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

Fox River Fishing Report: I had to get out and checkout the river after the deluge. It had shot up and was running high, fast, and muddy. Great! Easy shore fishing! I hit a few urban areas in the late evening and picked up nine smallmouth in the 14-16" range while fluttering a 1/4-ounce silver shiner Northland Mimic Minnow in current seams and through eddies. Found one spot in particular where I caught six bass in six casts! Well, more like "dunks" -- not really much casting involved in the high water. Kept the bait close to shore and short-leashed the biters. USGS 13.30' / 5,990 CFS

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Creek Chub Pikie
May 29, 2011

Fishing Report: My two sons (8 and 11) and I were guests at a private rod and gun club in northern Illinois.

Trout Stream
We started off at the trout stream around 10:30 AM where my youngest son hooked a nice rainbow trout while drifting a small black and gold Flu Flu jig beneath a tiny foam float. He fought it to shore and I unhooked it with some hemostats while it was still in the water. The trout swam off strong. The sky was growing ominously dark as my oldest son also hooked into a trout that jumped and landed (one in a million odds) directly in an intake pipe! His line broke as the fish got sucked down the pipe! I told the employee that was working at the fisheries building and he said no problem, the trout would end up in Long Lake.

We hadn't been there but 1/2-hour when we got a call from my buddy (club member, we were there as his guests) saying a big storm was about to hit us. We took shelter in the lower lounge at the Pond Cottage and had to wait it out for almost three hours. Luckily, the kids had their iPads and loved that there was open Wi-Fi available. They were happy campers passing the time watching videos and playing games. After the storm passed we drove over to Wendy's for lunch and then hit up Cabela's in Hoffman Estates where I bought them some waterproof slop boots and long hiking socks. They were so happy with them!

Shady Creek
Around 3:30 PM, we returned and fished at Shady Creek where we caught and released around two dozen small bluegills on waxworms, one small northern pike (21") and four small largemouth bass (12"-14) on topwater baits.

Long Lake
I bailed then dumped out the green flat-bottom duck boat at Long Lake and took them out for a quick row where they caught around a dozen more bluegills near the docks / pipes where there's water gushing in. None of the 'gills were very big and we released them all.

Island Lake
To cap off the day, we headed over to where Duck Valley spills into Island Lake. Due to the afternoon's deluge, there was a good amount of water spilling over the road and we parked near there and setup a few lawn chairs and enjoyed fishing the mud line with bobbers and waxworms. It was an absolute turkey shoot! If there was ever a day to keep some panfish, that would have been it! They were stacked along the mud line and as soon as the rig hit the water the bobber went under. My kids were so thrilled to fight some nice-sized panfish on their ultralight tackle. Especially my older son, who was just tickled to be into the school of hungry 'gills! He caught some respectable sized ones, I'd say some were over 6" and thick! We released everything. In all I'd guess he caught around 50 panfish in total. He probably averaged two a minute.

My youngest was getting tired from the long day in the outdoors so we left around 7 PM. All in all it was a great day of fishing and both boys were very patient while waiting out the nasty weather. Glad we stuck it out! I had some nice photos from the outing but my SD card chipped and I haven't been able to access the photos. Did take a few videos on my iPhone 4:

YouTube HD Fishing 1 YouTube HD Fishing 2
YouTube HD YouTube HD

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Creek Chub Pikie
May 28, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Got out early morning for a solo urban spot hop. The weather was mild and overcast -- a perfect morning to be out chasing river smallmouth. The bite turned out to be pretty decent, with seven smallmouth on a Lucky Craft Sammy 100 topwater and six smallmouth and one silver drum on a silver shiner Northland Mimic Minnow. The river is dropping and clearing but there are still plenty of clearly-defined current seams in which to work a lure. The best topwater bite was through shade and/or tight to structure. A scrappy little smallmouth that hit beneath the shade of a tree is pictured. USGS 12.37' / 2,860 CFS

Fox River smallmouth bass

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Creek Chub Pikie
May 26, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Thank God for high water! I love being able to make the short drive to the Fox River, put in minimal effort, and catch some beautiful smallmouth bass! Talk about efficient. Easy run-and-gun from shore! Used a 1/8-ounce and 1/4-ounce silver shiner Northland Mimic Minnow fluttered through current seams and along flooded shoreline structure. Ended up with nine smallmouth in the 15"-19" range and two silver drum, both around 17". Fun outing! USGS 12.58' / 3,400 CFS

