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DesPlaines River Tributaries

By Robert Piorkowski - June 1, 2000
The DesPlaines River has many feeder creeks and streams that enter the river from Libertyville to Channahon. Some creeks have considerable flow, others only flow during storm events. Some of the best fishing in the Chicago area is 100 yards or less up these feeder creeks. Because of storm events, deep channels have been formed in these feeder creeks due to high flows of storm water. Some small feeder creeks can have pools and channels eroded up to 6 feet deep. Deep channels and steep banks with overhanging limps provide excellent structure for fishing. But the best characteristic about small feeder creeks is that they provide a retreat from the fast current of the main river. Between storm events the feeder creeks maintain a low flow due to groundwater, and their pools and channels become a haven for fish escaping the high river flows.

On a nice afternoon this past month my friend Tony and myself set out to fish a feeder creek of the DesPlaines River in DuPage County. There had not been any substantial rain in weeks so we new there would be minimal flow in the creek. Because of the lack of rain, the pools above the main river would be basically stagnant. Noticing the clarity and low depth of the pools, we approached quietly and planned to fish using very long casts. We learned from prior trips that the fish spook very easily in these shallow quiet pools. When fish are easy to sight, its assumed they also notice our presence.

Our plan for the day was to make long casts using Chug-Bug and Pop-R's. The quiet location was perfect for the excitement of a topwater strike. The weather was warm but overcast, so there was no sun on the water surface. We found a location about 50 yards above the DesPlaines River that had overhanging limbs at the shoreline, and a casting spot well away from the likely fish. I made my first cast across the pool close to some logs. I worked the top water plug back in an erratic movement, stopping, diving and lurching. No fish. My second cast landed close to the opposite shore farther towards the middle of the pool. As I retreived the top water plug, it vanished about 3 feet from where it landed. All that remained of my Chug-Bug was a small ripple. I assumed I hooked a underwater branch and tried to pull it free. It turned out that a big largemouth had inhaled the lure down from below. No excitement, only an easy meal for a hungry bass. I set the hook, and the fight began. That bass jumped and tried everything to escape. What seemed like a year, (probably only 30 seconds) I landed a 16 and 1/2 inch largemouth. Not bad for 5 minutes work and in DuPage County. We took several photos and released the fish back to the creek. We made several other casts to the pool but no success. The fight of the bass had probably spooked fish for quite a distance. We moved away from the pool and fished closer to the river. After about a half hour we returned to the first pool. After several casts to the pool, I moved behind a tree to obstruct my presence. I'm positive standing so close to the pool spooked the fish, but I'm not sure hiding behind a tree will remove my presence entirely. After several minutes I made another short cast, after the second twitch of the plug I hooked a chunky largemouth. This bass attacked with fury. It seemed he attacked not out of hunger but as if the Chug-Bug was an arch enemy. This largemouth bass measured a healthy 12 inches. We took photos and released the 12 inch bass back into his pool. For the short time we fished we had a very successful day. When we head to these remote fishing spots, we only bring the essentials, rod, reel several lures and a camera. Also for convenience, I have inches marked on my fishing rod so I can measure and release fish quickly. Also, when searching for fishing locations along the DesPlaines, be aware of trespassing on private property. There are many feeder creeks along the Desplaines River, get a map and find one close to your home. Good fishing in Illinois is always close to your backdoor.

Good Fishing!

Author Robert Piorkowski
Robert Piorkowski
Rob is a Field Editor for Midwest Outdoors Magazine, Featured Columnist for, Contributing Writer for Illinois Outdoors and works as a Environmental Project Manager near Chicago, Il. When not casting for bass out of his boat, you'll find him wading local rivers searching for bass with a flyrod. If you have any questions or comments regarding this article, contact Rob at [email protected]
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