Illinois Fishing Reports for Rivers – February 22nd, 2013
During the winter months, the fishing really tends to slow down on the river, however, there are still some good opportunities for quality fish. For smallmouths, now is the time to look for some of the warm-water discharges found along the river. Fish using live minnows with a small hook and a few split shot about 12 inches above the hook. Cast into eddies. Also bouncing 1⁄8-ounce jigs with white or crawfish-colored twister tails can produce some respectable fish. Work the jig slow and fish the current seams and slack water.
The water temps have dropped quite a bit and the walleyes are up at the dams. There have been few reports of some large fish being caught on minnow-style stick baits as well as jig-and-minnow combination. Look for the deeper holes that are surrounded by gravel bottoms and rocky structure. The bite has been best just after dark and prior to sunrise. These fish are moving around a lot, so cover an area really well to trigger one of these big girls to strike.
There have been very few reports from the river as the cold weather has kept most off the open water. This time of year the sauger bite can really turn on in the deeper wintering holes. Vertical jigging jigs with minnows or using a floater jig and lindy rigging minnows have been doing well. Also casting or vertical jigging blade-style baits. Check the water conditions prior to heading out as the river at this stage can get dicey.
The Ottawa pool has started to produce a decent sauger bite. Fish are being caught on jig and minnows as well as pulling three-way rigs with stickbaits. Take caution this time of year as the river’s flow can change quickly with the melting snow and rains. This can be a very productive time but you will want to keep an eye on the flows and levels prior to your trip.
Des Plaines River
With the warming weather and the fresh snow runoff, the pike are starting to get aggressive. There have been some reported catches of northern pike on in-line spinners. Find the open water areas with good current nearby. The fish are feeding well, and you may be able to entice one or two into hitting a natural presentation.
A few bass are being caught on spinnerbaits. There have been reports of catfish being caught on nightcrawlers.