Midwest Fishing Report: Rivers section

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The lilacs are blooming by the fence in the backyard, so it’s time to hit the Kankakee River for smallmouth and the white bass have started on the Wolf River in Wisconsin, things like that lead this Midwest Fishing Report.

BTW, I would suggest reading the DuPage River report carefully. Frank Macikas had a thought on bed fishing.

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. For the first time in weeks, not as important this week.


Jeff Nolan of Bridgeport Bass sent this update late Tuesday:

Just got in south branch temp 73 bass blue gills and some crappie 65 fish total hitting beetle spins and small cranks

This is his original report, an outstanding one:

Chicago river fishing report ; south branch ,temp 70 blue gill,lm bass ,crappie hitting small crank baits with crappie very strong numbers at origins park ,Main branch temp 63 crappie stacked at wolf point hitting small jigs and Mr.twister, sm and lm bass hitting deep dive cranks …..an outstanding week


Andrew Ragas, Counsellor of the Fish Parliament www.fishing-headquarters.com sent this.

With the receding water levels, the fishing has started to pick up and is getting decent for the first time all year. Water levels have fallen to a near-wadeable 3.8 on the USGS scale. Clarity is poor at less than a foot, and temperatures are coming in at 58 to 62 degrees. Most of my fishing over the weekend and up to this present writing has been spent on the creeks as they are finally turning on. However, the river is in decent shape right now and the fishing is starting to get good for almost everything. Over the weekend and into Tuesday I received a few positive reports. For instance both Dan Sims and David Mannion of Sims-Spinners had successful days of pike fishing. Fish ranging from 25 to 30 inches were being found very tight to shore in slackwater pools busting baitfish and their inline spinners. More fish were holding tighter to shore cover and slackwater pools (stacked, literally) during higher water but now as things are receding fish are dispersing and using mid-river areas more frequently. Dan Sims indicates that some pike are already entering their summer period. From now on more fish will begin utilizing mid-river channels and offshore weed beds. They’ve been taking a variety, such as spinnerbaits (bring an assortment of colors), #5 bladed Sims Spinners (fluorescent orange & yellows), jerkbaits, buzzbaits, and shallow running crankbaits. Best feeding windows are early to late morning hours with the bite picking up once again in the late afternoon through evening. Largemouth and smallmouth bass are also on the move. Catches have been few but those who are locating fish are finding them close to shore as their spawn is forthcoming. Best areas to work are areas with a mixture of hard bottom and sand, and downed wood, with current seams and eddies as an added bonus. Crankbaits (rattles mandatory, craw profile), spinnerbaits, and craw imitating jigs and plastics have been best. No sauger or walleyes to report on – didn’t seem to be much of any spring season for either. Also worth noting is that some anglers are targeting carp and channel catfish from the backwaters and river pools that are located off the beaten path. It’s a waiting game but most are scoring numbers of both right now; Cats are taking both live and dead baits while carp are picking off berries and chummed corn. Finally, the creeks have been treating me well. I’ve been spending most of my time wading Salt Creek. Water temperatures were still very cold late last week but on Monday & Tuesday I found them in the low 60’s. Both crappies and bass are staging for spawn. Fish are scattered and confining themselves to specific habitat areas, so it’s important to move around and cover water – I had to try five different areas on Monday night before I finally caught a fish. Many of my favorite deeper rocky stretches of water with current are being suffocated with bottom-dwelling green moss and the fish are avoiding these areas. I’ve been finding bass, crappies, and pike elsewhere, holding tight to deep shorelines with undercut banks and wood cover – bottom has been a mix of gravel and sand with zero moss. Matching the hatch with a simple 1/6 oz jig and 3 inch twister tail is working the best. Some smaller walleyes are on the move during the evening and nighttime hours hitting small minnowbaits worked through deeper pools with current. Lastly, over the weekend a group of friends went on a seining trip to the lower sections of the river. Some interesting catches were made, and over a dozen fish species were sampled. If you fish this river, see what dwells and take note:: http://www.heartlandoutdoors.com/index.php/andrew/story/des_plaines_river_seining_trip/


Frank Macikas was able to get out. Here’s his first report, including a good tale of a northern pike:

Hit two sections of the Dupage River on Saturday. Started off in Bolingbrook near the convergence of the two branches. I was fishing a smaller x-rap in a deeper bend and hooked into a northern around 28″!!! I couldn’t believe it! I have always argued with people who have told me that the upper sections of the Duper held Pike but I WAS WRONG!. The bad part was; I lost it at my feet!! I have fished this same hole last season and had something big flash on the same xrap in the same spot so my guess is…… same fish! I will be going back for a photo sometime soon! After the stretch in Bolingbrook I met a friend and his buddy in Shorewood and managed 3 nice smallies; 15″, 16″, and a 17″. Didnt have the camera with me so sorry no pics. The three fish were off beds twitching a green silver craw. Other than that didn’t have anything for bites; I’m thinking by next week they should be actively chasing baits again. Water conditions are pretty good; levels are just above normal and the water is starting to clear. There are some fish still on beds but I saw more empty than beds with fish. Chances of rain everyday for the next 10 days so we will have to see what happens but right now the river is in good shape!

