With Memorial Day weekend coming, I tried to include some more far-ranging spots in this sprawling, raw-file Midwest Fishing Report, which appears in a much condensed Wednesdays on the Sun-Times outdoors page.

Photo is from Jeff Nolan of a crappie caught on the main stem of the Chicago River. Could have picked a white bass or smallmouth, too. Good to have some Chicago River reports.


Remember, perch eason is closed in the Illinois waters of Lake Michigan through June 15.


Muskie season opens Saturday in northern Wisconsin. And it seems like muskie time with snow on the ground some places on Monday night.

Kurt Justice of Kurt’s Island Sport Shop in Minocqua sent this interesting paragraph on muskie prospects:

Musky: While always a guess to start the season (opens 5/23), a good portion of the population spawned earlier due to the warm April/early May. Typical tactics apply – 6” twitch baits and smaller bucktails. Some smaller rubberbaits would also be a good option.


With the holiday weekend, remember what Phil Schuman at Tackle Haven gave me a heads up about on a significant reg change in Michigan. Now there is a year-round, statewide catch-and-immediate release on bass, except on waters completely closed to fishing.

Marty Lakatos thought there should be this clarification would help prevent any confusion:

PLEASE NOTE – the season to keep largemouth and smallmouth bass will still open on the Saturday before Memorial Day on the inland waters and the Great Lakes or the third Saturday in June on Lake St. Clair, the St. Clair River, and the Detroit River. All possession seasons for bass will close on December 31. The regulation change allows for catch-and-release fishing all year.


Staff at Henry’s reported that some of the steadiest bites are crappie and bass in the forest preserve.

Bass are in various stages of the spawn, as indicated by these two reports.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley sent this:

Hey Dale,

Area lakes remain very good for bass. It’s a post spawn bite now. Top water either very early or late evening has been the most consistent bite. Following up on missed strikes with a senko has been productive.

When I get back from up North, let’s get together and get out. Let me know what your schedule is next month after the 14th.


Ken “Husker” O’Malley
Waterworks fishing team

Johnny “Sunshine” Pajak sent this on DuPage lakes:


The water temps started to come up last week reaching the low 60s by Saturday. Bass started to move back up. Been catching them on plastic craws pulled through the shallows.

Johnny sunshine Pajak


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


Hooksetter’s Guide Service sent this:

(Head): Walleye, bass and crappies all hitting, with turkey hunters having very good success; all in and amidst the lakes and the Wisconsin River in Wisconsin’s Marathon and Lincoln Counties (near Mosinee and Wausau).

The walleye bite has been fantastic with lots of fish being caught. On two separate trips this past week we caught over 100 fish with several nice eaters in the 16 to 18 inch range along with a few slot fish as well. Most of the walleyes were caught on jig and minnow combinations in 4 to 8 feet of water. The largest factor in being able to catch these fish was having a sensitive enough rod to feel the subtle pick-ups by the walleyes.

Bass have been very aggressive this past week. They started off a little slow but have made leaps and bounds over the past few days. Most of the action is coming on jigs with tubes or Texas rigged beaver tails worked in and around shoreline structure.

The crappies have moved out of their traditional spawning grounds and have staged in deeper water. Look for fish to be in 6 to 12 feet of water holding off what I refer to as the second break line. Slip bobbers with minnows or Mini-Mite’s will do the trick. Use your electronics to locate schools of fish and work them from a distance.


Muskie are certainly active, as the Challunge on the Chain showed on Saturday with 16 muskies caught and released.

Art Frisell at Triangle said bluegill are the No. 1 bite; catfishing is good on crawlers or stinkbait; there’s good white bass around main lake points and current areas; some good numbers of walleye on Bluff in particular; for crappie, try early and late in main lake channel mouths.

For more reports, see http://www.foxlakefishing.com/

Check Chain updates from at the Fox Waterway Agency or by calling (847) 587-8540.


