Take your pick, be it crappie, bluegill, bass or catfish, spring is here for this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

Speaking of crappie, “Muskie Ed” Potocki” caught and released the 13-inch crappie above Saturday at Shabbona Lake.

The MFR for Chicago fishing appears in a condensed form Wednesdays on the Sun-Times newspaper outdoors page. The sprawling raw-file report is posted here online on the Sun-Times outdoors page.

PERCH REMINDER

Perch fishing is closed in the Illinois waters of Lake Michigan through June 15.

AREA LAKES

Crappie are much improved on most lakes. On some of the smaller, faster warming lakes, the bluegill and bass are moving in, too.

As to bass, Ken “Husker” O’Malley emailed:

On area lakes, male bass are up shallow ready to spawn. A few are already on their beds and more will soon follow with this warmup. Pitch a 4 1/4 inch senko wackey rigged near bedding bass and just outside the weedlines.

TTYL
Ken “Husker” O’Malley Huskeroutdoors Waterworks fishing team

AREA WATER LEVELS

Go to http://water.weather.gov//ahps2/index.php?wfo=lot to check area water levels and projection. To get to more specific gauges, even on creeks, in Illinois, go to http://waterdata.usgs.gov/il/nwis/current/?type=flow

BRAIDWOOD LAKE

Rob Abouchar sent this:

Hi Dale,

I was back on Braidwood Saturday and the bass action was very good.  I was asked to fill in at the Anglers Choice Bass Tournament and got some nice keeper bass.  My best fish were on wacky rigged senko flipped into wood or rocks.  Also got some bass on squarebill crankbait in shallow rocks and wood cover.  Other anglers reported steady action despite the high stained water.  With the plant shut down water had dropped to 65 but was back up to 72 as the day grew warmer.  The bass spawn is over on Braidwood and the bass are beginning to feed back up.  Action should stay good with stable weather and plant being idle.

Braidwood is open daily. Hours through June 11 are close is 8 p.m.; from June 12-July 16, close is 8:30 p.m.; from July 17-Aug. 13, close is 8 p.m.; from Aug. 14-Sept. 10, close is 7:30 p.m.; from Sept. 11-24, close is 7 p.m.; from Sept. 25-Oct. 7, close is 6:30 p.m.

Check with Jon Meder at Jon’s Bait Shop–(815) 237-2822–in South Wilmington.

CALUMET SYSTEM

No update.

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Arden Katz said, “Prime time to hit the Chain.’’ Bluegill are thick in the channels; lots of male crappie, too; bass pulling up. Art Frisell at Triangle said the No.l bite is crappie in channels and bay areas; bluegill are improving steadily; white bass are excellent om most lakes; pike are active; haven’t heard much on catfish but with this weather they should be going.

In general for water and lake updates, go to Fox Waterway Agency or call (847) 587-8540.

STRATTON LOCK: There are changes this year for the operation of the Stratton Lock at the Chain O’Lakes. Here is the word from the Fox Waterway Agency:

The Stratton Lock will open for the 2017 season on Wednesday, May 3.  IDNR lock tenders will operate the Stratton Lock on Wednesdays and Sundays from 10:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m., and on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. until midnight through October 29.  The lock will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays (with the exception of holidays) for the 2017 season.  The Stratton Lock is also closed for the winter season each year from Nov. 1 through April 30.”

https://www.dnr.illinois.gov/WaterResources/Pages/StrattonLockandDam.aspx

CHICAGO RIVER

Capt. Pat Harrison sent this:

Last week Monday I had Ed from Oklahoma out  Surface temps ranged from 49 to 55 degrees on the river and 55 to 57 on the lake. The bit was off a bit we caught some fish but not the numbers we would normally get. Again tossing tight to wood,concrete and steel on the river that hold a little heat was the answer. small cranks and jigs worked. The rain and up and down temps aren’t helping.

 I was out again Friday with a father and son from Philadelphia we did a bit better as the sun and warm temps helped. surface temps 55 to 58  up the North branch found some 60’s. We caught Lg. Mouth Stripper/White Bass Crappie Gils and the Cats are active we boated some in the 5 lb. range. This week I have some other projects I will only be out one day Wednesday. I am fishing the Lions Big Bass Tournament on Bangs Lake Saturday and then the Take A Vet Fishing Event Sunday on the Chain Of Lakes.

