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.
Creek Chub Pikie vintage lure
May 19, 2015
Fox River Fishing Report: Got out for an evening solo wade on the Fox. Perfect wading conditions and the cool air temp was reminiscent of late September. I was on the hunt for a big smallmouth that I missed on the Honey Buzz last Sunday. It was a heart-breaker, but worth another attempt. I carefully waded to the area where I thought the fish would be. I tossed a swim jig along the way, then switched to a white Honey Buzz with a gold blade, tuned for maximum "clack." I made long casts and gurgled the buzzer over the area. Again and again I was ready for a blowup but I could not get the fish to show itself. I was into the buzzbait and moved on, mostly spooking carp mouthing caddisfly from the downstream edges of deadfalls.

I waded upstream to another good area, where swift water cut around a rock edge. Somehow I managed to lay a cast perfectly between a low overhang and the bank and set the buzzer right in the "sweet spot" -- where it immediately drew a strike. I missed the fish and after a few more bungled casts, switched to a shallow-running crankbait. That did the trick as I hooked up with the 15" smallmouth on my next cast!

The sun was getting low and more and more insects emerged into the still evening air. I decided it was too nice to head back and slogged through the shallows, far upstream to some areas of deeper, faster water with more rock to cast. As I reached the top end of my route, I saw a familiar face standing on the bank, smoking a cigarette and working a tube through some of the best eddies around. It was Mike, an acquaintance I've swapped fishing stories with many times. He lives along the river and knows all the smallmouth in his stretch on a first-name basis.

Mike was befuddled by the lack of action on such a beautiful evening. He relayed the familiar fishermen's, "You shoulda been here yesterday" story, noting all he had caught within five houses of either direction of his place. I was losing light and needed to wade back, but every time I tried to wrap up the conversation Mike would pipe back up and want to keep talking fishing. He's a good guy. Super nice and willing to share as much as he knows. It's fun to run into those kinds of folks.

I took my time and waded downstream mid-river at dusk, not really caring how late it got. It was nice just to take in the sights, sounds and smells of the river. One of those marathon wades that really didn't bother me. Good for the soul I guess.

I did catch one more smallmouth on the crank. It went about nine inches, if you're counting. USGS 11.60' / 1,370 CFS+

May 16-17, 2015
Fox River Fishing Report: Slow weekend but not surprising since the smallmouth are more interested in spawning versus chasing baits. Got out in the kayak both days. The conditions are perfect.

Saturday (May 16) afternoon I took my wife out in the tandem. We did a scenic paddle and I tossed a swim jig at any fishy-looking spots we came across. Not much to show for it -- boated two small smallmouth and missed a few other short-strikers. The caddisflies were enough to be annoying. Surprised my wife never complained about them. She really enjoyed being on the river. We saw a mature bald eagle fly overhead and land in a tall dead tree. We encountered a few other kayakers also enjoying the pleasant afternoon. The sky was gorgeous with towering clouds all around. Really enjoyed the smells of all the flowering trees, etc. along the river. Saw some beautiful orange and yellow columbines growing on the side of a rock outcropping. USGS 11.78' / 1,780 CFS-

Fox River kayaking North Aurora

Sunday (May 17) I went in my solo kayak and really concentrated on fishing. Overcast skies gave way to sun and the gusty winds made me glad I had brought an anchor. What I didn't bring were sunglasses and the glare was really affecting my eyes and my mojo. I won't forget them again! I ended up boating four smallmouth on a 3/8-ounce white spinnerbait. Seams near fast water and rock were best. All had the red tomato eyes and two of the smallies were in the 15"-16" range and fought like tanks in the swift water. 11.71' / 1,600 CFS-

Riffles at the Fox River in Oswego Water willows at the Fox River in Oswego Northern watersnake at the Fox River in Aurora

The theme throughout the weekend was watersnakes. I saw them everywhere. Most were the typical northern watersnakes but I did spot one big queen snake -- biggest I've ever seen along the Fox River. My wife had a watersnake swim up to the kayak and the rest of the world heard about it. She calmed down and took a few pictures of it to share with the "city slickers" at work.

