While gathering information for last week’s fishing report, Ed Mullady told me that smallmouth bass were being caught in water so shallow that their backs could be seen while they swam along the banks of the Kankakee River.
Wading is one “cool” way to catch a few fish and with that up-to-date report, I had to head for the river.
One of my favorite river access points is at the Kankakee River State Park. There is plenty of sallow water for catching largemouth and smallmouth bass, catfish, panfish, pike, and catfish.
I’ve learned a long time ago that it’s smart to always walk into the current when wading.
First of all if you’re walking up stream and fall into a hole, the current can help push you out. Falling in while walking with the current could result in being pushed deeper into a hole. No matter how much you know the river bottom, remember that it’s moving water and the bottom is always changing.
Another reason for walking into the current is to keep kicked up sand and muck behind you. Stirring up debris while walking down stream ends up where the fish may be and you can be assured that they will move away.
Normally, I’d wear waders but not now because it’s just too hot. A pair of shorts and old gym shoes work fine. I prefer to wear wading boots because they have padding around the ankle which keeps small stones from getting into the boot.
From Mullady’s report, my guess was that the smallies were rooting up crayfish, hellgrammites or minnows in the shallow water. So because of that, I brought to the river a 6 foot long light action spinning rod and reel and a selection of small baits. With this outfit I can easily cast open water as well as under and around overhanging trees and bushes; places where fish often hang out.
In my belly pack I had a few small shallow running minnow crankbaits, an assortment of hooks and weights, 4-inch plastic worms, twister tailed grubs and some poppers.
My first fish was a 12-inch smallmouth bass that took a peanut butter and jelly colored grub. That bait also hooked up two others later in the morning. They were about the same size. My other fish were caught on a 2 inch floating minnow bait.
All of the fish came out of emergent weed patches on the banks. They were tucked the shade and out of the current. When my bait passed by, the smallies darted out to grab an easy meal. Since the water was shallow, every bite came with a bit spash. This is what makes it fun.
I spent about 4 hours in the water and caught and released 5 smallies. Nothing big on this trip but still it was fun and cool water was refreshing.
Wading allows you to fish spots that are not reachable by boat or from the bank. It’s like hunting. You walk along slowly looking for places to fish.
The Kankakee River has numerous locations were wading can be enjoyed. The K-3 State Park runs between Rt. 102 and Rt. 113 north of Kankakee. Another spot that many wading anglers enjoy is at the Werner Street Bridge area on the north end of the park. The river runs from Indiana all the way to the Three Rivers area north of Wilmington providing miles of fishing access for waders, shore anglers and boaters as well.
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