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Perch, kings & Labor Day: Double down in Chicago fishing

Northern Wisconsin scene from 2014, a memory maker for getaways.Credit: Dale Bowman

Tried to offer up as many as possible options for the Labor Day weekend for this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

The MFR appears in a much condensed form Wednesdays on the Sun-Times outdoors page.

LAKEFRONT SALMON

It begins, slowly, but it begins.

CHICAGO: Montrose has had a few kings here and there, but more than anywhere else. Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports & Bait said some are being caught at Casino Pier (63rd), too, and the mouth of Burnham Harbor.

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN: Staff at Tackle Haven said some have been seen porpoising in the turn basin at St. Joseph.

INDIANA: Staff at Mik-Lurch said some have been caught at Michigan City pier.

LAKEFRONT PERCH

CHICAGO: Stacey Greene at Park Bait said perch remain most consistent at Montrose, it has been on shiners, fatheads or soft shells. Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports & Bait said some have been caught at Casino Pier (63rd).

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN: Staff at Tackle Haven said best has been off “The Chalets.”

INDIANA: Staff at Mik-Lurch said some are being caught in 34-38 feet off Gary Light, maybe a good sign for fall fishing. Also some at Burn’s Ditch.

WISCONSIN STURGEON NOTE

Hook-and-line sturgeon opens Saturday and runs through Sept. 30 on select rivers in Wisconsin.

Click here for info and some on the changes.

AREA LAKES

Bass are the top bite going, well, that and channel catfish.

As Ken “Husker” O’Malley seconded that when he sent this Monday evening:

Hey Dale,

Area lakes have been very good mornings and evenings for bass. Water has cooled down from the last week and a half, so a slower presentation was key. A Midwest rig ( using the lightest weight you can get away with) priced very good numbers. Key with the light weight is to allow the bait two twitch on top of the Weeds to trigger strikes. PP&J was the color of choice.

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, via Creative Brillance, sent this:

(Head): Muskies, bass, walleyes, bluegills and crappies all hitting, and black bear season begins on September 9th; all in and amidst the lakes and the Wisconsin River in Wisconsin’s Marathon and Lincoln Counties (near Mosinee and Wausau)

With cooler than normal temperatures this past week the fishing has kind of jump started the fall feeding binge. We had great success on musky, walleye, bass, and panfish.

In addition to the great fishing the action in the woods has spiked as well and we are seeing increased activity at our bear baiting stations.

A lot of the fish we caught this past week were taken on larger than normal baits for this time of the year. The bass and walleyes were gobbling up medium sized sucker minnows and oversized lures. The bluegills and crappies were hitting larger than normal jigs tipped with minnows and crawlers.

Action for muskies was very good this past week with several nice fish caught on large crankbaits and rubber baits along with a few fish still hitting bucktails.

The activity around our bear baits has been fantastic with numerous bears coming into our bait stations. We have really seen the activity really pick up over the past few days and hope it continues until season arrives on the 9th of September. One good way to continue the present success is to keep changing up our baits at each visit. This will keep the bears from getting “bored” with eating the same thing over and over every time.

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Greg Dickson at Triangle said white bass action is picking up, especially up the river or around 10-14 feet on main lake points; catfish continue very good on stinkbait or crawlers; for bluegill, try shallower in 5-6 feet.

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

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

CHICAGO RIVER

No update.

COOLING LAKES/STRIP PITS

LaSALLE: Larry Jennings messaged this:

And for you shore fishermen LaSalle Lake has been the spot for me this year Blue Cats, Bass, and the occasional walleye

Hours are 6 a.m. to sunset daily. There is a concessionaire with bait and food options.

BRAIDWOOD: Catfish action continues good, but I have heard reports of dead shad being spoted. Lake is open daily 6 a.m.-sunset. MAZONIA: Lakes are open daily 6 a.m.-sunset.

HEIDECKE: Launch opens 6 a.m., shore fishing at 6:30 a.m.; close is sunset.

DELAVAN/LAKE GENEVA AREA, WISCONSIN

GENEVA: Dave Duwe of FishLakeGeneva.com sent this:

Lake Geneva Fishing Report 8/31/15 through 9/6/15

Overall the fishing on Lake Geneva has slowed a bit. With the change in weather conditions, the fish are starting to go from their deep water summer haunts to the shallow weedlines. The best bite on the lake is largemouth bass.