Already stopped by the river early Monday (May 18) and caught two smallies on a Mimic Minnow in fast water near boulders. One was decent at 15". 11.69' / 1,560 CFS-

May 11, 2015
Fox River Fishing Report: Early evening, near the Fox River with my kids. Had my rod and reel in the trunk with a brand-new swim jig tied on...

Me: I'm gonna stop and catch a big one real quick.

Brent: You know we have to pick mom up at 5:57.

Me: I only need a cast or two. I won't take long.

Brent: (nervous) Are you sure? It's already 5:45. We can't be late.

Me: Brent, it's ME.

Grant: (chuckles) I'll grab the camera...

A few casts later...

Fox River smallmouth bass catch and release

Me: See, it's 5:57 and mom's train isn't even here yet. (reading text from wife, saying her train will be 5 minutes late)

Brent: We'll, then can we go to Dairy Queen too before her train gets here???

USGS 12.08' / 2,530 CFS-

Monday, May 4, 2015
Fox River Fishing Report: Tried the Fox for about 15 minutes this morning. Rain had just subsided. The air was very humid and the flowering trees along the river smelled heavenly. I was from shore and had pliers, rod and reel with one lure, and my camera. Just a quick spot hop to see if there were any fish left among some of the reachable fast water and rock / boulders. I had on a 3/8-ounce fire-tiger Northland Mimic Minnow and fluttered it along current seams and structure. I was glad to see the water was up a tad and a bit more muddy. Got nailed on the second cast and the 14" smallmouth coughed up a shiner that was a close match in profile to the lure that had just fooled it. Was surprised to catch a smallie as often times when the smallies are focused on the spawn, the walleye, white bass and even largemouth will take over their preferred feeding areas. After releasing the bass and trying unsuccessfully to get my flash to fire and get a decent pic of the shiner, I kept fishing and moved to a new area. First cast and BAM! Big smallmouth nails the Mimic Minnow and takes off. This one looked big in the water and forced me to take my time landing it. I didn't have my tape so just a quick pic before releasing her back into the river. Again, what is she doing feeding in some of the fastest water around? I'm figuring a fish like this would be near a more secluded flat where some beds are ready.

Fox River smallmouth bass fishing

Switched areas and had a swim jig in my trunk so tied it on. Big pearl and white one from Jonn Graham. Oddly, no fish home in my second area. In the back of my mind I figured what might be going on and a few casts later it was confirmed. At the edge of some rock structure the lure got clocked. Felt like a smallmouth at first but swam right towards me. As I gained line, sure enough, big musky. She was head-shaking this way and that way and honestly, I didn't even set the hook. I had no grips, no waders, no leader. No real way to gently land her from shore. I don't even think she was hooked, just clamped down on the swim jig. A few more head shakes in plain view and she let go and swam off. Was pretty neat to see, and a nice way to start a Monday. One of those magical times along the river that you luck into once in a while. USGS 11.52' / 1,220 CFS-

April 30, 2015
Fox River Fishing Report: Quick shoreline solo wade. Focused on bouncing the bottom among rock / rubble. Used a creature bait on a Slider Head. Ended up with one largemouth and one smallmouth, both mejum-sized. Chilly, clear evening. USGS 11.56' / 1,290 CFS-

Fox River largemouth bass

April 29, 2015
Fox River Fishing Report: Got the kayak out solo for a few hours after work. Started out under bright sun, then wispy clouds moved in, then completely overcast. The wind was an issue at times but not terrible. Hit some good-looking spots and tried various lures: white spinnerbait; pearl swim jig; and 4" creature bait. Varied retrieves, depth, etc. Got a few half-hearted hits on the spinnerbait and one on the swim jig. Both seemed like small fish and did not get hooked. Could have been white bass. Ended up with the goose egg. Enjoyed the time paddling and fishing, saw an adult bald eagle, and got some exercise so can't complain. You never know if you don't try! USGS 11.62' / 1,410 CFS

Saw some huge carp spawning near fast water. They were really going at it and splashing. Rule of thumb is by Mother's Day, so they are pretty much on track. A few warm days and they'll be out in droves.

