Spring fishing builds: Chicago fishing

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Spring fishing continues to build, as it should near the end of April, albeit there may be a hiccup this week with a couple mornings with frost overnight followed by cold days.

But otherwise fish begin to do their thing, such as this walleye caught by Eric Pikul on Heidecke Lake, where several species are starting to pop.

Spring fishing is the focus for this  sprawling raw-file version of the Midwest Fishing Report, which appears much condensed Wednesdays on the Sun-Times outdoors page.


It has been a good run for shoreline fishing and near-shore boat fishing for coho, some browns and even some lakers for the last several weeks. Of course, the blow on Tuesday did nothing good.

But eventually it will lay down again and boaters will be back out and the lake will clear.

CHICAGO: Probably the best news is that smallmouth bass are starting to pop in the downtown harbors. Otherwise, it is coho, browns and some lakers when conditions allow. Just in case, anybody runs into any whitefish, remember that Solomon David at the Shedd Aquarium would like whitefish heads for research, click here for details)

WAUKEGAN:Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop texted boaters with Dodgers and peanut flies working shallow north or south of harbor are catching browns and coho. Shore fishermen are doing OK.

INDIANA: Mike Starcevich at Mik-Lurch texted that before Tuesday’s blow, some perch were being caught out of the mouth of Ditch and by Black Ditch; coho were being caught in 6-40 feet.


There was a flurry of nettings of smelt a week, not much since. The prospects are as down as they have been, as indicated in a brief preview in the Sun-Times outdoors. Regulations on the Chicago lakefront are the same: Nets may go in at 7 p.m., no alcohol and netters must be out of the parks by 1 a.m.


The big news is big bass, just some quality fish being caught in the warmer weather last week on local ponds and lakes. I suspect the colder weather will push the bass back, as

Ken “Husker” O’Malleyindicated:

Hey Dale, Area lakes continue to be good for bass on shadow raps. Bass are running on the smaller size, but numbers are good. Most were hitting on the pause. Saw a few moving up shallow looking to start making beds. With the cool down this week, they will get pushed back. — Ken Husker O’Malley Huskeroutdoors Waterworks fishing team

There might be some trout around yet. Here is the list of sites in Chicago-area, including the sites stocked by forest preserves and the IDNR: Area waters include Axehead, Belleau, Green, Wolf lakes (Cook County); Grove, Pickerel, Silver lakes (DuPage); Bird Park Quarry, Rock Creek in Kankakee River SP (Kankakee); Big Lake at Silver Springs SFWA (Kendall); Banana, Sand Lake at Illinois Beach SP (Lake); Lake Atwood, Piscasaw Creek (McHenry); Lake Milliken (Will). Click here for the statewide information on regulations and sites (however, it does not list the sites stocked by forest preserves).


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 Servicesent this:

(Head): Great walleye action, along with some smallmouth bass starting to hit. Wild turkey season underway and conditions look good for a successful hunt; all in and amidst the lakes and the Wisconsin River in Wisconsin¹s Marathon and Lincoln Counties (near Mosinee and Wausau). We have had great walleye action this past week in the central Wisconsin area. The local Wisconsin River `river rats’ are pounding away with jig and minnow combinations and tossing three-way rigs in heavy current areas for feeding walleyes. Most of the action has been during low light periods but a few guys are sticking it out during the mid-day hours and they are picking up a few `extra’ fish. With the weather warming up don’t be surprised if you start seeing a few nice smallmouth starting to pop up while you’re out walleye fishing. We had a few nice smallies last week, and with warmer weather in the forecast the bass are really going to start to turn the feedbag on.


Greg Dicksonat Triangle said largemouth are on a prespawn pattern, so cover ground and work the flats with spinner baits; crappie are “zigzagging back and forth’’ in channels with the water levels; some big walleye, which should be post-spawn, are being caught; catfish are picking up.

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

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


Jeff Nolansaid there were some bass, crappie and white bass by “Chump Tower” discharge. Shore fishermen are doing better with drop-shot rigs. Water reached 60 degrees, I suspect it will cool.


HEIDECKE: Seems like the former cooling lake near Morris is nearing the peark, though the coolness this week may hang things up a bit. Muskie, walleye, hybrids and crappie (by several reports) are starting to go.

Ray Hinton emailed this note:

Hey Dale,,here a nice shot from Saturday april 18, 2015…. Marvin Lofton of Oswego il with this 22″ striper 5.2 ozs……..His Brother Derrick took the pic and sent it to me….Derrick is my friend…lol but ended up with 11in crappies…

Eric Pikul sent this:

Hi Dale, I am a good friend of recently passed Captian Bob Santangelo. I was fishing Saturday on Heidecke lake and caught a nice 39 1/2 inch musky as well as a nice [23] inch walleye. The water temps are at 63 degree in many spots and low as 59 in other locations. Wanted to give you the report and if need any article information for suntimes maybe the pics and info would be usefull. Caught it on a xrap lure casting toward the rocks. Eric Pikul

Click here for my previewin the March 29  Sun-Times, which is very encouraging. Launch opens at 6 a.m., shore fishing at 6:30 a.m. Close is sunset. It is open daily.

