Fox River Deadfall
Fish the Fox
A PERSONAL JOURNAL CHRONICLING FISHING ADVENTURES AT THE FOX RIVER AND BEYOND.
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April 30, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Shore fished solo early evening 'till dark. Once again a run-and-gun urban spot hop. Mostly fished a 1/8-ounce Mimic Minnow fluttered in the current but also tried a 3" pearl twister. Great time out in the mild temps and warm breeze. The fish were cooperating too! I ended having caught twelve smallmouth and one white bass. The biggest smallmouth were 16", 17" and a hair over 19". (pictured) The big one looked very similar to the river monster of yesterday. Massive girth and just an overall thick fish. I guess lightning does strike twice! USGS 12.74' / 3,920 CFS

Note: I deleted the background on the big fish photo out of respect for the other anglers that fish the area. Wanted to make it Internet-friendly.

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

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Creek Chub Pikie
April 29, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Caught a true river monster! The fish slammed a 1/8-ounce Northland Mimic Minnow and bolted into heavy current. Was a thrashing fight with the brute bulldogging on the surface, mouth open upstream the entire battle. Don't know how I didn't lose it. Have weeded through a ton of respectable Fox River smallmouth lately to find this one. These don't happen that often. I tangle with a fish of this caliber only once or twice a year. Great to see such a beauty so close to home! 20.25". The best part is, my youngest son was along and he took the photo. He sure was proud of dad! We landed four smallmouth total for our brief evening outing. USGS 12.78' / 4,050 CFS

Fox River smallmouth bass

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Creek Chub Pikie
April 27, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Light drizzle gave way to brightening skies as I arrived at a forest preserve bordering the Fox River. There were only two cars in the parking lot. The rain had kept most people away. The river was flowing high and fast – perfect for dabbling soft plastic minnow imitations in shoreline eddies. I barely got the car in park as I stepped out the door and anxiously grabbed my gear through the back hatch. I was ready for the sloppy weather with rain jacket and calf-high waterproof hunting boots. This was to be a hawg hunt, or so I thought!

The three-inch pearl twister-tail on a light jig danced on the edge of the strong current. As I drew the rod alongside a bridge piling, the faint shape of a bronzeback slashed at the bait in the murky water. I put my baitcasting reel on free-spool so I could thumb the line and act as drag if the fish hit again. The lure fluttered just beneath the surface, shimmering alongside the piling. It looked exactly like a fleeing minnow with few options. And then it happened. I heard the sound of a big bass suck the lure off the surface. It sounded exactly like a largemouth bass hitting a topwater. It seemed to stop time for a second or two. The jolt of the rod snapped me back to reality. The bass tore into heavy current. This was to test my hook, my line, my knot, and my skill. With the bridge to my left, there was no option to move downriver. I had to reel the fish against the heavy current. I played it slowly and carefully and it stayed down. At last, I lipped it and firmly hoisted it ashore. A beauty!

There was a set of boulders nearby and I placed my camera atop the highest one. I jumped in the shallows since I had my boots on, dunked the fish, and fired off a quick shot. Before I released the fish, I pulled out my tape measure and took a measurement. Nineteen inches of bronze fury! (pictured) After the release, I checked my gear carefully. I re-tied just to be on the safe side. Ready for round two. I moved to the downstream side of the bridge. As soon as I dunked the twister in the water it got pounded. It was game-on once again! As the fish tired I swung it into the shallows. It was another brute, but I could immediately tell its mouth was not as big as the previous fish. Another photo, another measurement. It was a mere eighteen inches! I continued to dabble the jig and twister-tail through eddies and tight to shoreline structure. No casting was needed. This was short-lining at its finest! Before I knew it, I had landed four quality smallmouth bass. A great start to a spring afternoon.

The sun came out and I started to get warm in my rain jacket. I took a break from fishing and noticed two girls walking across the bridge. They looked to be around seventeen years old. I figured they had finished their day at the nearby high school and stopped to check out the river. One of the girls had a camera and they stopped about a quarter of the way across the bridge. The girl without the camera climbed to the top of the bridge railing and balanced perilously above the river as her photo was taken. I stood in disbelief that she could keep her balance considering the swift water beneath her. Gymnast perhaps? Maybe just lucky. Maybe both. My heart thanked her as she climbed down and made it safely back on the bridge.

