Midwest Fishing Report: Rivers section

SHARE Midwest Fishing Report: Rivers section

I waited a bit today to post the rivers section of the Midwest Fishing Report to see what the weather would do.


So far, it looks like the rivers will just be spring high, not out of control. At least generally. That’s guide Jay Angel’s son Matt (above) with the first sauger the DeKalb 10-year-old jigged up on his own on the Illinois River.

The Illinois has been on fire for walleye and sauger, and we will lead with that.

This is the extended online version of the MFR, which appears on the Sun-Times outdoors page on Wednesdays.

Well, this is the rivers section for rivers around Chicago fishing. The lakes and areas MFR will follow shortly.

Normally, I post the online MFR, both the rivers and lakes/areas sections, by Wednesday morning. Kids are on break, so I am behind today.

I will probably separate out the rivers section like this until the fall.

If you have suggestions, post in the comments section or let me know at straycasts@sbcglobal.net.

The weather change will make things tougher, but the sauger on the Illinois I would think will hold up and I expect a good MWC.

As Bob Kidd put it in his report on the carpenter’s tournament, “The Illinois River Sauger bite is fantastic”


The MWC tournament is out of Spring Valley on Saturday and Sunday. Those prefishing are reporting an outstanding bite. As these two reports from Kidd from weekend tournaments back up:

The Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters arrived at Spring Valley and found water conditions somewhat high, but good clarity. To say the least the saugers were in full cooperation and on the feedbag. Thanks to the Illinois biologists from LaSalle Lake, collecting the sauger and walleye catch to take to the hatchery for milking. A total of 154 fish scaled , 4 being walleyes, 115 females and 35 males. Out of the 115 females, three had already spent out. Teams were catching fish just about everywhere, on crank baits, threeways, and jig and minnow. At the end of the day, the old jig and minnow dominated. Rich Monte and Shawn McGinnis had a 6 fish limit weighing 12.85 lbs. They also had big fish of the tournament with a 4.92 walleye. Placing second Mike Thomas and Bob Horvath with a 6 fish limit weighing 12.51. They also had a 3.26 sauger. Rounding out the top three is the team of Don Johnson and Stephen Hunter with a limit of 6 fish weighing 11.83. The Illinois River Sauger bite is fantastic.

He also sent this on the IWT:

The Illinois Walleye Trail had 59 teams participating on Sunday 3-20-2011 at Barto Landing. 57 teams weighed in limits of fish. To say the bite is fantastic doesn’t do justice to the amount of fish caught between Henry and Starved Rock Dam. Over the last three years the 13-13 1/2 inch fish has finally grown up. Most of the fish scaled this weekend were 16 to 18 inch fish. The Illinois biologist at LaSalle fish hatchery were there to collect the fish for milking. The count was 345 total, 12 walleyes, 328 females and 17 males all combined to weigh 676 lbs. Out of the 328 females 5 had spent out. Top honors went to the team of Mark Meravy, from Shorewood, IL and Dave Zurawski, from Chicago, IL with a 6 fish limit weighing 19.41 lbs. They also had big fish of 3.91. The tournament $3100.00 plus $590.00 big fish, and as the first Lund boat owner, compliments of Hennepin Marine and Lund Boats, the $500.00 grass roots contingency money. Second Place honors went to the Dubuque IA team of Maury Schmerbach and Marty Burns, with a 6 fish limit weighing 13.91, earning them $1500.00. Third place honors go to the team of James Pressing, Hastings MN and Paul Durdan, Ottawa, IL weighing in 6 fish at 13.9 lbs earning them $1100.00. The complete standings can be found at www.prairielandeyes.com . Our next tournament is scheduled for April 9, in Ottawa IL and the Championship is April 10 at Barto Landing, Spring Valley IL. We would like to thank our fine sponsors for all their help and support, Hennepin Marine, Lund Boats, Mercury Marine, Woodstock Fishing Line, and Cabelas.


For an overview of nearby river conditions, click here. This will be a valuable link the next couple days.


Jeff Nolan of Bridgeport Bass reported one unbelievable day over the week with nearly 100 fish. On Tuesday, he sent this report:

Chicago River report : South branch , Temp 51 bass and carp stacking up in back of slips, bass hitting crank baits and jigs some 12 too 14 inch mostly small 6-9 inch Bubbly creek best . Main branch; bass hitting jigs in corners and some crank baits at lake street / wolf point temp 46


From Andrew Ragas, Counsellor of the Fish Parliament www.fishing-headquarters.com:

