Fox River Deadfall
Fish the Fox
A PERSONAL JOURNAL CHRONICLING FISHING ADVENTURES AT THE FOX RIVER AND BEYOND.
Home | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | Articles | Fox River Guide | USGS Streamflow | YouTube
September 29, 2009

Fox River Fishing Report: Got out to the Fox River for a quick 45 minutes around lunch time. Fished an urban area from shore. 53° with winds from the northwest at 12 mph. Traveled light. Only brought the baitcaster with the Lucky Craft Sammy 100 tied on and a pair of pliers. Of course, had the camera too! Tried a few different areas. Blanked in the first spot. Drove to a new spot and worked the bait downstream through some riffles. The river is amazingly clear (and low)! Walked the bait aggressively with a pause and twitch now and then. Drew about a dozen strikes ranging from bumps and boils underneath to full-out blowups. Seemed to have found at least four active fish. Was only able to stick and land two of them. Both small, taped at 13" and 11.5". Still had others hitting and missing but had to get back. Hands and ears chilly in the cool breeze! USGS 11.20' / 603 CFS

Got out in the evening for about an hour and a half. Wade fished solo. Just tossed the Lucky Craft Sammy 100. Picked up two smallies, 13.5" and 10". Couldn't get any big ones to rise. Beautiful evening. Water was clean on top and like glass. Definitely had a topwater / big fish vibe. USGS 11.23' / 645 CFS

top
Creek Chub Pikie
September 28, 2009

Fox River Fishing Report: Wade fished solo at the Fox River for an hour in the afternoon. 63° and gusty winds with good cloud cover. Lots of leaves and debris washing down river. Started out with the Lucky Craft Sammy 100. Even at 1/2-ounce and some hard casts, it occasionally got blown off course with the strong winds. Couldn't draw any strikes from the shallows. Fished a deeper area near an outside turn and finally got a halfhearted blowup. A few casts later another more aggressive hit. Couldn't get the fish to hit a third time so switched to a Lucky Craft Fat CB. Got bit on the second cast. Ended up being a little 11.5" smallie. Glad I protected the skunk! Switched areas and worked a typical big fish spot with the Sammy. First cast in the 'sweet spot' of the area and walked it a few times, then let it sit. As soon as I stopped the action for the pause, it got slurped off the surface and I set the hook. Nice fight -- no jump, just ran deep. Taped it at 18". Took a few shoreline self-timer pics before the release. Was a rather skinny 18", bronze without many markings. Combed a bunch more water but didn't draw any more strikes. Switched on and off between topwater and the crankbait. Got off the water and it was 61°. In a few months, that will feel like heaven.

top
Creek Chub Pikie
September 27, 2009

DuPage River Fishing Report: Hawg hunt solo on the DuPage River from the kayak. Could be my best day ever. Boated 27. Taped everything just for fun and kept track on my Blackberry. Here are the measurements in the exact order I caught them:

(Started with a Lucky Craft Sammy 100 topwater)
17.25" 16.75" 14" 17" 10.75" 16.5" 7.75" 15.25" 8.75" 7.5" (rock bass) 8.5" 17.5" 5" 12"

(Switched to a 5" double-tail Yamamoto hula grub)
18.25" 17" 16.5"

(Switched to a 3/8-ounce Terminator SS 'white thumper' spinnerbait)
18.5" 12" 10" 17" (largemouth bass) 11" 19" 16" 14.75" 13" (largemouth bass) 12"

Awesome day! Topwater early (actually until 11:00 AM), then hula grub tight to structure under the bright sun. Once the wind hit and the leaves were flying, all spinnerbait! I've got bass thumb, hand, and palm! Lots of paddling but totally worth it. USGS 5.01' / 59 CFS