Jeff Nolan sent this:

Southbranch very slow,Main stem loaded w/striped bass ,a few crappie/SM and stacked w/carp spawning,best bet at Chump tower water discharge temp 61


HEIDECKE: Walleye turned on and crappie continue good for those who get into them. Launch opens at 6 a.m., shore fishing at 6:30 a.m. Close is sunset. It is open daily. LaSALLE: Henry’s staff reported good catfish and hybrids. Hours are 6 a.m. to sunset daily. There is a concessionaire with bait and food options. BRAIDWOOD:  Henry’s staff reported good action on catfish. Lake is open daily 6 a.m.-sunset. MAZONIA: This should be the prime weekend for panfish and bass, though I thought that the last couple weeks. Lakes are open daily 6 a.m.-sunset.


DELAVAN: Dave Duwe of FishLakeGeneva.com sent this:

Delavan Lake Fishing Report 5.18.15 through 5.24.15

Delavan lake has been relatively slow for this time of year. The warm weather during the day has been great, but the nights have remained cool slowing the bite a bit. There has been extreme weed growth by north shore and by the dam.

Largemouth bass has been best in 5-6 ft of water in front of Lake Lawn Lodge. You can either catch them on a split shot rigged nightcrawler or a green pumpkin Senko. I find the best approach for the Senko is Texas rigged allowing the bait to fall very slowly. I have fished by the channel on the north shore with limited success. The weed growth is prohibitive.

The bluegills are starting their pre-spawn ritual. The fish are in 3-4 ft of water. They can be caught on a Thill bobber rig with a leaf worm. Look for the fish by Browns Channel, west of Willow point and in the channels.

Walleye action has been consistent. Most of the fish are being caught while trolling in 6-8 ft of water. The best location has been by Del Mar or in the boat launch channel. Small countdown Rapalas in chrome/blue or chrome/black have been producing most of the action.

Crappie fishing has been slow. The crappies are very scattered throughout the weed flats. The fishing will improve once the water warms and the fish get on their regular spring pattern. Most of the fish are being caught on chartreuse or green plastics in 8 ft of water.

Northern Pike fishing has been very good. They are in the weed flats in 8-10 ft of water. They are being caught on Thill big fish sliders with medium suckers. You want to fish for them in Viewcrest and Highland Bays. Make sure you anchor the boat and let your bobbers float downwind for the best success.

Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050

GENEVA: Duwe sent this:

Lake Geneva Fishing Report 5.18.15 through 5.24.15

Lake Geneva fishing is starting to improve. By Memorial Day it should be getting very good. The current water temperature is about 55 degrees so the fish are still a bit sluggish but with warmer weather the bite will improve every day.

Smallmouth bass are still in pre-spawn. They are cruising their spawning flats in 8-12 ft of water. The best location is by Belvidere Park, the old Military Academy or by Elgin Club. The best presentation has been a 1/16 oz Arkie jig, a pink head with white body is the best. You want to swim the jig back to the boat with many pauses. The strikes are very subtle, it will just feel like additional weight on the line, if you feel it set the hook.

Rock bass are starting to show up in the shallows. They are in 10-12 ft of water. The best approach is drifting a fat head minnow on a split shot rig. The best location is Belvidere Park and the old Military Academy.

Northern Pike action has been consistent in the weed flats, such as Trinkes, Williams Bay and the Fontana Beach. They are being caught on Thill Big Fish Slider bobbers fished with medium suckers. You want to position the bait 12-18 inches above the weeds. The pike will feed from the bottom up so putting them too deep will eliminate some of the strikes.

Largemouth bass fishing has been good in the shallow waters. The best location has been by the Riviera boat docks or by Abbey Harbor. The fish can be caught on split shot rigged nightcrawlers and split shot rigged 4 inch Yum Finesse worms. Fishing for largemouth bass will improve once the water starts to warm.

Crappie Fishing has been good by the Geneva Inn and by Covenant Harbor. You want to fish them with small fat head minnows fished beneath a Thill slip bobber or with a small smoke colored plastic. The best depth is 8-10 ft of water.

Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050


No update this week.


SHELBYVILLE: Ken Wilson of Ken Wilson Guide Service said crappie are good when spider-rigging at the mouths of the big creeks; walleye are starting, especially on crankbaits or bladebaits on wind-blown flats. Lake should be near normal pool for the weekend. Very little water is being released so fishing below the dam has been slow. LAKE OF EGYPT/REND LAKE: Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing said that crappie are good on Rend on days not dominated by the wind and some big ones are still in the bushes; while on Lake of Egypt, the crappie are about done with spawn but bass are really taking off. And he said the bass fishing is taking off all over the place. EVERGREEN: The road is open. Remember that there are new saugeye regulations with a daily bag of three with a minimum of 18 inches. Mike Steffa sent a note that the road is completely open now. He also sent this basic info:

Bait Shop: Monday – Thursday from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. & Friday – Sunday from 6 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Boat Rental: Open ONLY Friday – Sunday from 6:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Expanded Hours Beginning Memorial Day Weekend!

Thank you,


POWERTON: Both shore and boat fishing are open. Hours are 6 a.m.-8 p.m. HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Lakes will reopen this year at an undecided date. EMIQUON: Call (309) 547-2730.


No report this week.


No update this week.


Lance LaVine at Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay sent this:

Good Morning folks…. Here is the updated fish report for Monday May 18, 2015

Bass fishing has been going very good and will just continue to get better as the weather and the water warms up each week. And unlike this time last year, the fish have been biting pretty much throughout the whole peninsula, not just south of Sturgeon Bay. No matter which area you intend to fish, the best depths to concentrate on are less than 12 feet of water. Look for those transition areas that we always talk about like from rock to sand, depth transitions and old channel cuts. The best baits continue to be shorty tubes, Kalins grubs, paddle tails, Lucky Crafts and hair jigs.

Walleye action continues to stay strong during the day and at night down around the Chaudoirs Dock area and south past Bayshore Park. And the late afternoon and evening bite is also going really good basically from Henderson’s Point north to Egg Harbor. 15 to 25 feet seems to be the magical depth. Flicker Shads and Flicker Minnow, deep Husky jerks, Reef Runners and Rouges have all been good baits as of late.

Pike fishing has been OK in downtown Sturgeon Bay. Fishermen have been casting and trolling large crank baits and some spinner baits and dragging large suckers

Perch fishing is set to re-open on May 20th. Fishermen will be searching the shallow to find some weed beds and also searching out in that deep water mud off of the Chaudoirs Dock. The best live baits will be night crawlers, leaf worms and fathead minnows


Lance LaVine

Howie’s Tackle
1309 Green Bay Rd
Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235
Ph: 920-746-9916
Fx: 920-746-9669

The Wisconsin DNR posts a report, typically updated on Tuesdays at http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/lakemichigan/OutdoorReport.html


The Sunday white bass tournament out of Spring Valley showed solid results. Catfish should be going with the weekend warm-up.

Illinois Valley Outdoors, which is in the former Time on the Water Outdoors buildings at Spring Valley, is open with basics, including bait, crankbaits and plastics.  The phone is (815) 663-1000.


Access points for Trail Creek can be found on the Trail Creek Access Map.


Norm Minas sent this:

river dropping and clearing, still above normal flow rate. water temp around 67 degrees . algae on bottom not as bad as it was but still too much to make me happy . you couldn’t have asked for a nicer day weatherwise .

waded and fished a variety of options today, bridge pilings, inflows, water willow stubble fields and heads/tails of riffles . swimbaits, chatterbaits and square bill crankbaits all produced.

channel cats continue to take chatterbaits although the numbers are down and there are no big fish. all the cats caught today were eating sized. I think with the lower water most of the cats have moved .

