Fox Chain Report

June on the Fox Chain is a busy time. Fish of all species are active and feeding. The weather is getting nicer with less cold fronts coming down from the north. Fishermen are out in droves taking advantage of the good fishing. Memorial Day weekend is usually the start of the pleasure-boat season as well.

For the weekend angler, this means getting up before the sun comes up to take advantage of the early bite and the peace and solitude before the fleet of pleasure boaters hits the water.

Muskies

Muskie fishing is very good at this time of year. From Memorial Day weekend to approximately the second week of June, an outstanding trolling bite is available. Lake Marie, Bluff, and Petite are the key lakes for this pattern. Trolling shad-style crankbaits is good. Some of the better baits are the Rapala Super Shad Rap, Bagley Monster Shad and the Bucher Baby Depth Raider in the straight and jointed models. These are proven baits that produce outstanding results from year to year. There are other baits on the market that definitely deserve a try.

You can troll three rods per person. With two guys in the boat, a six-rod trolling spread can be worked. This will give you the ability to run different baits. Once a hot bait is found, you can double up on that particular bait and increase your odds for a multi-fish day. This pattern has produced very well and is very exciting. You don’t need planer boards. You can run your lines directly behind the boat.

Have your rod tips positioned slightly low in the water. This will prevent floating weeds from running down your line and fouling up your bait. Start shallow and run the breaklines. Start at the 3 to 5 foot depths. Hit all the points and inside turns. You can make sharp turns and follow the contours precisely.

Don’t be afraid to get your speed up. 3 1/2 to 5 mph are common trolling speeds. From time to time, you can kick it up to 7 mph which can trigger explosive strikes. Keep working your way deeper until fish contact is made.

Hard strikes demand hard steel

Metal rod holders are highly recommended. Plastic rod holders can break on the strike and you could potentially lose your gear. The Down East rod holder is a favorite among muskie trollers. If you use a plastic rod holder, incorporate some kind of safety leash for your rod.

When you catch a fish, quickly get a photo and release it. Immediately run an identical trolling pass. Feeding windows can be short. The quicker you are back out trolling, the more fish you will catch.

The casting bite can be very good throughout the month. Channel, Catherine, Bluff and Petite are great casting lakes. Bucktails and topwaters are deadly at this time of year. Covering water quickly will get your bait in front of many active fish, potentially giving you a multi-fish day as well. Twitching small minnow baits or small glider-style jerkbaits over the weed pockets is another great presentation, especially during midday when the sun is up. Choose chrome-pattern baits to provide maximum flash to add to the attraction.

New for 2019, Joe Bucher Outdoors introduced the new Glow Tinsel Bucktail in the 500 and 700 series. These should be outstanding on the darker waters of the Fox Chain. They will definitely be getting a good workout throughout the upcoming season.

For topwater action, the Bucher TopRaider is a great choice. The loud plopping noise from the rotating tail section is music to muskie ears. For a slower presentation, the Giant Jackpot by Poe’s or the classic Hawg Wobbler or Jitter Bug can be absolutely deadly.

Largemouth bass

Bass fishing in June can be phenomenal. Steady weather with warming conditions following the spawn will have bass active and feeding.

The bass will be setting up in their summer habitat throughout the month. There will be some bass that will stay in the deeper channels. Cover water quickly and pay attention to where that first fish comes from. Riprap, seawalls, downed timber, boat docks, and overhanging trees can all hold fish. When you find out what the fish are holding on that particular day, you can run the pattern to put a bunch of bass in the boat.

Baits like spinnerbaits, swimbaits, swim jigs, and bladed jigs are all great for covering water. Square-bill crankbaits can also work, provided the weeds aren’t that bad. When fish are located, you can slow down with a jig and craw or a Senko-style bait. These baits can put big fish in the boat.

On the main lakes, many options abound. Shoreline seawalls, boat docks, inside weed lines, weed flats, deep weed lines, lily pad bays, and a variety of wood cover. Frog fishing and punching heavy plastics in lily pads or slop can be very effective and extremely exciting. A big bass busting through the lily pads to attack a frog is a definite adrenaline rush. Try to contain yourself on the strike. Wait until you feel weight to set the hook.

Baits for weeds

On inside or deep outside weed lines, several baits will work. Swim jigs, swimbaits, spinnerbaits, and bladed jigs will all work and are great for covering water. A shallow, square-bill crankbait on the inside edge and a deep-diving crankbait on the outside edge are two other baits that can find fish fast and, when the bite is on, can really put numbers of fish in the boat.

To target the less-aggressive fish, a slower presentation like a weedless jig-and-craw or a Texas-rigged plastic worm worked down in the weeds can be an effective technique. Black, motor oil, blue fleck, and pumpkinseed are popular plastic worm colors. For jigs, black, green pumpkin, and black/blue are all great choices. Carry some Dipping Dye with you in chartreuse, orange and blue. You can dip the claws of your craw into the dye for added attraction. Some of these dyes have garlic scent to add to their effectiveness.

Docking bass

Boat docks and boat lifts can all hold nice bass. Some will hold numbers of them. Skipping tubes, or Senko-style baits under docks with a spinning rod can be an effective and fun presentation. Jig and craws flipped or pitched under docks are a definite big-bass presentation. Using a baitcaster with a 50- to 65-pound braid is ideal for pulling fish out of heavy cover and out from under docks.

