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

DuPage River Fishing Report: Wade fished solo under sunny skies and 44.6 degrees. The river is in great shape ... low, slow, and clear. Started off by drifting a float-n-fly along the edge of a current seam. The little chartreuse and olive hair jig got bit as it neared a shallow flat. At first I thought it had snagged bottom, but once I saw the float heading upstream I quickly gained on the slack line and set the hook. The culprit was a 15" smallmouth bass that provided a terrific fight. I thought I was onto something and spent the next 45 minutes drifting the float-n-fly through the same area. I tried slack water, the current seam, and deeper water. Despite changing depths and even colors, I couldn't get another bite. I switched to a 3/8-ounce 'white thumper' (The Eric Bait) and finally picked up a twin 15" smallmouth as the spinnerbait neared the same shallow flat. Evidently the fish were relating to a pebbly sand flat near very shallow water. As I reached the opposite bank on my return wade, I spied various sized crayfish lumbering sluggishly along the silty bottom. I grabbed one of the larger ones for a quick photo. Nice to see one of the smallmouth bass' favorite menu items out in abundance! USGS 5.20' / 109 CFS

Red-winged blackbird DuPage River smallmouth bass DuPage River crayfish

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Creek Chub Pikie
March 22, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Shore fished solo for a brief outing. The river is way up and stained from the recent rain. I concentrated on a few sheltered shoreline eddies and fished the float-n-fly. The hair jig was set about a foot beneath the float and it didn't take but a few drifts through slow water for a hungry 16" smallmouth to take it down! I later removed the float and jigged the fly tight to cover along shore. I picked up a feisty 15.5" smallmouth before heading home. A few fish were all I needed for a quick fix! USGS 12.54' / 3,280 CFS.

Later that evening I attended the annual fundraiser of the Quad County Hawg Hunters (Chapter 17 of Muskies Inc.) in Plano, Illinois. It was a nice event with my friend and fishing buddy Jonn Graham as one of the featured speakers. There were several vendors displaying fishing-related products around the venue. I took a particular interest in Tom's Tackle Co., a gentleman who was selling hand-carved vintage-style lures. They were little works of art. I bought the 3-hook-minnow for $25. Something about it struck a chord in me and reminded me of fishing with my Dad. He had those types of plugs in his tackle box. I've got a few areas in mind to try it out this season. I'm sure it'll call up a big bronzeback!

Fox River smallmouth bass on the float-n-fly Tom's Tackle Co. red-head bar 3-hook minnow Tom's Tackle Co. red-head bar 3-hook minnow

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Creek Chub Pikie
March 20, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Friend and fellow Illinois Smallmouth Alliance member Tim U. has been hard at work making hand-painted custom spinnerbaits. His venture is named Timmay's Tackle Company and he created a white thumper copy for me that he jokingly named "The Eric Bait." When I attended the recent Illinois Smallmouth Alliance "Bronzeback Blowout" annual fundraiser, not only had Tim donated a box of his baits as a raffle prize, he surprised me with four brand-new "Eric Baits" free of charge. Tim had even gone so far as to print "The Eric Bait" on the package! (My sons thought it was super cool too!) This premium quality bait includes a 3/0 Gamakatsu hook, 66-strand silicone skirt, chip-resistant vinyl paint, and a premium non-tarnish blade. Mine are 3/8-ounce but they can be ordered in 1/4 and 1/2 ounce as well.

I promised Tim that I'd fish his baits as much as I could this spring, and today was the perfect day for a test drive. The rain let up in the early afternoon and the sun even peeked out now and then. I wade fished solo at the Fox River and stuck close to shore, working my way slowly upstream in the high water. It was a familiar spot, and I knew I wasn't in any danger. The bait ran true and felt great -- having the tell-tale thump of a big single Colorado blade. I worked it downstream and very tight to structure. It didn't take but a dozen casts before it got pounced on by a drag-peeling 15.75" smallmouth! I was thrilled. I took a quick photo and kept working the area. About twenty minutes later the lure got pounded! The brute smallie tore out some line as it surged into heavy current. Luckily I managed to swing it behind me and quickly played it and lipped it. 19" of bronze fury! USGS 12.53' / 2,550 CFS

Baitcasting reel G.Loomis casting rod The Eric Bait by Timmay's Tackle Company The Eric Bait 15.75" Fox River smallmouth bass caught on The Eric Bait 19" Fox River smallmouth bass caught on The Eric Bait

If you are interested in ordering spinnerbaits from Tim, e-mail him at sales@timmaystackle.com.

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Creek Chub Pikie
March 18, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Fished the Fox River from my kayak again this afternoon. Same deal with the float-n-fly. Winds were gusting out of the northwest and the push had a thick layer of scum swirling through the eddy. Several dozen carp were drifting along with it and mouthing the surface. I thought I might have better luck with the smallies today but only caught one. It was a big-bodied 16" that gave a nice fight. Shot a few fin details of it prior to the release. One of close-ups came out crystal clear and you can really see the varied pigmentation in the fish's cells.