DuPage River smallmouth bass DuPage River smallmouth bass DuPage River smallmouth bass DuPage River smallmouth bass DuPage River largemouth bass A foggy morning on the DuPage River Moster smallmouth from the DuPage River

top
Creek Chub Pikie
September 24, 2009

Fox River Fishing Report: Shore fished solo at the Fox River for a quick outing mid-afternoon. Was in a very urban area. Not a ton of options in the low water. Only tried the Lucky Craft Sammy 100 topwater. Managed to land one smallmouth around 16". Slow twitch to a dead float was the trick. The fish lightly slurped the bait while stopped. Didn't really see or hear it, but felt it. Nice fight 'cause bit while starting to work a long cast. Shoreline tripod pic but not the greatest. USGS 11.23' / 645 CFS

top
Creek Chub Pikie
September 23, 2009

Fox River Fishing Report: First cast today. Lucky Craft Sammy 100 walk-the-dog topwater in Aurora Bass pattern. Taped it at 19-1/8". Tripod shot on self-timer. First photo ever with the dam in the background and first fish landed on my new Sammy! Called it quits after releasing the fish. Five-minute fix

Fox River smallmouth bass

top
Creek Chub Pikie
September 19, 2009

Fox River Fishing Report: Shore fished the Fox River solo late afternoon. Fish bit a 3" gold bass Zara Spook walked upstream through heavy current / shade. Hit around 4:00 PM. Have caught this one at least four times over the past two months on the same lure. Is around 17".

Fox River smallmouth bass

top
Creek Chub Pikie
September 18, 2009

DuPage River Fishing Report: Had the day off for a planned float trip on the DuPage River with my buddy Ben. First time he has been in my kayak and first time on the Dupe. He's more/less an Illinois smallmouth rookie. The Dupe is super low right now. Some areas are pathetic ... choked with grass pile-ups and very low water. We boated a few nice ones early on topwater, then floated a long stretch and hit the mid-day grind. For all you day-fishers, I feel your pain! I paddled us through quite a bit of 'junk water', i.e., very low, almost bottoming-out at times. Seemed devoid of fish. We kept the faith and kept slingin' baits. Ben stuck to the hula grub because it was the most forgiving in the grass. I could not put down topwater. I'm damn addicted to the Heddon Zara Spook. I don't care if it's blazing sun. I'll find the right fish and some glory! I just love the visual aspect of it. I can't stop! We ended up boating a combined 12 smallmouth with the biggest 15.5", 16", 16.75" and 18.75". Ben caught big fish of the day on the hula grub. Perfect long cast and just kissed the duckweed around a log with grass piled up around it laying in mild current. The water erupted as a big smallie slammed the grub and ran back into its lair. Ben had a heck of a battle with the pig. Now mind you, he is 6' 4" and the biggest person I've had in the front of the kayak. Things worked out fine, but darn, this picture below doesn't do that big bronzeback justice! I was really proud of Ben that he turned from DuPage River rookie to bonified hawg hunter in only one afternoon. USGS 4.86' / 33 CFS

Ben Bradley with a DuPage River smallmouth bass

Ben had to take off early for a conference call so I had a bunch of time left. I headed towards home and stopped at the Fox River for a couple of hours. Since it's so darn low and slow, I figured I'd drop my kayak in for a solo paddle and to work some more of the Zara Spook. I picked up 6 smallmouth, biggest was around 14.75". It was awesome kayaking the Fox River. I had a grin from ear to ear the entire time. Sure is different than wading. Don't have to worry about tripping and dunking the camera, etc. Was really fun. USGS 11.16' / 550 CFS