 Monday the 22nd is the big day for me I will be picking up my New G3 in Lebanon Mo. I am really Honored to be a part of G3’s Certified Professional Guide Staff. Look for me on the River if the Red G3 have a Great week catch some fish. —

DELAVAN/LAKE GENEVA AREA, WISCONSIN

GENEVA: Dave Duwe emailed his:

Lake Geneva Fishing Report 5.15.17 through 5.21.17

After a couple of warmer days, the fish are starting to move to the main spawning flats on the lake, like Elgin Club, Rainbow Point and South Shore Club.  The smallmouth bass should be spawning in the next two weeks with the largemouth bass and bluegills to follow.

Largemouth bass are being caught in 3-4 ft of water.  The best location is in Williams Bay, Geneva Bay or  Abbey Harbor.   The best approach is small 4 inch finesse worms or 3 inch Kahlin Grubs in smoke or avocado color.  Like most fish on Lake Geneva, the warmer the weather, the better the fishing will be.  As the water warms, nightcrawler fishing will become the best choice for the action.

Smallmouth bass are staging near their spawning flats.  The best locations are by Elgin Club, Belvidere Park or by Bigfoot beach.   They still are not associating with the bottom rather they are suspending around the baitfish.  Best presentation is a green pumpkin chompers or a pink/white hair jig in 1/16 oz, fish the chompers on a small ¼ oz football head jig.  The fish have moved shallower, they are in 12-15 ft of water.  They are still actively feeding on the pods of minnows.

Crappie fishing continues to be good by Covenant Harbor, by Geneva Inn and in Williams Bay on the east shore.  They are being caught on a Thill slip bobber rig or on small tube baits in smoke color.  Work a depth of 10-12 ft of water.

Rock bass are starting to become active.  The best success is dragging a split shot rigged fat head minnow in 10-12 ft of water.  In a couple of weeks, rock bass will be able to be caught throughout the whole lake on just about any bait.

A few northern pike are being caught in the weed flats either trolling large spinner baits or medium diving crankbaits.  The best location has been in Williams Bay or in Trinkes Bay near the country club.

Stable warm weather will continue to improve fishing on Lake Geneva.  Good luck and I hope to see you on the water.  For guide parties, please call or text  Dave Duwe at 262-728-8063

DELAVAN: Dave Duwe sent this:

Delavan Lake Fishing Report 5.15.17 through 5.21.17

With the warming water, the fishing has started to improve.  Most of the lake last week had temps  in the upper 50’s on the surface.  Both the largemouth and walleyes have become active.

Largemouth bass are positioned in 3-5 ft of water.  Most of my success last week came from the Highlands and Viewcrest Bays and by  Lake Lawn Lodge.  I was fishing in the weeds with scattered sand pockets.   The best presentation was a split shot rigged nightcrawler  or Wacky rigged Senkos in green pumpkin or root beer red flake.

Walleyes are being caught while trolling medium diving crankbaits or on a split shot rigged nightcrawler.  The best time is early morning or after dark in the evening.  Look for the fish by Assembly Park or Del Mar.   A water depth of 12-15 ft is working fairly well in these locations.  For the crankbaits use fire tiger or chrome and blue colors.

Bluegills are scattered.  Some fish are being caught in 12-15 ft of water while others are showing up in less than 5 ft of water.  The best presentation is just the simple Thill slip bobber rig fished with a red worm.  The deep water bluegill fishing has been best down by the island.  And the shallow fish have been biting west of Willow Point and in Viewcrest bay.

Northern Pike action has improved.  They are being caught in the weedy bays in 5-7 ft of water.  They are being caught on Thill big fish sliders with a medium sucker.  I find in spring, you don’t need the real big suckers,  the smaller suckers seem to entice more bites.  This is about the only time of year that I will anchor while fishing slip bobbers.

Crappie fishing has been hit or miss.  If you find an active school you will catch your limit in a short period of time.  Finding an active school is the challenge.  The best presentation is yellow or chartreuse plastics fished half way down the water column in 7-15 ft of water.  My best location has been by Browns Channel or the marina on North shore.

