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

June 2016 River Report and Newsletter. 


Greetings from the river.  Conditions this year on the Kankakee River are the best and most stable I’ve seen in years. Pre-spawn angling this spring produced some incredible smallmouth, both in size and in sheer rod-bending power. According to the IL DNR’s shocking surveys, fish numbers are up this year. After more than 60 days logged on the water so far, I’m going to strongly support their claim. This year’s mild winter has been good to these fish and the river’s ecosystem is very alive.


As we move into summertime, flows are dropping to expose the labyrinth of features throughout this geologically unique river.  We’re scaling down from giant streamers to smaller swimming patterns, fishing higher in the water column. And top water flies are coming into play. With water temperature heating up, fish are looking up. I’m anticipating an excellent popper season this summer. Plant structure has exploded in the last few weeks, providing thick colonies of water willows and river grass where fish are finding cover and food.

Dates are available for July, August and September. These are great months for digging into the layers of fly fishing, from understanding the technical concepts of fly presentation and reading water to improving casting efficiency and observing the ecosystem that makes up the river valley.  2016 is turning out to be an outstanding year on the Kankakee.  Visit bigriverfly.com or email me directly to set up your trip.  Gift certificates are available for Father’s Day.
Huge thanks to all who have been out there with me and for the continued interest.  This spring has been memorable and I’m excited for the months ahead. I hope your summer is filled with many hours outdoors and on the water.
 Join me on the river.

Captain Will Winans

Booking Now for Spring/Summer 2016.



Water temps are heating up early this year and fat river smallies are bending rods already. Contact me today and set up your trip for 2016. Join me on the river.