Archive for the ‘Illinois River Fishing’ Tag

ILLINOIS RIVER WHITE BASS FISHING   2 comments

White Bass 0001

Watching the line cut through the water from one side to the other is an exhilaration experience.  The slashing runs of a white bass on the end of a fishing line stirs the heart strings of even the most jaded angler.

Anglers find large numbers of white bass each year during the month of June.  The bass are in a full feeding frenzy as they chase shad around just above any area with a rock, sand or gravel bottom.  The average size of these terrors of the minnow population is about 3/4-pound.  However some reach 2-pounds and the giants will go 3-pounds.

Often referred to as silver bass, streaker, striper or striped bass, the white bass is a silvery, spiny-rayed fish with dark horizontal streaks on the sides.

White bass inhabit the entire length of the Illinois River from its origins at the confluence of the Kankakee and Des Plaines Rivers, near Chicago, to where it flows into the Mississippi at Grafton, Illinois.  The most popular stretch is that between Utica and Spring Valley.

Whites are schooling fish that hunt in large numbers and cover a great deal of territory.  Dining mostly on small fish, they also eat small crustaceans and insects.  The schools move about directed by the food supply.  Their large formations herd smaller fish before driving them into areas where the prey cannot escape.

They feed most actively in the early morning and late evening.

Fishing for white bass is a simple process during their early run.  A medium to ultralight rod with 6 to 8-ound test line seems to be just the ticket.  Most popular way to catch these fish is with leadhead jigs with small colored twister tails tipped with a shiner or fathead minnow.  Cast the rig into swift water and allowed it to reach the bottom.  It bounces long the bottom in a series of short hops.

A jig in the 1/16th to 1/8th ounce size seems to be just about right.  If one uses one much heavier they tend to snag on the bottom.  The ideal jig is one that will reach the bottom and then slowly bounce downstream with the current.  The pattern works best in areas with a sand or gravel bottom.  In the rocky areas you must exert more care to keep the number of break-offs to a minimum.

Another pattern is the use of a floating jig.  There are a number of them on the market.  The jig has the regular shape of the standard jig head or small round floats.  Because they float, the jig will stay off the bottom and out of snags in the structure.

Rigged with a Lindy rig or a Wolf River rig, the jig and bait stays just off the bottom.  This way it stays out of the snags and remains visible to hungry white bass.

White bass fishing on the Illinois is tops.  They are fun fish and a great way to introduce a novice to the sport.

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SPRING SAUGER FISHING   6 comments

The most popular area of the Illinois River for sauger and walleye fishing is between Henry, Illinois and the Starved Rock State Park.  The fish population is about 80 percent sauger, 10 percent walleye and 10 percent saugeye.

At the Spring Valley boat ramp, anglers drop their boats into the water and begin a day long quest.  The winter cold is forgotten and the heat of summer is yet to come.  But, the cool temperatures and high water will bring the big female fish back from down river.

When the water temperature of the river rises into the 50-degree range, the fish provide anglers with opportunities to catch big fish.  With the assistance of trolling motors, fishermen work lead head jigs just off the bottom of the river at about 15 feet as they drift with the current.  After drifting a significant distance they return working the same water upstream.

The warming water brings the big female fish back to the area in search of spawning areas.  Anglers begin catching 15 to 16-inch fish in the 2 to 3 pound class.

The basic rig is a three-way variation on the classic Wolf River rig.  The main line is tied to one of the three-way eyelets.  To another is a short drop line of about 8 inches with a 3/8th to ½ ounce jig which will bounce off the bottom.  The other eyelet leads to an 18-inch line and another jig and minnow combination.  Often a trailer hook is added.

In the warmer weather a 1/4-ounce jig is used.  Both jigs are in bright colors to better allow the fish to see them in the dark water of the river.  Blaze orange, chartreuse or pink are popular colors but others work as well.  As the water cleans up black, blue and purple begin to produce results.

Anglers seem about equally divided in their use of braided vs. monofilament line.  Most prefer the lighter 6-pound test line but some will go to 8-pound.  For the three-way rigs some anglers prefer 6 ½ to 7-foot rods.

During summer some anglers turn to trolling crankbaits 100 to 120 feet behind the boat on either lead core or monofilament line.  The lead core line keeps crankbaits down near the bottom.  Other anglers like to stay with the lead core line all year.

The rigs are trolled in slower moving water at about 14 or 15 feet deep.  The rods used are in the 5 ½ to 6-foot length with sensitive tips.  Out in the deeper water anglers switch to longer rods set wide and off from the boat.

Tournaments during the spring season produce sizeable amounts of money that is poured back into programs for the river.  Some 10 to 15 million fish are stocked into the river for the future.  The tournaments have always been catch and release since they began in the Spring Valley area.

This economic treasure to the area is in jeopardy from the advancement of the Big Head and Silver Carp.  Both are invasive species not native to the area.  The Big Head eat the eggs of the sauger. The Silver Carp devour the zooplankton upon which the sauger and walleye depend.

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