It looks like we are finally settling into the typical swings of spring for this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

Doyle Tunnat at Chicago Bait and Tackle in Romeoville messaged the photo above of Octavio Olivas, a fourth grader who was catching trout at Silver Springs SFWA. That’s an indication there’s still some trout around.

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.

SMELT NETTING

There’s been a smattering of smelt netted. Smelt netting in Chicago runs through April 30. The regulations are the usual. Prospects are poor, click here for the column, which included smelt info.

Here is the general word from Bob Long, “The Fishin’ Guy,” for the Chicago Park District, on lakefront regulations for smelt netters:

SMELT REGS FOR CHICAGO LAKEFRONT

Smelt Fishing is a family affair. It’s a community of Fishermen enjoying each other’s company and nature’s bounty. Let’s make this season a safe and clean one for families and our fishing future. The following rules apply:

* No open fires

* No enclosed tents

* No alcoholic beverages

* No parking or driving on the grass or sidewalks. Park only in designated areas. Violators will be ticketed and towed.

* Do not destroy fences, benches, trash receptacles, walkways, and grassy areas.

* Do not dump hot coals under trees, on concrete or on grassy areas. Dispose of all coals in the appropriate trash receptacles.

Harbor Gates will close at 1 a.m. –start breaking down at 12:30 a.m. to be out by 1 a.m.

I would emphasize that last one, the regulation is to be out of the parks by 1 a.m.

INDIANA FREE FISHING DAY

Indiana now has four free fishing days for residents. The first is Saturday, April 15. Here is the word from the Indiana DNR:

Events statewide for Free Fishing Day, April 15

This Saturday, April 15, is the first of four Free Fishing Days in Indiana in 2017.

On these special days, Indiana residents can fish public waters without needing a fishing license or a trout stamp. Free Fishing Days are opportunities for families to learn to fish because adults don’t need a license.

Family Learn to Fish events will take place at Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and at Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge near Seymour from 9 a.m. to noon.

Families can fish for trout during special events at Columbia City’s Morsches Park from 9 to 10 a.m. and at Spring Mill State Park near Mitchell from 9 a.m. to noon.

More family fishing fun will happen at St. Patrick’s County Park near South Bend from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m; Pokagon State Park from 9 to 11 a.m.; Krannert Park in Indianapolis from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Salamonie Lake from 1 to 3 p.m.; and Prophetstown State Park from 2 to 3 p.m.

Richmond’s Middlefork Reservoir will host a youth event called “Hook a Kid Fishing” from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

And Prairie Creek Reservoir near Muncie will host its annual Ball State Fishing Day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Students can borrow fishing poles and bait at the park office when they show their Ball State ID.

People interested in attending a Free Fishing Day event should contact the host property in advance because some activities may require registration. 

The other free fishing days for 2017 are May 20 and June 3-4.

For more info on Free Fishing Days, go to GoFishin.IN.gov.

AREA LAKES

Crappie are rapidly becomes the main focus. Still some catching trout, but the end of that nears. Click here for the statewide release on trout fishing.

John Kudia of Orland Park sent photo and report from this Monday on fishing before the front:

Dale:

 The pre-frontal conditions Monday brought out the best of spring fishing in small ponds as water temps went into the upper 50’s. Two carp, two bass about 15 inches or so. Lost a 10 lb carp upon landing  on 6 lb line after a heroic 15 minute struggle. small redworms is all I used. All released.

BoRabb Williams sent this:

Saganashkee Slough was SLOW…. but in the 50’s.. going back today.

