Chicago Sun-Times
Stray Casts will intelligently report and observe, hopefully with a touch of wit, on daily occurrences, reports and releases related to Chicago-area outdoors from bucks to bass to birds to bugs

Midwest Fishing Report: Rivers section

| 3 Comments | No TrackBacks

Norm Minas, the great Kankakee wader/fisherman, threw this in at the end of his report, ``I've noticed leaves on trees starting to change colors.'' Change comes for this rivers section of the Midwest Fishing 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 last night:

Chicago river fishing report ; just got back 8:30 pm Tuesday , only fished the south branch and the smallies are in ! 12 - 14 inch on drop shot and small Rapalas dusk best bet and a few big gills 7-9 inch . Water level coming back but still low, temp 76 , mosquitoes are treacherous .......Jeff Nolan , Bridgeportbass Note . 1 very big catfish hit drop shot spooled out and snapped off 6 # test


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

The weekend rainfall improved fishing quite a bit in comparison to the previous several weeks. It triggered a great bite for largemouth and
smallmouth bass.

Water clarity is moderate, temperatures are down to about 70 degrees, and the gauge in Riverside is at 3.3 and dropping. Overall, conditions are perfect for wading and exploring. Angling pressure is very light on the river and its creeks.

Best fishing right now is for largemouth and smallmouth bass (with more largemouths being caught). Fish up to 18" are being caught from a variety of areas. Expect largemouths to be in deeper weeds, shoreline wood and log-jams, rip-rap, and deeper rocks. Meanwhile, smallmouths are using deeper pools, current breaks, rocks and wood. Shallow and medium crankbaits are catching fish as are white/gold spinnerbaits, white inline spinners (Sims Spinners), topwaters, and jigs with craw

Northern Pike haven't gotten a move on just yet, but it's only a matter of weeks or days before the fishing for them really picks up again - especially for the bigger ones. I'd say the next significant cool down will get them going again. As usual, most fish caught right now are in the smaller 15 to 24 inch bracket, and they are everywhere: Weedlines, downed wood and log jams, deeper pools and slackwater areas, and mid-river current. Smaller spinnerbaits, Mepps, and Sims Spinners.

No walleye or sauger to report on yet. We're still a few weeks away for them


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

Got out Tuesday for the sunset cruise and things started out well. Fished the middle of the Fox River where I found all the bigger fish living. They were sitting in the lift before a set of riffles. I used a technique that I've been using ever since I started fishing rivers 15 years ago. 10 to 15 feet of line out and I let the jig and twister swim around in the current. Eventually the fish hit it.

Over the last year I've read about a whole fly fishing technique/system that basically does the exact same thing. It's called Tenkara. You'll have to look it up.

Casting to the same area didn't work. I hit on fishing like that by accident. Now it's part of the routine. I should have developed it into a system years ago.

The south shore of the river was producing pretty well. Then I met up with Ed Schmitt and Jason Jelinek after they got off work. Yes, it's extremely rare, but now and then I still fish with other people. We moved to the north shore. Big mistake. We still caught fish, Ed picked up 3 different species including a rare white bass for this stretch, but the bite was much slower.

I wound up with 17 caught and another 25 missed, but most of those came from the south shore.

We should have never gone across the river.

The teacher in Gortowski came out in his original report:

Get while the getting is good.

Thursday a cold front had come through, air temps were in the 50's and the water temps had come down too. I could feel it through my waders.

Hit a stretch that had produced a week earlier. The bite had died. I had to struggle to catch 8 smallies and miss another 7. It's better than nothing, but not what I wanted. The water was very low and the floating weeds were the worst seen yet.

Monday was a completely different story. The rains of all day Sunday kicked up the current flow from 350 to 500 cfs. The clarity actually improved with at least 18 inches to be seen. Best part was that 90 percent of the floating weeds were gone. Still a lot stuck to the bottom of the river, but at least I could make a number of casts before having to clear off a little clump of weeds.

Obviously, now is not the time to be dragging things on the bottom. The fish aren't there anyway.

On Monday the outcome was totally different. It started out slow and I thought the month long bite I've been having was over. Then I figured out where the fish were hanging out. Once that happened, I drove the numbers up to 43 caught and 31 missed. One of the 43 caught was a largemouth, another was a white bass. In 12 years of fishing this 5 mile stretch of river, this is the second white bass I've ever seen and the first one I've caught.

What I figured out was that the fish were sitting not only along the shore structure, but structure out in the middle of the river. There are little dimples that appear on the surface of the water. That means the river bed under it, probably knee to crotch deep, is a bunch of bigger, broken up rock. The fish were sitting all over these areas.

What I didn't expect was to find fish sitting in riffles that dropped into that knee to crotch deep water. This is traditionally a late spring/summer location. I think that extra water from the rain caused this. Something for the fish to go play in. The water is cooler, but not cold, so no reason for the fish not to be there I guess.

