April 13, 2024

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Fox River Fishing Guide: Complete Guide

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Any river that spans 200 miles and two states is bound to sweep you off your feet. Add a dozen of fishing tournaments, a vast diversity of species, and a multitude of hotspots to that, and it becomes clear that Fox River fishing deserves a place on your agenda soon. Read on and have a sneak peek at what exploring the Fox River can be like.

We aren’t joking when we say that the Fox River boasts an enviable number of underwater residents and angling locations. From Bass to Catfish, the area is brimming with renowned freshwater fish. And with more than 100 public access points in Illinois alone, the Fox River promises a memorable outdoor experience.

Regardless of whether you’re visiting Wisconsin or Illinois, you should make room in your schedule to enjoy the Fox River. And we’ll show you how. Dive into the river with us and learn about the fish species available here, their whereabouts, the various ways of angling, and fishing regulations. Here we go.

What fish are in the Fox River?

There are almost 30 prominent fish species in the Fox River. In the following paragraphs, we’ll highlight the superstars and offer some tips on how to go about finding and landing them. And don’t worry, we won’t forget to mention the supporting cast either.

Largemouth Bass

Largemouth Bass, known locally as Bigmouth Bass, are the most commonly caught fish in the Fox River. They top the list of trophy catches here – and rightfully so. They promise an action-packed fight and explosive runs for cover. So, if you’re looking for excitement, rest assured, Bigmouth will spice up your Fox River fishing day.

Tactical Angling

While they aren’t afraid to put up a show for you once hooked, they don’t like to be seen before that. For this reason, you’ll find Largemouth Bass stashed away in weed beds. Luckily for you, they’re sight feeders. So, you’ll lure them out of their hiding with good bait presentation. Minnows hooked below spinners will provide the best results.

Spring and fall are the prime times for Largemouth Bass quests. May and September, in particular, prove to be prolific. And speaking of being productive, check out McHenry Dam in Illinois and De Pere Dam in Wisconsin. Both locations have a healthy concentration of Bigmouth. Happy fishing!


Famous for their fine-textured meat, Walleye are also known for their not-so-sweet attitude. Walleye are serious worthy rivals. They’re battle-hardy fish that won’t go down without a fight. But before you even get the chance to test your skills against them, you’ll have to find their Fox River hideouts.

A photo taken after a night fishing trip featuring two proud anglers holding their Walleye catches in each hand
Musky and Pike Dreamers Guide Service

Walleye aren’t easy to locate. They tend to be more on the elusive side of angling. Luckily, there are a couple of things you can do to outsmart them. Firstly, align your hunt with their eating habits. Walleye prefer low-light conditions for feeding, so a late afternoon or a night trip could do the trick. Secondly, go Fox River fishing in spring when they make their spawning runs to the shallower inshore waters.

Last but not least, be ready to adjust your angling approach several times before you figure out what works best at any given moment. Their wide diet includes anything from larval mayflies to perch, so you’ll have plenty of baits to choose from. The same goes for fishing methods – combine jigging, still fishing, drifting, and trolling, and it’ll pay off.

Northern Pike

Similar to their neighbors Walleye, Northern Pike are most frequently caught in spring. During the months of March and April, they swim upstream in search of the perfect spawning ground. Unlike Walleye, Northern Pike are easier to find. More often than not, they end up near dams, so you can easily reach them. But what’s the allure of catching Pike, then?

A photo of a happy angler holding a Pike with both hands while standing on a charter fishing boat during a bright and sunny day and posing against the shoreline in the background
Tactical Angling

Northern Pike are notorious for their ferocious looks and malevolent intentions. They’re bigger and meaner than Walleye, and it isn’t uncommon for Pike to break your pole and cut through your line. Northern Pike are admirable predators and that’s precisely what makes them the ideal sportfish.

Gear up with nerves of steel and strong lines – you’ll need them both if you’re going Pike fishing on the Fox River! And don’t forget to bring bright-colored lures and large spinners and crankbaits.

