Fox River: For smallmouths, now is the time to look for some of the 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 the 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 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.
Illinois River: The sauger bite has really started to 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.
The white bass bite has almost come to a complete halt. If you are able to get out, some of the better baits have been white jig and twister combos with a minnow. Bladebaits will put some of the larger more aggressive fish in the boat. Look for good current breaks around the islands as well as the mouth of tributary waters that are coming into the main river. These fish can be found chasing the small shad, and there is a great chance of landing some really big fish.
Check the water conditions prior to heading out as the river at this stage can get dicey.