Spring variety–crappie, coho, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass–builds for this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

“If you are not out fishing right now, you’re missing it,” said Tom Platt at Henry’s Sports and Bait Shop.

Rob Abouchar sent the photo above of a largemouth bass along with his report on Braidwood 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.

SMELT NETTING

Stacey Greene at Park Bait said one netter Sunday night had 30, one of the best reports so far. Otherwise, it’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.

AREA LAKES

Click here for the statewide release on trout fishing. Crappie fishing began.

BoRabb Williams sent this:

Saganashkee Slough is almost READY ….same for Calumet system

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

Hey Dale,

Bass continue to be the hottest bite on area lakes. Swim baits, spinner baits, and lipless cranks worked along the outside weedlines have produced good numbers.  Focus on the wind blown areas for the must active fish.

AREA WATER LEVELS

This is a week, again, 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

Tom Platt at Henry’s Sports and Bait Shop said the catfish bite has been on.

As to bass, Rob Abouchar emailed:

Hi Dale

Happy Easter

I fished Braidwood on Saturday out of the North Launch.  Water temps were between 75-79 degrees.  Largemouth bass best fish came on wacky rigged un weighted Senko.  Flipping pitching and skipping tight in grass pockets, points and edges was getting good size fish. Best colors were black and blue and green pumpkin with chartreuse tip.  Had to fish wind protected areas to feel bites.  Crankbait bite has slowed a bit.  Strong winds still have water stained a bit.  High School Tournament was going as well as other tournament anglers pre-fishing for future.  Anglers reported lots of bass but size was difficult to get.
Thanks
Rob

Braidwood is open daily. Hours are 6 a.m.-7:30 p.m. through 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:

Saganashkee Slough is almost READY ….same for Calumet system

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Arden Katz said bluegill are stacked in the channels, where water warmed to 58 degrees. Art Frisell at Triangle said crappie are No. 1 in most channels; walleye are fair coming off the spawn, should be feeding more regularly shortly; pike are good; muskie are fair.

NOTE: As of Tuesday morning, the lower river was no-wake, but the other two zones were open. 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:

Well I was out one day last week for a 1/2 day trip we boated the usual Crappie a few in the 13″ range on white jis and twister tails tipped with a waxie, Bass on smaller cranks and 4″ white wacky worm presentations moved slow over rocks. My Princecraft should be going to its new owner in Wisconsin this week and the wait is still on for the new boat. I will be using a boat from the store for a few weeks.I will be speaking tomorrow night for the Calumet Sportsmans club. Have a good week catch some fish.

DELAVAN/LAKE GENEVA AREA, WISCONSIN

No update this week.

DES PLAINES RIVER

William Marquez tweeted this photo and explanation.

5 lb channel cat from Des Plains river , on a night crawler

He was fishing in the Hodgkins area.

I would suggest keeping an eye on water levels, if the forecast heavier rains to the north come through.

DOWNSTATE NOTES

LAKE LOU YEAGER: BoRabb Williams sent this:

Frank CatDaddy Smith and I went to Litchfield Illinois Yeager Lake…. 45 crappie EACH…. and he caught a 5lb largemouth

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

Ken Gortowski sent this:

The Fox River is still pretty high with these rains and doing the high, fast and muddy thing continues.

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 AND I’ll bet I can teach a chimp to do this. It ain’t rocket science.

River and creek anglers forget that the river can stay high for weeks, but the creeks that feed the Fox can return to normal within a few days.

Once upon a time, from April 1st to June 15th, 95% of my smallie fishing was in the creeks that feed the Fox. I saw that Pete was already doing this. Smart man that Pete guy. On average in that time frame I would catch 500 smallies.

The mistake anglers make is to concentrate on the mouths of the creeks. It’s now the third week of April and with a spring like we’ve had, I would be miles inland. Many, many miles. Trick is to fish light and take what hits. Smallies, bluegill, rock bass, crappie, white bass and the occasional smallies bastard cousin, the lowly largemouth bass. And when all else would fail and I just wanted to feel a tug on the line, I’d target the big creek chubs that are in full spawning mode about now.

Fun like a kid has fun.

