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Midwest Fishing Report: Rivers section (Des Plaines add)

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Believe it or not, considering our wet spring and summer, are heading toward extreme fall lowness on the rivers near Chicago, but the fall feeding frenzy is about to begin as we prepare this rivers section of the Midwest Fishing Report. (Just added Des Plaines report)

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 some time this fall.

If you have suggestions, post in the comments section or let me know at


For an overview of nearby river conditions, click here.


Jeff Nolan of Bridgeport Bass sent this update last night:

Just back in from south branch large mouth hitting wacky worms at dusk like mad temp 76 water level dropped 1 foot today the river. Sponges are all but dead and there is a very lime green algae bloom now probably from all the nitrates released . This has been a very interesting few weeks on the south branch , in 10 years I have not seen an event like this .

His original report was this:

Chicago river fishing report ; South branch temp and water level all over the map this week fishing best at dusk with large mouth 10-12 inch on drop shot/wacky worm , cat fish hitting great at boat ramp on raw shrimp , Down town wolf point zip , Ogden slip slow with a few nice large mouth under LSD on drop shot , a very nice large mouth near Jackson (west shore) . Note ; south branch had lots and lots of kayakers looking at what is left of the rare fresh water sponges disturbing the best spots . Water near sponges is gin clear I don't know what came first the clear water or the sponges . Biologist from the Shed said this (bloom) may not occur for another 10-12 years . Jeff Nolan , Bridgeportbass


Andrew Ragas, Counsellor of the Fish Parliament, just returned from a fishing adventure and sent this:

DesPlaines River

River levels continue to drop, water clarity continues to improve, and
water temperatures haven't begun falling just yet. The entire river is
at a standstill it seems, for everything.

With this anticipated cool-down beginning shortly, conditions will
drastically change. Largemouth and smallmouth bass will be the first
participants to go on a feeding bidge, and they will soon be followed
by northern pike.

According to several anglers wade fishing and shore fishing throughout
Will, Cook, and Lake Counties, largemouths are holding in deeper pools
and the edges of channels. Rocks, weedbeds, and wood with depth are
obviously good areas for largies right now. Fish to 16 inches are the
norm., and are responding well to shallow and mid-range crankbaits
bounced off the bottom. In addition, white and gold spinnerbaits, and
buzzbaits are catching fish too. Expect a few smallmouth bass to be
utilizing the same areas as largemouths are as well. Catches are
fewer, but smallies are mainly holding in mid-river pools with
current, and around deeper rocks. Shallow crankbaits and Sims Spinners.

Northern pike activity is nothing special yet. Smaller fish are being
found throughout with the best fishing taking place in the wooded
areas and forest preserves of Lake County. Inline spinners such as
Mepps and Sims Spinners are catching fish up to 25" from downed wood,
bridge areas, and deeper pools. Some rainfall would be nice in order
to get some bigger fish running again.


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

Was out on the Fox for the last 5 hours of Tuesday and caught 25 smallies, but I lost another 47. I'm blaming the massive amount of weeds/algae that's growing all over the bottom of the river, breaking off and floating all over the place. This has been going on for about a month. Makes it difficult to set the hook on anything.

In 15 years I've never seen this happen. The only time I've seen weeds/algae like this is at low water in the summer down stream from the outflow of a treatment plant. I asked Cory Yarmuth if he has been having this problem up north and he said no. Nobody from up north has been complaining about it.

I blame the incessant need for the perfect, weed free, healthy looking lawn. Something I've never tried to achieve. You put chemicals on your lawn, it rains, it's going to go in a river somewhere. I guess people just don't care and I believe you can explain it to them all you want and they still won't care.

It's just a river, they don't go in, near or care about the river.

Anyway, 3 days out this past week for a total of 15 hours. 146 smallies caught and another 134 blown hook sets. Sad, but I guess that's still not bad.

This has been going on for almost a month now. I wonder how much longer it's going to last.

He originally sent this report earlier in the week:

I've been fishing the stretch between Montgomery and Yorkville. That's about 7 miles of river that can be fished and kind of vague, but every stretch has produced smallies. Some stretches better than others.

Guys on that fish further north have been reporting some decent fishing, at least some of them. Might be a bit of a crap shoot the further north you go. I've been telling guys where to go, but so far no reports from where I tell them to go.

They were only once my favorite early fall fishing spots and good spots at that, but what do I know.

As I said, got out twice. Not quite 5 hours each time. Hit stretches of the river I haven't fished in awhile. One I believe I haven't fished in around 7 years.

In the first stretch I was determined to hit the 50 fish mark, the fish of course being the smallmouth bass. I got to 50 with another 25 missed just as it was getting dark and the rain returned. The odd part was that virtually none of the fish came from where I thought I would do the best. I always have always done well in this one spot in the past. This time it was a dead zone.

The majority of the fish were in the 5 to 8 inch range. This is a good thing. Those would be the fish that were spawned after the August 2008 flood. This bodes well for the next few years, barring any more major floods of course.

Sunday was the day I hit the stretch I haven't fished in 7 years. Took an almost 2 mile hike upstream to fish the almost 2 miles back down stream. The fishing started out slow and I didn't expect much for the duration of the hike. Then all hell broke lose. The majority of the fish came from a section no more than 200 yards long. You have to see it I guess. Classic fish holding spots.