Fox River smallmouth bass Fox River smallmouth bass Mother duck on nest

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Creek Chub Pikie
May 25, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Started out with a trip to Gander Mountain in Geneva hoping to purchase a few Lucky Craft Sammy 100 topwater lures. Low and behold, I could not find the Lucky Craft lures anywhere. I asked a sales associate and he directed me to an end isle where they had a handful of Lucky Craft baits, as if they were discontinuing them. Disappointing. I drove up to Dick's Sporting Goods in Geneva to try my luck there. Same situation, could not find any Lucky Craft baits! I asked once again and was told, "We are out of them." Oh well. Money saved, I guess! Off to the Fox River to fish. I stuck to shore fishing and worked a 1/8-ounce Northland Mimic Minnow as well as a 3" pearl Producto Spring Grub on a 1/8-ounce lead-head jig. I hung the baits in the current and gave the rod a sharp snap now and then to break cadence. This would often trigger a strike, or at least a bump from finicky fish. I ended up landing seven smallmouth bass in the 10" to 15" range. A few were very fat from feeding heavily. Tried topwater and a chatterbait but everything came on the smaller finesse baits. USGS 12.03' / 2,120 CFS

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Creek Chub Pikie
May 24, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Kayaked and fished solo for a few hours in the late afternoon. The weather was beautiful but the river was flowing faster from the recent rain. Coupled with a gusty north wind, it was tough to hold position for more than a few seconds to work a cast. Overall it was a frustrating paddle and the fish barely cooperated. I finally picked up a nice smallmouth on a 3/8-ounce white spinnerbait brought downstream near a big boulder that was on the tip of an outside turn. The scrappy bronzeback was sitting right where it should have been! The cooler air temperature made it a great day to see snakes along the river. I spotted two queen snakes, a huge fox snake climbing a sea wall, and six northern watersnakes. USGS 11.77' / 1,600 CFS

Fox River queen snake Fox River fox snake Fox River fox snake Fox River fox snake Fox River fox snake Fox River fox snake Fox River northern water snake Fox River smallmouth bass Fox River scenery

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Creek Chub Pikie
May 23, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Shore fished solo at some urban areas late afternoon. Caught bass on each of the three lures I tried but topwater through the shade was best. I ended up landing six smallmouth during my short outing. The largest hit an Aurora Green Perch pattern Lucky Craft Sammy 100 and taped at 18" (pictured with urban background removed). Other lures that worked were a 3/8-ounce white spinnerbait and a 1/8-ounce Northland Mimic Minnow. Those were fluttered through current seams with both upstream and downstream presentations. Came across a neat-looking turtle sunning on the bank. I approached it slowly and kept low. It let me get right up next to it for a macro shot. USGS 11.80' / 1,660 CFS

Fox River smallmouth bass Fox River turtle Fox River turtle

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Creek Chub Pikie
May 22, 2011

Fox River Kayaking: Took my youngest son for a short float trip Sunday morning. The weather was beautiful and the river is dropping but still quite murky with tons of maple seeds (the helicopter-type) floating downriver. We spotted a few large groups of carp tailing in shallow slackwater, some softshell turtles sunning and a very pretty northern watersnake basking on a fallen tree. Overall an enjoyable paddle and nice to get out together. USGS 11.64' / 1,330 CFS

Northern Watersnake Northern Watersnake

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Creek Chub Pikie
May 20, 2011

Private Lake Fishing Report: Kayaked and fished for a few hours in the afternoon with my buddy Stephen. We got on the water around 2:30 and the weather was just gorgeous. Blue skies with puffy white clouds, light breeze, and 75 degrees. Had some cold beer on board which made the early start to the weekend that much sweeter. The lake is very clear and deep. Fishing during the day can be fickle. I started out fishing a 5" double-tail Yamamoto Hula Grub on a 1/8-ounce Slider Head and working the edges of stickups and letting the lure sink deep. If it didn't get hit on the drop, it got nailed after a few hops 10-12 feet down. It was a turkey shoot. I jokingly called the bait the "Schoola Grub" because I was catching bass on it left and right and my buddy Stephen finally gave in to my suggestions and tied on the same setup.

We drifted the perimeter of the lake and caught largemouth after largemouth. I cast beneath an overhanging willow tree and hooked into something big right as my lure hit the water. It was shaking its head violently underwater and as I reeled it closer we saw that it was a tiger musky. It was still around four feet down and with a few more head shakes it finally cut the line with its teeth and that was that. I re-tied and continued to fish the hula grub for another half hour.