Fox River pines Fox River bluffs at North Aurora, Illinois L.L.Bean Manatee paddling on the Fox River

April 27, 2015
Fox River Fishing Report: Shoreline solo wade, tossing a 3/8-ounce white spinnerbait. Warm sun felt great but when it was behind the clouds, I was wishing I had worn my jacket. Gnats seemed non-existent. Observed a lot of emerging caddisfly and carp sucking the top in slack water. Seemed like a few small bass (could have been white bass or smallmouth) were picking the occasional caddisfly off the surface. I worked short casts with the spinnerbait but noticed as I was wading I was spooking a lot of carp upriver. Think that might have had the smallmouth nervous and accounted for the lack of bites. I switched to long casts and finally got hit by a big fish alongside a boulder. It really gave a tussle and dove under a log and around some other boulders. I was patient and worked the fish out and finally played it in open water before lipping and measuring it. Snapped a few pics and released the scrapper, just shy of 19".

Giant Fox River smallmouth bass

Lost the waders and switched towns, trying a few urban areas from shore. Got lucky and found that a few of the areas that were previously too fast had receded to the point where they were holding some nice fish. Picked up three smallmouth in the 15"-16" range while dabbling and fluttering a 3/8-ounce Northland Mimic Minnow along current seams / structure. The fish were aggressive and hit back to back, not caring about the commotion of the previous one's fight / disappearance / release. The Fox has been somewhat spotty for me lately in this 'tween time between stabilizing levels and temperatures. The cold nights are really holding it back. USGS 11.88' / 2,010 CFS-

April 22, 2015
Fox River Fishing Report: Water is receding. Spent 20 minutes along shore. Squeaked out five smallies on the Mimic Minnow where fast water meets slack. Largest measured 15.5". 37 degree air temp with heavy clouds and sleet. Wore the winter jacket. Needed gloves. USGS 12.12' / 2,640 CFS-

April 20, 2015
Fox River Fishing Report, PM: Got a little redemption as I passed by the river after work tonight. Landed a big smallmouth bass on a 3/8-ounce firetiger Northland Mimic Minnow fluttered through an eddy. The urban scrapper strikes again! USGS 12.24' / 2,960 CFS-

Giant Fox River smallmouth bass

Fox River Fishing Report, AM: Just a quick early morning jaunt -- a few spots from shore. Caught a 16.5" smallmouth on a 3/8-ounce firetiger Northland Mimic Minnow. No other bites, but only fished 10 mins. Was driving by so had to hit it. USGS 12.27' / 3,050 CFS+

April 19, 2015
Fox River Fishing Report: I hit the Fox solo and waded close to shore along a few well-known areas. Tossed a honeybuzz, swim jig and spinnerbait. People looked at me like I was crazy, but I was fairly protected and the push from the current was not an issue. I'm sure I got a few "Darwin award candidate" comments. The white spinnerbait got pounded alongside some flooded shoreline rock. Missed it. Couldn't get the fish to hit again, despite changing baits. You guessed it, skunking number two. What the heck? The only interesting thing was seeing a few snakes -- a northern watersnake and a queen snake. The queen is in the pic below. USGS 12.22' / 2,910 CFS-