I started to work the jig and twister-tail again when I glanced up and noticed the girls were at the half-way point on the bridge. The water beneath is at its most dangerous point as the bridge spans a pinch in the river. They were over the main chute – the devil’s cauldron at high water. The girl climbed through the wrought-iron supports and onto the outer portion of the concrete piling. She held on with one hand as she arched her back, leaning over the water. Her friend busily snapped more photos. Mind you, the river is at flood stage. A churning 4,720 cubic feet per second. If she slipped, she would die. My disbelief was mixed with anger and sorrow. All the while I’m thinking like a father. What do I do if she falls in? What could I do? At the first area, it wasn’t too deep and the current was much less. It was survivable. There could be a rescue. At this area, it was certain death for her and anyone that went in after her. This is how accidents happen. This is how people die. No one ever thinks it’s going to be them. A few anxious minutes passed and the girls were giggling as they neared the far side of the bridge and made their way along the bike path. For the remainder of the afternoon, the image of a young life taunting the unforgiving arms of a raging river haunted me.

Fox River smallmouth bass USGS 12.97’ / 4,720 CFS | 12 smallmouth landed, 13"-19"

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Creek Chub Pikie
April 25, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Shore fished solo late afternoon. Did an urban high water milk run. Rotated through three baits on and off ... a 3/8-ounce white thumper spinnerbait, a 1/8-ounce Northland Mimic Minnow, and a 3" pearl twister on a 1/8-ounce jig. Everything tight to structure, either dabbling or very short casts. Basically just fluttering the baits in the current. Ended with 16 smallmouth, 10" to 18.25". USGS 12.63' / 3,560 CFS

Fox River drainage culvert Tiny flower Dandelion Fox River smallmouth bass Fox River smallmouth bass Clutch of killdeer eggs

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Creek Chub Pikie
April 22, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Shore fished solo early evening. Was able to hit a few areas between rain showers. Tried a few lures but primarily fished the pearl jig and twister tight to shore again and picked up two smallies. One was a dandy! Played around with the camera a bit. I think I enjoy that as much as fishing! Both are a a life-long learning curve. USGS 12.71' / 3,820 CFS. Lastly, friend and fishing buddy Jonn Graham posted a flattering write-up on his blog today giving mention to The Eric Bait. Check it out.

Kopper's Live Target Pumpkinseed Smallmouth serendipity Big Fox River smallmouth bass Where's that confounded bridge?

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Creek Chub Pikie
April 21, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Shore fished solo late afternoon. 53 degree air temp felt pleasant. River high and dirty. Dabbled a 3" pearl Producto Spring Grub on a 1/8-ounce pearl leadhead jig and concentrated on slack water behind shoreline structure. Landed four smallmouth and one largemouth. Water sure feels cold but when the fish were there, they nailed the lure! Dandelions in bloom sporadically along grassy areas. Lots of leaves coming out. Red-wing blackbirds seem to be paired up and building nests. Nice outing. USGS 12.73' / 3,880 CFS. Of the fish below, the first one was the biggest. What a beauty!

Fox River smallmouth bass Fox River smallmouth bass Fox River smallmouth

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Creek Chub Pikie
April 17, 2011

Lake Fishing Report: Spent most of Sunday kayaking and fishing some private lakes solo. The wind was relentless but I was dressed for it. Overall the fishing was spotty. I think the cold had the fish holding a bit deeper and unwilling to chase. I slow-rolled a 1/2-ounce black and copper spinnerbait and picked up a northern pike and about twenty largemouth bass. Some nice sizes to the bass with the average being around 16" and one toad at 20". Didn't get a pic of my biggest bass as I fumbled it boatside after unhooking it. Best bite was around 5 PM slow-rolling near submerged timber on the eastern shore where the waves were piling in.