Good luck and I hope to see you on the water.  For guide parties, please call or text Dave Duwe at 262-728-8063

DES PLAINES RIVER

No update.

DOWNSTATE NOTES

HENNEPIN-HOPPER: The lakes are open through Labor Day, Sept. 4. Fishing is closed on Mondays other than Labor Day. Click here for complete list of regs and details. POWERTON: Boat and shore fishing is open. Hours are 6 a.m.-8 p.m.  LAKE OF EGYPT/REND LAKE: Check with Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing. LAKE SHELBYVILLE: Check with Ken Wilson of Ken Wilson Guide ServiceEVERGREEN LAKE: Will find out about bait shop and boat rental hours.

FOX RIVER: WESTERN SUBURBS

No update.

FOX RIVER: WISCONSIN

No update.

GREEN BAY/STURGEON BAY

No update this week from Lance LaVine at Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay.

The Wisconsin DNR report is usually posted Tuesdays and includes reports from both the bay and lake sides.

HEIDECKE LAKE

This might be the week where the weather finally cooperates and Heidecke really turns on.

Here is what Ken “Husker” O’Malley sent:

Hey Dale,

I hit Heidecke last Friday. Beautiful day to be out on the water and not in the office. Water temps are still on the cold side for this time of the year. Surface temps were 56-57. This warmup will get things closer to prime. Walleye were caught on 1/4 oz jigs tipped with a half crawler on humps and drop offs adjacent to deep water. Hybrids were caught drifting a slip bobber tipped with a fathead set halfway down in the water column.
TTYL
Ken “Husker” O’Malley Huskeroutdoors Waterworks fishing team

Click here for my preview column, which included some prospects from fisheries biologist Rob Miller; good news is that walleye looked good last fall in the survey and white bass, hybrids and yellow bass were solid, too.

ILLINOIS RIVER

B & B Live Bait–(815) 433-0432–is open in Ottawa, as is Cajun’s in Utica.

INDIANA STREAMS (LAKE MICHIGAN TRIBUTARIES)

Access points for Trail Creek can be found on the Trail Creek Access MapAccess points for Little Cal and Salt Creek, which are closer to Chicago than Trail Creek, may be found at littlecal_saltcreek_access.

KANKAKEE RIVER

Norm Minas sent this:

the river is dropping fairly quickly but still about twice it’s normal flow . still muddy to off color with some clarity in slower water near shore . temps high 60’s . 

weather has been great, not even an old curmudgeon can complain about it .

At one point , singlespins over and around the under developed water willow beds at a nice steady pace was the ticket . The next time you could not buy a bite on singlespins . Chatterbaits and rattlebaits over and around the beds did catch smallmouth and channelcats.
Rattlebaits worked both directions on the current seams also produced . A jig/pig bounced downstream past the current break produced the two nicest smallmouth of that trip .

Next trip ,I could not buy a bite around the waterwillow cover . However creekmouths and the front edge of riffles produced a lot of smallmouth in a wide variety of sizes . The only lure that produced was a hard jerkbait, mostly three turns of the reel handle , two jerks and repeat . Most of the fish pounded it on the jerks. The only other thing that worked was to jerk it down and let it deadstick with the current . The only indication you got of a bite was to see the line start doing something different, i never felt a pickup. The biggest smallmouth of the trip went for that approach . 

. . ,
The music menu for the trips has been varied , Grateful Dead, Led Zepplin , James Taylor and the original Chicago Transit Authority [ Poem 58 being the favorite].

Peace

Norm

Other than the Chicago Transit Authority, I can live with those musical selections.

LAKE ERIE

Click here for the Ohio DNR’s annual fishing prospects. The Ohio DNR has general Lake Erie info and a fishing report.

LAKEFRONT

See perch closure note at the top.

CHICAGO:  Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters said there are lots of lakers in 100 feet off the R4 and in 40 feet off the cribs. Stacey Greene at Park Bait said there were a few browns and steelhead caught at Montrose on Saturday.

NAVY PIER NOTE: The fisherman’s parking special is $6, if out by 10 a.m. Find an parking attendant after you pull in to get the special.

