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Fox River
Northern Illinois
Fox River Fishing Information & Fishing Reports

Introduction: The Fox River enters Illinois near Antioch and flows south/southwest for 115 miles, emptying into the Illinois River. The Fox River is one of the most versatile bodies of water to fish in Illinois. There are over 100 public access points along this stretch for fishing. And there are probably 3 times as many "not sure if it's public access" points as well.

The Fox River offers a wide variety of fishing opportunities for all anglers. The Fox is probably most popular for smallmouth bass, catfish, Musky and walleye. But the populations of largemouth bass, white bass, yellow bass, northern pike, and panfish are quite plentiful.

Location: The Fox River begins in Illinois north of Antioch, becomes the Fox Chain of Lakes, then travels through the communities of McHenry, Algonquin, Carpentersville, Elgin, Batavia, St. Charles, Geneva, Aurora, Yorkville, and Ottawa.

Known Species: largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, northern pike, walleye, crappie, white bass, flathead catfish, channel catfish, muskie, bluegill, rock bass, bullhead, carp, and a few others.

Bait Shops: A whole bunch. I'll list a few soon. In the meantime, see our complete bait shop directory.

Jay's General Comments: The Fox River - one of the premiere fishing locations in the entire midwest. The Fox has so many access points and places to fish, it can take a life time to see them all. Two of my favorite spots to wish the Fox River are the McHenry Dam at Moraine Hills State Pake in McHenry and the Yorkville Dam in Yorkville, IL.

Check out this great booklet from The Illinois Department of Natural Resources - Fox River Access Areas & Fishing Guide.

This book lists over 100 access points to the Fox River as well as ammenities (bait, fuel, launching info) and much more. Available here in pdf format.

Fox River Message Boards!

2005 Fox River Fishing Reports:

Report: September 5, 2005 -- Steve Grady





Report: July 30, 2005 -- Jason W. Norris
Fox River Smallmouth BassWorked the Yorkville Dam; 5:30pm-8:30pm; sunny, temps in the low 80's, SW winds 10mph. Got 2 smallmouth bass of 13" using Rapala Husky Jerk baits. Also got a 12" catfish on (yes) a Husky Jerk.

Fox River 4/5/05 --- Jason Napodano
Fished from 11am-7:15pm
Fish Totals: 7 Smallmouth Bass
Water: High and fast, 54-57 degrees with less than 12 inches visibility
Just a reminder IDNR *Statewide River Regulation* All smallmouth bass must be immediately released between April 1 and June 15th. You can find more rules, regulations and fishing tips at Keep it clean for your kids' kids!

Fishing was sporadic and locating them became a task that eventually proved to be well worth the effort. From now until early June is one of the best times of year to catch a trophy smallmouth. The thing that had alot to do with my results is I worked every area I came across that held even the a slightest possibility of holding a fish. A lot of times when even knowledgeable fisherman get down to the river they start hitting all their favorite big fish spots first and in doing so pass up some areas that may be holding quality fish. Yesterday there was no washout area, no eddy, no current seam and no shorline/overhanging tree that didn't get at least 5 casts within a 2 mile stretch. We're still a week or so away from when things really turn on and the bite is slow. By not passing anything up I increased my odds for a big fish dramatically.

This time of year I like baits that attract lots of attention without having to be retrieved at a fast pace. My big fish baits that I'll be tossing for the next 6-8 weeks include flash jigs dressed with live bait and soft plastics like 4-6" lizards, 4" venom madtoms and various 2-3" pulse grubs. Towards mid-late May a rebel crawdad will begin to see some time on the end of my line where it will remain a consistent choice throughout early summer.

Shallower flats adjacent to depth and/or current as well as various shoreline structure is what to look for. Fallen timber(pictured) and over-hanging brush usually create an eddy and will attract schools of baitfish making an ideal location. Pools located directly behind islands(pictured) also give fish a chance to easily ambush their prey and are one of my favorite areas to target. When temps come up a bit shade lines will begin to offer another holding place for predatorial fish. The majority of my fishing year-round is done while wading but now is the time of year most likely to produce a trophy smallmouth for those who fish from shore.
On the last note, one thing to really be conscious of this time of year is high water levels and the danger they present. Nothing fun about being cold and wet after donating half the gear you came with back to the river. Anyone heading out wading do your best to stay out of the current, it's never too deep until your past the point of no return. As well as I know the river I'm still not too proud to turn back and try somewhere else.

Good luck and bring a camera to remember and share your quality outing!

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