Fox River Deadfall
Fish the Fox
A PERSONAL JOURNAL CHRONICLING FISHING ADVENTURES AT THE FOX RIVER AND BEYOND.
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This site contains everything you need to know in order to fish the Fox River. Check out my Fox River Guide for tips on access, planning, local bait and tackle stores, and types of lures to use. Enjoy the reports and photos.

March 29, 2016
Got out with friend Erik O. and fished for smallies from my tandem kayak. I did the paddling and we slung swim jigs at rock, timber, and breaks. Nice day on the water (despite all the gnats). Ended up boating a combined 9 smallies and Erik scored his biggest so far this year. We had our share of bumps, boils, tail-walk-offs, etc., but overall when the smallmouth committed, they crushed it! Fun times. USGS 12.41' / 3,240 CFS-

Another big Fox River smallmouth bass!

March 26, 2016
Fox River Fishing Report: Late afternoon solo kayaking. Chose a wide, slower stretch. Methodical, upstream paddle, tucking the nose in eddies and slinging the swim jig at points, structure and seams. Took some work but found 'em. Ended up with six smallies: 13"; 13"; 14.5"; 16"; 18.5"; 19". Crushed it! Man, I needed that. USGS 12.45' / 3,360 CFS-

Trophy Fox River smallmouth bass

March 25, 2016
Fox River Fishing Report:Late afternoon shoreline spot hop. Dunked a soft-plastic minnow imitation inside current seams tight to structure. Popped three smallies in the 15"-16.5" range. Best two shown. USGS 12.55' / 3,670 CFS-

16" Fox River smallmouth bass

Fox River smallmouth bass


March 22, 2016
Fox River Fishing Report: Quick hit on foot through a downtown area. Snapped a few pics as I went. Water is receding and decent clarity for the Fox. Eastern shore looked best with chunk concrete and rubble. Walls and bridges could use a bit more depth and flow for easier shore fishing. Caught one 16" smallie on the swim jig fluttered in current alongside a fallen log. USGS 12.10' / 2,430 CFS-

Downtown Batavia, IL

Windmill at Batavia, IL

Batavia, IL riverfront

Smallmouth bass detail - head

Smallmouth bass detail - skin

Smallmouth bass detail - fins

Smallmouth bass detail - tail

March 21, 2016
Fox River Fishing Report: Hadn't planned on getting out but the bright sun provided motivation. Took a late lunch, spent 35 minutes wading. Slow, methodical, targeted. Green pumpkin Erie Darter on a 1/8-ounce Keeper Hook, slow hops downstream among concrete and rubble, also tried a bit further out in the current seam. Scored two smallies, a 13.5" on the seam and a 19" in an eddy. Thought the 19" was a flathead. Nice "thump" and upon hookset, could not move the fish off bottom. Finally figured out it was wrapped on a log! Tried for sump'n different with a vertical shot but could not get the brute to uncurl. Oh well. Nice to be out there and bust a few, even if just a quick hit. USGS 12.13' / 2,500 CFS

19" Fox River smallmouth bass

March 20, 2016
Fox River Fishing Report: Late afternoon on the Fox. Only caught two smallies. Missed another. One bit the swim jig while casting from shore, one bit a white spinnerbait while kayaking. USGS 13.23' / 2,490 CFS-


March 19, 2016
Fox River Fishing Report: Got out with friend Erik Olsen and did a one-way downstream float in my tandem kayak. Only boated three smallmouth between the two of us. One on the Eerie Darter amidst boulders, and two on plastics in current seams. Sizes 14"-17" and hard fighters! Float started out sunny and calm and felt great. Ended overcast and chilly with wind and approaching drizzle. USGS 12.53' / 2,590 CFS+

Fox River smallmouth bass

March 18, 2016
Fox River Fishing Report: Slow, methodical upstream shoreline wade. Nearly waist-deep just inside a current seam. Tossed a 4" green pumpkin Erie Darter on a 1/8-ounce Keeper hook. Bounced bottom along rock and concrete. Hard hits. Caught four smallies: 13.5"; 18.5"; 16.75"; 14". Missed a few other hard strikes. Nice day to be on the water. Sunny and calm. Quite a bug hatch. Saw one bald eagle. USGS 12.13' / 2,500 CFS+. Pics off iPhone and D-SLR.


