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updated: 9/25/2013 11:19 AM

Low water creates fishing opportunities on Fox

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I suspect some readers will disagree with me when I hit a raw nerve now and then when discusssing area fishing.

I also suspect some readers have their own "secret spots" to work and will not share those locations with anyone.

That's all well and good. I say that because after more than four decades of schlepping my tackle and body around North America as well as this state, I will gladly share my local spots with anyone interested.

Of course, these are the public fishing places that seem to get hammered every weekend.

It's my contention that there are cadres of people who call themselves anglers, when in actuality they should be categorized as poachers and criminals. If this was a science fiction scenario happening in the year 2355, I would hope that these poachers would be zapped into something like freeze-dried coffee.

Anyway, these public fishing spots are nothing more than the forest preserve ponds and lakes in far western Cook and Lake counties.

Not so long ago, the old man himself -- angling guru Spence Petros -- and I were supposed to enjoy a day or two of pond-hopping to see where the jumbo bluegills and bass swam. Time constraints erased all those plans, so I did it by myself.

There is, however, still a downside to talking about this public service.

Some years back, the late Buck Squancho, photo maven Mike Seeling, Fox River bon-vivant Ken Darga and I worked a public pond in Schaumburg. We discovered scads of fat crappie just waiting to grab small minnows. Now this was right after ice-out, and these fish were ravenous.

We all agreed to return the fish to the water and just have fun catching them. It was a blast because the action was furious. I never wrote about the name of the pond nor the location, but sharp-eyed readers pinpointed the place. It was overrun with anglers a few days after the column was published.

When I say overrun, I really mean it. Trespassers, in droves, crossed private property to get to the water instead of using the park's pathways. The garbage and debris left on the banks was horrendous.

Now, with that said, I have some slight trepidation about sharing.

Still, I offer to you a low-water situation that could yield some excellent smallmouth bass action on the Fox River. Many rivers now have their "fall faces" on, in that water levels are much lower now than springtime.

If you're a wading explorer, you can use this to your advantage.

Chest waders, a wading staff or stick, a small personal flotation device (PFD), and a willingness to become a searcher are the basic elements needed.

Once water levels drop you can wade into the river and search for the deeper holes. And "deeper" can mean a foot or two. Some fish have a tendency to migrate to a slight change in water depth. They could be looking for food or perhaps just want to hide.

Because the current is practically nonexistent in many places now, I take either a fly rod with me or a medium-action Grandt XLH-70 spinning rod. I'll narrow down my lure choices to a one-eighth ounce spinnerbait; a one-sixteenth ounce Mini-Mite and a 4-inch Little Action Mac worm. The fly choice will be a Clouser minnow streamer on the end of an ultralight, fluorocarbon leader. These baits will all fit in to a tiny, plastic box I can slide into a wader pocket. Sometimes I'll drag a tiny minnow bucket behind me and use a No. 8 octopus hook and a split shot.

More often than not I'll surprise myself by discovering a slight drop-off right behind the downstream side of a big boulder. The same is true when I find a "washout" at the exit point of a big underground drainage pipe.

Work both the upside and downstream areas of the various bridge abutments. These spots offer some current, and because smallmouth bass are creatures of habit, they seem to prefer even the slightest current edge to ambush passing food choices.

And please do not email asking me for entry spots. It's up to you to become a suburban adventurer.

•Contact Mike Jackson at, and catch his radio show 6-7 a.m. Sundays on WSBC 1240-AM and live-streamed at

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