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Shallow signs of spring: Chicago fishing

A splendid weekend drew fishermen out (and this week truly looks like late spring or summer arrives) and they found fish coming up to do what comes naturally around Chicago fishing and that leads this sprawling raw-file version of the Midwest Fishing Report, which appears much condensed Wednesdays on the Sun-Times outdoors page.

Andy Mikos sent the photo of his son AJ helping a friend Delany hold a big king caught off the north suburbs.

MICHIGAN NOTE

Phil Schuman at Tackle 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.

PERCH NOTES

Season is closed in the Illinois waters of Lake Michigan through June 15. Ed McCain at Mik-Lurch said that they have been catching good perch in 40-46 feet straight out of Burns Ditch in Indiana.

LAKEFRONT OTHERWISE

Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters said there is“a good band of fish from Navy Pier to Evanston, but weather will move them around.’’

CHICAGO: Staff at Park Bait said casters caught some coho today. Staff at Henry’s reported some coho on the lakefront, primarily being caught by powerliners, and smallmouth are getting better. Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters had an outstanding day off Navy Pier today. He said best are red Dodgers and peanut flies.

Andy Mikos sent this:

Caught these 2 kings(2 pictures of each king) launching out of Tower Road yesterday in Winnetka. My buddy Chisel’s daughter Delany caught both but was afraid to hold them so my son AJ stepped up to hold them for her(he is not squeamish in the least). Both caught in 20′ of water on dipsy divers with only 18′ of line out on bloody nose spoons. You should have seen the hit on the rod and the screaming drag with a big king hitting that close to the boat. They were 10lbs and 13lbs. Gnats were terrible and chased us off the lake by 8:30. Ended up yesterday 5 for 6 with 1 coho, 2 browns and 2 kings in 2 hours of fishing. Saturday same spot finished 7 for 15 with 1 coho, 4 lakers and 2 browns. I heard Chicago light was on fire for cohos but I went to Winnetka looking for bigger fish.

WAUKEGAN: Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop texted that it is about the same as last week. INDIANA: Ed McCain at Mik-Lurch said there were good coho being caught from East Chicago Marina to the point. And he said that smallmouth “abound’’ on Lake Michigan, best at Lake Street or old Dean Mitchell.

AREA LAKES

Bass came up over the weekend. Joe Sanderson noted that “crappie are on fire everywhere.” Both Henry’s and Mik-Lurch reported “slabs” at Saganashkee Slough.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley sent this:

On area lakes, bass are starting to bed. Pitching senkos was the best method to catch this fish along with a stealth approach.

TTYL

Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Huskeroutdoors

Waterworks fishing team

AREA WATER LEVELS

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

CENTRAL WISCONSIN

Hooksetter’s Guide Service sent this:

(Head): Fishing opener producing walleye, northerns, crappies and muskies (southern zone only). Turkey hunters getting some nice birds; all in and amidst the lakes and the Wisconsin River in Wisconsin’s Marathon and Lincoln Counties (near Mosinee and Wausau).

It’s been another fantastic week in central Wisconsin. With turkey season in full swing and fishing getting better and better daily. It doesn’t get much better than this.

The number one fishing topic this week has to be the Opener. With the 2015 open water fishing season upon us, anxious anglers will be headed to their favorite locations in search of walleyes and northern, and in the southern zone muskies. The musky season in the southern zone (inland waters south of Highway 10), runs from May 2-Dec. 31, 2015. With near perfect conditions, the Opener was great.

Walleyes are done spawning in the central Wisconsin area and have moved off to traditional late spring summer locations. Long line trolling with crankbaits over flats and along channel edges are producing well as will traditional jigging with 1/16th to 1/4 ounce jigs along shoreline areas and on break lines and humps.

With water temperatures in the 50 degree range the crappies are very close to spawning if they are not spawning already. Shoreline wood, brush and weeds will hold a vast majority of the fish right now and anglers tossing tiny crankbaits, spinners, or small jigs will tempt plenty of these fish into biting. One of the best methods we have found for targeting springtime crappies is by using a tiny Mini Mite jig suspended below a bobber.

Musky anglers have been patiently waiting for the opener, some even since last fall. With virtually no other options for them to target muskies in Wisconsin short of heading to a southern state, they have had zero opportunities at targeting their featured species. Now is their time to get out and chase that old toothy critter.

With the early spring we find most muskies in shallow water locations near spawning grounds. Anglers looking at targeting muskies should be trying shallow locations with wood and weeds. I would suggest running small bucktails and twitch baits along with some smaller rubber baits. I like the Slippery Sam Jr., the 7 inch Suick and some of the smaller Bucher crankbaits to start out with. Slow and steady is the name of the game and persistence will pay off to the angler that puts in his or her time. When it comes to running smaller baits I would like to suggest using a little lighter tackle.

