Fox River Deadfall
Fish the Fox
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December 13, 2013

Was fun to get out and appreciate what the cold snap has built. Popped one mejum-sized smallie on the float-n-fly along the outer edge of an iced-over eddy. Conditions are pretty rough out there. Ice shelves have grown 3' to 5' from shore, enough to hold my weight. Various sized ice chunks washing downriver. Water clarity varied from fairly clear to downright murky. Lots of ice growing and moving around.

River ice River ice River ice River ice Shimano Curado Baitcasting Reel Winter river smallmouth

December 4, 2013

Back to the Fox in an attempt to get the skunk off. Very mild air temp with fog and light drizzle. It looked like a Scooby-Doo episode at times. I nixed the float-n-fly and stuck to the hula grub, slow-hopped along the bottom near rock. It only took about an hour before I had four smallies in the 13" to 17" range. Great fighters! They must have really liked the warming trend over the past several days. Tried a few other areas but didn't find anything substantial, only a few light taps near boulders. The rest was exploring and enjoying the scenery. Came across a large red-eared slider lumbering along the muddy bottom in the shallows. Have seen many turtles in this area before, as it's where they winter. I'm always careful not to walk through it, but stay close to the rocky shoreline. I grabbed the turtle for a photo opp before it crawled back into the water and swam off. No trace of any ice on the river. Lots of carp rolling near dusk. Water temp measured 49. USGS 11.38' / 1,030

Foggy Fox River Fox River December smallmouth bass Fox River December red-eared slider turtle

December 2, 2013

I hadn't been to the Dupe since February or March and I was due a visit, if for nothing more than to set foot in the river and check out conditions. It's a much further drive for me than the Fox, but what the heck -- it was worth a try. I couldn't do any worse than a skunking! I arrived ready to go with the float-n-fly and conditions were perfect. I hit my best eddy and couldn't draw a strike. This was disappointing. I tried several other areas and rotated between a few baits. Over the span of a few hours I managed to pickup 9 smallies! Four on the float-n-fly, two on a hula grub, and three on a larger hair jig. Slow was the ticket. The larger fish hit the hula grub and surprisingly, the smallies on the float-n-fly were runts. That's very odd, as in my experience, fish that hit the float-n-fly rig tend to be pretty decent! But I wasn't complaining, it was action. I left feeling pretty good about the fishing and was glad I made the drive. USGS 4.87' / 53 CFS

DuPage River December smallmouth bass

November 30, 2013

Donned the neoprenes for the first time this season and wade-fished the Fox for a few hours in the afternoon. It sure was nice to be in the river, feel the fresh air, and hear the chatter of a kingfisher. The water is nice and clear for the Fox. It was easy to note structure and spot rough fish. I worked two areas with the float-n-fly: a waist-deep cut near boulders and a protected, tapering flat with mud and gravel near deep water. The buoyancy of 5mm neoprene waders coupled with the slipperiness of their lug soles took some getting used to and made for a few interesting moments while crossing a chest-deep section.

Following the cold week of Thanksgiving, it was no surprise there was ice on the river. My second area was covered with a thick layer. It could hold my weight in most areas and after fishing around the outside edge of it I got bored and decided to spend about 1/2 hour breaking its connection with the shoreline. I finally got it moving and sent the 30-yard cap into the current. I watched with a grin as the sheet picked up speed and sheared alongside and island before being obliterated by riffles and the force of the river. Unfortunately, I didn't have any float dunks and completely blanked. However, ridding a large fishable eddy of its icy covering was strangely vindicating! USGS 11.49' / 1,240 CFS

Fox River gravel bar Fox River ice

November 2, 2013

Fox River Fishing Report: Bought some fathead minnows and fished the Fox River from shore with my oldest son. We had hopes of catching a few white bass but ended up with five smallmouth bass. The Fox Chain 'O Lakes drawdown began on November 1, so the river is up a bit and faster. There was a guy already fishing where we wanted to fish and he was relentlessly working the area, keeping everything he caught. We were a bit disappointed but stopped by our local crappie pond on the way home and caught a few on the minnows while enjoying a pretty sunset. Was nice to get out anyway.
USGS 11.48' / 1,180 CFS

Fox River smallmouth bass

November 1, 2013

Fox River Fishing Report: Got out after work for a few hours and shore fished spots over three towns. Surprisingly, found some nice numbers. Caught 12 smallmouth, 16 white bass and 1 gizzard shad. Largest smallie was 15" on a big Northland Buckaroo (hair) Jig. Others on a 1/8-ounce jig 'n pearl twister. Water is still clear. The Halloween rain only caused a short rise in river level and it dropped quickly. The river is low with lots of shoreline areas exposed. A good time to go exploring to make note of structure that is normally submerged. Get out and enjoy November! Just dress for it. The white bass and gizzard shad are running and will continue to stack up in current seams and eddies near fast water. The shad even more so as the water cools down. USGS 11.38' / 1,000 CFS

October 30, 2013

Fox River Fishing Report: With the mild temps and pending rain, I carved out a few hours to fish the Fox after work and began from shore in an urban setting. Within 18 minutes I had four smallies landed on a 3/8-ounce Northland Mimic Minnow, three of which were decent in the 15"-16" range. Also had a big crappie come up and grab the tail of the bait. I nearly got it in without even hooking it but it ended up letting go. The Fox has cleared up nicely and you can easily spot boulders and logs in the shallows. I switched towns and put on the waders. Still wearing the breathables and with jeans and wool socks underneath I was fine. I worked a hula grub along the bottom near rocks and logs and found a nice smallmouth right off the bat. It was the biggest of the outing. I waded across the river easily in the low water and was going to try a few more areas when the sky let loose a heavy downpour. That ended my outing but I was happy to have enjoyed the mild (and foggy) weather with a few tugs on the line in advance of a rainy Halloween. I'll bet the fishing picks up nicely after the rain! USGS 11.28' / 837 CFS

Fox River smallmouth bass

Lots of reports and photos to add but finding the time has been tough. Have so many pics it is becoming overwhelming!