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

Hey Dale,

After days of rain and cloudy weekday weather, it was nice to get out and get some some. Windy, but I’ll take it. Bass continue to be the best bite on area lakes. Slow rolling spinnerbaits along the inside weedlines have been producing good numbers. Using double Colorado blades have been best. They allow the bait to ride above the weeds and give off a better vibration in cloudy water.
Ken “Husker” O’Malley
Huskeroutdoors
Waterworks fishing team

AREA WATER LEVELS

This is a week where checking water levels is absolutely essential. 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 emailed:

Hi Dale

If you need report for Braidwood.  Fished Sunday at Braidwood.  Largemouth Bass bite was a little slower with high wind, heavy tournament boat pressure and dirty water from recent rains. Still some largemouth going on wacky rigged Senko, squarebill crankbaits, and jigs with plastics trailers. Black n Blue and green pumpkin were best colors for plastics.  The Anglers Choice Bass tournament winners on Sunday had 10.3 pounds for a 3 fish limit.
Thanks Rob

Braidwood is open daily. Hours are 6 a.m.-7 p.m. until Sunday April 16, when hours change to a 7:30 p.m. close from Monday, April 17 to May 14; from May 15-June 11, 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

BoRabb Williams sent this after a Monday outing:

Today was great before the 2nd rain in Calumet….. eaters [crappie]…. gills .. bass everything.

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

With the high water, I would expect walleye to be going around current areas. As to crappie and bluegill, Arden Katz said he was doing very well in channels on bluegill and some crappie, to focus on crappie switch to minnows; another key was to keep moving to find active fish.

NOTE: As of Tuesday morning, all three zones were no-wake. Check updates at Fox Waterway Agency. In general for water and lake updates, go to Fox Waterway Agency or call (847) 587-8540.

CHICAGO RIVER

Capt. Pat Harrison (click here for his site) sent this Tuesday:

Last week I fished a couple local bodies of water.  The warm water discharge below Busse on Salt creek  caught a couple small Bass about 12 to 14″ some small Gills  but when you have a hour to play that beats the skunk. Sunday I fished the pond at Oakton College one trip around the pond 3 decent Bass not to bad for a fast trip.Don’t over look these small bodies of water they hold fish too, when you have an hour hit one of the little ones in your area you may be surprised  I am in the middle of the sale of my boat and the new one. I will still be guiding Thanks to my sponsor Lake County Water sports they are lending me a boat to cover trips for a few weeks. Have a Great week get out and catch some fish.

DELAVAN/LAKE GENEVA AREA, WISCONSIN

No update this week.

DES PLAINES RIVER

No update. Particularly northern areas are in or near flood.

DOWNSTATE NOTES

HENNEPIN-HOPPER: The lakes reopen to fishing on May 16 and remain 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

Pete Lamar sent this:

Hi Dale,

I’ve just driven over the Fox and Des Plaines Rivers recently and both are still high and muddy.  I did not attempt to fish.

On Sunday afternoon, I did fish some Fox tributaries.  I was way upstream, far from the mouths-think Kane County, not Kendall.  Water had returned to normal levels and was clear for this time of year; it had really dropped quickly after all the rain earlier in the week.  I tangled with a couple of smallmouths in the short time I was there.  Definitely an early Spring pattern:  they came from deep pools with only a little current; nothing at all in the faster runs.  In spite of the gale-force winds, it was good to be out, not fishing a treatment plant discharge and taking advantage of the late sunset.

Have a great Easter.

Pete

Ken Gortowski sent this, which I think could also apply to most other area rivers at the moment:

The river has been up pretty good with these rains and I forgot this is the time of year to do the high, fast and muddy thing.

Walk shorelines, look for eddies and obstructions practically at your feet and put something that looks edible in and around those spots.
From Geneva, to Batavia, to North Aurora and hell, all the way down to Oswego. Plenty of bike paths and access points all up and down the river. The only thing stopping anglers from going out and doing this would be plain ol’ laziness.
It’s like fishing in a barrel. Even a toddler can do it.

NOTE: As of Tuesday evening, the river is no wake from the Algonquin dam to the Chain. Check updates at Fox Waterway Agency.

FOX RIVER: WISCONSIN

No update.

