Saturday, September 12, 2009

Des Plaines River 9/11/2009

Our trip started out right at 7:00 am. My partners for the day were Dale Bowman who is the outdoors writer for the Chicago Sun Times, and Joel Greenberg who is a friend of Dales, and a Naturalist. We planned to do a little fishing and also to do some wild life exploration.

Sunrise at the Marina

Our expectations for fishing were not very high due to the bluebird skies so we decided we’d jump from spot to spot and see what we’d see. Within the first few minutes of the trip, we spotted a Bald Eagle sitting in a tree. We stopped for a couple photos and then continued on to our first fishing spot.

Bald Eagle

Dale managed to catch a nice Bluegill at spot number one, but fishing there was kind of tough due to all the floating vegetation coming from up river. We didn’t stick around that spot too long.

At our next spot I caught a little Smallmouth Bass almost right away. Before we were done with that spot, we had quite a few fish in the boat. All three of us caught fish. Dale was determined to catch a fish on a top water lure and had several fish hit the lure.

A fish tries to inhale Dales topwater lure

His determination paid off with a nice White Bass.

Dale with a White Bass

Joel also caught a White Bass and his first few Smallmouth ever from that spot. At one point, Joel and I had doubles so we were able to photograph a Largemouth Bass and a Smallmouth Bass side by side. Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass side by side

After things slowed a little, we moved to spot number three. We didn’t catch anything there, and once again, fishing was tough because of the vegetation that would hang up the lures on every cast. We headed onward to the next spot.

Once we arrived I put a nice Flathead Catfish in the boat right away.

Flathead Catfish

Before we were done with that area, Dale had a couple more nice fish in the boat. We also spotted a big Red Tail Hawk circling above the river holding onto a snake he had captured.

Dale with another nice Smallmouth Bass

As we headed down river, we kept a lookout for different species of birds and other wild life. We saw the usual ducks, cormorants, deer, herons, swans, and egrets. We also spotted a couple of Osprey that were a little too far away for good pictures. We also stopped to fish along a Lotus field that was blooming but struck out there.

Lotus blooming in the distance

Once we got the point where the Des Plaines River and Kankankee River meet to form the Illinois River, we stopped to take some photos and talked about the history of that particular spot and how early settlers of our country passed through there.

Joel on the IL River with the Des Plaines River to his left, and the Kankakee River to his right.

At our last fishing spot Dale caught the first fish. It was a big Smallmouth Bass.

Dale with a big Smallmouth Bass

A short time later, I hooked a slighly larger fish. My first thought was that it was a Drum but Dale got the first good look at it and encouraged me to "get it in the boat". Then when it jumped again, I saw that it was a real nice Smallmouth.

Lifting my Smallmouth Bass into the boat

I noticed it was hooked pretty well so I quickly horsed it up into the boat. We tried for a few more fish there but struck out.

20 inch Smallmouth Bass - Thanks to Dale for providing this photo

As we were heading back I asked Joel about a bird I noticed. He looked at it and determined it was a black-legged kittiwake which is rare for that area. We were able to get quite a few photos of the bird.

Black-Legged Kittiwake

Joel has a blog at

Dale’s column can be found in Wednesdays and Sundays Chicago Sun Times, and his blog is at

We stopped to notice more sights, birds, animals, and plants on the way back to the boat ramps. It was nice to be out there with a couple guys who appreciate all aspects of the outdoor world as I do, and who I can always learn a thing or two from. The water temperature was anywhere between 82 and 86 degrees depending on where we were. The was hardly a cloud in the sky and a comfortable breeze was blowing out of the East Southeast.


At the end of the trip we all agreed that the day turned out better than expected.



  1. Hey Bill. Looks like a very nice day in the country's heartland. Even though the only smallmouth I ever caught wasn't 20" it was a good fight. I'll bet you 20 incher put up a good battle. Thanks for the pictures. Always enjoy seeing other parts of the country.


  2. Sounds like a great day with great company.

  3. I really like how you detail your fishing trips with photos of good fish mixed with some wildlife and surrounding area. My biggest Smallie was a 15" fish with some shoulders. Your 20" Smallie must have been a great battle.