Fox River Deadfall
Fish the Fox
A PERSONAL JOURNAL CHRONICLING FISHING ADVENTURES AT THE FOX RIVER AND BEYOND.
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July 14, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Kayaked and fished the Fox River with my buddy Branson. The river was low and the weather was hot and sunny. We did a short float, about 2.5 miles. We mainly worked spinnerbaits and topwater, boating a combined eight smallmouth and one drum. The bass ranged from 12" to 16.5". Of course, the drum was a beast! We were both wiped out from the hot weather and having to push through several shallow areas where even the kayak could not float through. Now that's shallow! USGS 11.10' / 475 CFS. Hoping for some rain to end the drought and get the Fox River moving again! Not a fan of low and slow -- especially during extreme heat.

Fox River smallmouth bass Fox River drum

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July 13, 2011

Forest Preserve Fishing Report: Got back to the quarry with my two sons. I wanted them to share in the carp fishing and take advantage of the bite during the last of the dropping berries. There are several mulberry trees around the quarry and we picked some of the ripest berries we could reach and then headed for our spot -- an overhanging mulberry tree toward the back of the quarry. This was our first three-person paddle in the kayak and it worked out great. I had the kids positioned just right and the 16' tandem had plenty of room for me plus two pint-sized anglers. The kids had a blast fighting the fish in the deep water. The drag on their ultralight combos sang as they boated three carp and two channel catfish. Fun times and great memories!


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July 12, 2011

Forest Preserve Fishing Report: Had my kayak out on a local quarry that is creek-fed. I was hoping for some great bass fishing but with all the heat lately the quarry was extremely murky (algae bloom) and the surface temp was very warm. The bass were deep and lethargic. I fished a hula grub and picked up one nice largemouth while letting the bait sink deep alongside the quarry wall.

Some clouds blew in and before I knew it, light drizzle turned to a steady downpour. I was toward the back of the quarry and took shelter under some thick overhangs. As I waited it out, I spied several carp cruising near the surface beneath a mulberry tree. This is the same tree my son and I have fished for carp near numerous times.

Opportunity knocked.

I drifted over to the tree and picked some of the juiciest dark-purple mulberries I could reach, snipped off the hula grub and tied on a #4 Aberdeen hook and crimped down the barb. I hooked on a single berry and tossed it beneath the overhanging mulberry tree. The berry sank about a foot and my line shot out, a feisty carp giving a great fight in the deep water. The barb-less hook made for an easy release alongside the kayak. I caught three carp and a channel cat on mulberries before the rain subsided and I returned to bass fishing.

The carp are in the creek that connect to the quarry. They are quite prolific in the quarry and I have seen some that are quite large. They put up a great fight and provided a thrill to an otherwise ho-hum bass outing.

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July 11, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Shore fished for about 1/2-hour with my two sons while running some errands. Got a few light hits on topwater and switched to a hula grub hopped along the bottom to pick 'em off. Concentrated on shaded areas near rock with mild current. The river is very low but the morning's rain had lots of surface debris washing downriver. USGS 11.16' / 550 CFS

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July 10, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Got out in the kayak mid-evening and fished until dark. River is extremely low, bottomed out in a few spots. Concentrated on deeper, faster water but could not get any interest from the smallmouth bass while casting a topwater or spinnerbait. Finally picked up a fat 15" river largemouth that blew up on a 3" Heddon Zara Puppy as I walked it downstream alongside some boulders. All in all a nice paddle and great to keep cool and move around the river with the freedom of the kayak. USGS 11.08' / 451 CFS

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July 9, 2011

Mazon River Fishing Report: I had the unique opportunity to kayak and fish the Mazon River in Morris, Illinois with my family and some family friends. The friends have a house on a large wooded lot bordering the river, west of the Pine Bluff Road bridge. In fact, their house is the site of what once was the Morris Pleasure Club. It was a speakeasy, fishing and shooting club for the "who's who" of the area on the outskirts of Morris back in the day. It's location was far enough away from main street that the local law 'overlooked' the activities happening there, i.e., you could drink during prohibition without fear of arrest. (Below is an old postcard from a historical book that features the area.)

The bunkers for trap shooting are still visible and it's easy to understand why the area drew folks in. It's a very pretty spot. The scenery reminded me a lot of Sawyer, Michigan -- where my grandfather lived when I was a young boy. Spent many summers hiking, fishing and toad hunting around those parts.