Prior to my outing I hit a local tackle store and stocked up on baits. I bought four of the Kopper's Live Target lures. I couldn't resist -- they are sweet looking! Can't wait to try them out. Spring, please come back!

Northern Pike Largemouth bass Spring-fed stream Hawk hunting Canada geese GP2 Kopper's Live Target Crayfish - Red Phase Kopper's Live Target Crayfish - Molt Phase Kopper's Live Target Leopard Frog Topwater Largemouth bass GP4 Rooster ring-necked pheasant

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Creek Chub Pikie
April 14, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Run-and-gun urban shore fishing. River in great shape. Smallies aggressive when located. Caught many from the same areas, one after another. Swift water near structure was best. They seem to be relating to or in the push rather than tucked out of the current. Rotated between three baits, a 3" pearl Producto Spring Grub on a 1/8-ounce jig, a 1/8-ounce Northland Mimic Minnow, and The Eric Bait.

Ended up with 17 smallmouth. Lots in the 12" to 14" cookie-cutter range. Biggest was 17.25" and pounded the white spinnerbait. I gotta say though, my hot bait was the silver shiner pattern Mimic Minnow fluttered in the current. Jig and twister was a close second. Pretty happy with the outing. Lost a few but my bite to catch ratio was pretty good. USGS 12.06' / 2,190 CFS

Fox River smallmouth bass Northland Tackle Mimic Minnow Northland Tackle Mimic Minnow

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Creek Chub Pikie
April 12, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Shore fished solo. River still on the high side but steadily dropping. Clarity typical Fox. Fished a 3" pearl Producto Spring Grub on a 1/8-ounce lead-head jig and fluttered it in the current near shore structure. Very hot bite. Picked up six smallies in under fifteen minutes. About five minutes later I was up to 10! They were pounding it. After I thought I had 'em all picked off on the jig and twister, I worked the spinnerbait through the area backwards and forwards. Ended up with fourteen total. Ten on the jig and twister, four on The Eric Bait. Sizes 12" - 16". USGS 12.06' / 2,190 CFS

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Creek Chub Pikie
April 9, 2011

Lake Fishing Report: My good friend Kevin and I have been trying to get out to fish together for the last few weeks. Seems like work or the weather always gets in the way. We had Saturday on the calendar and were thinking of doing some river kayaking. I was too wiped out to paddle moving water and we figured the local rivers would be busy on the first nice Saturday of April. I arranged for us to fish some private lakes instead. We met up around 10:35 AM and launched the kayak. It was a great day to be on the water. We fished three different lakes in all and caught a nice variety of species, some nice sizes, and some decent numbers. Kevin worked deep and primarily fished a 4.5" Yamamoto Flappin' Hog (more/less a creature bait) rigged on a 1/8-ounce Charlie Brewer Slider Head. I tossed a 1/2-ounce copper and black spinnerbait with tandem copper Colorado blades. It's one made by Tim of Timmay's Tackle. I worked timber, stickups, shallow flats, and near drop-offs. Highlights from the outing were:

Kevin's 26" walleye
My 20.25" smallmouth bass
Kevin's 16" crappie
Kevin's 21" largemouth bass
My 18.5" largemouth bass (arm's-length shot)
Numerous doubles of largemouth bass
An 'on fire' bite around 6 PM as a breeze picked up and put a chop on the water.

26" walleye Walleye 20.25" smallmouth bass 16" crappie Rooster ring-neck pheasant Kevin GP2 21" largemouth 18.5" largemouth Double largemouth Ford F-150 Raptor SVT Raptor emblem GP4 sunset

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Creek Chub Pikie
April 7, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Shore fished solo late afternoon. Used a 3" pearl Producto Spring Grub on a 1/8-ounce leadhead jig and fluttered it in the current near shoreline structure. Picked up four smallmouth bass in the 14" to 16" range.
USGS 12.22' / 2,520 CFS

