Fox River Deadfall
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A PERSONAL JOURNAL CHRONICLING FISHING ADVENTURES AT THE FOX RIVER AND BEYOND.
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September 29, 2010

Kishwaukee River Fishing Report: I visited the "Kish" today for a change of pace and wade fished solo for a few hours. The river is running low and slow and extremely clear. It's like looking into an aquarium. I stood on the bank and just watched for a while. I saw plenty of crayfish lumbering around their rocky hideouts. Even spotted a johnny darter perched on the bottom amidst some rubble. Scribbles in the sediment ended in mollusks of all sizes, upright and filter-feeding. Bullfrogs dotted the river's edge. A kingfisher chattered. Carp tailed in the shallows. Bathed in the chorus of autumn insects and the river's babble, I was lost in the afternoon.

The clear water dictated a slow, cautious pace and long casts. I fished a topwater and despite the cloudless sky got bit immediately. The culprit was a tiny northern pike, smallest I've ever caught. Was about twice as long as the Sammy, maybe seven inches. More casts, more strikes. Small bass and pike continuously slashed at the Sammy. About ten minutes into my wade I got a decent blowup and after a few more twitches connected with a better bass. I never measured it but guess it was maybe 13" to 14" inches. Got a nice photo of it in the clear water.

I ended up landing eleven smallmouth and three northern pike. I'd guess most of the smallies were in the 9" to 11" range. Three were big enough to put up a decent fight and an aerial display. They were in the 13" to 15" range. I taped the largest at 15". All of the pike were small. From micro-sized to around 20".

It was a relaxing wade and the health of that little meandering stream continues to impress me.

Kishwaukee River smallmouth bass Kishwaukee River bullfrog Kishwaukee River northern pike Kishwaukee River Kishwaukee River Kishwaukee River Kishwaukee River northern pike

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Creek Chub Pikie
September 28, 2010

Fox River Fishing Report: Wade fished solo for about 45 minutes before sunset. Started out with a Lucky Craft Sammy 100 topwater in pearl ayu and caught a small smallmouth bass while walking the dog downriver over a gravel-strewn run. Couldn't draw any other topwater strikes so switched to a Lucky Craft Fat Mini CB in pearl. Picked up a nice smallmouth that taped at 16-7/8". That was it. Waded back and got out of the river at dusk. USGS 11.26' / 687 CFS.

Fox River smallmouth bass

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Creek Chub Pikie
September 26, 2010

Fox River Fishing Report: Wade fished solo early evening until dark. Was a continuation of my September 25 wade -- same area, same time, same bait. I caught two nice smallmouth bass right away while walking a pearl ayu Sammy 100 topwater downstream. The spot went quiet so I waded upriver and explored for the remainder of the wade. I found some nice new areas, a bit tricky to wade to, but productive. I landed three more smallmouth bass on the Sammy, the largest taped at 17-1/8" and is pictured below. I had my lens dialed to 24 mm and mistakenly cut my head off on the auto-timer pic! Enjoyed fishing and exploring until sunset and then waded and walked back to the car in the dark. USGS 11.30' / 745 CFS.

Fox River smallmouth bass

Fox River Fishing Report: Kayaked and fished with my youngest son (7) for two hours mid-morning. The action was somewhat slow but I managed to boat a 15" smallmouth on a pearl ayu Sammy 100 topwater, and later a 17-1/8" smallmouth on a 3/8-ounce firetiger spinnerbait. Lost one other decent-sized smallmouth to a jump-off after it blew up on the Sammy. Was a nice morning to be on the water and enjoy some time chatting and fishing with my youngest. USGS 11.31' / 760 CFS.

Future fisherman

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Creek Chub Pikie
September 25, 2010

Fox River Fishing Report: Shore and wade fished solo at the Fox River for a few hours late afternoon. Started out from shore in a downtown area and tried a variety of lures. Ended up landing two smallmouth on a 3" gold bass Zara Spook. Missed a larger fish on the 'Spook (came off underwater) and had a decent-sized smallie pound a Lucky Craft Flat Mini SR. How that fish didn't get hooked on the LC is beyond me. I saw it come off some structure and nail the crankbait as it bulged just beneath the surface while coming downstream.