Largemouth bass can be caught by Trinkes or in Geneva Bay in 15-20 ft of water. The best presentation is dragging foot ball head jigs tipped with an Arkie Crawlin grub in green pumpkin. The fish are located in the hard sand bottom pockets in the weed flats.

Walleye fishing has been good at night when the winds are blowing. The fish can be caught by the channel at Abbey Harbor or by Trinkes weed line. At Trinkes you want to troll large Rapala’s in chrome/blue and chrome/black. If you are fishing Abbey Harbor try using lindy rigged leeches. The best depth is 15-20 ft of water in either location.

Bluegill action has been very good in 16-19 ft of water. You want to fish the bluegills by Elgin Club and by Gage Marine. The best bait is leaf worms on a split shot rig straight beneath the boat.

Smallmouth bass fishing has been improving. They are relating to deep water structure in 22-30 ft of water. The best location has been by the Highlands or by South Shore Club. They are following the pods of shiner minnows. As the water temperature cools the bite will improve as they move shallow. The best approach for the shallow fish is lindy rigging nightcrawlers or large fat head minnows.

Rock bass fishing has been good in the deeper water. The larger fish are found in the 22-30 ft depth range. They are biting on either nightcrawlers or fat head minnows. Try a drop shot rig or a lindy rig.

Northern Pike action has been above average in 28-33 ft of water. Use lindy rigged suckers right on bottom. Make sure that when you get a bite, you give the fish 30 seconds to 1 minute for them to eat the bait. Maintain a vertical hook set, this will eliminate the teeth from cutting the line. Look for the fish just east of Cedar Point or by Abbey Springs.

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

DELAVAN: Dave Duwe of FishLakeGeneva.com sent this:

Delavan Lake Fishing Report 8/31/15 through 9/6/15

With the cooler weather, the water temperature has dropped 7-8 degrees in the course of a week. The fish are starting to go into their fall patterns. They are starting to feed on minnows instead of nightcrawlers.

Northern Pike fishing has been above average. The fish are being caught on Thill Big fish slip bobbers in 10-12 ft of water or lindy rigged suckers off the break line in 15 ft of water. Look for the fish just west of Willow Point and by the gray condos. As the water cools more, the activity will continue to increase.

Largemouth bass fishing has been spotty. The best success has been right on the weed line in 12-15 ft of water. The best location has been by the Yacht Club point and by Browns Channel. The fish are starting to bite almost exclusively on Fat head minnows fished on a split shot rig or lindy rigged medium suckers in 18 ft of water.

Bluegill fishing has been good by Assembly Park. The fish are in 10-12 ft of water. They are being caught on Thill slip bobbers with leaf worms or fishing a single hook split shot rig straight beneath the boat about 1 foot off bottom. In the next few weeks, the bluegills will start migrating into the deeper main lake basin and suspend in 30-35 ft of water. Once that happens look for them by the Village Supper Club or off of Assembly Park point.

Walleye fishing has been slow. Most of the fish are in 20-22 ft of water. They are biting on lindy rigged nightcrawlers or leeches. Look for the fish by the Village Supper Club or by 3 flags. Walleye fishing will improve as the fall progresses and the water cools. You want to look for the fish at night and use Rapalla Husky Jerk baits in chrome and blue.

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,

Top waters remained hot this week even with the slight cool down and rain. Zara spooks and buzz baits have been my go to lures. Most fish are holding tight along weed edges, some coming along fallen timber.

River is at a normal low for this time if year. Water temps were fluctuating around the 65-70 degree mark over the weekend. Pike fishing is as hot as its going to get and shall remain that way through September.

This Saturday, September 5th, is my annual ‘Des Plaines River Floatilla’. Just a social group of anglers venture out and fish the river in one big floatilla, shuttling each other after the float to retrieve vehicles and what not. Kayaks, Jon boats, and Canoes all welcome. I think we have around 20 participants this year. Anyone is welcome free of charge, just supply your own watercraft and tackle of course. The meeting place is the rt. 60 Canoe Launch in Vernon Hills @7am on September 5th.

