This past Monday I had the unique experience of paddling and fishing a stream that is new to me and, for the most part, is unknown to most bass fishermen in Illinois. While I have fished close to 50 different streams in the Midwest, this particular stream has rarely ever crossed my radar. About a week ago, a buddy of mine, Bart Durham, decided to begin to explore this river, which resides only about 30 minutes from his residence in the suburbs of Chicago. He experienced success in catching Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, and Pike. After seeing Bart’s Pike, which measured 34 inches, I decided it was time for me to get on board and try my luck.
What river am I speaking of…...............? Any guess? I would bet that very few would guess the Des Plaines River. I was surprised myself by the bounty that this river does possess. Long thought of as a polluted waterway (it was polluted at one time), the Des Plaines is bouncing back and producing game fish such as bass and pike.
Bart and I got the Coosa kayaks out and floated a few miles of this under-appreciated waterway. I was amazed at the diversity of habitat ranging from weed beds to rocks to ample wood cover. The water clarity was quite good in some areas and the fish are there. Bart and I landed about 15 Largemouth Bass and one Pike. The Largemouth were quite healthy and, I must admit, fought like no other largies I have ever caught. Matter of fact, on a couple fish, I thought for sure I had hooked a smallie. I think these Des Plaines largies are smallie “wannabees”. No smallies on this day, but smallmouth are there. Bart had already caught a few on prior trips and a few local anglers tell of a few larger smallies that have been caught recently. The habitat in the Des Plaines will definitely support smallies.
All in all it was a great day spent in the kayak exploring a new river that has rebounded from man’s prior transgressions. The Des Plaines River is back and producing game fish. For those of us who love to bass fish our state’s rivers, the Des Plaines River is another destination that should just continue to get better as time progresses.
Here are a few pics from our day:
The average width of the Des Plaines
Rocky habitat can be found throughout the stretch that we fished.
My nicest largemouth caught on Super Spook Jr.
Bart with a nice, chunky largie
Bart with a small pike
Bart’s friend and Des Plaines River guru, Larry, with a nice sized pike. He met up with us about halfway through our trip….........great guy and very knowledgeable about the river.
As I was paddling along, I came upon a family fishing along the bank. I watched them reel in this ancient fish…..................a bowfin. Very cool.
Cannot wait to get back to the Des Plaines…..................looking forward to my first smallie and pike from this under-appreciated waterway.
AS ALWAYS…..........................HAIL TO THE SMALLIE
Buddy of mine just sent me this picture of a track he spotted yesterday. Anybody know what it is????
Hit Evergreen Lake this past Sunday with my buddy Tim. I did most of the fishing, while Tim controlled the boat. Threw the 10 weight for a few hours with no takers….......no hits or follows. Still was great to get out and get the feel of the 10 weight fly rod. Planning on heading somewhere this weekend to chase the elusive muskie once again. Any ideas where I should go? Lake Storey? Spring Lake?
Below are a few flies I am working with. The first one is a fly I made up for a buddy who is heading to the Upper Miss in a few days to chase some serious sized muskies with the long rod. This fly is a sucker imitation (color wise)
Below are two flies tied with a packed, deer hair head. Looking forward to trying them out. The packed, deer hair head should allow this fly to turn/twitch on the pause after stripping. One is tied with one hook (finesse muskie fly), and the other is a double, articulated model:
I just gotta get me a muskie before Dec. 1st.