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Midwest Fishing Report: Rivers around Chicago fishing

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Moderation and some water returns for this rivers section of the Midwest Fishing Report.


So it is catfish and smallmouth time, such as Alex Kiscellus caught in the past few days on the Fox River.

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 a general overview of nearby river conditions, click here.

To get to more specific gauges, even on creeks, in Illinois, click here.


Jeff Nolan of Bridgeport Bass sent this:

Chicago river fishing report: South branch: Maintenance crews cut a great deal of trees along shore creating a laurel hell of snags and a few lunkers on drop shot. Main stem: State street the place to be several nice bass hitting jigs down low. Temps have cooled down a bit.


Marcus Benesch sent this:

Water receding from the bit a rain we had last week.  Currently flow is good, but water is still pretty murky from the rain and swell.  I still feel the water temps and air temps are creating unsafe conditions to safely catch and release the larger specie of pike.  I spotted a couple of floating fish that perished before the rains we had last week.  Early morning and evenings are the best times to get into the rivers variety of pan fish.  Blue gills, hybrid sunfish, rock bass have been producing in good numbers near bridges and tunnels on crappie spinners or small grubs.  In Des Plaines,  small to medium sized large mouth have been striking small cranks and inline spinners in deep pools under dams and near lay downs.  Crappie and rock bass have also been more active in the late evenings.  Best chances for carp and bullhead come on a variety of live or pantry product baits under a float.  Such as, nightcrawlers, wheatie balls, sweet corn, or bread.


Alex Kiscellus sent this:

Finally got a healthy dose of rain end of last week up my way in the Northern Fox Valley which was more than enough to get my butt in gear & back in the water.  A handful of slightly cooler nights didn't hurt the river either, though the water levels barely saw a blip on the USGS charts.  Fish were widely scattered with such little water for them to be comfortable in, but a run & gun approach picking apart individual boulders in swift & shallow water netted me plenty of fish.  Most were on the smaller side, as evident by the attached picture of the close-up shot, but a couple bigger fish were willing to play too.  My biggest also happened to be first fish of the day, which was definitely over 20" & would be an easy 5# PLUS in a month or two (see attached pic with the large boulder in the foreground).  Not sure if she is FOTW worthy, but she was as big as my largest so far this season, so who knows.
                All my action came on a white perch pattern 4" Husky Jerk or a 3" Pearl YUM! Grub.  Tried topwater to no avail, but the fish were holding in fast water where topwater typically is a tough draw.  Scouted a spot that has been created by the very low water where there looks to be a well oxygenated slower moving pool adjacent to swift current that was screaming topwater bite, but another wader was fishing the area.  He was fishing the wrong part of it & from a bad angle, but I didn't feel like telling him.  With some more fresh rain this morning I plan on hitting it this evening to see if my theory holds up.
                With the still very low water, fish are holding in predictable areas & are easy to locate & willing to bite if you present the right offerings.  Dead water is just that right now, so stay where the current is, even if it is only 6" deep.  Other anglers in my area have reported much of the same, so I'd imagine the theme should be the same further south.  With recent spats of rain & more on the horizon, the fishing should only continue to improve or at least remain consistent.  Mid-day works when cloud cover is present and air temps are reasonable.  Otherwise, very early is best with immediately before or after sunset your next best bet.
                If tonight's outing comes to fruition, I'll be sure to send you a follow-up soon.

Ken Gortowski of Fox River Guide Service sent this:

Say what?

Got out on the Fox River last Wednesday, before the rains. The water was uncomfortably warm and unpleasant to walk around in. I always wear waders, you'd be a fool to wet wade the Fox, and that made matters worse. Luckily, I know spots. Caught 12 smallies and missed 13 in about an hour and a half.

Got out Saturday night, a few days after the rain. Water was considerably cooler, a bit higher and pleasant to touch and have wrapped around my legs. The rain almost brought the river back up to normal, 750 cfs, but has since dropped back into the 250 cfs range. Only got 5 landed and 5 missed that day, again in about an hour and a half. Found out later that a man and wife team had hit the same stretch earlier in the day with a score of 18/12 on the caught/missed scale.

Also got a few more email from others, all got out after the rains and all did well on smallies. The fresh water really turned them on. Even the fly guy was having a good day.

