Catching spring: Chicago fishing

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Spring and spring fishing keeps building, well with a cold weather set back here and there, in this sprawling, raw-file Midwest Fishing Report, which appears in a much condensed Wednesdays on the Sun-Times outdoors page.

Spring as in this smallmouth bass that Johnny “Sunshine” Pajak had many reasons to celebrate catching from the Fox River.


Illinois Valley Outdoors in Spring Valley is hosting a Fun in the Sun white bass tournament on Sunday as a fundraiser for Spring Valley Walleye Club. I think the split is 50-50 between payout and helping SVWC

Here is the word from Bill Guerrini, the Illinois Outdoor Hall of Famer and founder of SVWC:

Sunday 05-17-15 Sponsored by IL. Valley Outdoors bait shop. Entry fee = $75.00 All profits being donated to the SV Walleye Club. C’mon…. sign up today! 815-663-1000 Walleye1 ><))))*>

I talked with Thom Matejewski at IVO earlier today and he said it is still on and the river is dropping and clearing.


Phil SchumanatTackle Haven gave me a heads up 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.


Season is closed in the Illinois waters of Lake Michigan through June 15.


Capt. Bob PoteshmanofConfusion Charters said, “Fishing is the way it is supposed to be: Everywhere they are biting, biting in Indiana, biting in North Port, biting in Waukegan and biting in Chicago. The west shore [of Lake Michigan] is really hot right now.’’ He said it mainly coho with a few steelhead, kings and lakers; mostly shallow, but some fish are out deep; best is small Dodgers and flies. CHICAGO: There are building smallmouth reports, especially around downtown harbors.Staff atPark Bait said shore fishermen were catching some coho from shore. Capt. Bob PoteshmanofConfusion Charters said best has been around Chicago Light or just off Montrose. WAUKEGAN:Lori Ralphat the Salmon Stop texted, “On and off all week, boat and shore, yesterday both good, plus day before good. Today? Cold, windy, rainy, no reports yet, two charters out. Capt. Ted Boska sent this:

Hello and good morning Dale, this is Cpt TED (DieHard Angler) Boska.This year fishing is very inconsistent same like toady weather. I already cancelled my early morning trip because of weather. For me safety is more important than fishing. MANY people are thinking, very early spring is very easy to catch young coho and staying in 20-40′ of water.This year is very slow for many people, and many come back to harbor without fish, I CAN’T believe this myself. Fishing is very difficult because of weather this month and north east wind is blowing almost single day,what makes fishing difficult because of murky water.I made few trips to 160′ of water, bit notrh of Waukegan harbor. For us all trips pay off, and this attached picture is very good example. Many targets coho close to shore line, and forget about bigger fish still living far away from shore. On avg every single trip over deep water produced for us many beautiful rainbow , kings and lakers.Fishing conditions are very difficult because of weather and you have to be sure you boat is seaworthy conditions to go 10 miles out.if you have sister boat next to you, you can go.I hope weather changes very soon and we can enjoy mother nature and spend extra time on big lake.I don’t see on my fish finder many bait fish and this is bothering me and others a lot.Same like we are using fish finder to find a fish, maybe FISH is also using angler finder and try stayed away from any fishing weasels-I am kidding you! I hope weather improve very soon and fish becomes more active.THANKS for reading this and your time. Cpt TED Boska


Cold weather seems to be working against what had been a building shoreline bite for both bluegill and largemouth. Weekend weather might bring them back shallower.

Ken “Husker” O’Malleysent this:

Hey Dale, Area lakes continue to give up good numbers on bass. Before the rains and temperature drop, action was good on senkos and chigger craws. Once the water cooled down and stained, working a lipless crank through emerging grass beds was the way to go. Should be a challenging week ahead with the forecast. — Ken Husker O’Malley Huskeroutdoors Waterworks fishing team


Go to to check area water levels and projection. To get to more specific gauges, even on creeks, in Illinois, go to


Hooksetter’s Guide Service sent this:

