Fox River Deadfall
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September 30, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Shore and wade fished solo for a few hours after work 'till dark. Started off wading and tossing a 1/2-ounce white spinnerbait. Caught 15.5" and 10" smallies in short order. Couldn't seem to find any more on the spinnerbait so switched to the chrome and red Ripplin' Redfin minnow bait and picked up another 10" smallie. Then the spot went dead.

Drove to a new area and hoped for the best. Tied on the spinnerbait again and brought it around chunk rock in knee- to waist-deep water. Timid wade upstream in the current through unfamiliar area. Nothing by the rocks, not even a bump. Couldn't believe it 'cause I thought the spot would be cherry.

Stopped by another spot and thought I'd throw for musky. A couple guys already there. Mostly bobber fishing minnows or tossing jigs. Worked the spinnerbait through some slower water just off the main current break and the thumping blade churned up the baitfish. No luck with 'skis or northern so left after about ten minutes.

Ran into my river fishin' buddy at the next spot. He's an old salt who is always out fishing somewhere or another on the Fox. His report was nothin' doin' on the smallies but the white bass were hittin'. He had on a tiny white jig and twister. Had to be about 1/32-ounce. I worked some of the nearby structure anyway with the spinnerbait to no avail.

Last stop of the night was more urban and all from shore. Still had the spinnerbait tied on and got a big bump on it but missed the fish. Let it simmer for a few minutes, setup my tripod and camera, then tied on the 1/8-ounce Northland Mimic Minnow. Could have just as easily used a jig and twister but the M Minnow was all I had. Fluttered it near the missed strike and BAM! Paydirt. Didn't measure the fish 'cause my tape was attached to my waders, which were in the trunk. Suffice it to say it was wide-bodied biggie! Caught two more smaller ones before dark, both about 10".

Quite a spot hop but sometimes that's what it takes. After some grocery shopping on the way home, witnessed a beautiful crescent moon set around 8:40 PM. Just awesome as it neared the horizon. Reminded me of the Death Star under construction. USGS 11.97' / 2,000 CFS

What a crazy September 2011! 23 fishing trips, 231 fish landed. Mostly smallmouth bass. Everything released. Even if you don't fish the Fox, I hope these reports and pictures have given you an appreciation for what is has to offer.

Fox River smallmouth bass


September 29, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: I've been doing well on the Cotton Cordell Ripplin' Redfin minnow bait but tonight it was time to switch it up and instead of throwing flash and rattle I thought I'd try a more subtle approach. I pulled out the wooden Arbogast Snooker minnow and let it hang in the current with an occasional snap of the wrist to break cadence or free a leaf from the trebles (there were many tonight!). Turned out to be a good move as it got pounced on by two hungry smallmouth bass. The first was an 18.25" beauty and the second was a drag-peeling 17". My third fish of the brief evening outing was a feisty 15" that nailed a 1/2-ounce white spinnerbait slow-rolled against current. I did give the Coors can a try once again, but even its promise of thirst-quenching Rocky Mountain spring water goodness could not tempt a strike. Maybe next time...

I made the mistake of leaving for the river before putting my freshly charged battery into my camera. So when I went to take the first shot, no power! I relied on the tried and true iPhone for a few pics and a video. Quick outing but gusty winds, mild temp, autumn foliage and a few bronzebacks made for a pleasant evening. USGS 12.01' / 2,080 CFS ^

Arbogast Snooker Minnow Coors Can Lure Fox River smallmouth bass


September 28, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Today was just like yesterday. Well, not as much rain, the fish weren't as big, and I caught fewer of them. Other than that, it was pretty much the same. Yeah, and more snakes! 10", 12", 15.5", 15.5" / half-ounce Terminator SS 'white thumper' spinnerbait, Kopper's Live Target sub surface crawfish crankbait in mustard brown. The increase in flow on the Fox has proven to be more of an annoyance as it stifled the awesome bite and is not enough of an increase to push the fish in towards shore. They're still holding close to where they were before but aren't hitting as aggressively -- more bumps and boils. USGS 11.93' / 1,920 CFS

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


September 27, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Shore and wade fished solo for a few hours mid-afternoon. Due to the recent rain, the river has increased in height and flow and decreased in clarity -- a tad on the muddy side. My typical high water spots were no good -- the river has not come up that much. I started off throwing a 3/8-ounce pearl Jonn Graham swim jig with a blue/translucent Big Hammer tail. I was working moderate flow near some chunk concrete and the lure got hit twice in as many casts. Could not hook the culprits as they were hitting the tail. I switched to a 1/8-ounce Northland Mimic Minnow and fluttered it in the same area. Took about five more minutes but the smallies could not resist. Caught 'em both -- 12" and 14".

