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Andrew R

Andrew's Adventures

Big Pike from Des Plaines River

Tue, July 12, 2011

Got word from Sims Spinners CEO, Dan Sims, that a large northern pike was caught from the Des Plaines River on July 7th by anglers, Mike Leska, and Officer John Guettler of the CPD.

This fish is by far the largest pike that has been reportedly caught, and documented, from the DPR during the 2011 calendar year. In my estimation it appears to be in the 40 inch class, and if I’m wrong, then in the upper 30’s.

The original report was posted elsewhere online, and other than mentioning the fish was caught on a Rapala Husky Jerk, little details are known in regard to the fishes length and weight. After some hook extraction, and cutting off the trebles, it was released.

Here is the story behind this fish, reported by Mike Leska:

“My friend John and I hit Des Plaines for a few hours during the morning of July 7, 2011, and let’s just say that it was a good day to be on the water. We started somewhere south of the Wisconsin border, and trekked to our “secret location” deep inside the poison ivy and mosquito infested woods of northern Illinois. We started out late, but it didn’t seem to matter, as we both got plenty of follows and a few whacks. I finally connected on a small largemouth, and my friend landed a hammerhandle pike . We moved on, through the clouds of sandflies and curtains of poison sumac, until we came upon our honey hole. Working the area I hear John say, “I either have a log on, or a very lethargic fish”. Ends up it was a very (huge &) lethargic fish. It had entirely inhaled his husky jerk, and we had to clip two trebles to salvage the monster’s gills, which were bleeding a bit. We then took that nice photo, returned the beast to the river and held it until it thrashed itself a dramatic exit.”


Despite the great length of this fish, it is on the skinny side like most northern pike that are in the Des Plaines River. The lack of girth is attributed to a few different factors such as high summertime water temperatures which lead to weight loss, the competition for food amongst other pike, and then possible stunting because there are so many small pike and nearly not as many larger ones such as this caliber. But the fact that this fish reached 40 inches from this river, so abundant with pike, is impressive!

Last but not least, David Mannion, co-CEO of Sims Spinners has enjoyed some decent fishing of his own.  Dave reports that prior to this past weekend, fish were concentrated in deeper pools and along weedlines. Dave mentions that one outing last week produced over 30 fish between him and his father; largemouth bass, northern pike, and channel catfish. All fish were taken with single and double bladed #4 and 5 Sims Spinners in a variety of colors.

With river conditions stabilizing, and fish becoming a bit more predictable now as we are into mid-summer, prospects for this week and into next week are very good. Although river levels shot up a bit earlier yesterday morning due to the downpour, they will quickly recede and things will get back to normal in a hurry.


That’s one heck of a pike!

Posted by esox_lucius on July 13

Biggest one I’ve ever seen out of there! There are a few more biggin’s like that too. One of these days maybe it can happen.

Posted by Andrew Ragas on July 13

I still think Illinois could have some excellent pike fishing if it would adopt some sort of slot limit.

Posted by esox_lucius on July 14

Without question slots could improve average sizes. I remember mentioning this in a blog post from last fall, or else when I was with the old site. Something like a 24-30” protected slot would keep the healthy spawners in the system, and help thin out the herd of small fish but unless you are desperate or starting for a fish not many people will harvest from dirty rivers like the DPR in general.

The present limit of 2 fish per day at 28” is just too impossible to happen (if it happens and is reached). I think the biggest factor preventing big fish and awesome fishing overall I think is the climate and habitats of the waters pike are in. IL and the central Midwest is too warm for these cool-water fish, especially when a lot of our waters hit 80-90 degrees by the end of May. When it’s warm all you will see are too many small fish because they are tolerant and not enough big ones because they seek the coldest water and are intolerant (Des Plaines River is best example). Then comes habitat. Too many of our lakes and rivers are shallow, silted in, and warm quickly. Not good in my opinion. I’m no scientist but that’s my feeling with everything.

Posted by Andrew Ragas on July 14

Typo = Meant starving…. Not “starting”

Posted by Andrew Ragas on July 14

Couple of questions for you, first is the 2 fish 28” limit a DPR reg? I just ask because the state reg is 3 over 24” which like you stated should be made to a slot. Also I am not too familiar with the DPR other than from what you have posted but I am curious if there are any springs or any possible source of cold water. I know from my experience on a few other bodies of water that we can grow numerous pike 30+” and I attribute it to the fact these bodies of water I fish have either springs, cold water tribs, and/or water running in from tiles that make the waters plenty suitable for growing big pike. Coupled with a longer growing season I am convinced, if there is even a hint of a cold water source, we can and do grow some monsters.

Posted by esox_lucius on July 15

I was actually mistaken… Terribly!

Here are the DPR Limits.

Des Plaines River Basin - (Hoffman Dam to 47th Street Bridge,
including tributaries) (Cook County)
Channel Catfish . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15” Minimum Length Limit
Channel Catfish . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Fish Daily Creel Limit
Large or Smallmouth Bass.  Catch and Release Only - No Harvest Permitted
Northern Pike . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30” Minimum Length Limit
Northern Pike . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Fish Daily Creel Limit
Walleye, Sauger, or Hybrid . . . . . . . . . 18” Minimum Length Limit
Walleye, Sauger, or Hybrid . . .  . . . . . 1 Fish Daily Creel Limit
White, Black or Hybrid
Crappie . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Fish Daily Creel Limit

Posted by Andrew Ragas on July 15

The thing that is strange is that these limits also apply to most of the river but they aren’t so concrete and enforced, and the river as a whole isn’t even listed on the DNR forecast because there are different limits throughout.. so silly….. As far as I know it’s a 2 fish at 28” for most of the river. I have yet to find any springs or cold water sources either. But I can possibly see a few being present far up north in Lake County where the river is more of a small stream.

Posted by Andrew Ragas on July 15

Too bad there isn’t any cold water sources there! Speaking of cold water or lack there of, I wonder how this next heat wave and little rain over the next week is going to affect these places. I imagine we will hear of some fish kills in the next week or so if it persists.

Posted by esox_lucius on July 15

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