Sunday’s rainfall took a dump on the good bite that was finally establishing last week. Now the additional rain we are expected to get overnight and into tomorrow likely won’t help things either. Right now, water levels are high and the river is unwadeable except for shoreline, creekmouth and backwater areas. River is flowing just under 2,000CFS and the gauge is at 4.5. Any time the gauge in Riverside reads a 3.5 or less, it’s safe to get in. Before the water levels shot up again, the fishing was getting pretty good for pike and sauger. Pike were present in the backwater areas and creek mouths in high numbers. On Wednesday and Thursday of last week I went out for solo wades. Over two-dozen spawning fish were seen basking in the sunlight on Wednesday, the largest estimated to be a 36″+ female, but were impossible to hook into. Then I returned again on Thursday, conditions grew cold, windy, and overcast, and four fish ranging 26 to 28 inches were caught within a quick window. The recent weather threw us a curve-ball and I will have to figure out their movements and spawning moods all over again. However, if you end up giving the river a try, here is what you will need to know for what’s biting: Northern Pike:: Fish are still holding in backwaters, and ditches/creek mouths. Some are still staging but majority are now spawning and ignoring most lures, and some feeding on the forage species joining them. Feeding windows are short and sweet with best times occurring any time between 2-6pm. Best lures overall are spinnerbaits (1/2 oz. Northland Reed Runners) and inline spinners (#5 Sims Spinners). A variety of colors are suggested to try as you never know what the fish might prefer. In addition, fly fishing has been providing opportunities on calm sunny days in which finesse is required to get fish to bite when nothing else can (use bunny leeches and large streamers). Lastly, some fish being found in shoreline slack water pools and mid-river on live bait (roaches). Majority running between 20-28 inches. Sauger:: Most fish are staging in deeper pools with hard bottom and current. Some are even trying to spawn. Fish aren’t concentrated yet but the ones being caught are in the range of 15 to 20 inches. Jerkbaits, jig and minnows, and jig and plastics. Fluorescent colors best. Some walleye showing up alongside of sauger but not many as of yet. Best times are afternoons and into the night. Bass fishing and most other species are overall slow – but bass can be had in Joliet and down into the big basin. Channel Catfish and Carp have begun moving into slackwater areas. Fishing for them this time of year is a crap-shoot.

A dump and a crap-shoot in the same report. I sense a theme.


From Frank Macikas:

Well this season started off great for me! I got out all day Friday and Saturday afternoon. Friday was cloudy windy and cold; Saturday was a beautiful afternoon. Water clarity is pretty good with most sections at 3-4 ft. Levels are perfect for wading (prior to todays rain). Friday started off with me fishing the Aux Sable creek at Rt 6 for the first time. It looks like it could be a great creek but no bites at all. Tried both plastics and drifting minnows but no takers but this a place I am definitely looking forward to exploring some more. This creek actually reminds me alot of the Dupage. After not getting any bites at all I headed to the Dupage in Plainfield around 10 or 11am. I was going to start at Electric Park but when I pulled into the lot I saw two fisherman had beat me to it so I had a quick chat and moved to another spot further up river. I started off drifting medium roaches with a split shot and it paid off. I picked up a 16.5″ smallie pretty quickly before heading up river a little further and picking up another 14″ & 13.5″ all on minnows. After I ran out of roaches we headed back downstream to fish a slower deeper flat below a wing dam. I started off by throwing a jig and power craw, then a xrap both with no luck. I then tied on a rebel craw and first cast BOOM! A nice fat 17.25″ smallie!! After this one I managed two more; a 13.5″ and a 11″ both on a rebel craw out of the same hole. All fish on Friday were absolutely CRUSHING the bait and fighting hard! Saturday was a much nicer day weather wise but not when it came to fishing. This day I headed down to Hammel Woods which is one of my favorite late spring and summer stretches. I only managed two fish in the 3 hours I fished one 14″ and a 12″ both of which barely put up any type of fight whatsoever. Both these fish were taken on drifting medium roaches with a split shot. They came in eddies next to faster moving water. All in all a PERFECT way to start the 2011 season!!!!


Check latest at Fox Waterway Agency

Ken Gortowski sent this:

The one thing we all need to remember is that it’s still March. The recent warm spell turned on the fishing for smallies on the Fox River, but the current cold spell can just as quickly shut it down. I’ve seen it do this in April and May too. But then I’ve seen them keep right on biting through similar conditions. It’s spring, weather happens. I think if you have the time to go fish, you should go. Weather be damned. Here in Yorkville, it’s been raining, but no big deal. The bulk of the rain has been tracking north, but it all has to come down stream. The river has gone back up accordingly. If you’re going to go walking around in the river, know your limits and the area you’re walking around in. Getting knocked around by fast river current probably won’t kill you, but it definitely won’t be a pleasant experience. I think there has been enough said about how to do high water fishing. Access is more important. I recently created some new pages on my blog called Where to Fish. It’s a drop down menu, so click on it for different river locations. Lots of links to Park Districts, Forest Preserve Districts and other sites with maps of the river. Take the time and look through them. Will be worth it in the long run. Those pages are still under construction and more will be added when I find the time. Come back every now and then. Link to the Where to Fish page: http://waterdogjournal.com/?page_id=620


Ed Mullady sent this:

Fishing fair to good! In Indiana: Point, north of English Lake….People at Greenwood Bait, report croppie good at quieter areas on medium size fathead minnows, night crawlers. Walleye also fair to good on *jig and large fathead minnows, jig and nightcrawlers. Some fishermen catching suckers, which are very popular at this time of year. LaSalle F&W Area: Walleye fair in main river along shorelines on above baits, plus Dr. Spoons, Mepps #2 spinners. Try for largemouth bass around Black Oak Bayou. ILLINOIS: Mike Lee, Frank’s Bait at Momence, reported some good croppie fishing on croppie minnows. Also try *jigs*small Mepps Spinners * Smallmouth bass hitting on medium sized minnows. Kankakee, IL: Johnson Fisherman’s Park for most river gamefish. Good fishing from the bank, and try where Soldier Creek enters into the river. Kankakee River State Park, Nick at Trading Post finds that walleye seem to be most active on cloudy, early mornings and smallmouth often after sun comes out, especially toward late afternoon. Wilmington area: Try for walleye from Kankakee Dam down to DesPlaines Conservation Area. At this beginning of spring, boat fishing(with caution) is picking up and so is shoreline fishing.


BJ Sports reported some coho and whitefish off the piers. Berrien Springs is off and on for steelhead and coho.










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