Fox River Deadfall
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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.

February 19, 2018
Fox River Fishing Report: Got out on President's Day for what felt like the last of the "winter" fishing. Some eddies still partially iced-over and lots of ice chunks washing downriver. Air temp was near 50 and the recent rain and melt had the river up a few inches with reduced clarity. I did a spot-hop wade and found two fish ... a wide-bodied smallmouth on an Eerie Darter along bottom in waist-deep water, and a walleye on an olive and chartreuse hair jig (float-n-fly) suspended around 30" deep along a current seam. Saw several other anglers out trying their luck in the mild and foggy afternoon. USGS 11.74' / 1,148 CFS+ River is blown-out this morning with CFS at 6,000+ and rising sharply.

Fox River smallmouth caught in February on an Eerie Darter

Fox River walleye caught in February on the float-n-fly

Walleye was around 18" and fought great on my new medium-light spinning rod. Have been fishing the float-n-fly on it for the past few outings and finally connected! Fox River Rods & Lures is a local company from Yorkville, Illinois. That's one town south of me. I bought three rods from them to try in 2018. Here's the rod I'm fishing the float-n-fly with...

February 16, 2018
Fox River Fishing Report: Went 1 for 2 on the Eerie Darter slow along the bottom. From what I could see, the smallies were following the rooting carp. Bites were strong. I tried a different color Darter but the pour wasn’t as good — the bait was harder than the black w blue metal flake version and just bunched on the hook and cost me the first and probably bigger bass. The second one that I connected with and landed (after I switched plastics) was about the same size as the one from Feb 15.

Tried some underwater vid of the hooked fish and also a resting gar. Really need an outing with bright sun overhead on a calm day to do it right. Everything looks faded underwater. Level, speed and clarity about the same as Feb 15 but lots more ice chunks washing downriver as things melt and break free.

Fox River smallmouth caught in February on a Poor Boy's Eerie Darter

A black with blue flake Eerie Darter on a 1/8-ounce Pro Slider Head has been good to me. The lures are from a good pour and super soft. Other colors, not so much. Buyer beware.

February 15, 2018

Fox River Fishing Report: Haven't been out much, but have had cabin fever. Air temp above freezing today so it was time. Got out for a wade late afternoon. Had about an hour of daylight left. Started off with the baitcaster and tossed a black and blue Eerie Darter on a Slider Head and crawled bottom ... pretty much my typical technique for the colder months. Felt a few half-hearted ticks on the lure here and there, but finally got the "thump" from a smallmouth and connected. Wasn't a big one, but sure nice to see a bronzeback.

2018 Fox River smallmouth caught on a black and blue Eerie Darter

Tried a second spot which took some effort to wade to. Light was fading fast. Fished the float-n-fly on a brand new spinning rod paired with an ultralight reel. Ended up getting snagged and waded in deep to retrieve the hair jig and float. Culprit was a new log that had settled in the hole. I relocated it for cleaner drifts next time! Only caught the one smallie. Got off the water around 6 PM as dark was setting in. River in great shape but on the rise slightly with the melt. Clarity rivals the Dupe on a good day. USGS 11.60' / 1,156 CFS+

January 31, 2018
Fox River Fishing Report: Had to fish the full moon. No smallies but caught two nice walleye 19” & 21” and a big carp on a blue and white float-n-fly along a deep current seam. Saw hoards of rough fish and about a half-dozen gar. River still up a bit, but nice and clear. Flow was around 1,600 CFS.

January 27, 2018
Fox River Fishing Report: Got out mid-morning to try my luck. River still up a bit, but in the stretch that I'm targeting, mostly ice-free now. It's amazing how much melt / push-away that last round of rain and warm temps had on the ice! The clarity is back. I wouldn't say "crystal clear" but getting close to it. In a few more days clarity will be excellent.

I waded and fished a black and blue metal flake Eerie Darter on a Slider Head once again. Unfortunately I blanked on the smallmouth today. However, I didn't come up "empty handed." In fact, the two fish I did "catch" were by hand. The first was a gar. I stumbled into a lethargic cache of gar resting along the bank in thigh-deep water. They were easy to gently lift up off the bottom with my rod tip. Once they neared the surface, they seemed to "awaken" and slither off. I had one come right towards me and was able to get a grip on its body and observe it before letting it swim away. They are neat looking fish. Saw about eight of them.

The second fish was a big flathead cat that I spied resting along some rocks. It stuck out like a sore thumb in the clear water. I figured I'd try to grab it and get a photo ... but typically you only get one clean shot at a cat before it seems to "wake up" and dart for deeper water. So I readied my camera nearby, took off my jacket, rolled up my sleeve as high as I could and carefully reached down and clamped hold of the cat's mouth. By the time I reached the surface, the cat awoke and began rolling. It scooped the water with its powerful tail and attempted to pull out of my grasp. Finally it settled down (and luckily missed my camera lens with all its splashing) and I was able to get a few shots with my wireless remote.