The breeze picked up and we had a perfect sideways drift from east to west. It was like we had a trolling motor set on low. Just perfect! I couldn't take it any more -- I tied on a Lucky Craft Sammy 100 and began working long casts down the shoreline and walking the dog. OMG, that was the ticket! Bright sun be damned! Toad bass were blowing up on the topwater. It was so much fun! I didn't land any trophies but I sure landed my share of 18"-19" bass. Seemed like every dozen feet ... BOOM!

We drifted down toward a boat dock and I tossed the Sammy in the shallows alongside the dock. A few zigzags across the surface and a fish surged from beneath the dock and delivered a knock-out blow. Another tiger musky! Catching musky from the kayak is always a trip. They spin the kayak as they run deep and then let you reel them back to the surface. As soon as you reach for what you think is a played-out fish, they explode with another powerful run. I prefer to handle bigger musky, which tend to be more predictable. The smaller ones are the ones you have to watch out for. I learned that lesson once again as I went to gill the fish and it thrashed and one of the hooks of the Sammy sliced the center of my thumb clean open. I had that "oh f***!" moment when I looked at my thumb and all the blood. I thought ER + stitches.

After I unhooked the musky with some pliers boat-side, I held my thumb tightly and let the bleeding stop. It seemed to clot OK and was awfully sore for the remainder of the outing. I was careful not to use it too much and had to reel with my index and middle finger. Not being able to use your thumb sure makes you realize all the things that require it! (Like using a bottle opener on another beer!)

The excitement subsided and Stephen and I continued to work topwater. Surprisingly, as the sun got lower in the early evening the bite actually settled down. We still caught 'em but didn't get as many bites in the shade of the western side of the lake as we did in the sun with a chop on the water. Go figure! But damn, that was a great afternoon of fishing!

Largemouth bass on a Sammy Largemouth bass on a Sammy Tiger musky on a Sammy Tiger musky on a Sammy Tiger musky on a Sammy Tiger musky on a Sammy Tiger musky on a Sammy Beautiful early evening shoreline

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Creek Chub Pikie
May 19, 2011

Lake Fishing Report: Kayaked and fished a local forest preserve lake with my buddy Kevin. Things were very slow for us. I didn't catch anything. (Well, I did hand-catch a 2.5" baby softshell turtle.) Kevin boated two largemouth and a big green sunfish. His fish came on a 5" double-tail Yamamoto Hula Grub rigged on a 1/8-ounce Slider Head. He let it sink deep and hopped it along the bottom. Biggest largemouth was 18". Bites were few. The bass seemed more interested in spawning than eating. Did see some monster crappie cruising around. Beautiful day for a float.

Largemouth bass

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Creek Chub Pikie
May 18, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Wade fished solo at the Fox River for a few hours late afternoon. Traveled light -- had a pearl Sammy 100 tied on and a single Eric Bait tucked safely in my wader pouch. Was jonesin' to fish topwater. Hadn't really planned on fishing the spinnerbait at all. Started off in a favorite topwater spot. Conditions were just perfect! Within a dozen casts the Sammy drew interest as a smallmouth came up and gently slurped it off the surface. At first it felt like a small fish, but then it figured out it was hooked and went nuts! The big bass thrashed twenty feet or so from me and shook the Sammy. I was disappointed, but I knew I had plenty of area left to fish. I started working longer casts and walking the dog downstream tight to structure. The Sammy got slammed from beneath and I had another big smallmouth on, bulldogging below the surface. This one really felt big -- it would barely let me budge it. I tried to get it to come away from the structure and toward deeper water. The brute would have none of it. Finally my line snapped right at the knot and my Sammy was gone! I knew what would happen next. The big brute moved out into the current and began jumping and trying to throw the lure. The Sammy rattled each time the fish went airborne, further taunting me.

Damn it! That was my good Sammy! And Sammy 100s in pearl ayu pattern are not easy to find! Oh well. That's fishing. Won't be the last time. I tied on the Eric Bait and retreated to a new spot.

I waded my way upstream alongside a chunk rock bank with lush overhangs. I sure missed fishing topwater. The afternoon just felt right for it! The Eric Bait got slammed alongside some boulders. It was a decent-sized smallmouth with a big gut that looked like it had been feeding heavily. It was some redemption at last! After my wade I was ready to drive over to my local sporting goods store and see if I could replace the Sammy. That's when I noticed I had forgotten my wallet at home. Was just one of those days! USGS 11.85' / 1,770 CFS

Fox River smallmouth bass

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Creek Chub Pikie
May 16, 2011

