Whether the sun is shining, or the sky is covered in a blanket of clouds, there’s one thing Ryan Solomon knows for certain, every day is a good day for fishing in St. Charles.
“I’ve been fishing since I was 3, 4 years old. It’s something I’ve always done and now I still find quite a bit of time to fish,” Solomon said.
Solomon is the ecological restoration supervisor for the St. Charles Park District, a job that combines his love of the outdoors with helping to restore outdoor habitats. For him, after a long day of digging in the dirt and checking plants, the best way to cap a day is to go fishing, whether it’s along the Fox River or on the banks of a local fishing pond in the community.
“St. Charles is great for anglers,” he said.
Fishing the Fox
St. Charles has some great fishing spots on the Fox River because it has areas of the river that are deeper, Solomon explained. A lot of the Fox River is shallow, but in St. Charles there are areas of the river that go deeper and that’s where some fish like to be.
Smallmouth bass are probably the most prevalent fish that Solomon catches in the Fox River. Earlier this spring he hooked a 20-inched smallmouth bass, which he estimates to be more than 10 years old.
“Smallmouth bass are a long-living fish and the fact that we have an abundance in the river is a good sign,” Solomon said adding that he prefers the catch and release fishing.
Other fish one’s likely to catch in the Fox River include channel catfish, flathead catfish, walleye and crappie. There’s also muskie and northern pike.
Every fisherman has their favorites when it comes to bait. Solomon said the bait depends on the season. In the summer he likes to use a lure that looks like a frog, some of the fish favorite snacks on warm days while in the winter he prefers to use live bait to entice the slow-moving fish to snack on his hook.
Fishing is both a sport to relax and enjoy on one’s own, but it can be a social opportunity too, with a chance to strike up a conversation with someone on what’s biting for the day, tips or a chance to talk about the sport too.
“While it’s important to respect fellow anglers with space, you are still sharing the river with other people so it’s nice to strike up a conversation too,” Solomon said.
Other fun spots to fish the Fox River in St. Charles include the riverbanks located in Pottawatomie Park, Ferson Creek Park, Riverside/Buie Park and Mt. St. Mary’s Park. Boy Scout Island is another great spot to set up for fishing, he said.
At the pond
As a part of the St. Charles Park District staff Solomon said he enjoys spending time in the different parks and he’s gained an insight into the best fishing holes too. When it comes to ponds he said River’s Bend Pond and East Side Sports Complex are good spots to fish with a platform that makes it easy to set up a spot.
“Ponds have a different ecosystem so you’re going to find some different fish. There are largemouth bass and there are bluegills, sunfish, bullhead catfish, channel catfish and yellow and black bullhead,” Solomon said.
Delnor Woods has a great fishing pond and so does Dunham Pond, he added.
And when he’s pond fishing, one of his preferred baits is cut up hotdog, corn or worms.
“I remember, when I was younger, my mom would be so mad because I would grab the pack of hotdogs she was planning to cook for dinner and take them to go fishing,” Solomon said.
If you’re ready to dust off those fishing rods in the garage or give the sport a try there’s a few things to remember. First, everyone needs a fishing license to fish in Illinois, whether it’s in a community-designated pond or in a river. Fishing licenses are available in some bait shops and can also be purchased online at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources website. The website also has a list of locations to borrow fishing equipment, with locations around the state, this program enables people to try the sport before investing in equipment.
The business Get Hooked Illinois offers fishing classes and clinics for those of all ages and has partnered with local park districts and forest preserves as well. They’ll be teaching classes through the St. Charles Park District this summer, see the park district’s website to register for classes.
As for the best time to fish, Solomon said while it’s true that fishing in the morning or at dusk can be an ideal time when fish are most active, he finds the best time is truly anytime. He’s had days with great catches and days when the fish don’t bite, but he considers anytime relaxing next to the water, a great time spent.
“The best fishing is when your line is in the water,” he said. “I’ve caught a great fish at 1 p.m. on a sunny day and I’ve caught fish after work at 9 p.m. Whenever you have a chance to fish and catch something, that’s the best time.”