Despite a rainy 2017, I'm seeing some of the best fishing this season in years, here in Illinois. The Big River's producing some excellent days with a nice range of healthy, hard fighting smallmouth.

Some dates for September and October are available. Email willwinans@bigriverfly.com to set up a trip or reserve a date for 2018.

Learn fundamentals of casting efficiency, improve your technical streamer and topwater game. Enjoy a beautiful river and gain insight on an overlooked and prolific world-class smallmouth bass fishery.

Fly Fishing the Kankakee River

Booking now for spring/summer 2017.


Get ready for 2017 on the river.  Contact me today to set up your trip.
Winter has been mild and stable conditions over the last several months bode well for this year on Illinois waters. 
Experience the incredible and little-known resources that Illinois has to offer fly anglers.
                                    Capt. Will Winans

Autumn 2016 Report and Newsletter. Cool weather is setting in and river smallmouth, here in Illinois, are hunkering into their winter lairs. So am I. It’s been another great season on the river. Warm weather into November this year added some bonus days to my calendar and afforded me the chance to spend a few days casting instead of rowing.

Big streamers up to eight inches produced well in lightly stained water this October and November. Locating pods of feeding smallmouth and swinging flies into their midst produced a lot of hard tugs this late summer and fall.  Imagine looking downstream on glassy water and seeing big smallmouth repeatedly break the surface to grab shiners mid-air, all with the backdrop of fall colors. These images will get me through another Chicago winter, until it’s time to get back on the water next spring.


Although the ‘big river’ is just one of several fisheries I guide, here in northern Illinois, it’s without question, my favorite. It’s my home water, I grew up on it and during the spring and summer it is literally my home away from home.  Northern Illinois is dotted with gem fisheries, and I’m glad to see a growing interest in Illinois fly fishing.  An appreciation of these waters is another step to keeping them healthy. For Chicago-landers or any angler, having a day trip fishery is a big deal. For me, it’s a necessary component to quality of life.  
And the Kankakee is not just a quick-drive venue from Chicago for wetting a line. It’s a thriving ecosystem with huge numbers of wild and native smallmouth. It flows through 4,000 acres of undeveloped State Park land, where eye-catching wildlife, flora and geological features are constant. It can be challenging, conditions are always changing, and after thousands of hours logged, I’m still seeing new scenarios and learning from them.  I feel fortunate to have found a profession that allows me so much time on this river, and more so, the opportunity to share it with others.


I’m very excited for the 2017 season and I’m accepting bookings for April through October. Gift certificates are available as well. Consider sharing this newsletter as a gift idea, email me or click "Book/Contact" to reserve your trip.

Other mentions:



I can’t express enough thanks to all who have spent time with me on the water and shown support and interest in Big River Fly Fishing. The last three years of guiding have given me some great memories and friends. I look forward to another memorable season in 2017. Molly, Alice and I are wishing you and your families a warm, happy holiday season.
Join me on the river.


Captain Will Winans
willwinans@bigriverfly.com
m 815-263-2776