great day for smallmouth bass, square bill cranks at heads and tails of riffles produced a nice bunch of fish, several of them had crawdads sticking out of the gullet. 3/8 oz jig with 4 inch swimbait over the water willow stubble didn’t do as well as hoped but still got some larger smallmouth, just not the numbers of them. chatterbaits were the best producer of smallmouth size and numbers wise in the water willow stubble and around bridge pilings. three huge smallmouth bass amongst them, 2 from pilings, 1 from the stubble . the one from the stubble still had a rock bass sticking out it’s gullet. shade was a factor in success today .

some of the female smallmouth were post spawn, many still had full tight egg sacs. I wouldn’t be surprised to see massive spawning soon if the river keeps dropping .

the crankbait and chatterbait got crushed by the bass, the swimbaits you just felt something a bit off .

hit a inflow with gar actively feeding, they were not interested in the flukes like the other day. shoot they were not interested in anything I tried . can’t win them all .

twixt the rock bass trip and this outing nothing special to report, slow with not much action




Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing said that ledge fishing, that prime time, is about to take off.


Prospects look good for walleye and perch this year; smallmouth fair but improving. Click here for update. The Ohio DNR has general Lake Erie info and a fishing report.



Weather, which will ease, has limited fishing to the shore. Staff at Henry’s said best has been smallmouth in the Chicago harbors. Rock bass are the other prime bite.


Scott Hill of Fishingthrills Guide Service sent this:

Hello Dale,

The pan fish action remains good on the Madison Chain of Lakes. The crappies located near the warmest shorelines two to five feet of water casting plastics gulp minnow. The bass bite was good lots of action casting plastics in scattered weeds. The walleye action was good along rocky shorelines with current. Lake Koshkonong walleye, pike & white bass action has been good!

Fishing report from Scott Hill at fishingthrills.com

Scott Hill
Fishingthrills Guide Service
5920 S. Emerson Rd
Beloit, WI 53511

Also check reports from Gene Dellinger at D&S Bait.


Check the report of Mike Mladenik at Mike Mladenik Guide Service.


MINOCQUA: Kurt Justice of Kurt’s Island Sport Shop sent this:


Minocqua Area Fishing Report

Despite waking up to snow on the ground (5/19) and cold winds, mild temps look to return by the weekend. It just seems like a long way off when you are sitting in a boat now!

The past few days of wind and cold temps have slowed fishing, pushing some species out of the shallows. With forecasted highs only reaching high 60’s to low 70’s by the weekend, it will take at least until then to see fish return in numbers to the shallows.

Crappies: Very good to fair. Cold has shut down a lot of what was a very good bite. Males had moved in picking out spots to make beds. The females were hanging just outside. On some lakes the males are committed possibly already guarding eggs and won’t leave. Look for a return as waters move back into the low 60’s after having dropped into the high 50’s with recent cold snap.

Walleye: Good to Fair. Recent cold slowed this bite. Casting shallow running stick baits (Floating Rapalas, Rattlin Rouges, Thundersticks and #11 Scatterraps) over shallow, new plant growth, especially after dark has been a good producer. Jig anglers have to fish deeper as of late due to cold weather. The return of warmer weather should bring that daytime bite back up. While minnows have seen the bulk of the bite, some anglers reporting a good leech bite as well.

Bluegill: Good to Fair. Bite should return by weekend. Mini-mites tipped with waxies as well as small leeches fished in 4-8’ near weeds or drowned wood working well. Nice gills of 7-8 ½” reported on the Minocqua chain.

Largemouth Bass: Good to fair. Slower approaches working best with wacky style worms, jig and craw combos producing. As water temps climb, other tactics will come into play, but for now the subtle styles work best.

Pike: Good to fair. Pike are not as affected by the cold as the other species this week, but, still not as good a bite. Paddle tail grubs have been productive for pike as a lure that can be fished at different speeds. Without fish chasing on certain days of colder temps, stick to chubs or suckers under a float or on a jig.

Perch: Good to Fair. Some very nice perch (10-12”) being caught in shallow water (3-7’). Many feeding up to put weight back on after spawn. Don’t be afraid to use medium to large fatheads for these fish with big appetites.

