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Midwest Fishing Report: Rivers around Chicago fishing

There’s more talk of fall patterns and a great photo for this rivers section of the Midwest Fishing Report.

Ken Gortowski sent the photo, a self-portrait if you look close, and maybe the best photo I have ever run with the rivers section of the MFR.

I usually post the sprawling, raw-file online version of the MFR, which appears condensed on the Sun-Times outdoors page, generally by Tuesday evening.

The lakes section of the MFR is posted later Tuesday or Wednesday morning.

If you have suggestions, please let me know at straycasts@sbcglobal.net or @BowmanOutside.

AREA WATER LEVELS

Go to http://water.weather.gov//ahps2/index.php?wfo=lot to check area water levels and projections.

To get to more specific gauges, even on creeks, in Illinois, go to http://waterdata.usgs.gov/il/nwis/current/?type=flow

CHICAGO RIVER

Jeff Nolan of Bridgeport Bass sent this:

Chicago river fishing report; South branch largemouth on wacky worm drop shot some big gills on rebel craw,Main stem ; Great numbers of smallmouth in front of Marina towers many over 4#s ! Thats the place to be !

DES PLAINES RIVER

Marcus Benesch sent this:

Pike! Pike! Pike! Almost like our own little version of the northwoods on the Des Plaines come fall with everyone throwing oversized baits for toothy critters. They are biting very well and this is the time of year everyone has been waiting for. The small rise in water levels we received from last weeks rain has quickly receded and clarity has improved. However, its that time of year when every other cast is sabatoged by a snagged fallen leaf. That reminds me, views of the Des Plaines blanketed by the changing fall colors has to be the most picturesque time of year, which does make it easier to bear all those snagged fallen leaves. Can’t emphasize river bends and tapered sections of river enough. The most productive baits have been large shallow diving minnows, in chrome or firetiger. Large bucktails and spinners also producing.

Marcus Benesch

River Grove, Illinois

DuPAGE RIVER

No report this week.

FOX RIVER

Ken Gortowski sent this, for which I am grateful:

Since April 1st I’ve probably got out fishing somewhere on the Fox River or one of it’s creeks 60 times. Probably more, but I’ve lost track. I don’t keep records like I used to.

In all those trips I’ve only been skunked once while out fishing. I always manage to catch something it seems. The last few weeks have been tough. I have a personal average I like to maintain of 10 fish per hour and hitting that average got a little difficult, but those are the summer doldrums I guess and things could only get better with the fall weather.

Last Wednesday I got out for a sunset cruise. They’re getting shorter this time of year with the sun setting so early, but I managed to hook 11 fish in a little over an hour. Went to a spot I used to fish quite a bit, but now rarely go. There were too many people around. Only two other guys were fishing and those from the bank, but there were too many people, too many cars and far too much noise. I’ve spoiled myself with the more quiet and isolated spots I go to. I’ll never go to this old spot ever again.

Saturday morning I got out for a sunrise cruise. Out on the river while the sun was lightening the sky and the fish bite finally turned on. Though I was out for 3.5 hours and hooked 26 fish, all 26 were hooked in the first 2.5 hours. For the third hour the sun was already high, the bite died completely and now I was just going for a stroll in the river. Two other anglers were wandering upstream that last hour. Up the middle of the channel, making far too long casts to water that I knew didn’t hold much of anything. The approach was all wrong, no attention was being paid to details and it made me realize how much I pick apart the water. There’s always something that tips you off on whether or not a fish will be hanging out. Sometimes it’s subtle and it’s far too much detail to go into here.

These are the numbers I had been waiting for. If all goes right, the bite picks up this time of year as the air and water cools down and the fish make their fall migrations up the river. Did catch two walleye this day, which makes three in this stretch the last few weeks. In the 13 or 14 years I’ve been fishing this stretch of the Fox, I have never caught a walleye here. All three were about the same size, around 14 inches. A year or two ago there was a walleye stocking in Yorkville. I remember a picture of walleye being released in the kayak chute. The size of the walleye I’ve been catching would coincide size wise with that stocking. I guess a few of the walleye decided to head upstream.

By the end of the fishing trip, I was looking forward to getting out the following day to try a stretch where a 50 fish day was a definite possibility. The fish were finally on, anything was possible.

Then that afternoon I was picking basil leaves out in my yard when my back went out on me. Picking basil leaves is apparently tough work on my back. Not just the usual little twinge I get, but a full blown blow out that leaves me nearly paralyzed from the waist down. Had to call for the wife to bring out the canes. Had to struggle to figure out how to lift my leg up the one step onto my deck. It only took 15 minutes. Had to figure out how to get up the stairs and into bed. It’s a form of torture.

