High water vs. Low Water Educational Debate - Chicago Illinois Fishing Forum, Information & Reports
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Old 03-02-2010, 06:32 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default High water vs. Low Water Educational Debate

Alright so I feel as if alot of people are struggling to find fish/catch on the DPR (including myself) and seeing as other forums on this site communicate alot, I figure maybe if the DPR guys help each other out, everyone will catch more fish when the warm weather comes and hopefully learn more about the river as well. So with these hopes I bring you an educational debate which I hope will help us all catch more fish. (Keep in mind these are only my opinions) And as always, your two cents is appreciated.

Advantages/Disadvantages of Fishing low Water
A.-The water is clearer and you can see cover better
A.- You can walk the shoreline easily (unless you're a bushwhacker like me)
A.- The fish are concentrated in small areas
A.- Wading is appropriate and can help you catch a ton of fish
D.- You get snagged alot
D.- If you don't find deep water, your catch rate will usually suffer
D.- You usually cannot reach prime areas when fishing from shore

Advantages/Disadvantages of Fishing High Water
A.-The fish are much closer to shore
A.-The fish are usually more aggressive because baitfish are less skittish and easier for them to catch
A.-You can use bigger baits and a variety of baits without worrying about snagging all the time
A.-You can have a spot all to yourself
A.- Everyday different spots can hold fish because of fluctuating water levels creating new ambush points and therefore, new spots could pop up everyday
D.-Walking the shore can be treacherous
D.- Wading is definetely not advised
D.- Injuries can be had to those not careful, especially if alot of mud is present

Winner: High Water-In my opinion high or rising water provide shore anglers with more opportunities to catch fish because the fish are closer to shore, they are generally more aggressive and because anglers can use many kinds of baits, many species can be caught in one outing.

I use the USGS website to check the water levels at Riverside and I have found that my catch rates are best when the water is at 3.3 ft (low) and are twice as good when the water is above 5.8. Here's the link for those of you interested.

http://waterdata.usgs.gov/il/nwis/uv/?s ... 0065,00060

So considering we are getting a big warm spell at the end of the week, I would start scouting for some cut banks or big objects that break current so when the water rises, you'll catch a ton of fish on these spots. That's what I'll be doing until this weekend, when my scouting will hopefully pay off with a big pike or a 5 lb. walleye.
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Old 03-03-2010, 07:00 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Ill just add to a very real report , above . I feel that the high water conditions bring more fish up river , from the main / larger river basins . More water means there are more places for fish to go/hide , and ambush bait .
It has been my experiences that fishing in high water is hard , mostly because of accessability . Everything gets flooded and its just hard to find access . BUT . When the river starts to recede , the fish are moved into the holes and around structures and there will be plenty of them untill they are forced to move back downstream as the water levels go down .

Good Luck and Safe Trips ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, Walldady
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Old 03-03-2010, 07:23 PM   #3 (permalink)
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All the points that you make seem like sound observations.

I've caught my PB river 'eye, and PB sauger when they were tight to the bank during high water.

My PB (local) smallie, came from a predictable low water spot -an eddy behind an obstruction right on the edge of deeper water.

Another point about high water is that frequently you can also hit it with a low or falling barometer -if the storm systems that brought the water up are sustained for a few days.
I'm a firm believer that a low barometer gets fish on the prowl, -bolder and up to the edges.

You can catch fish on a rising river, -more difficult on a falling river.
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Old 03-03-2010, 10:33 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I'm starting to compile a database of fishing trips I've taken on the river and my catch rate factoring in weather, water level, depth and time day/year. If I compile it right, I might even use Arcmap software to map out the river itself.
Like I said before, I sometimes catch more fish during low water, but my bigger fish come when the water is up and I usually have a better catch rate as well. I think I cold have organized this post better, but I think i was just really excited about the warm weather streak we're going to have. I know big gamefish will be on the prowl. Do either of you guys (WallDaddy or Raptor) fish the river alot? It sounds like you guys have your info down pretty well. And Raptor, maybe this is a stupid question, but what does PB stand for?
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Old 03-03-2010, 11:43 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PowernFinesse
maybe this is a stupid question, but what does PB stand for?
Lots of things.

Peanut Butter
Lead
Paul Blart. Mall Cop
Personal Best
Park Bait

High water is great. With the strong current, there are less places they can hang out and you find them concentrated, and like you said, often close to shore. Falling levels are bad as the fish brains think less about eating and more on not getting trapped in a puddle as the river drops.

Low is good too. There are some medium/high levels I hate. It's too fast to effectively wade and not high enough to force them to shore.
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Old 03-04-2010, 07:28 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Power Finness , Yes , I have been fishing the DesPlaines , mostly in late winter to spring time , for many yrs . What I have written has no scientific proof , other than my fishing logs that I keep . The statements that I made are of my own experiences , and in no way , a critique of anyone elses abilities or experiences . Unfortunately Im layed off right now , so fotunately I have more time to fish . I live close to the river , 5 min. so its fun to spend my time down there . Beats watchin Oprah .

Im guessing PB is refering to ,,,,,,,,, Personal Best


Good Luck and Safe Trips ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, Walldady
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Old 03-04-2010, 07:34 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Just a suggestion for your thinking.
Consider the temperature of the water with high vs low.
In colder water the fish are less able to deal with current.
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Old 03-04-2010, 09:17 AM   #8 (permalink)
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WD- Yea I got what PB meant when I woke up this morning. I felt really dumb afterwards haha. If I go back to school for my masters degree next fall, I plan on doing some fish tagging to find out where different species go during high water and how long they stay there. I got to work with radio tags last year and they're pretty cool. My old teacher already gave me the green light, so I just need to get accepted. That was the nice part about the biology department is we had unlimited access to thousands of experiments from different fields.( (unfortunately my degree isn't getting me employment as of now). I read one study that said they found baitfish in high water to be much bolder and carefree in their movements and therefore predators would expend less energy catching them.

Ron- I thought you were a big pond guy? You get your yak out of storage for the sprig season yet? Or did it never go into storage?
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Old 03-04-2010, 09:22 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I agree with ed on temps especially at this time of yr. Regardless high or low levels. Most fish think about one thing at this time of year food. Even if there not eating they will be near it. Warmer areas usually draw in bait. Quick changes in water temps change there ability to react to moving prey. Shallow rivers like dp and k3 rise and fall week by week and so do there temps. Learning the bottom of the river will help determine where to go to find active fish. These low water level times are good for scouting whether u have sand, rock, or mud. Rock is going to warm faster then mud and sand. But mud also is in area where bait will use as traveling areas. Bait goes where warm water holds. I like Barometers and moon phases to. Maybe find pools with shallow water up stream. Area will be warmer and the riffles will create o2 that will dump into the pool. It works for me at times no expert just dont like to waste time.
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Old 03-04-2010, 09:37 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PowernFinesse
Ron- I thought you were a big pond guy? You get your yak out of storage for the sprig season yet? Or did it never go into storage?
I'm a pretty much everything guy from ice fishing to wading and jigging. I like to fish for what I like to eat, so that's why the focus on perch. (plus they were easy to figure out and I did that long ago) River fishing for walleye and smallmouth is always special. I don't target too much anymore muskies, largemouth or trout & salmon or rough fish, but anything, anywhere else is game.

The yak was supposed to be out this winter, but it never happened. Hope to be out popping perch in it within two weeks.
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