I switched areas and put on the waders, looking for some solitude in the cool afternoon. I took a chance on a forest preserve that I rarely frequent. It's not one of my favorite areas but I know a couple of spots there that have produced consistently in the few times I've hit them. To my surprise, the parking lot was empty. For a weekend day along the Fox, that is rare. I waded across the river and worked my way slowly upstream through a knee-deep run that had a nice gravel bottom and a few sparse boulders along shore. I worked a pearl ayu Lucky Craft Sammy 100. It didn't take but four or five casts for a bronzeback to smash the lure as I walked the dog downstream. Within the span of about 45 minutes I landed six smallmouth on the Sammy: 16-1/8", 15-1/4", 17-1/4", 16", 17-1/2", 17-3/4". Only one fish came from the run, the rest were near what looked like a man-made stream barb -- a pile of rubble and boulders sticking out a few yards from shore. The smallies were stacked up in the current running around the tip of the pile. It was a blast catching them on the Sammy. Seemed like each hit was more aggressive than the last, and they were all quality fish. The odd thing is that I caught the largest one (pictured) last, at around 6:45 PM. Seems I usually catch the biggest right off the bat and then they get smaller.

Got a nice auto-timer pic off a fallen log near shore. Air temp was 56 degrees as I got off the water. Nice to wear the fleece and have some cool air for a change. Feels like smallmouth weather! USGS 11.27' / 701 CFS.

Fox River smallmouth bass

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Creek Chub Pikie
September 24, 2010

Fox River Fishing Report: Wade fished solo at the Fox River for about an hour after work. I mostly fished topwater and landed one 12" smallmouth on a 3" gold bass pattern Heddon Zara Spook. I got a few other blowups but the fish did not commit to the lure. I followed up with the spinnerbait and a Mann's Baby 1- crankbait but didn't bring any of fish to hand. Was a nice wade. Mild air temp and lots of wind. Saw lots of surface activity. USGS 11.25' / 673 CFS.

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Creek Chub Pikie
September 23, 2010

Fox River Fishing Report: Kayaked and fished with my friend Joe. We did a short float, around 1.75 miles. The weather was hot, around 90 degrees, but very windy. Many times the wind was so strong it would start to blow us upstream and I'd have to paddle hard to get us moving downstream again. We occasionally got out of the kayak to stretch and to fish a few of the spots where the current was faster. I fished spinnerbaits (firetiger or white thumper) the entire time and boated seven smallmouth. The biggest was around 15". Joe caught fish on a white buzzbait and a firetiger jointed Rapala. He boated around 4 or 5 smallies. The "lucky moment" of the trip was when Joe made a hard cast upriver and his braid snapped, launching his buzzbait. He was mad that he lost his buzzbait, as it was the only one he had with him. I fished the same area with my spinnerbait and got hit on my second cast. When I reeled in the smallmouth, it had Joe's line tangled around its fins and I retrieved his lost buzzbait! It was an enjoyable float and fishing trip on what was most likely the last hot day of the year. USGS 11.31' / 760 CFS.

Fox River smallmouth fishing Fox River Smallmouth Bass

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Creek Chub Pikie
September 22, 2010

Fox River Fishing Report: Kayaked and fished with my youngest son (7) for about an hour and half after work. We both fished spinnerbaits and keyed in on a deep cut with boulders along shore. I hooked a smallmouth that appeared to be in the 14"-15" range right off the bat but it jumped off as I was trying to get our anchor to hold in the swift water. Overall the action was slow with a few bumps and boils here and there. I finally hooked into a decent-sized smallmouth on a 3/8-ounce firetiger pattern Joe Bucher "Slopmaster" spinnerbait. The fish was a brute and put up a great fight. It taped at 18.5" and my son took some nice photos before I released it to fight another day. We loaded up and headed for home around sunset and got to see the beautiful full harvest moon rising. USGS 11.34' / 806 CFS.

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Creek Chub Pikie
September 21, 2010

Fox River Fishing Report: Shore fished solo at the Fox River for about an hour in the late afternoon. Towering thunderheads grew in the western sky as I kept a close eye on the weather reports via my iPhone. I cast a 3" Zara Spook about twenty feet from shore and walked the dog downstream through a riffle. After a few halfhearted blowups from smallmouth, I simply let the lure drift through the riffle without giving it any action. The subtle presentation was enough and I ended up landing three smallmouth in the 13" to 15" range, each of which slurped the lure off the surface.

