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Midwest Fishing Report: Rivers section

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Some of our rivers kicked up a little with the persistent rains, but most only rose enough to really start the good fall fishing; that leads 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 for another month or so.

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


For an overview of nearby river conditions, click here. Probably a good idea this week.


Didn't see an update from Jeff Nolan of Bridgeport Bass yet.


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

DesPlaines River

River is high and in very bad shape. Riverside USGS at 1,600 and gauge
at 4.6. All the good fishing that took place last week has now been
erased. Once the water levels recede and clarity improves it will be
time for the fish to restart their fall movements again.

With the high water levels, places worth trying could be backwater
areas and side channels for largemouth bass and northern pike. These
areas have improved water clarity, offer refuge for all species of
fish, and with a set of waders can be accessible.


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

My two week hiatus from work is over, the economic damage has been done and it will take a good month to recover, but I couldn't have asked for a better time to have the time to be out on the Fox River.

The smallmouth bite has been the best I've seen since the flood of August, 2008.

This past week I was only able to get out a couple of times. The weekend was spent manning the booth for Heartland Outdoors Magazine at the Northern Illinois Hunting and Fishing Days.

Started out on Wednesday fishing the south shore of one stretch for over a half mile. This was a smart move. Wound up catching 44 fish and missing another 46. One of the 44 caught was still another white bass. Over the years I've been able to determine what kind of fish I'm tying into by the type of bite I'm experiencing. At one point I knew I was into a school of white bass. That's where the one came from.

Odd part is that in the 12 years of fishing this 7.5 mile stretch of river, I don't recall ever catching a white bass. In the past month I've caught one almost every outing. I've caught white bass in the stretches between all of the other dams, but never between Montgomery and Yorkville.

But then, now they have a way up here. The kayak chute in Yorkville. No more dam to prevent fish from migrating up stream. They still have to put up with the crap water in the pool above the dam for a good mile and a half, but it doesn't seem to stop them from going further up.

Another bonus is a couple of other species. While fishing the same stretch the day before I had a clean bite off. That means fish with teeth. One of the land owners I talk to on a regular basis told me recently that he has been catching more pike and walleye than ever before. In this stretch, I've never caught either.

This could be good for the future.

Friday I made a huge mistake. I decided to go fish a more urban stretch of the river. Within 20 minutes the noise of Route 25 along the river was driving me nuts, but I kept fishing.

A couple of hours later, my neck hurt, my shoulders were tight and my ears wouldn't stop ringing. I caught 16 smallies and missed another 14, but it wasn't worth it. Ended the trip with an hour of daylight left. I never do that. Far too much noise. I'm spoiled by the quiet I've surrounded myself with. There's a good chance I won't be going back to that stretch any time soon.

As I write this Monday night, we've had nothing but rain for the past 18 hours. The river went from flowing at 400 cfs, which is low, to 1940 cfs, which is that borderline point. I can't tell anglers to go out wading now. The experienced could, but not so much the others. I go out in water at this level all the time and don't think twice about it, but I'm not all that terribly bright when it comes to that and you shouldn't do what I do.

Problem is, they're calling for a couple more days of rain.

With the amount of fish I've been catching you would think at high water they would all be pushed along the shore. This could be a good thing. You may not have to get your feet wet. Walk the shore and fish tight to it and they just might be there.

The coming week is going to be a crap shoot and you really won't know what to do till the rain stops. The river could drop fast or just sit there. Hopefully I'll get the time to find out for myself where all the fish go.

All depends on whether or not they make me work the weekend.


During the day Tuesday the rain had already become erratic at best. First thing this morning the Fox gauge in Montgomery read just shy of 2200 cfs. 8 PM and it's already dropped to 1880 cfs. The hit on the river level was no big deal and even though we may get spits of rain the next couple of days, I don't think it's going to amount to much.

Down Yorkville way the clarity didn't look all that bad.

Looks like I'll be lucky to get out over the weekend. I'm sure I'll be able to free up a couple of hours, I better. This could be good and there's only one way to find out.

I have thoughts for another time about Ken's talking about the urban fishing effects on his well being.


Rising water could help, especially the white bass; as of Tuesday, Time on the Water Outdoors reported crappie were the top bite.


Mik-Lurch reported the creeks, especially Salt, Trail, Little Cal and Deep River, were loaded with kings with a few steelhead and coho mixed in.


Norm Minas sent this:

1030 cfs and rising, not much visibility due to recent rain. big clumps of weeds and some leaves drifting, bit more algae on the bottom. water temps low 60's.

air temps low 50's, rained enough at start to make me don the raincoat. it quit later but the coat did serve as a windbreaker as well. obviously windy from last statement.

herons out, no raptors spotted. geese and some ducks on the water. lot's of hickory nuts dropping, couple bounced off the noggin with severe damage to the hickory nuts.

