Fishing for coho and trout comes and goes on southern Lake Michigan, winter returned, LaSalle Lake reopens Wednesday, March 15, and fly fishing for trout in Illinois opens Saturday, March 18, all that leads this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.
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.
Return of winter be dammed. I am about to leave to wait in line for the reopening of LaSalle, the cooling lake south of Seneca, on Wednesday, March 15. It will be open daily, 6 a.m. to sunset. Click here for my column last week about prospects. Also, boaters should be aware that there will be no launching if wind is 14 mph or higher.
FLY FISHING FOR SPRING TROUT IN ILLINOIS
The Spring Catch-and-Release Fly Fishing-only season will be available at nine sites beginning on Saturday, March 18. Those 16 and older need a valid fishing license and an inland trout stamp. Open sites are Apple River, Apple River State Park (Jo Daviess County); Rock Creek, Kankakee River SP (Kankakee); Pine Creek, White Pines Forest SP (Ogle); Siloam Springs State Park Lake (Adams); Gridley Lake, Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area (Cass); Horton Lake, Nauvoo SP (Hancock); Morgan Lake at Nichols Park, Jacksonville (Morgan); IDOT Lake, Springfield (Sangamon); and Willow Lake at Peabody River King SFWA (St. Claire).
From the Michigan DNR:
Anglers are reminded that walleye, pike and muskellunge season on the Upper Peninsula Great Lakes, inland waters, St. Marys River and all the Lower Peninsula inland waters will close at midnight on Wednesday, March 15. ?Walleye and pike season is open all year on the Lower Peninsula Great Lakes, Lake St. Clair, St. Clair River and the Detroit River.
INDIANA: Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station, Ind., texted:
Coho still good for guys trolling when wind allows them to go thinfish rapala j9s and bayrat coho crushers some baits they have did good. Groups still doing decent jigging lake trout with big dude blade baits around sucken reef and down wall towards port of indiana entrance. Shore coho action at riverwalk in portage port of indiana and lighthouse washington park in michigan city giving up a few on skein or spuid or golden roaches ch minnows fished near bottom has been best. With cold weather not to many trying end of the week showing 40deg alot more groups will be out
CHICAGO: The snow slowed action Monday and Tuesday, but over the weekend, powerliners in particular were out, doing best at Montrose. Kenny Maggiore at FishTech messaged on Sunday:
The laker i caught weighted 15lbs. The whitefish was 4lbs and the browns ranged from 6-8 lbs
Also lost a laker well over 20lbs
The cohos are still spotty
WAUKEGAN: Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop texted:
Yes, still getting a few nice browns and some coho are showing up, on fhe gov pier
Weather limited action, but before the snow, Ken “Husker” O’Malley sent this:
Hey Dale,Despite the colder temps, area lakes are slowly starting to rebound after the heavy rains and dropping water temps that we recently had. Active bass are hitting lipless cranks worked along the inside weedlines. Best bite is during midday hours on sunny days. Yellow bass are decent on small crappie minnows worked under a slip float.TTYL—Ken “Husker” O’MalleyHuskeroutdoorsWaterworks fishing team
AREA WATER LEVELS
Might be worth going to 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
Rob Abouchar (that’s his photo to the right) messaged:
for your wed Braidwood report fished from shore on south and west riprap bass a little slow on Monday in high winds but some nice bass taken on purple rattle trap worked slowly above shallow rocks.
Site staff emailed that water temperatures were 68 south and 55 north.
Braidwood is open daily 6 a.m.-7 p.m. until April 13, when hours will change again.
Check with Jon Meder at Jon’s Bait Shop–(815) 237-2822–in South Wilmington.
CHAIN O’LAKES AREA
Greg Dickson at Triangle Sports and Marine said weather held off effort, but before that the two primary targets were crappie and walleye.
For Chain updates, check with Fox Waterway Agency or call (847) 587-8540.
