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Midwest Fishing Report: Rivers report

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When the reports come of the sucker run in Michigan, you know spring comes for the rivers section of the Midwest Fishing Report.

And the reports of the sucker run come from Tyler Harmon, a young man from southwest Michigan, whose reports debut today.

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 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


For an overview of nearby river conditions, click here. Depending what the weather does, this might be important over the next week. But who knows, maybe everything of major note in the weather will scoot past us.


Jeff Nolan of Bridgeport Bass has not been doing particularly well in the last stretch of weather, as this short report shows: Fished the South branch a few times this week .Another waste of time, except near Fisk power plant warm water discharge a few small bass on slow deep crank baits.


From Andrew Ragas, Counsellor of the Fish Parliament

The fishing is poor to fair, but slowly improving. Water levels are
finally receding to safer wading levels, although I do not suggest
trying until maybe later in the week. River is flowing at 950CFS and
gauge is a 3.9. Once it hits 3.5 it's plenty safe for near shore and
slackwater shallow water wading.

Water temperatures in the main channel are at 44-45 degrees while
backwater pools are at 44-46 degrees. Clarity is improving.

Overall things are still pretty slow for all species of fish. Despite
that, a number of anglers were out over the weekend enjoying the nice
weather at popular sites such as the forest preserves and dam areas.
However, not much catching was taking place.

Northern Pike are finishing up their spawn. Some fish are still being
found in backwater areas, creek mouths, slackwater pools, and side
channels/ditches. Not much size but some have been in the range of 25
to 30 inches. Spinnerbaits (Northland Reed Runners, Terminators) and
inline spinners (Sims Spinners) are still catching. With the receding
water levels and warming temperatures in the coming weeks, more fish
will begin transitioning back into the river.

Walleye and Sauger remain poor. Few anglers trying and reports are
scarce. Catch rates should be improving by the weekend, and more folks
will be wading.

Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass are finally showing up. In the lower
sections of the river in Will county (big basin), boaters are finding
fish near the discharges and rip-rap: Crankbaits, jerkbaits,
spinnerbaits. Sizes are small with 1-2 lb. fish being the norm, but
numbers are substantial with 20 to 30 fish days being possible.

Lastly, some anglers have been hitting the creeks too. Some walleyes
and bass are being found on the Salt Creek up near Busse Lake.
Elsewhere, nothing much has been happening.

I am anxious to test this week because I'm confident that everything
from pike, bass, sauger and walleye to longnose gar, channel catfish
and panfish will be getting active. I have some outings planned for
the river and creeks. I'll try keeping everyone updated at my blog::


Frank Macikas had his fishing limited by life, but sent this perspective of the potential:

I did manage to make it out most of the day Saturday in Channahon. I managed 5 fish total drifting medium roaches with a single split shot and my buddy was skunked using a variety of artificials and all bites were very light. Flow is perfect and clarity is around three to four feet in most areas. I have heard reports of very nice smallies being caught further north on crankbaits but we had no such luck; all fish were between 10" and 14". On another note I did get to watch a flock of 15-20 turkeys hop across the river while fishing a smaller more secluded bend; that was an unexpected and very cool sight to see.

I love that turkey note. It amazes me the places that I see turkeys in the last few years.


I posted Ken Gortowski's report late last night as a Ramble with Gortowski.


Faithful reader Greg Knotek reported on a trip last week:

[After] a short run down to the Peru flats caught and released 9 sauger all decent sized on a 3/8 oz. chartreuse jig and lg. fat head combo.

From guide Jay Angel (

The Illinois River:: April 3

Water temperatures were hovering around 50. The best action for sauger was around Spring Valley on the drop off on the south side of the river by the boat club. There were several saugers caught in this location with my personal largest today being 19.5 inches long. Most fish were caught using jig and minnow combinations.

Some saugers were caught upriver by Mertel's barge terminal. Plum Island and the Starved Rock dam area were slow.

. . .

Look for sauger fishing to slow down and white bass fishing to improve as the water continues to warm.


River is in very good shape for spring, best of our area rivers. In fact, some water might even be good. Heard some catfish reports. Norm Minas said the walleye are spawned out.

Ed Mullady sent this:

INDIANA: Walleye fair at Point, north of English Lake(good shoreline fishing) *Rt.49 to Davis Ditch *LaSalle F&W Area. Good baits: jig and minnow
*jig and crawler *Weedless Doctor Spoons *Jointed plugs
Catfish good throughout on *minnows *catfish cheese 8crawlers
Largemouth Bass fair in bayous and quieter river waters on *jig and minnow *plastic worms *imitation frogs *Mepps spinners.
Some nice size northern pike being caught on big minnows *Spoons *Spinners.
ILLINOIS: Walleye fair at *Momence to State Line *Ryan's Pier to Beckman Park, Aroma Park-Kankakee area. *Johnson's Fishermans Park
in Kankakee through Kankakee River State Park also fair. *Wilmington Dam through Rt. 55 area. Baits above working.
Baits good same as above.
Catfish good through area.
Smallmouth Bass catch and release only through June 15 for the Kankakee and Iroquois Rivers in Illinois and many other streams in Illinois.
(Too bad DNR's can't close a "Season of sand movement" in the river !) Fishermen should check out both IN and IL for limits, and other regulations on all fish!
Northern pike good around creek and ditch mouths.
Rock bass and croppie good throughout river.
We can use a "little" rain, just so it doesn't go crazy!