Fox River smallmouth bass 13 Fishing Concept A baitcasting reel

Fox River smallmouth bass

Fox River smallmouth bass

Fox River smallmouth bass

March 12, 2016
Fox River Fishing Report: Late afternoon solo paddle. Tossed a new 1/4-ounce hand-tied swim jig from Jonn Graham. Had it rigged with a 4.5" Shadalicious tail and worked the downstream edges of laydowns and along current seams. Picked up five smallies in the 12" to 15" range. Really enjoyed the mild weather and lack of wind (for once). Wasn't very impressed with the bite. In a "Hail Mary" move, I loaded up and quickly switched areas, re-launching at 5:55. Was losing light quickly but kept slingin' and finally got a massive strike and hard fight ... big smallmouth tail-walked across the surface and made all kinds of ruckus trying to free itself. Finally lipped it and said "screw it!" and hopped out in the shallows for a quick pic. Goretex Merrell hikers actually made it out OK! Girthy brute taped at 19.75". USGS 11.98' / 2,070

19.75" Fox River smallmouth bass

Swim Jig by Jonn Graham of Warrior Jigs

March 9, 2016
Fox River Fishing Report: Got out early AM for about ten minutes to try my luck with the swim jig from shore. Overnight temps weren't bad, and maybe the bite was still there. I fished several towns north of where I fished on March 8, and instead of working wood, I worked rock. I was on the upriver side of an island and reeled the swim jig around boulders in 1-2 FOW. Picked up two "cookie-cutter" smallies in 20 casts and missed another. Pic off iPhone with mild HDR filter and painting filter.

Fish were a bit tentative with a bump and a boil before committing a cast or two later. We don't have the strong sun like we did yesterday so my guess is a few degrees less in water temp would account for them being a bit more tentative. If I were out fishing today I'd be swinging for the fences and hitting every big fish spot I could access with the swim jig. Now is the time for brutes and racking up some numbers searching for them. USGS 11.93' / 1,970 CFS+

Fox River smallmouth bass

March 8, 2016
Fox River Fishing Report: Late afternoon solo paddle. Only tossed a swim jig. Found a great bite -- boated 13 smallies in the 14" to 17.5" range. Medium to fast retrieve downstream near rock and wood was best. The fish were just crushing it. What a difference a few days of warm weather made! It's GO time! USGS 11.87' / 1,840 CFS


March 7, 2016
Fox River Fishing Report: Did a solo paddle Sunday afternoon with high hopes of tying into a pre-spawn brute. Mojo was running high with the Erie Darter, had the river all to myself, and hit up some late-fall haunts where the smallies were seemingly stacked in cold weather. The gusty winds created a few anxious rollers mid-river, as my core always needs a couple outings to regain its confidence. I anchored a few areas and crawled bottom with the weighted darter but didn't feel any pickups. Despite a solid effort, I blanked. It wasn't without learning -- the clear water and bright sun allowed me to note structure that I normally cannot see in the Fox. Aside from logs and rocks, I spotted a resting channel cat and a sluggish red-ear slider turtle lumbering along the soft river bottom. Ended up getting some exercise, fresh air, and taking in a nice sunset. Always glad to have gotten out in the kayak, fish or no fish. 11.88' / 1,860 CFS-

Fox River kayaking sunset

Fox River shoreline sunset

March 6, 2016
Fox River Fishing Report: On Monday I did a quick lunchtime wade. 64 degrees and sunny ... I'll take it! More working the Erie Darter along bottom. Got a nice pickup early on and played out a hard-fighting smallie in the clear water. Never did get a tape on it ... it shook and as its raspy teeth caught my already torn-up thumb, I had no choice than to free it quickly. Got a few other light pickups and got thumped and bit off by what I think was either a decent-sized walleye or a northern. It was a big-shouldered fish with teeth. USGS 11.87' / 1,840 CFS-

Fox River trophy smallmouth bass

March 5, 2016

Fox River Fishing Report: Got in the river about 9 AM. Slow, methodical shoreline wade. Water waist-deep with gravel, rubble, boulders and chunk concrete. Tossed a 4" green pumpkin Erie Darter on a 2/0 Keeper hook and crawled bottom downstream through slack areas. This was a Kamala-inspired bait choice ... after reading about all his K3 River success with the cold water smallies, I placed an order about a week ago. Maybe it was luck, increased mojo, etc., but I felt a strong "thump" about ten minutes into it, followed by a good tug on the line. I reared back and and it was great to feel the Omen Black casting rod load up with a sizeable bass! It headed straight for deeper water and then bulldogged on the surface as it swung around behind me for a few tense moments before I was able to lip it in mild current. A beauty ... taped near 18.5". Ended up with one more at 13.5" a bit further upstream before I waded back and car-hopped to another piece of water.