Flathead catfish hand-caught at the Fox River from cold water in January

I think this is the same flathead cat that I've found about three times over the years and photographed in winter! All within about a half-mile stretch. Guessing it's in the 15-20 lb range.

Other fun stuff was seeing a northern hawg sucker along the bottom, a good sized channel cat, and tons of rough fish. Even saw a few medium sized smallmouth dart off in the area where I encountered the flathead. All in all a fun wade on a mild January day. USGS 11.88' / 1,760 CFS-

January 22, 2018
Fox River Fishing Report: I got out Monday afternoon for a short while. Tried three separate areas. The water had come up around 4” and the clarity had gone to hell. The river had muddied ... the melt will do that as thick ice coming downriver scours the shallows and kicks up sediment. I got two bites on the Eerie Darter along bottom in thigh-deep water. Think it was the same fish on back to back casts. I missed it and couldn’t find it again. That was it! Took a skunking.

It was fun watching (and hearing) huge sheets of ice busting up as they hit boulders and bridge pilings, or clipped existing ice edges. Lots on the move and it can keep you on your toes in spots.

The USGS graph shows the Fox has come up a lot more overnight. This should help get the ice broken up even more. I imagine by the weekend things should be relatively ice-free and hopefully start to clear up. It may take another week or two of stable weather before the Fox returns to excellent clarity. (Last week I could clearly see my feet in chest-deep water.)

As far as high-water winter fishing ... haven’t tried it much. I’m normally targeting fairly quiet deeper areas with very slow presentations. I suppose anything is possible in the right areas. One more note from yesterday’s wade ... saw a small gar breach twice a couple yards upriver from me.

January 20, 2018
Fox River Fishing Report: Late afternoon wade, caught two nice ones on the Eerie Darter slow along the bottom. Bites weren't as strong today ... the first one took a lot of finessing as it bit four times ... I whiffed on the first three and by the fourth one it blatantly swam off with it. Fun stuff. This January bullshit is shaping up to be OK!

January Fox River smallmouth bass

January Fox River smallmouth bass

Saw the usual bald eagles, kingfisher, great blue herons, and a massive amount of noisy Canada geese. River low, slow and clear. USGS 11.53' / 1,110 CFS

January 18, 2018
DuPage River Fishing: Cabin fever wade and photography session. Friend Jim J. on plastics, me on the camera. Same fish in both pics. They sure look colorful amidst a drab winter. Late afternoon sun...

Friend Jim J. with a January DuPage River smallmouth bass

A beautiful January DuPage River smallmouth bass

January 11, 2018
Fox River Fishing Report: Wade fished three areas late afternoon. Air temp was around 55 degrees and there was intermittent drizzle. Some slower areas of the river are still iced over, some areas have channels open, and some areas — with enough turbulence and/or change in gradient — are totally open.

I had on 5mm boot-foot neoprene chest waders, my light rain jacket and a baseball hat. Was toasty, kept the drizzle off, and provided a nice cocoon / tunnel vision to really get in the zone and concentrate on crawling bottom with a black and blue metal flake Eerie Darter on a 1/8-ounce Slider Head. Was nice to have the casting gear out and play in some open water — even if it meant dodging floating ice chunks at times.

Long story short — found fish at two out of three areas. Ended up with three smallmouth in the 12” - 15” range. All hit the Eerie Darter pretty hard along bottom in waist-deep water with gravel and chunk rock. You read a lot about “mushy pickups” in winter, but these bites were the typical smallmouth “thump” that we river smallie anglers hope for.

Fox River smallmouth bass

Fox River smallmouth bass

Sometime after 4 PM the cold air blew in. It was like a switch was flipped! My bare hands got cold quick and I waded back. I watched the air temp on the digital display of my car’s dashboard take a sharp nose-dive on my ride home. But I sure was happy to have encountered a few bronzeback. USGS 11.49’ / 1,040 CFS-

January 9, 2018
Fox River Fishing Report: Tried a shoreline eddy for about 1/2 hour late afternoon with the float-n-fly. River up a bit since my last Fox outing ... think it was back in early December. Saw a school of sluggish common carp and a few quillback in slow water. Clarity is fantastic! Saw the regular local waterfowl plus the resident belted kingfisher and some mergansers. Didn’t get any dunks but it was nice to cast a few and be at the river. So it begins. USGS 11.63’ /1,281 CFS-

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© 2018 Fish The Fox. All Rights Reserved. | "Fox River Deadfall" artwork by Paul Turnbaugh. Used with permission.