Fox Chain Report

Summer is in full swing and so is the pleasure boat traffic, but during the week it isn’t as bad. Even though the water is at its warmest, the fishing can be good. But the angler has to take advantage of low-light periods, and overcast or rainy days.

Largemouth bass: The bass fishing has been very good and the tournament guys have been catching good limits. Although summer fishing can get tough, there are plenty of fish in the system. Topwaters are a good way to start your day. The fish will feed actively on top in the low light and the bite can last all day on cloudy days. A buzzbait is a great search lure that draws explosive strikes, and another good bait is a walk-the-dog-style one like a Zara Spook or a Heddon Spit’n Image. The Storm Rattlin’ Chug Bug, Rebel Pop-R and Rapala X-Rap Pop are great choices for precise targeting.

Many good-sized bass will stay extremely shallow in July, and the insides of weedlines near the shorelines are areas to target. As the sun rises the boat docks become an excellent location for bass, and Senkos, tube jigs and flipping jigs can all catch them there. Weed flats and the outsides of weedlines should also be checked. Texas-rigged plastic worms and deep-diving crankbaits are good tools for deep water.

Yellow bass: These are starting to make a strong comeback. The yellow bass usually travel in larger schools too, so once found this species could provide fast fishing for the whole family. Trolling lightweight bead-chain sinkers and spinner rigs are a great way to find and catch them; small fathead minnows are great on spinner rigs. Experiment with blade colors to find the best presentation, and once a school is found, you can then cast Road Runners, Beetle Spins or you can bobber-fish with live baits like small fathead minnows or waxworms.

       Channel catfish: July is the month for catfish. These are very active as they’re nearing the completion of their spawn. They can be caught on a variety of baits including ’crawlers, red worms, hot dogs, stink baits, minnows and leeches.

Catfish will relate to the weed beds, the rock or gravel flats, basin areas and holes in the Fox River. You can pitch jigs to weed pockets there and live baitfish on sinker rigs or slip-bobber rigs, or you can just troll crankbaits. The Fox Chain is loaded with channel cats that can grow as large as 15 pounds.

Trolling is a great summertime technique for cats, walleyes, white and yellow bass, crappies, pike and muskies. Largemouths and smallmouths will also find their way to your trolled crankbaits. Shad Raps, Salmo Hornets, Storm Smash Shads, Berkley Flicker Shads and Cotton Cordell Wally Divers are all great trolling baits. With two persons in a boat, you can then troll six rods and experiment with different baits.

Bluegills: Fishing for these can be good throughout the summer, as the bigger fish will be relating to deep weedlines and will suspend over main-lake basin areas. You can catch them on red worms, small nightcrawlers or waxworms, but for the biggest fish the baby leeches are best. A slip bobber along the weedlines or live baits drifted over the basin areas are ways to find and catch the big ‘gills the Fox Chain is known for. The north-end lakes have good weedlines too. Channel and Catherine lakes are the best and have good weed beds. Bluegill fishing is a great way to introduce your kids and novices into the sport.

In July, water temperatures are usually in the 80s and can approach 90. It’s a good idea not to pursue muskies now as they could get overstressed and die. Wait until the water temperature drops into the 70s, which is usually into September.

Get out there early or during the week, if possible, and enjoy the fishing the Fox Chain has to offer.