Packed it in and headed for spot #2 and the sky opened up. Didn't want to be stuck in the humid car so chanced it and set out in my rain jacket. Figured maybe I could squeak out a few more in the next spot. I struck out on the fish and ended up with damp shoes, socks, and jeans. Plan B was looking like heading home to dry out but my wife called and we decided to meet for lunch at a nearby cafe. It was perfect -- a hot drink and a chance to dry out and think of a better game plan.

After lunch I foolishly wasted more time plying the waters around urban areas that were suspiciously devoid of fish. I figured either they'd already been hit or the increase in flow had not changed things enough for the fish to move in. Finally realizing there was no high water bite for me, I suited up and began to wade. I rotated between a 1/2-ounce Terminator SS 'white thumper' spinnerbait and a chrome and orange Cotton Cordell Ripplin' Redfin rattling minnow bait. I hit some nice fish setup on a long, sloping rock bar near 'deep(er)' water. They were bumping the lures if not fully committing with bone-jaring strikes. Ended up landing four taping at 18.75", 17.5", 15.75" and 16". Largest pictured. USGS 11.94' / 1,940 and falling.

Unfortunately due to the rain, getting soaked, and occasional drizzle throughout the afternoon, my camera got a bit wet and the UV filter and lens fogged up. There wasn't much I could do about it in the field and most of my photos came out hazy. I hit a camera store on the way home for a lens cleaning cloth and new UV filter. Drying out...

From a nature perspective, things were quite active today. Saw a doe and two fawns, a juvenile bald eagle (brown phase), a belted kingfisher, wood ducks, the ever-present cormorants and Canada geese, herons, egrets, and quite a few song birds. This mixed with the fall foliage made for a pleasant outing -- in spite of some occasional rain.

Fox River smallmouth bass


September 26, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Got out for a quick solo wade in the rain. River on the rise and clarity reduced since yesterday. Been throwing a Cotton Cordell 'Bob Izumi' signature series Ripplin' Redfin. Have had the crank for over a decade and break it out now and then when a larger profile is needed. It's got a lot of flash, rattle and a wide wobble. The kirbed trebles are sticky as hell. I like to use it as a wake bait on the Fox but for today, a straight retrieve about 8" under the surface was what the fish wanted. They were slammin' it! I ended up with seven smallmouth, five in the 17"-19" range. Largest pictured, along with the lure used. USGS 11.39' / 884 CFS ^

BTW, just for fun, I tossed the Coors beer can lure today. Slow retrieve, just under the surface. Sure enough, big boil comes up behind it. Thought for sure it would get clobbered but just drew interest. My goal is to get pics and video of a huge smallmouth bass on that lure. It "can" be done!

Fox River smallmouth bass Bob Izumi signature series Ripplin' Redfin


September 25, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: After taking a break from fishing on Saturday (What? Yeah, I know, right!) I got out on the river with my good buddy Kevin to see if we could tangle with a few more smallmouth. The weather was great -- a little foggy at the start then very overcast with light mist. Not really enough to be a bother. The surface had that neat 'bubbly' look to it -- seemed ripe for topwater!

