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Midwest Fishing Report: Rivers section

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I think river fishing draws a different personality, just one of those things that struck me as I pulled together the rivers section of the Midwest Fishing Report this week.


That's John Miller with a nice walleye on the Wolf River system, sent by Ed Schmitt.

This is the extended online version of the MFR, which appears on the Sun-Times outdoors page on Wednesdays. Well, it is the rivers section. The lakes section will be posted later.

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


New licenses are required in the four Lake Michigan states as of Sunday.


For an overview of nearby river conditions, click here. It seems bizarre this time of the year, not to be compulsively checking this for high water levels and flows.


Jeff Nolan of Bridgeport Bass sent this:

Chicago river fishing report; South branch, big catfish hitting bass crankbaits small bass on drop shot temp 64 . Main stem just about shut down ,Ogden slip; some nice smallies on small cranks in center of channel suspended in 10 ft mark .temp 59 Note ; these are the warmest temps we have ever seen in March by far.


Dan Sims, president of Des Plaines River Anglers Association, sent this:

Fishing has picked up greatly over the past couple days. Bass are hitting in slack water areas, while pike are holding near rocky points and deeper holes. White Spinners and #8 Ghost X-Raps have produced best.

Water levels must have done something to these fishes. A "VERY" welcomed change for us Des Plaines River fishermen.

Andrew Ragas of sent this:

Fishing has been slow for most anglers, but wherever fish are encountered, the jackpot will be struck. Water levels a bit on the high side (1260 / 3.6 usgs) but is receding quickly and will be good for waders by mid-week. Temperatures running at 60 degrees.

Northern pike are poor. This March has been so screwed up in terms of water levels (low) and weather (too warm too fast) that there likely wasn't a successful spawn; at least in the backwaters I've tried fishing which require high water for spawning, and catching. Most pike now are relating to shoreline areas of main river with deeper rocks, wood, and emerging weed growth. Fish running small and not in usual number, but taking inline spinners and bucktails, shallow crankbaits, and spinner baits.

Largemouth bass are offering the best fishing at the moment. Fish up to 18 inches are responding to inline spinners, spinner baits, jerkbaits, and crankbaits worked along channels, and near shoreline rip-rap, rocks, wood, and bridge areas. Matching the hatch with shad profiled lures will produce best results.

DPR Tributaries & Salt Creek::

Got out on the creek yesterday afternoon for my first wade outing of the year. Despite the unkind cold front and 40-something degree air temperatures, it was as fun and refreshing and escaping as any particular fishing outing could get. I had fun wandering through the woods, connecting with nature and parading through the stream. I also had fun freezing my hands, and fighting my way to catch my first bass of the 2012 season.

I hadn't seriously and intensely fished my local flow like this in several months, if not a few years . . . . . . Shows you how much into the up-north fishing and traveling to destinations thing I am nowadays.

Today I fished from shortly after 3pm until 7pm. Water levels were slightly high from last Friday's rainfall, but they receded enough to the point which wading was safe and most of my areas could be accessed. Water clarity was excellent with great visibility, and temperatures were very warm for this time of year in the 55 to 60 degree range.

Due to the higher water levels, I spot-hopped my way to some fish today. I ended up working seven or eight different "high water proven" areas that were predominantly comprised of eddies, current breaks, rip-rap and rock bottom, bridge pillars, and undercut banks. All such areas contained fish to some degree whether they were baitfish and the intended gamefish species; largemouth bass.

I ended up catching three largemouth bass, two were sizable for this body of water (15", 13") while one was a runt. F7 Floating Rapala in metallic shiner and 3 inch Zoom tube jigs crawled slowly along bottom caught fish and missed several more.

Besides the largemouths and billions of missed fish, I encountered four break-offs from northern pike on a jig and 3 inch swimming grub. Three of the fish weren't seen while one was very sizable for this tributary - at 28-30 inches. My light action gear and 6 lb line was no match for these fish. Northern pike are quickly becoming a nuisance species for this creek. Not only for all the bite-offs and lost jigs I get, but for the fact they seem to drive away my desired crik species of bass, walleyes, and crappies. Unfortunately, the creek connects to the Des Plaines River twelve miles downstream, and as we all know it, that entire river is overpopulated with these fish.

Full report with photos here -


Frank Macikas sent this:

This is so late since the only time I fished in the past week was for two hours after work tonight. Levels are great; flowing around 350 cfs in Shorewood. Water is clearing nicely with about 4ft clarity and even though there is still some on the bottom, the algae in the water column has cleared out nicely. Picked up a few fish all in shallow slack water right next to deeper water. All I brought out were 3" pearl grubs and a pumpkin seed hellgrammite both on 1/32 jig heads. I lost more fish than I caught tonight but nice to get out after work!


