Fox River Deadfall
Fish the Fox
A PERSONAL JOURNAL CHRONICLING FISHING ADVENTURES AT THE FOX RIVER AND BEYOND.
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February 28, 2010

DuPage River Fishing Report: Got out to the "Dupe" mid-morning to take advantage of the warm day and hopefully catch a few fish. I worked a small blue and white fly under a float and twitched it through slow areas knee- to waist-deep. I botched my first area by getting snagged and wading in to retrieve my rig. I car-hopped to my second location and had a slow start but found two nice smallmouth bass as I drifted the fly through a current seam. The first (below, left) measured 15.75" and the second (below, right) measured 17.5". I left around noon and stopped by the Fox River on my way home. It was an uneventful wade. I worked the float-n-fly in a few areas with only one 16" quillback carpsucker to show for it. I saw a huge red-tail hawk fly over the river carrying a bunch of twigs for a nest. Nice to enjoy the mild weather and see the wildlife taking advantage of it too! USGS 5.12' / 89 CFS (Dupe) USGS 11.60' / 1,290 CFS (Fox).

DuPage River smallmouth bass DuPage River smallmouth bass

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Creek Chub Pikie
February 22, 2010

DuPage River Fishing Report: Shore and wade fished solo for a few hours late morning. 34° and cloudy. Several inches of fresh snow on the ground. Nice to be out. The increase in bird activity is evidence of the approach of spring. Winter is loosening its grip. Chickadees and cardinals chattered along the river bank. Red-tail hawks screeched overhead. Mallards and drakes dotted the water a hundred yards in each direction ... nervous of my approach. I worked a small chartreuse and green fly (hand-tied hair jig by Jonn Graham of Warrior Jigs) about twenty inches beneath a little green foam float. I twitched it subtly next to structure in deep slack water. It didn't take long for the smallmouth to find it. I got bit on my fourth and fifth drift, landing smallmouth bass at 16" and 15". The third bass, which taped at 17.25" (pictured) turned out to be my largest smallmouth bass of the outing. It bit the fly about twenty drifts after the initial flurry of activity. It was a beautifully marked orange-bronze bass, great fins, and showed the beginning of some nice shoulders. Surely it will grow into DuPage River brute that will test even the most experienced anglers. I switched spots and wade fished for another two hours. I picked up two more smallmouth while crawling a 5" double-tail Yamamoto Hula Grub on a 1/8-ounce Slider Head slow along the bottom. I taped each bass, 11.25" and 15". I switched back to the float-n-fly and drifted through a long, slow cut with nothing but cold feet to show for it. Satisfied with five cold water bass, I called it a day. USGS 5.23' / 111 CFS.

DuPage River smallmouth bass

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Creek Chub Pikie
February 19, 2010

Fox River Fishing Report: Wade fished solo mid-afternoon. The air temperature was near 40°. Nice and sunny out with hardly any breeze. The cardinals were singing and I even saw a few flying insects. I took the rod and reel along but the intent of the wade was to stretch my legs, enjoy the mild afternoon, and look for more flathead catfish. I felt like re-tracing my wade route from February 14 just for the heck of it. It didn't take long to find a flathead. As I waded upstream through a soft waist-deep stretch, I spotted one on the bottom, camouflaged amidst sunken timber. It looked to be around 18". I observed it for a few minutes and continued upriver. The usual rough fish -- carp, quillback, etc. -- continuously scuttled a half-dozen feet in front of me. I drifted the float-n-fly through a deep cut without any interest from smallmouth bass. I waded to the shallow inside of a long eddy to observe the softshell turtles again. They were easy to find in the clear water. I was careful to stay on the hard bottom nearby and move slowly. I saw at least a dozen turtles ... mostly their heads sticking out of the muck. One was almost fully exposed and remained still as I passed by. As I crossed the river to bring my wade to an end, the resident bald eagle was on patrol and flew overhead as it made its way downriver. Woodpeckers seemed to drum out a warning as it approached. USGS 11.75' / 1,640 CFS.

