That’s a phrase you’ll be hearing a lot over the next couple of weeks if you can brave the cooler temperatures and winds. This is the time for big fish, lots of them, as the water temperatures drop rapidly to near 50 degrees on all the lakes and rivers in the area. Now is the time of year for big fish to be putting on the “feed bag,” and the reports are outstanding from most waters, but in particular from the rivers.

The Fox River north of the Chain has been producing nice catches of eating-size walleyes and the occasional monster walleye. The Chain has given up big catches of walleye, crappie and white bass in 12-foot to 20-foot depths using fathead minnows on bright jigs. Remember, if you fish the Chain, that the draw-down of water levels begins next week. Be careful with your drive unit if you’re boating.

The Illinois River is producing good catches of sauger and lots of white bass in the Starved Rock area below the dam and south on the flats. The Rock River, up near Rockford, has reported great catches of slab crappies in the backwater areas of the river (these are also accessible from shore). The Mississippi River at Pool 13 is prime water for slab crappies and this area is also boat-and-shore-fishing-accessible.

The inland lakes are producing really well now that the turnover is done. Lake Geneva guides are reporting great catches of smallmouth bass in 20 feet to 30 feet of water, and trolling (when weather permits) has been putting some nice catches of walleyes and northerns in the boats as well. The Skokie Lagoons are happening for those of you who like catfish and panfish; both are on the feed for the cold-water period.

This is also a great time for you guys to be taking the family along — the late fall colors, especially along the rivers, are outstanding and worth sharing. Until next time, keep a tight line.

Visit Dick at hookedonfishing@comcast.net.