LaSALLE: Continues to have a strong bite for hybrids and blues. Hours are 6 a.m. to sunset daily. There is a concessionaire with bait and food options.

BRAIDWOOD: Lake is open daily 6 a.m.-sunset.

MAZONIA:  Jon at Jon’s Bait said there’s been photos and accounts of some better bass. Should be near prime time for panfish when spring truly returns. Lake is open daily 6 a.m.-sunset.


Brian Gatesat Geneva Lake Bait and Tackle said boaters are taking bluegill at Abbey and Trinkes lagoon and perch are coming up shallow on Geneva; there’s good bluegill and crappie in Viewcrest side on the west end of Delava; there’s bluegill and crappie on the east end of Pleasant; and Como has bluegill west of the boat launch.


No report this week.


LAKE OF EGYPT/REND LAKE: Check with Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing. EVERGREEN: Mike Steffa sent these reminders:

NEW SAUGEYE (WALLEYE HYBRID) REGULATIONS FOR EVERGREEN LAKE Starting April 1, 2015 the following new regulations will take affect for Saugeye (Walleye Hybrid) on Evergreen Lake: Minimum Length Limit – 18″ Daily Creel Limit – 3 Fish/Day Evergreen Lake Bait Shop & Boat Rental Opens Saturday, April 4, 2015! The Evergreen Lake Bait Shop & Boat Rental will open this Saturday, April 4, 2015! Hours are as follows: 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, Mike

SHELBYVILLE: Check with Ken Wilson of Ken Wilson Guide ServicePOWERTON: Both shore and boat fishing are open. Hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. daily. HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Lakes will reopen this year at an undecided date. EMIQUON: Call (309) 547-2730.


No report this week.



This is from a weekend entry by Ken Gortowski in his waterdogjournal.com:

The smallies must have liked the warmer weather, warmer water and perfect creek levels and in the past few days have been moving up quickly. Friday after work it took a good hour and a half to get to a spot on a creek that normally takes under an hour. Traffic has sucked all week as stupid people dropped from the sky onto the roads to screw things up for everybody else. About an hour and a half of fishing and went 9/4 on smallies. Foul hooked a couple of carp/suckers and thought I had another one foul hooked when it went airborne. A gar nearly 3 feet long with my little lure in the edge of it’s snout. A twist as it came down and the lure flew back at me. That was pretty cool to watch. Makes me wonder about those other two that I thought I foul hooked. Fished the first quarter mile of a creek for those. Heard that a couple of stray smallies and a bunch of catfish were caught further up. They’re all moving up faster than I thought they would. They must have liked this weeks weather too. Tomorrow I think I’ll go check another creek two miles in to see if they’ve got that far. I’m also eternally grateful that the average fisherman will never figure out how to fish small flowing water. More for me.


Lance LaVineat Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay sent this update:

Hello all….here is what I have for an updated fish report as of 4/20/15 Brown Trout fishing is still decent along the Lake Michigan shoreline basically from Bailey’s Harbor all the way south to Algoma. The best depths have been anywhere from as shallow as 2 ft. of water out to about that 20 foot mark. There have also been some decent catches of nice Lake Trout and an occasional Rainbow. The best baits have been Mauler Spoons, Rapalas, Thundersticks and smaller sized Husky Jerks. Since ice out on the bay side of Door County there have been some nice catches reported from the Flats and Quarry area in Sturgeon Bay, as well as some spotty catches in the harbors in Northern Door County. Remember, Bailey’s Harbor Brown Trout tournament which will be held on April 23rd through April 26th. Pike action has been going O.K. in the Sturgeon Bay ship canal for both the shore fishermen and boat fishermen. The fishing should get better as the Pike retreat from the creeks and shallow bays and start putting on the feed bag. The best techniques are drifting with bottom bouncer rigs with sucker minnows, drifting and jigging Odd’Ball jigs tipped with Tuffy fathead minnows and trolling or casting large crank baits The Walleye action has been very good as of late. Seems like the post spawn feeding frenzy has begun. Shore fisherman as well as trolling has been producing good success at night, but daytime bites are getting better and better. Best reports have been in Sturgeon Bay and Little Sturgeon down to Chaudiors. Shore fishermen generally cast soft plastic swim baits or suspending crank baits. Trolling action is coming off of Husky Jerks, Smithwick Rogues, Flicker Shads and minnows and Matzuo’s. Just remember limit is one until May 2nd! Thanks; Lance LaVine Howie’s Tackle 1309 Green Bay Rd Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235 Ph: 920-746-9916

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


Tom Matejewski at Illinois Valley Outdoors said that post-spawn sauger are being caught on crankbaits on the flats; white bass are starting in the Vermilion and at the mouths of the tributaries and around bridges on spinners, bladebaits or jig and twister.