Fox River smallmouth bass

top
Creek Chub Pikie
September 17, 2009

Fox River Fishing Report: Wade fished solo from 5:10 PM to 7:30 PM. Explored some new areas. Used a shallow-running Team Daiwa (TD) Shad as a search bait and picked up three smallmouth in the 10"-12" range. They mostly hit the lure before it ever got a chance to dive under. Missed a few other (bigger) followers that turned or boiled on the lure at the surface just before I re-cast. I've had that little lure in my tackle box for over ten years and have fished it on occasion. It looks more like a baby largemouth bass than a shad. Glad I didn't snag it or break it off and can safely retire it for another decade. Since the bass seemed to be interested in striking the bait on the surface, I switched to the 3" Heddon Zara Spook as I continued to wade and explore. I was mostly knee- to thigh-deep on gravel and scattered chunk rock. I fan-cast the bait and walked it back downstream. I launched a long cast along a rocky bank with an overhanging tree and as soon as the lure splashed down a wake rushed it like it meant business. The lure got crushed and I had a big bronzeback on the line. No line break this time! Nice fight and got it to hand. Taped it at 18.75" before a quick photo and release. Once the brute swam off I cast towards the same area again. About halfway back to me the lure got boiled on. After two timid attempts the fish gave up. I re-cast about six feet over and the 'Spook got destroyed. Another big bronzeback cartwheeled after the hookset. It looked like a twin of the one I had just released, but taped a bit smaller at 18". It was 6:55 PM. Despite a few more strikes from smaller bass, that was the last fish landed. Called it a night early and enjoyed a wade / walk back in the twilight for a change. USGS 11.19' / 590 CFS

Fox River smallmouth bass

top
Creek Chub Pikie
September 16, 2009

Fox River Fishing Report; Wade fished solo at the Fox River from 5:45 PM to 7:45 PM. Clear skies with a breeze coming out of the northeast at 9 mph. The river is low and clear and in great shape. You can be knee-deep+ and easily see your feet in still water. That is a treat in the Fox River for sure. I worked a 3” Heddon Zara Spook and took my time in the shallows. I worked the topwater along a rocky shoreline and after missing several hits from small bass, finally got a nice blowup and set the hook on what felt like a decent-sized smallmouth. It came off after only a few seconds and I thought to myself; successfully landing a big fish early on would have just been too easy!

I continued on and kept getting hits from small bass in the shallows. Sometimes they’d blast it so hard the lure would flip out of the water and land over a foot away from where it had been. Even a foot-long smallmouth can hit with such ferocity. I finally hooked the culprit and brought in a feisty smallmouth that had an odd coloration that was almost yellow-gold with a white belly. It also had very red eyes.

A few dozen yards later in my wade, I came upon a small doe grazing along the river’s edge. She was beautiful and watched me cautiously. I was able to get around twenty feet from her and take some photos via the tripod on a shallow gravel bar. She just kept grazing and looked up once in a while. She seemed a little apprehensive once I setup the tripod, but seemed to calm down and continue her evening meal.

Around 7:10 PM the sun had faded and it was time to wade over to a different area to see if I could call up a big one on topwater. I had just hit Gander Mountain a few hours earlier and had some new patterns to try. I fan-cast the topwater on my approach and tried it over various depths. Around five casts into it I got a massive blowup and set the hook into a beast of a smallmouth. My 10lb Trilene Big Game mono broke on the hookset. I knew what was going to happen next and just stood there and waited. Sure enough, the bronze bomber launched out of the water and madly tried to shake the lure free. Over the next five minutes it jumped and thrashed mid-river until I suspect it was finally successful and my brand new Zara Spook washed downriver for some lucky angler to find.

Not sure why my line broke. I know it was a big, heavy fish, but my line should have held fine. Figured my luck has been good for so many consecutive outings, something like that was bound to happen. I just hope that fish was able to shake that lure free. I have a feeling it did.

The later part of the wade was fairly uneventful. I had a short-sleeve polo on and was getting chilly with the falling temps plus the breeze. On my wade back I saw two does along the bank and heard some loud cries from what I assume where other deer. One of the does spooked into the river and waded across a deep spot right in front of me. It was neat seeing just its head peeking out on the surface. Got off the water around 7:45 PM in 60°. USGS 11.18’ / 577 CFS

top
Creek Chub Pikie
September 15, 2009

Fox River Fishing Report: Wade fished solo from 6:05 PM to 7:40 PM. Light breeze coming out of the northeast. I hoped the breeze would help to drop some of the dry leaves and wash them downriver. Sometimes that can get the smallies looking up and even more aggressive for topwater baits as they prowl the surface feeding on bugs, etc. that might drop in too.

