Winter Weather Flooding Illinois

Water pumps are used to clear a home during flooding on Friday in Freeport, Ill. Rising waters along the Pecatonica, Rock and other area rivers flooded homes in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin this week. Those looking to fish Wisconsin’s rivers this week may have some luck after high water recedes. Consider checking the “Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service” on when seeking more information about the water levels on area rivers.

Electricians and carpenters chide plumbers in a colorful variation of their trade, with the contention plumbers only need to know two rules: Water rolls downhill and payday is on Friday.

This work formula also applies to river fishers, especially with the seasonal changes that happen this time of year.

Consistent angling success this time of year factors in projected river levels when you finally hook up the boat, not when you’re at work thinking about fishing.

If surfing the web to project the illusion of working is part of your labor survival skill set, you might check out the wonders of, a subsidiary of the National Weather Service. Frog around on this website until finding the “Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service.”

This site has both real-time river levels and predictions for essentially any stream too wide to jump across anywhere in Wisconsin.

Predictions call for the Rock River at Lake Koshkonong to be flowing at 11.3 feet by Wednesday. That is just two-tenths of a foot below major flood stage.

This information is enough to cause considerable angling angst in those who forget about the two rules of plumbing. By Friday, the Rock River at Watertown is predicted to be running at 5.3 feet, two-tenths below “moderate” flood stage.

Further upstream at Horicon, headwaters of the mighty Rock, predictions for Friday’s flow are for 6.8 feet, more than a foot below “action” stage, which is just a little lower than “minor flooding.”

Those who want to launch a boat downstream from Koshkonong also need to consider flow rate in Crawfish River, which enters just above the lake. According to the NWS site, this Rock River tributary is predicted to be flowing at 14 feet—one foot below action stage—out from the monitoring station in Columbus.

Similar good news is projected on the lower Wisconsin River. Flow at the Castle Rock dam is supposed to be at about 16 feet, six feet higher than action stage, headed downstream at 16.1 cubic feet per second (cfps).

But at Petenwell, the next dam upstream, the Wisconsin River level is supposed to be two full feet below action stage. Good news for next weekend!

Over on the Mississippi, below lock & dam No. 8, the river jumped more than six feet in 24 hours last Thursday. That blew ice out of the main channel and made ice fishing access in many backwaters—which were covered with up to 22 inches of ice—truly interesting.

Early last week I stopped by Jerry’s Sports Service in Beloit to pick up my Lund Alaskan. The guys had just hung a brand new, 90 horse E-tech on the transom.

Pulling into the boat lot behind the shop, I saw my baby with her shiny “iron wind.” My heart actually fluttered like it used to do when the kids came home from college after several months away from home.

New outboard motors need to be calibrated electronically before leaving the launch for the initial fishing trip. Normally, this procedure is completed at the boat ramp located at Jerry’s. But when I went there to pick up my baby, this ramp was still iced in.

We had to get the motor wet a mile upstream at Preservation Park. The ramps here were open, but four-wheel drive was required to get over the snow drift left by the plow. Most ramps on the Rock are now accessible.

Evinrude’s E-Tech is the only outboard that doesn’t require a break-in period. Other anglers with other manufacturer’s power need to spend several hours running their motor below top speed—very frustrating when every fiber in your being screams, “Fly upstream to the fish!”

Desire can’t be permitted to violate the first rule of plumbing. There will likely be big “floaters” coming downstream.

Taking out a lower unit or transducer with an ice chunk will put a pin in the party hog every time.

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Ted Peck, a certified Merchant Marine captain, is an outdoors columnist for The Gazette. Email him at