Illinois Valley Outdoors(in the former Time on the Water Outdoors buildings) at Spring Valley is now open with basics, including bait, crankbaits and plastics at 5 a.m.  The phone is (815) 663-1000.


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


Norm Minassent this:

multiple trips, varying conditions, latest precipitation brought levels up some and added some stain. algae remains a problem in some areas. one short trip produced no fish landed, had some very light hits around laydowns but whiffed. may have been panfish, may have been next state record smallmouth, most definitely operator error . another trip, rockbass in a crick, 1/6 oz jig, small twister, size 0 jig spinner. some bass on seams drifting a weighted keeper hook/ power pulse worm. after taking a food break on one trip, hit a favorite topwater spot. whitecaps blowing upstream, few smallmouth took a liking to a spook. peace norm


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.


See report at top.


Check with Gene Dellinger at D&S Bait.


Mike Mladenik of Mike Mladenik Guide Service sent this promise of things to come:

April Fishing report Water temps are 50 degrees on much of the Menominee River and flowages. Walleyes are spawning and the crappie bite is excellent! Smallmouth are in the shallows and by the first week of May the action will be great. *The Monster pre-spawn smallmouth biter will be as good as it gets!!!


Kurt Justiceof Kurt’s Island Sport Shop in Minocqua sent this:

A week plus of June-like daytime temps took care of all ice (Trout out as of this weekend). Many smaller lakes had temps shoot up so quickly as to have had the walleyes finish up spawning. Sunday saw temps back down into April reality, but, with many lakes in the high 40’s already, spawning should continue, just not as quickly this week. With the warm temps of last week, crappies got actively feeding. Anglers found live bait to be the best in the form of minnows and wax worms. On warm, sunny days crappies and gills move up to shallow flats to gather warmth. Long cast necessary to not spook fish. These fish are NOT up to spawn, just coming into the shallows for warmth and food. Bluegills in these situations are also being caught on worms and waxies. Present weather this week will prolong spawn of walleyes on larger lakes and rising temps will stall as highs in the 50’s forecasted. Kurt 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): Open water on many smaller lakes beckoning some hardy anglers who are having good luck with perch and crappies. Wild turkey hunting season in full swing with gobblers responding aggressively to calls and decoys; all in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area. Ice is going out quickly, with many lakes open and the bigger, clearer, deeper lakes, will soon follow. Our guide sources tell us that they are confident that there’ll be open water for the Wisconsin fishing opener on Saturday, May 2nd. In the meantime, some anglers are getting out (not much boat traffic as this is written, but that will increase exponentially as soon as the word gets around that the panfish are hitting) for the yearly Eagle River area, right-after-ice-out perch and crappie bonanza. While reports are very sporadic, our sources say that some anglers have had some great action. This early ice-out fishing bonanza usually lasts for about week or two. So now’s the time to get up to Eagle River and get some for the frying pan. Fish shallow, back bays or current areas in eight feet of water or less. The crappies and perch will be in the weeds or wood and brushpile areas. Use a crappie minnow, waxie, spike, wiggler or micro-plastic on a small jig or under a slip bobber.


See report at top for lakefront. Panfish reports are good for Willow Slough and Pine Lake. NOTE: Indiana’s trout stream (harvest) season opens at 6 a.m. Saturday. Click here.


Brian Gates from Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle said the river came down and some walleye are being caught in Fort Atkinson.


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


Capt. Eric Condorof Big Bird Charters at Tackle Haven said that when weather allows boaters are doing well from “The Chalets” to the Cook plant for coho, a few spring kings and a few steelhead; the piers are slow.


Click herefor reports from the Indiana DNR.


Staff at Lakeside said it was a good weekend for muskie and smallmouth (the IDNR stocked some big fish and apparently they are being caught); largemouth are also sood and crappie are improving.

Lakeside is open 6:30  a.m.-6:30 p.m.

For 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: Guide Bill Stoegersaid that walleye are coming back good, and lots of big fish; and white bass are starting, too. “Set your hook, you don’t know what you have,” he said. It is mainly river rigs, but streamers or minnows, even crawlers, are also working. He said darker jigs are working better.

 WINNECONNE: Gary Bloomfirst sent this note:

Winneconne Wisc, first2 days out this year, walleye running back to lake Winnabago after spawning, caught these two 22 inch walleye and 3 smaller guys, 25 when bass on Friday and 30 on Sunday. Bridge producing well on floating jigs and leeches. Heading home after cleaning fish, Walleye dinner Monday night.

Then this follow-up:

Just starting, all the smaller males will make for great fishing, plus mix in the why bass. Just need to get the water up about 8-12 inches, then the fishing will be really good.

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