I worked a 3" Heddon Zara Spook and got plenty of hits from small bass that either didn't get hooked, or would blast the lure clear out of the water. I picked up one tiny largemouth bass out from under an overhanging tree. It was a perfect little green fingerling.

I was well-prepared and not rushed. Even so, I had a sinking feeling that this might be the night that my luck ran out. I got to my best area and worked it thoroughly with hardly a hit. I tried different pattern Zara Spooks, a 1/4-ounce white buzzbait, and even a hula grub. I couldn't really get anything going. I finally got a big blowup on a 3" baby bass pattern Zara Spook. The fish was all over it but even after a few ferocious hits, wouldn't hook up. I finally snagged the bait into a leaf on the surface and it killed the action. That ended the chase.

It was getting dark and time had run out. I launched a hard cast upriver out of frustration. It landed about six feet further than where I had been working. It got blasted by a good fish and I had a long-range hookup. Nice fight and lipped it while over waist-deep. Had the tripod setup and got a half-way decent shot of the big old Fox River bronze. Taped it at 18.75" before releasing it to fight another day.

The breeze died at sunset. A minor front seemed to have come through because when I started there were some big clouds around and by the time the sun set and I got off the water the sky was clear in all directions. Got to watch some bats zipping above the river and gorging on the caddisflies. Despite the slow fishing, was a pleasant wade. Always nice to get out. USGS 11.17' / 564

Fox River smallmouth bass

top
Creek Chub Pikie
September 13, 2009

Fox River Fishing Report: On the road at 6:45 PM. The sun was getting low and I was questioning the sanity of such a late start. It would be another 20 minutes before I was at the river, and another 10 before I was suited up and setting foot in the water. The allure of topwater piqued my motivation.

I tried to use the drive time to formulate a game plan. I’d travel with only a few essentials and bring the digital on the tripod. There was no time for a delicate introduction. I’d march into the river and power wade to the best area. Go for the jugular -- the big ones.

The sun had just set as I laced up my wading boots and made last-minute preparations. I took a set of fresh batteries from my camera case and loaded them into my digital camera. I was ready, and off I went.

The river was a brisk five-minute walk away. The time blurred as I rehearsed the wade route in my head. Once at the river’s edge, nearby carp seemed to sense my urgency as they scattered from the shallows. I trudged knee-deep to a gravel bar which would act as my express lane. I bypassed usual spots. I neared my destination at twilight amidst a blizzard of caddisflies. Carp mouthed them on the surface. I endlessly shrugged off mosquitoes.

I planted the tripod safely in some thigh-deep calm. I moved away and approached the edge of the current seam. A few initial casts with the topwater proved silent. I took a breath and relaxed. There had to be someone home. I took a few steps further and launched a long cast upriver. The bait got carried through some riffles and as I caught up to it and began its action I saw the faint shape of a big bronzeback break the water right at my lure. I didn’t feel the fish so I didn’t set the hook. I let the lure drift a few feet more and began walking it again. A big boil happened underneath. Still no strike. Finally the big bronze had enough and slammed it. I felt it and set the hook hard. The fish tore upriver and towards deeper water. Great fight and some drag peeled off my baitcaster. Finally it turned and surged towards me. I was waist-deep. I had moved towards the tripod. It tried to circle my leg. I managed to keep it free of me and with some luck it did not entangle or knock over the tripod. I lipped it and the front treble had found its mark solidly inside the fish’s bottom lip. A few seconds of dexterous hemostat work and it was free for a photo. The camera was pre-set to auto-timer. I kept the fish beneath the water and waited until the indicator light told me the shutter and flash were about to go off. I lifted the fish up and smiled. Another one captured! Taped it at 19-1/8” before releasing it. It was 7:25 PM.