Despite some explosive strikes on top where the bass launched out of the water at the bait but remained unhooked with no follow-through, I rotated through various lures. Kevin held fast using the 5" double-tail Yamamoto Hula Grub the entire time. We ended up catching a combined 9 smallmouth with some biggies mixed in. My best were 14", 17.5" (both on the Live Target Crawfish Crankbait in mustard brown) and 18" (Cotton Cordell Bob Izumi signature series Ripplin' Redfin) and Kevin popped a wide-bodied 18.75" on the hula grub hopped along the bottom. USGS 11.04' / 405 CFS

Fox River smallmouth bass release


September 23, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Kayaked and fished with my good buddy Kevin. Bite was hot early on cranks. Started off with a double of smallies, which is always a treat! Downstream near rocks / timber in mild current. Didn't find a fierce topwater bite today but slowed down and hopped a hula grub along the bottom and had good success. Boated a combined 34 smallmouth. Half-dozen in the 15"-17" range. The rest more/less juvies. Excellent time on the water with lots of laughs! USGS 11.03' / 393 CFS

Late morning I received an ecstatic voice-mail from my friend Jim. He was on the water and had taken time out to call me and thank me for a few tips and areas I clued him in on. He had caught three smallmouth in the first ten minutes, including an 18" brute on a buzzbait. It did my heart good to hear of his success! Autumn is a special time and watching a big smallmouth blowup on a topwater bait demonstrates the pinnacle of what these wonderful fish have to offer.


September 22, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Last Saturday my two sons and I attended the Illinois Smallmouth Alliance's Bassbugger 'Cast & Compare' outing on the shores of the Fox River. While the purpose of the outing was to demo fly rods and reels and paddle-test watercraft, the meaning ran much deeper for my sons. We wore our shin-high slop boots and spent the day turning over rocks in shallow pools. The amount and diversity of aquatic life was incredible. In a few hours we caught dozens of crayfish in various sizes and hues, half a dozen madtom catfish, johnny darters, blackstriped topminnows, and even frogs. With so much life under the rocks, it really made us think -- what are you really stepping on when you are wading in the river? I have to admit, as a wader, it made me feel guilty for intruding.

All week the boys have been talking about how much fun it was to explore those pools. They were anxious to return, dip net in hand, and see what else they could find. Wednesday evening their homework was finished before 5 PM. Off to the river we went! The pools had filled in a little from the rain the previous Sunday. They were thrilled to peer into the clear, cool water and once again, the abundance of wildlife did not disappoint. I let them explore and while not taking photos, made note of the garbage along the shoreline. I had a net and a garbage bag and filled it with debris, dumping it in the forest preserves trash bin several times. I felt like I made a small dent and the shoreline in that particular preserve looked a little nicer. I know it will be short-lived, but I felt better pitching in, literally.

Today I was out for a solo wade. I thought about my sons and the impressions that the river leaves on them. They know it as a source of joy for me, and for them it still holds mystery. What else lives in there? How deep is it? Is it safe? How do you wade? All these questions and more will be answered in time. My youngest (8) wants his own chest waders. Next season. He can't wait!

With low water comes easy access. A chance to prowl the shoreline, almost effortlessly. No need to slog knee-deep from spot to spot when you can take the expressway. With that in mind, during fishing today, I took time out for another trash cleanup. It only took 15 minutes or so, and was a chance to stretch my back and take a break from casting. It also left the shoreline nicer for next time. Again, my efforts might be short-lived, but why not give a little back to the river that gives so much? I'm a believer in karma. I've said this numerous times in the past. From rescuing turtles off the road to picking up trash here and there, you do what's right and it will come back to you. Maybe it was the river's way of saying 'thanks' or maybe I was in the right place at the right time. Who knows? But today was a day of fishing I'll never forget!

I spent about four hours wading the river. The weather was a little crisp, but I was dressed for it. Swift breeze, heavy clouds drifting by. Reminded me a lot of Minnesota weather. And the fish? Absolutely on fire! One of those autumn bites you dream about. It was as if I had died and gone to smallmouth heaven! I rotated between three baits, each could do no wrong: Kopper's Live Target crawfish crankbait in mustard brown; XCalibur XZ2 Zell Pop in ghost, Bass Pro Shops XPS Slim Dog in chartreuse shad.