With the fall cold fronts going in and out, timing outings will be hard. Looks like this coming weekend is going to be crap. Last crap day out the bite died. But you just never know.

And with that, class is over. Time to go fishing.


Time on the Water Outdoors reported crappie are fair, minnows around barge tieups; sauger starting to show on the flats and bridges; a few better white bass around the creek mouths and the Route 251 bridge on bladebaits or small crankbaits.


Lake Michigan Fisheries biologist Brian Breidert reported late last week:

Here you go. Trail, Salt, and Little cal all have salmon and steelhead. Most of the salmon are in the lower stretches and harbor areas while the steelhead are in the upper stretches. Fish are moving in daily with good opportunities throughout the systems.

Mik-Lurch reported the creeks, especially Salt, Trail and Deep River, were loaded with kings; there's some steelhead, too.


River is very low, but smallmouth have been outstanding. For example, I had a 45-minute window Monday evening. I went 2-for-5 fishing topwaters and spinners at the bottom of chutes or riffles.

Norm Minas sent this:

Twixt the K3 cleanup, a road trip for river musky downstate and family affairs, my fishing on the Kankakee has been limited lately. For the most part I've been getting fish on the seams mostly on crankbaits or jigs. I really haven't invested time in exploring other options just going with one that I know produces this time of year.

I've noticed leaves on trees starting to change colors.

Ed Mullady reported this:

Kankakee River continues very low, and fishing overall is good.
In available shorelines, such as the Point, north of English Lake, both smallmouth and largemouth bass are being caught. Walleye improving. At Horseshoe Bend, croppie, bluegill good.
Catfishing continues good throughout entire river. Bluegill good in quieter pools.

ILLINOIS: Mike Lee, Frank's Bait Shop, Momence, reported good catches of catfish, smallmouth and largemouth bass being caught in that area. *Kankakee River Trading Post tells about *Smallmouth bass and rock bass good, along with catfish.
*Wilmington Area fishing improving with walleye *smallmouth bass and catfish hitting from below the Dam on downstream.


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.


The Pike and Root are both very low. The weekend rain may change that and turn on the bite. The WDNR will begin the Root River report shortly. Check here.

Breidert reported this last week, and I think the sites are important to note for those who get over there:

Steelhead collections have commenced on the St. Joe at South Bend with 140 steelhead collected the last two days. To date the hatchery has 620 fish for spawning purposes this upcoming winter. Interestingly, the last two days 195 coho have entered the trap and have been passed up river for anglers. Also two Chinooks were also passed up river. With current conditions it is hopeful that steelhead broodstock operations will be completed by Friday. Hatchery staff are very pleased with this year's collection efforts to date. Anglers hoping to catch a trout or salmon on the St. Joe should begin seeing fish continue movement up river and areas which should provide success are the Zapia Public access near Capitol avenue in Mishawaka as well as the gravel bars near Leeper park in South Bend. The later site should prove to be the place to be for Chinooks while the upper limits near Twin Branch dam will be good areas for coho and steelhead.
All anglers should be mindful of river conditions and use good judgment when fishing around moving water especially while wading in the river.

Tyler Harmon Facebooked:

Big push of fish moving to the upper rivers, seems like all the fish in my local [Michigan] spots split, So [Indiana] section of the Joe should have fresh fish. Nothing much coming in at the piers.


River's Edge reported walleye and crappie are the best bites, river is low. STURGEON: Lots of small sturgeon, no legals yet. Season runs through Sept. 30.


Guide Bill Stoeger reported the crappie bite beginning last week; and white bass best from the Rat to the mouth or around Partridge.



Fishing Headquarters



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






No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL:


Another change noted yesterday, in a shallow area that last week was crawling with minnows, small fish and crawdads, i saw no fish or minnows and only a couple of crawdads. I did see some shad busting surface when chased by a predator on a shallow bar, cast to it and got a decent bass on a crankbait.

Shorter days and cooler nights, time to start looking at changing your summer patterns.

Forgot to mention:
Unlike Norms observation on the Kank, the shallows on the Fox are swarming with bait fish. Years ago I asked a DNR biologist why blue gill colors work so well this time of year. Apparently the gills are migrating upstream and everything is following along feasting. With the clearer water on Tuesday, saw schools of baby bluegills in the shallows.

Also on Tuesday got a clean bite off. Tough thing to do since I use Power Pro. A nearby landowner had recently mentioned catching pike in the area I was fishing. Also some decent walleye. Something that hasn't happened in years. I have a theory in my head as to why these fish and the white bass are showing up. More after I think about it a bit.

And, like Norms color observation on the Kank, the Fox Valley is coming along as well.

Went back out Wednesday and the fish survey folks had no less than 3 boats shocking fish the bite has shut down .If these fish had hair they all would look like Don King !

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on September 21, 2011 5:43 AM.

Fish of the Week: South Side salmon was the previous entry in this blog.

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

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.