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Creek Chub Pikie
April 6, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Shore and wade fished solo late afternoon. Beautiful day to be out. Really felt like spring. Was warm and overdressed in 3mm neoprene waders. I fished a 3/8-ounce white spinnerbait (Timmay's Tackle "Eric Bait") and got nailed on my first cast while fluttering the lure in the current near some chunk rock. The culprit was a 14.75" smallmouth that hit like a freight-train and bulldogged in the current. It's amazing how hard smallmouth can fight. It never gets old. I guess that's what keeps us coming back. The first cast fish was a good sign, or so I thought. I hoped the smallmouth switch had turned on and I'd be in for a numbers outing. I worked my way down the bank, fluttering the bait over and around submerged chunk rock. Every step disturbed the thousands of black gnats that peppered the shoreline. At times I had to hold my breath until the swarm settled down. It was a lesson in patience. About twenty feet from where I hit the first bass I picked up a second one, taped at 13.25". With two under my belt in short order, I figured I was onto something. I kept working down the shoreline. The big bite never happened. I took a breather on shore and worked on a few photos. It was still relatively early and I had a few hours until sunset. I went for broke and did a run-and-gun power wade for about 1/2-mile. I paced myself and it was easy slipping downstream in the high push. I made it to some choice spots that typically hold brute smallies. Not so much as a bump. I set a limit to my wade and budgeted a full hour for the return trip. Coming back in thigh-deep current was slow work but the cool breeze coming downriver was my savior. I didn't fish at all on the wade back, I just enjoyed the scenery and being outdoors. It was a shame not to cap such a beautiful evening with a big smallmouth, but fishing can only get better as the year progresses. USGS 12.25' / 2,590 CFS

Fox River shoreline Fox River bridge Fox River gnats trapped by spider web Blue flowers along the Fox River Daffodils along the Fox River Me driving home

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Creek Chub Pikie
April 4, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: A stark contrast to the night before. I layered synthetics, wore two jackets and a thin pair of gloves. I left the waders at home and just fished from shore. My car was my bass boat and I hopped spots and fished areas in three different towns. Only managed to land four smallmouth but they were all fat fish ranging from 14" to 18". Two hit the white spinnerbait and two hit a 3" pearl twister on a 1/8-ounce jig. Tight to structure was key. Saw a flock of American white pelicans land on a sheltered area of the Fox River in downtown Batavia. I stopped to check them out, wishing I had brought my zoom lens. USGS 12.42' / 2,970 CFS

Fox River smallmouth bass on Timmay's Tackle "The Eric Bait" Fox River crayfish Mallard ducks Budding trees Lone Canada goose Batavia windmill American white pelicans on the Fox River in Batavia American white pelicans on the Fox River in Batavia

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Creek Chub Pikie
April 3, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Wade-fished solo early evening. The river has dropped some but it's still high and fast. I stayed near shore and managed a quick wade upstream through a familiar eddy. I tossed a 3/8-ounce white spinnerbait and brought it downstream tight to rock, wood, and grassy overhangs. I picked up two smallmouth bass, 15" and 16". I cut the evening short due to the massive hatch of black gnats. They were harmless but their thick swarms became annoying. All in all it was nice to be out enjoying a few tugs on the line and the balmy 75 degree evening. USGS 12.43' / 3,000 CFS

Fox River smallmouth bass on Timmay's Tackle "The Eric Bait" Fox River smallmouth bass

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Creek Chub Pikie
April 1, 2011

Time to Purchase a 2011 Fishing License
2010 fishing licenses expired March 31, 2011. Keep it legal. Purchase your 2011 Illinois Fishing License online. Always keep your license on you when you are fishing. Print and sign multiple copies of the license PDF. It's helpful to have backups in case you set out to fish and have forgotten your license. Keep one in your wallet, car, tackle box, and at home. Save the PDF on your PC in case you need to print more in the future. As long as it is signed, it's legal! I print mine scaled to 80% and they fit in my wallet much better.

State Law - Smallmouth Bass Catch & Release Only Period
In streams and tributaries statewide (except for the Mississippi, Ohio, Wabash, and Illinois Rivers),
all smallmouth bass must be immediately released between April 1 and June 15.

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