Summer is finally getting here, and some of the best fishing in any area during the summer can be found in rivers. Summer fishing in lakes can be hard because the water warms faster, forcing fish deeper and giving them “lock jaw” during peak summer weather.

River fish stay active because the current keeps water temperatures cooler and more stable during the summer. River fish tend to be more active because they fight that current, expending energy, all day; they need to eat more and eat more often to maintain those higher energy levels. They also tend to be stronger fish because of fighting the current. This makes even small fish fun to fight and catch.

The river fish tend to let food come to them, so they usually face upstream looking for food to wash down to them. The fisherman’s best presentation technique is to make bait swim downstream or cross-current. This presents the bait in the most realistic-looking way to the fish.

The other good thing about river fishing is most of the time there will be great fishing from shore, so no boat is necessary. If shore fishing or wading, look for shore cover near the deepest water: The fish will slide in behind the cover out of the current and wait for their next meal. First, remember that deeper water may only be 4 feet or 5 feet deep, and second, that cover could be anything from a boat dock, a rock, a downed tree, a sand bar — anything that would break the current and provide a slack water spot for the fish to relax and get access to food as it passes by.

Luckily we have a great many rivers easily accessible to Evanstonians. Here are a few: The Kankakee River is great for smallmouths. Reports are good catches are being made with a bobber/nightcrawler combination. The Fox River at St. Charles has been producing nice catches of bass, northerns and catfish. The Illinois River has been pretty muddy from all the rain, but we have had good reports of sauger and strippers being caught. And of course there is the Mississippi River, although it has been pretty muddy from this very wet spring, in which anglers are catching nice walleye and bass fishing in slack water that is a little clearer.

This summer give the rivers a try; they are great under-fished locations with easy access for all. My next report will be from Great Britain, until then keep a tight line.

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