August 28, 2013

Fox River Fishing Report: Got out for a short paddle and some fishing with my wife. Fox is crazy low! Hard to navigate even in the 'yak! Was overcast most of the time. Tried a buzzbait, then a Prop Darter with no action. Talked to a fellow kayak angler who was doing OK on a very small grub along the bottom. Mostly drift fishing and such. I switched to a hula grub and hopped it downstream through the "deepest" channels I could find. Caught three smallmouth and two largemouth. Nothing big but glad to catch a few! USGS 10.93' / 371 CFS

August 18, 2013

Fox River Fishing Report: Have been getting beat up by the Fox. Summertime is not my specialty there. Skunked the morning of the picnic. One blowup on the 'Spook. Should have slept in! A few days later, got out in the kayak for some evening fishing with my brother-in-law. Three smallies on a black buzzbait. Joel got one on a Tiny Torpedo. All small. Current and fish were hard to come by. Took a chance and waded the pea soup Saturday afternoon (8/17). Two hookups on a black buzzbait through a shady side channel, both fish shook off. Finally caught four smallies on a small Senko / Slider Head dragged alongside a bridge piling. Biggest 14". Haven't put in a lot of time early or late, or committed to plastics (kinda tedious for me). But overall, low and warm. Not much current around. Would rather be spot hopping floodwaters or wearing gloves and watching the float-n-fly! Anything but low, slow and warm! USGS 11.13' / 617 CFS.

August 12, 2013

My oldest son got a big surprise while fishing for largemouth at a quarry. Measured 25" and is his largest freshwater fish to date. We've got plans to do a 'catfish fest' and really target 'em for an entire outing.

August 8, 2013

Five Days in Wisconsin: Just returned from an annual fishin' trip with my buddy Kevin. We fished rivers every day from my tandem kayak. Was our best trip yet for size, variety and numbers. Black buzzbaits gurgled along weed edges, shade and timber drew savage attacks from northern pike and bass. Pearl jig 'n twisters around mid-river bridge pilings yielded respectable walleye. Gold-bladed spinnerbaits through current seams fooled large white bass. Over the five day float trip we boated a combined 290 fish.

Our best day saw 140 come to hand. 85% northern pike, 10% largemouth bass, 5% smallmouth bass. We could do no wrong with topwater. Three, four and five attacks on a lure. Change baits, cadence or direction and re-ignite a hole that was thought to be fished out. Blowups from big fish that you dream about. And a few losses that will haunt us. It was truly a gift and something neither of us will ever forget.

July 28, 2013

Green Lake, Wisconsin Fishing Report: Spent the weekend there for a family reunion and did a lot of shore fishing with the kids. They worked jig 'n twisters, tiny feather jigs, mini mites and wax worms along shore and around docks. Perch, rock bass, green sunfish, bluegills and largemouth bass were their quarry. My oldest racked up some good numbers on Saturday, catching 59. Small fish, but the kids didn't care. I fished for smallmouth and did OK on a 4" watermelon Senko twitched deep. Sizes were small. During low-light hours I fished a Zara Spook along rocky points and outside weed beds and had a few good hits and better sized smallies that launched out of the water. Overall a nice weekend at the lake despite the unseasonably cool July weather.

July 23, 2013

Largemouthin' with Joz: My son Grant and I got out with Illinois Smallmouth Alliance President and good friend Jim "Joz" Jozwiak on his pontoon to try our luck at bass fishing from 6 to 9 PM. We worked Senkos, paddle-tail worms, walking baits, poppers and buzzbaits along rocky shorelines, docks, islands and reefs. The breeze would occasionally catch the pontoon and had Joz working hard to keep our position. He only got a cast in here and there but still caught some nice fish on topwater. Overall we boated 21, all largemouth. Grant caught 9 and he was thrilled. It was his best LMB outing to date and he had fun fishing the Senko. Fun night with pleasant temps, a breeze and a huge moonrise.

July 22, 2013

Fox River Fishing Report: Got out with my youngest son for a brief paddle after work. Stuck with the hula grub and nailed three smallies. Brent got one on but lost it after a bit too much slack boat side. It was a peaceful evening. We mainly stuck to the shade, encountered FOUR bald eagles -- three juveniles and an adult. A few other paddlers and anglers were out too. Nice time and close to home. USGS 11.43' / 1,070 CFS Would have liked a bit more current, but the breeze made up for the slow fishing and kept the bugs away. Took out around sunset and enjoyed a beautiful orange moonrise on the ride home.

