Chicago Sun-Times
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Midwest Fishing Report: Rivers around Chicago fishing

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Try to put a handle on what to expect for the holiday weekend in 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, it is the rivers section, and it is late Tuesday not early Wednesday. The lakes section will be posted later.

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


The stuff is here. I repeat advice from Steve Magdziarz from three years ago: ``Reel in with the rod tip underwater. . . . Minimizes the dam stuff!''


For an overview of nearby river conditions, click here. Things look normal.


Jeff Nolan of Bridgeport Bass reported:

Chicago river fishing report NATO week ; main stem slow with a few crappies at state street , Ogden slip closed for NATO wolf point ; some very big  gills  south branch ; covered with a thick blanket of cotton wood some small bass but your reel will be filled w/ cotton . Note ; the CPD / Coast guard were very curios of me and my dog fishing on the river with lots of questions as in "what you catching ? " What is your dogs name ? " The regular CPD patrol boat said we were cool to fish most places but chased off a few other fishing boats . There were lots and lots of coast guard boats just watching me and molly by the end of the day most knew molly by name .


Marcus Benesch of River Grove sent this report:

Brandon Lock & Dam- Very good multi-species angling under the dam.  Gar, Channel Cat, Drum, Largemouth bass all landed in two hours time on Saturday.  Crank baits give the best odds at catching multiple specie all though a spinner bait was working well till ripped off by a very large Gar.  River levels are what I like to call normal,  no high water or flooding. 
    Schiller Woods- Banks are drying up, the mud is disappearing.  Pike haven't slowed down,  still furiously feeding behind current breaks.  Rock Bass and Bullhead are improving in numbers in this stretch compared to years passed.


Alex Kiscellus sent this:

A beautiful week of warm/hot & dry weather has the river in PERFECT shape for wading right now. Even the less experienced wader can roam to their heart's content. Forecast looks very promising for these conditions to remain through the holiday weekend.

I did very well over the weekend in terms of quantity, easily landing well over a dozen smallies. Size was on the smaller side, though, as almost all were in the 12"-14" range. I'm thinking the females are finishing up the spawn/recovering from the spawn & hanging in slower water, & a few other anglers I ran into echoed those sentiments. I primarily focused on a large gravel & rock bar that sat in moderate current below a large riffle, and the males were aggressive & in full force there. I could've tried some slower water for some big girls, but decided to let them finish replenishing the population for now. Baits of choice were, well, a bit of everything. Got some on various shallow cranks & stickbaits in olive & pearl color, then they would ignore it. Switched to Lindy's new Watsit jig in brown & pumpkin & got 4 on my first six casts, then that bait stopped producing. Tried topwater & got a few hits on a black buzzbait, but most were hitting short, so I switched to a Skitter Pop but saw nothing. Went back to my original selections and picked off a few more. Finished my excursion nabbing a few rogue fish that were relating to timber in current on a white & chartreuse spinnerbait as I made the trek back up river.

Highlight of the weekend was a torpedo of a Flathead ripping into my Minus-1 in about 12" of water & doing her best Bonefish imitation, peeling drag & taking me into a large submerged tree where she got hung up. What ensued reminded me of that 80's Trilene commercial with Al Linder where he falls in the water attempting to salvage a nice largemouth, minus the boat of course. Eventually freed my lure, only to find the fish was still attached & my 20# braid almost sliced my fingers off. Fish eventually decided to a "self-release" as Ken G eloquently puts it, but the story does paint a picture of the River residents becoming more aggressive & relating to shallower, faster moving water. Follow the food & you'll find the fish. Forage seems to be moving back towards baitfish & insects & a bit away from crayfish. Talked to a couple fly anglers that had a small amount of success with the Smallies, but they admittedly were newbies to the Fox. I hear late afternoons into evening have been better, but I'm mostly confined to waking up with the birds & did just fine. The weekend, though sure to see more pressure, may see the Females starting to feed heavily again - if not by then next week for sure. Topwater should improve by then too as we near what seems to be an early Summer Peak.

Enjoy the Memorial Day weekend! Try & avoid the crowds by going off the beaten path & you should find plenty of finned friends to keep you company. Makes the journey that much more interesting anyways!


Time on the Water Outdoors reported white bass and catfish taking off. River is at normal levels.


Norm Minas sent this:

River had come down after the recent rains. it is still not completely wadeable but with due caution you can access a lot of areas. The water temps were showing over 70 degrees one day out of the last few trips. Visibility isn't the greatest, lots of emergent vegetation, still more algae than I thought there would be after the recent high flows.
 Bass are on beds, so I am avoiding spawning areas so as not to interfere. I do fish the current cuts adjacent to them with rattlebaits, spinnerbaits and topwaters for bass still in the prespawn mode. The waterwillow pattern was good as long as there was some depth along the outside edge of the beds. A variety of lures from buzzbaits and singlespins to jig/plastic were taking fish. Current seams were still producing some fish as were the downstream side of riffle areas. I struck out on the upstream side of riffles but believe there are some fish there. I just couldn't catch them.

Ed Mullady sent this:

Some rain run off brought the river up in certain areas, but it is receding down quickly.
     In Indiana: Catfish good throughout. Walleye fair at Point, north of English Lake.   *Bluegill, croppie good at Horseshoe Bend and any bayou flowing into the river.
      ILLINOIS: Fishing esp. good on catfish throughout.
      Some Pike, walleye from State Line through Momence. Rock bass extremely good right now.
       In Kankakee, below piers *Johnson's Fisherman's Park through Sawmill Creek and
Kankakee River State Park for some walleye, rock bass and catfish.
      Wilmington area best on catfish from Dam through Island Park.


There is access at Morris Wetlands at the mouth.


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


River's Edge reported white bass and crappie as the top bite, river normal.


In Fremont, Wis., guide Bill Stoeger reported lots of male white bass, most are in deep water, some females are starting to move. Best is with river rigs with flies (purple and red) or minnows. At 68 degrees, the river is nearly warm enough for the run to end soon.



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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on May 23, 2012 6:06 AM.

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