Adam Micaletti sent this:

Usgs 11.80
Cfs 1800
6 to 12" visibility/stained
Mid 60's and sunny
About 15 small mouth caught in three hours of searching.
Worked multiple areas in the west burbs with only one area producing good numbers of keeper size small mouth. Fish are holding in predictable areas for spring weather.
Worked shores and timber mostly with swim jigs, flukes, cranks, and spinners. All of the above seems to draw hits but my crutch was the jig due to the least amount of snags and algae. Algae isn't terrible but some cleaning required after every cast seemed to be the normal. The river still a bit high and fast to try and cross in most areas so access is still limited for me.
All together a great day to be out with fisherman, kayaks, and canoes all over enjoying the river and weather.


As of Sunday, about 20 percent of the sauger brought to the MWC were spawned out. Any method is catching sauger, up and down the river, and I mean jigging, hand-lining, pulling three-ways, even heard one guy was pulling crawlers on floaters. Water temperatures peaked in the upper 60s on Sunday. Should hold in the 60s this week. I expect to hear more on white bass and catfish in the next week or so.


Norm Minas sent this:

It went from topwaters and single spins to dragging jig/pig and swimming a darter head/walleye assassin slowly above the bottom.

river levels dropping, the dropping air temps aren't doing my knees any favors. hell of a time for the patches on the waders to finally give up the ghost as well. some parts of the anatomy just don't react well to less than warm water.

Ed Mullady sent this:

Indiana: Northern pike fishing continues good, esp. around Point, north of English Lake, mostly on big minnows, Dr. Spoons. Horseshoe Bend good for croppie and bluegill.
Illinois: Catfish good in Momence Area *Kankakee Dam thru Fisherman's Park *Kankakee River State Park *Wilmington Island Park Area.
Trading Post, Altorf, next to Kankakee River State Park reports some walleye. Smallmouth Bass good as well as catfish.
Angelo's Outdoor Sports reports Smallmouth Bass and Catfish fishing good.


From the Wisconsin DNR's Root River Report:

Root River Fishing Report for March 26, 2012
Water and flow conditions
The recent rains over the weekend brought the water level and flow up on the Root River over the last several days. With the increased flow, the water clarity is not very good. The water temperature is currently 56 degrees.
For up to date river conditions, check out the USGS web site of stream flow conditions [exit DNR] in Wisconsin.
Fishing Information
Over the weekend a lot of anglers were fishing the river from the Horlick Dam to the lower stretches of the river downstream of Island Park. With the increased water flow the success rate declined from last week but those that were successful were using small flies and floating spawn sacs. Anglers that were fishing above the facility generally had a better chance of catching a steelhead.


Tyler Harmon messaged that suckers are running good in the rivers; steelhead are sporadic.


Ed Schmitt, The Four Season Angler, sent this:

I spent the weekend up in Wisconsin on the Wolf River System. Specifically the Winneconne bridge through Lake Winneconne, Poygan Lake, and up to the mouth of the Wolf River downstream of Fremont. Action was best from sun-up to sun-down for walleye, bass, pike, sheepshead, and most surprisingly white bass.

Typically the famed white bass run on the Wolf River is peak season right about when the lilacs are blooming in the Chicagoland area. This is something I learned as a child from my Father as we were once regulars up there to take advantage of that spawning migration. However, the weather this year has thrown the fish a curve ball and if anglers are looking for a great way to cash in on this anomaly now is the time.

We caught both pre and post spawn walleye in the same areas as we found pre-spawn white bass. From the reports the WI DNR is pushing out, the walleye spawn this year started relatively early and is being stretched out over a longer time period due to low water levels and high water temps. With our find of white bass pushing up river in good numbers already, one can only surmise that if this weather pattern holds, the same will be said of their spawning season as well.

All of our fish came on light colored jigs and twister-tails, trolling crankbaits, and 3 way rigs pulling walleye flies which incidentally look exactly like the perch fly rigs folks are using in Indiana to catch those jumbo perch. At this point that system from Shiocton to Butte Des Morts is absolutely loaded with fish that have either migrated out of Lake Winnebago or are resident population. Water temps were averaging 60 degrees and the wonderful weather made 12+ hours on the water go by in a heartbeat.

The next three weeks will be peak season for walleye and white bass in there. Anyone with time available to make the trip would be a fool to pass this up.



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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on March 28, 2012 7:43 AM.

Radio waves: Dan Sims on the DPRAA & Des Plaines River was the previous entry in this blog.

Stray Cast: Rongey & fish hatchery is the next entry in this blog.

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