Queen snake along the Fox River

April 18, 2015
DuPage River Fishing Report: Beautiful morning. Woke my oldest son up and told him to get ready, we were loading up the tandem kayak and fishing the Dupe. Figured it would be a slam-dunk! The graphs looked great and from what I could tell from various local forums, it hadn't seen much pressure lately. We had a pleasant drive through the country, launched in a jiffy, and before long, were slinging baits in our favorite areas. Grant tossed a 3/8-ounce white spinnerbait and I switched between a big Flappin' Hawg soft plastic (crayfish imitator) and a silver and white swim jig. Short story, we got our behinds handed to us. Didn't boat a single fish. I got two bites during the outing, both were powerful and ripped the bait in half. Grant didn't feel any bites. It was great conversation, lots and lots of turtles sunning (we actually hand-caught a little map turtle) and holding our breath through clouds of gnats every time the breeze died. A rare Dupe skunking, but it does sometimes happen! USGS 5.38' / 162 CFS- and clarity a bit more muddy than usual.

April 17, 2015

Fox River Fishing Report: Early morning. 1/2-ounce Northland Mimic Minnow in silver shiner hung in the current seam of a shoreline eddy. A quick snap of the lure helped to draw strikes. Caught one white bass, one walleye and one smallmouth bass -- all from the same area in about 15 minutes. The walleye was nice, just over 20". All released. USGS 12.30' / 3,160 CFS-

April 15, 2015

Fox River Fishing Report: Early morning. Kept on the 1/2-ounce Mimic Minnow in silver shiner from the night before. Quick shoreline spot hop. Landed three smallies in the 15"-17" range and one white bass. 1/2 hour. USGS 12.42' / 3,510 CFS-

April 14, 2015
Fox River Fishing Report: Shore fished the Fox solo dusk 'till 9 PM. 3/8-ounce Northland Mimic Minnow in silver shiner dunked around flooded shoreline structure. Once completely dark, switched to 1/2-ounce. Landed seven smallmouth in the 15"-19" range. Largest pictured. Ended the night with its twin. You'd swear it was the same fish but caught it one town and one hour apart! Very quiet and peaceful evening. Gnats almost non-existent and haven't noticed any abundance of caddisfly yet. April 14, 2015 - USGS 12.45' / 3,600 CFS-. I photographed the mink at my neighborhood pond earlier in the day.

Kane County Mink Night time Fox River smallmouth fishing St. Charles, Illinois at night

April 13, 2015
Fox River Fishing Report: 3/8-ounce Northland Mimic Minnow in silver shiner. Was cleanup to a miss on the swim jig about 10 minutes prior. Got one other about 16". April 13, 2015 - USGS 12.51' / 3,780 CFS^

Fox River urban fishing for smallmouth bass

April 12, 2015
Fox River Fishing Report: My oldest (14). He popped three nice ones in various spots. Biggest was the 19" beauty that's pictured. The other two were in the 16"-17" range. 3/8-ounce firetiger Mimic Minnow. His first outing / first smallies of 2015. Sunday, April 12. USGS 12.41' / 3,480 CFS

Fox River smallmouth bass caught by 14 year old Fox River smallmouth bass caught by 14 year old

April 10, 2015
DuPage River Fishing Report: Started off at the Dupe with waders / wading shoes just to get close to the flooded shoreline. Water is up, fast, and basically chocolate milk. Problem is, early season so still relatively cold, and the level is much higher than I'd normally care for. Best bet is to hit it on the drop, about half the present CFS. Fished several go-to areas with different baits. Zero bites.

Fox River Fishing Report: Plan B was the Fox. Fished a 3/8-ounce Northland Mimic Minnow in silver shiner and a medium-sized silver and white swim jig with Big Hammer ring tail. Basically dunking the former around flooded shoreline structure (rocks, concrete, grass, wood) and short casts and swimming the later. Blanked at a few really good spots in the first two towns. Finally connected with a brute in the 18"-19" range who slammed the Mimic Minnow fluttered through an eddy. Ended up landing seven smallmouth, most respectable size with one small one about 11". Finished with another brute on my way out, same spot as where the first one hit. This time on the swim jig. The gusty winds made it a bit chilly at times but was thankful they helped keep the clouds of gnats away. USGS 12.38' / 3,390 CFS+

