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Midwest Fishing Report: Rivers around Chicago fishing

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Low water and wading time for this rivers section of the Midwest Fishing Report; oh, and some post Memorial Day weekend thoughts, especially the ones by Norm Minas.

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. Things look normal.


Marcus Benesch of River Grove sent this report:

North Des Plaines- River levels are low, trails and river banks are dry as a bone.  Rockdale- River levels are good after opening all the chutes on the Brandon Dam.  Large Gar and good size channel cats are putting up great fights on inline spinners.


Ken Gortowski, who is back to guiding again with the Fox River Guide Service along with his usual prowling along the Fox, sent this:

Notes from my Facebook page over the last few days:

Hit the Fox and one of its creeks on Saturday. Slow, but still squeaked out 9 smallies and a handful of crappie and green sunfish. Had to work for them. I've caught crappie out of every creek I've fished that feeds the Fox, right up to the mouth. But I can't recall ever catching one out of the Fox itself. Was able to hook a few smallies in the Fox when my lure wasn't one big ball of weeds.

From Sunday: The weeds on the Fox are out of control, but I think I know the source. At least part of it. Will be fishing further north, north of Aurora, on Monday to see what the river looks like up that way. So far it looks like the source of a lot of the weeds starts at the crap plant in Montgomery. I thought I had heard a few years ago that they changed the output of the water. This all started about 3 years ago. I don't keep track of things like I used to. I gave up fishing around here in a very short time on Sunday. Simply wasn't worth it.

From Monday: Fished the Batavia area today, no weeds. Have to check directly above and below Aurora, then I'll know for sure. Then, I have to find that article that mentioned the change in the discharge of the treatment plant. Have photos of the massive weed mats below the discharge. Didn't used to look like that.

Monday was a guided trip. While I was fishing the least productive water, I hooked two. Client was fly fishing and didn't get hits till I gave him my spinning gear. Nothing landed. Lots of good looking dead water. I know the fish are there, very tight lipped. He enjoyed the tour regardless.

The bite has really died down from a few weeks ago. I was playing in a creek the other day. Pool about 3-4 feet deep, couldn't see the bottom and I was vertically jigging a twister for the heck of it. Smallies were coming up off the bottom pecking at it. They are there, they are being a pain in the ass.

No real rain in the forecast for the next 10 days. Monday nights storms were a dud around me. This is not good. It's starting to remind me of 2005, the driest year in recorded history. That year is burned into my memory all too well...don't start canoe liveries in the driest year in recorded history...

Not sure where I'll be going the next few days. Might concentrate on a few creeks. Hate traveling to fish when the river is practically at my doorstep, but that weed factor...

Sam Bennett sent this:

Smallmouth are holding in their summer patterns - it's a great time to fish moving water. I found fish in fast, deeper water during the middle of the day. I found fish at the tails of riffles in shallow water during the evenings. The dams have been quite crowded with shore fisherman and waders during the prime hours so I've been hitting them in the heat of the day with good results. With the water levels low, water temps rising and oxygen at a premium, fish are holding in their comfort spots. I've upsized my baits and slowed my roll to get these fish. Here's one:

Lure selection seems less important in a lot of spots. Folks are catching them buzzbaits and other topwaters, jigs, crankbaits and spinners. If you can find them when they're eating the bite is hot right now.

Flatheads are finally going, with Fox Valley Flatheaders ( founder Marty Jandura reporting a multi-fish night with the largest fish measuring 38" and weighing in at 30 +/- lbs.

Walleye have been slow but are picking up for those who know where and how to catch them. Foxfisherman, a member of the community, posted several very nice fish recently:

It's a great time to fish the Fox

I would suggest that applies to many of our rivers.

Alex Kiscellus sent this from a stretch farther downstream than usual for him:

I did manage to make it out for a few hours in the river this weekend prior to heading North to our Cabin for a couple days.  Wife had business to take care of all the way down in Montgomery, so I decided to tag along & fish the Southern stretches of my favorite river.  Ended up scouting around the area for a bit before stepping in the river in Oswego.  Funny how the river down there has the look & feel of a completely foreign water compared to my 'home' stretch up North.  Water levels were low, & despite some spotty storms last night, levels have only come up a bit, but when you're talking 500 cfs instead of 350 cfs, does it really matter?  Regardless, the pattern should hold all week & the cooler temps that are forecasted don't seem to affect the river fish as much as their land-locked cousins.
With the warm & low water, I found all the fish sitting below riffles & the bottom of swifter-moving chutes where there was current & oxygen, & ultimately food.  Ended up catching around 10 or so, still mostly smaller males, but the females should be ready to eat by now.  I was fishing smack dab in the middle of the day during high skies & scorching temps, so early & late would have probably be a different story.  All my catches came on a 3" white power grub bounced off the bottom, but erratic jerkbaits like X-Raps have been producing for others as well as the topwater bite getting under way in the evening & EARLY mornings.  Fish seem to be wanting faster moving & larger sizes with the summer-like conditions.  Only a prolonged & major cool down could reverse that trend at this point.  May have the rare opportunity for a mid-week outing or two, so I should have more to report from my more familiar stretches soon.


Time on the Water Outdoors reported catfish are the top bite on cut shad; white bass are hitting sporadically on Big Dudes or minnows.


Norm Minas sent this:

I spent the holiday weekend dealing with the crowds, pleased to report only a couple of idjits. Flow is below normal for this time of year, murkier than usual, lots of bits of weeds floating. I didn't bother with the water temps, prooly mid 70's with warmer weather.
 I fished a wide variety on current options, everything from riffles to seams to flats to emergent veggies, caught fish on all of them. I fished everything from spook and buzzbaits to single and tandem spins to cranks and rattlebaits thru jig/plastics. I spent most of one day targeting rock bass, did well with smallmouth mixed in.
 Smallmouth, walleye, catfish, gar, pike, rock bass, sunfish and a couple largemouth all landed. The fish were cooperating fairly well.
 Back to the idjits, one guy complained that the state needed to do a better job of not letting it be so murky on a holiday weekend. It was ruining the experience for him and they really should make more of an effort to insure clearer water on holidays when more people were wont to show up. His buddy after watching me catch fish out of emergent vegetation thought the state should dump massive amounts of weed killer in the river as weeds are too tough to fish and he couldn't fish how he liked to.
 Another day a boat pulls right next to where I was catching smallmouth on a rattlebait on a seam. They were about close enough to shake hands with and they proceeded to drop both anchors with large splashes. I asked what are you doing, they replied they weren't catching fish and I was. They said they drove down from up north, hadn't caught a fish all day and they were entitled to catch some fish. They then proceeded to tell me that I shouldn't be using a rattlebait in the river as it was designed for fishing in lakes only. One of the dynamic duo noticed my kirbed hooks and told me I needed to straighten my hooks after snagging or I wouldn't be able to catch fish. I was going to be a paragon of calm until one of them got done looking thru his tackle box and asked if I had any rattlebaits I could give them as they didn't bring any. They were treated to a few choice but unprintable epithets as I waded away. I tried, I really did but the gall of asking to give them lures pushed the button.
 Outside of them, there were a lot of people out but everyone was respectful of each other.

Ed Mullady sent this:

River low right now...could use some rain soon.
*Kingsbury F&W *Point north of English Lake *Rt. 55 thru LaSalle Area:
    *Catfish good throughout on *4-6"minnows *Chicken Liver *Catfish Cheese
     *Pike fair throughout on *weedless Dr. Spoons *4-6" minnows  mostly in late afternoon along in water trees, bridge piers on
      *Bluegill, Croppie good at Horseshoe Bend on *smaller minnows *jigs
      *Walleye fair in shallow waters near deeper water: IL State Line through Glorydale
*Momence thru mouth of Iroquois River*Kankakee Dam thru Kankakee River state Park
*Wilmington Dam through Rt. 55 on: *Jointed artificial plugs shaped like minnows *Weedless Doctor Spoons *Jig and minnow.
       Rock Bass, Croppie good throughout river on small spinners and live baits.
       Catfish continues good on above baits.
    Am sending out a "weekly" "Sportsman's letter Kankakee River Tip of Week".. If you have a space feel free to use it.  It will mostly  be "basic" reminders that many of us forget about!
#Sportsman's Letter Kankakee River Tip of Week:
   *To be sure of catching the fish on the end of your line, be sure to sharpen hooks before fishing and set the hook twice to be sure hook is in fish's mouth!
    (Simple, Basic, but often forgotten!)

Ed is very right on that.


There is access at Morris Wetlands at the mouth.


No new Wisconsin DNR's Root River Report. Maybe later this week.



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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on May 30, 2012 6:34 AM.

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