Over 1200 hours logged underway in 2018.  The ever-changing scene of this wild fishery continues to induce kid-like amazement. 
Water tinges from lightly-steeped green tea to chocolate milk to gin-clear on the big river have kept me intrigued, sometimes frustrated and ultimately at the mercy of the river gods. I'm both impressed and humbled by the range of conditions that I experience each year on the Kankakee.
Springtime, although late on warmth, gave way to surges in heat, bringing the river ecosystem quickly to peak life and activity. While streamer fishing remained a staple through the year, top water fishing became effective by May. Many days were spent drifting cork poppers or chugging frogs

along riparian willow banks while contending with prolific hatches of mayflies and caddis.
Clearer and lower than recent years, visual subsurface observations and weary smallmouth, requiring
quick, long casts were a theme from mid-summer through early fall. Shooting controlled casts at smallies tucked against slivers of rock, bedding plain ledges, under strands of river grass and sunken wood structure  was key to summer fishing. 
Low water levels through October created ideal fall fishing to schooled smallies that charged at swung flies at the ends of mid-river pools and ate stripped flies along deep bank lines.
The river experience, for me, has been a culmination of thousands of small interactions with moving water, its backdrop and countless native species within. Averaging ten miles a day, I've found that moving down river, poised by long oars on a drift boat, without the propulsion or sound of a motor, is the optimal way to deliver this experience.  
I'm accepting reservations for dates beginning in March 2019. Email me willwinans@bigriverfly.com to reserve your date. Join me on the river.
Capt. Will Winans 









 Spring smallie season in Illinois has arrived. Water temperatures and river conditions are lining up for a very productive spring on the Big River. Smallmouth are moving out of winter water and into feeding mode along bank lines. Contact Capt. Will Winans to reserve your date for 2018 and discover, revisit or learn about this world-class smallmouth fishery, just a short drive from Chicago. 

Big River Fly Fishing Guide Service near Chicago

  • Accepting reservations for Spring/Summer of 2018. Book your trip.
  • Gift certificates available. Contact Capt. Will Winans.
  • Current fly tying classes at Chicago Fly Fishing Outfitters with Capt. Will Winans:
Intermediate Fly Tying, Baitfish patterns for smallmouth bass. Wednesday, December 6th, 6:30-8:30pm.

Introduction to Fly Tying (3-session class). Wednesdays, January 3rd, 10th and 17th.
Visit Chicago Fly Fishing Outfitters for class details.