The topwater action grew cold and I wanted to comb through the area with a spinnerbait. In my backpack was a little Plano box that contained an assortment of small lures that my sons use. I tied on a 1/8-ounce Terminator 'white thumper' spinnerbait and cast upstream, quickly bringing the mini spinnerbait downstream through the riffle. On the second cast a big smallmouth pounced on it! It tail-walked right through the riffle and gave a great fight. There were some tedious moments as I stretched out and reached down to land the thrashing bronzeback. Luck was on my side when I firmly lipped it and brought it on shore for a quick measure and a photo. I was thrilled when it easily taped at 20".

I released the trophy and thanked my lucky stars for the opportunity. I figured I'd call it a day and headed back to my car, phoning my wife to bore her to death with yet another fish story. LOL. She suggested I stay out a little while longer to fish before the rain arrived. I happily obliged. I walked back to the same area, which was a little more shaded. I switched to a small black and silver floating Rapala and tried a few casts upstream from the riffle, bringing the bait downstream just fast enough to overtake the current and make it dive beneath the surface. That got the attention of another bronzeback as the lure got pounded right in the middle of the riffle. I managed a solid hookset and the big smallmouth rewarded me with a hard fight and acrobatic display. It was déjà vu as I was once again nervously trying secure trophy bronze between my thumb and forefinger. Success! This time a solid 19" and another brief auto-timer photo in the exact same spot.

After the release and reviewing the photos on my camera, I gave one of my fishing buddies a call to share the news. I knew he'd appreciate it for what it was! I tried a few more areas from shore with no luck. I made it home just as the storm hit and gave my neighborhood quite a soaking! USGS 11.28' / 716 CFS.

20" Fox River Smallmouth Bass 19" Fox River Smallmouth Bass

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Creek Chub Pikie
September 19, 2010

Fox River Fishing Report: Took my youngest son (7) fishing and kayaking at the Fox River. Was an amazing morning. We launched around 8:45 and after paddling across to the opposite shore, a smallmouth bass spooked and jumped, landing in our kayak! It was around twelve inches and was thrashing around as my son and I laughed in disbelief! I really wanted him to hold the bass for a photo, but he was scared to so I let it go. Nice to have one boated without even trying!!!

The jumping smallie was a good omen. We ended up landing fourteen smallmouth in total. My go-to bait was a 3/8-ounce firetiger spinnerbait. The fish were pounding it! Four of the fourteen were worth photographing, taping at 17-7/8", 17.5", 17", and 16.75". We wrapped it up around 11 AM and headed for home. It surely felt like someone or something was smiling down on us! USGS 11.30' / 745 CFS.

Forest Preserve Fishing Report: Later in the the afternoon we ventured out again for some kayaking and fishing at a nearby forest preserve. The preserve is relatively new and has a small lake loaded with 10" to 14" largemouth bass. It's a great place for kids to develop their fishing skills. I had my son rigged up with a small, shallow-running Rebel crankbait and he cast it out near a weed edge. The lure settled and with a gentle "slurp" it disappeared. I don't think he even realized it had gotten hit but all of a sudden his line went tight and the rod almost got pulled overboard. After quite a battle his quarry was revealed -- he had TWO largemouth bass on his lure. I have only experienced this one other time, years ago while wade fishing the Kishwaukee River for smallmouth.

Needless to say, we were thrilled by the day's luck while fishing. It wasn't until later that I realized it was indeed a special day. It was my dad's birthday. He would have turned 80. I'm superstitious that way ... I think he may have been smiling down on his son and grandson!

A double catch of largemouth bass A double catch of largemouth bass A double catch of largemouth bass My littlest fishing buddy!

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

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Creek Chub Pikie
September 17, 2010

Fox River Fishing Report: Kayaked and fished a long stretch of the Fox River with my buddy Joe. The first half was a bit slow but the second stretch was great. Ended up with a combined 16 smallmouth, about seven were 16"+ plus. I had one that hit a firetiger spinnerbait from behind a big boulder in strong current. It was a beast in the 19"-20" range and it came off boat-side as I was lipping it. Others measured were 18.5" and several in the 17"-18" range. Nothing on topwater. Not much on the Zoom Super Fluke. Hot baits were the 3/8-ounce firetiger spinnerbait (me) and a #4 Mepp's Aglia in gold/squirrel (Joe). Joe landed 9 fish and I landed 7. Great day to be out and quite an enjoyable paddle with a friend. USGS 11.27' / 701 CFS.

