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Midwest Fishing Report: Rivers around Chicago fishing

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We head to summer conditions on the rivers, though there is enough water in most of them to remember it is still spring for this rivers section of the Midwest Fishing Report.


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.

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


No report.


No report this week from Marcus Benesch, but I had a good column off his catch of a big smallmouth well upstream of the former Hofmann Dam.


From Frank Macikas:

Hello Dale,
I was able to make it out for an 8 mile float trip on the Dupage yesterday. Water levels continue to drop but the water is a little more stained than earlier in the week; even with this clarity is around 4-5 ft and there was quite a bit of algae floating throughout the water column. It seems some bass have moved off their beds and could be seen cruising but they were not feeding, and there are still some area's holding bedding bass. I would say by week's end the rest will come off their beds and I am hoping that will turn up the activity; I am itching for some top water fishing on the river.
All in all I had a great day with a mixed bag of Smallmouth, Largemouth, Rock Bass, and even a few Bluegill; one of which was bigger than my hand if you can believe that! Almost all fish were of size; picked up a Smallmouth and Largemouth both at 18"s quite a few in the 17"-15" range as well. I also lost one of the biggest Smallies I have ever run across on the Dupage. When I set the hook this fish it took off upriver like we were on an episode of "Wicked Tuna"! My drag was screaming and rod completely bent over. After a short fight I managed to get this fish all the way to my feet , I was reaching down to lip the fish, the line snapped and I watched one the biggest Smallies I have seen in the river swim away. So it goes...
With all the rain forecasted I am betting the Dupage River will be blown out for the weekend but I am still hoping for rain. If we do get the rain I will be looking at doing a float on the Mazon River; it's been too low recently to float. I'll keep the reports coming and take care!



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-

The smallmouth bite has been hot. Based on my own experience and what I've been reading elsewhere that's the consensus. I spent arguably more time than I should have targeting the plentiful yearlings.

I did a writeup here:

This plan of attack provided some fresh eyes for the Fox River. The abundance of yearling smallmouth is amazing. Speaks volumes to the health of the river. And, I might add, targeting these little fish is a lot of fun. Just about any smaller bait will work. I prefer a beetlespin.

My bait recommendations for the bigger fish hasn't changed - shallow running cranks or a jig and twister are hard to beat.

Flatheading is underway without much result for the Fox Valley Flatheaders crew. With not even a handful of trips under our belt it's business-as-usual. The grind. I expect them to start going soon - water temps were 68 as of a few days ago. A few boats were chased off the water last night (Sunday) by the looming storms. Turned out to be a non-event, but don't gamble with aluminum boats and lightning.

I stopped up at SS Minnows bait shop on Saturday morning after I got done fishing. Just fantastic to have an "offline" place to shoot the shit with other fisherman. And to buy bait, of course.


Again, support your local bait shop, those great founts of information.

Sam sent this follow-up:

Hey Dale-

I liked my report on smaller fish, but if you want a link where I actually catch some bigger fish, here it is:


Ken Gortowski sent this:

I got out on Thursday after work and it had to happen sooner or later. Started at the creek that has not turned on for me at all this year and only caught five smallies. Cut it short and headed off to the creek where I've been cleaning up and caught seven. One of the seven was a two foot catfish. The gar were all over this creek. I Tried to pick up a gar that didn't see me coming, but they're fast little buggers. 

This was the slowest fishing I've had all month.

While there I noticed that the creek was now flowing like a normal creek again. The bypass culvert was completely removed. This meant the coffer dam was gone and the work in the creek itself was coming to an end. I didn't bother to go look till Saturday. I haven't bothered fishing upstream of where the dam was yet. I've been waiting for this day when the creek was pretty much free and clear.

Below the dam so far this spring, and that's a very short stretch, I'm somewhere over 200 caught and another 200 or so missed. That's mainly where I've been fishing and it's only been about a month. Amazing how one creek can be loaded with fish while another is practically barren.

Went out Saturday morning for barely an hour and fished for the first time the brand spankin' new 500 yard stretch above the Blackberry now gone dam. The coffer dam was gone and shore work was being done. The whole area looks pretty well destroyed, but I bet by fall you won't even be able to tell.

Wound up with 12 caught and 17 missed, all smallies. Not bad for just a few hundred yards of fishing in a stretch that hasn't seen a smallie migration in 175 years. Saw a quillback carpsucker cruising by too. I don't know if they were in the creek before the dam removal, but at least one is now.

Went back to the creek again on Saturday at 4 PM and fished for two hours. I started at the head of the construction and went upstream for three quarters of a mile. Last time I fished this stretch was a few years ago and I got two largemouth bass for my troubles. Never went back there or anywhere upstream on this creek again.  This time I wound up with 23 smallies, 1 largemouth and 1 bluegill caught and another 22 missed fish. The water was so clear that I know they were all smallies. Got to see two huge ones before they spit the hook. 

Over the years I've done my own little stocking program on Blackberry Creek. Now and then I would fish below the dam and every smallie caught would be tossed over the dam. A couple of years ago I heard reports of a few being caught upstream.