Turkey hunting has been very good this past week with hunters taking quite a few nice birds. Most of the action has been by hunters sitting along field edges, but a few savvy hunters have found locations along ridge lines and in swampy low land areas.

One thing we have found over the years is that if available, turkeys will roost over water. I believe it offers them a sort of security by not allowing danger to approach from beneath. Hunters that know this can take full advantage of these types of areas by setting up on nearby dry land where the birds launch or land when heading to and coming from their roosting trees.

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Greg Dickson at Triangle said that bluegill are starting with warmer weather; bass are up shallow; catfish are picking up, but crappie are done doing their thing; and there’s a few muskie, mostly on smaller baits.

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

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

CHICAGO RIVER

No update this week.

COOLING LAKES/STRIP PITS

HEIDECKE: Ed McCain at Mik-Lurch said, “Go now for crappie and walleye, or wait for next year.” Crappie fishing has been good for those who find them. I would expect the next couple weeks to be prime fishing time. Click here for my preview in 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: Ken “Husker” O’Malley sent this:

Hey Dale,

Hit LaSalle this past Friday. Picture perfect day for Lasalle. Water temps were in the 50’s when we launched in the morning. Made the run to the third pool only to find water temps in the upper 80’s and lower 90’s. So the goal was to find water temps in the lower 70’s to mid 70’s. That’s were our success was at. It was a multi species day of largemouth and smallmouth bass, drum, whites, and plenty of catfish! Fish were caught with crankbaits, twitch baits, pitching plastics, and drop shotting. Drop shotting gulp was the most productive method of the day. By the time we pulled out at the end of the day, water temps at the launch were in the upper 70’s. Attached is the best smallmouth of the day.

TTYL

Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Huskeroutdoors

Waterworks fishing team

Hours are 6 a.m. to sunset daily. There is a concessionaire with bait and food options. BRAIDWOOD: There were some decent weights at the weekend bass tournaments. Lake is open daily 6 a.m.-sunset. MAZONIA: Next couple weeks should be prime for panfish and bass. Lakes are open daily 6 a.m.-sunset.

DELAVAN/LAKE GENEVA AREA, WISCONSIN

DELAVAN: Dave Duwe of FishLakeGeneva.com sent this:

Delavan Lake Fishing Report 5/3/15 through 5/10/15

Opening Day is finally here. Delavan Lake was a complete a zoo on Saturday. By 6:00 a.m. the boat launch was just about full. The pressure on the lake appears to be continuing into 2015. Overall fishing was rather slow, some people did have success once they found some active fish.

Crappie action has been okay in the Lake Lawn Marina and the Highlands and Viewcrest Channel. The best approach is small fat head minnows fished beneath a bobber. Work a depth of 3-4 ft of water. Crappie fishing will be improving once the water temperature warms a few degrees. I have my best success once the crappies get out in the main lake basin and off the weeds.

Bluegill fishing has been average. The best success has been in 2-3 ft of water by the outlet dam, which is the warmest water on the lake at present. This pattern will only be good for the next week because already the outlet area is becoming tremendously weedy. As always the channels contain a lot of fish, but you will need to do a lot of sorting to get the nice sized ones.

Largemouth bass are in pre-spawn. They are cruising in water depths of 2-3 feet. Most of the fish are by Lake Lawn golf course, Viewcrest and Highlands Bays. With the present water temperatures the best approach are green pumpkin or rootbeer red flake Senkos. I use 5 inch sized with a 2/0 offset worm hook. This bite will be improving as the water warms. The water seems to be a few degrees warmer than last opening day.

Northern Pike are in the shallow weedy bays, like Browns Channel, Viewcrest and Highlands Bay. They are very susceptible to harvest with medium suckers fished on a slip bobber. I’ve been working a water depth of 8-10 ft.

Some walleyes have been caught in the channels while casting small Rapalas or small chrome/blue crankbaits. The best depth is 3-5 ft of water. Once the water warms, the walleyes will move into the deeper weedlines and will likely occur within the next two weeks.

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 5.3.15 through 5.10.15

Lake Geneva has an extremely cold water temperature this time of year and the water clarity is very high. This is typical for Opening day of fishing season but it doesn’t always make for the best fishing.

Largemouth bass are active in Abbey Harbor or in Trinkes Bay. They can be caught on split shot rigged nightcrawlers or a green pumpkin Senko. With how cold the water is, use a 4 inch Senko and make long casts to avoid spooking the fish. As the water warms in the next couple of weeks, the bite will improve dramatically.

Smallmouth bass are scattered near their spawning flats. The best approach is small hair jigs in white or silver. Once you find the pods of bait fish, you’ll find actively feeding smallies. They are not associating with any depth at this point, just going where the bait fish go. I catch most of my fish suspended in around 15 ft of water about 5-7 ft below the surface. Good locations are by Elgin Club, Belvidere Park or by Maytag point.

