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Midwest Fishing Report: Rivers around Chicago fishing

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Variable water levels and emerging good spring/summer patterns lead this river section of the Midwest Fishing Report.


Marcus Benesch sent this carp photo from the Des Plaines River.

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. This is probably a good week to check levels, they keep changing.

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


No report.


Marcus Benesch sent this follow-up to a report, which is below. Here is the follow-up:

Adding to the early/mid may report I sent you few days ago; rock bass in the northern sections still on a feeding frenzy.  Its amazing the stones these red eye demons have to hit a J-13 Rapala when your pike fishing.

Here is the original report last week:

Stayed close to home shore fishing sections of the river in Des Plaines and Park Ridge.  There is a very strong rock bass population in the northern part of the river that seems to get better every spring.  In my opinion a small to medium rooster tail is about the most entertaining way to get at them.   Concentrate on oxygenated areas for schools, like downstream of riffles and river bends. 
    For the carp guys who fish the northern Des Plaines.  As of last week they still hanging out in or around creeks with peak feeding times in mid to late afternoon when water temps are highest.  Corn, crawler, or even a homemade mash right off the river bottom will do.  There's a lot of monsters out there and I can't just resist a good ten minute battle on the end of my line.


No report this week.


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

Sam Bennett sent this:

Hey Dale-

Smallmouth fishing is slowing down on the Fox as the spawn kicks into gear. I was able to catch fish on Memorial Day, but took my first skunk in quite a while on Sunday. My best advice is to steer clear of spawning areas. Future Lunkers in the making, etc.

My stretch of the Fox (Geneva to South Elgin) was full of fisherman all weekend. Great to see folks out enjoying the river. Reminder - smallmouth are catch-and-release-only until June 15th. After that it's one over 12" and two under 12".

Better fish can still be found but not in the numbers seen in previous weeks. I expect we'll see the early females coming off the beds fairly soon. The ladies will leave the nests first and the males will stay to defend the fry. I hope to see some post-spawn females maybe as soon as the end of this week. That's probably overly optimistic, but my glass remains half-full.

Flatheading has started in earnest. I haven't been able to make it out but some fish have started to show up on the ledger for the Fox Valley Flatheaders.

I've seen some nice pictures of walleye over the last week as well as some very good white bass. I haven't run across either so far this season. My walleye friends have a lot in common with my morel friends: happy to send pics, but tight-lipped on any real information. Selah.


Ken Gortowski sent this:

I continue to spend my time concentrating on creeks and got out to four different ones over the holiday weekend. With the exception of Blackberry Creek, where I spent 2.5 hours on Saturday, all other ventures were of the dine and dash variety. No more than an hour in any one location.

On the four creeks combined I caught 31 fish, the bulk being smallies and missed another 23. The creek that has me most concerned is Little Rock Creek. Last year the drought took a toll on this creek with a good mile of it drying up completely. This is far upstream in an area I like to fish, probably nine miles as the creek flows.

In spring I'm used to it being teeming with all types of fish. Usually by now it's a smallie, rock bass, creek chub gold mine. Even the pesky creek chubs I like to play with are gone. No minnows anywhere, saw two carp I wished I could bow shoot to get them out of there. I usually see a few varieties of suckers and even northern hogsuckers. Now, nothing, nothing, nothing.

If the rain doesn't stop this year I know the fish will make their way back up here, but it's still disheartening to see. I probably won't go back till fall. Let it recuperate.

On the way home on Monday, still in my waders, I thought I would stop at the Fox for a bit. Since I seem to be known for fishing the Fox, I thought I should at least try fishing it. I waded about a 100 foot stretch, took about 10 minutes and caught four smallies. That makes only 40 minutes on the Fox so far this year. The rest has been all creeks.

Got a call late Sunday morning from Bob Long, Jr. He took up Tenkara fishing last year, people will have to Google that if they don't know what it is, and he's been hitting creeks with it this year when he can. I gave him step-by-step details on how to get around Blackberry Creek. Late afternoon I wandered over to the creek and ran into him. Interesting conversation as always and got to play a bit with his Tenkara rod. The technique is really no different than what I do with spinning gear, only with a 12 foot rod and an equally long fixed length of line.

I asked that he send a fishing report. He put this up on Facebook.

From Bob, I love his way with words:

I ended up with about 20 fish. Most were smallmouth, but also got 3 channel cats, and one male bluegill. Worked about a 300 - 400 yard long section of the creek. Helluva hike and I won't attempt it in summer's heat and humidity. Also as a note, I also caught some of the fish down in the first two pools of the new section of stream repair. TENKARA! I am still working out the kinks, but I am fairly secure in how to do this in warm-water streams. All fish caught on 1/32 mini mite, glow white color with spikes.

When it comes to picking up a technique from someone or somewhere else (Tenkara style fly fishing and Japan, in this case - or drawing from canvases of The Masters [in art school]) one learns there is a difference between slavish imitation and homage.

Tenkara for smallmouth bass in Midwestern rivers, creeks and streams will look different - and should to some degree - than Tenkara fishing for small trout in mountain streams of Japan. There are many ways to "Honor" the paths our Masters have created. I hope I am doing so with my warm water explorations into Tankara.

Eeez fun way to feeesh.

To join the Fox River Angler Diary Project, click here. I think it is one of the neater projects around.

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


Because of the flooding, especially coming out of the Vermilion River, the Illinois is projected to be at flood stage at LaSalle through Monday.


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:

 This will cover about a weeks worth of fishing. The water levels varied from dropping to rising after it rained. The weather was varied as well, sunshine to rain. It made no difference, there were fish eating in multiple types of current conditions on multiple techniques/retrieves. Smallmouth, rock bass and channel cats have made up most of the catch.
For the rock bass the primary lure has been a Charlie Brewer Slider head and a 3 inch Outdoor Advantage cigar type worm. The Outdoor Advantage plastics are made by Jeff Saltsgiver a couple blocks from my house in Bourbonnais I did a couple creek trips on a few different creeks, they were all over the place. Out in the river the bigger ones were in slower water about a foot or two inside the seam as long as there was at least a foot of water for depth. A slow dragging retrieve worked best.
 The channel cats were mostly relating to the head end of riffles and neck down areas. A rattlebait swept across the face of the riffle worked for some. A 5 inch twister on a 3/0 weighted keeper hook caught the most and the biggest. There were some really nice ones in the12 to 15 lb range.
 I got a 19.5 inch hybrid striper sweeping a rattlebait across the face of the riffle. That fish came close to spooling me, I was down to about 30 ft of line left on the spool before it changed direction on the initial run.
 The smallmouth were primarily taking crankbaits and rattlebaits on seams. A little jig/pig action also got a few on the seams. There was some topwater action on flats, mostly a spook, some buzzbaiting. I got a few buzzbaiting riffles as well. When the water came back up fishing the green and emerging waterwillows was productive as was ripping a crankbait thru some other types of emergent vegetation.
The weather may not have been the greatest but I didn't care any more than the fish did. It's just another factor in the equation.


No report.


Click on Root River Report from the Wisconsin DNR for any updates.


Tyler Harmon messaged:

Catfish action has been good on the rivers, few walleye being caught as well.


I got out with guide Bill Stoeger last Thursday and we did well enough in post-frontal conditions for white bass. He expects the white bass to stick in the river until it warms into the low 70s, which may come in the next week. There's also walleye in the river.



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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on May 29, 2013 6:35 AM.

Stray Cast: Trump, ``greasy goal'' & bigheads was the previous entry in this blog.

IHSA bass fishing: Top 10 around Chicago fishing is the next entry in this blog.

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