Midwest Fishing Report: Rivers section

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Well, the rivers, as of now, are in better shape than expected for the rivers section of the Midwest Fishing Report; though fishing has been tough enough for much of the month that faithful contributor recommended Lawrence’s.

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.

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.


For an overview of nearby river conditions, click here. Depending what the weather and rain does this weekend, this might be important for the weekend. But who knows, maybe everything of major note in the weather will scoot past us, pretty much as it did last weekend.


Jeff Nolan of Bridgeport Bass sent this:

Chicago river fishing report ; fished all branches with every possible lure 5 fish 5000 casts may as well go muskie fishing . Did get some good fish at Lawrence’s ….best bet

Lawrence’s is the wonderful fish joint on the South Branch, just off Archer.


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

Before water levels rose over the weekend, the fishing was semi-decent late last week. Now, water levels are receding once again, and we can only hope that consistency ensues. Presently flow rates are at 1100, and gauge in Riverside is registering a 4.0. It’s unsafe for wading, but it’s great for shore fishing. Water clarity is terrible, and temperatures in main river are 51 degrees. Majority of our fishing took place both before and during the weekend. I was able to get out for an afternoon wade on 4/8 with Jacob Saylor and we finally got to wade the river for the first time all year long! Honestly it wouldn’t be recommended as gauge height was a 3.8, but when you know and have mentally memorized where most of the holes and current chutes are at, it’s a fair game for the experienced. We first hit a backwater system hoping to find a few leftover spawning pike. Unfortunately water levels were very low, much of the backwater had already weeded itself in, the carp had invaded, and water temperatures registered at 50 degrees. After catching two spawned out and sickly looking pike (26 and 18 inches, respectively) on Sims Spinners, we decided to bail and give the main river channel areas a try. Moving on with the outing we found northern pike relating closely to shore – in addition, some small bass were also present, and carp were extremely ignorant of us and active. Fish were very lethargic and inactive. In three hours only a meager three fish were found; Terribly slow. Then over the weekend, my correspondent and personal lure maker, Dan Sims, fished the high waters with David Mannion on a hot Sunday, and water temperatures had skyrocketed all the way to 58 degrees. After a lot of shoreline dabbling they caught nothing. Now that you know, the backwater game is over. Everything from here on out will be found in the river itself. With the present conditions being faced, everything is relating close to shore whether it be log jams, current breaks and eddies, creek mouths, channel inlets, and any newly-growing emerging vegetation. Best bets for present conditions are largemouth bass and northern pike. Throw spinnerbaits, inline spinners (Sims Spinners), jerkbaits, shallow crankbaits and lipless crankbaits tight to shoreline cover. Sizes aren’t substantial, but action can be decent. Walleye and Sauger are poor. Their feed will improve as water levels continue to recede and clarity improves. Few anglers have been trying thanks to poor and unsafe access to them. Lastly, creeks are faring no better. Some people fishing, but nobody catching.


Frank Macikas sent this:

Just a quick note; I haven’t made out back out since my last note but I’ve been watching the gauges and it looks like things should be back to normal. Sundays rains didn’t have much of an effect. With the sun and warmer temps along with dropping levels this week should be a great week to fish. I’m just hoping the weather holds so I can fish this weekend!


From Ken Gortowski:

I should move north. Based on reports showing up on the Fox Forum of WindyCityFishing, (here’s the direct link to the Fox Forum – http://windycityfishing.com/forums/viewforum.php?f=13) those fishing further north are doing much better than those fishing further south. But then, it’s extremely rare that I see any reports of any Fox River fishing south of Geneva. I’m talking over the past 5 years, not just now. I know one guy who does pretty good not far from me and I think it’s a spot I used to fish over 10 years ago, but him and his spot will remain nameless. The water is still up a bit, but no big deal if you know where you’re going. Tuesday I decided to hit a half mile stretch near Orchard Road. The shore is one long eddy. Lots of rock and gravel along with downed trees and boulders. I did get one carp to inhale a jig and twister right at the start, but after an agonizingly boring hour of nothing, I scrambled up the steep 30 foot bank and headed for a creek. If I was going to continue to get skunked I was going to do it on a creek. Over the past week I’ve had the chance to check out 4 different creeks. All of them had hordes of bait fish in the shallows. Usually the smallmouth come in to feed on them before they get chased out by an onslaught of carp and suckers on their spawning run. One creek nine miles inland keeps producing smallies, but I think it’s because they are wintering over there. None of the other creeks are producing. Along the creek I fished on Tuesday, which proved to be barren, is a small pond I have permission to fish. Here the fish finally turned on. Caught a number of good sized bluegills and missed quite a few more. A few small largemouth were hooked and I had on two of the heaviest fish I’ve ever hooked in this pond. The biggest largemouth to date taken was about 2 pounds. These were considerably heavier than that. Of course the big ones always get away. With the weather we’ve had over the past month, it seems that the smallie migration up the creeks is off to a late start. With the coming cold front for this weekend, it might get delayed again. These screwed up weather patterns make it hard to predict anything. I plan on hitting the creeks as often as possible in the next two weeks. One of those days should produce something. I know I brought this up last year. For the past 2 years, since a big flood we had on the Fox River in September 2008, something has changed. I’ve been fishing areas from Montgomery down to Millbrook that used to produce 15 to 30 fish days on a regular basis. With an occasional 50 fish day thrown in for good measure. I haven’t had a 15 fish day since that flood. I can usually squeak out a fish on any given day, but the numbers days are gone. I’m hoping today’s foray on the river isn’t a sign for how the rest of the year is going to go. I’m getting a little tired of that trend.


