Chicago Sun-Times
Stray Casts will intelligently report and observe, hopefully with a touch of wit, on daily occurrences, reports and releases related to Chicago-area outdoors from bucks to bass to birds to bugs

Midwest Fishing Report: Rivers around Chicago fishing

| 1 Comment | No TrackBacks

Spring conditions, meaning higher and faster water mixed with good fishing, typify this rivers report 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. 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:

Regarding the sauger stocking, you know I could get used to these IDNR stockings on the Des Plaines River.  Its nice to receive some attention over here. 
    South of Joliet the white bass bite hasn't seemed to have slowed down much. Started with bouncing a small jig tipped with a 2inch gulp minnow in the current breaks and was able land a few on back to back casts.  Took the more aggressive approach and tossed on a Simms Spinner and continued to reel off a dozen or so more.  Whites seem a little more healthier than last year, size wise. 
       Up in the Wheeling stretch things are started to blossom into full summer mode.  Rock bass and Pike are very abundant at the moment.  Seems the northern pike have been more active late with about 75% of all my pike coming after 3pm.  Can't seem to get into multiple fish in the morning or early afternoon.  A lot of slow follows means time to start 'dead sticking' your presentation more.  F-18 rapalas or large x-raps in white or firetiger have been working perfect for that.

I think, because of ongoing dam removal projects, the Des Plaines will continue to receive more attention. And become a far better waterway, as the photo above of the former site of the Hofmann Dam shows.


No report this week.


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

Ken Gortowski sent this:

The intent was to fish a mile long stretch of the Fox on Saturday morning in an area I know like the back of my hand. The river flowing at 1790 cfs wouldn't be an issue. I know every low spot in this mile long stretch and can easily wander back and forth across the river to all the best fish holding spots.

In the first quarter mile I caught 4 smallies and missed 3 others and this was the lousy stretch. I stood in the river sizing up the next three quarters of a mile and then, I got bored. The idea of wandering down the river suddenly seemed like so much work. I got out and headed for a creek.

At the creek I covered about 300 yards. Caught 15 more smallies and missed 7 more. There's nothing like being able to stand on one side of a creek and with a simple flick of the wrist have your lure land on the other side. I picked apart the creek in 30 foot increments, there's never any real reason to cast more than 30 feet on a creek. Every rock, every break in the shore, all the lifts and all the tail outs at the bottom of riffles. All produced a fish or at least a hit.

You can't get that kind of intimacy on the river.

Bright and early Sunday morning I hit some ponds with Ed Schmitt and his 4 year old son Johnny. The hike in was brutal, for some reason it's no longer being manicured. We had to lay down nearly 5 foot tall grass on the shores of the pond, again unusual, in order to make small casting areas. But the fishing was pretty darn good once it was figured out. Ed came up with the surprise fish, a couple of catfish. I didn't know they were even in there. Ed estimates the one that snapped off to be nearly 3 feet long. This would explain why the bluegills have disappeared. This pond had dropped 5 feet with last years drought and with it being loaded with largemouth and now cats, I think they ate them all.

But that's a pond report, this is supposed to be about the Fox or it's creeks. 

Funny to me, we were talking about ticks and Ed had dutifully sprayed down his son in order to avoid them. We talked that in 57 years I have only seen 3 ticks in Illinois, maybe just 2. I seem to have a natural repellent in my system that keeps them away from me.

When Johnny got home, they found one on his back.

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

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


The Illinois is projected to be at flood stage at LaSalle through Monday. Upstream sections at Ottawa and Morris are fairly normal.


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. The good news is that the rains brought in some fresh steelhead. It could be an exciting opener.

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


The river is high, but receding. The problem is the Iroquois is still at flood stage upstream at Watseka.

