The summer peak fishing season had been a pretty terrific at many of the inland lakes until the monster rains this past week raised all the water levels and changed the patterns again. The summer bite had been getting into predictable patterns with most species being caught in the expected spots; bass in the thick cover and shaded ambush spots, walleyes on the outside weed edges, and panfish in the weeds and around structure. Eight inches of rain changed all that. The immediate impact after the storms had most fish headed into deep water to avoid the thunder and lightning.

Now with higher water levels some of the game fish are up cruising the flooded areas that used to be shoreline, especially in rivers and river-type waters like the Skokie Lagoons, looking for fresh food. The two most likely species up in the grass would be bass and walleyes, and it would be surprising to find some pretty large fish in just 2 -3 inches of water.

The Illinois, Rock and Mississippi rivers are all great locations for high water fishing and they are also great places to go for an outstanding weekend with the family. The Starved Rock State Park along the Illinois River is fantastic not just for fishing, but for hiking and historic sites to visit. The Mississippi Palisades west of Galena, Ill. along the Mississippi River are an inspiring site and a protected area for Bald Eagles along the river, the fishing in the area is great also.

The lakes just to the north were not as affected by the rains. Lake Geneva has been producing a strong night bite for those with some evening hours to spare. There are reports of some nice walleyes being caught in Williams Bay after dark; the bass too are active in the weed beds and Senko worms have been the most effective when fished over the weeds for them. Lake Delevan has been the real hotspot. From all reports everything seems to be biting; these northern pike up to 30+ inches, 17-20 inch bass, limits of panfish. The busiest spots seem to be the rock piles and docks for the bigger fish but the weeds are the target for the panfish.

There are plenty of places to go nearby to get the kids out fishing, or just a few hours away, and they are all perfect for the whole family. The fishing at Lovelace Park here in Evanston has been amazing this year; one young person landed a 14 inch crappie. Two weeks ago another young angler picked up a nice little bass.

Heading north again to Minnesota: Next report will be from Lake Vermilion and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Until next time keep a tight line.