July 20, 2013

Fox River Fishing Report: I was kayaking with my brother-in-law off Violet Patch Park in Oswego, right off Route 25. There's an area just downstream (south) from the park / parking lot where the bike path runs alongside the river. Well my brother-in-law and I were working buzzbaits along there and heard a guy up near the road say, "Hey, you want a ride? Hey buddy, you OK, you need a lift?" loudly several times. He seemed persistent and whoever he was talking to was not giving any response ... at least that we could here.

My brother-in-law piped up and said to me, "Wonder what's going on up there?" He said it with concern in his voice. That's when it clicked and I paddled upstream a bit to see if I could get glimpse of what was happening. We heard a kid say, "No, I'm good." After about 5 or 10 more seconds the car continued northbound on Route 25.

We did not see the car due to all the trees and our low proximity in the river. When I paddled upstream we did see who the person in the car was talking to. It was a blonde haired boy, probably about 14 or 15 years old. He was obviously just out walking the bike path and some creep was trying to get him in the car. It was around 8:15 PM. Even though I don't have many details here I'm still sending this to the Oswego police.

As for the fishing, it was slow. I blanked. My bro-in-law nailed a 17" smallie on a spinnerbait. The front blew in, we got some drizzle and the temp dropped before we took out at dark.

July 16, 2013

Fox River Fishing Report: River in great shape. Did a quick evening kayak trip with my youngest son. Only fished topwater. Nailed two on the Sammy and three on the buzzbait. 15"-17" range. Had the GoPro mounted to the front of the kayak so sure to have recorded some of the action. Brent fished berries near dark and picked up four cats. Nice time out. USGS 11.56' / 1,310 CFS

July 12, 2013

Fox River Fishing Report: Wanting a little change of pace from shore fishing with the kids, we made plans to kayak together and see if we could hit the mulberry bite again. My oldest son had not yet been out for mulberry fishing this year, or even in our new tandem 'yak. We hit the river at 4 PM so we could work the west side and be in the shade. That's important on an 85-degree day with kids in life jackets! Why roast in the sun if you can avoid it?

We gathered a few cups of juicy purple mulberries from a nearby tree before we launched. The kids were armed with Zebco 33s rigged with 14 lb Sufix Siege, split shots and barbless circle hooks.

Sitting in the shade with the kids fishing berries beneath the trees was nice. Didn't take but a few seconds before my youngest was hooked up with a drag-peeling carp. Seems we tend to catch the carp first ... maybe two or three of them ... and the commotion spooks the other carp away and the channel catfish move in. The kids ended up with seven fish a piece, comprised of four carp and ten channel cat.

After the drag singing, giggling and splashing was over, it was time for me to try my hand at smallmouth. The kids had their waters and snacks while I paddled us to some faster water and structure and tossed a buzzbait. The first few casts came through untouched and I was a little worried that the bite was off. I found 'em several more yards from where I had last encountered 'em, ready and willing to crush buzzbaits with some great splashes and tailwalks to the side of the kayak. Landed two beauties on a 1/4-ounce black buzzer, the first taped at 17.25" and the second was a hair under 17".

I was happy to have some quick and easy action and we headed back to the take-out. I switched to a swim jig as we coasted and leisurely tossed it alongside a bridge piling. Just about the time the lure made contact with the water it got hammered! Another nice smallie. Didn't tape this one but was bigger than the previous two. Guessing pretty close to 18" and thick! Was interesting because the first two were very dark bronze and this one was almost a greenish-brown.

All in all a nice outing. Made it back home by 7:30 PM and had dinner. Was good to get out for a float with the kids! USGS 11.99' / 2,210 CFS and falling

Note: Lots of brown foam on the surface of the water across the entire river. Haven't seen that before, at least in such large amounts. Maybe a town had discharged some stuff from their treatment plant? No smell to it but sure looked odd. Thought the river was covered with cottonwood or grass clippings when we first arrived. You can make it out in the last pic. Was not as bad on July 13.

July 11, 2013

Fox River Fishing Report: Got out with my kids mid-afternoon. Level has dropped dramatically in the past few days. Had the kids setup with 1/8-ounce jig 'n 3" pearl twisters, casting straight out into the river and feeling for bites as the lure swept and fluttered downstream. "Gotta keep that rod tip up to retain the flutter and avoid snags!" I kept telling them.

My youngest broke the ice with a 10" smallie that hit over a shallow gravel bed near riffles. I was proud of him. First time he's closed the deal on a cast and retrieve. Until now, it has been either dabbling high water in spring or working the float-n-fly during late autumn.

We spot hopped and went through a variety of lures. The kids caught six smallmouth between the jig 'n twister, Mimic Minnow and light hair jig.

I ended up with five between the Mimic Minnow and Sammy -- which was drawing nice boils and blowups worked through shade and mild current.

Despite the less humid weather, halfway decent fishing and breaking for lunch, we were all feeling pretty wiped out so skipped our last few spots and called it a day early. Was nice to get out of the sun and back in the AC.

A few of the smallies were around 15". Had one biggie at 17". Most were 11"-12" Fox cookie cutters. USGS 12.03' / 2,290 CFS

July 8, 2013

Fox River Fishing Report: Had the boys out running a few errands so stopped by the river to pop a few smallmouth during the high water bite. CFS had increased to 3,500 due to the morning's rainstorm. Humidity was fierce and we roasted every time the sun came out from behind the clouds. Smallies were eager to hit the Mimic Minnow fluttered in current seams along rock and concrete. My oldest caught eight with a few decent sized ones. I fared about as well with a channel cat in the mix. Good times!