(Head): Walleye, musky, crappies and smallmouth bass all hitting, with wild turkey hunters having an outstanding week; all in and amidst the lakes and the Wisconsin River in Wisconsin’s Marathon and Lincoln Counties (near Mosinee and Wausau). The 2105 fishing season started off with a bang last week with anglers enjoying near perfect conditions. In addition to the great fishing, turkey hunters also enjoyed another outstanding week of hunting. The walleye bite was on fire with lots of fish in the 15 to 20 inch range being caught along with some real dandies in the mid to upper 20 inch range, as well. Most of the action was in shallow water areas associated with weeds and wood. Musky anglers south of Hwy 10 (southern zone is open, northern zone is not) had another great opener with some decent fish being caught. Most of the early season muskies were caught on bucktails and twitch baits in shallow water areas associated with weeds and warmer temperatures. The crappies have been spawning for about a week now and the bite has been pretty consistent in shallow backwater bays that have a lot of brush and or stumps/trees in the water. Crappies will associate with these areas as they provide both cover and warmer water. The smallmouth bass have been pretty active with a lot of nice fish caught this past week (harvest season open on smallmouth bass in the southern zone). One angler had well over 20 nice fish in an afternoon with the largest one just shy of that 20 inch mark. Most of the bass were taken on jigs tipped with plastics like tubes and or imitation crayfish pitching to rocky shoreline areas. Afternoons proved the best for action and numbers as water temperatures warmed up significantly in these rocky areas throughout the daytime. The key to being productive this past week was keeping an eye on water temperature and by paying close attention to warmer areas. By doing this anglers were able to not only locate active fish, but were able to catch quite a few of them with precise presentations by relating specific areas to the species of fish being targeted. Electronic locators were invaluable when it came to this as anglers were constantly watching for water temperature changes throughout the day.


Art FrisellatTriangle said that bluegill are moving shallower  (weather may hold that up a few days); walleye are good around current areas on leeches or crawlers; for crappie, try deeper side of connecting channels.

For more reports, see

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


Jeff Nolan sent this:

Southbranch crappie and LG mouth at river city Main stem small numbers of LG mouth of nice size Ogden slip 55 degrees


HEIDECKE:Should be the time for walleye and hybrids to really turn on, but the weather seems to be limiting that. Crappie fishing has been good for those who find them. Launch opens at 6 a.m., shore fishing at 6:30 a.m. Close is sunset. It is open daily.LaSALLE: A reminder came last week of the danger of winds on the cooling lake with a capsized boat and one drowning.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:Next couple weeks should be prime for panfish and bass, but the colder weather slowed down things. Lakes are open daily 6 a.m.-sunset.


DELAVAN:Dave sent this:

Delavan Lake Fishing Report 5.11.15 through 5.17.15 With the warming water, the fishing has started to improve. Most of the lake last week was around 60 degrees on the surface. Both the largemouth and walleyes have become active. Largemouth bass are positioned in 2-6 ft of water. Most of my success last week came from the boat launch channel to Lake Lawn golf course. I was fishing in the weeds with scattered sand pockets. I was catching a mixed bag of walleyes and largemouth bass. The best presentation was a split shot rigged nightcrawler for the walleyes and a Texas rigged 5 inch green pumpkin Senko for the largemouth. Walleyes are being caught while trolling medium diving crankbaits or on a split shot rigged nightcrawler. Other locations that are showing promise are the buoy line by Viewcrest and Highland Bays. A water depth of 10-12 ft is working fairly well in these locations. For the crankbaits use fire tiger or chrome and blue colors. Bluegills are scattered. Some fish are being caught in 12-15 ft of water while others are showing up in less than 5 ft of water. The best presentation is just the simple Thill slip bobber rig fished with a red worm. The deep water bluegill fishing has been best down by the island. And the shallow fish have been biting west of Willow Point and in Viewcrest bay. Northern Pike action has improved. They are being caught in the weedy bays in 5-7 ft ofwater. They are being caught on Thill big fish sliders with a medium sucker. I find in spring, you don’t need the real big suckers, the smaller suckers seem to entice more bites. This is about the only time of year that I will anchor while fishing slip bobbers. Crappie fishing has been slow. The fish haven’t moved out to their normal spawning areas yet. You can catch an occasional fish in 8-10 ft of water off the weedline. The best approach is casting small purple or smoke colored tube baits with a slow retrieve. 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 5.11.15 through 5.17.15 With a few warm days Lake Geneva has started to produce some fish in the main portions of the lake. The smallmouth bass should be spawning in the next two weeks with the largemouth bass and bluegills to follow. The best time to fish Lake Geneva is Memorial Day through the second week of June. Largemouth bass are being caught in 3-4 ft of water. The best location is in Geneva Bay, Abbey Harbor and the beach in Williams Bay. The best approach is small 4 inch finesse worms or 3 inch Kahlin Grubs in smoke or avocado color. Like most fish on Lake Geneva, the warmer the weather, the better the fishing will be. Smallmouth bass are staging near their spawning flats. The best locations are by Elgin Club, Belvidere Park or by Bigfoot beach. They still are not associating with the bottom rather they are suspending around the baitfish. Best presentation is a green pumpkin chompers or a pink/white hair jig in 1/16 oz. The fish have moved shallower, they are in 8-12 ft of water. They are still actively feeding on the pods of minnows. Crappie fishing has started to improve. The best locations have been by Covenant Harbor or by the Geneva Inn. They are being caught on a Thill slip bobber rig or on small tube baits in smoke color. Work a depth of 10-12 ft of water. Rock bass are starting to become active. The best success is dragging a split shot rigged fat head minnow in 10-12 ft of water. In a couple of weeks, rock bass will be able to be caught throughout the whole lake. A few northern pike are being caught in the weed flats either trolling large spinner baits or medium diving crankbaits. The best location has been in Williams Bay or in Trinkes Bay near the country club. Stable warm weather will continue to improve fishing on Lake Geneva. Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050


