If you are looking near I57, then your choice would be Beckman Park in Kankakee. That would put you on the pool above the dam in Kankakee and you would not be in good Smallie territory, but could kill on catfish up by the sand bar about a mile upstream off River Isle estates. And upstream into the Iroquois River. The one exception would be to fish the mouth of Baker Creek which can be a good producer. You should be able to get mostly up to the old railroad crossing in Aroma Park, but not further.
If you are targeting smallies in a bass tracker, then you should go to Bird Park and work Hydes hole just up from the Indian caves. to get downstream, stick to the west side of the river (the side you put in at) and you will find deeper water. This should work down to about the Bourbonnais Sportsman Club but be careful on the depths. Troll the rock face in an upstream direction just opposite the Indian caves for fun and enjoyment.
However. your better idea is to forget the bass tracker and get in a kayak. Then the entire river is yours. Be sure to share the GPS co-ordinates of where you catch fish - this is especially pleasing to the Illinois Smallmouth Alliance who are very protective of the locations they don't catch fish at.
In my experience, your best smallmouth fishing is a) around Davis Creek and b) the stretch between the high tension powerlines just upstream of Langham/Altorf Island to just below Warner Bridge. Yes, you will see Norm lurking in these spots.
Just checked the gauge in Wilmington. Whilst Norm is right, fish have to eat, the river needs to drop about another two weeks before I put in another kayak run.
Originally Posted by NCLitko18
Looking to take my 17' bass tracker out to the river soon. Any boat ramps near the I-57 overpass? How far upstream can you go until it gets too shallow? Gonna be fishing for smallmouths. Any tips would be great.