June 26, 2013

Fox River Fishing Report: Every year when the mulberries are ripe, I try to get my kids out to take advantage of the easy fishing beneath the trees that are dropping berries into the river. During the past few wade outings for smallmouth I've seen quite a bit of activity on berries and have even taken a few carp on poppers beneath the trees. Last week I couldn't take it any more and tied on a 1/8-ounce Slider Head (the only "plain" hook I had on me) and added three juicy berries before casting it beneath the trees. I expected to catch a carp but to my surprise I caught the biggest channel catfish I have ever caught, or seen from the Fox. It was a beauty! I'd guess it at around 8 or 9 pounds. It put up a hell of a fight and was a blast to catch while wade fishing!

The water has come up quite a bit since and is almost 2,000 CFS faster. But yesterday I got my youngest son out for an afternoon float and found a tree that was dropping berries. He had a blast catching carp and catfish. Here's a video of our adventure:

June 24, 2013

Rock River Fishing Report: Took my kids on an impromptu trip out to the Rock River to checkout the fishing and also do some hiking / exploring at Castle Rock State Park. We arrived in Dixon for lunch around 11 AM, then checked out the river towards the dam area. Since it was a weekday, there weren't many anglers out and we found a great spot with some mild current and loads of baitfish. They were so thick my son just liked netting up gobs of them and looking at them before releasing them back into the water. They were a very iridescent blueish-silver and reminded me of a saltwater baitfish. I'd say some of his scoops contained a few hundred. He was careful to keep them wet and put them back in the water quickly. All the while, gamefish were slashing through the nearby schools and herons, white pelicans and softshell turtles were feasting on them. We could just stand there and watch smallmouth boil through the school. My son said it looked like the 4th of July fireworks, with minnows bursting from the surface in all directions.

I tossed the swim jig and Mimic Minnow and landed about a half-dozen smallmouth in the 12" to 15" range before we finally hooked a minnow (or shiner, or whatever we were netting) on a circle hook and split shot under a small float and tossed it into an eddy. We took turns at "bobber down!" and each caught a bunch more smallmouth before leaving to explore nearby Castle Rock State Park.

We returned later in the afternoon and I found a shady spot on the western side of the river where I could toss a bait near the dam. I used a heavy Mimic Minnow to get down beneath the boils and after about five minutes of casting, caught a beauty of a smallmouth that had other anglers running up to see what the commotion was all about. One said it was the biggest smallmouth he had witnessed being caught this year.

The kids dabbled twisters and caught a few peewee smallmouth and green sunfish. All in all it was a fun outing and I had two tired kids asleep in the car by the time we made it to I-88. They didn't wake up until the car stopped in my garage.

Now that's a good summer day!

June 22, 2013

Fox River Fishing Report: Wade fished solo and traveled light. Water is up from the rain. Fished for four hours in the afternoon under overcast skies. Nice bite! Ended with 12 smallies up to 18". Several decent fish on a black buzzbait through swift water along rock. Just crushed it! Great tail walks. A few on the hula grub, again near rock, and a few on the swim jig. Those were the three lures I carried! First time back to the Fox in several weeks. Been up north.

May 21, 2013

Fox River Fishing Report: Got out late afternoon with my youngest son. Had him rigged with a 1/8-ounce jig and 3" pearl twister to flutter in the current below a dam. Smorgasbord of smallmouth, white bass and green sunfish. He had a blast. Was relaxing / refreshing in the shade with a nice breeze and the mist coming off the dam face.
Fox River North Aurora Dam

May 18 through 20, 2013

Fox River Fishing Report: Haven't had the time to wade so trips have been short, urban run-and-guns -- flutter a lure in a current seam here and there ... if no takers, move on. Have mostly had my boys with me either fishing or exploring. Managing a half-dozen smallmouth or so per try, swim jig and Mimic Minnow have worked great. Still getting some nice-sized fish amidst the scrappers, but quality and quantity not as easy as when the water was high. Trying topwater occasionally with marginal success. Haven't seen enough to commit to it full time yet, but probably will soon. Guess the hardest part is giving up on dreams of another flathead encounter. I think about it every time I'm out. Really got into my blood.

The boys and I explored Pottawatomie Park in north St. Charles on Friday evening and returned on Saturday for mini golf. Really nice park! Great for kids. Lots of room to move around and lots to do. Got a nice sunset pic which rivals anything I've taken in the north woods.

About where the sun is setting is Boyscout Island, the little peninsula where folks launch their boats. Have seen lots of people wakeboarding in this stretch. Kayaked it a few times, which can be dicey with the rollers the wakeboarders churn up.

May 15, 2013

Fox River Fishing Report: May 15: Outings have been kinda strange lately. Don't know what the deal is, but have been feeling like a magnet for weirdos. Comments, questions, people telling me where I can and can't be. Just unwarranted attention that I don't need. Tryin' to fish and enjoy the weather!

Well today (Wednesday) was a nice change of pace. Seemed like everything turned around. Everyone I ran into was cool. Actually stood and chatted with a few people about baits, etc. while I fished ... and enjoyed it. Guess it depends on the person and how they come off.

Ended up with 14 smallies, a handful were in the 15" - 17" range. The swim jig produced best for me and seemed to draw fierce strikes even after other smaller, sure-fire presentations were ignored. Something about that wagging Big Hammer Tail in the current that really gets 'em fired up.