Marcus Beneschsent this:

Dale, Its been a wet spring thus far and the river is up again. A bit hazardous in some sections and just flooded in others. Clarity is very poor and so is the fishing. Best to avoid main branch and focus on creeks, culverts, and backwaters. Marcus Benesch River Grove, IL


LAKE OF EGYPT/REND LAKE:Check withJason JohnsofBoneyard Fishing.EVERGREEN: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, Mike

SHELBYVILLE:Check withKen WilsonofKen Wilson Guide Service.POWERTON: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.


No update this week.


No update this week fromLance LaVineatHowie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay. The Wisconsin DNR posts a report, typically updated on Tuesdays at


Thom Matejewski at Illinois Valley Outdoors, which is in the former Time on the Water Outdoors buildings at Spring Valley,

IVO is 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.


Be aware that the Iroquois is slated to crest later this week, but the Kankakee is fishable high water.

Norm Minassent this:

river is up almost twice it’s normal level, muddy, no visibility. folks staying away in droves . the channel cat bite is phenomenal right now. using chatterbaits on seams for bass, catching almost 4 times as many channel cats as bass and I ain’t doing bad on the bass. wonder how many cats I could get if I was actually fishing for them . btw, very nice write up on sunday . 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.


Guide Bill Stoeger said there aregood walleye being caught by those pitching little jigs with leeches on the points and reefs.


See report at top.


Scott HillofFishingthrills Guide Service sent this:

If you are looking for some pan fish action the Madison Chain is one of the best places to be! The bite has been Incredible!. The best action going are for crappies, than bluegills along the warmest shorelines two to eight feet of water casting plastics or slip bobber. The bass bite was good, still pre-spawn, lots of action casting plastics in scattered weeds. The walleye action was fair along rocky shorelines with current. Lake Koshkonong walleye, pike & white bass action has been good to great, lots of action either trolling or jigging! Fishing report from Scott Hill at Scott Hill Fishingthrills Guide Service 5920 S. Emerson Rd Beloit, WI 53511 608-921-8980

Also check reports fromGene DellingeratD&S Bait.


Check the report ofMike Mladenik at Mike Mladenik Guide Service.


MINOCQUA:Kurt JusticeofKurt’s Island Sport Shop sent this:

Minocqua Area Fishing Report A big swing in the weather from highs of near 80 deg. last week, to rain, sleet and even some snow (today 5-12). Daily changes in temps, wind and cloud cover meant anglers needed to be on the move to find their quarry, especially walleye. Walleye: Good. Day to day things are changing. The warmer days with cloud cover brings walleyes into shallow weeds to feed. #7 Floating Rapalas, #8 Husky Jerks, #7 Countdown Scatter Raps and small Rattlin Rouges worked just at emerging weed top levels and around flooded grasses in 2-6′ of water producing. Jig and minnows also effective. Following cold fronts, move out to deeper water outside these shallow feeding areas. On deeper lakes lacking weeds, fish depths of 20-29′ using chubs on 1/4oz jigs. Crappies: Very Good- Good. After a week of laying in the shallows collecting some heat, lots of crappies have moved out for now. With returning warmth, these same fish should start to return, this time with spawning being the reason. In the shallows, long casts with tiny plastics or small minnows below small floats needed to not spook fish. Casting Charlie Bee jigs / spins and small paddle tail grubs working also. Bluegills: Good. On warmer days, gills are in the shallows with crappies. Thunderbugs, small leeches or waxies. Even on cooler days, same baits but out in weeds of 6-8′. Northern Pike: Good. Lots of small fish active. Most catches on live bait (chubs, suckers). Anglers using #3 Mepps Comets are reporting good action in 3-6′ weedy flats. Yellow Perch: Good- Fair. Not being targeted a lot, though some anglers catching nice lengthier perch, but releasing due to lack of weight. These fish haven’t put on much weight after spawn, most likely, spent females. Largemouth Bass: Good-Fair. During warmer weather last week, action good on stick baits (X-Raps, Husky Jerks, Rouges). As temps dropped anglers switching to more subtle presentations such as wacky worms on jig and plastic craws. Today (5-12) is the low in temps for the week. As temps rise back into the 70’s by weeks end, watch for big improvements in walleye, crappies and bluegill fishing. Kurt Island Sportshop Minocqua, WI 54548

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

(Head): With warmer temps coming on, fishing action quickly improving. Walleye, northern, panfish and some smallmouth bass (strictly catch-and-release on the smallmouth bass) hitting; all in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area Water temps in the Eagle River area are rising. Surface temps are in the mid 50s, with deeper water cooler, but still rising. As we said last week, as soon as the water temps begin to rise the fishing action would improve- – and it has – and will continue to do so. Now’s the time to get up to Eagle River and get your share of the area’s fishing bounty, inexorably combined with the indescribable beauty of nature’s abundance. WALLEYE: Fish 10 feet of water or less off of weed edges and adjacent break edges. Walleye are tight to bottom. Use a 1/16th ounce jig tipped with a fathead minnow. All day action with peaks around sunset. The bite has picked up and is now good. NORTHERN: Fish 10 feet of water or less in and around weeds. Use a northern sucker under a slip bobber, a light spinner or swim bait. One of our guide sources tells us of two anglers fishing a smaller Eagle River area lake for walleye, got tired or being bitten off by northerns, so they switched to going for northerns, using a spinner or swim bait, and caught and released 65 fish in five hours. The average size of the northerns was around 27 inches. Not trophy size, but the fun? Fantastic! All day action for the northerns and the bite is now good to excellent. SMALLMOUTH BASS: Some reports of smallmouth bass being caught incidentally to going for walleyes. Same location as the walleyes: 10 feet of water or less off of weed and break edges. Mixed bag on sizes. REMEMBER: Right now until the opening of the bass harvest season (June 20), smallmouth bass are strictly catch-and-release in the Eagle River area. PANFISH: Crappies, bluegills and perch. First- -nothing on bluegills, continues. Our sources tells us that the bluegills are probably still staging and suspending on the edges, waiting for warmer water before coming in. Perch are tight to bottom, hanging out with the walleyes – 10 feet of water or less off of break and weed edges. The big news is that the crappie bite is really starting to come on. Lots of action, and some real dandies mixed in with the smaller ones. The crappies are just beginning their spawn. Fish the crappies in 5 feet of water or less, where they are tight to structure – -downed trees, brushpiles, weeds and tangled, drowned wood. Anywhere that provides cover. Use a crappie minnow, Pinky jig, or a chunk of crawler on a jig or under a slip bobber. All day action and the bite has improved to good to excellent.


When weather allows, smallmouth are going on shore. Willow Slough had been picking up for panfish. That should happen again as weather improves for the weekend.


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


Staff at Tackle Haven said fishing is sporadic on Lake Michigan, related to weather conditions, but there is good fish in 90-400 feet; on the piers there are a few browns and coho early and late, even a few perch.


Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR.


Clint Sandsat Lakeside said that crappie are real shallow, good numbers, size so-so; some nice walleye are being caught, including a 29-inch on road bed; smallmouth are consistent; some nice hybrids are also being caught on road bed; and muskie are active.

Lakeside is open 6:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.

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


The Wisconsin DNR report is at They are generally posted by Tuesday afternoon. Stream flow info is at


No update.


FREMONT: Guide Bill Stoegersaid that with cooler water, lots of male white bass are being caught in deeper water, mainly with river rigs; females are scattered, best is yet to come.

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