The wind was chilly at times and I was glad I had a thin pair of gloves in my backpack. Three red-tail hawks screeched overhead most of the afternoon. It was fun to watch them when not keeping an eye on my float. Quite a bug hatch in the late afternoon. Nice outing on the river. USGS 12.24' / 2,570 CFS

Fox River shoreline Bank fisherman's rod holder Old Town Loon 160-T Fox River scum Fox River smallmouth bass close-up Fox River smallmouth bass close-up 16" Fox River smallmouth bass

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Creek Chub Pikie
March 16, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: I've been itching to fish the Fox but it's still too high to safely wade. I really wanted to take advantage of the nice weather and stay close to home, so I put the roof rack on my vehicle and busted out the kayak for the first float of the year. Everything went as planned and I was able to easily access the areas I wanted to fish. I had to keep the nose pointed upstream at all times or I'd lose ground quickly.

The first spot was a complete bust. After a stealthy approach I snagged the lure on a submerged log and had to paddle in to retrieve it. My last remaining hair jigs are a precious commodity near the end of the winter season. I switched areas and worked the middle of a slow, deep eddy. With the water up I'd guess it around chest-deep. I lashed the kayak to a shoreline tree and settled in for some lazy fishing. The 60.8°F air temp felt great but the southern breeze was having its way with the float, often dragging it across the surface and upriver through the eddy. Despite fan-casting the float-n-fly in every direction that I could reach from my position, I endured the first hour and half without a bite.

I started to second-guess my strategy as I searched for the 'sweet spot' of the eddy where bass might be holding. Finally, I had enough and untied the kayak. A gust immediately pushed me upriver through the eddy. I figured I had disturbed whatever fish were around and that my outing was as good as over. I came to rest along shore and almost out of frustration halfheartedly tossed the rig a short distance near the current seam. It didn't take but a twitch or two before the float shot beneath the surface! I set the hook and could tell immediately it was a solid fish. I have to admit, it fought hard!!! The day got brighter when a thick smallmouth bass boiled next to the kayak. I quickly lipped it and hauled it aboard, admiring it in the afternoon sun. Wow! Now that's more like it! A few arm's-length photos and quick measurement before I lowered the 18.5" brute back into the cold water.

I had spent over two hours to get ONE bite. But that's the way it goes sometimes. I continued to fish the area for about a half-hour longer and managed one more smallmouth -- a healthy 15.5" that bit the same suspended hair jig this side of the current seam. Glad to be back at the Fox ... and in the kayak too! USGS 12.37' / 2,860 CFS

18.5" Fox River smallmouth bass 15.5" Fox River smallmouth bass Shoreline tree, Fox River Fox River on March 16, 2011

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Creek Chub Pikie
March 13, 2011

DuPage River Fishing Report: Shore and wade fished solo late morning to early afternoon. The air temp climbed to near 40 degrees and I found myself a bit overdressed. Fished the float-n-fly at slow, deep eddies and ended up landing four smallmouth, 17", 17.75", 14", 15.5". All hard fighters and even had one of the bass go airborne. Rotated in a 5" double-tail hula grub and even a spinnerbait for a few casts but no takers. Got plenty of sun and it was nice to stretch my legs and hear all the birds busy along the river. At the end of the outing I spent twenty minutes picking up garbage along the shoreline. Looking forward to the warm-up and diversifying my presentation. USGS 5.85' / 271 CFS.

American robin Feeder creek Pigeon River muscles DuPage River smallmouth DuPage River smallmouth

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Creek Chub Pikie
March 6, 2011

DuPage River Fishing Report: 37.4° F and clear skies made for an enjoyable afternoon hike along the bank of a flooded river in search of shoreline eddies. Tried a jig and twister as well as the float-n-fly. Ended up with nine smallmouth and three rock bass. Mixed sizes on the smallies, from 11" to 17". Everything tight to shore / structure in slow water. Basically just dabbling grassy overhangs, timber and rock within a rod's reach. Stayed on shore the entire time. Captured a few details of the bigger fish in the bright sun. USGS 6.86' / 596 CFS.

DuPage River smallmouth DuPage River smallmouth DuPage River smallmouth

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Creek Chub Pikie
March 4, 2011

DuPage River Fishing Report: Wade-fished solo mid afternoon. 58.1°F, light winds, and scattered clouds. Lots of bird activity along the river. It's so nice to hear them. A male cardinal was atop a tree at the river's edge just singing it's heart out. I later spotted him adding twigs to a little nest within a tangle of branches. So cool! Listen to the river sounds and cardinal here: Windows | Mac.

Fished a chartreuse and white hair jig (float-n-fly) varied 16" to 24" beneath a small foam float. Tried three different areas, all were slow-moving eddies with gravel/sand/muck and scattered chunk rock. It's interesting ... when the smallies are there, it doesn't take long for them to find the suspended hair jig. In some instances, it's first cast, float down! Ended up landing five smallmouth bass and two rock bass. I did well size-wise, catching two smallies at 18" and the rest in the 13"-15.5" range. I played around with the camera and shot a few details. Photo 3 shows a deformed smallie with some ugly wounds. Alien abduction? Took off in the late afternoon. Just as well, it poured rain on the drive home! USGS 5.58' / 196 CFS.

March river smallmouth March river smallmouth March river smallmouth March river smallmouth March river smallmouth March river smallmouth March river smallmouth Yellow ISA sign Raccoon track Beaver gnaw Rainy headlights

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