May 16, 2013

Fox River Fishing Report: Drove my son to school and the sky was just too pretty to return home. I stopped in downtown Aurora, which is only a few miles east of me. Got a few nice pics of the buildings and river in the morning light. Beautiful clouds. Of course, tossed a few lures before heading back to the office. 5 smallies and 1 largemouth. Best was a 3/8-ounce Northland Buckaroo Jig in a current seam. 18" smallie pounded it! USGS 11.95' / 2,120 CFS

Fox River Aurora, Illinois

It's funny, the photo looks so serene, like small-town USA. You don't hear the roar of the dam or the traffic of a busy city.

May 14, 2013

Fox River Fishing Report: Got out solo for an urban spot hop. Fished a run-and-gun over three towns, all from shore. Baits were jig 'n twister, Mimic Minnow, swim jig, spinnerbait. Current seams near rock structure were best. The river has dropped quite a bit and it won't be long before wading and kayaking get into full swing. Ended up with 22 smallmouth, 2 largemouth and one big bluegill. Of that, about five of the smallies were in the 15" to 18" range. The bigger fish came on the swim jig near sunset. USGS 11.94' / 2,100 CFS. The high water fishing was a blast while it lasted!

Fox River Island Park, Geneva

May 9, 2013

Fox River Fishing Report: Got out with my buddy Mike and shore fished urban. Lots of anglers out. We dabbled baits here and there and worked current seams. Mike had a tough go of it. Low on mojo, he only squeaked out two smallies. Mimic Minnow and jig 'n twister. He tried a swim jig and only found runt tail-pullers. I popped seven, same type of baits. Two in the 16"-17" range.

Later in the evening, the boys and I were out shopping and hit the river near dusk. It was drizzling but we had our rain gear on. The boys didn't care to fish, but like most boys, favor puddle jumping and being out in the rain. I worked quickly in the fading light. Nobody else out fishing and fish setup in easy-to-reach shoreline eddies and seams. Had on a new 3/8-ounce Mimic Minnow. Bottom-bounced the first area and caught a small flathead cat in the low 20s. The kids loved seeing that. Spot hopped a bit and caught four decent smallies 15"-18" before heading out at dark. Liking the rain.

May 8, 2013

Fox River Fishing Report: Left on the pearl jig 'n twister to rack up some numbers. Working around boils, rocks, wood within reach of the shoreline. Plucked out another 15 smallmouth and 1 white bass. Easy pickin's if you're into runts. Found one that was 16" and actually busted 20 lb Sufix Siege when dabbling with around 8" of line from the rod tip. Re-rigged and dunked in again, nailed it on the second go 'round. Probably got my knot with a hard hit. Again, lots of anglers out. Only stayed a short time. Beautiful day but uber-busy with work. USGS 12.57' / 3,660 CFS

Fox River North Aurora Dam

May 7, 2013

Fox River Fishing Report: Took my buddy Mike to a few haunts and showed him the ropes. He stuck a couple of nice smallmouth in the 15" to 17" range before we had to head back. 3/8-ounce Eric Bait fluttered in the current near eddies. First one hit so hard it birdsnested his baitcaster and had me doubled over in laughter. I had a nice one on the swim jig that shook off as I was tuna-boating it up to shore. Overall, was a zoo out there. Think half the area's forum regulars were out fishin' in the warm weather.

Returned later with my youngest son to play at the park and brought a rod to do some dabbling near dusk. Turkey shoot for pee-wee smallmouth. Managed 15 in around 45 minutes, plus one nice one taping at 17.5". 3" pearl jig 'n twister tight to rock, etc. Bought the kid an ice cream at Graham's in Geneva for putting up with dad's "one last cast" (or dabble) and all the caddisflies. He is getting used to them. USGS 12.66' / 3,980 CFS

May 6, 2013

Fox River Fishing Report: Great outing: 22 smallmouth; 1 largemouth; 1 flathead catfish; 1 yellow bullhead; 1 drum; 1 monster carp. The majority of the smallies were caught on a swim jig with Big Hammer tail. The rest of the fish on a 3/8-ounce Northland Mimic Minnow. Current seams and fast water near rock. USGS 12.72' / 4,190 CFS

Listening to the orioles whistling along the river, smelling the flowering trees and catching fish are all good ways to replenish the soul after a dull Midwest winter.

May 5, 2013

Fox River Fishing Report: Got out early morning with my youngest son to try our luck with shoreline bass. A beautiful morning weather-wise, but not much to the fishing. My son gave a good effort but blanked. I caught a smallie and largemouth on the Mimic Minnow. Both were small fish. We hit a pond on the way home and my son got "un-skunked" by a 14" largemouth that nailed his Mimic Minnow slowly retrieved along shore. We were back home by 9 AM.

I got back to the Fox solo late in the day and car hopped / shore fished. Ended up with 13 smallmouth -- Mimic Minnow, medium-diving square-bill crankbait, spinnerbait. Was surprised to find some decent fish home at some of the more easily accessible urban shoreline areas given it was a Sunday evening. USGS 12.81' / 4,500 CFS

Fox River Fishing Fox River smallmouth bass Fox River sunset

May 4, 2013

Fox River Fishing Report: Was gonna sneak out solo early Saturday morning but heard the kids get into a squabble while playing games on their PCs so decided to get 'em out again and give my better half some peace and quiet. After a quick breakfast we headed to The Turf Room OTB in Batavia to put down a few bucks (well, I did anyway) on the Derby. No crowd and no lines early so only took a few minutes and we were off to the Fox.

