Ken Gortowski sent a split report;
first, prospects and suggestions, the his afternoon outing.
First his prospects and suggestions for early April:
The recent rains did nothing to the Fox River. A slight blip in the water level and it immediately went back down. In the Yorkville area the clarity doesn't look all that bad. Stained a bit, but no big deal.
I checked my records for Aprils from years past and it really is all temperature driven. I have photos from the first week of April 2009 that show all kinds of flowers in bloom and lots of pictures of smallmouth bass from the creeks and river. Other years look just like this year with fewer fish pictures.
Though the long range forecast is showing rain on a number of days, the coverage looks weak with many days showing a 30 percent possibility. Which means it may not even happen. I checked what will be going on up north and it's the same. This pretty much means the river should keep dropping. With temps going up into the 50s and 60s, things should finally start turning on instead of the sporadic catches that have been had.
I've noticed a pattern over the years. I'm speaking primarily about creeks, but this happens all up and down the river. Right around now, again depending on water temperatures, the smaller bait fish start moving. Chasing them down for dinner are smallmouth bass. There is always good catches of smallies reported around now.
Within a couple of weeks all of the suckers, carp and the mixed up quillback carpsucker (it has no clue what it wants to be, especially when it hits and fights like a smallie) start moving up the river and creeks. The smallie bite can shut down completely, particularly in the creeks. I've seen hundreds of these fishing moving up creeks. One April when the river was low, there were so many of these things moving up a set of riffles on the Fox in the lower Batavia area that the water looked like it was boiling.
Everything gets out of their way.
Within a couple of weeks they start to disappear. The smallies return as well as good numbers of bluegill and crappie. Generally by then it's the beginning of May and the fishing could be the best it will be till fall comes around.
The only problem with this time of year is that there is no way of telling what makes up a good or bad day of fishing. It's a coin toss. The only thing you can do is be out there as much as possible. Even if it means going to the same spot day after day. One day the fish will be there, the next they'll be gone.
As for what to use, now the smaller bait fish are moving. Go smaller if you want numbers. After the carp and sucker runs, it doesn't matter what you use though I would consider using anything that resembles a crayfish.
The last caveat is water levels. If it's high, close to shore fishing is called for. If it happens to come down to normal levels, rare, but it does happen, than it doesn't matter where you go.
If the river is high, then you may want to go check out a creek. It could be in perfect condition long before the river. And if you're idea of fishing a river is hanging out in the first 100 yards below a dam, then all the info ever written about fishing a river is wasted on you. There's a good chance you'll never learn.
Which is good for the rest of us.
Then he sent this before darkness settled in this evening, which may partially explain some things:
Was able to get out Tuesday since I had nothing better to do. I knew I should be out the last two hours of the day, that seems to be the witching hours lately, but I was driving over a creek at noon and I'm not one to pass a creek without stopping.
Fished a quarter mile of the creek. Still no other foot prints on the shores so no one else has bothered coming here yet. The shallows were loaded with huge schools of small bait fish and I thought for sure that was a good sign. Not a tap. Tight to cover and structure, into and along under cut banks, current seams and a slight mud line, none of them produced a single hit. It was only 1 PM at that point. I thought of taking a long nap in the tall grasses along the shore till 5 PM. With my luck that 20 percent chance of expected rain would have parked itself directly over me.
The creek was in excellent shape. Slight stained and normal flow, usually excellent fishing conditions. Other than the huge schools of small bait fish, not another fish seen. The suckers, carp and quillbacks have still not bothered moving up stream. I give it to the end of the week for the smallies to come home for dinner. Another couple of weeks and the creek will be over run by those other fish.
I moved to a stretch of the Fox River that I could wade and walk the shore line. The river is dropping and was at about 2800 cfs when I was out there. If you get in the water, you should know what your doing. It's still a bit high.
Waded and walked a half mile. More fishing tight to cover and structure, more under cut banks probed, more seams and slight mud lines and all I got for my troubles was a carp that decided to eat the jig and twister. Again I considered taking a nap in tall shore grasses to wait for those last two hours of day light, but this time it actually did start to rain. Not much, but just enough to make things a little damp.
Odd thing is that 3 weeks ago I fished this stretch and caught over a half dozen smallies. I was expecting more of the same. But then, 3 weeks ago I fished till sunset and they all came in the last hour of light. Still no foot prints along the shore, so no one has been here either.
I don't know why I torture myself fishing at the wrong times. I know better. I think this time the hike was more important than the fish.
Yeah, that's it. Hike was important, not the fish.