I waded upstream and cast ahead of me, bringing the lure downstream near rocky banks or through knee- to waist-deep runs. When the bite slowed on one bait, I switched up and got noticed on a different presentation or cadence. I was very careful to re-tie after each big fish. I landed 23 smallmouth with four taping at 18", one at 19" (pictured) and six in the 15"-17" range. An amazing big fish bite for sure! I left the river feeling incredible (and a bit sunburned). I don't experience that caliber of smallmouth fishing ANYWHERE very often and when it happens on my home river, it is truly special. The message ... give back. You never know what it may bring in return!

Fox River smallmouth bass Live Target Crawfish Crankbait Fox River smallmouth bass Fox River smallmouth bass


September 21, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Got out for an early afternoon solo wade under bright, sunny skies. Concentrated on shin-deep rocky banks in shade. Saw a few carp tailing, which, depending on the location, can be a good sign as smallies are often nearby snapping up the invertebrates that the carp scare up. Sure enough, first cast near the carp -- bingo! I was fishing a Live Target crawfish crankbait in mustard brown color and keeping the rod tip high so to bulge the lure just beneath the surface as it is coming downstream. Ended up with 13 smallies, biggest taped at 14.5". USGS 11.03' / 393 CFS. Lastly, shout out to Al. Was great to meet you on the river today and I appreciate the time you took to chat with me!

Fox River smallmouth bass


September 20, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Got out for a solo wade with a new color crankbait to try. Live Target crawfish crank, this time in a crazy color -- pearl blue. It was just so pretty I couldn't pass it up (lure catches fisherman) and with the bright sun I thought it just might be different enough to work! I waded carefully upstream, tossing the crank ahead of me and bringing it downstream with a steady retrieve. My first fish on it was a white bass. Then a largemouth. Then a smallmouth! I got into a groove. Seemed I was catching a fish or at least getting a strike every 15 feet or so. Turned out to be one of those gems of a day where the numbers add up quickly. Lots of 10"-12" smallies but a few bigger ones mixed in. Ended the wade having caught 2 white bass, 2 largemouth, and 28 smallmouth.

Unfortunately after catching 22 on the pearl blue crawfish crank it got slammed and bit off. Presumably a walleye, which are known to frequent the area I was fishing. Plus, it's getting to be walleye time! I was sorry to lose the new crank after only one outing with it but I finished up with a Live Target crawfish crank in orange and black. Not as strong of a bite, but still caught more. 11.08' / 451 CFS


September 19, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Got out for a solo wade and explored a bit. Overcast and cool screamed topwater. I brought an XCalibur red-mouthed popper to try. Sure didn't take long for a smallie to find it! Two casts.

Nice start but no more takers in the area. Covered some water and switched to the Live Target sub-surface crawfish crankbait. Picked up four smallies bulging the surface downstream in knee-deep water. Not much size to 'em, around a foot. Played around with the camera. Thought a lot about my dad. He would have been 81 today. I sure do miss him and the fun times we had fishing together. All in the memory now.

Finished up near a deep area. Tied the popper back on as some heavy clouds rolled in. Fired it half-a-dozen times and tried aggressive 'bloops' as well as long pauses / subtle twitches. As it neared a shallow area I began retrieving it back to re-cast and a wake shot towards it. BOOM! A big smallie hammered it, jumped, then tail-walked. Awesome fight with a few more jumps mixed in. This bad boy did not want to stay hooked. My heart was racing as I lipped it. Never get tired of tangling with these brutes. Taped at 18". After the release I turned around to work the same area, hoping there were more bass willing to explode on the popper. Sure enough, next cast drifted near the same area and it got slammed! This one was even more aggressive going crazy with its acrobatics. I thought for sure it was going to be a bigger fish. It was just full of vinegar. Nope, it was a twin. Taped the same at 18". Unbelievable way to end the wade. Just awesome. USGS 11.12' / 500 CFS

Fox River scenery Fox River scenery Fox River smallmouth bass Fox River smallmouth bass hits a popper Fox River smallmouth bass release


September 18, 2011

DuPage River Fishing Report: Drove out to the Dupe early morning and first light provided an ominous glow. I pulled over on a quiet country road and snapped a quick photo. "Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning" was what my dad always told me. The drizzle wasn't that bad, or so I told myself as I kept driving -- eager to launch the kayak and begin fishing. I was dressed in layers, had my rain jacket, some Columbia quick-dry pants, and my duck boots. I felt ready enough for some rain. Off I went!