The kids were rigged up with a 3" pearl jig 'n twister and 1/8-ounce Mimic Minnow and ready to dabble. My oldest got bit on his first dunk and nailed the biggest smallmouth of the day about 30 seconds into it! It was a beauty. My youngest caught one about 13" shortly thereafter. Both kids were happy to have beaten the skunk early on. We spot hopped up and down the river, looking for easily accessible shoreline eddies to try. We hit three different towns and ended up in St. Charles for lunch at Smitty's on the Corner. It's a cool little deli that has been around for a while, a few doors down from the Arcada Theatre.

After lunch, we drove a few blocks up Route 64 to checkout Anderson's Coins & Collectibles. The kids are into Lego mini figures which are pretty inexpensive so they each picked a random pack (it's basically a blind pick, you get what you get). They lucked into some that were perfect for each of them. My oldest, who is more reserved, got a Revolutionary War soldier with musket. My youngest, who is a wild man, got a Mohawk Indian with tomahawk.

The kids had enough fishing. After Anderson's, we went to nearby Hazeltine Park so they could play on the playground equipment and run around for a while. We stayed about another hour and were home by 2:30 PM. They were pretty worn out!

Our catch totals for the day were 19 smallmouth bass, 1 drum, 1 white bass, 1 flathead catfish. We caught five smallmouth that were similar in size to the one my oldest son is holding below. Eddies near fast water were best. Overall the sizes of smallies were decent with most in the 13" to 15" range -- perfect for the kids. USGS 12.98' / 5,090 CFS

The Derby was a bust for us. I had Revolutionary picked to win but it came in 3rd.

Later in the evening we were back in the Fox Valley area to take in the Kane County Cougars game. We got tickets through our PTO and it was Star Wars night. Couldn't have asked for a better evening. The Cougars won, the weather was beautiful, the Jessie White Tumblers gave a performance after the game, and the night culminated with a nice fireworks display set to Star Wars music. Most of the people sitting around us were familiar faces from my kids' school or sports. Something fun to do close to home that didn't cost a lot. Needless to say, it was a long day for the boys and they were wet noodles by 10 PM.

Fox River smallmouth bass Fox River high water dabbling Lego Mini Figures Mowhawk Indian along the Fox River

May 1, 2013

Fox River Fishing Report: Flathead catfish encounter. Was damn cool to see and feel my casting gear tested to the max. The only fish I've ever fought like that was a stingray, and I had the option of walking it up and down the beach to keep pace. I didn't have that option where I hooked the cat, so I was held firm in a rod-bustin' standoff for over 10 minutes before I was able to muscle her into an eddy and attempt a half-hearted lip hold. Still green, the cat wanted nothing of the meeting. Two mighty head shakes later, she returned free to the roiling currents of the Fox. I felt privileged to be able to experience the power of this prehistoric-looking river giant. When the hook popped out, I was kind of relieved for the both of us! The encounter was my last stop of another banner outing for high water bass totaling twenty-two SMB and two LMB. 3/8-ounce Northland Mimic Minnow on 20 lb. Sufix Siege. USGS 13.15' / 5,710 CFS

Fox River Flathead Catfish

April 30, 2013

The high water and warm temps have the smallies going ape-shit like we knew they would. Did a solo shoreline spot hop and worked the 3/8-ounce Silver Shiner Mimic Minnow (best), 3/8-ounce 'white thumper' spinnerbait, and big ol' Jonn Graham swim jig w Big Hammer. Could do no wrong. Just inside fast water near rock was best. Caught 20 smallmouth, 1 largemouth and 1 white bass. Smallmouth were quality and pounding the baits. Don't think I encountered any under 14". Just fatty after fatty. Best outing for numbers and quality I've had this year. Dandelions in bloom. Saw some baby geese. Lots of turtles out. Soft shelled turtles feeding in the same eddy I was working!

Got asked by quite a few folks how the fishing was and one guy wanted to keep the smallies I was catching. Just let 'em go and grow! Caught the most on the Mimic Minnow but largest around 18.5" nailed the spinnerbait. BTW, rescued a big snapping turtle and painted turtle off a busy road. Good karma! Think I've written this same post or similar every April or May for the past dozen years or so. Creatures of habit above and below the surface. USGS 13.23' / 6,030 CFS

Fox River Smallmouth Bass Magnolia Tree Killdeer Egg Clutch

April 27 & 28, 2013

Fox River Fishing Reports: After Friday's success, the kids and I were eager to get back to the Fox. Saturday held a father-son PTO outing at Funway in Batavia. Of course we brought the rods and hit the Fox after the outing was over. The kids wore their shin-high slop boots so they were able to work trees and eddies along the soggy shoreline. We caught a combined seven smallies. They had a blast exploring and before long, were hungry for lunch. We had sandwiches at North Island Deli and then headed over to explore the creek at Glenwood Forest Preserve. Exploring the creek is one of their favorite activities. The water is low and clear, perfect for finding crayfish, darters, madtoms and top minnows. They were wiped out from the day's events. We stopped for Gatorade and then decided to skip the over-crowded North Aurora dam and head for home. We did a thorough tick check and it was showers and early bed time. USGS 13.50' / 7,150 CFS

Sunday was spent spring cleaning at home but we bribed my better half into letting us out in the evening as long as we brought her some ice cream. We pushed our luck and fished 'till dark. But we found some fish. My oldest caught two smallmouth and a white bass and I caught three smallmouth. Just working baits from shore through eddies and around rock structure. USGS 13.43' / 6,840 CFS. All pics with iPhone 4S and the "Camera+" app.

