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Midwest Fishing Report: Rivers (update)

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Fishing for this rivers section of the Midwest Fishing Report is back to the basics of catfish and smallmouth bass. (Update added to Chicago River)


``Man are those catfish heavy,'' "Catfish" Dave Bradigan e-mailed of a weekend catch of catfish while wading the Kankakee River near Momence.

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. Probably another one of those weeks where it is good to check because of the nature of the rain yesterday. Some areas got hammered, others not.


Jeff Nolan of Bridgeport Bass sent this:

Chicago river fishing report ; South branch , temp 82 nice 9 - 15 inch large and small mouth bass hitting Mr. twisters , small cranks and small jigs / Down town ;temp 71 fished during the air show jets flying over scattering bait fish and large mouth went nuts ! Several nice keeper bass trolling deep diving cranks.

Jeff added this clarification:

Hi Dale , My statement was not clear , when the jets would go over the bait fish would scatter and the bass went on a feeding frenzy that is when we caught one bass after another for the next 10 minutes . The airshow was a big plus for our numbers !

I love that line about the Air Show. I never fished the river during the Air Show, but I tried to fish the lakefront quite a few times during it with mixed results.


Andrew Ragas, Counsellor of the Fish Parliament, sent this:

The river and its creeks are running high and dirty. However, some
areas are still fishable from shore.

Before this weekend's rain, Dan Sims of enjoyed a
productive wade through the backwaters and side channels of the river
and reports catching pike up to 28" and largemouth bass in the 12 to
16 inch range, and channel catfish near weedlines on red inline
spinners. Water levels were normal then, but with the water clarity
poor and river gauge at 4.19 and slowly rising from Tuesday's
rainfall, these backwaters and side channel areas are the best bets
for any good fishing for the next week.


Please note that part of the watershed was hammered on Tuesday and flood warnings were up for the lower East Branch.

Frank Macikas sent this as a follow-up before the major rains:

Dale just a quick note; river seems to be dropping as fast as it came up. If we avoid more rain it will be in excellent shape this weekend! Dropping levels and hot temps should get them going good this week.

He first sent this weekend report:

Just got off the river from a float trip with the new kayak. This thing works better and better each time I use it!

Water was very stained; only six to twelve inches of clarity and river was also on the rise today. When I got out this morning it was flowing at just over 530cfs and at now at 7:00 it is flowing at 768 cfs. I fished from Rt 52 in Shorewood to the Minooka/Channahon River Park. I got out around 7:30 or 8:00 and finished until around 5pm. Today's total was 5 Smallmouth and 1 Rock Bass. All fish were taken on either a tube on a stand up jig or a chigger craw on a weedless jig. I tried crankbaits, buzz baits, spinners, and all kinds of plastics but the tube was king today. Fish were all in eddies next to fast water. Fish were aggressive in the morning but I lost a few fish and even had one come charging back after my tube as I was reeling it in to recast. Then I lost another very nice fish because I forgot to reset my drag after pulling a snag free; I should have been paying more attention.

The morning started great but the afternoon was slow; the only fish brought to the kayak (some more were lost) past I80 was the rock bass. Normally I get out at Sheply when I fish this stretch but wanted to explore further down river which is why I went down to Minooka/Channahon. I finally spent some time checking out the backwater pond past Sheply thats connected to the river. I saw some nice bass and a TON of big carp but didnt have any luck with catching fish. I also saw a pretty cool sight though; one of the little coves on the pond must be a natural spring because the water was gin clear at the very end of it and the rest of the pond has about 6 inches of clarity. I didn't care much for the stretch from past the backwater to the park. Maybe I was hot and tired and not all that motivated but the last stretch was slow deeper and didn't seem to have much structure to hold fish.

All in all another great day on the river as they have been in short supply. I do have another day planned for Labor day weekend so lets hope the weather cooperates and God blesses us with good conditions!

I am jealous of the kayak.


River wanderer/ponderer and now ChicagoNow blogger Ken Gortowski sent this:

I was able to get out 3 times in the last week, two of them before the rains came on Saturday.

Started out Thursday night after work. By the time I made it to the creek there was only an hour or so of daylight left. The creek was low, crystal clear and loaded with fish unwilling to hit anything that was thrown in the water. It's aggravating to watch the biggest of the bass picking up a twister by its tail and wandering around with it. I think if I had my fly rod with a slow sinking bug of some kind tied on, I would have cleaned up. I'll be keeping one in the car from now on.

Saturday morning I hit the river. I normally don't go fishing in the morning, I'm not a morning person, but heavy rains were called for so it was the best time to go. Wound up catching 20 smallies in about 4 hours. I'm OCD about counting missed hits and I got up to 30 before I lost count. The bulk of the caught fish and the hits all came in the first hour with the bite picking up again as lightning was sizzling over my head at the end. Did a little write up on this if you'd like to read more.