18.5" trophy Fox River smallmouth bass

Not long after I set foot in the river again, the sky got brighter and I could see bottom fairly clearly. I slowly waded upstream and around the eroded root ball of a shoreline tree I spotted a nice-sized flathead cat tucked in among the roots and debris. I had to tangle with this fish and see if I could get a quick pic. I backed up and set my gear on shore, rolled up my sleeve as far as I could, then quietly waded in alongside the cat and reached down and lipped it. Success! Well the cat awoke, curled its tail, and started to spin wildly. That as it clamped down on my thumb and I could feel its raspy teeth sawing around my knuckle as it thrashed. I could not hold onto it and had to let it go. It slithered out of sight in the mud cloud. I stood there excited but disappointed. Damn, that was a big cat! And damn, my thumb is bleeding! That cat deserved a bit more respect ... it was a two-hander.

19" Fox River smallmouth bass

The mud cloud washed away and there again I spotted the cat tucked in alongside some timber. What the hell ... my thumb is already raw. I'm going in again! As soon as my hand got near its head it spooked and darted off, but it only moved a few yards away. I waded over and the third time was a charm! I grabbed it and walked with it in the water as it rolled, using two hands to steady it. I brought it into the shallows and unclipped my tape measure. She taped a hair over 35" and was a beast. I took some video of the cat and the release. It was neat to see that fish and literally feel the power and weight of it. My thumb was bleeding pretty good even after I waded out (after about 1/2 hour more of smallie fishing with one nice bite, a swing and a miss). I sprayed it down with an antiseptic and am treating it with Neosporin. Should be just fine. USGS 11.89' / 1,880 CFS+

February 28, 2016
Fox River Fishing Report: Squeaked one out on the float-n-fly late afternoon. Taped at 16". Green and white hair jig suspended 20" deep amidst boulders in waist-deep water. USGS 11.81' / 1,700 CFS-

Beautiful Fox River smallmouth bass

Fox River painting

Fox River painting

Fox River painting

February 25, 2016
Fox River Fishing Report: Did a quick yet targeted shoreline wade Thursday afternoon. Overcast, windy and chilly ... wore thin gloves to protect my hands. The rest of me was bundled in winter gear ... 5mm neoprenes, winter jacket, etc. Left the float-n-fly behind and fished a 3" white/green Senko on a Slider Head, casting upstream and crawling the lure downstream amidst boulders and rubble. The Fox is up a bit, and I could have used a heavier jig for better bottom contact.

The water is nice and clear. I could easily see my boots in waist-deep water. It's totally worth it to get out for an exploratory wade once the water comes down a bit. You'll be amazed at the rock and timber you can see along the bottom of your favorite haunts. If you can get out under bright sunlight on a calm day, so much the better.

About the area I expected to find some fish I got a mushy pickup and then a drop. A few casts later, hung up and had to wade up to retrieve it. Re-tied and started working the lure again, really slowing it down. About the time I hopped the lure over the boulder in front of me I happened to look down see a beautiful bronzeback right behind the Senko. The fish was hot and mouthing at it ... just about to inhale it. Seemed like we met eye-to-eye and the fish lost interest and drifted right beside me and downriver. The moment seemed like slow-motion and it was a nice confirmation that I had fished in the right area.

A car-hopped to one more area. Very similar, waist to chest deep with boulders. Same style of fishing. Got a nice pickup ... definitely a smallie. Reared back and expected the rod to load up with a nice fish, but only came back with a Senko bunched up on the Slider Head. Rats! Maybe some other day. USGS 11.91' / 1,920 CFS-

February 23, 2016
Fox River Fishing Report: Nothing much to report other than I put my roof rack on and busted out the kayak late afternoon on Tuesday. Hit the Fox close to home and had a rewarding paddle in the near 50 degree air temp. River was up a bit for my liking but tried the float-n-fly and Senko at a few decent eddies. Zip on the f-n-f and two mushy bites on the Senko. Didn't connect. Might have been walleye pulling at it. Nice and calm out and enjoyed seeing into the clear water in what was left of the afternoon sunlight. Spotted a few big carp and saw quite a few mergansers lit up in the sinking sun. Was therapeutic to be getting a bit of shoulder exercise and gliding through the water. Saw some leftover snow and ice on and around a few islands. Took out at dark. Felt good to snatch a float, even with a skunk, in February. USGS 11.92' / 1,940 CFS+

February 20, 2016
DuPage River Fishing Report: Quick AM wade. Focused on drifting a float-n-fly through a slow, waist-deep eddy with gravel / rubble. Tried various depths. Gave it a good 45 minutes but ultimately struck out. Plan B was a 4" Senko on a Slider Head crawled along bottom. Pickups were light and mushy. Ended up with four smallmouth and a rock bass. Had some nice bright sun for a few pics. First fish splashed my camera. Lens was wet for the second fish ... the biggest. Pic got blurred in the middle from lens fog.