Fox River smallmouth bass Fox River Fishing Fox River smallmouth bass Batavia Creek Batavia Creek Batavia Creek Aurora smallmouth bass fishing

April 26, 2013

Fox River Fishing Report: Got out after work with my two sons for some shore fishing at the rolling Fox. CFS was still around 7,500 so we looked for slower water next to flooded structure. My youngest son ran out of patience early on and was content to just tag along and explore. My oldest worked a pearl jig 'n twister and got a nice smallie that wrapped him up in a tree branch. We was able to get the line sorted out, but in doing so the smallie got just enough slack to come unhooked. Many other bites from smallies that slashed at the lure short-lined beneath overhangs and around chunk concrete.

We spot-hopped over a few towns and my oldest redeemed himself with a nice chunk smallie catch off a rock wall as well as a big ol' river carp that gave him quite a battle. He was smiling from ear to ear! The dots are really starting to connect for my oldest and he must have thanked me a half dozen times for taking him.

I worked a 3/8-ounce Northland Mimic Minnow and caught smallies dabbling, walking the bait, and short casting. I ended up with ten, smallest being around 14" and three in the 16" - 17" range. They are definitely getting more aggressive and chasing baits. Swim jigs, spinnerbaits and cranks are a good bet this weekend. Don't be scared to get creative and put your offering into bad places. The easy urban spots are so "go-to" and get pounded. When you start finding tangles and edges that take more effort to work, you often find new fish willing to slam a bait. Cover ground and scout. Those that do will be rewarded.

Hi to Bruce and Gary. Nice to see you guys out on a Friday evening. Last note, saw a huge beaver that popped up right in front of my son and I while fishing along the bank. Massive animal that navigated through the rippin' river with ease. USGS 13.57' / 7,470

April 22 & 23, 2013

Fox River Fishing Report: Since the high water, shoreline eddies have become a multi-species cornucopia. Walleye yesterday and black crappie today. Of course, the majority of the catches are smallmouth ... with a carp in the mix here and there. Numbers are getting good if you have the time to spot hop. More and more anglers are coming out as the water recedes, so you have to get crafty. Here's my oldest at a well-known "training wheel" type spot. He is learning, and always eager to hunt for that "thump" on the line. USGS 13.69' / 7,980 CFS

Fox River Fishing Fox River Smallmouth Bass

April 21, 2013

Fox River Fishing Report: Decent high water urban bite. 3/8-ounce silver shiner Northland Mimic Minnow fished tight to flooded shoreline structure. Plucked out 13 smallmouth, 2 white bass and 1 common carp. Smallies ranged from 12" scrappers to 17"-ish. Whites were big for the Fox and carp was around 10 lbs -- a real fatty. Have 20 lb. mono on my baitcaster so prepared for short-leashing. Got a lot of strange looks from the Starbucks-sipping suburbanites. Guess fish aren't supposed to eat in high water. Ha! USGS 13.80' / 8,460 CFS

April 15, 2013

Fox River Fishing Report: Started off wading a sheltered eddy and working a large hair jig, then swim jig alongside structure. Water temp showed around 48.8 degrees F. Blanked at my first spot and ended up doing a multi-town shoreline spot hop with five smallmouth to show for my efforts. All bit a pearl jig n twister dabbled tight to rock in eddies inside of swift water. Bass were 13" to 15". Had my 200mm lens on and managed to snap a pic of a big hawk as it took flight. USGS 12.77' / 4,220 CFS

Redtail Hawk, Batavia

April 12, 2013

Fox River Fishing Report: Tough. Tough. Tough. Didn't take a water temp but suspect it has dropped into the 40s considering the lack of a bite. My buddy Mike and I did a multi-town, high-water milk run. Tried various sized jigs, spinnerbaits, single spins. Mike blanked. I squeaked out two smallies and a white bass. Luckily, one of my smallies was 17" that lightly took the Northland Mimic Minnow in an eddy near swift water. Looks like we're stuck in this cold spell for a while. Tough fishin'. Crummy end to what was a pretty good week. USGS 12.75' / 4,290 CFS

April 11, 2013

Fox River Fishing Report: Caught a few from the high water tonight. Most went like this (watch YouTube video).

April 10, 2013

Fox River Fishing Report: Got out for some shore fishing with my buddy Mike. Chilly and windy but was prepared for it. River came up a little and was more cloudy than yesterday. I fished a little slower. Only used the 3/8-ounce Northland Mimic Minnow. Caught six smallies, biggest taped at 17". When I found 'em, they pounded it! Mike caught two on various sized pearl twisters. One was decent and near 15". He missed a few others. Same scenarios as 4/9. USGS 12.21' / 2,700 CFS

April 9, 2013

Fox River Fishing Report: Luckily the rain held off and the air temp stayed relatively mild this afternoon. I hit the Fox for a quick shoreline spot hop during lunch. I tossed a 3/8-ounce Northland Mimic Minnow and never switched. Picked up 9 smallies culminating in a brute that taped 19" on the button. Bass were holding on current seams and along rock with current. Not as strong of a bite as yesterday, some areas took a little coaxing, but got it done.