April 8, 2015
Fox River Fishing Report: Shore fished solo late afternoon. Chilly and windy but with the storm on its way, just had that big fish vibe. Didn't have much time and short cast a 1/4-ounce firetiger Northland Mimic Minnow around rocks and shoreline eddies for about 1/2 hour. Picked up three smallmouth, two in the 11"-13" range and one toad in the 18"-19" range. Guessing the lengths 'cause didn't bother to tape anything. Missed the piggy a few days ago on the swim jig. Gave me a good bump and was sitting in the same spot. Figured a smaller, slower offering would tempt her. USGS 11.48' / 1,140 CFS

Massive Fox River Smallmouth Bass

April 6, 2015
Fox River Fishing Report: Wade fished solo for two hours late afternoon. The mild days have helped and the Fox is starting to fish like her normal self. Finding smallmouth on current breaks and eddies with rock structure. Tossing a new white and silver swim jig from Jonn Graham. Caught four: 12"; 14.5"; 17.5"; 19". Some fatties. Gnats still suck. USGS 11.47' / 1,120 CFS. Jonn Graham's new swim jig is really nice. New head design, great skirt, and new style of Big Hammer Tail. This one is called the "money" jig.

Northern Water Snake at Fox River Fox River Smallmouth Bass on Warrior Swim Jig from Jonn Graham Warrior Swim Jig by Jonn Graham

April 4, 2015
Fox River Fishing Report: Wade and shore fished solo for an hour before dark. Spot hopped to four different areas and hit each quickly with a white and silver swim jig. Surprisingly, found very little willing to bite. Ended up with one 12" smallmouth while bringing the swim jig through a current seam. Battled through clouds of gnats once again. Enjoyed a wonderful orange moonrise on the drive home. USGS 11.50' / 1,180 CFS

March 31, 2015
DuPage River Fishing Report: Wade fished solo for a few hours late afternoon. Tried the new boots. Really like the Boa closure system. Quick and easy. Managed two smallmouth on Jonn Graham's hair jigs (float-n-fly) set about 21" deep and drifted along a current seam. The first was a scrappy 14" that took a 1/32-ounce chartreuse and white, the second an 18.5" chunk that bit a smaller profile 1/32-ounce pearl and crystal flash. I recently rigged my 6'-6" medium-light spinning outfit with 4lb Gamma copolymer so I could get longer casts. Was fun to play the smallies on the spinning gear. Guessing they'll probably be the last float-n-fly smallies of the cold water season for me. USGS 5.10' / 100 CFS

DuPage River smallmouth bass

March 30, 2015
Fox River Fishing Report: Got out in the kayak for a few hours in the late afternoon. Figured it would be a slam-dunk with the warm-up. Holy cow were the little winged insects bad! I can normally put them out of my mind and just fish, but when the breeze died down and I was caught up in clouds of them, it was tough to even breath. I was covered in them! I was praying for the breeze to pick up so they'd quit peppering me from all directions. Thank God I had my sunglasses on as I was paddling around. The lower the sun got, the more they concentrated. I had to take out through a massive swarm, like what is pictured. The carp were all over the surface slurping around in the millions of skins and emergent micro-critters. I tried the float-n-fly, hula grub, and swim jig at my various go-to cold water locations but only got one strike on the swim jig. Didn't boat any fish. Saw an immature bald eagle, who soared down river and lit on a tree right across from me. That made the outing. USGS 11.70' / 1,580 CFS

