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Midwest Fishing Report: Rivers around Chicago fishing

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With the Indiana streams as the prime example, patterns have definitely shifted for this rivers section of the Midwest Fishing Report.

That's an August video from last August.

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


The best news comes out Indiana where a push of fresh fish have come in from Lake Michigan, and I mean more than steelhead.

Lake Michigan fisheries biologist Brian Breidert emailed this morning:

We also passed up river, 9 brown trout(2-10 pounds), one Chinook female about 12 pounds, 3 coho(14 to 25 inches) and 3 small steelhead(14-22 inches).  In a couple of days I will have some new photos taken by our aide of fish clearing the barrier when he returns from the fair. 
We have collected 80 adult steelhead for broodstock at the Barrier on Trail creek in the past two days.  There have been a large group that have successfully made it over the barrier as well.  Probably get an additional 50 fish tomorrow then it will slow down.  There are some fish moving in the St. Joe and we will have some idea in the near future(Wednesday PM) of what is going on there.  We may begin trapping there if water temperatures stay around 70.  St. Joe temp was 71 and Trail Creek was 66 today

Ed McCain at Mik-Lurch reported spawn sacs and skein (if you can find it) have been best for the steelhead that have arrived in the streams.


For a general overview of nearby river conditions, click here.

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


Marcus Benesch of sent this:

Water temps dropping in upwards of 12 degrees in only a few days.   River levels still on the low side after receiving only little rain in the northern reaches.  Northern Pike starting to put on weight and actually put up a fight.


Sam Bennett returned from a month down South and sent this:

Flatheading has been consistent. My last trip out we only boated one smaller fish, but Marty has had several multi-fish nights with a 40" in the mix. He gets at least one every year. Another night he landed three - two 29.5" and a 29". Triplets. I figure we've got another 5-6 weeks until the flatheaders bug out for salmon.

As much as I threaten to hang up the smallmouth gear, I'm finding it nearly impossible. Now that I'm working from home again I have time for frivolous pursuits.

The water has cooled quite a bit and I was surprised the bite wasn't better. Sunday night I managed one nice fish on weed edges near deeper water. Monday night all hell broke loose and I caught about 50 or so. Hard to say exactly how many, could have been more. A light rain started and they turned on at the dam. I got a solid 19" and a handful in the 16 - 18" range. I wasn't even planning on fishing the dam, I just stopped by to check it out. Glad I did.

I'm having the best luck on shad-shaped crankbaits. The Rapala Shallow Rap and the Bomber Square A. Anything that gets down enough to dig in the rocks. The topwater bite has still been slow for me, but I've seen others reporting good catches on the Spook. Maybe it's time to swap my Chug Bug.

I'm really looking forward to this fall-like weather. It should do the fishing some good. We'd all like more water, of course, but we just have to wait it out.

Alex Kiscellus sent this:

Howdy Dale - Sorry for not getting something to you last week.  Had plenty to report, just no time to send it.
Have been out plenty the last two weeks.  Cooler temps have dropped water temps a bit, undoubtedly, but the even the steadiest & heaviest of rainfalls only seem to causer minor blips on the USGS flow charts.  The one change has been a slight increase in fish activity during the mid-day hours, as well as a slow migration of more #'s of fish to deeper water.  Whereas a week ago most were in shallow & swift water, more & more are being caught at the tail end of deeper pools or deeper cuts just off the edge of a seam.  Fishing has definitely slowed a bit, but topwater still has been producing, though mainly at dusk.  Dawn through afternoon has the fish looking for a steadier diet of suspending jerk baits, deeper diving cranks fished slowly with a wide wobble, & jigs bounced off the bottom.  My advice would be stay open to the idea of changing lures more than once on the same spot.  A few times I've caught one or two on a likely looking spot, only to get skunked from there on out until I switched up presentations.  Would nab a few more with each successive bait switch until the spot was fished out.  If a spot looks too good to hold a single fish, it probably is.  Keep the focus on areas with rock & gravel & away from the weeds & mud.
Hoping we can get some healthy rains & bring the river level back up permanently.  Have smelled Fall in the air for the last week & a half & all of my late season spots could use another foot or two of water to hold some Autumn Pigs.  Already starting to upsize my presentations in anticipation of the bigger girls bulking up for Winter.
Highlight of the week (if you want to call it that) was having a stray bullet come crashing down from the heavens and miss yours truly by all of about 8 inches this past Sunday morning.  I know better than to wade certain stretches come Waterfowl season, but almost biting the bullet (literally) in early August from some fools taking target practice & aimlessly firing towards the clouds was enough to shake this angler up for the rest of the day.  Notified the authorities of my experience & they went on a bit of a scavenger hunt, but that was little consolation to my wandering mind that couldn't escape the thought that 1.5 seconds earlier, my head was firmly located where this stray round made a resounding splash in my favorite river.  Don't anticipate it limiting my outings as this stretch remains my most productive, but I may trade in my Bears cap for a Kevlar coated hard hat.