Morris Wetlands is open for fishing that stretch of the Mazon. Hours will 6 a.m. to sunset.


From the Wisconsin DNR Root River Report:

Root River Fishing Report for April 4, 2011
Water and flow conditions

On the Root River, fishing this past weekend was fair. The river flow came down substantially from last weekend ranging from 200-180 cfs. The favorable flow and lower water depth allowed more anglers to wade into the river safely near the dam and downstream. The water also warmed up and ranged from 44 degrees Fahrenheit on Saturday to 42 degrees on Sunday. Water clarity was okay on Saturday but decreased by Sunday. . . .
Fishing Report
Fishing at the Horlick Dam was a little slow over the weekend. Angler effort here was lower compared to last weekend. On Sunday afternoon, anglers fishing within the first 50 yards of the dam had some success. Anglers were drifting small woolly bugger flies which produced some nice steelhead. The harvested steelhead were well mixed between males and females and ranged from 5-7 pounds.

At Quarry Lake Park angler effort was high and steady all weekend, especially on Saturday. Fishermen were spread out over the entire park from the upper stream segments all the way through the golf course. While some anglers were unsuccessful others had a great day. Catches ranged from 1-4 steelhead. The steelhead were evenly mixed between Ganaraskas and Chambers Creek and on average ranged from 2-6 pounds. On Saturday a group of two were able to harvest 4 very nice steelhead. One of the steelhead was marked with an adipose and right maxillary fin clip indicating a Skamania strain. It measured 26.5 inches and 5 pounds and was caught on spawn.

Fishing around the Lincoln Park area was fairly productive over the weekend. Anglers fishing downstream from the weir had a good Saturday but it had tapered off over Sunday. Success was spread out through the entire park. Catches were comprised of some nice spawning steelhead as well as a few smaller brown trout. The brown trout ranged from 1.5-4 pounds. Fishing above the weir was a little slower put was productive for a few anglers. On Sunday, one angler fishing between the two refuges landed one large steelhead and one small brown trout. The steelhead measured 27.5 inches and 7 pounds while the brown was just over a pound.

Fishing further downstream in Island Park and downstream through Washington Park was pretty hit or miss. In Island Park anglers had limited success. A couple nice steelhead were harvested while many anglers reported landing some small browns. Most were too small for anglers to want to keep while a couple were harvested at 2-3 pounds. Anglers also reported a couple incidental catches of suckers.


Dan Sims connected me to Harmon, a young gung-ho fishermen, for reports from southwest Michigan. I will include his complete report for SW Michigan in the areas/lakes section. Here's his rivers note:

The rivers have been slow but boat anglers on the St. Joe are catching a few steelhead. Fresh steelhead spawn has been the top bait. Sucker run is about in full swing in most rivers around this part the state. Try sit fishing with crawlers for a little fun. Good time of year to bring the kids out to catch a few fish.

The sucker run is one of those notable things we just don't have as a tradition on our side of Lake Michigan.


From Angel:

White bass fishing is improving with fish being caught in the Vermilion River. Most fish were at least a mile upstream of the mouth by the 30 foot hole area. They were caught using a jig and Berkley Gulp alive minnow combinations. White bass were running small, like they usually are in the Vermilion. They averaged around 10 inches long.

Lots of gar were also caught.



Fishing Headquarters



MICHIGAN DNR REPORT,1607,7-153-10364-34956--,00.html






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All the walleyes may not have spawned yet, shoot I've seen the smallmouth spawn stretch from March to April. I did get 2 post spawn female walleye that absolutely slammed a rattlebait, aparrently have the feede bag on. that and the conition of the ramps lead me to conclude that the walleye are at least well into the process.

Hey Norm,

I guess this maybe the only forum I can reply to you. How's the bite been?



Got three with worn, ragged tails and 2 with fat, hard egg sacks earler this week. the other twenty showed no such signs. It's picking up, fish anywhere they want from slack to fast. topwater ok on windy days, mostly cranks and rattlebaits.
somedays 1 to 5 fish, some days in the twentys. when would be a good time to call


Is there anyone at that forum I would know?

I have been out for 6 trips in the last 2 weeks. It really has been a decent bite. With the levels so low, I have been doing alot of walking. Most fish have been out into the light channel current or breaks that are at least 3-4ft deep. 4 1/2 Case Jack Worms have been the best.


Trust me Kamala, you'll recognize most. Come on in!



Yes you would, just missing a lot of the riff raff from the old RS

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on April 6, 2011 5:03 AM.

Chicago lakefront: Smelt surprise was the previous entry in this blog.

Midwest Fishing Report: Areas/lakes report is the next entry in this blog.

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