Smallmouth Bass: Good to fair. Still catch and release only on this species, but some very nice smallies to 20+” on X-raps and jig and twisters this past week.

Musky: While always a guess to start the season (opens 5/23), a good portion of the population spawned earlier due to the warm April/early May. Typical tactics apply – 6” twitch baits and smaller bucktails. Some smaller rubberbaits would also be a good option.

While temps may not be as warm as we would like for Memorial Weekend, it is an early Memorial and the forecast looks good for nice, if not hot weather.

Island Sportshop
Minocqua, Wi 54548

EAGLE RIVER: This report came the Eagle River Chamber of Commerce, based on Creative Brilliance interviews with Eagle River guides “Muskie Matt” of Wild Eagle Lodge, “Ranger Rick” Krueger of Guide¹s Choice Pro Shop, Mat Hegy; and Eagle River hunting enthusiast, Dan Anderson:

(Head): Northern and panfish putting on a good to excellent bite, with walleye and smallmouth bass (strictly catch-and-release until June 20th)) good. Don’t forget that the musky season opens next Saturday the 23rd; all in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area.

Water temps in the Eagle River area are in the upper 50s on the surface. As you go down into the water column, the temps drop. A couple of asides: The bluegills have come in. One of our guide sources says he was helping put in a dock for a friend, and the bluegills were literally swarming around him. Also – -the crappies are a tad deeper, but still seeking cover as their spawns draws towards it close.

NORTHERN: Fish 10 feet of water or less in and around remaining weeds and new weed growth. Use a northern sucker under a slip bobber, a Husky Jerk (minnow or walleye pattern), spinner baits, or crankbaits. All are working. All day action and the bite is good to excellent.

PANFISH: Crappies, bluegills and perch. Fish 10 feet of water or less in and around remaining weeds. The perch are tight to bottom, with the crappies and bluegills suspending. Use a chunk of crawler, crappie minnow, or a micro-plastic on a jig or under a slip bobber. All day action and the bite is good to excellent.

WALLEYE: Fish 10 feet of water or less off of weed edges and break edges. The walleye are tight to bottom. Use a 1/16 ounce jig and a fathead minnow. All day action, with peaks near sunset. All day action and the bite is good.

SMALLMOUTH BASS: Fish 10 feet of water or less over hardbottom sand and gravel areas. The bass are starting to spawn, and many are on their beds. Please – -be a good environmental activist while enjoying your fishing, by not disturbing any fish who are on their beds. And don’t forget, right now in the Eagle River area, smallmouth bass are strictly catch-and-release until the harvest season opens on June 20th. Use a small crankbait, three inch plastic tube, or a jig and a minnow. All day action and the bite is good.


Weather shut down the fishing on the big lake, but staff at Mik-Lurch said before the blow there had been some coho and a few kings at the Hole in the Wall. Otherwise, it is turning inward for bluegill and crappie Willow Slough, crappie at Pine, and bluegill and crappie around the Valpo lakes.


The Wisconsin DNR Root River Report is generally posted on Tuesday.


At Tackle HavenCapt. Eric Conder of Big Charter Charters  said before the blow, there was a mix of coho, lakers, steelhead and a few kings from 80 and deeper; piers are slow; and the river is mainly catfish.


Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR.


Clint Sands at Lakeside said that muskie and smallmouth are the most active bites; crappie are still spawning and some seem to be spawning on the tops of the deep tres; a few bass are bedding. Water clarity is good at about 3 feet.

Lakeside is open 6:30  a.m.-6:30 p.m.

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


The Wisconsin DNR report is at http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/lakemichigan/OutdoorReport.html. They are generally posted by Tuesday afternoon. Stream flow info is at http://waterdata.usgs.gov/wi/nwis/current?type=flow.


No update.


FREMONT: Curt Pazdro messaged:

Dale 4 of us went to wolf river in fremont over the weekend caught 350 white bass my son Wyatt 12 caught more than any of us ,, we caught most of them between 800 pm and 200am