I re-grouped after the commotion. I had accomplished what I had come for. A few more casts in the fading light produced a little smallmouth on the same bait in the same area. I taped it just for fun. It measured 7.5”. Interesting how it hung out in the same area with such a big fish. I called it a night.

The wade back was dark and chest-deep. Shoreline campfires and faint street lights acted as beacons. My mind flashed back to the news story about a small alligator found in the Chicago River some months ago. I super-sized it to an African crocodile stalking the Fox River. At any second I’d feel it crush my femur and take me into a death roll. Is this how life would end? Would I be found half-eaten in some log jam or churning beneath a dam? I reached the shallows without incident. Carp spooked ahead of me. I imagined them as big crocs coming through the shallows. Finally, dry land.

Only five more minutes and I’d be at the car. Five minutes of blackness. Who -- or what -- was on the path? Maybe a dog-walker? Probably an unleashed Doberman, or worse, a Rottweiler. A crazed Rottweiler that would defend its owner against an unfamiliar and unwelcomed fisherman. Maybe a deer. Probably an early rut buck with massive antlers that would pierce my chest and knock me down at any second. My vision blurred in the darkness as senses heightened. The loud chorus of insects could not drown out my thoughts. I turned my camera on and tried to light the way. Its puny LCD emitted a pitiful glow. Maybe I would illuminate the reflective eyes of something as tall as me. Perhaps I wouldn’t want to know what’s out there!

Oh great, I walked through a spider web. Probably just a black widow. And it would come home down the back of my shirt. At least it could eat some of the caddisflies that were still crawling on me -- when they find me dead.

I reached the car and snapped out of it. I took off the waders and shed the fear with them. I did a check to make sure I didn’t leave anything on the back bumper. Once in the car, I turned on the radio. Oh yeah, Bears at Lambeau Field! The temperature gage in the car read 65°. Although we’re not through the equinox just yet, the spirit of autumn had arrived. USGS 11.19’ / 590 CFS

Fox River smallmouth bass

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

top
Creek Chub Pikie
September 12, 2009

DuPage River Fishing Report: Kayaked and fished early morning with my brother-in-law Joel. We put in around 6:55 AM and it was very foggy. The river is low and clear with sparse clumps of stringy vegetation washing down river. We both fished topwater and hits were light and somewhat spotty. Fish would take one shot at the bait and if missed, wouldn't hit again. We finally got our groove on and found some nice ones. We ended boating a combined 12 fish, with 9 smallmouth and 3 rock bass. Was a mix between topwater and the hula grub. For topwater, Joel fished a small red-mouthed surface popper, I fished a 3" gold bass Heddon Zara Spook.

A foggy morning on the DuPage River A foggy morning on the DuPage River DuPage River smallmouth bass Joel Aldridge with a DuPage River largemouth bass DuPage River smallmouth bass

top
Creek Chub Pikie
September 11, 2009

Fox River Fishing Report: Wade fished the Fox River solo from 6:15 PM to 7:40 PM. Stuck with a 3" gold bass Heddon Zara Spook the entire wade. The river is low and clarity is decent. Started out walking the dog with the 'Spook downstream along a rocky shore with tree overhangs. Made long casts and moved slowly as to not spook the dozens of carp tailing in the shallows. Picked up three little smallies for starters. Switched areas and worked an outside bend with chunk rock and gravel near deeper water. Landed some nice ones, biggest 16", 18", 18.25". Caught nine smallies total for the evening. An 18" is pictured below. Lots of lures and techniques will work for river smallies. I sure love topwater and will take advantage of it while it lasts!

