Chicago Sun-Times
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Midwest Fishing Report: Rivers section

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One of the stranger springs continues to impact the Midwest Fishing Report, especially the rivers section.

Sam Bennett was speaking of the upper Fox River, but his comment--``The flow is low, so it's a great wade"--could apply across the area rivers.

So could Ed Mullady's conclusion about the Kankakee River, ``River very low---could stand some rain!''

My favorite wading place with my kids is down to late summer or fall levels on the Kankakee.

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


For an overview of nearby river conditions, click here. It is odd to look in April and not see high water or flood warnings anywhere.


Jeff Nolan of Bridgeport Bass sent this:

Chicago river fishing report; South branch big gills and large mouth hitting small cranks and drop shot w/Dragon baits noodle worm Main branch; lots of large mouth (and1 fat striper) hitting small cranks, spinner baits and noodle worm on drop shot . Note; one 2# brown trout caught at chump tower discharge . Easter weekend had lots of family's fishing from shore .Nice to see. We also fished while the bridges were opened it shut down the bite for the rest of the day . Always wanted to know what effect it would have ."Open bridge shut down fish".

The Chicago River always has its own peculiarities.


Alex Kiscellus of Wonder Lake, who fishes the upper end (McHenry, Algonquin, Carpentersville areas) pitched in a report:

Here's a link to my most recent report on WCF if you care to peruse:

Water levels have come down to more summer-like levels where us waders can pretty much explore to our heart's content. Unfortunately, so have the water temps (averaging low 50's) - layering under breath-ables or even going with neoprenes is advisable. With the lower water temps, fishing has slowed a bit, but good catches can still be had. Despite the warm & early Spring, now is NOT the time to resort to Summer tactics & faster lure retrieves. With the cooler water, mid-late day has seen the highest fish activity - their food (bugs, baitfish) is more active at that time too. Water clarity is "so-so" right now, & the weekend's forecast for some rain could do the river a bit of good as some fresh water is needed. Hopefully not so much water that it makes wading & exploring a hassle again.

When fish are schooling at all, it is adjacent to gravel bars & boulder strewn shorelines, where the main forage seems to be crayfish. Crawdad patterned cranks, fished slow & bounced off structure have been producing, along with jigs bounced off the bottom. Deeper rocky structure will yield bonus walleye on occasion too. Wood has been holding fish as well, usually only one or two per stump/deadfall depending on its size, but the average size fish has been noticeably larger. General rule of thumb is in/adjacent to current is good wood; slow/stagnant water is bad wood. If a piece of structure looks too good to pass up, it usually is, so fish it slow throughout the water column before you give up. Best baits are weedless swim jigs, soft plastic jerkbaits, & spinnerbaits. If using mid-larger size lures, using braid isn't a bad idea as I've seen Mr. Muskie make a surprise appearance or two lately. Those encounters will probably decrease if the water starts warming back up.

Regardless, now is a good time to get out & explore if you have the time as the cooler weather has slowed fishing pressure. Have had the river all to my lonesome, wildlife not included, my last three outings.

From the upper end, Sam Bennett sent this:

I haven't been able to catch regularly and the water's getting colder. The flow is low, so it's a great wade. The flathead fishing is completely shut down until we hit 60 degrees again and the smallies have been slow for me. I've seen others on the boards reporting good numbers and ran across a 20" fish pic, but that hasn't been my experience. A good friend reported some walleye action at night but I've yet to join in. I didn't get any info on whether those walters were pre-or-post spawn.

I don't think the next few nights of near-freezing temps are going to do much for the fishing. But it won't keep many of us out of the water, either. It's a really nice water level to wade, even if you get skunked.

Adam Micaletti sent this for downstream:

Fox River West Suburbs
As of 4/8
Usgs 11.35
800 Cfs

I only made it out a couple of times this week and fishing was pretty good. On my two wades I caught around 12 small mouth and 3 carp. Saturday was a better day for me than earlier in the week. All fish were caught bouncing and swimming a 3/16 oz jig with craw trailer in 2 foot or deeper of water with good current and with a rocky bed. The river came way down and just about everywhere is accessible now. River bed still has some algae build up which makes it kind of slick but still a great time to get out and explore.
Spoke with Ken G and he told me he had a great number of hits on his three outings with about half landed. All together he landed around 20 small mouth with 3@18" and 1@19". Also a few of bonus walleye landed while out for him as well.


Time on the Water Outdoors reported spotty sauger; white bass slowed with cool-down.


Norm Minas sent this:

Sunday was pretty simple, single spins on current seams associated with waterwillow points/humps

Meet with Nick Monday after he taped the show, one for me on a rattlebait off a riffle area. one for Nick on a fly in a side channel by a tree laying in the water.

Nick was able to get a spinnerbait out of a tree over hanging the river. he couldn't get the other two as they were too high. some fishing for squirrels , I guess.

You always have to read Norm carefully. There is always something tucked inside.

Ed Mullady sent this:

Catfishing good in both IN and IL on *minnows *crawlers*cheesebaits...fairly shallow water
late afternoon into darkness.
Walleye spotty, best around *bridge piers *undercut banks *below dams and spillways
on *jig and minnow *jig and crawlers *Jointed minnow shaped plugs
Croppie improving along brush piles *in-water logs *mouths of bayous, creeks.
Rock Bass also coming alive on *nightcrawlers *redworms*#2 spinners
Northern Pike: Continues good at Point where Yellow & Kankakee Meet in Indiana
*Rt. 55 through LaSalle F&W (In river)to State Line. In IL: Yellowbanks *Lk.Alexander RV
camp *to Glorydale *Mouth of Iroquois River *Below Kankakee, Wilmington Dam..4-5" minnows *weedless Doctor Spoons.
River very low---could stand some rain!


From the Wisconsin DNR's Root River Report:

Root River Fishing Report for April 10, 2012
Water and flow conditions
Clearing water and steadying flow rates had the river at a very fishable level. Water temperatures had dropped into the 45-48 degree range.

. . .

Fishing Information
Upstream of the facility:
The fishing pressure has dropped to less than 8 anglers a day during the week and results have been very slim. However, a few fish were still caught on smaller flies and floating spawn sacs.

Downstream of the facility:
Not as many anglers were fishing this stretch of the river, numbering only around 6 during the week. The success rate of the anglers was very slow as well with very few fish being caught. However using smaller flies and spawn sacs seemed increase the odds of landing a fish.


Tyler Harmon messaged, "Not much going on here fishing wise, seen a few nasty looking spawned out steelhead on my river adventures this past weekend. . . . Suckers still running in the river good.''



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Norm failed to mention that he took a cast at one of those tree dwelling spinners - he almost got it, too.

If you know the river, Norms hints were dead giveaways.


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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on April 11, 2012 5:43 AM.

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