Thom Matejewski of Time on the Water Outdoors reported good sauger (size fair) and walleye on jig and minnow or pulling crankbaits or floaters and minnows; best right in front of Barto Landing or by the Route 178 bridge. White bass are picking up along the rip-rap above 251 or the shallower flats by Peru or Hennepin.


Norm Minas reported good smallmouth around creek mouths with J-9 Rapalas.

Ed Mullady sent this:

Indiana: Fair on walleye around Rt. 49 thru Davis ditch:Point,north of English Lake on *jig and minnow *jig and crawler *crankbaits. Largemouth Bass fair to good at bayou and ditch mouths on *live minnows *plastic worms *imitation frogs. Catfish good. Illinois: Walleye fair on *jig and minnow *jointed baits *silver spoons,pork rind combo. Try near Momence *Kankakee Dam to Johnson Fisherman’s Park *Kankakee State Park *Angelo’s at Wilmington report catches from dam on downstream with catfishing very good throughout area. Try *minnows *chicken liver *cheesebaits. Still not many fishing. Many fishermen finding that fish are scattered around the usual good places, After catching a fish or two at one good locations, better luck moving some distance away and fishing(Can only be a short distance…to next best location).


Morris Wetlands is open for fishing that stretch of the Mazon. Hours will 6 a.m. to sunset.


OREGON: Jan Prose at TJ’s Bait/Tackle & Canoe Rental sent this:

Walleye are near keeper size. I don’t think they have spawned yet. It’s been such a cool spring, I think they are confused! Catfish are starting to bite on dip bait and worms. River is still up a bit, catfish are close to the shoreline. Haven’t heard much else.


From the Wisconsin DNR Root River Report:

Fishing Report Fishing on the Root River was pretty good this past week. Over the mid-week anglers had some nice trips and were able to land some nice spawning steelhead. Over the weekend, fishing remained pretty fair. Saturday morning and Sunday late afternoon were especially productive. Unfortunately the incidental catches of suckers rose greatly. Lincoln Park had the most fishing effort. Anglers were stacked close to the weir’s downstream refuge and all the way down to the upper river segments of Island Park. The most successful anglers were drifting wet flies or casting small spinners. Many anglers reported success on white and chartreuse colors. Catches rates varied but the majority of harvested steelhead ranged from 4.5-6.5 pounds. In Quarry Lake Park anglers had mixed success. While fishing for many anglers was slow at times a few anglers were able to land some nice steelhead. Fly fishing was the preferred method but some anglers were also casting spinners or drifting spawn sacs. Location not bait seemed to the biggest factor for success. The middle river segments were slower then the upper segments near the Horlick dam. Further downstream in the middle of the golf course were some very productive holes were the steelhead were holding. At the Horlick dam, while fishing was a little slower on Saturday, it picked up on Sunday afternoon as the air pressure began to drop. Steelhead were very active at the foot of the dam and a lot were visibly seen jumping into the dam. Only a couple fisherman were out at the time and they had some nice catch rates. The harvested steelhead ranged greatly from 2-8 pounds. While the weir’s upper caudal fin clip was found a some the majority were unmarked. This indicates a good amount of steelhead are past the weir and more should make their way upstream this week.


Dan Sims connected me to Tyler Harmon, a young gung-ho fishermen, for reports from southwest Michigan. I will include his complete report for SW Michigan in the areas/lakes section. Here’s his rivers note:

The steelhead run is starting to wind down. But on a good day you can sit and just watch them on the gravel doing there thing. Sucker run is starting to wear down as well. Night crawlers have been the best bait; fished right on bottom. Catfish are starting to feed a bit more on the river and will take the usual night crawler or other fresh minnows like fatheads fished on the bottom.


From several reports, the white bass slowed, here. Though still some gar being caught.










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