Capt. Pat Harrison (click here for his site) sent this first update:
Back home from being at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Show and have to say I had a great time. I also want to share that I am going to be guiding another Urban water way the Milwaukee River and shore of Lake Michigan. I did seminars through out the show and got Great response about fishing the Chicago River. Many people said they wished someone was doing that on the Milwaukee River so I’ve made the decision to give it a try. Quite a few people said they fish from shore for smallies and salmon so I’m going to give it a shot. On a Chicago note i was out for a half day early last week surface temps were about 49 to 54 look for warm water we caught fish Crappie and strippers seems to be the most aggressive just a couple small Bass Jig and twister tail with a waxie was the trick. I am trying to get out a couple times this week but the weather may change my plans.
I’m looking forward to a Great 2017 season I will try to post all I can about when where and how. Thanks have a great week Tight lines.
—www.patharrisonoutdoors.com Thanks Pat
No update this week.
DES PLAINES RIVER
Joe Sanderson messaged on Sunday:
Three rivers bass club open tournament on desplaines river outta big basin marina.. took 10 lbs today congrats to adam markiewicz and edward gad on the catch they made today..
POWERTON: Boat and shore fishing is open. Hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. LAKE OF EGYPT/REND: Check with Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing. SHELBYVILLE: Check with Ken Wilson of Ken Wilson Guide Service.EVERGREEN: Bait shop and boat rental are closed for the season. HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Closed for season.
FOX RIVER: WESTERN SUBURBS
FOX RIVER: WISCONSIN
GREEN BAY/STURGEON BAY
Lance LaVine at Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay sent this:
Good morning Fellas…Here is what I have as far as the fishing is concerned
There is still a little bit of ice fishing going on since we have had a blast of cold weather…though there are limited areas with walkable/safe ice, the die-hard anglers have been going out on it and having some pretty good success. The Perch fishing was going extremely well, but now will come to a close as the season end on March 15th. Both Little Sturgeon and Sawyer Harbor were the hot spots. Along with the Perch, the Pike fishing has been going quite well as those fish follow the Perch into their spawning grounds. And, if the ice can hold on, there will be good opportunities to ice a trophy Walleye in those same areas as those Walleyes will push shallow getting ready for their spawn. Odd Ball jigs and Rapala jigs are just 2 of the main jigs to have in the box. Tip those jigs with minnows and or minnow heads. Again, the ice conditions can and will , change on a daily basis so use extreme caution before WALKING on the ice in whatever area you may want to fish!
With the recent cold snap, some of the open water fishing opportunities came to a bit of a halt for the time being, but that can also change in a matter of a day or so. Up until the recent freeze-up, boat fishermen and shore fishermen were enjoying some excellent Brown Trout action throughout the county. Fishermen have been trolling the shallow water shorelines of Lake Michigan and catching nice numbers of Browns. The best depths have been in waters less than 25 feet fishing with Mauler spoons, floating Rapalas and Thundersticks just to name a few. There have also been some nice Browns getting caught trolling right in downtown Sturgeon Bay when the ice is NOT around. Shore fishermen have also been having some really good success casting from the pier heads and docks in all of the public community spots. Cleos, Krocodile’s and crank baits all taking their fair share of fish. And as the ice completely goes away their will be lots of opportunities for Browns, Walleye and Pike throughout Sturgeon Bay and up and down the Peninsula on the Green Bay side.
1309 Green Bay Rd
Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235
The Wisconsin DNR report is usually posted Tuesdays and includes reports from both the bay and lake sides.
Reopens to fishing April 1.
Saturday night Joe Sanderson messaged:
Saugers are hott. Took 15lbs to win the carpenters tournament [out of Spring Valley] to everybody had a limit.. congrats to steve kozar and partner brian [Leroy]
But then he sent this on Sunday:
Very tough bite today had 3 guys in the boat for 4 hours..lost as many as we caught.
Have bait before you go. Live bait is tough to get. B & B Live Bait–(815) 433-0432–is open in Ottawa, 7 a.m.-noon until weather breaks, then it will be open the usual 6-6 or so. Sanderson messaged that Cajun’s in Utica is now open, too.
INDIANA STREAMS (LAKE MICHIGAN TRIBUTARIES)
Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station, Ind., texted:
Steelhead decent in area tribs still spawn sacs under a float or single creek candy beads drifting bottom have took lots of fish lately
Access points for Trail Creek can be found on the Trail Creek Access Map. Access points for Little Cal and Salt Creek, which are closer to Chicago than Trail Creek, may be found at littlecal_saltcreek_access.