At one point I fished with 8 feet of line out, letting the lure swim around in front of me. The water was no more than knee deep, but it was the lift before a set of riffles. That's the fall spot. Hit after hit and the fish kept getting bigger. Didn't matter that I was practically standing on top of them. The water clarity is about 18 inches, so I could watch the smallies come out of nowhere and attack the lure. I think I've only seen this happen about a half dozen times over the past 15 years. Nice when it does.

Last spot, a lift that drained into a chute. Another classic fall spot. Caught 3 decent fish. On one cast a bulge appeared slowly following the lure. I slowed down and let it catch up. It hit hard and was heavier then the 18 inch I had caught an hour earlier. And then it was gone.

A half dozen casts later, the bulge showed up behind the lure again. It got within a few inches of the lure and disappeared.

It must have remembered that this one stung back.

Wound up catching 71 smallies and missing another 62. It was actually higher, but I lost count when all hell broke loose. I was too busy standing in the middle of the river laughing like a madman to keep track of the numbers. The actual numbers are a bit higher, but why pick nits.

In those almost 10 hours out I saw one other angler. That means that not only does nobody read my stuff, nobody is reading my stuff even if you put it out there.

That's okay, more river for me.

I would note that reading doesn't always translate into action.


Time on the Water Outdoors reported sauger (takes sorting) starting around Hennepin; spotty white bass; crappie around the pilings and buried brush. River cooled to mid-70s.


Mik-Lurch reported both steelhead and kings in Trail and Salt. There's fish to Johnson Road on Trail. Little Cal is slow, most likely because of warm water.


River is getting low, but smallmouth have been outstanding. My only concern would be the extended lack of rain in the forecast. Be extremely careful if considering a boat trip.

Norm Minas sent this last night:

flow about 1190 cfs falling, green stain about 1 ft visibility, bigger clumps weeds, more of them in water. water temps low 70's.
air temps about 70, breezy, few clouds mostly blue sky.

still lots of crawdads and minnows in shallows, did not see any herons, lots of geese sitting on bars/humps, quite bitchy too.

I started with a rattlebait at the bottom of some riffles, ended up with one bass right where two seams merged. tried cranks and plastics no go.

I moved to a smaller island that has a nice mix of current options. tried them all with rattlebaits, cranks and plastics, still not a sniff.

I moved downstream to fish a hole thats about 3 ft deep off another island. by this time, I figured it was going to be slow so I stuck with the plastics. I got two nice thumps on the jig/plastic at the bottom of the initial drop, both channel cats about 20 inches. I worked the entire hole and all it's edges, not another bite.

I slid out further in the river angling toward a hump a little downstream when I noticed 5 or 6 small bass in full panic mode making multiple leaps out of the water on a shallower flat, maybe 2 ft deep. I knew that there was prolly several somethings up there to eat them. I still had the jig/plastic on so that's what got tossed. 5 casts, 3 walleyes between 26 and 29 inches, one of which had a small bass in it's mouth. Needless to say I worked all around there with multiple lure options for a long time. Unfortunately, nothing else was eating at that point.

I moved down to the hump and got 3 bass all in the washout holes, one from the upstream side, 2 from the downstream side. All three bass, it was just a feeling of something isn't right, no distinct tic or line twitch.

I fished a weedbed on the way out, had a gar grab the tail of the twister and bite it off. It would have been nice to have landed a fourth species on an otherwise slow day.

Ed Mullady reported this:

The Kankakee River is very low, and fishing is moving good. Use of boats limited.
INDIANA Penny at Greenwood Bait,Toto Rd. reports:
At the Point,north of village of English Lake Walleye good on *minnows.*Smallmouth Bass
good on green crawlers or regular crawlers. Catfish also good on crawlers.
Also, nice bluegill caught at Horseshoe Bend on large redworms.
ILLINOIS: River is also low and fish are hitting. Dave Zach, Momence Conservancy Dist.,
reported pike hitting fair to good up to 42". Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass hitting good.
Kankakee River State Park: Smallmouth Bass good around shore lines *in water branches
shallows near pools. Good on *minnows * Mepps #3 Gold Spinners *Crankbaits. Fly fishing also good.
WILMINGTON AREA: From Dam through DesPlaines F&W Area: Catfish good on *minnows
cheesebaits*chicken liver.* . Smallmouth Bass good around shorelines.


Morris Wetlands is open for fishing that stretch of the Mazon. Hours are 6 a.m. to sunset. It should run through September for fishermen.


OREGON: Jan Prose at TJ's Bait/Tackle & Canoe Rental sent this:

The river is pretty low. Water temp is in the low 70's. Catfish have been biting on liver and worms fairly well. Small mouth are hitting on spinners, or a worm. This cooler weather coming up has got to shake up the walleye I hope.


The Wisconsin DNR reported the river is extremely low and fishing slow. The WDNR will begin the Root River report shortly. Check here.


Tyler Harmon Facebooked:

Salmon fishing good on rivers and piers.


River's Edge reported decent walleye, trolling or on crawlers; a few smallmouth and crappie. STURGEON: Lots of small sturgeon, no legals yet.



Fishing Headquarters



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






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1 Comment

One more thing ......the biologist from the shed (Keith Pamper) says this is yet more evidence that water quality on the Chicago river is improving very well . Music to a anglers ears !

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on September 14, 2011 6:38 AM.

Fish of the Week: Old salmon, young fishermen was the previous entry in this blog.

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

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