I haven't been to the Dupe since early 2011. Float-n-fly season to be exact. High gas prices have kept me closer to home. I figured mid-September was a good time to get reacquainted. The river was low and clear. The weeds didn't look terrible, although there were sporadic bunches of stringy vegetation washing downstream. There was enough regularity to it to prove frustrating. Any bait quickly fouled. I had to pace myself and remember that the Dupe may not give up her smallmouth easily at times. The drizzle continued my entire trip. I had two rods rigged up and rotated between The Eric Bait, a 5" double-tail Yamamoto Hula Grub rigged on a 1/8-ounce Pro Slider Head, a 1/4-ounce white buzzbait, and a pearl Lucky Craft Sammy 100. I used one rod for finesse / close range and one rod to launch long casts and cover water. Overall the bite was tough! I boated four smallmouth, all on topwater. Three on the Sammy and one on the buzzbait. They ranged from 14" to 17.5". The two best are pictured. USGS 4.80' / 33 CFS

Sunrise in Illinois DuPage River smallmouth bass DuPage River smallmouth bass


September 16, 2011

Private Lakes Fishing Report: So I'm out kayaking and fishing some private lakes today and targeting musky. I'm throwing heavy gear and fishing a perch pattern Jake. I slip into prime spots and thoroughly work them without so much as a boil. As I'm drifting along, I notice a good-sized bass cruising the weed edge. I figure it is just a big largemouth and don't really give it a second thought since it has seen me and the kayak and there's no way I'm gonna catch it. It's swimming closer and closer and it's tail is so big it reminds me of an ornamental koi. Just graceful. That's when I notice it's a big smallmouth!

I switch to my bass rod and see if it's interested in the crawfish crankbait. The crank gets noticed but the bass isn't in any mood to chase it. I tie on a hula grub, figuring it'll get snapped up for sure. Nope. Then I decide a finesse presentation just might work so I tie on one of Jonn Graham's hair jigs -- the kind I use for the float-n-fly rig in winter. All the while the bass is leisurely cruising, seeming to keep up with the kayak wherever I drift. It sure was curious! It even came up to checkout the perch Jake that was hanging boat-side with just an inch or so in the water.

Anyway, I toss the hair jig its way and let it drop. The bass immediately takes notice and follows it all the way to the bottom. It seemed like it wanted to inhale it but just would not commit. Then, the plot thickens. A musky comes out of the weeds nearby and moves in. A few twitches and sure enough, the 'ski snaps it up. I can see all this perfectly in the clear water, even though it is probably seven or eight feet down. I set the hook and it was like the musky could not believe it had fallen for such a stupid trick. It doesn't take off with a powerful run, it just swims away gently like nothing happened. But the dang thing is hooked! It is just playing opossum. It finally surges this way and that, and even jumps once. The best part is, as the musky is making its runs and thrashing around, the big smallmouth bass is right alongside it, trying to get the hair jig! I play the musky out and get it boat-side, then reach over and gill it. It's probably around 28"-30" and a tiger musky. Really pretty too! I get a good grip on it and it does a head-shake, totally slicing the side of my thumb with its teeth. Déjà vu!!! Now my thumb is dripping blood and I can forget about any sort of photo. It starts to thrash again but I was able to get the jig unhooked and off it went.

I put some pressure on my thumb and the bleeding stopped. I was ready to get back to fishing. I paddle over to where I had last seen the smallmouth and sure enough, here it comes to checkout the kayak! At this point, I thinking it's fate. I'm going to catch this fish! I'm going for broke and I'm going to catch a small bluegill, hook it up under a float and that smallie is going to be all over it. So I grab my backpack and find the Plano box that contains a tiny pink and white Flu Flu jig -- the ones my sons use for bluegill when they come kayaking. I tie it on and drift over in the shade of a big willow tree. I dabble the tiny jig on the surface and then let it drop down about a foot, then repeat. I see a few small 'gills coming out from the weeds and I figure I'm as good as gold. But no, the big smallmouth comes out of nowhere and inhales the little Flu Flu jig!!! Are you kidding me? I set the hook and the thing is head-shaking like crazy trying to shake the jig. It's tiny on the edge of this fish's mouth. What are the odds that I actually land it? Talk about horsing it. Even with a few runs I don't think I ever had more than four feet of line out. I got it boat side and could not wait to lip that old bass. Finally in the kayak!!! Measured it on a bump board and it went 20.25" and weighed on a scale at 3.6 lbs. Released.