The first area I fished has a large island with big trees on it to the downstream end with a couple decent sized water willow islands, one across from the big island and the other further upstream. there is a shallow stretch twixt the water willow islands that has a lot of emergent vegetation. At the top end there is a riffle that runs from the waterwillow island to the far shore. the water gradually gets deeper as it flows from the riffle down toward the big island and as it moves away from the emergent vegetation. bottom is mix of sand/small clam shell beds, cobble and chunk rock. no real severe drops, just goes from ankle deep to maybe 4.5 to 5 ft deep.

I saw some surface activity so I started with the rattling spook. I tried dead stick drifts, drifts with small twitches and drifts with some walk the dog. None of them worked. The only retrieve that worked was to walk the dog upstream, 5 to 6 twitches, stop, repeat. All of the hits came while it was moving but if I tried without the pause, no fish. I did that until it quit about 1.5 hours, got 9 fish all 11 to 12 inches.

After the topwater died tried a rattlebait and weighted keeper hook/power pulse worm for about an hour with no fish as I worked my way back up to the upper end. Nothing but weeds and algae.

I went to a Bandit 200 and worked my way back downstream, waded to the far shore and worked my way back up to the riffle and waded back over. That took about 3 hours to do. I got 3 smallies, 17 to 18 inches and 1 walleye at 23 inches. After that it was time for a break and some American Beauty on the way to the next spot.

The next, well last area I fished was 2 decent sized humps/riffles with a current cut between them. It drops down to about 3.5 to 4 ft deep at the bottom of the area, Pretty much cobblestone with some chunk rock here and there. This area fishes well with a fluke this time of year, usually. Today, I fished the fluke weightless on an 5/0 EWG gammie, on a hollow bodied swim bait style jig and on the scrounger jig heads I decided to play around with. Dead drift to aggressive retrieves, nothing worked.

The scrounger head jig was the last I was trying so I switched to a walleye assassin rigged upside down with a chunk bit out by the tail to increase the wobble. I swam it slowly downstream just off the bottom off a quartercast and picked up a couple 12 inch smallmouth.

One note about the scrounger head jig, when I tried bringing it back up against the current it quickly rose to just below or right at the surface. I was using the 1/8 oz size btw.

Ed Mullady reported:

Kankakee River receiving a little welcome rain.
Indiana: Catfish good throughout on *minnows*cheesebaits*chicken liver.
Croppie good in Shelby area on *minnows *pinkie jigs*small spinners.
Illinois: Mike Lee, Frank's Bait Shop, Momence, reported croppie, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass,
catfish being caught in Momence Area.
Kankakee River State Park: smallmouth bass on variety of bass baits. Guide
Matt Mullady (815-932-6507)states "Sometimes it pays to change baits. If one of your favorites isn't working well, try a different one! His son, Rex Mullady(and Matt) were fishing and would catch a bass,
then using same bait no hits. Changed bait and another bass. Repeated change up.
Wilmington area fishing good with catfish, smallmouth and largemouth bass, rock bass.


Morris Wetlands is open for fishing that stretch of the Mazon. Hours are 6 a.m. to sunset. It should run through Friday for fishermen, then it becomes bowhunters domain.


There is increased flows in both the Pike and Root. That should kick up the bite. I think the Wisconsin DNR will begin the Root River report shortly. Check here.


Michigan guy, Tyler Harmon, simply Facebooked:

Rain means salmon on the rivers around the area.

Which I think makes it apt to rerun some of what Indiana fisheries biologist Brian Breidert suggested last week for anglers fishing the upstream Indiana portion:

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.


River's Edge reported walleye are the best bite; river rose to near normal. STURGEON: Lots of small sturgeon, no legals registered yet. Season runs through Friday.


Guide Bill Stoeger reported good white bass from the Rat to the Poygan on a jig and minnow or river rigs; crappie are still gaining speed and size is improving, look for wood, 8 feet or deeper, then use a jig and minnow.



Fishing Headquarters



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






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"I have thoughts for another time about Ken's talking about the urban fishing effects on his well being."

I would be curious to know what those thoughts are.

Never lived outside the Chicago city limits till I was 35. One reason for moving was to get rid of my urban nightmares, I was having 3 or 4 a week.

Within a week of moving they were gone and I haven't had one in the past 20 years.

People that say the city and it's noise doesn't bother them, are probably lying to themselves. I once did. You don't know how mentally, emotionally and spiritually debilitating it is till you leave.

Great blog. I would love to take two weeks off and fish the rivers around me and write about it, then get paid for it! Seriously though, a great article. Food for thought about just how great a "staycation" can be for those who want to "get-away" but cannot afford it.

I'd love to get paid for it some day. I just write.

There's so much to do so close by, I never get bored. I need the time to go do it all.

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on September 28, 2011 5:43 AM.

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