WAUKEGAN: Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop texted

Boats are either in 30 to 50 feet, or 120 to 150 feet, depends on the weather that day. Guys from shore ld on fire, but some nice fish getting browns and cohos, not setting the worn

NORTH POINT: Poteshman said there are plenty of coho and a few steelhead, lakers in 140-230 feet; a very few Chinook early.

LAKE VERMILION,  MINNESOTA

Check Jarek Wujkowski of Rodsbent Guide Service.

LaSALLE LAKE

The cooling lake south of Seneca is open daily, 6 a.m. to sunset. Click here for my column about prospects. Also, boaters should be aware that there will be no launching if wind is 14 mph or higher.

MADISON CHAIN, WISCONSIN

Check the latest from D & S Bait on Facebook.

MAZONIA

Weather may be finally cooperating for the prime time the next couple weeks for redear, bluegill, crappie, bass and catfish. Check with Jon Meder at Jon’s Bait Shop–(815) 237-2822–in South Wilmington. Close is now 8:30 p.m.

MENOMINEE RIVER, WISCONSIN

Mike Mladeik at Mike Mladenik Guide Service sent this:

Great pre spawn smallmouth bite with the water temp 57.   Smallmouth are staging on the Menominee River and area lakes

MILWAUKEE HARBOR

Check the Wisconsin DNR Lake Michigan Report, which generally comes out Tuesdays for updates.

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

MINOCQUA: Kurt Justice of Kurt’s Island Sport Shop in Minocqua, Wis. sent this:

Dogwoods are blooming so you know love is in the air for Muskies and Crappies.  Water temps ranging from lows of 52-53 degrees on the large lakes to 57-59 degrees on smaller lakes and flowages.
With shallows warming this past week, bait fish, insects and leeches are showing up and the fish that feed on these are not far behind.
Crappies:  Good-Very Good – Some still staging while others making early forays into firmer bottomed shallows looking to nest.  Slip-bobbers and small minnows always a hit!  Anglers casting small jigs with hair (Pinkies), plastic (Twister Tails or Mini-mites) and tiny spinners doing well.  In areas of wood, which collects heat that warms the water around it, crappies not ready to spawn are staging.
Walleye:  Very Good-Good – A transition still seems to be on the way as the deeper bite wanes and the shallow bite gets better.  With the absence of Red-tailed chubs this season, anglers are using Dace, large Fatheads and Walleye suckers on 1/16 oz weedless Jack’s and SloFall jigs to entice bites from any green vegetation.  Leeches also effective choice. Casting shallow running stick baits (Foating Rapalas, Scatter lipped Rapalas, Thunderstiks and Rattlin Rouges also still very effective.
Northern Pike:  Good – Working stick baits such as Rouges and Thunderstiks over shallow weeds.  Jig and suckers on light wire leaders as well as swim baits have been effective.
Yellow Perch:  Good – Nice sized perch relating to drowned wood in 6-8’ of water.  Use medium leeches or Thunderbugs on light wire Aberdeen hooks to be able to “pull” out of snags.
Largemouth Bass:  Fair– (Yes, the Largemouth bass season is open throughout the state – even North of Hwy 64 – BUT NOT SMALLMOUTH).  Few targeting, but incidental catches on leeches and suckers meant for Walleye and Pike.
Bluegill:  Fair – Good earlier in week.  Anglers mostly focusing on Crappies, those after gills using Mini-mite jigs (Reds & Browns) tipped with Waxies in 5-7’ weeds.
A series of storms this week will throw a wrench in the plans of many anglers.  Following this storm system air temps will cool into the upper 50’s for the weekend.  Crappies that have committed to spawning will stand their ground, but some may not come in and “miss” their magic moment.
Keep watching for newly greening weed beds to hold Walleyes, Bass, Perch and gills.  Musky, though not open to fishing, are active, swimming the shallows looking for mates and getting caught – release them gently, they still have a job to do!
Kurt Justice
Kurt’s Island Sport Shop
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EAGLE RIVER: B+L, from reports from Colin Crawford of Colin Crawford Guide Service for the Eagle River Chamber of Commerce, sent this:

Fishing Report 

Panfish: The best strategy for Perch is to set up slip bobber rigs either with split shots and Aberdeen hooks or small jigs tipped with small minnows around new weed growth. Crappies will be starting to stage on the smaller darker lakes that are warming up quickly for their turn to spawn. Fishing these with slip bobbers above a hook and minnow or a jig and plastic should do the trick. If you find some warmer water in the bays or shallow flats, you might find some bluegills too.