A few hours, some Celebrex and Advil later, I was able to stand up. Granted, I looked like Quasimodo and the pain was intense, but I was up, kind of. I told the wife I might be able to get out fishing in the morning after all. Can’t put the response here, it won’t get printed, but she extended her answer by saying that if she gets up in the morning and I’m out fishing I may as well not come home.

After giving that some thought, weighing the pros and cons, I came to the conclusion that for once she might be right. It might actually be a smart move to give my back a break and not go fishing for a week.

Knowing that the fishing has turned on and not being able to go partake is a form of torture for me. I’ve been waiting for this, patiently. Thought about getting out for an hour after work one day this week, but with my luck that’s when my back will go out. And as my wife said, don’t call me. I’m not coming to get you.

SS Minnows in South Elgin–(847) 289-0135–offers the opportunities of a local bait shop.

Check Fox updates near the Stratton Dam at http://foxwaterway.com/ or (847) 587-8540. For the area above the Montgomery dam, go to http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/closures/Pages/default.aspx

To join the Fox River Angler Diary Project, go to http://data.foxriverfishing.com I think it is one of the neater projects around.

Sam Bennett has a getting-started guide for the Fox at http://www.foxriverfishing.com/tips/fox-river-getting-started-guide/

ILLINOIS RIVER

No update this week.

INDIANA STREAMS

Mik-Lurch staff reported kings in the streams with a few steelhead, spinners and spawn are working best.

Access points for Trail Creek can be found on the Trail Creek Access Map.

KANKAKEE RIVER

River came up slightly.

Norm Minas sent this:

water still up from recent rains, at least a foot of visibility, more emergent vegetation breaking free and flowing.

on the most recent trip, the water was still a couple inches to 9 or 10 inches above the type of the emergent veggies that are the ones that grow in clumps, are fairly long, fairly common and flow in the current. I think they might be in the cabbage family, one of these years I’ll send a sample to the DNR for a positive i.d.. The fish were holding in those weeds and wouldn’t really come up and chase. I was using a buzzbait and had a couple take a swipe at it but that was it. The buzzbait I was using was designed to allow the blade to swing up to a vertical axis and spin on the drop if you killed the retrieve. I tried killing the retrieve and got a couple doing that. I got several more when I started the retrieve again and the buzzbait was moving forward under the water. The problem was the lift from the blade soon brought the lure back to the surface.

The obvious solution was to keep the buzzbait running below the surface and the best way to do that was to add weight, at least that was the theory . The only weights I had to add were some water gremlin bull shot that I use with fluke/cigar type plastic presentations. I couldn’t get them to stay on the hook shank like I wanted to allow a fairly horizontal retrieve under the water. I had to put them on the wire arm just above the lead head of the lure. This ended up making it run slightly nose down under the water.

That turned out to be exactly what the smallmouth wanted as the hits turned to slams It’s a good thing that my original modification didn’t work as it turned a so so day into a very memorable if a bit shoulder and elbow achy one.

norm

MAZON RIVER

There is fishing access near the mouth at Morris Wetlands, but I think that ends with the start of bowhunting on Oct. 1. A map is at http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/hunter_fact_sheet/R2Maps/MorrisWetlandsMap.pdf.

MENOMINEE RIVER, WISCONSIN

Mike Mladenik has reports and info at his Mike Mladenik Guide Service site.

ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN

The Wisconsin DNR Root River Report is again being updates weekly, generally by 4 p.m. Tuesdays. Reads like a few browns and kings are in.

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN RIVERS

Tyler Harmon messaged:

A few salmon around in the lower rivers in my area, the areas farther up north have much more action going on. Rivers like the Grand, and the Kalamazoo have a ton of fish in them right now. Cohos are running thick, and averaging 8-9 pounds. . . . As for your question yes fewer but bigger kings. Lots of 25-30 pounds been caught up and down the coast over here.

ST. JOSEPH RIVER, INDIANA

Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR. Reads like steelhead are going with a few coho and Chinook.

WISCONSIN DELLS

Sturgeon season is open. More details at http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/sturgeon/sturgeoninlandfishery.html River’s Edge no legal sturgeon (60-inch minimum) yet but “lots of 40s and 50s.” Walleye and bluegill are the other going species now. Check other reports and info at River’s Edge.