An old fish and a skinny fish, but still provided quite a thrill!

The Grandaddy


September 15, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Wade fished solo for a few hours in the afternoon beneath bright, sunny skies and cool temps. Bite was tough. Managed three smallmouth on a Live Target crawfish crankbait coming downstream through thigh-deep runs. Biggest taped at 16.75". USGS 11.06' / 428 CFS


September 14, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Enjoyed the solitude of the river amidst the cooler weather and drizzle. Tossed the crawfish crankbait and brought ten smallmouth to hand. The largest taped at 18.5”. A few trees starting to turn and some leaves down already. The rain really made their colors pop. Nice afternoon for photography or just exploring in general. Fun to hear the blue jays, see a great-horned owl, and a doe and her fawn crossing the river. Water still feels very warm. River low and slow. USGS 11.09’ / 463 CFS

Fox River smallmouth bass Red maple leaf Quantum Smoke Baitcasting Reel Field & Stream wading shoe


September 13, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Got out to the Fox for a solo wade after work. Got a late start and didn't have much daylight left. Slogged upstream through large strands of green filamentous algae that are collecting on everything in the low, slow water. It's really giving a new dimension to the normally vegetation-free Fox. Not sure I like it, and it's got me thinking twice about throwing a crankbait. But I did anyway, and it wasn't long before I picked up three runt smallmouth while bulging the surface downstream. As the sun set and the midge hatch began, I worked one more area and received a strike so jarring, it nearly pulled the baitcasting combo from my hands. The fish tore off line as it surged for deeper water. After a drag-peeling fight and few tense moments with the hooked bronzeback trying to run between my legs in knee-deep water I got it under control for a photo, measurement and release. What a beauty. Taped at 19.75". I fished for a little while longer but called it a night after my knees stopped shaking. Enjoyed the beautiful orange moonrise as I neared my neighborhood. USGS 11.06' / 428 CFS. Encounters with big smallmouth bass never get old!

Fox River smallmouth bass


September 12, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Got out for a few hours and wade fished the main river as well as some skinny water. Tossed a Live Target shallow-running crayfish crankbait and bulged the surface downstream. Landed 16 smallies, the biggest was 13.5". Saw a northern water snake and had fun flipping rocks over and checking out crayfish of various sizes and colors. USGS 11.08' / 451 CFS

Fox River smallmouth bass Fox River crayfish Northern water snake Typical Fox River structure


September 10, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Enjoyed the foggy morning wade fishing solo at the Fox River. Only tossed the crayfish crankbait. Landed 18 smallies, largest taped just shy of 19". Lots of runts mixed in but a few medium-sized fighters to break the monotony. Crankbait beat to hell. The sun burned off the fog revealing a gorgeous day. Relaxing time. USGS 11.14' / 525 CFS. Photos 4 and 5 below illustrate the typical sized juvenile smallmouth bass that are accounting for the high numbers being caught on the river lately. There are loads of them eager to pounce on a lure. Finding and landing the bigger smallmouth is a bit more tricky.

Foggy morning on the road Foggy Fox River Dewy spiderweb Runt smallmouth bass Runt smallmouth bass Nice Fox River smallmouth bass 18.75" Fox River smallmouth bass Fox River scenery as if painted Fox River scenery


September 9, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Got out for a solo wade in the afternoon. Wore the rain jacket through light drizzle and brought the long lens in hopes of getting a few wildlife pics. Saw a few deer and a juvenile bald eagle but all too fast or too far away for good pics. Only fished the crayfish crankbait. Landed 17 smallies, mostly runts. A few were decent -- the three largest measured were 17.75", 16", 16". Downstream through runs / near rocks was best. USGS 11.14' / 525 CFS

Fox River scenery


September 8, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Every fishing season an oddity unfolds here and there that leaves me thinking, if I had not just experienced this, I probably would not believe it. Such was the case tonight. I was jonesing to fish all day. Work kept me busy until the late afternoon. Around rush hour, I was off. I'm normally pretty antsy when I get to the river, but tonight, I took it slow. Instead of putting on my waders and hopping in, I decided to just grab my rod and reel and shore fish.