My youngest son and I headed out late in the afternoon and he wanted to play at the park. The wind had shifted to out of the north and put quite a chill in the air. I brought a rod and still had the Mimic Minnow tied on. Tried a few go-to shoreline areas and within the first few flutters saw a brute smallie come up and go for the lure. I overreacted and missed the fish. We went to the park and later stopped by the missed fish area on the way out. Sure enough, the bass flashed on the lure but didn't commit. I switched to a smaller offering, a pearl jig 'n twister. After a few flutters through the area, bingo! USGS 12.13' / 2,500 CFS

Fox River Smallmouth Bass Catch

April 8, 2013

Fox River Fishing Report: Urban shoreline spot hop. Landed six, four on a pearl jig n twister, two biggies on a 3/8-ounce Northland Buckaroo jig. Eddies near swift water. Fox on the rise. Should be interesting to see what the rest of the week holds. After dinner my youngest and I went back to the Fox and were rewarded with six more smallmouth and one white bass. Three of the smallies were in the 15" to 16" range. He was the official "tape measure guy." I upgraded to 20 lb. Sufix Siege for short-leashing big smallies near swift current. When the river gets rippin' again, it's gonna be a hawg hunt! USGS 12.13" / 2,500 CFS

Fox River Smallmouth Bass Fox River Smallmouth Bass

April 7, 2013

Fox River Fishing Report: Got out this afternoon with my 9 year old son for some exploring and fishing. We started off at our local crappie pond and fished float-n-flies with no takers. Saw a ton of carp schooled up near an inflow and spotted a few turtles sunning. Also saw a little snapping turtle around 4" lumbering along the bottom in the shallows. Have been hearing frogs in the nearby marsh.

It was too nice out to head home so we drove a few miles more and checked out the Fox. We went ultra urban and looked for sun-soaked eddies where fish could tuck out of the swift water. Ended up catching eight with the largest 18" and 18.5". Three on a 1/4-ounce white thumper spinnerbait and five on a 3" pearl twister on 1/8-ounce jig. Nice to get a few good fish and better numbers on a late afternoon shoreline run and gun. Didn't bother with pics because the catches were drawing an audience. Spectators are a trade-off going urban but I'll take LOTW-caliber smallmouth close to home any day! USGS 12.02' / 2,270 CFS

April 6, 2013

Fox River Fishing Report: Afternoon solo wade and shore fishing. Two smallies, 14" and 17" on a 1/4-ounce white thumper spinnerbait tight to rock. 1 crappie on a pearl jig n twister. Also found a five dollar bill! Water temp was 50 degrees.

Fox River Fishing Found Five Dollar Bill

April 4, 2013

Fox River Fishing Report: Got out with my buddy Mike for a quick shoreline spot-hop among thick hatches of tiny winged insects. Mike tossed a 4" pearl grub on a 1/4-ounce leadhead jig and caught a buffalo and a largemouth bass -- both "firsts" for him at the Fox. I struck out with the smallies and only managed a common carp on a 3" pearl twister and 1/8-ounce jig. Hit a pond on the way home and got a few dunks and a decent crappie on the float-n-fly. Saw three painted turtles sunning on an exposed rock along shore.

Made it back to the Fox before sunset with my kids and tried a few urban areas. Caught four smallies on the pearl twister, largest at 15". Nice evening to be out. River still high but things slowly picking up as the water temp rises. Was 49 degrees today. USGS 12.05' / 2,330 CFS

April 3, 2013

Fox River Fishing Report: Posting while waist-deep in a Fox eddy. Working a pearl jig n twister tight to rock. Two smallies so far. First "decent" smallie of the season, around 16". Water temp is 48 degrees F.

Fox River Smallmouth Bass

March 29, 2013

Fox River Fishing Report: Did a quick wade through a few well-known shoreline eddies as my boys played at a park nearby. Tossed a 5" double-tail hula grub as well as the pearl jig n twister. Caught three smallies in the 13" - 15" range. Hits came in mild current (eddy) alongside rock / logs. Late afternoon bite. Will have a swim jig on me next outing. USGS 11.97' / 2,170 CFS

March 15, 2013

Fox River Fishing Report: Shore fished for a few hours with my buddy Mike. Float-n-fly through shoreline eddies in urban areas. Drizzle the entire outing. I managed three smallies in the 12"-13" range while Mike cursed his baitcaster and blanked. Fox still up and rippin'. USGS 12.56' / 4,050 CFS

March 7, 2013

DuPage River & Fox River Fishing Reports: Shore and wade fished for a few hours with my buddy Mike. We started out at the DuPage River, which was in great shape to fish (USGS 5.18' / 112 CFS). We began with float-n-flies through slow eddies 2' - 3' deep. Our first spot was a bust, but our second spot was sun-soaked and the float dunked within the first few drifts. I ended up with four smallmouth, largest in the 13"-14" range, and Mike caught a rock bass on a jig-n-twister. We stopped by the Fox River on our way home and waded to a few slow, waist-deep areas, but the fish were uncooperative. The Fox was running about average in flow (USGS 11.51' / 1,220 CFS) and quite clear. We enjoyed listening to the cardinals singing and observed several large hawks and a young eagle soaring overhead. It was nice to get back to the river -- I haven't fished open water since mid-December! Got my first sunburn of the year. That March sun is strong!

Fox River Smallmouth Bass

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