Midwest Fishing Report: Rivers section

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Several rivers spiked, even into flood stage over the weekend, while other basins received just enough rain to clear the water; considering the building heat, wading again will be one of the top options for fishing around Chicago outdoors, and leads this Midwest Fishing Report.

Some rivers, like the Kankakee (above in the state park), received just enough rain to spike fishing.

Other rivers, like the Chicago, Des Plaines and DuPage, spiked into flood stage over the weekend, which Jeff Nolan of Bridgeport Bass noted graphically at the end of his report for the Chicago River:

Note lots of floating debris in center of channel go SLOW in boat VERY DANGEROUS . One boat sunk at Ashland by debris

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. One of those weeks, especially depending what happens tonight, where it might become important to check.


Jeff Nolan of Bridgeport Bass sent this:

Chicago river fishing report ; south branch temp rising 81 from 70 , just back Tuesday 9 pm The flood rearranged all the structure fish holding in floating trees out in deep water some 9 and 10 in gills a few small bass 10 /12 in a few stray channel cats along banks all hitting small chartreuse cranks . Main branch slow but a few big smallies under L.S.D. bridge on drop shot with wacky worm temp 68 ……. Note lots of floating debris in center of channel go SLOW in boat VERY DANGEROUS . One boat sunk at Ashland by debris


Coming off a significant flood, so I didn’t check with Andrew Ragas, Counsellor of the Fish Parliament www.fishing-headquarters.com.


As Ken Gortowski noted tangentially in his Fox River ramblings below, the DuPage spiked quickly and receded quickly.


River wanderer and ponderer and now ChicagoNow blogger Ken Gortowski sent these ponderings, which are good enough that I should have probably pulled them out into a Ramble with Gortowski:

I was able to get out fishing on Friday and at 6:30 PM I found myself wading the Fox River in North Aurora. The last few hours of the day are my favorite time to be in the water. If I fished till dark, I would have over two hours of fishing under my belt. Perfect way to end the day. Forty five minutes later I was done. The sweat was pouring down me so bad, down into my waders, that I thought I had pissed on myself. To make matters worse, violent storms had been tracking through the area all day. They were mainly staying just to the north. I had heard that one of the storms may have dumped 6 inches of rain further up stream. It all had to flow down stream sooner or later. While I was out there for that brief time, I could see the water level rising. A bare set of rocks on the river bottom when I started was now covered with a couple of inches of water. It’s very disconcerting to be standing out in the middle of the river while it’s rising. I know too well how fast the river can come up. I didn’t care to find out whether or not I was going to make it back to shore if I stuck around just a little too long. I did manage to catch one dink smallmouth for my troubles. By Saturday afternoon more storms had come through. The river was now high, fast and muddy. The plan had been to go do some exploring of sections I’ve never waded before. It will have to go on the back burner again. I had noticed that the bulk of the storms had missed the two small watersheds of the two small creeks near me that I like to fish. Of course I had to go check on them and they were in perfect condition. Came up a couple of inches, but were running crystal clear. Rather than go fishing the last light of the day, my wife and I went caterpillar hunting at Silver Springs State Park. We found our first 3 monarch caterpillars of the year. Last year we raised well over 50 of them. We also came across a slew of white furry caterpillars that loved chowing down on milkweed leaves as much as the monarchs. We brought a number of them home to see what happens. Distant vague memories tell me that furry caterpillars tend to turn into moths. This could be interesting. Saturday night a very small violent storm blew up directly over the two small watersheds of the two small creeks I like to fish. The radar was impressive. I was up before sunrise for the possibility of fishing one of the creeks. Out on my picnic table was a 6 inch tumbler. It now had an inch of water in the bottom. Not a good sign. I stopped at a half way to the fishing spot point. No use going further if things didn’t look good. Things didn’t look good. The creek had come up enough and was muddy enough to be unfishable. I had checked the radar before leaving the house. I had less than 2 hours before a big violent storm came through the area. I decided to wait it out. Back at Silver Springs I sat on a bench facing west. Clouds were swirling over head from all directions. A black squall line was off in the distance trying to get through. I sat it out till the lightning was hitting a little too close for comfort. Back at home I sat just inside the garage with the big door open. Perfect seat facing north. Before the rain started I had emptied the tumbler. Two hours later I measured 4.5 inches of water in the tumbler. It had come down in buckets with an excellent light show. For an encore, the storm dropped half of my neighbors tree on his front lawn. This storm also broke the water gauge in Montgomery. It’s been stuck at the same spot since Sunday morning so there’s no way of knowing how much the river came up. The gauge up in Elgin shows the river flowing just shy of 3200 cfs. Down in Montgomery it tends to flow a little faster. Tuesday after work I thought I would stop to fish. Before putting on my waders I wandered down the steep bluff to the rivers’ edge. Definitely still high, fast and muddy and I decided I wanted no part of it. Less than a week earlier the river was at the lowest point I had seen it since 2005. I had just waded all over this section of the river with no regard to water depths. I had no interest in wading just a few feet out from shore. I knew I could catch a few fish, but I was tired of fishing like that. I could wait. Water has to come down sooner or later. _________ It looks like every river in the area came up after the rains. Less so the further south you go. All of the rivers except the Fox seem to be draining pretty quickly. The Apple River shot up and came down ridiculously fast. It’s pretty much back to normal. The Mazon barely blipped and is already flowing at only 13 cfs, which is pathetic. The DuPage made it up over 3000, but is already down around the 1200 range. Still too high for wading, but there are stretches that offer some pretty good shores for walking. I have no doubt fish could be caught, they tend to like a little bit of fresh water in the system. It’s back to high water shore line tactics for those that don’t know the water and cautious wading for those that do. The two little creeks near me that I like to fish don’t have USGS gauges on them. They have to be checked visually. Based on the speed at which other waters are coming down, I can make a pretty good guess on how they look. It’s 9 PM Tuesday as I finish this. I have a flashlight in the car. The spot where I make my visual check of the creeks is only 8 minutes away. I can be there and back before I finish one of my cheap crap cigars.