Fox River smallmouth bass

top
Creek Chub Pikie
September 10, 2009

Fox River Fishing Report: Got back to the Fox River tonight for a quick solo outing from shore. Missed one smallie blowup on the 3" Heddon Zara Spook. Caught a little 10" on the hula grub. With the lower water, I was able to see my 1/2-ounce Terminator SS 'white thumper' spinnerbait right where the big smallie broke me off two nights ago. Must have come unhooked just after the line broke. Glad it fell out. I hooked on the 'Spook and was able to reach my rod tip down into the water and retrieve the bait. Only a quick outing, but favorable outcome. Beautiful evening. Wish we'd get some rain to get these rivers pumping again. Too low for my liking. Bring on some storms!!!

top
Creek Chub Pikie
September 8, 2009

Shore fished at the Fox River solo after work. Started off with a 3" gold bass Heddon Zara Spook and caught a 14" smallie on my first cast. Was bringing the bait downstream through some riffles near a big eddy. Missed another one on topwater and couldn't get any more to surface. Switched to a hula grub and picked up a little 10.5" smallie. Tried a 1/2-ounce white thumper spinnerbait downstream through some fast water and got slammed by a decent-sized smallie. Great fight and big-shouldered fish. Couldn't quite reach it to lip it so did a 'hail Mary' swing after I thought all the head shaking was over. Nope. Snap! Lost the fish and bait. Some day I'll wise up and take my time. Feeling bummed, switched towns and went to another topwater spot. A family already there bank fishing. Tried a few casts downstream from them and blanked on the 'Spook. Oh well.

top
Creek Chub Pikie
September 4, 2009

DuPage River Fishing Report: Back to the DuPage River today for a paddle. Second time this month with my beautiful fishing partner in the front of the kayak. Bright sun and great looking water. Grass can be frustrating in the lower water but with the mobility of the kayak, easy to get by. She was missing fish again on the hula grub and getting frustrated, so I tied on a surface popper and took her along the bank in the shade. She worked some slow water and got hit by a rock bass. She gleefully landed it. Gotta start somewhere! A while later she got a little smallie. Popper again. I stuck with the hula grub for most of the trip. I boated eight smallies, biggest two were 16.25" and 16.75". Again, tight to structure and shade ... shade ... shade!

DuPage River smallmouth bass DuPage River smallmouth bass

Fox River Fishing Report: Full moon today and you think I'm done? Forget it! Back to the Fox River for a quick evening wade. Fished a 3" gold bass Heddon Zara Spook. River is in great shape. Lots of carp slurping caddisflies off the surface in slack water. Smallies not far behind. Landed six bass on topwater, mostly small. Caught a nice one around 7:30 PM. Hit the 'Spook off an outside turn with scattered chunk rock and gravel near deeper water. Measured 19". Beautiful evening with a full moon rising.

Fox River smallmouth bass

top
Creek Chub Pikie
September 3, 2009

Fox River Fishing Report: Got out to the Fox River in the evening with my littlest one. We just tinkered around from shore. Sure enough, got some hits on top while walkin' the dog with a 3" gold bass Heddon Zara Spook. Only managed one smallie. Fish hit while the bait was coming downstream through some riffles and into deeper water. Taped it at 15.5".

Fox River smallmouth bass

top
Creek Chub Pikie
September 1, 2009

Fox River Fishing Report: Into September full steam ahead. Have been fishing just about daily. Took September 1st off ... busy as heck with work. Have taken my wife on two kayak / fishing trips for smallies so far this month. She loves it. We've finally got the time to be able to hit the river and enjoy it. She's in the river 'learning curve' but jokingly tells me, "Take me to your fish!" LOL. First trip, lots of dainty hooksets and missed fish for her. I mostly paddled but boated four with the biggest 16.5" on a hula grub. With the bright sunlight, letting that grub sweep under logs and grass mats is key. They are deep under there in the shade. Very dark fish.

top
Home | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | Articles | Fox River Guide | USGS Streamflow | YouTube
© 2016 Fish The Fox. All Rights Reserved. | "Fox River Deadfall" artwork by Paul Turnbaugh. Used with permission.