I started off with a 3" Heddon Zara Puppy and began walking the dog downstream on the surface of a shallow run. The lure got blasted as it neared a rocky point. I missed the fish and despite repeated attempts, could not get it to attack topwater again. I switched lures and tied on a Live Target shallow-running crayfish crankbait. It has been producing well for me lately and despite two more boils in the area of the missed fish, no takers. It wasn't long before I made my way up to where I had the missed strike. At this point some gusty wind howled downriver and as I cast into the wind I got a minor bird's nest. I launched a long cast toward mid-river to clear my line and as I picked up the slack and the lure dove under it got clobbered. It wasn't a big smallmouth and after an initial fight I was skiing it across the surface for a quick unhook. THAT'S WHEN IT HAPPENED. All of the sudden I felt a big "thud" and my drag started peeling off. Apparently a bigger smallmouth had noticed the commotion and came up and stole the crankbait from the smaller fish! I could not believe it. What started as a routine fish turned into an 18.75" slab of a smallmouth! (photo 1) All I can say is, what luck!

After the photo and release (and wiping the shit-eatin' grin off my face) I continued to work the crankbait in the same area, hoping there was more than one bad boy home. A short while later I returned to my car and put on the waders, ready to cover some water. I seemed to get into my groove as I rotated between the hula grub, white buzzbait, Sammy, and crayfish crankbait. I ended up with 19 smallmouth for the evening. The second largest taped at 18.5" (photo 2) and hit the crayfish crankbait coming downstream next to some big rocks. What a night! USGS 11.14' / 545 CFS

Oh yeah, and a neat spider in the tall grass early on...

18.75" Fox River smallmouth bass 18.5" Fox River smallmouth bass Garden spider


September 4, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Sure wish we would have gotten a deluge on Saturday to push the river level up. Still low and slow. Hit a few urban spots from shore and saw quite a bit of riverbed exposed along the shoreline. Picked up three smallies. Two on a jig and pearl twister and one on a Live Target crayfish crankbait. Bait brought downstream through shallow runs. The crank got clobbered as it bulged the surface. Nice fighter around 14" that tail-walked upon hookset. USGS 11.16' / 550 CFS. While driving home doing around 45 MPH down a two-lane road I spied something small scuttling near the dividing stripes. It only took a second to realize the profile was that of a little snapping turtle. I turned around and pulled along side it. No cars coming either direction so I snatched up the little turtle, who was a hatchling still with egg tooth, around the size of a silver dollar. I brought it home and cleaned off all the dirt, showed the kids and we let it go at our local pond. Good karma.

Hatchling snapping turtle


September 3, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Got out in the morning for a solo wade. Couldn't get anything going with topwater lures so switched to a shallow-running Live Target crayfish crankbait. Brought the crank downstream through runs alongside rocky banks. Picked up four smallies and one walleye. USGS 11.17' / 564

Live Target Crayfish Crankbait Fox River perspective Fox River shoreline


September 2, 2011

Fox River Fishing Report: Wade fished solo at the Fox and only fished topwater. Worked the bait downstream near rock walls, bridge pilings, shoreline riprap and stream barbs. Picked up six smallmouth, four on the Lucky Craft Sammy 100 and two on a 1/4-ounce white buzzbait. Biggest was a shade over 18" (pictured). Hot as heck and glad to get off the water and into the AC. River low and slow with decent clarity for the Fox. Strands of stringy algae washing downriver. USGS 11.17' / 564 CFS

18" Fox River smallmouth

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© 2018 Fish The Fox. All Rights Reserved. | "Fox River Deadfall" artwork by Paul Turnbaugh. Used with permission.