Outdoors: Plenty of hunting, fishing fun to be had this time of year

Spent most of the morning looking for deer.

I don’t use trail cameras. Most of my hunting is done by vision, the same way I squirrel hunt. I look for areas where deer are feeding and set up a trail-watching stand. That is, looking for travel routes to and from a bedding area to a food supply. My wife and I love venison, so I am not a trophy hunter. I take most of my deer during shotgun seasons.

I used to like archery hunting, but my fishing excursions have taken over during archery seasons. Archery deer hunting is definitely a challenge even now that most folks can use a crossbow. In addition, squirrel hunting is still No. 1 on my list.

As for fishing, walleye and sauger fishing has been good near the mouth of the Fox River. Many of the fish are undersized and have to be returned, but it sure is fun with the action.

Speaking of river fishing, I have fished both the Illinois and Mississippi rivers. Both rivers contain walleye and sauger, but there are noticeable differences on how each river should be approached. Even though both species gather below barrier areas, current breaks locks and dams, the walleye prefer faster water than the sauger. Sauger prefer slow, deep water. Both are very light-sensitive, so the most productive time to fish is during low-light conditions. Cloudy days have been excellent in our area, as most of the fish are in 13 feet of water.

Eddies created by river points or wing dams are good places to start in both waterways. They can occur on both the upstream and downstream of both areas. Current also slows on upstream and downstream sides of islands. In addition, eddies form when a tributary or factory discharge meets the faster-moving water from a main river. These things have been productive on both rivers.

On the Illinois, pylons can hold fish on both the upstream and downstream sides of these structures, especially during fall. The sun heats these structures on the north side of the river, which brings minnows and shad in looking for plankton. The predatory fish are not far behind, as they need to feed for the winter.

Fishing report

The last two days have been very poor on the river, as the high winds hampered boat control. In addition, white-cap waves made it very hard to fish vertical, which is critical to catching sauger and walleye. Before the winds started, we were taking many sauger and a few nice white bass near the mouth of the Fox River.

Hopefully, good conditions will return with a warming trend.

Hunting report

During preseason scouting, deer hunting looks good. Even though the new harvesting equipment doesn’t leave much grain in the fields, the deer still find something to feed on.

Squirrel and waterfowl hunting remains very good. Foliage is receding, making it easier to spot squirrels, and Canada geese are at record levels.

• Fred Krause is a Shaw Media correspondent.

Fred Krause

Fred Krause

Fred is an avid outdoorsman who has been writing about his passion for decades.