Fox River Deadfall
Fish the Fox
A PERSONAL JOURNAL CHRONICLING FISHING ADVENTURES AT THE FOX RIVER AND BEYOND.
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May 28, 2012

Fox River Fishing Report: Wade fished solo late evening -- about 1/2 hour before sunset. Had high hopes for a strong topwater bite before the storm but got chased off the water by lightning after only catching one smallmouth on a popper. Better to be safe than sorry! USGS 11.11' / 512 CFS

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Creek Chub Pikie May 26, 2012

Fox River Fishing Report: Worked baits in the shade for a few hours this afternoon. Ended up with five smallies: two on a buzzbait; one on a popper; two on a hula grub. Largest was a 17.5" on the popper that committed to the bait at about the last "bloop" before re-casting. A nice surprise! Found a hatchling snapping turtle, saw a bunch of frogs, and noticed ripening mulberries. The carp and catfish will be feasting when the juicy berries drop into the water! River is low and slow. Relaxing solo wade. USGS 11.15' / 564 CFS

Later in the evening, I returned to the river to shore fish with my two sons. We ended up catching three smallmouth -- one on a buzzbait (largest), one on a popper, and one on a hula grub. Downstream through current breaks was key. The largest fish was a feisty fifteen incher. On the way out we spotted a clutch of killdeer eggs camouflaged in the dry grass and also saw some pretty exotic cars around town.

Hatchling snapping turtle Fox River smallmouth bass Green frog Ripe mulberries along the Fox River Killdeer egg clutch Yellow Ferarri in St. Charles, IL Orange Lamborghini in Geneva, IL

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Creek Chub PikieMay 24, 2012

Fox River Fishing Report: I've fished the Fox three times in the past three days and managed a total of 15 smallies from the lukewarm soup. Numbers are low but I've been jonesing to fish topwater in a bad way. The surface is a mix of emergent insects and their skins, cottonwood and scum. The buzzbait churns a sharp bubble trail that's slow to fade. I've been tossing a 3/8-ounce white Booyah and after a trouncing from Wisconsin pike this past weekend, the bait tracks to the left. But this is useful -- when fished from the right it clacks hard along structure to my left, driving the smallies wild. While most "big" fish that I've encountered lately have barely reached the 15" mark, I finally stuck a nice one today that was a bit over eighteen inches. The clackity gurgle interrupted by a loud suck from below and the pull of a brute smallmouth is about as good as it gets for this fisherman. USGS 11.22' / 659 CFS

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

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Creek Chub PikieMay 23, 2012

Fox River Fishing Report: Fished the same area in the kayak as on May 22, but this time all hula grub in the bright sun. The smallies were responsive to a hard hop along the bottom or swimming it straight back to the kayak. Crawling the grub saw little interest. Ended up with five boated, largest around 15". Had a curious mink swim up to me in the kayak. Sure had a cute little face. USGS 11.31' / 790 CFS. Paul, was nice to meet you. Hope you tangled with a few bronzebacks! Thanks for the compliments on the site.

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Creek Chub Pikie
May 22, 2012

Fox River Fishing Report: Got out after dinner in my Jackson Kayak Cuda fishing kayak. The river is low and slow and looked perfect for topwater. I started off with a 1/4-ounce white buzzbait and got a decent fish off a gentle surface slurp while gurgling the bait downstream over 3.5' of water. The hooked smallmouth cart wheeled wildly and threw the bait. Didn't draw any more strikes with the buzzbait so switched to bottom-bouncing a hula grub. That yielded three feisty smallies until sunset, when I tied on the buzzbait once again, capturing three more smallies before calling it quits and paddling back in the dark. Was a fun and relaxing solo paddle. Biggest bass were 15". Topwater strikes were gentle. USGS 11.31' / 790 CFS

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Creek Chub Pikie
May 19, 2012

Wisconsin River Fishing Report: Made an impromptu trip to central Wisconsin on Saturday to meet my friend Kevin, who was already up at his summer home. I didn't leave my house until 10 AM and my dilemma was to take my Cuda (preferred) and drive my SUV, or skip bringing a kayak and take my sedan. Since my sedan is a joy to drive and gets better gas mileage, I kept it simple, packed light, and hit the road!

