Midwest Fishing Report: Rivers

SHARE Midwest Fishing Report: Rivers

Considering the dangerous heat, wading is one of the best, and one of the only options, for fishing around Chicago outdoors, and leads this Midwest Fishing Report.

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 am trying to get a jump on work tonight before the heat builds tomorrow.

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.


This is the week for it. Area rivers are down, even low. “Cats love this weather,” “Catfish Dave” Bradigan said of recent outstanding wades on the Kankakee for channel catfish.

River wanderer/ChicagoNow blogger Ken Gortowski said, “The prevailing thought on fishing rivers during the summer when the water is low, is to dredge the bottoms of the deeper pools. On clear water rivers like the Kankakee, DuPage and the Apple, as well as all of the clear water creeks that feed all of the rivers around here, that’s exactly what I would do. The Fox River is a completely different story.” You can read his suggestions for the Fox below.

Bottom line for our rivers and in this heat is to wade.


For an overview of nearby river conditions, click here.


Haven’t heard from Jeff Nolan of Bridgeport Bass in awhile. Did hear Paul Pezalla has been doing well for big carp.


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

Due to heat wave fishing is poor. River levels are at their lowest since last fall, and temperatures have turned into bath water at the 80-85 degree range. Get out and fish before sunrise, or else at sunset and into the nighttime hours. Prior to the heat, some good fishing was taking place during early mornings, and notable catches were being made, including a 40 inch class pike caught and released by Mike Leska, and John Guettler. However, that was nearly two weeks ago when the river had some more water, and was cooler. Here is that report: http://www.fishing-headquarters.com/fishcast/?p=2108 Most fish species are now relating to deep holes and pools with faster current and riffles as they seek cooler water with higher dissolved oxygen levels. Northern pike are somewhat active before sunrise and again at sunset, but catch rates are low; log jams and deep weeds are providing best action. Bigger fish are few and far between as they are trying to keep cool in the deep holes and channels with current; this warm water is near lethal for them. Fish in the 15 to 20 inch range are most abundant and hitting spinnerbaits and inline spinners. Largemouth bass, along with some smallmouths mixed in, are best around bridges, deep weeds, shaded shorelines, downed wood, deep rocks, channel edges, and areas with riffles and current. Most fish are small, but some up to 16″ are being caught on spinnerbaits, topwaters, buzzbaits, and crankbaits. Fish early or late. Channel catfish, bullheads, and carp seem to be less affected by the heat and high water temperatures as they are active and abundant everywhere. Lastly, some longnose gar are active further south around the Lockport & Joliet area, taking nylon rope lures and live bait.


Gortowski sent this:

The prevailing thought on fishing rivers during the summer when the water is low, is to dredge the bottoms of the deeper pools. On clear water rivers like the Kankakee, DuPage and the Apple, as well as all of the clear water creeks that feed all of the rivers around here, that’s exactly what I would do. The Fox River is a completely different story. The Fox River as of now is flowing lower than I’ve seen it in a good 5 years. Like usual, the clarity of the river is less than a foot. That’s what happens on the Fox during the summer. I’ve been out fishing 4 times in the past week. Each time I played around to see where the fish were hanging out. Though my ability to set the hook on a fish and land it has deteriorated, I’ve been getting on average 15 hits on each outing. I’m only landing a half dozen of them. One outing I concentrated primarily on walleye and didn’t do too bad. Because of the one foot clarity issue, none of the fish have been coming out of deeper water. All of the hits and fish caught have been coming out of water less than 2 feet deep. The water clarity is the reason. I’ve been seeing big schools of bait fish in the shallows. They don’t seem to get spooked easily because of the lack of clarity. Of course, everything comes in to feed on them. With the murky water, they’re less cautious about over head predators and they’ve been moving around quite a bit. Best fish the past week was a smallie that pushed the 19 inch mark. It was in shin deep water out in the middle of the river. I only fish the last 3 hours of the day now. I can’t be bothered getting up early and the sunsets seem to last longer than the sunrises. I’ve noticed that the bulk of the hits have been coming during the last hour of daylight when things are just starting to get darker. That’s also a magical time to be out. I’ve seen deer crossing the river from island to shore. Great horned owls are calling up and down the river. The swallows are going nuts over the river feasting on the bug hatches. And the sunsets have been beautiful.


Time on the Water Outdoors said the river is actually low. White bass are finally starting, best is the mouth of Vermilion; also lots of smallmouth. Catfish are good on cut shad or cut Asian carp.


The streams were hot for fish last week, this week they are just hot and getting low.


River is reaching the low point, made too obvious by the emerging sand bars. And I saw guys wading almost to the face of the Kankakee dam tonight. That doesn’t strike me as a bright idea.

Norm Minas sent this:

Sunday with the heat and bight skies ran into very aggressive fish taking topwaters in shallow clear water. I also got some on rattlebaits in riffle areas. Monday with clouds and drizzle only 1 fish on topwater, rattlebaits and crankbaits in riffle areas and around mid stream humps.

“Catfish” Dave Bradigan sent this:

Dale went out Friday, Saturday and Sunday . Fished from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm. River is in excellent shape and all three days we caught a total of 37 cats ranging is size front 3.0 to 7.0 lb. Last night was the best as I pulled out back to back 7.0 cats right in front of a party of people who were picnic ing and just enjoying the weather. Cats love the hot weather.

Ed Mullady reported this:

In Indiana and Illinois, good catfish throughout on *minnows*chicken liver*cheese baits. Some Pike being caught around drifts, tree lined banks on larger minnows *spoons. Mike Lee, Frank’s Bait, Momence, reported in addition to catfish, smallmouth bass are good on live bass size minnows *Mepps Spinners. Diana at Kankakee River State Park reports *smallmouth bass in riffle areas on *live minnows *rattle baits. Catfish also good on *minnows *cheese baits. Wilmington area: Seth at Angelo’s reports many fishing in wadeable areas(be very cautious when wading). Jig and bass size minnow good for smallmouth bass.


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


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

River is dropping a few inches a day, and getting low. Catfish are biting early morning, and late night. Not many fishing over the weekend with the heat, and Oregon Trail Days going on in town.


Haven’t heard from Tyler Harmon.










Fishing Headquarters























The Latest
Piping plovers Imani and Searocket have produced four eggs in a protected area of the beach.
“We got a big hit and a little bit of exhale for sure,” manager Craig Counsell said. “It’s a game changer.”
While local events are energetic and entertaining, many participants also say they take time to reflect on Black history and teach younger generations about the realities of race in America.
The 30-year-old man, and the woman, 31, were in a car about 2:30 a.m. in the 3000 block of North Cicero Avenue when someone in another car fired shots.
Firefighters responded to the fire, which broke out in an apartment on the top floor of a building in the 2400 block of East 78th Street around 2:30 a.m.