And he added a report from Sunday:

I fished here in Channahon for a few hours today and there are still alot of fish on beds. The only difference is I did see quite a few fish that moved up into the creeks. Still didn’t have really any kind of a bite but picked up 3 more fish all over 16″ off beds. Alot of people like to argue with me about fishing beds but from what I can tell on this river in particular is that if you catch and immediately release the fish will head straight back to the bed with no problems. It takes alot of practice to get the technique down to actually get one of these fish on the hook. Any way I would guess another week maybe two before the post spawn bite turns back on then hopefully heads right into summer patterns. Water conditions are continuing to improve with levels close if not all the way back to normal levels and clarity improving at 2-3 feet in most stretches. I still cant get over a pike being that far up river yesterday. It was actually about 50 yards up the east branch at the convergence; absolutely wild! There is no way it made it up from the Desplaines or Illinois; there are at least 2 dams between Bolingbrook and Channahon and now I wonder if there is more?


The no-wakes have been lifted. The river is dropping. Creeks will still be your better options.

I could use a Fox River guy since Ken Gortowski semi-retired from Fox River fishing reports. I was hoping the 80-degree days would put him in the water and at the keyboard afterward.

If you’re interested in doing regular Fox reports, e-mail me at straycasts@sbcglobal.net.


River dropped below flood stage at LaSalle, and fishermen are returning. Should be white-bass time shortly, and catfish, too.


Norm Minas called Tuesday afternoon to report doing OK fishing the current seams with rattle baits. After going through them that way, he would go back over with a plastic worm. He said the fish were off shore now.

Ed Mullady sent this:

Croppie good in quieter bayous *creek mouths *in-water logs on *pinkie jig *small spinners *2-3″minnows Catfish good throughout usually close to shore or bridge piers on *catfish cheese on plastic catfish grub or worm. Rock Bass beginning to hit around *islands *in creeks, bayous, ditches on *minnows 8redworms * popping bugs *#2 Spinners. Walleye fair in mouths of ditches, creeks on jig and minnow *jig and crawler. River receding and clearing.


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:

River is dropping, a foot or more since last week. Catfish are biting on liver, dip bait and worms, all good. Some large carp have been caught on worms. They’re catching small mouth on minnow and crank baits, but it’s catch and release only until next month. A few post spawn walleye.


The Wisconsin DNR Root River Report wasn’t updated, so here is the Racine County report from the Southern Lake Michigan Report:

Racine Co. Over the weekend the Root River was flowing from 175-150 cfs. While the river flow was on a steady decline over the past week fishing was fairly good in areas and conditions very favorable. Water depths have come down, concentrating flow and creating some nice riffles and pools. The water clarity increased allowing for pretty good water visibility. The warm air temperatures and sunny skis kept fishing effort steady. However the anglers had a lot of room between each other with the total number of fishermen on the river remaining pretty low. The water temperature on Sunday was 59 degrees Fahrenheit. The steelhead fishing was pretty good over the weekend with a better catch rate than last weekend. Most anglers concentrated their effort near the Horlick Dam. On Saturday afternoon quite a few anglers were able to pick one to two spawning steelhead. Fishing was a little slower on Sunday but still some nice fish were caught. Most of the harvested steelhead ranged from 3-7 pounds. A couple nice females were landed that were still mostly silver with just a slight reddish pink hue. Some success came from fly fisherman using a small orange yarn ball or small nymph fly. Fishing further downstream was still a little slower. Anglers were fishing the river bends around Lincoln Park and downstream through Island Park. On Sunday a few small steelhead were caught ranging between 2-3 pounds. Anglers were using a bobber and a small jig tipped with a wax worm. A couple anglers were casting small spinners or spoons and caught some smallmouth bass that ranged from 14-16 inches. Other anglers went just above the weir and upstream through Colonial Park. Although fishing here was pretty slow with few steelhead landed in the Colonial Park segments. Trollers fishing off of Racine from the river mouth out to 70 feet of water have been getting coho and Lake Trout on either small spoons or small orange dodger and fly rigs, fished with leadcore off of planer boards and downriggers. Some calm warm days and a west wind will make fishing off of Racine more productive in the up-coming weeks.


Guide Bill Stoeger called to say walleye remain good for those drifting and jigging with minnows. On Monday, water was 57 and white bass starting with a lot of big females of 14.5-15.5 inches. This should be the week for white bass.










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