The drive up to Oxford, WI was a breeze and as soon as I pulled into town I spotted Kevin's truck with Coosa parked outside a tavern. We grabbed a quick bite and headed back to his house where I had my choice of three solo sit-in kayaks. I chose a Perception Swiftwater. It's a 10'6" solo sit-in and looked like it had everything I needed. I'll admit, I was a little nervous about committing to an unfamiliar kayak with my G Loomis, iPhone, and D-SLR camera on board. But I figured I'm a pretty strong paddler and it shouldn't take long to get used to it and adjust where needed. As it would turn out, the little kayak would prove to be a blessing...

We dropped off my sedan at our takeout point and drove Kevin's truck loaded with our kayaks and gear to our put-in, just below the Castle Rock Lake dam. We paid a small launch fee at the dam and were off.

The first thing I liked about the Perception Swiftwater was how light it was. At 44 lbs, I could easily lift it with one hand and swing it up onto my shoulder. The insides have padding which allowed me to rest the boat on my shoulder and carry the rest of my gear in my left hand. I got everything down to the river in ONE trip. That was really nice.

The second thing that was nice was the boat, although small, did have a hatch with storage in the stern. I packed up all my valuables and stowed them in the stern bulkhead for the beginning of the trip until I got comfortable with how the boat handled. I only kept my rod and reel and a few lures in the cockpit.

Third, the seat was padded and comfy. I'm used to a hard plastic seat on my Old Town Loon sit-in kayak, so the padded seat was a Godsend. It was designed to keep your legs slightly bent, which was nice. I never used the foot pegs; I just rested my feet on the bottom of the cockpit.

When I first got into the kayak, I stayed near the launch and rocked it from left to right hard and played around with it to get a feel for how it handled. (The launch is in a little feeder creek that was flowing swiftly.) There were two laydowns that I had to immediately navigate. The kayak passed with flying colors. Once I got past the laydowns, I tried some sharp turns and turnarounds, both upstream and downstream. It was evident that I wasn't going to have any issues with control or stability. Kevin launched the Coosa and we headed down the creek towards the Wisconsin River.

Once we got onto the main river, we were faced with steady 20 MPH winds. Gusts approached 30 MPH at times. My little sit-in performed beautifully as I easily cut through the water and had more/less point-and-shoot maneuverability. Kevin struggled in the Coosa. Even with his seat in the low position, he was having a tough time progressing into the wind. His higher center of gravity and heavier boat were working against him. We took it easy the first mile or so. I stayed with him for encouragement and we barely made a cast. Finally we decided to cross to the right side of the river, which looked to be a little more out of the wind. He struggled to get across. (The river is about 1.5 x the width of the Fox.) Once along shore on the right side of the river, we were indeed more sheltered and could let the mild current help to pull us along instead of fighting the wind. We were able to pepper shoreline structure as we went and it was downright fun! I tossed the Eric Bait and Kevin tossed one of Jonn's swim jigs.

Kevin held the line along the right-hand shore and fished his way downstream. I shot back and forth across the river to fish whatever looked good. There were times when I encountered some decent-sized swells mid-river. I'll admit, I did get a little nervous and took a splash or two off the bow. But honestly, it was refreshing on the hot day!

The fishing was fun. My mainstay was the Eric Bait and I caught smallmouth, largemouth, walleye, pike and drum. My best fishing was around riprap and boulders. I later switched to a buzzbait and the pike were all over it -- especially when gurgled downstream beneath overhangs along deep banks. I caught more pike than smallmouth, but the smallmouth that I did catch absolutely crushed the bait and ran in the 18" - 19" range. They were brutes. I even had one leap over the front of the kayak!

Kevin fared well too, catching smallmouth, pike, walleye and a huge perch. He was all swim jig.

From around 5 PM on, the wind layed down and we were treated to a calm evening. Our timing was perfect as we neared our take-out area just after sunset. I had a blast on the river and while it wasn't our best numbers day out there (boated around 20 combined), we caught and released some nice fish. I certainly have some memories of awesome topwater explosions on the buzzbait.

I wanted to take the time to write up this post because I know there are folks out there looking to get into kayak fishing and are on a tight budget. I had a blast / caught some great fish from a little solo kayak that is not "rigged" for fishing whatsoever. Its MSRP is around $500 and at 10'6" it fit in a truck bed just fine. I love simplicity and it was right up my alley!

