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Midwest Fishing Report: Rivers around Chicago fishing

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Today, finally, it seems right to begin splitting the lakes and rivers into two Midwest Fishing Reports; yes, that is a spring sign.


James Wawrzaszek sent this photo of a DuPage River smallmouth caught and released.

This is the extended online version of the rivers report of the MFR, which appears on the Sun-Times outdoors page on Wednesdays.

Normally, I post Wednesday mornings.

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


For a general overview of nearby river conditions, click here. Probably a good idea to check this.

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


Marcus Benesch sent this report from a much different section of the river than the one he usually fishes:

Headed down near Joliet to fish the big river.  I call the mixture of the Sanitary and Ship Canal and the Des Plaines River the 'big river'.  Not a whole lot in common with the tranquil stream I have in my backyard.  Water temperature 55 degrees, was much higher in Will County than in Cook County.  The river bass are starting to wake up down there. White bass up to 12 inches was the easiest catch of day, catching and releasing over 30 in just a couple hours.  Large mouth bass, although on the smaller side were almost as common.  Bass were biting anything that you could bounce of the river bottom, small cranks, spinners, and jigs.  A  few stray fish, smallmouth, channel cat, and drum were also released.  
Marcus Benesch
River Grove, Illinois


I love it, three reports from the DuPage.

Frank Macikas sent a report on his first outing:

Well I was able to make my first trip to the river for a few hours today and I have to say it felt good to be back out on the water. I almost forgot how calming it is being out hearing nothing but rushing water, wind, and fish splashing!
I fished a short stretch of river down by me and picked up one smallie around 15", solid and it put up a nice fight. This fish was caught on a seam by drifting a medium roach and a split shot about 12" up from the hook.
As I made my way down river I fished a backwater area and this is where things got good. I caught about seven largemouth the biggest was pushing 4 pounds; all of these fish also came a little off of the current from where the river dumps into the lake on a white 1/4oz double bladed spinnerbait.
Water levels are what I consider perfect flowing around 250cfs at the Shorewood gauge and water is very very clear; around 5 feet clarity in most areas.
Fish are fattening up for the spawn and with weather like today its a perfect time to get out. I will be planning more outings and my gear is staying in the truck until late fall.......

James Wawrzaszek sent this report and a bunch of photos:

They're really starting to move. I've taken a few on jigs/grubs but the hot ticket remains Shad Raps. Anything with some orange on it seems to be working; I've seen a lot of crayfish crawling around so I'd imagine that's why. Slowly reeling upstream and letting it hang in the current next to holding areas has been the most consistent presentation. Again, all fish from north of the confluence.

james wawrzaszek

Ed Schmitt, The Four Season Angler, sent this:

It's been far too long since I've had the chance to offer you anything of value.
Work and social activities have linked me to a group of anglers that fish the stretches of the Dupage river in Plainfield, Shorewood, and Channahon. Even though I don't get a chance to fish much anymore, I hear their reports and see their pictures on a regular basis. They have been catching fish all winter long, Smallmouth, Rock Bass, and Crappie mostly.
Until last weekend the pattern was to still fish on the bottom or slow drift from a slip float small minnows and waxies through deep holes, oxbows, and warm water discharges. This week I have noticed the pattern shifting to active fish taking jigs tipped with minnows, suspending jerkbaits, and slip-floated minnows in different areas.
They are targeting current seams and doing really well with 20 to 30 fish coming to hand in a 3 to 4 hour window in the evenings. These are fish that have moved out of their wintering holes and are actively seeking baitfish in these fast water meets slack water areas. Water temps have ranged from upper 30s to lower 40s and clarity is a good 24" to 30" in most areas.
Not sure if that helps you at all, but it's a great sign to me that spring is here and my local river is ready for my clumsy attempts at seducing her once more.
Ed Schmitt
The Four Season Angler


Sam Bennett sent this report:

Hey Dale-

I haven't been able to do much but get skunked lately, but others are starting to pick up nice smallmouth regularly.

I've seen reports of some very nice walleye as well.

The smallmouth should be in transition soon but are still mostly holding in slower water. Creek mouths, slower water and off-current areas are where I'll spend my time this week.

The Fox River Angler Diary Project is going very nicely. The first week we collected 45 hours of fishing data. Anyone is fee to join the project. So far we've had lots of signups and reports. It's encouraging.

That Fox River Diary Project is a rather cool citizen project.

Ken Gortowski sent this topper with his first report immediately below:

Went to the site of the former Blackberry Creek Dam to get some progress pictures tonight (Tuesday) and got there about 7 PM. Decided to stand on the edge, now the new creek bed and fish the pool below for the duration of a cheap cigar. About 20 to 25 minutes.

Two crappie, two smallies with one measuring 16 inches and a largemouth. Also foul hooked a few carp. Saw carp and smallies jumping through the fast running chute of water coming out of the culvert. Can't believe they're trying to jump the thing. Will be much easier on them next week when water is coming down the creek again.