Panfishing has been very spotty. The water temp is just too cold. The best success has been in Trinke Harbor or in Abbey Harbor, just like the largemouth. They are being caught on wax worms and ice jigs fished beneath a bobber.

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.

Lake Geneva fishing will be improving with the warming water, it just takes extra time on a body of water this size.

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

DES PLAINES RIVER

Marcus Benesch sent this:

Dale,

River levels are at a normal level up and down the river. Visibility is still poor. Bass not quite spawning yet. Post spawn pike a good bite in Lake County. I caught over a dozen in some marshy backwaters that had better clarity than the main stem. All pike came on a 1 Oz chartreuse spinnerbait. Some of the females were still bearing scars from the spawn.

Marcus Benesch

River Grove, IL

DOWNSTATE NOTES

LAKE OF EGYPT/REND LAKE: Check with Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing. EVERGREEN: Remember that there are new saugeye regulations with a daily bag of three with a minimum of 18 inches.

Mike Steffa sent this on 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 with Ken Wilson of Ken 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.

DuPAGE RIVER

No report this week.

FOX RIVER

No update this week.

GREEN BAY

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

Good Morning Folks

Here is the updated fish report as of Monday May 4th

The opener to the Bass fishing season in Door County was fantastic and will just continue to get better and better. The water temps are much warmer than previous years at this point and that really triggered those fish pretty much throughout the whole county. The best fishing with the largest concentration of fish is in the southern 3 bays which include…Little Sturgeon, Riley’s Bay and Sandbay. Other really good areas to try early in the season are the Sturgeon Bay flats and Sawyer Harbor because the water generally warms up fairly quickly in those areas also. The best depths have been less than 10 feet, concentrating around the bottom transition areas. The best baits to have in the boat are…2.5 inch tubes, Grubs, Paddle tails, hair jigs and suspending crank baits like the very popular Lucky Crafts. The bass are already showing up in the northern part of the county, but as the water warms up there it will become that much better.

Walleye action has been going very good during the day and at night. Good areas to fish are the Sherwood Point area, Henderson’s Point, Sugar Creek and Chaudoir’s Dock. The bite to the north of the Old Stone Quarry is also going very well primarily in the evening along the primary drop off. Flicker Shads, Flicker Minnows, Husky Jerks, Rouge’s and Bandit baits have all been very good baits.

Brown trout reports are a bit slower, but are still coming in from both the bayside and the lake side along with some pretty good catches of Lake trout mixed in on the Lakeside. 30 feet of water or less has been the best depth and crank baits and Mauler spoons have been the best baits.

Northern Pike fishing has been going OK especially right in downtown Sturgeon Bay. Casting and trolling large crank baits has been good along with drifting with large sucker minnows

Thanks;

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

ILLINOIS RIVER

Joe Sanderson messaged that bladebaits are taking white bass in eddies or by rocks.

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.

INDIANA STREAMS

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

KANKAKEE RIVER

Norm Minas said that flukes are taking smallmouth on seams and other faster-flowing spots. Because the smallmouth are up spawning, he avoids those areas and sticks to faster water.

LAKE ERIE

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.

LAKEFRONT

See report at top.

MADISON CHAIN, WISCONSIN

Scott Hill of Fishingthrills Guide Service sent this:

Madison lakes chain report from Scott Hill at fishingthrills.com Water temperatures determine where the fish will be this time of year we found most of our fish in shallow back bays, look for water temps from 62-65 degrees for the best action. Lake Mendota, Monona and Waubesa has best action for crappies and bluegills they were going good on sunny days. Bass action was good still pre-spawn walleye action was best along rocky shorelines with current or wave action beating in. Lake Koshkonong walleye and white bass action was good both jigging and trolling!

Scott Hill

Fishingthrills Guide Service

5920 S. Emerson Rd

Beloit, WI 53511

608-921-8980

info@fishingthrills.com

www.fishingthrills.com

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

MENOMINEE RIVER, WISCONSIN

Mike Mladenik of Mike Mladenik Guide Service sent this:

Great Smallmouth Bite on

High Falls Flowage

Smallmouth are shallow and hitting Case Magic Stiks.

For a more detailed Fishing Report

Join Smallmouth Plus

Join Now Click Here

I still have some open dates the first 3 weeks of May. Let me know asap!

Prime time to catch a few Giant Smallmouth

Book your Spring trip Now!!!!!

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

Kurt Justice of Kurt’s Island Sport Shop in Minocqua sent this:

Minocqua Area Fishing Report

Despite beautiful weather, the opener of the 2015 gamefish season was not as wonderful as we hoped. At least we had open water for the opener and some walleyes did get caught, just not in the overall numbers or by as many anglers as expected.