DuPage River smallmouth bass closeup

DuPage River trophy smallmouth bass

Saw one other wader slingin' and wading upstream at the Dupe. Had to take a time out to get work under control. Headed back and waded the Fox a bit on my way home...

Fox River Fishing Report: The Fox had better clarity than the Dupe and I carefully looked for flatheads on the bottom as I worked my way upstream. Didn't spot any, but waded through hoards of roughfish as I came across any depressions with a dark bottom, rubble and timber. Blimp carp, quillback, suckers ... a cornucopia scattering in all directions. Finally I reached a few decent eddies and worked the float-n-fly. I blanked on the smallies and switched areas. Spot two was a long, slow eddy that had a distinct gravel / silt line. I tried the float-n-fly once again and saw the float get slowly dragged under and disappear. The culprit ended up being a longnosed gar! But it was foul-hooked. Still, a rare encounter and neat to see.


Same eddy, silty area ... spotted three nice-sized redear slider turtles lumbering along the bottom amidst the leaf litter and debris. They were moving very slowly and I grabbed the shallowest one ... who didn't mind a quick closeup in the warm sun.


February 16, 2016
Fox River Fishing Report: Quick wade with light snow falling. Not as much ice coming down river, relatively quiet out. Hopped in the river and slowly made my way upstream, keeping an eye on all the rough fish spooking ahead of me in the clear water. Saw quite a variety, even a nice sized gar! But the icing on the cake was when I spotted a flathead catfish resting alongside some timber in waist-deep water. I took my jacket off and tossed it on shore, rolled up the sleeve on my right arm, and with two attempts in freezing cold water up to my shoulder, noodled the cat. It was a healthy and feisty specimen, mid 20" range. I never even took it out of of the water, just admired it and let it swim off. Tried two good eddies with the float-n-fly and gave it an honest half hour at each. No bites today. Maybe later in the week. The cat was a neat find and about the fifth I've found in winter. They'll sit relatively shallow and are usually partially hidden near timber.

February 14, 2016


February 7, 2016
DuPage River Fishing Report: Wade fished the DuPage River for about 45 minutes with a small olive and white hair jig (float-n-fly) suspended and twitched through a waist-deep eddy with gravel. Stuck my first two river smallies of 2016 ... 17" and 16.5". USGS 5.72' / 232 CFS-

DuPage River trophy smallmouth bass

DuPage River float-n-fly smallmouth bass

January 30, 2016
DuPage River Fishing Report: Wade fished the Dupe for an hour with the float-n-fly. Low and cloudy. No ice. Tried a single, go-to eddy that has produced well in the past. Within 15 minutes I had my first dunk. Was a decent fish and I played it around half-way in when suddenly it came off! That rarely happens, as the hair jig's Owner hook is super-sticky. Kept telling myself maybe it was just a foul-hooked carp, but I know deep down it was a smallie and just bad mojo. After another half hour I was starting to get a few nibbles here and there and finally another float dunk. This time it was a smaller fish ... felt like a medium-sized smallie. Well wouldn't you know it ... the exact same thing happened! Just could not stick 'em! My feet were getting cold, as I hadn't moved from my waist-deep spot in a solid hour. Decided to wade back and take off.

Fox River Fishing Report: Hit the Fox on the way home. Again, targeted a single go-to eddy. CFS was around 1,500 and the clarity was amazing. I could see my feet clearly in waist-deep water. Saw rough fish everywhere. Mostly common carp and quillback. They were stacked behind any timber, slower areas, and along current seams. Finally made it to my eddy and gave it about 1/2 hour. Feet still a bit cold from the Dupe. No action at the Fox. Was nice to get out and be in the rivers. It has been since November for me.

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© 2016 Fish The Fox. All Rights Reserved. | "Fox River Deadfall" artwork by Paul Turnbaugh. Used with permission.