Also over the years I've explored quite a bit of the creek, but never bothered fishing it. I have spots all planned out up to and just beyond Jericho Road. Not sure how many miles that is, but it's a few. Now I have a reason to fish and explore. 

Will be interesting to see how far up the smallies go this year. It's also interesting to see how quickly fish take advantage of a now dam free creek.

Gortowski added this update

Tuesday night: Got out after work today (Tuesday) to THE CREEK for a couple of hours. Went upstream of the construction. Caught 16, which includes two largemouth and a crappie. Missed 28. Couldn't set a hook to save my life today. It's really beautiful up in there and if anyone tries it I have some advice, don't take a shortcut through the woods. Did that years ago. It will be one of the most miserable experiences of your life.

The smell of spawning fish, based on memory a combination of carp and suckers, was very strong on the creek. I love that smell.

Ken G

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.


Time on the Water Outdoors staff reported sauger and walleye are good, upstream and down, pulling crankbaits, catfish are good on cut shad. White bass are not running good, which is unusual because they usually go about the time helicopter seeds fall from maples.


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:

 River is still below normal but rising. It's still not exactly wader friendly. The water temps have been in the low to mid 60's and the water is getting clearer.
 I'll just report on the last two trips because the other ones pale in comparison. Sunday, I hit seams with rattlebaits and crankbaits and hit most of my fish there. I got about a half dozen more on single spins slowed rolled on some deeper flats. The biggest fish came off mid stream humps in faster water. I quartercast a jig/pig upstream ans let it slide and bounce downstream When it slid over a hump and felt like it lost it's weight and quit moving, it was time to set the hook. If you felt the weight and movement again, you blew it. I only got 4 smallmouth doing that but they were all large to very large fish.
 Monday, started out with a bang. I got to the river and was greeted with surface activity. It was the first really sustained topwater action of the year, lasted about an hour. I moved down river a bit and was quartercasting a jig/pig and noticed a bug hatch going on back upstream on a flat twixt two inflows. I switched to a rattlebait and got about twenty mid sized smallmouth in the 14 to 16 inch range. When that died, I switched to a crankbait and got 5 or 6 more. The rest of the day was slow compared to that but it was still steady enough to keep me going. It was mostly a weighted keeper/power pulse worm deal, decent numbers but no huge fish.
 I was fishing a spot that I wasn't sure would hold fish in the present current conditions just to see if I could catch something there on some kind of lure. I wasn't succeeding but you never learn if you don't push the envelope . I still think there could be some fish in that spot, I just haven't found the right trigger to push their button. I had a full metal jacketer come up to me and tell me I must not know much about fishing because all the books he read say that type of area isn't supposed to produce. He told me if I really wanted to learn how to fish a river I should subscribe to In Fisherman, join the ISA and read your fishing reports and blog to keep up with what is going on with the river. Good advice but kinda wasted on me. I changed lures, turned and fished an eddy and caught three quick fish before I said a word to him. With that I explained to him why I was fishing how and where I was. I also told him it was ten years ago come June that the article I did with Steve Quinn appeared in In Fisherman. I mentioned that I was a long time member of the ISA and a past officer as well as having contributed to the Bronzeback Bulletin. I asked him what the guy's name was who was mentioned in your fishing reports and he said it was Norm something or another. Ah, it's good to know that reading comprehension is alive and well with the younger crowd. I showed him my fishing license and he left without introducing himself.  Either I spend way too much time on the river or I have some sort of attraction to those kinds of things. I'm thinking of having some sort of rite performed to rid myself of this attraction as I don't think I spend too much time out there.

I have no comment.


Guide Mike Mladenik of Mike Mladenik Guide Service posted this:

I went fishing alone and caught many smallmouth in the 18-20" class. They are still in pre-spawn but just on the edge of their spawning areas. The hot bait was a Case Magic Stik rigged Wacky Style but I also caught a few on a Case Sinking Minnow. The next few weeks should be great on High Falls.


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


Tyler Harmon messaged:

Nothing new. Same as last week, only new thing is catfish action has picked up.


Guide Bill Stoeger reported lots of white bass, especially males, in river, some spawning females. He figures 10 days to two weeks more of good white bass fishing. I hope so, because I think I am joining him tomorrow. White bass are coming on just about anything. For walleye, it is mostly jig and crawler.



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Heck Norm, skip InFisherman, it's old news and those ISA guys don't know nuthin" about fishing that nobody done told and showed them.

I'll teach you everything you need to know man, no problem...

Wade upstream, cast upstream, use 1/8th ounce jigs, blah, blah, blah....

Norm, that was awesome!


Gortowski shuffle ?

I wish the timing chain was finished on my car, I'm going stir crazy. I tied a white pearl grub to my line and went fishing for orange tabby earlier. Got an 18lber.

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on May 22, 2013 8:43 AM.

Ramble with Storm: Describing call of belted kingfisher & a plethora of helicopters was the previous entry in this blog.

Ramble with Storm: Back home & loose change is the next entry in this blog.

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