GREEN BAY/STURGEON BAY

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

Good morning guys…here is what I have as far as the fishing is concerned

Brown Trout fishing continues to stay very good on both the lakeside and bayside of the Door County Peninsula for both shore fishermen and boat fishermen.  Fishermen trolling for Browns have been fishing in water less than 25 feet for the most part with Rapalas, Thundersticks, Flicker Shads and Mauler spoons.  Shore fishermen and fishermen casting from boats are fishing with spoons like Cleo’s and Krocodiles, soft plastics baits and some crank baits.

Stream fishermen are enjoying one of the best Rainbow Trout runs in recent years.  Pretty much all of Door Counties Lake Michigan tributaries have very nice numbers of fish in them and with the recent rains, fresh run Rainbows continue to file in.  Drifting with spawn, casting spinners and small spoons along with flies and yarn eggs all working well.

Pike action has been going well throughout the county especially from Sturgeon Bay south to Little Sturgeon.  Drifting with suckers and Tuffy fathead minnows and casting and trolling with large crank baits and spoons has been the ticket.

Walleye action is starting to heat up now that the ice has finally left the area and now that fishermen can start to target them a bit more.  Night time trolling is a great way to boat a giant pre-spawn Walleye.  Concentrate your efforts along the primary, rocky shoreline drop-offs in that 6 to 20 foot range.  Long-line suspending crank baits behind boards or sweep fish with baits like Husky Jerks and Smithwick Rogues.  During the day, fishermen will rip jig along those secondary drop-offs in that 14 to 25 foot range with Rippin Raps and soft plastics like Kalins and Kei Techs

Thanks;

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

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

HEIDECKE LAKE

High water makes it difficult for boats to get under the bridge. Regulations are the same. Launch opens at 6 a.m., shore fishing at 6:30 a.m.; close is sunset. Click here for my 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

River is projected to fall below flood at LaSalle by the weekend. 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

In Illinois, the river has dropped below flood, but remains high and stained. Some areas in Indiana are still in flood. Fish shoreline slack areas or eddies.

LAKE ERIE

The Ohio DNR has general Lake Erie info and a fishing report.

LAKEFRONT

Water is dirtied as of Tuesday, but it should settle later in the week. CHICAGO: Smelt report at top. Park Bait reported powerliners picking up a few coho and browns at Montrose. Steve Palmisano at Henry’s said coho and browns becoming more consistent and patterned around the harbors. 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:

Yes, browns and cohos picking up nicely from reports from pier guys, would assume boats are getting them, but no reports

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

BoRabb Williams sent this:

we also hit Monster lake at Mazonia south unit …crappie and gill action Great …water was in the low 50″s.

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.

MILWAUKEE HARBOR

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

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

Gamefish season is closed. Ice is receding.

NORTHWEST INDIANA

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

Water super dirty on lake michigan making it tough fishing near shore in boats and shore fisherman. Willow slough giving up gills and crappie to guys in boats moving around waxworms jumbo red worms and variety of jigs in black or orange doing good. Rivers wer high and muddy over weekend ther fishable now pine lake in laporte gave crappie up in bays for guys in boats

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

Remember walleye, pike and muskie seasons are closed inland. Phil Schuman at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said the weather has limited fishing on Lake Michigan and high water has limited river fishing.

ST. JOSEPH RIVER, INDIANA

Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR.

SHABBONA LAKE

Staff at Lakeside said crappie are as deep as 20 feet in the deep trees and some are moving up into the cribs; a 5.35-pound largemouth bass was caught off the dam face as was a 42-inch muskie over the weekend; water is warming into 50s, relatively normal.

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, though part of the lake on the Illinois side is included in the spring trout fishing.

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

FREMONT: Guide Bill Stoeger said walleye are “going up and coming down’’ the river; drifting and jigging with minnows is best, but crawlers are starting to work, too; white bass starting to go around current breaks and eddies. He expects a few warm days could really spark the white bass.