Fox River February panoramic Fox River deadfall Fox River softshell turtle

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Creek Chub Pikie
February 14, 2010

Fox River Fishing Report: Wade fished solo for a few hours mid-afternoon. The air temperature was 29° and the bright sun felt great. I entered the river and spotted a decent-sized quillback carpsucker tailing in the clear water. I waded slowly upriver, carefully scanning the bottom to see what other types of fish were around. Aside from the usual carp and quillback surging ahead of me, I spotted a large jet-black channel catfish lazily drifting alongside a submerged log. It's amazing how much activity there is in the river despite it being so cold out. The next thing that caught my eye was a large bird taking flight from the tip of a dead tree. I figured it was the typical great-blue heron that frequents the area. To my surprise, it was a beautiful bald eagle lit up by the afternoon sun. Was a beautiful sight to see so close to home. I waded up to a deep cut and worked a float-n-fly for about 1/2-hour with no action. I waded across the river and up the shoreline in search of another deep eddy. I was eyeing the debris on the bottom, careful not to trip in the cold water. I came across a nice-sized flathead catfish sunning among some rocks. Opportunity knocked! I put my rod and reel up on shore and setup my tripod and camera. Once I had everything set, I waded up to the catfish, rolled my sleeve up as high as I could get it, and dunked my arm into the icy water and noodled the flathead. It may have looked half-asleep, but when it clamped down on my thumb, it meant business! I got a few quick pictures and a measurement of it before letting it swim off. It taped at 27". As I waded up, I noticed another smaller flathead lying amongst the rocks on the bottom. They are very easy to see in the clear water with the sun at my back. Other than seeing a few more channel cats, quillback, and carp, a highlight was seeing two big softshell turtles in semi-hibernation. They were buried in the soft mud but their heads were exposed and about half-way to the surface. I was in a wintering area for sure. I tried the float-n-fly for a little while, but the bass weren't interested. I headed back, chuckling about my luck with the flathead and thinking about all that I saw. Right on cue, the bald eagle came soaring by just above the treeline. For a second I thought about reaching for my camera, but moments like that are so special, it's best just to stand there and take them in. USGS: 11.75' / 1,270 CFS.

Fox River flathead catfish

This article was published by Bob Maciulis in Outdoor Notebook Magazine.

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Creek Chub Pikie
February 7, 2010

Ice Fishing Report: Fished a private lake for a few hours mid-afternoon with my buddy Stephen. The air temp was 27° with hardly any wind and intermittent sunshine. It was a pleasant outing weather-wise but the bite was very slow. I caught three largemouth bass on a #4 perch-pattern Salmo Chubby Darter while jigging near the bottom in 10'. The largest bass was just shy of 19".

McGaw Lake largemouth bass

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Creek Chub Pikie
February 2, 2010

DuPage River Fishing Report: Once again, instead of making the seven-mile drive to the nearby Fox River, I trucked twenty-two miles to fish the lower, slower, and clearer DuPage River with a float-n-fly for smallmouth bass. The Fox River has come down quite a bit since the rain several weeks ago. The USGS gage for the Fox River at Montgomery, Illinois reads 11.84' / 1,860 CFS. By comparison, the DuPage River is flowing at 5.28' / 122 CFS. That is a lot less push to deal with. Since my go-to cold water areas on the Fox River require a decent stretch of tedious wading to reach, I prefer to fish them when the river is lower, requiring less effort to access and allowing for a slow drift of the float-n-fly in the cold water. Timing is everything. Needless to say, my alternative -- the DuPage River -- was in great shape. It was a quiet outing. I saw one doe grazing in a nearby field, and several large red-tail hawks circling and screeching overhead. My fly of choice was light-blue and white, tied by friend Jonn Graham of Warrior Jigs in Minonk, Illinois. I fished the fly around 20" beneath a small float and twitched it slowly through slack water that was around thigh-deep. I only managed one bite in two hours, but it was a nice smallmouth that gave a decent fight. I taped it at 17-1/8" before releasing it after a quick photo. The 32° air temperature made for a pleasant couple of hours and there was a light snow falling as I caught the fish and took the picture. Happy Groundhog Day!

DuPage River smallmouth bass

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