Northern: Look around new weeds to find Northern. Pitching jig and minnows should be spot on for these water wolves.

Walleye: This population is in post spawn, and you will have to fish a little deeper. The first flat off the spawning area, but pitching 1/8th oz. jigs tipped with fathead minnows, should get results. Some of the fish will have moved to the new weed growth, so slip bobbers just over and around will catch you a nice fish fry, too.

Crappies: They are still coming in and can be found around lay downs and weedy areas. Similarly, slip bobbers and a minnow are the ticket for these specs.

NORTHWEST INDIANA

Capt. Rich Sleziak  at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station, Ind., texted:

Salmon and trout fishing in 100ft of water straight out of burns ditch and east towards Michigan city good from top to bottom spoons and dodgers spin n glows bestPine and stone lake in Laporte giving up crappie early and late in dayGrand blvd lake down from my shop giving up lots of decent gills and repeats best if you in a boatLake George in Hobart giving most everybody action with panfish super bizy at shop since mid last week people out every wer

BOATER NOTE: East Chicago is closed for launching, so use either Hammond or Portage. LAKER REMINDER: Indiana now has a daily bag of three lake trout on Lake Michigan, to match Michigan. Illinois’ daily bag remains at two.

ROCK RIVER, WISCONSIN

No update.

ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN

The Wisconsin DNR Lake Michigan Report is generally posted on Tuesday and includes a Root river section. Click here for the stream flow update, which can be really important for how good the fishing is.

ST. JOSEPH, MICHIGAN

Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said there mix of coho and steelhead in 220-250 feet, lakers are in 180 on bottom; there’s some walleye in river and some decent catfish off the pier (and a few Chinook early).

ST. JOSEPH RIVER, INDIANA

Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR.

SHABBONA LAKE

Clint Sands at Lakeside said crappie are in full spawn mode, best in the no-motor zone or deep trees; bass are active in pre-spawn; some nice catfish are being caught; water is 64 with 2 feet plus of clarity.

Lake hours are 6 a.m.-10 p.m.

Here are the hours for Lakeside for the next few months:

Shabbona Lakeside is now OPEN for the SEASON

Lakeside will be open everyday, 7 days a week,

April 11th to September 5th 6 AM to 7 PM

September 6th to September 30th 6 AM to 6:30 PM

October 1st to October 10th 6:30 AM to 6 PM

October 11th to October 31st 7 AM to 5PM

Clint Sands sent this update on hours for the bait shop, camp store and cafe.

Pokanoka’s Cafe will be opening for the season on April 8th and will be open Saturdays and Sundays 11 AM to 4 PM!

The Camp Store will be opening for the season on April 7th. If you need firewood before the camp store opens for the season, see the friendly campground hosts at site 132. They have large bundles of wood available for sale. If you need anything from the camp store when it is closed. Call the bait shop and we can meet you over at the camp store so you can get anything you need. Spring hours are Fridays 5 PM to 8 PM, Saturdays 8 AM to 8 PM and Sundays are 8 AM to 12 PM.

For more information and reports from Lakeside, go to shabbonalake.com or call (815) 824-2581.

SOUTHEAST WISCONSIN LAKEFRONT

The Wisconsin DNR posts a report during open water at http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/lakemichigan/OutdoorReport.html. It is usually posted by Tuesday afternoon. Stream flow info is at http://waterdata.usgs.gov/wi/nwis/current?type=flow.

WOLF LAKE

No update.

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

FREMONT: Bill Stoeger said water was 62 on Tuesday; white bass fair on just about everything, but fishing should improve as the white bass truly come shallow. “It’s far from over, there is plenty of fish coming up. It is going to be one of those long years,” Stoeger said. There’s still walleye (jigs and crawlers) coming down the with levels dropping. It’s that time of year to focus on walleye in the morning and afternoon and fish white bass in the afternoon.