See coho/trout reports at top. Weather limited perch efforts in recent days. 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. PIER PASSES: The pier passes for legal access to fish select piers at Jackson, Burnham, DuSable, Diversey, Belmont and Montrose harbors in Chicago are available at Henry’s ($6 cash, one per valid fishing license).
LAKE VERMILION, MINNESOTA
Check Jarek Wujkowski of Rodsbent Guide Service.
MADISON CHAIN, WISCONSIN
Both units are open for fishing. Hours are 6 a.m.-sunset daily. Check with Jon Meder at Jon’s Bait Shop–(815) 237-2822–in South Wilmington.
MENOMINEE RIVER, WISCONSIN
Check with Mike Mladeik at Mike Mladenik Guide Service.
Check the Wisconsin DNR Lake Michigan Report, which generally comes out Tuesdays for updates.
Remember that gamefish season is over, as in closed.
MINOCQUA: Kurt Justice of Kurt’s Island Sport Shop in Minocqua, Wis. sent this:
If the weather forecasters are to be believed…(pause till laughter subsides), starting March 15th on through for the next two weeks, area high temps should run low 30’s to low 40’s with night time lows in the teens and 20’s – Great for syrup makers! What this will do is extend our ice season through the month of March.
The first couple weeks of March have seen temps so cold that we are seeing (and hearing) ice being made? Ice thickness reports are now increasing, averages pushing up into the 18”+ range with highs of 21-22”.
High winds (up to 59 mph) last week kept anglers off the ice. Morning lows in the single digit to sub 0 temps didn’t attract a lot of anglers to head out. Reports were generally poor with small windows of action.
Yellow Perch: Fair-Poor – Fish were finicky and best action coming from very small fish if at all. Eventually, these fish will get shallower as the season progresses. For deep water action, #2 Pimples, #35 Halis, Kastmasters and Chandelier jigs tipped with wigglers or red spikes in 18-28’, mud best bottom, but some sandgrass flats holding fish. Shallow water perch (12’ and less) tend to be more aggressive. Choose larger baits to try to discourage the tiny fish from bothering your baits. #2 jigging Raps, Demon Tongues, Live Forage Spoons and Forage Minnows dressed up with two to three waxies or a minnow head as well as a larger crappie minnow to medium fat head work best.
Bluegills: Fair-Poor – Cold made gills finicky. Tiny Tungsten jigs tipped with single spike, piece of small plastic with red, purple, maroon or black being best. Catches were fewer with smaller fish.
Crappies: Poor – Bite has gotten tough. Small fish for the most part. Hard to finesse with wind, when possible #10, #12 gold rockers and Lethal Cecils in pink, gold, silver and purple tipped with light colored plastics or Chena.
Despite the dismal report, things should improve dramatically with upcoming warm up. Ice thickness is good (dug up to 18” lows @ 14”, highs at 21”). With cold nights and above freezing days, expect another 2 weeks of good ice fishing.
Kurt’s Island Sport Shop
Bluegills: These fish are being found in the weeds using small jigs tipped with waxies, spikes or tipped with plastic.
Perch: You can find these on the deep weed edges and muddy bottoms feeding on minnows and bugs. Be sure to match the bait to the area you’re fishing for success.
Crappie: We are finding a few up in the shallow weeds, but the majority are still in the deeper water.
Reminder: All ice fishing shelters must be removed from the ice daily and when not in use on inland waters north of Highway 64 by March 19 and Wisconsin-Michigan boundary waters by March 15.
Coho/trout reports at the top.
ROCK RIVER, WISCONSIN
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
Remember that Wednesday, March 15, is the end of walleye, pike and muskie seasons inland. Coho/trout reports at top. Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said there is still some steelhead going, mainly at Berrien Springs. The piers have been slow and weather limited boaters trying for coho at Cook.
ST. JOSEPH RIVER, INDIANA
Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR.
Lake hours are 8 a.m.-8 p.m. during March. Lakeside is closed until April 1 or another round of warm weather, although there will be appointment boat rentals (shabbonalake.com or (815) 824-2581). The restaurant is closed for the season. 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 RIVER, WISCONSIN