Muskellunge (Musky)

Need more formidable opponents? Say no more! Another highly-prized game fish is Muskellunge. Better known as “Muskies”, these creatures are relatives of Pike, and are famous for their size and strength. The Green Bay area alone boasts specimens that can exceed 60 inches in length! So, if you’re intrigued to see what it feels like to battle a Musky, come Fox River fishing!

An angler sitting on a charter boat and holding a big Musky with both hands after a successful fishing trip on the Fox River
Tactical Angling

If you thought Walleye were elusive, wait until you see what Muskies have in store for you! They’re solitary and unpredictable creatures, so you realize why landing them can be real endeavor. Despite this, they migrate to the De Pere area in spring and fall, so this can be a good starting point. To maximize your chances of luring a Musky, try diving crankbaits and bucktail spinners.

… And More!

While Bigmouth, Walleye, Pike, and Musky dominate the Fox River fishing scene, they aren’t the only celebrities around here. Smallmouth Bass, White Bass, Crappie, Perch, and Bluegill call these waters home, too. Don’t be surprised if you come across Catfish, Trout, and Gar varieties as well.

A photo of three young anglers standing on a charter boat and posing while holding some Bass and Sunfish against greenery and the shoreline in the background
The Hook Up Guide Service

When it comes to Catfish, you could cross paths with Channel and Flathead Catfish. As for Trout and Gar, Brown Trout and Longnose Gar are the most common species. Let’s not forget about Carp either! Understandably, you’d rather clash with the Titans we highlighted above, but Fox River fishing is more than just its headliners.

When to Go Fishing on the Fox River

The beauty of this entire river system is that you can visit it any time of the year and you’ll be able to cast a line or two. Not to mention that there are seasons when you can do more than just wetting your line. April, May, September, and October, for example, are considered to be peak seasons for fishing the Fox River.

Therefore, it isn’t a surprise that the majority of tournaments are scheduled in spring and fall. Spring, in particular, is on every angler’s radar due to a prolific spawning season.

A photo of an angler wearing winter clothes and standing on a snow-covered lake while holding a small fish in one hand
The Hook Up Guide Service

Winter marks the beginning of ice fishing season. Almost all channels and adjacent backwaters turn into excellent ice fishing grounds. As for summer, while it isn’t the first choice among anglers to fish on the Fox River, it’s far from unproductive. This is a good time to go after Smallmouth Bass in the middle section of the river.

How to Fish on the Fox River

With 202 miles of meandering waters at your disposal, fishing on the Fox River is synonymous with variety. But let’s see what ways of fishing it are the best.

Charter Fishing

Charter fishing is arguably the most efficient way of covering a larger area, locating fish, and hitting the catch limit during a single outing. So, if you want to get the most out of your Fox River fishing experience, teaming up with local guides is the way to go.

A side view of a guide sitting in his charter fishing boat and navigating the Fox River in the proximity of the shore at sunset
Tactical Angling

It’s simple really – captains and guides have dedicated their lives and careers to mastering the art of fishing on the Fox River and its surrounding bodies of water. They understand how different conditions may impact your success. Who better that the guides born and raised in the area to show you around? The biggest offer of Fox River fishing charter operators can be found around the border between Wisconsin and Illinois.

Kayak Fishing

If you prefer a more intimate approach to fishing on the Fox River, kayak fishing may be your alternative. Kayak angling allows you to experience nature in its rawest form and reach various corners silently without spooking the fish. Sounds tempting, right?

A photo of an angler sitting in a kayak and showing off a fish caught while kayak fishing on a river, with a grassy riverbank behind him
Wet N Wild Outfitters

The Fox River is mostly calm and beginner-friendly. This means that, even if you haven’t fished on a kayak before, you can give it a try when conquering the Fox River and its nearby lakes. As for those more experienced, don’t worry there’s something for everyone. Fishing for Smallmouth Bass is particularly popular, but if you want to amplify the trickiness, go after Walleye instead.

Shore Fishing

The Fox River is all the rage among locals all along it. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that there are over a hundred public access points for shore fishing. This also means that you can’t fish from just any location you come across. Luckily for you, designated angling spots are numerous, so finding a bank fishing corner that suits you won’t be a problem.

