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WALLEYES ON THE CHAIN O LAKES   Leave a comment

SHORE FISHING ILLINOIS CHAIN-O-LAKES

About 50 miles northwest of Chicago a string of lakes connected by the Fox River flows south out of Wisconsin. Called the Chain O Lakes they are just off Illinois Route 173 and U.S. Route 12 near the communities of Antioch and Fox Lake.

This month is the prelude to the influx of recreational boaters and anglers that will take over the waterway for the summer beginning next month. Anglers enjoy great fishing.

Although most species are available in the various lakes of “The Chain” a special opportunity is available to bank fishermen during the month.

Walleye become active in the channels between the lakes and around bridges. Both the upper and lower sections of the chain always have current.  The current attracts baitfish, which in turn attract the walleye.  Any river bends have current and usually at least one deep hole.  Bridge pilings divert the water creating faster current flow.

Walleye are a popular quarry all year around but bank anglers are at a disadvantage to boat fishermen during most of the year. With current flow the walleye tend to move just off the current to wait out the baitfish caught in the current.

During the month of May, the fish are closer to the shore in the channels and around the bridges. Bank fishermen can park along the roadway and fish the areas around the bridges and in the channel by casting slip bobber rigs.  Beneath the bobber is suspended a jig and minnow combination that proves quite effective.

If you catch a fish remember the amount of current flow. When you move to another location seek one with a current of a similar speed.  The speed of the flow can vary from location to location depending upon the amount of rainfall and wind speed.

Boaters can launch at most or the resorts and motor over to the bridges or into the channels. Bouncing the jig and minnow without the bobber around the pilings works well for boaters.

Walleye fishing on the chain can be difficult. But, this spring fishing seems to be the best opportunity.

WORKING CHANGING WATER CONDITIONS FOR BASS

Changing water conditions are often a bane of the river angler.  High water conditions often found in the spring can be perplexing.  Often bass anglers use the rule of thumb of “water high go shallow, water falling go deeper.” 

Pool 19 in theMississippi Riveris a good example of how a large river can frustrate the angler.

 This pool, commonly known asLakeCooper, is 46.3 miles in length fromBurlington,Iowadown toKeokuk,Iowa.  It contains some 30,466 acres.  High water and cool temperatures will often delay the bass spawn. 

 Some of locations to investigate in search of bass are as follows.  Launch out ofFortMadisonand move upriver to the area just north ofDallasCityon theIllinoisside of the river.

 There in the Shokokon Slough the water is usually about 20 feet deep. Just off the slough the water becomes shallower in Turkey Chute and the associated backwaters.  The more shallow water warms faster and spawning bass move into the stumps and submerged weeds. Cattail and arrowhead are the vegetation found in the shallows.  Pond weed varieties and lotus are in the deeper water.

 Finding areas that are shallow with a northern exposure is a good idea.  Bass winter in the deep water and will move into shallows to spawn.  Under flood conditions bass can be found back into the flooded grass.

 Also in the same area are theBurlingtonIslandsand their associated lakes: FishLake,RoadsLakeandLongLake.  These areas contain shallow water out of the main current and warmer temperatures.  Water can be in the low 60’s in the main current but in the mid to high 60’s in the backwaters.

 Going south fromFortMadison, one comes toRabbitIslandandDevilsIslandon theIowashore.  The stumps and laydowns along here are promising locations.  Milfoil and some pondweed species can be found among the stump fields.  Again it is important to look for cover and shallow water retaining warmth.  Wood is the best cover.  The creeks tend to be muddy and cold with the runoff making them poor locations for fish.

 The forage base in the river and backwaters is predominantly shad.  There are also some chub species and young bullheads. Local anglers tend to throw spinner baits. The color depends upon water conditions.  For muddy water a chartreuse with a chartreuseColoradoblade is good.  Chartreuse/white combinations are effective as well.  In stained water the same colors are good but one might want to change the blade to copper or a gold willow blade.

 Because the fish are in shallow crankbaits are difficult to use effectively.  If the water is unusually cold 1/4 ounce rattling jigs in black or chartreuse can produce.  Sometimes the addition of a black pork frog is helpful.

 As a back up have one rod rigged with a 4-inch ringworm in (black/chartreuse) on a 1/8 ounce leadhead jig.  In cold water a slow presentation for the sluggish fish is desirable. If the water is clear, black/blue combinations are good.  Pumpkin/orange is another choice.

 Although this information is for Pool 19, the principles work in other pools all along the river.  Most large river systems are pretty much the same in nature.  Master one and you can enjoy others.

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