Fox River Smallmouth Bass Fox River Smallmouth Bass Fox River Smallmouth Bass Fox River Smallmouth Bass Fox River Smallmouth Bass Fox River Smallmouth Bass Fox River Smallmouth Bass

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Creek Chub Pikie
September 16, 2010

Fox River Fishing Report: Wade fished the Fox River with my buddy Joe for a few hours mid-afternoon. Despite the bright sun the bite was pretty decent. Joe had the hot hand with a pearl Zoom Super Fluke. He landed eight smallies, with five being 16"+. His biggest taped went 19-7/8"! I only fished a small Zara Spook and landed three. Two were nice. One was in the 16"-17" range and the other was a beast, but I dropped it as I was turning my camera on. I'm guessing it was in the 18"-19" range. The bass were hitting extremely tight to cover / shade. Nothing out in the open. We grabbed a few beers afterward and plotted a float trip. USGS 11.24' / 659 CFS.

Fox River Smallmouth Bass Fox River Smallmouth Bass Fox River Smallmouth Bass Fox River Smallmouth Bass Fox River Smallmouth Bass Fox River Smallmouth Bass Fox River Smallmouth Bass

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Creek Chub Pikie
September 13, 2010

Fox River Fishing Report: Shore fished the Fox River solo for about an hour in the early afternoon. Only picked up one white bass on a jig and twister near the boils of a dam. USGS 11.26' / 687 CFS.

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Creek Chub Pikie
September 12, 2010

Forest Preserve Fishing Report: Kayaked and fished small forest preserve lake with my youngest son (7). We had never fished there before. Nice place! Super clear and deep. We boated eleven largemouth in a few hours. Nine on a 5" Yamamoto Hula Grub rigged on a 1/8-ounce Charlie Brewer Slider Head. Most hit it on the drop. Got two on a white buzzbait as I paddled and drifted back to the launch.

Wading near the launch Largemouth bass catch Kayaking and fishing

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Creek Chub Pikie
September 11, 2010

Fox River Fishing Report: Wade fished solo late evening until dark. I only fished the 3" Zara Spook and picked up five smallmouth. Nothing big. USGS 11.32' / 775 CFS.

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Creek Chub Pikie
September 10, 2010

DuPage River Fishing Report: Couldn't have asked for a nicer client for a DuPage River guide trip. Gentleman was a 79-year-old retired doctor from Geneva. He was super nice and 100% fly fisherman. He is in amazingly good shape for someone about to turn 80. He has fly fished since eight-years-old and his casting skills were A+. He could lay the fly down anywhere he wanted to.

We floated nearly eight miles of river. The trip lasted from 9:25 AM to 7:45 PM. I brought a soft cooler full of bottled water and Gator Aid. I also packed us each a bag of snacks. I did not bring a rod for myself and concentrated solely on paddling and anchoring in order to keep the kayak positioned as perfectly as I could. We got out a few times along the way to stretch. Overall he complimented me on my paddling and handling of the kayak.

He was very comfortable casting the fly from the kayak. It was fun to watch. He used deceivers, clousers, wooly buggers, crayfish imitators, and poppers. Overall, I was super impressed with his skills! He had a good read on current and structure and was putting the fly exactly where I'd put a bait. I have to say, he impressed the heck out of me.

The river was low and slow. It was a bright, sunny day and grass floating down river was bad in a few areas, but some areas were surprisingly clear and free of floating debris. I scanned the river for smallies all day and didn't see very many. I spotted a few medium-sized bronzebacks cruising occasionally, but didn't see many big groups of cruisers.

The fishing was great. The catching was not. He boated only five small bronzebacks the whole float. I felt really bad. I thought for sure he'd eventually get into a "gimmie" Dupe giant. He really put in a good effort but the smallies just didn't seem that into anything he presented.

The flies that did get bit were the deceiver, clouser, wooly bugger, and crayfish imitator. However, the big fish seemed wary. The flies (even the big ones) seem like a very subtle presentation. The deceiver was a big, flashy fly, but didn't sink very well. The clouser sank, but was relatively small in profile and would get hung up. The crayfish imitator and wooly bugger seemed to do OK. The popper was a bust ... couldn't cast that far and too much work to strip the line and pop it. Would work better when wading or fishing still water.