Jackson Kayak Coosa Wisconsin River smallmouth bass Jackson Kayak Coosa Wisconsin River walleye Highway 82 bridge

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Creek Chub Pikie
May 16, 2012

Fox River Fishing Report: Kayaked and fished with my buddy Mike. I paddled us in my tandem and took Mike to a few decent spots. He hooked up on the spinnerbait and quickly caught a feisty Fox River smallmouth. Fishing was slow overall, but we hit 'em with the hula grub and spinnerbait. Overall we boated around nine smallies, nothing of any size. We'll be back soon to try our luck and hunt down the big ones! USGS 11.68' / 1,450 CFS

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Creek Chub Pikie
May 15, 2012

Quarry Fishing / Fox River Fishing Report: Started off with the Jackson Kayak Cuda at Big Rock Quarry. Was the first and only car in the parking lot. Had the quarry all to myself. Unfortunately the water was very murky from the creek muddying up with the last heavy rainfall that passed through the area. Bites were far and few between. I boated a healthy 17" largemouth on a plastic worm fished deep and then called it an outing after trying many good spots with nothing to show for it. Luckily it was still early so I hit the Fox River and structure fished with an Eric Bait. That yielded two smallmouth, the largest a fat eighteen inches that crushed the bait coming downstream tight to rock. USGS 11.70' / 1,490 CFS

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Creek Chub Pikie
May 14, 2012

Fox River Fishing Report: Wade-fished solo for a few hours. Fished a spinnerbait and swim jig and worked along shoreline structure. Caught five smallmouth, largest was 15". USGS 11.90' / 1,900 CFS

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Creek Chub Pikie
May 11, 2012

Lake Fishing: Met my buddy Mike and shore- and kayak-fished a private lake for some change-of-pace largemouth fishing. Upon arrival we hit an active inflow with spinnerbaits and hula grubs. Bites were immediate as feisty largemouth in the 13" - 15" range were holding in the current and ready to pounce. When the bite slowed we launched our kayaks and explored the lake. The Eric Bait was a popular menu item as we picked off over a dozen largemouth, the largest being close to 16". It was a fun, easy outing on a low- to no-pressure local lake. Wish all fishing could be so easy! Now we just have to hunt down the big ones that are sure to lurk in the murky waters. Thanks for letting me get out on that lake Mike!

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Creek Chub Pikie
May 10, 2012

Fox River Fishing Report: Did a quick wade fishing trip at the Fox. Was in the water for about an hour. Fished the swim jig and jig and twister tight to structure. Picked up five smallmouth, largest was 15". USGS 12.20' / 2,520 CFS

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Creek Chub Pikie
May 9, 2012

Fox River Fishing Report: Solo outing from shore. Lots of anglers already fishing so had to move around a lot to find solitude. All swim jig today. Caught five smallmouth bass, largest a fat 18" that nailed the swim jig while cranking downstream tight to rock. Gorgeous fish -- not a mark on it. USGS 12.25' / 2,630 CFS

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Creek Chub Pikie
May 8, 2012

Fox River Fishing Report: A much brighter day today and the water has come up a bit more. Did a quick solo wade and stuck tight to shore in well-known areas. Blanked at my first spot. Snagged my spinnerbait and had to wade up to retrieve it. Second area was a mix of rock and shoreline eddies. Perfect. Only fished a swim jig and pulled out four smallies in the 16"-18" range. The largest is pictured along with a 17" showing the swim jig. Short-leashed 'em today. USGS 12.28' / 2,700 CFS

Don't wade high water unless you are very confident in the terrain, the flow and your abilities.

Fox River smallmouth bass Fox River smallmouth bass and Warrior Jig swim jig

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Creek Chub Pikie
May 7, 2012

Fox River Fishing Report: Wore the slop boots and rain jacket and started off fishing through drizzle. The river topped out at around 2,500 CFS and was already falling. Bummer! I had hoped it would have gone higher for easier shore fishing. First spot, three taps on the swim jig in three different areas of mild current and cover. Couldn't get 'em to commit so returned with a pearl jig-n-twister and picked 'em off. Three little smallies that end-to-end barely equaled 16". Second spot, twister got popped twice in swift water along rock. Interest faded so I switched to the swim jig and the culprit nailed it on the first flutter. Nice fight in the current and taped at 15".

Third spot, switched back to the pearl jig-n-twister and fluttered it alongside a piling in swift water. Immediately hit and landed a 13". No more action so switched to a 3/8-ounce white spinnerbait. Tried all the shoreline structure around at various angles. Nothing. Blade fouled and on a quick reel-in through an eddy, a big fish boiled behind the lure. Tied on an XCalibur surface popper and worked upstream through the area tight to structure. Bloop! ... Bloop! ... Bloop! Big fish hit about ten feet away from me and the fight was on! A few jumps and a tailwalk through the eddy and I lipped her. Solid brute! Taped at 20" and is about the third or fourth time I've caught this fish in the past three years. I've been paying attention to what other smallmouth fishermen have been saying about their success with topwater lures and I've tried them here and there over the past few weeks. Glad to finally get some mojo going today!

