Fishing Road Trips for Family Fun During Summer

Summer is our time to celebrate freedom. Few experiences rival hitting the open road for a family fishing road trips. Some say its baseball and apple pie that represent American summers, but for many of us, the best way we know to embrace our nation is by hauling in a monster catfish from a big muddy river or collecting a limit of yellow perch from the Great Lakes. 

June may not rival the prime months of spring and fall for fishing trips, but the kids are out of school, so there’s no time like the present. Fishing is available across the Midwest, and here is a list of a few destinations you should consider for a family fishing road trip. 

Illinois – Lake Michigan Yellow Perch 

Perch transition during June to the shallows. Pre-spawn fish are found congregated on clay flats in 50 – 80 feet of water all along the Chicago lakefront. After they spawn towards the end of June, they move into shallow water from 20 – 40 feet deep with temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees. A simple two hook, live bait rig with a bottom bouncing bell sinker is a regular method. Blade baits, ice fishing jigs and Swedish Pimples are a few artificial options. Keep everything on the bottom. Calumet Harbor is a perch fishing favorite. 

Indiana – Yellowwood Lake Bluegill

Yellowwood State Forest is home to 133-acre Yellowwood Lake and Jackson Creek. The two provide fishing for bass, catfish, crappie, and bluegill and even stocked trout at certain times of the year. It’s the bluegill in Yellowwood that draw anglers from near and far. Bluegill can be caught just about anywhere on the lake, as well as in Jackson Creek below the dam. Remember to respect the resource of these muscular panfish. It’s not hard to over fish a lake the size of Yellowwood. This non-motorized, special lake offers solitude and a limited availability for primitive camping right by the water, making fishing real convenient. Be sure to visit the quaint, nearby artist colony in Nashville. 

Ohio – Appalachian Hills Wildlife Area largemouth bass

Appalachian Hills Wildlife Area is home 350 lakes with nearly 300 campsites. With 35,396-acres open to roam, this huge piece of public land allows anglers to spread out. Often leaving them alone on a remote piece of water. Many of which are full of largemouth bass. The Ohio DNR listed Appalachian Hills as the second best largemouth fishing destination in the state. Most shorelines are forested, making this is a great place to fish from a small kayak or float tube. Restored strip mine lands across the Midwest are often prime fishing destinations these days. Appalachian Hills certainly is. 

Iowa – Rathbun Reservoir Crappie 

Rathbun is a noted crappie fishing destination, with multiple tournaments taking place there each year. This 11,000-acre reservoir is arguably Iowa’s best crappie fishing lake. By June, the crappie have spawned and retreated to deeper water. Look for them in 15 – 20 feet near submerged brush piles in deeper bays and off main lake points. A 1/8 ounce jig tipped with a minnow is likely to produce. Honey Creek State Park offers a great place to camp. For those looking for lodging, Honey Creek Resort is beautiful and right on the water. 

Kansas – Kansas River Catfish 

Summer is catfish season, and the Kansas River is known for big ones. The Kansas River is a tributary of the Missouri, so there are big blues, flatheads and a channel cat swimming in the watershed. The 34 pounds, 11 ounce state record channel catfish was pulled from the river. The biggest catfish are typically found downstream from Lawrence to the river’s confluence. Shad are plentiful and are a good bet when used as cut bait.  

Wisconsin – Brule River Trout 

Trout fishing in the North Woods during the summer on the Brule River is tough to beat. This iconic water is known for salmon and steelhead runs, but the resident trout along make this a must fish destination, especially during the Hex hatch, which occurs in June and early July. The emergence of the Hexagenia limbata mayfly makes trout feed aggressively. The Brule River has four different management segments. Anglers on the hunt for brook trout, brown trout and the fabled hex hatch should focus on the upper Brule above County Highway B. 

See you down the trail….
Brandon Butler

Pic: Hitting the road for a family fishing trip during summer creates lasting memories. 

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