Night Fishing at the Fox River: Work has been very busy so I haven't had time to get out and fish much. My wife sent me on a late night trip to Walgreens to fill a prescription so it was the perfect opportunity to extend the trip a few miles further and hit the river. I arrived around 11 PM beneath a spotlight moon and 44 degrees. I was prepared for the chilly weather with a few layers on and a thin pair of gloves. I started off in a favorite spot from shore but couldn't coax any smallies into biting the Mimic Minnow or a pearl jig and twister fluttered through eddies. I thought about calling it quits but then the drive home with nothing show for it just wouldn't sit right with me. I headed to another town and fished a few more spots. It didn't take long before a local police officer came by to ask what I was up to. He was super nice and within a few minutes of chatting knew I was legit and wished me luck as he went on his way. I stuck with the pearl jig and twister and worked current seams and shoreline eddies. Ended up with five smallies, the largest coming at 11:50 PM (pictured). I was happy I got out for a bit and enjoyed a nice reprieve at the river! USGS 11.95' / 1,960 CFS

Night fishing for smallmouth bass

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Creek Chub Pikie
May 14, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Shore fished solo and did an urban spot hop mid-morning. Overcast skies and cool temps had people home and the river quiet. Was a very enjoyable morning fishing and feeling a few tugs on the line. Fished a 1/8-ounce Northland Mimic Minnow and fluttered it through shoreline eddies. Ended up with eight smallmouth and a really nice black crappie. Haven't run into too many crappie on the Fox and this one was a beauty. USGS 12.13' / 2,330 CFS

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Creek Chub Pikie
May 7, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Shore fished solo for a few hours. Tried four different spots and caught fish at each. Scaled down / slowed down a bit ... 1/8-ounce Northland Mimic Minnow fluttered along current seems. Ended with seven smallmouth in the 12.5"-15.5" range and one small walleye. Love this time of year and hearing the orioles whistling along the river.
USGS 12.71' / 2,720 CFS

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Creek Chub Pikie
May 5, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Shore fished solo at the Fox River for a few hours late afternoon. The river level has been steadily dropping since April 29. Seems like each outing I'm catching a few less and having to work harder to do so. With the decrease in flow, the fish are starting to move away from their shoreline refuges and spread out into the river. As this continues, I'll need to don the waders or break out the kayak to chase them.

I switched on and off between a Northland Mimic Minnow and a 3" pearl Producto Spring Grub fished on a 1/8-ounce jig. I like the Mimic Minnow for weight and larger profile. It typically gets smacked pretty hard. But in areas where the fish are wary the lighter jig and twister is a good bet to close the deal. I fluttered these baits in the current and pulled them through eddies. I got a lot of bumps and timid strikes. I ended up having landed two smallmouth (14"-15") for about eight hits. Many of them happened near the surface and I saw the fish grab the lure. My mojo was running a bit low. Some of my hooksets were over-anxious, or lacking. In all I think a lot of the strikes were from 'used fish', i.e., recently caught and recovering from hook wounds but still trying to feed. This happens in urban areas where you've got a lot of regulars working the same spots. Especially as the weather warms and more and more folks are getting out and fishing. USGS 12.46' / 3,070 CFS

On a different note, one thing I really like about the Northland Mimic Minnow is the hook size and quality. It's a big, strong hook. I've got a lot of confidence in it when I tie into a big bass ... especially in heavy current. Can't say that about the puny wire hook on a 1/8-ounce leadhead jig. While a "jig-n-twister" is a popular choice river smallmouth anglers, more often than not you hear about how "the big one got away" on a jig-n-twister. A big smallmouth's mouth is tough and those little jigs have a way of bending and/or popping out.

I guess the big hook is also one of the reasons I like to fish spinnerbaits so much. I very rarely lose a big bass on a spinnerbait. It just works for me!

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Creek Chub Pikie
May 4, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Toad smallies gorged on baitfish, beautiful flowers in the warm afternoon sun. The tomato eye of a river smallmouth. Killdeer chicks, only hours old. Dirty brown river water takes on beautiful hues with the setting sun. Four smallmouth landed from shore. Northland Mimic Minnow fluttered through shoreline eddies. USGS 12.53' / 3,250 CFS

Fox River smallmouth bass Pretty flower Fox River smallmouth bass Killdeer chicks Fox River

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Creek Chub Pikie
May 2, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Off to a great start in my favorite month of the year. Just love all the colors and fragrances of the flowers and trees along the river. Made sweet sweet music with the good old G-Loomis tonight. Minnow baits fluttered in current seams and along flooded shoreline structure. A sharp snap of the wrist would draw a powerful strike. Ended with thirteen smallmouth. Taped nearly half a dozen of them in the 15"-17" range. For shore! USGS 12.63' / 3,560 CFS

Fox River smallmouth bass

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