I'd say the switch on the creeks has finally been thrown.

The collapsing bridge, the useless dam, my reason to see the dam gone is very selfish. I have a good 10 miles of the creek marked on maps going many miles inland. I want these fish up there.

Here is his initial report:

I think this week marks the turning point for the Fox River creeks I've been targeting, which means the same for the Fox itself. Indications are pointing that way. Been a long wait this spring, unusually long.

Not sure how much more I'm going to be sending summaries your way. Time is limited and what little I'm writing is too hard for me to summarize. So if you want, put up the link to this.

All indications are also pointing to that's how I'll be doing things from now on.

I like my little stories even if nobody else reads them much.

Ken G

Bennett has a getting started guide for the Fox posted here.


Time on the Water Outdoors reported sauger ``on fire'' especially around the Peru flats; jigging a jig and minnow or Berkley PowerBait are best.


Remember, roughly 7.5 miles of some sections of Trail Creek and the East Branch of the Little Calumet river are closed to angling to protect newly stocked steelhead yearlings through June 15.

Click here for the Indiana DNR's map of Trail Creek access.


Norm Minas sent this:

We got a little rain locally, flow is up a sconch. It's still less than half it's normal flow, water temp showed 60 degrees in the afternoon. River stained, small clumps of algae floating in the water column and way too much still on the bottom. The waterwillow stubble is still brown but I did pull some green emergent veggies of a lure. Lots of greenery poking thru, some wildflowers blooming, buds on trees. 

There are geese on nests and many other crittery types are shall we say a bit amorous. Some female walleye caught recently had spent, soft bellies, some softer and ready to drop, some still hard and firm. Some male walleye milting, most were not. The gnat hatches in some places have been successful enough to be annoying . I checked one trib that the fish use from spring thru fall and pretty much vacate over winter, it was devoid of fish life at a spot near the mouth looking down from a higher vantage point.

Today the weather was great, no need for polypro or under armour , fished in shirt sleeves. Windy at times, for the most part sunny. I saw more guys out today than I did the entire months of January and February combined. Amazing how many folks got sick on Monday and missed work.

As far as the fishing went, there was too much algae on the bottom in the stretches I fished for a crankbait to be effective. They were fouled in a turn or two of the reel handle. Rattlebaits were a complete zero as were flukes. Jig/plastic and jig/pig fared about the same as crankbaits. Single spins got about a third of the fish caught. They got fish along a bank that was bit too steep to climb up, they got some along current seam and some off flats. The other two thirds of the fish came off a Berkley Heavy weight worm t-rigged on a 5/0 EWG hook with no additional weight. I couldn't believe how little it fouled with algae. Most of what accumulated was the clumps of algae floating in the water column that hung on the line. The retrieve that worked was to simply quartercast it and let it drift in the current without any fancy didoes. when it stopped, I let it sit for a slow 15 count before I moved it. When it got bit, you saw the line twitch and felt that familiar tap. There were a couple bass that absolutely slammed the lure when I moved the lure. They were the exception to the rule but they really put a bend in the rod when they hit. I got fish on them off seams, flats, slack areas and along some steeper banks. I got my biggest smallmouth of the year so far when I let it drift under a deadfall in the water, a nice 19 3/4 inch fish that had a sucker tail sticking out of it's gullet.

Mostly smallmouth today, got a few channel cats as well on the worm. Great day all the way around.
 Get out, support your local bait shop and remember it's Catch and Release season on the local rivers for smallmouth in Illinois


Here is the Root River Fishing Report from the Wisconsin DNR:

Root River Fishing Report for April 8, 2013
The flow rate and water level has steadily dropped during the past week with the river temperature at 41-42F on Saturday. However, recent rains on Monday and Tuesday with more on the way during the week will make it difficult to fish the Root River.
For up to date river conditions, check out the USGS web site of stream flow conditions  in Wisconsin.
Fishing Information
Above the weir: At the Horlick Dam, anglers casting flies and spawn sacks reported good catches of steelhead earlier in the week. Large numbers of suckers filled the river by the dam on Saturday morning, providing anglers with nonstop action. Anglers at Quarry and Lincoln Park hooked into suckers as well with reports of a few northern pike taken. One angler reported seeing large numbers of small northern pike schooling along the river bank at Quarry Park.
Below the weir: Anglers at Island Park and Washington Park landed several steelhead using spawn sacks and wax worms. The steelhead averaged from 3 to 7 pounds. Adding two or three wax worms to a jig head or a plain hook while fishing under a slip bobber worked well on Saturday.


Tyler Harmon messaged:

Well the rivers here have warmed significantly the bigger rivers are pushing the 50 degree range. Which signals the end of the spring steelhead run. Suckers are running hard and are willing to bite.



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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on April 10, 2013 6:23 AM.

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