoon. Pike good in ditches, bayou mouths, shorelines on big minnows *Mepps #5 spinner.
LaSalle F&W Area improving. Walleye along shorelines in river. *Pike, largemouth bass .
croppie along bayou mouths.
Illinois: Walleye more active. River guide Matt Mullady caught a 7 1/2 pounder Monday.
Good walleye around Momence *Ryan's Pier, Aroma Park through mouth of Baker Creek
*Below city of Kankakee Dam and *city of Wilmington Dam through DesPlaines Cons. Area.
Good baits: *jig and minnow *jig and twister tail *crankbaits *jointed plugs.
Smallmouth Bass fair to good.
ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN
From the Wisconsin DNR report:
Root River Fishing Report for March 14, 2011
Water and flow conditions
Trout fishing on the Root River this past weekend was on the slow side. This was attributable to the very fast flow, high water, and colder temperatures. The water clarity was good with high visibility in areas where the water flow was slower. Water temperatures taken on Sunday just downstream from the dam were between 34-35 degrees Fahrenheit.
. . .
Angler effort was mostly concentrated at the Horlick Dam and downstream through Quarry Lake Park. Most anglers were only able to wade in a couple feet off the shore to about knee high water. The preferred choice of bait was flies with only a couple fishermen using spawn. Anglers reported the presence of a couple of steelhead tight to the dam. While they were able to hook-up a few times, landing the fish in the high flow was too difficult and limited the catch rate.
A few anglers were also fishing the Lincoln Park area, both upstream and downstream from the weir. Catch rates here were also pretty low. One angler fishing Saturday afternoon was able to land one nice male steelhead that weighed 2.5 pounds. It was caught on a spawn sac between the two walking bridges. Fin clips were ALV indicating that is was a Ganaraska steelhead.
ST. JOSEPH RIVER AREA, MICHIGAN
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CHICAGO AREA CHAT/REPORTS
CHICAGO AREA INFO
MICHIGAN DNR REPORT
WISCONSIN DNR REPORT
IOWA DNR REPORT
INDIANA DNR REPORT