The rain and lightning did a pretty good job of chasing me off the river Saturday. When I was out there the river was flowing at just over 800 cubic feet per second. When I checked the gauge again 24 hours later, it had shot up to 2000, then back down to 1370.

Monday I got off work early and spent 4 hours doing a sunset fish. The river gauge said 1240 cfs. That's a quick rise and a just as quick drop and the fish apparently liked it.

I landed 21 smallies and once again was counting missed hits. Once again I lost track around 30. What's with that? I could have had back to back over 50 fish days if only I had a clue on how to set a hook. Got to watch an osprey go fishing, then fly all over the river with its catch. He made it look so easy.

On a Sunday walk with my wife, we stopped along the river. She pointed out the large amounts of bait fish right up along the shore. For the past two weeks I've been taking advantage of this. I've been casting right up on shore and dragging lures back into the water. Most of the hits have been coming as the lure was within a couple of feet of shore. The other most productive method was letting the lure swim around out in front of me with only 10 to 20 feet of line out.

Tuesday's rains were pretty intense and wide spread. The river came up to 1500 and is already on the way back down. I drove over a couple of creeks earlier in the day and they were flowing mud. Not high, just dirty.

This is all good. The weather the next few days will be excellent. The river will be coming down. The bait fish should be in the shallows. The creeks should be up a bit and clearing, but not crystal clear. In other words, perfect.

Me, I'm thinking of heading down to U of I to visit my daughter, she just started this week, senior year.

Kickapoo State Park is just down the road. A river runs through it that we've talked about fishing for the last couple of years.

Might be time for a small road trip.

I think that is one of the greatest gems among Illinois' public lands.


Time on the Water Outdoors reported good numbers of sauger, keepers taking sorting, from the Hennepin bridge to the high lines, shallow on Leadcore. Some larger white bass starting to show, some good crappie around the pilings. Catfish, mostly smaller on cheesebait or liver.


Mik-Lurch reported some more active steelhead on all the creeks--Trail, Salt and Little Cal--on spinners and spawn. Not sure what yesterday's rain and that forecast for today will do, good or bad.


Take your pick on catfish or smallmouth, both are going.

Norm Minas sent this after fishing in the rain Tuesday:

about 1400 cfs at the start, rising due to rain most of the day. stained at the start, off color by the time I stopped. overcast at the start, started raining soon after. kinda warm rain until the wind changed. after that I had to go back and get the rain coat.

fished a number of current conditions, flats, riffles, seams, couple eddies. if topwater didn't get some fish then a rattlebait would. fairly consistent action, lot of fish in the 15 to 18 inch range. fish were too aggressive to quit fishing. only thing of note was that hard rain fall would shut down topwater until it quit.

once again confirmed to the wife that I am indeed too dumb to come in out of the rain

I will leave that last line alone.

Ed Mullady reported this:

In Indiana, Kankakee River, try for pike in quieter waters.*Gladys Martin at LaSalle F&W (Rt. 41 to IL State Line)reported bass and bluegill being caught in that area.

Illinois: Both smallmouth and largemouth bass good east of Momence on *minnows *plastic worms *Mepps #3 Spinners, *Rattlin'
Rogue. *Kankakee River State Park & *Wilmington to DesPlaines F&W Area: smallmouth bass, catfish good.

River Guide Matt Mullady(815-932-6507) reports Art Cramer, Bourbonnais, IL has been fly fishing on the river and having great
success on the river for smallmouth bass.

Sure hated to lose Bill Byrns. He was one that cared much about the river, and an all-around nice guy!

The death of Byrns, the outdoors editor/writer for The Daily Journal, early Sunday was a major blow for those of us who care about the mighty Kankakee.

``Catfish'' Dave Bradigan sent this:

Hey Dale my brother and I fished from 9:00 Am till 1:00 0 pm Saturday and caught 15 cats ranging in size from 4 to 6 pounds. You pick the number. Kitty Kat Scott caught 8 and I caught just a mere 7. The bite was strong until we got out of the water at 1:00 when the rains hit and it cooled down. I will send a pic for you viewing enjoyment tomorrow. I left my phone at home. Shore fisherman I always totally amazed at the number and size of the fish we bring in. They are often using the same bait but two major things are against them. One same location or spot and method of bait presentation.


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


Tyler Harmon Facebooked this early in the week, so keep that in mind as we near the time for fall runs:

still no new salmon running the river yet, bass fishing still good on inland lakes. thats about it.



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






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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on August 24, 2011 5:45 AM.

Fish of the Week: End of Summer catch was the previous entry in this blog.

Midwest Fishing Report: Lakes/areas is the next entry in this blog.

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