Walleyes: Fair. Some anglers found good success, but as a whole a lot of time went into not a lot of fish for an opening weekend. Walleyes were very scattered, some lakes found walleyes shallow. Casting #8 X-Raps on windward shorelines produced good catches where the combination of wave action and new emerging weeds helped walleyes take advantage of small perch. First breaks, in depths of 10-13’ were also good places to find walleyes recovering from the spawn using 1/8oz jigs and Dace minnows.

Crappies: Good-Very Good. Though most anglers were targeting walleyes, those in the pursuit of panfish did well. Crappies were being found either very shallow (1-3’) in warm, protected bays or out in 10-12’ depths, staging – waiting for waters to warm enough to consider spawning. Small minnows below slip-floats are catching their fair share. Anglers opting for no live bait have found success using VMC Nymphs and Wingdings as well as Cubby’s Mini-mites. The more subtle action of these jigs seems to be preferred with the cooler water over more active plastics such as twister tails. Nice fish of 10-13” being caught.

Bluegills: Good to fair. Most action taking place in shallows as gills are taking advantage of warm water. Waxies on small jigs below tiny floats on long cast. With thunderbugs and small leeches available try these bluegill favorites also.

Perch: Fair. Seeing some nice, but, thin spawned out fish in 6-8’ weeds taking jig/minnow meant for walleyes.

Pike: Fair. Surprisingly slow. Most reports of small fish on jig and minnow.

Largemouth: Fair. Same as pike, not being targeted much, but, some incidental catches.

Water temps vary from lows of 44 degrees on big deep lakes to highs near 60 degrees on small, shallow lakes. High skies and lots of sun have not helped walleye anglers. Lots of walleyes still seem to be in the transition of recovery from spawn. The expected hot bite either hasn’t happened yet of we may have missed it on some lakes. The upcoming weather of midweek should help.

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): Beautiful weather for the Opener, but cold water temps keeps the action down for walleye and northern. Successful turkey hunters “putting the turkeys to bed,” and woodcock putting on a great mating show; all in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area.

Really gorgeous weather in the Eagle River area, made for lots of boats going out for the Opener. There is no more beautiful place on earth than Eagle River in the spring – -the Northwoods comes alive in the Eagle River area as spring moves on. Unfortunately with water temps in the 40s, the fishing action was not what it could have been. With the weather forecast calling for consistently higher temperatures, that will translate into much increased action as the water warms.

WALLEYE: Fish eight feet of water or less, in and around weeds or new weed growth. The walleye are tight to bottom. Use a 1/16 ounce jig with a fathead minnow, or a minnow under a slip bobber. All day action, with some peaks in the evening. The bite has been fair. Warmer weather will exponentially increase the efficiency of the bite.

NORTHERN: Similar location as the walleye – -eight feet of water or less in and around weeds. Use a larger sucker minnow under a slip bobber, or try a Husky Jerk in a minnow or walleye pattern. All day action and the bite is fair. Like the walleyes, northern action will pick up as the water warms.

PANFISH: Crappies, bluegills and perch. Heard and saw nothing about bluegills, except that most believe as I do that the gills are staging and suspending off the edges, waiting for warmer water before coming in. The perch are mixed in with the walleyes- – tight to bottom. Crappies are pre-spawn, but getting real close (water temps have to increase just a skosh more). Fish five feet of water or less in shallow weeds, downed trees or brush piles. Use a crappie minnow, waxie or micro-plastic on a jig or under a slip bobber. All day action and the bite is fair to good.

NORTHWEST INDIANA

See report at top for lakefront and perch. Ed McCain at Mik-Lurch said panfish are good at Willow Slough, and other reports from Pine and Stone.

ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN

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

ST. JOSEPH, MICHIGAN

Phil Schuman at Tackle Haven said trollers are doing well for coho, kings, browns and lakers, either in 15-25 feet from the piers south to Cook plant or in 100-150 feet for bigger fish.

ST. JOSEPH RIVER, INDIANA

Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR.

SHABBONA LAKE

Clint Sands at Lakeside said crappie moved up to spawn; bass are in prespawn and good; muskie are active but mostly smaller.

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.

SOUTHEAST WISCONSIN

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.

WOLF LAKE

No update.

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

WINNECONNE: Gary Bloom emailed:

Why. Bass have improved a lot with the warmer temps. 58 deg today. 30 bass in a couple of hours, plus a few Walleye mixed in. Water is still low, rain predicted this week. Will only get better. Will be in Winneconne next week, will keep u updated.

FREMONT: Guide Bill Stoeger said that white bass slowed over the weekend, but started picking up on Monday and Tuesday. They are catching them on spinners, jig and minnow, river rigs or flies (just about any way you want to fish). He said lilacs are about to bloom, usually the signal that white bass are about to go and the traditional white bass run on Mother’s Day should be on. But he expects it peak the following weekend in mid-May.