Fourth spot, ran into Francisco, a fellow smallmouth angler. He had just arrived and I told him I hadn't yet hit the good spots. We tag-teamed 'em together. He connected with a decent looking smallie on his first cast with a Kalin's grub on a keeper hook. Nice fight but it jumped off as he turned it towards shore. He let me have a go at the area and I used the popper. First drift, a nice smallie took down the lure. Hadn't even given it any action yet! The fish taped at 16".

Switched to the Sammy 100 and picked up two more nice smallies in the 16"-18" range while walkin' the dog through slack water near structure. Francisco assisted and lipped the larger smallmouth one since I was in a bad spot and my line would have surely broken if I had tried to swing it up on shore. I was impressed. 9 out of 10 people would have botched the landing, as committing to a large bronzeback with a mouth full of Sammy can be very intimidating. He handled it like a pro!

Nine smallies total in a few hours but I worked for 'em! USGS 12.18' / 2,480 CFS. Photo background edited for the Internet.

Fox River 20" smallmouth bass

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Creek Chub Pikie
May 5, 2012

Fox River Fishing Report: The calm, overcast morning was comfortable. Started out wading and picked up two smallies in short order. Caught 'em on a white spinnerbait. Both came off edges of shoreline timber in mild current. One was just over 15". After that, did a power wade to some go-to spots for nothing. Later in the AM, teamed up with Bart and spot-hopped. Bart popped a 15" on a white spinnerbait near rock in heavy current. I caught seven on the hula grub. Mostly around rock and edges. My biggest was 17". Saw quite a few groups of carp spawning along tree roots and cut banks on the edges of islands. Had to head home shortly after noon. USGS 11.72' / 1,540 CFS

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Creek Chub Pikie
Kayak 101

It was a nice day and I felt like making a "how to" video with my Jackson Kayak Cuda and rack system. Enjoy!

Fish the Fox: Kayak 101 YouTube video

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Creek Chub Pikie
May 4, 2012

Fox River Fishing Report: Got out in the Jackson Kayak Cuda for a few hours of smallmouth fishing. Ended up boating ten smallmouth in the 12" - 15" range and had one biggie that jumped off. Most fish came on a hula grub fished along the bottom in mild current near rock. The 15" nailed a crayfish crankbait brought downstream through a lift. The biggie looked to be in the 18" - 19" range and hit a white spinnerbait along a rocky shoreline. I had the entire photo composed in my mind. But the fish had other ideas as it went airborne and tossed the lure with a violent headshake. That's smallmouth fishing! Was relaxing listening to the orioles whistling in the trees along the river as well as the toads calling along the banks. With the approach of the full moon, low pressure, and warm temps, all the critters are feeling frisky! USGS 11.71' / 1,520 CFS.

Fox River toads mating

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Creek Chub Pikie
May 3, 2012

Fox River Fishing Report: Got out to the river with my two sons after dinner. We were out running errands but of course I had the rod and reel to stop by and test out the bite. What I found was my shoreline spots picked over. Nobody home. Couldn't buy a hit on the spinnerbait. Switched to a pearl jig and twister and beat the skunk with two smallies around 13". USGS 11.63' / 1,350 CFS

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Creek Chub Pikie
May 2, 2012

Fox River Fishing Report: While wade-fishing, I happened upon a log jam that was adorned with frisky northern water snakes. The biggest ones were wary of me and slithered into the water. The smaller ones were very curious and in a mating frenzy. They were either males looking for their female (who slipped into the water on my approach), or vice versa. They flicked their tongues and slithered all over the log pile looking for each other. At one point I counted six on the logs and two in the water. They came right up to me. The ones in the pics are around 2' long. The larger ones I saw were twice as thick and about 3' long. Their color intensities varied but they looked beautiful when they came out of the water and glistened in the afternoon sun. Fishing was slow. Only caught one smallmouth on the swim jig but had plenty of other chances on the hula grub that I totally blew. Off my game. USGS 11.63' 1,350 CFS

Northern watersnakes, Fox River Northern watersnakes, Fox River Northern watersnakes, Fox River Northern watersnakes, Fox River Northern watersnakes, Fox River

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