Bears training camp and community holes: If you go

Four community holes to fish (and a couple other suggestions) after attending Bears training camp.

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Warner Bridge is one of the best-known community holes on the Kankakee River and an easy drive from Bears training camp.

Dale Bowman

BOURBONNAIS — I’ll admit I’m different. When our kids were young and we visited the Wisconsin Dells, a half-day would be spent doing something outdoorsy, such as visiting the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo.

So I find it odd when thousands trek to Bears training camp in Bourbonnais, then turn around and drive straight home. There are so many wild options a short drive from Olivet Nazarene University. Perry Farm and Indian Caves are blocks away. The riverside bike path, picnicking, fishing and hiking in Kankakee River State Park are nine minutes to the northwest on Route 102. Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie is 25 minutes away.

On Monday, my plan was to focus on fishing at KRSP and wet-wade downstream, spot-hopping four community holes (easy to access and with fish).

So much for plans. A flash flood hit much of the river basin Sunday, and the river was high and muddy. I even had trouble walking the shore in high rubber boots. The river should be in passable wading shape by Saturday, the Bears’ first public training-camp session.

Even so, I fished all four spots Monday.

First was from the parking lot across from Langham Island before the entrance to Potawatomi campground (closed). Enter from the first KRSP entrance off 102.

Second was at the picnic area a few hundred yards in from the first entrance off 102 (not the main picnic area). There, I just wade in and do what I do. On Monday, a couple doing what young people in love do made me jump to the next spot.

The confluence of Rock Creek (the waterway under the swinging bridge) is a well-known community hole. If you have young kids, Rock Creek is great fun for finding crayfish. Rock Creek was clearer than the Kankakee. That set up a mud line I fished hard without success.

The last spot was another well-known one at Warner Bridge, two miles northwest of the main KRSP entrance, left (south) at the four-way stop. Either side of the bridge and both sides of the river are fishable. The easiest access is from the parking lot on the 102 side.

In good conditions, you’ll catch fish at one of those four spots. Smallmouth, walleye and catfish all were going during the heat wave.

I went three hours without a bite, so I did what you do in high, dirty water: I retreated to the tributaries, which clear faster. I hit a secret favorite and had a 12-inch smallmouth on the fifth cast with a popper.

If you are a walleye angler, remember that walleye have a protected slot between 18 and 26 inches on the Kankakee.

The Kankakee River Rats Fishing page on Facebook is a solid source of information.

The Kankakee River Trading Post (kankakeeriver.com) in Altorf is adjacent to KRSP. Elliot’s Bait and Tackle — (815) 304-4137 — is relatively new at 975 N. 5th Ave., Kankakee.

Details on Bears camp are at chicagobears.com/fan-zone/training-camp.

Resized/Sun-Times

A 12-inch smallmouth on a Kankakee River tributary saved the day Monday.

Dale Bowman

Hunting

Illinois’ public waterfowl-blind draws are this weekend. Draws for the local sites (and most of the northern ones) are Saturday. Those for the Illinois River sites and most other downstate sites are Sunday. I plan to experience the Rice Lake draw Sunday and probably one of the locals Saturday.

Stray cast

The White Sox putting up netting is as forward-thinking as Ray Scott conceiving B.A.S.S. in 1967. The Cubs not doing it is as backward as B.A.S.S. trying to combine boat racing and bass fishing in Illinois in 1999.

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