Ken G

NOTE: As of Tuesday morning, the lower river zone is no wake from the Algonquin dam to the Stratton Lock and Dam. Check updates at Fox Waterway Agency.

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

Paul Marquardt noted on Facebook a big muskie caught. Regulations are the same at Heidecke. 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

Ken “Husker” O’Malley was out Sunday and sent this update:

The Illinois River is still up and dirty, but it is starting to recede. Fishing is very slow with not many catching anything. Here is what the ramp looked like as of today.

River is projected to fall below flood at LaSalle by Wednesday, then be on a steady drop. But I would suggest keeping an eye on the weather and rainfall. 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

River is dropping and clearing, as of Tuesday. Lilacs are blooming in the Kankakee River Valley, so take that for what it means, what it means is that the smallmouth bite is on.

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

CHICAGO: Smelt report at top. Stacey Greene at Park Bait said coho are doing better afternoons at Montrose, powerliners are doing best, but, with clearer water, casters are catching, too; also some browns, a 10 1/2-pound laker and occasional king. Tom Platt at Henry’s Sports and Bait Shop said smallmouth starting along the shoreline; along with better coho and brown action, casters catching as well as powerliners, one of the other spots of note is 39th. 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 said that during construction, the launch is open and free, but parking is limited, best parking is across the street from the yacht club. Boaters are catching coho and browns in 30-40 feet;  shore fishermen doing best with spawn sacs, live roaches or crawlers, some on spoons.

LAKE VERMILION,  MINNESOTA

Check Jarek Wujkowski of Rodsbent Guide Service.

LaSALLE LAKE

Tom Platt at Henry’s Sports and Bait Shop said the catfish bite has been on. 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

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. Open-water season is here.

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

Nice weather in the 50’s is warming shallows and getting the fish and the anglers in the mood.
Lots of walleye spawning (season closed, no fishing for this species allowed up here).
Perch also moving into shallows to spawn.  Some crappie and gill action on warmer days.
Yellow Perch:  Very Good – Spawning in shallows amongst vegetation.  In some areas females spawned out already, these big girls will get hungry in a few days.  Shallow, dark lakes warm fastest.  Other lakes experience hundreds of fish in as little as 6” actively spawning.  Crappie minnows, ½ crawlers 6-10” under small floats.
Crappies:  Good – On sunny days search out brush or heavy grass in shallows.  Crappie minnows, medium fatheads and even small plastics worked slowly around cover best.
Bluegills:  Good-Fair – Warm afternoons bringing gills into shallows.  Waxies, worms, spikes on small jigs/ice jigs under tiny floats best.
Don’t have water temps to report yet, but by reports of walleye and crappie spawning activity most likely in low 40 degree temps.
Kurt Justice
Kurt’s Island Sport Shop
www.kurtsislandsports.com

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

Perch: The best approach is to set up slip bobber rigs with split shots and Aberdeen hooks or small jigs tipped with small minnows. Look for areas in the shallows around any structure, or in the water around sand bottoms.

Crappie: Anglers can find success with slip bobber rigs. Using either split shots and Aberdeen hooks or small jigs tipped with small minnows, the Crappie strategy is similar to Perch.

NORTHWEST INDIANA

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

Coho action picked up decent around gary light sun and monday brads thinfish rapala j9s and other crankbaits doing best. Gong area giving up lake trout as is 80 to 90ft out of burns ditch and michigan city  mainly dodger and spin n glow near the bottom. Area ponds doing ok with panfish beemoth and jumbo red wigglers. Perch action slow for those that have tryed

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. Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said boaters are going to 230-240 feet for coho; pier fishermen are catching catfish and sheephead.

ST. JOSEPH RIVER, INDIANA

Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR.

SHABBONA LAKE

Clint Sands at Lakeside said bass moved shallow, best has been by the dam face and in the northeast bay; some bluegill and crappie moved have moved shallow already too, as water warmed to 56.

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: Guide Bill Stoeger said white bass are starting to fill the holes “pretty good,” they’re best on light jigs with minnows or river rigs with minnows. “Should only get better and better, try any current break near deep water,” Stoeger said. The walleye bite slowed.