River came up several feet, but is clear and dropping quickly. Time on the Water Outdoors reported catfish are the top bite, but trollers are taking some sauger and walleye.


The streams are so warm that it seems to be keeping the steelhead in the front of the mouths out on Lake Michigan.


River is in very good wading shape, the little bit of rise did little more than clear the water.

Ed Mullady reported this:

Recent rains have brought the Kankakee up to near normal levels in some areas. Indiana: Catfish good on *minnows *cheese bait *Bluegill, croppie good in quieter shorelines. Good places include: Point, north of English Lake *LaSalle F&W Area. In Illinois, Indiana state line through Momence: MIKE LEE, Frank’s Bait, Momence reports good catfishing going on, along with both smallmouth and largemouth bass. DAVE ZACK, Momence Conservancy Dist., reports this, also. Kankakee River State Park: Diana, at Trading Post, reports good smallmouth bass. Try *Mepps Spinners *minnows *Mr.Twister Keeper Hook & Double twister tails. Fly rod streamers, poppers also working! Catfish good on *minnows *cheesebaits. Wilmington Area: Very good on big catfish on *minnows *crawfish. Smallmouth Bass good as well as rock bass.

Norm Minas sent this:

Over the weekend fishing was fairly good. Mostly fished fast water and bridges with rattlebaits and nose hooked flukes. Some action on jig/pig as well. Sunday morning fantastic buzzbait action in riffles until the t-storms made it prudent to get off the water. Monday the river was rising steadily and a lot of the algae had broke free was all over. It made fishing with cranks and rattlebaits just about futile. Single hook lures like flukes and spiinerbaits were the best options but you still were picking enough salad to warrant getting a United Farm Workers card. Topwaters in slack areas also drew some attention.

“Catfish” Dave Bradigan sent this:

Dale another banner day wading on the river. This time we went out in the morning .Started around 8:00 am and finished at 12:30 pm . All of the fish weighed in between 4 and 6 lb. Nice cats ! I was top catman with 10 fish, brother Scott with four ,Felix with one the first one I might add and a rookie with one and one red horse. I also managed to corral two soft shells one small one and one the size of a garbage can lid. Gnarly to say the least. Bill ROMs canoes were going at full force because there were a lot of canoes floating by asking how we were doing.


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:

We’ve had a fair share of rain the past few days, not many attempted to fish over the weekend. It didn’t affect the river level, just came up a few inches, but really cleared up the water, it was getting pretty murky before the rains. I’ve just heard that the catfish are still biting well, some in the 4-6 pound range on cut bait, and others are hitting cheese baits real well. I had a customer with a weekend home on the river tell me that he and his sons caught 2 real nice Northern over the 4th of July weekend. Nothing else of note to pass one.


Tyler Harmon Facebooked: “Hot weather means morning and evening fishing. Bass and panfish on inland lakes. Catfish on the river.”










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