An angler standing in a river and posing with a Bass caught while shore casting and wading during a sunny fall day
Wet N Wild Outfitters

You can catch almost any of the above-mentioned species from shore. After all, don’t forget that they tend to frequent the shallow waters and hide in underwater vegetation close to the shore. Spring and fall keep on being the best seasons even for shore fishing. And areas around dams continue yielding good results and decent catches.

Top Fox River Fishing Spots?

Stretching across two states, the Fox River is blessed with fishing spots. This also means that naming only a couple of hotspots is quite difficult. So, think of our suggestions as mere starting points. The following locations yield results on a regular basis. If you’re fishing on the Fox River for the first time, kick off with these, and then feel free to experiment with other corners.

An infographic featuring the maps of Wisconsin and Illinois and showing some of the best Fox River fishing spots in both states including Dayton Dam, Montgomery Dam, McHenry’s Dam, Frame Park, Princeton Lock 
and Dam, and De Pere Dam
  • Dayton Dam. Located only 5 miles from downtown Ottawa, Dayton Dam is a popular angling playground for White Bass, Crappie, Walleye, and Catfish when fishing on the Fox River in Illinois.
  • Montgomery Dam. The east channel above Montgomery Dam in Illinois is a good place for Bluegill and Crappie, while downstream is ideal for Flathead Catfish fishing. Surveys also show that Montgomery Dam has a decent Musky and Walleye offer.
  • McHenry Dam. Another hotspot in Illinois you shouldn’t skip is McHenry Dam and the Fox Chain O’Lakes. This entire Fox River waterway system offers superb Walleye angling opportunities year-round.
  • De Pere Dam. Situated in Green Bay, on its largest tributary, De Pere Dam is Wisconsin’s premier location for Fox River fishing. This is also a Walleye spawning ground in spring, so first-class action is guaranteed.
  • Princeton Lock and Dam. As property of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the Princeton Lock and Dam area is well-maintained and well-equipped for angling. It’s predominantly a Walleye and Catfish fishery.
  • Frame Park. Waukesha region is dotted with Fox River fishing spots. One of those angling corners is Frame Park. Frame Park is Wisconsin’s shore fishing heaven. Anglers have reported catching Pike and Musky here.

Anything else I should know?

An infographic featuring the state flags of Wisconsin and Illinois, a vector of a boat, and text that says "Fox River Fishing Regulations: What You Need to Know" against a dark blue background

A fishing license is a must when fishing the Fox River. Regardless of whether you’re fishing with a certified charter operator or on your own, if you’re 16 or older, you’ll need to purchase a valid license before wetting your line in Illinois and Wisconsin’s waters. Additionally, both states require fishing stamps if you’re after Trout. To learn more about Illinois and Wisconsin’s licensing regulations, visit the given links and read the in-depth blog on what to expect.

Apart from fishing licenses, make sure you’re familiar with size and bag limits. Not everything you catch will be available for keeping. So, double-check the latest rules regarding Illinois and Wisconsin keepers before you decide to take your catch home with you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Fox River Fishing: A Two-State Adventure

A father and son on a fishing boat, posing with a Pike caught while fishing on the Fox River during late fall
Tactical Angling

While not the biggest river in the US, the Fox River has established itself as a go-to fishery in both Wisconsin and Illinois. How could it not be on everyone’s radar when it has miles of shoreline and a rich underwater world? So, if you haven’t had the opportunity to fish on the Fox River yet, now is the time. If you’re among the lucky ones who regularly fish here, don’t hesitate to share your tips and tricks with us in the comment section below.

Have you ever fished on the Fox River before? What did you catch? What’s your favorite fishing spot? We’re all ears. Tell us all about your Fox River fishing experience or ask us any Fox River-related question.

The post Fox River Fishing: The Complete Guide appeared first on FishingBooker Blog.

By: Tanya
Title: Fox River Fishing: The Complete Guide
Sourced From: fishingbooker.com/blog/fox-river-fishing/
Published Date: Sun, 16 Apr 2023 20:09:00 +0000

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