When working docks, make sure you hit every section from all angles. If there is a boatlift with or without a boat on it, put a bait in there. Junctions in the dock, ladders, pontoon boats and dock covers are all great targets to put a bait under. Once you find an area of the dock that is holding fish, you can concentrate on that particular area on the other docks as well. That is called fishing a pattern within a pattern. Dock fishing is a great pattern and many tournaments are won dock fishing.

Bluegills

June is a great month to grab the kids, wife or girlfriend and go bluegill fishing. The Fox Chain is loaded with bluegills, with some getting into the 8- and 9-inch class. Even the smaller fish are very thick and put up a great tussle on ultralight equipment.

In June, the channels are loaded with bluegills. Some are spawning and some are done, but they are always feeding. These fish can be right on the shoreline in as little as 6 inches of water. You definitely do not need a boat. Shore fishing can be really good. From shore, when you approach a spot, you want to walk quietly and stay back from the water. A long, fiberglass whip-out fishing pole is actually better then the traditional rod and reel. You can keep your distance and quietly lower a bait into the water with no splash or commotion. These poles are available in sizes from 10 to 20-feet long. With a 20-footer, you can really keep your distance and catch a bunch of nice fish without spooking them.

An ultralight to medium-light-action rod will also work well for bluegills. Rods can range anywhere from 4 up to 9 feet long. Four- or 6-pound monofilament fishing line is ideal. You don’t want to go heavier than that or you will start to sacrifice bites, especially from the larger fish. A plain, long-shank hook baited with a nightcrawler, red worm, or baby leech will all catch bluegills. An ice-fishing jig baited with a wax worm will also take a lot of fish. If you don’t want to mess with live bait, a tiny jighead with a 1-inch Gulp Alive Minnow will also catch a lot of fish. You can catch a lot of fish on one bait before it finally gets ripped off the jig. Chartreuse is a very good color for bluegills. They are available in a variety of colors. All these baits work great below a small float or bobber. There are many great floats and bobbers on the market, like the Lindy Thill Floats, Rod-N-Bobbs, and the Rocket Bobber. Check them out.

Bluegills are available in all the lakes. Shallow bays with weeds, boat docks and overhanging trees attract a lot of fish. Deep weed lines will hold some of the bigger bluegills. As the season wears on, some will even suspend out away from the weed line feeding on plankton and insects. A slip bobber will excel over the deeper water. Once found, you can catch a bunch and experience some fast action. When the bite slows, keep moving, find another bunch of fish and catch a bunch all over again. This is definitely a family sport. This is a great way to introduce someone new to fishing.

Walleyes

Walleye fishing can be really good this time of year. Early and late in the day is prime to avoid boat traffic. If you can get out during the week, that is ideal also. Live bait three-way rigs are good. Leeches and nightcrawlers are best this time of year, but it is not a bad idea to bring some large, fathead minnows along as well. On the bottom lead, use a jig from 1/8 ounce up to 3/8 ounce on a 12 to 15-inch dropper. On your trailing lead, you can run a plain hook and a bead, a floating jighead or a snap and a small minnow bait like an Original Rapala. Run your trailing lead anywhere from 3 to 5 feet long. Pull this rig with a bow-mount trolling motor or, if you have a small boat, you can slowly backtroll with a transom-mount trolling motor or small outboard.

You don’t even need live bait for walleyes anymore. You can use reaction-style baits. These baits are best snap jigged while moving forward or quickly back trolling. This technique covers water and produces aggressive strikes.

Good baits for goldens

For baits, you can use the ice-fishing Jigging Rapala or similar bait. Other good ones are the Mooneye Shiver Minnow and the Acme Hyper Rattle. Snap your rod up, hold until it drops and hits bottom and repeat.

Another bait to use is the Rapala Rippin’ Rap. These come in several sizes and colors. They have a loud rattle to attract fish and trigger strikes. Fish this the same way you would fish the Jigging Rapala.

The third style of bait is a heavy jighead with a plastic trailer like a twister tail or shad-style tail. A heavy jig is key—1/2-, 5/8-, or 3/4-ounce jigs will drop fast and trigger strikes. Fish this the same as the Jigging Rapala and the Rippin’ Rap. Follow breaklines and deep weed lines. You will catch a lot of bonus fish, as well. Pike, muskies, stripers and crappies will all hit these baits.

For a complete selection of live bait, tackle, and up-to-date fishing reports, stop in at Triangle Bait Shop in Antioch. Greg has a complete selection of muskie baits including a full line of Bucher products. Greg has the new Bucher Glow Tinsel Bucktails in stock. For walleyes, Greg has all the hottest crankbaits and jigs—including the Kalin’s Google Eye Jig that contains rattles. Stop in the shop on Saturday, June 1 for St. Croix Rod day. Purchase a new St. Croix rod and get your name entered in a raffle to win a five-hour guide trip on The Fox Chain, Lake Geneva or Delavan.

If you fish the north-end lakes, stop in at Musky Tales on 173 in Antioch. Kurt has a bait and tackle shop, a launch ramp across the street and the Time To Bite Bar and Grill. Kurt also runs a lot of cool events out of his place. Mutiny Bass Tournaments, seminars, plus on June 1 and 2, Musky Tales will host the IMTT Illinois Musky Tournament Trail. On June 8, there will be a Vendor Expo and Fishing Flea Market. This is a chance to bring your old tackle down to sell or pick up something at a great deal. While you are here, you can pick up a beef sandwich or delicious hamburger or hotdog. Then, on June 15, Musky Tales will host the Illinois Bow Fishing Association Championship. You can come on down and check out any of these cool events. You can follow Musky Tales on Facebook as well.