In terms of "guiding", I gave it my all the entire day to keep my client as comfortable as I could and at the correct angles to effectively work his targets. No doubt we floated through some great water and he thoroughly worked it. USGS 4.98' / 65 CFS.

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Creek Chub Pikie
September 2, 2010

DuPage River Fishing Report: I met my older brother (49) at the DuPage River mid-morning for some kayaking and fishing. He just bought a solo sit-in kayak and is new to moving water. This was his first river paddle, and I figured the "Dupe" would be easy for him. Our meet time was 9:30 AM. He called me at home at 8:05 AM and inquired about canceling due to the rain. I told him the radar looked better down near the river and the surrounding area and to bring some rain gear ... we were going fishing.

I dropped my kids off at school and drove through some heavy rain to the Dupe. By the time I arrived at 9:10 AM, the rain had let up and only the trees were dripping. I cast a Lucky Craft Sammy 100 from the muddy launch for a while but no takers. I checked my watch and it was 9:45 AM with no sign of my brother. I called his mobile phone and he gave me a story about how he had gotten his rivers mixed up and was at the Fox. I could not believe it. Then he back-peddled and said that he had gotten his parks mixed up and was at some park near the DuPage River. This despite a detailed e-mail from me the night before noting our put-in area and the street name! Within ten minutes he had corrected his directions and found me.

So around 10:15 AM we had my car dropped off at our take-out spot and I was ready to hit the river! "You got a McDonald's around here?" he inquired. "I could use some coffee..." Oh boy, I thought. It'll take fifteen to twenty more minutes to detour to McDonald's. So off we went, taking the back way to the local McDonald's ... all to get him a caramel frappe, then drive back to the launch point. It was a lesson in patience.

We finally made it back to the river and my kayak was waiting for me. I couldn't wait to get in and start working topwater under the bridge. I helped my brother get his kayak off his car and he proceeded to thoroughly dry it with his Sham-Wow. I helped him load in his stuff, gave him a new pack of 301 color hula grubs, some brief instruction, and asked him if he minded if I launched. He was fine with that and was right behind me. So off I went. I was free of land and of worry, ready to catch some smallmouth! I paddled out to mid-river and watched and waited for him to get into the kitchen-sink-sized cockpit of his tiny solo kayak and push off. He studied and studied it, but was having trouble getting in and worrying about dumping. I yelled some more instructions and it seemed to click. He finally squeezed in, ready to start paddling, then decided he was too hot in his rain jacket. It was like watching Houdini escape from a straight jacket while trying not to flip a kayak! Finally, he was off.

He loved the Dupe. Nice and clear, plenty of cover. It is a beautiful little river and always nice to hear it appreciated by others. We paddled up to a nearby bridge. "I'll take the left, you take the right." I yelled. We drifted up to the pilings on each side. The wind was at our backs and caught my brother off-guard. He didn't use his paddle to slow down and drifted nose-first right into the piling with a thud, scraping the tip of his rod on the concrete. Despite the inelegant beginning, he found his groove and it wasn't long before I heard the drag of his spinning reel sing as a smallie took off with his hula grub. He brought the fish to hand and from my vantage point it looked like a chunky 14" bronzeback -- not a bad cherry-popper on the Dupe!

We worked upstream for several hundred yards, taking in the sights and enjoying the overcast morning, breeze, and pleasant temps. Everything was new to him, and it was fun to see him taking in the Dupe for the first time. We killed a few hours before we decided to turn around and fish our way downstream to our take-out area. Fishing was spotty, but the river was rising, clarity was worsening, and the vegetation that the increased flow had uprooted was really starting to make a mess of the surface.

At this point, a local restaurant with some hot dogs and fries was beckoning us. We decided to quit fishing and paddle down to our take-out point. I had boated ten smallmouth, the biggest at 15.5" (buzzbait) and 17.25" (hula grub) and my brother had boated only the one and lost another one in the same area. All in all he said he was happy to catch even one fish, which is one more then he has caught in our last two floats on still water.

I made sure to keep cracking joke after joke and had him laughing for as awkward of a take-out as possible. He thanked me for that as he almost dumped. I said, "Don't worry, if you fall back I'll make sure to get out of the way in a hurry so you get the perfect "Nestea plunge!" LOL.

Ah brothers. Despite his quirks it was a fun outing. Fishing didn't really matter and those hot dogs sure tasted good after the float was over! USGS 5.32' / 135 CFS.

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