We had our SUV loaded with both 16' tandem kayaks and my kids were thrilled to be going on an adventure. Once we arrived we were greeted by our friends and their friendly boxer dog. They showed us around their property, we sprayed up with mosquito repellent, had some watermelon, then it was time to get down to business! Their lot is quite large and I was able to drive my SUV close to the river so I only had to carry the kayaks about 20 feet to the water. There was a steep embankment with metal stairs and a slim metal dock staked into the riverbank. It was a bit tricky, but we made due and set out for our float.

The weather was sweltering and within minutes everyone stripped down to their swimwear. My wife and I each had a son in the front of our kayaks and they enjoyed splashing over the side to keep cool, or splashing us! The Mazon River is similar in size to the DuPage River and is running low and slow like the rest of our local rivers. I was a surprised at the lack of clarity, it was around 18" and seemed on the muddy side. We headed east toward Pine Bluff Road, peppering rock piles and logs along the way. The bridge at Pine Bluff Road has some nice rock formations near it, reminiscent of what you see when paddling the lower Fox. They don't last too long and then you're back to typical clay banks with the occasional rock piles that have been manually installed by those bordering the river.

Our friends stopped on a sand bar and my boys were glad to see them get out and stretch. They hopped out and began searching for clams, crayfish, small fish -- basically doing what kids do. They were happy to splash around and even went for a swim in some of the deeper parts. They thought it was so fun to be able to kayak, fish, explore and swim all in one spot!

I hand-caught a 3" red-ear slider turtle while drifting along a rocky bank and brought it over to the kids. Surprisingly, they were more interested in finding clams in the sandbar and we let the little turtle scurry off. For me, it was still a cool find!

The fishing was slow in the hot sun. I ended up boating six smallmouth, biggest @ 15". One largemouth, one rock bass, and one pumpkinseed sunfish. I rotated between a 3" Zara Puppy, a 1/8-ounce white spinnerbait, and a hula grub. Rocky banks, water willows, and laydowns held fish. If shaded, so much the better. My wife's friend Gina went in her solo kayak fared OK with a half-dozen smallmouth on a keeper hook and firetiger twister. Dig this -- she makes her own gar lures too!

We returned to their house around 3:30 PM and cooked burgers and dogs on the grill. Everyone was ready for a break in the air conditioning. They had a fun basement bar and we told fish stories and talked about the history of the property. The boys were silent as they busily ate their lunch and listened to the adults. The friends have a unique house with a koi pond, large fish tank including a 6" long-nosed gar they found in the Illinois River, and a vivarium with six yellow and black poison dart frogs. Needless to say, my two boys were thoroughly entertained!

After lunch and a few more drinks we were ready to hit the river again. The sun was much lower and the trees along the riverbank provided some much needed shade! We headed back to a few of the areas that held fish earlier in the day and they produced again! My oldest son tried a solo kayak for the first time. I drifted alongside him and it didn't take long before he got the hang of it. He loved being solo and in control of the kayak. What started off as, "I'm gonna just stay near the dock and try it." turned into a 1/4-mile paddle upstream and back. We got back to the dock around sunset and I loaded up the kayaks before the onslaught of mosquitoes set in.

So that's my first trip to the Mazon River. Neat little place.


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Quantum Smoke Rod & Reel Combo

Recently had one of those tackle store outings where I stopped in for a specific item and then made the mistake of looking at rods and reels. Not sure what I was thinking, as I do not need a new rod and reel!

Before I knew it, I was intrigued by the Quantum 'Smoke' rod. Length, weight, grip and handle style of the 6'-6" medium-heavy casting rod just felt right. I could not put it down. I thought the micro guides were cool too. I wondered if they were 'gimmicky' or affected the casting ability. Only one way to find out...

Coming from a G Loomis aficionado, $130 price tag was an easy swallow. I mean, we all gotta go slummin' sometime.

So there I was, mind made up. But there's no way I was gonna wear the same old shoes with my new handbag. Uh-uh! I made my way over to the reel counter and picked out Quantum 'Smoke' baitcasting reel. I got a left-handed (SL101HPT) 7:1. The whole combo is matte black, which is a plus since I'm not a 'bling' kind of guy. You youngins would say the combo looks 'sick!' but I can assure you it does not have the flu. I prefer to think 'nice' a befitting adjective.

I loaded the reel with 10 lb Berkley Big Game mono and so far I've been impressed with the combo. I've been mostly casting 1/4-ounce to 1/2-ounce baits with it and have tangled with northern pike, musky, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, channel catfish, and ... dunt-dunt-dunt ... carp. So far, so good!

Quantum Smoke Baitcasting Rod & Reel Quantum Smoke Baitcasting Rod & Reel Quantum Smoke Baitcasting Rod & Reel Quantum Smoke Baitcasting Rod & Reel Quantum Smoke Baitcasting Rod & Reel

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