No sign of dead fish anywhere. Hit stretches 3 to 7 miles down from the Montgomery dam. Was looking in all the likely spots for dead fish and didn't see a single one. For those that are concerned about stressing out the fish at these water and temperature levels, then I recommend they don't go fishing. I don't concern myself with such things. I fish highly oxygenated, very long and deep pools. Yes, even at it's lowest, and the lowest I saw was 104 cfs, there are deep pools out there. The longest one I fished at the waters lowest level is easily 300 yards long and is crotch to near chest deep. The other pools are just a bit shorter, but just as deep.

You need to know where to go. I think I have that nailed down.

BTW, click here for Sam Bennett's ``Getting Started Guide'' for folks who are new to the Fox or river fishing in general.


Not much to report. Rain and cooler weather is needed.


River flow picked up enough to become murkier and have vegetation floating; remains very warm.

Norm Minas sent this:

After being sick for a few days, I made it out Monday evening for a short trip to get my sea legs back. The river is up a bit, more stained and more weeds flowing downstream . I didn't bother to take the water temps, still feels like bath water.
 I was going to start with a crankbait but saw surface activity right off the bat. I ran thru a few topwater options before I found what they wanted. It was a Chug Bug , quartercast toward the top of the current seams. An occasional pop with lots of drifting, fish would explode after popping the lure.
 Hopefully the body will cooperate and Ill last longer Tuesday.

Ed Mullady sent this:

Kankakee River fishing keeps going on.
    Indiana: Walleye: Fair around Point, north of English Lake *Rt. 55 Area *Rt. 41 to IL State Line.
    Illinois:  Fair:Old River Isle Area thru Momence *Old Dam,Ryan's Pier,Aroma Park *Kankakee Dam thru LeVasseur Park through  Bradley, IL*Kankakee River State Park *Wilmington Dam thru Prairie Creek.
    Good Baits: Jig and Minnow *Jig and Crawler *Jointed minnow-shaped plugs
Weedless Doctor Spoons.
  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - --- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  -
   Indiana: Smallmouth Bass: Fair around Yellow River Junction *Grand Marsh Park
*State Line to Rt. 55.
   Illinois: Smallmouth Bass good.  *Places: East of Momence *Aroma Park area *Kankakee Dam through Johnson's Veterans Fisherman's Park *Shorelines and islands at Kankakee River State Park. *Wilmington Dam through DesPlaines Conservation Area. Good baits:*jig and minnow *Mepps #2, #3 Spinners *Mr. Twister Wtd. Keeper Hook & Double twister tail *Fly fishermen doing well on *minnow like streamer flies *top water bugs *artificial crawfish.
=========================================== = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Indiana: Northern Pike: Good around river just out from mouth of ditches, bridge piers *in water logs throughout.
Illinois: *Old River Isle Area east of Momence thru Lake Alexander Rv Park and Glorydale to Momence. *Aroma Park to Cobb Park,Kankakee *5th Av.,Kankakee through Johnson's Veterans Fisherman's Park.*Wilmington Dam downstream.
Good Baits:Weedless Doctor Spoons *4-5" live minnows *Jointed minnow shaped
CATFISH: Good, especially late afternoon into the night in both Indiana and Illinois
near shorelines *creek,ditch mouths *in-the-water logs. Good baits include:4-5" minnows *crawfish *chicken liver *cheesebaits *raw hamburger.
ROCK BASS, CROPPIE, BLUEGILL: Good throughout IN and IL around creek mouths, quieter shorelines, in the water branches. Try smaller minnows*crawlers
*flies and spinners of smaller sizes.
LARGEMOUTH BASS: Fair in both IN and IL.  Try weedbeds, creek,ditch mouths
on *nightcrawlers *Spinnerbaits *minnows*plastic worms.
   = = = = = = = = = = KANKAKEE RIVER WEEKLY FISHING TIP = = = = = = = = = = = =
FISH" WILL NOT ALWAYS MOVE INTO AREA YOU ARE FISHING AT!  Even if you are at one location for most of the time, moving up or downstream a few feet from time to time, can mean catching fish or not catching them!
Ed Mullady, Sportsman's Letter


There is access at Morris Wetlands at the mouth.



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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on July 24, 2012 8:44 PM.

Wild of the Week: Sponges in the South Branch was the previous entry in this blog.

Midwest Fishing Report: Lakes around Chicago fishing is the next entry in this blog.

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