March 28, 2015
Fox River Fishing Report: Got out in the kayak for a few hours in the afternoon. Patience fishing with the float-n-fly but managed two smallies in the 14"-15.5" range and a walleye near 20". The clarity of the river is decent right now and with the bright sun I spotted a few small crayfish lumbering amidst the rocks along bottom. Had a big softshell turtle come up for air in the eddy I was fishing. Foul-hooked a quillback carpsucker while trying an X-Rap ... typical. Tons of tiny winged insects emerging as is evident by all the skins on the surface of the water in the close-up walleye pic. Was nice and calm and a pleasant day to be out fishing. USGS 11.82'/ 1,870 CFS

Fox River smallmouth bass Fox River smallmouth bass Fox River smallmouth bass Fox River smallmouth bass Fox River smallmouth bass Fox River walleye Fox River walleye

March 26, 2015
DuPage River Fishing Report: Air temp in the mid 40s, birds singing. Had some motivation to hit the river mid afternoon. Water much higher than my last visit. Wore 5mm neoprenes and trudged around to a few decent eddies. Blanked at 2 out of 4 spots. Ended up catching four smallmouth and a rock bass. Biggest two smallies photographed. Float-n-fly (hair jig) patience fishing was best. Caught one on a hula grub. Nada on the swim jig. Think we need a warm up to get the swim jig bite going again. Will keep trying it. USGS 5.68' / 227 CFS

DuPage River smallmouth bass DuPage River smallmouth bass DuPage River smallmouth bass DuPage River smallmouth bass DuPage River smallmouth bass

March 22, 2015
DuPage River Fishing Report: Caught three super wide smallmouth bass while kayaking. Fat and packed with food, fought like tanks! One on the float-n-fly, two more on a swim jig. Kicking myself for not measuring girth, but these were all in the 15.5" to 17" range length-wise. It's not rare to catch these super-girthy, high-backed smallies occasionally but I've never run into three in the same outing within a few hundred yards of each other. Ended up boating six smallies at the Dupe. The swim jig was hot. Had I not experienced it first-hand, not sure I'd have believed it! Caught two on consecutive casts. USGS 5.01' / 81 CFS

Fox River Fishing Report: Stopped by the Fox on my way home and launched the kayak, poked around a few good areas. My mojo was running high. Well, the Fox just about shut it down. Blanked at two out of three go-to areas. Finally picked up a 13" smallie on the swim jig through a current seam. Just pounded it. USGS 11.82' / 1,870 CFS

DuPage River smallmouth bass DuPage River smallmouth bass

March 21, 2015
Fox River Fishing Report: Got the new kayak out on the Fox for a few hours in the afternoon. Everything worked great and got on board with a 16.75" smallmouth on the float-n-fly. USGS 11.85' / 1,940 CFS

L.L.Bean Perception Manatee Kayak Fox River smallmouth bass

March 16, 2015
Fox River Fishing Report: Met my friend Kevin at the Fox and tried our luck slinging for pike from my tandem kayak. I tossed a swim jig and Kevin fished a spinnerbait. We fished slow water around rock and timber. No takers but it was nice to be out on open water for a while! USGS 12.88' / 1,550 CFS

March 14, 2015
Fox River Fishing Report: Skunked. First time out this year. Stopped by the river to try the float 'n fly at a good shoreline eddy. Fished for 15 minutes. Water is up and fast and the eddy was more/less flattened out. I foul-hooked a carp which gave a solid upstream run and then a souvenir scale attached to the hook barb. Some remnants of snow and ice along the riverbank. Looking forward to spring! Visited LL Bean in South Barrington twice over the weekend. Nice store! Bought all kinds of new gear. Really great discounts and promo codes right now. Saved a ton! Think they gained a customer for life! On Saturday, saw a blue Dodge with an ISA decal parked outside the store.
Creek Chub Pikie vintage lureFish Count:
73 fish caught and released so far in 2015: 68 smallmouth; 1 largemouth; 2 walleye; 2 white bass.
Biggest smallmouth: 19"+

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© 2015 Fish The Fox. All Rights Reserved. | "Fox River Deadfall" artwork by Paul Turnbaugh. Used with permission.