And we here once again from Ed Mullady, who sent this:

Mullady sent this on Monday:

As of today, the river is receding some with some fish being caught in both IN and IL parts of the river.
   Catfish being caught around shorelines, esp just at dark throughout river.  Best baits include minnows,
cheesebaits, nightcrawlers.
    Rock bass hitting good, on minnows, nightcrawlers, esp. around creek mouths and quieter shorelines.
    Pike fair along in the water logs, many of the undercut banks on *spinners *spoons*4-5"minnows.
    River is still up from Aroma Park through Kankakee and the Kankakee State Park. Most fishing is
being done from the shore.  It often pays to put  live or artificial baits close to up and downstream shorelines.
    Wilmington area fishing also improving now.
                                                                          Best to you,
                                                                          Ed Mullady

Norm Minas sent this after the weekend:

Missed a few days due to some sort of bug in the guts but let's just say that it has passed.
 High water, it's out of it's banks , flowing over 20,000 cfs. no visibility, all sorts of floating debris, scum/debris mats and foam piles in slack areas. I like the mats and foam piles though, generally hold some fish.
 It's been spot hopping from one flooded area to another, one slack/slow spot to the next. Some of the spots are tiny, covered in a cast or three some are much more expansive. Intermittent in flows are also significant areas to check under these conditions. Don't ignore tossing a lure into flooded veggies and skin the bark on flooded trees. Man made objects like parking blocks also produced.
 As far as lure choice, it's been spinnerbaits, jig/pig and weighted keeper hook/plastics. I had one day where the spinnerbait got absolutely hammered the next it was totally ignored. The day the spinnerbait got ignored the jigs had to be worked ultra slow to get bit. Hopping/pulling a lure on top of the scum/debris mats and dropping it off the edge is a lot a fun. Savage strikes on a short line in cramped quarters will get the ole ticker going.  On the foam piles check the edges first, then work inside of them. Fish will hold much shallower with the overhead cover provided by the scum/debris mats and foam piles. I also found on the day the fish wanted a jig low and slow that playing the shade was an advantage even with zero visibility.
 Mostly smallmouth and catfish with some rock bass mixed in.

Bill Buchhaas sent this on Friday:

Dale... 3K river not fishable as of Fri. Up at least 2-3 ft. from last week.... Chocolate milk and fast . , right up to soft bank in St pk area.  Need no rain for at least a week to improve , wrong time again for these conditions


Mike Mladenik of Mike Mladenik Guide Service sent this:

Fishing has been great on the Menominee River. Water temps are in the mid - upper 60's and smallmouth are hitting Case Magic Stiks rigged wacky style. Topwater baits have also been hot on some days depending on the conditions.   Crawfish are in the shallows, so as spawning is completed smallmouth don't need to move far to find a meal. Great fishing should continue.


Click on Root River Report from the Wisconsin DNR for any updates. Probably will not be fishing updates until the fall, but there is other information there, too.


Tyler Harmon messaged:

As for the fishing, Catfish action has been great on the rivers. Channel and Flathead Catfish being caught on everything from live bait to lures.


Guide Bill Stoeger said the walleye bite has improved in the lower river, from about the Rat River downstream, mainly dragging night crawlers or casting Shad Raps. When weather allows, the trolling bite is going on Poygan. There's still some good white bass by Partridge.



Water Dog Journal
Fishing Headquarters


Click here



Click here


Click here


Click here


Click here


No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL:

1 Comment

What I would be curious to know about the dam removal is what effect it's having on Salt Creek. From about 1997-2002 I fished it quite a bit below Graue Mill dam. The IDNR had stocked about 40,000 smallies there and till 2002, fishing for them wasn't bad. Then they all but disappeared and I pretty much stopped fishing that creek.

Walleye, pike, white bass, gills and crappie were always decent and from what I hear now and then, still are.

I've also seen a relatively recent water quality study that shows the creek has improved a bit since back then. Nick Nikola, still of the Salt Creek Watershed Network probably has some info on this, but it would be interesting if Marcus started heading up the creek from where it hits the DP.

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on June 5, 2013 7:19 AM.

Stray Cast: Sox, moss, Cubs, Bythotrephes longimanus was the previous entry in this blog.

Ramble with Storm: A state of mind is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.