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Midwest Fishing Report: Rivers around Chicago fishing

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Record floods and ongoing high water figure prominently in this rivers section of a Midwest Fishing Report; should I add the obviously?


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. I am off early to survey flood damage and am getting it up early tonight.

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.


Coming slowly off a record flood.


Coming slowly off a record flood.


Boating is closed from the Wisconsin line to the Montgomery dam. Check updates at the Fox Waterway Agency.

There's a bait shop open in South Elgin 7 days a week: SS MINNOWS, ROUTE 31, (847) 289-0135.

To join the Fox River Angler Diary Project, click here.

Sam Bennett sent this follow-up report:

This rain is a bitch. Between that and the Chain being drained off not sure when the Fox will get back to normal. I said a week. That was optimistic. Two weeks may be optimistic. I saw Norm is doing well, I may have to go out and dip some baits on the boulders soon.

Ken Gortowski sent this:

I'd give it a week before even bothering, current conditions make it not worth the effort. Good time to get things done around the yard.

The weather is looking good. Creeks come down faster than the river. Fish, if any are still around, should finally be heading up the creeks. Only one way to find out.

Fish being around is my concern. My history shows that every time we get water like this, the Fox in the mid to lower stretches suffers for two years. Happened in 1996 and 2008. I'm hoping history doesn't repeat itself this time. The upper stretches, since the river is flatter up that way, doesn't seem to react the same way. More places for fish to get out of the way further north. No back water areas down here.

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


River is still at or near the record flood levels in the lower areas.


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.


The Kankakee is in the best shape of local rivers, but still bankfull.

Norm Minas sent this:

The flow rate was a bit under 26,000 CFS and dropping, still debris coming down river, still out of it's banks, no visibility with water temps around 50 degrees. There are still a lot of floating debris piles in the slacker areas and they definitely are worth checking. Beautiful weather, fished in shirt sleeves and waders, there were a lot of folks out and about but few actually fishing the river.
 It was mostly matching presentation to the current and cover conditions as well as the attitude of the fish. Letting a light jig get swept under debris piles where the as enough current to do so produced fish. If there wasn't enough current dabbling a jig on the edges of the debris pile sometimes worked. If that situation dropping a much heavier jig thru the top of the floating mat was the better option. Skinning the bark of flooded trees with a singlespin or a jig/pig produced fish. In another spot where the gar were actively feeding toward the surface, a fluke drifted and twitched did the trick for them.
A rattlebait turned some fish at a couple inflows, while a crankbait retrieved against the current worked on a seam where the bottom conditions and cover allowed. On other seams due to cover and bottom conditions a jig/plastic worked with the current on the seam was necessary. A crankbait worked well in a flooded parking lot. The only thing I tried that didn't produce was a variety of top water lures like prop baits, spooks and buzzbaits.
 Smallmouth bass, rock bass, walleye, channel cat, gar, drum and carp were the species caught today. The opportunities are there, you just have to take advantage, safely, safely and safer still.


Root River Report from the Wisconsin DNR had this:

Root River Fishing Report for April 22, 2013
Heavy rainstorms moved through the area again this week. By Friday, the flow rate at the Horlick Dam was over 3,800 cfs and the water level reached 7.21 feet. Flood stage is at 7 feet. Anglers reported seeing large trees falling over the dam and flowing downstream. The flow rate at the dam was below 1,700 cfs by Sunday.
For up to date river conditions, check out the USGS web site of stream flow conditions  in Wisconsin.
Above the weir: At the Horlick Dam, a few anglers tried fishing with spawn sacks close to the shoreline with reports of only suckers taken. At Quarry Park, the water was too fast for anglers as the kayakers returned to ride the standing waves and curlers. The parking lot at Colonial Park is open but the river was flowing over the some of the pathways.
Below the weir: The road to Lincoln Park was barricaded but opened again on Sunday. The river threatened to flow into the Steelhead Facility for the 2nd consecutive week. Several anglers were casting bright green flies below the weir with reports of only a few suckers taken. The parking lot at Island Park is closed again due to high water. No anglers were seen at Washington Park this weekend. The river temperature was 41F on Sunday.


Tyler Harmon messaged:

The rivers are currently hoovering right at flood level and should continue to slowly but steadily drop throughout the week. Water clarity has began to improve on the rivers as well. Inland lakes are still producing some panfish. This Saturday April 27 several seasons open. Walleye, Pike, Musky, and catch and release Bass seasons all open on that day. . . . Seems like I always forget something. Stream trout also opens this Saturday the 27. Action out on Lake Michigan has been slow.



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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on April 23, 2013 10:03 PM.

Stray Cast: Emanuel, Perry, pike, flounder was the previous entry in this blog.

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