Ken Gortowski sent this:

The bite completely died for me the past week. This cold front took it's toll, I think.

Turned a creek crystal clear. A week earlier, smallies were everywhere. Now, empty of smallies.

Areas of the Fox where I have been having 20 or more fish days resulted in one or two.

Ran into a couple of other guys fishing spots where they should have been cleaning up. They got skunked.

This won't last. The end of summer/beginning of fall feeding frenzy on the river should start soon.

Unless this drought has totally screwed things up.

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


As my column showed, I just had a ball chasing active smallmouth Monday morning while fly fishing with Matt Mullady, who can be reached at (815) 932-6507.

Norm Minas sent this:

The river is still about half it's normal flow, clear and in the lo 70's temp wise. There is more weed floating and due to the clearer, lower water and the influx over the years of fertilizer from folks brainwahed into thinking they need the "perfect" lawn algae is once again a problem on the bottom in most places.
 Jigs and crankbaits are soon fouled, rattlebait, spinnerbaits and flukes are better options. If you skim your jigs off the bottom they can still be effective. Numbers of bass holding steady, size wise it's a lot a smaller as in the 12 to 15 inch range.
 I was out today in the rain, catching fish. No big deal, I've been et before. In a  very short period of time the wind picked up, the rain increased and it got much darker. What was more alarming the herons, gulls and swallows all started getting away from the water and heading for cover. I followed suit, figuring their instinct was better than my smarts. When I got home, about a 12 minute drive my wife was wondering I was there as it was barely sprinkling there. It seems things can be mite different on the river than a short drive away.

Sheesh I must be getting old, that is the second time in just a few days that a fishing friend showed common sense while on the water.

Ed Mullady sent this:

Kankakee River Information on Aug. 13, 2012:
Smallmouth Bass: Good. In Indiana, "Point, north of English Lake *Mouths of bayous,ditches that have water *Rt.55 thru 41 thru IL State Line.
Illinois:  Good: *Momence Area *Old Dam, Aroma Park through Kankakee, IL Dam*Johnson Veteran-Fisherman Park through LeVasseur Park *Kankakee River
State Park *Wilmington Island Park through Bardwell Is. Good baits include: Keepr Hook &double twister tails *Mepps #2,#3 Spinners *Jig and Minnow *Jointed plugs.
CATFISH: Good throughout river. Try *6-8" minnows *jig and crawler *cheesebaits *raw
hamburger *chicken liver.
Northern Pike: Hitting at 2-4' depths as well as deeper on *large minnows *weedless Doctor Spoons *Mepps #5 Spinners.
Walleye: Slow, with best fishing at low light hours into the night on *jig and minnow *weedless Doctor Spoons*jig and crawlers.
LARGEMOUTH BASS: Fair at quieter waters near fast moving water. *Jig and Crawler
*Weedless Dr. Spoon * minnows *minnow shaped plugs.
ROCK BASS: Good, esp. along in water tree roots * weed beds *rocky areas on *minnows *crawlers *streamer flies *small spinners.*poppers.
BLUEGILL, CROPPIE: Good in quieter water areas on redworms *jig and small minnow
*plastic smaller worms *small white spinners


There is access at Morris Wetlands at the mouth.



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It is waiting time for the fall run of salmon and a dramatic coming switch toward fall like weather for this lakes section of the Midwest Fishing Report.... Read More

1 Comment

older and smarter most likely.

wacky rigging 4 inch cigar type worms with no weight was a wonderful solution yesterday, yea many fish to hand, smallmouth, rockbass, walleye and channel cats.

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on August 14, 2012 9:12 PM.

Illinois hunting: Waterfowl seasons was the previous entry in this blog.

Stray Cast: Dunn & muskie fisherman is the next entry in this blog.

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