Marcus Benesch

River Grove

That Des Plaines River Flotilla just sounds cool.

DOWNSTATE NOTES

HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Lakes reopened to fishing on Tuesday and will be open Tuesday through Sunday until Sept. 27. SHELBYVILLE: Ken Wilson of Ken Wilson Guide Service said with the warm-up, best for crappie will be trolling; for white bass, focus on first half hour of daylight, especially off Ninth Street. SOUTHERN ILLINOIS: Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing said catfish are very good on dipbait on the Rend flats; largemouth are good on Lake of Egypt and Crab Orchard; crappie are slow. EVERGREEN: 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

POWERTON: Both shore and boat fishing are open. Hours are 6 a.m.-8 p.m. EMIQUON: Call (309) 547-2730.

DuPAGE RIVER

No update this week.

FOX RIVER

No update this week.

GREEN BAY

No update this week from Lance LaVine at Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay.

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

ILLINOIS RIVER

Thom Matejewski at Illinois Valley Outdoors said with the low water, current is the key for fishing most species. Catfish, best on cut bighead or silver carp, are the top bite, while white bass (in-line spinners, bladebaits, jig and twister) are best around the Little Vermilion or creek mouths. A fair number of sauger being caught, even by those not targeting them.

Illinois Valley Outdoors is open in Spring Valley. The phone is (815) 663-1000.

INDIANA STREAMS

Staff at Mik-Lurch said just a few in the streams. Access points for Trail Creek can be found on the Trail Creek Access Map.

KANKAKEE RIVER

River is in its best wading shape, just in time for the Labor Day weekend; but that also means fish are more scattered.

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.

LAKE KOSHKONONG, WISCONSIN

No update.

LAKEFRONT

For perch and shoreline Chinook, see top.

CHICAGO: Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters said there is some good action on steelhead, coho and lakers from the Wreck to the R4.

WAUKEGAN: Ted Boska sent this update on Monday:

He originally sent this report and the photo:

Hello and good morning Dale.Middle of the week fishing was really good in 60to 80’of water because of many day’s with west component of winds, and colder water (50 degrees only what makes this fishing so good),many young coho and brown has been taken,but for the weekend weather changes and makes fishing almost impossible and dangerous due to foogy,very foggy conditions. Visability less than 1/4 of the mile.Only few of us ,very experienced and professional capitan go out and fish.Best fishing on both reefs south and Julian for mix beg and mostly for big Lakers . seaworthy boat is a must,run that far.Few even go toR4.Labor day weekend is coming and look like weather should be fantastic with many days with west wind’s and good fishing for many small boat’s as well, catching big kings near shore on glowing spoons.Cpt Ted (diehard angler )BOSKA.

NORTH POINT: Poteshman said the best is deep (250-300 feet) for a mixed bag.

MADISON CHAIN, WISCONSIN

Check reports from Gene Dellinger at D&S Bait.

No update from Scott Hill of Fishingthrills Guide Service.

MENOMINEE RIVER, WISCONSIN

Check with Mike Mladenik at Mike Mladenik Guide Service.

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

MINOCQUA: Kurt Justice of Kurt’s Island Sport Shop sent this:

Following the previous weekends cold, windy weather, it’s been great to see some warm temps move back into the area.

Lake temps dropped a lot last week, but are climbing back up, seeing some high 60’s to even low 70’s, with forecasted highs in the 80’s through Labor Day weekend. We should see surface temps well into the 70’s by weekend.

Largemouth Bass: Fair- Good. Following the cold, bass action has warmed up right along with the weather. Warm, muggy early mornings are seeing a return to top water action! Casting cranks in crawfish patterns (both lipless and medium running such as Scatter Rap Cranks) in 6-10’ during the day. Wacky worming, plastic craws / creatures on Carolina rigs as well as Sweet Beavers, cover craws and Dartshogs all producing. Back to buzz baits, Jitterbugs, Combat Frogs, Top Props and Skitter Pops in the evening.

Musky: Good. The one species that has remained a consistent (if you can call muskies consistent) producer with all the up and down weather of late. Bladed baits best – especially Spinner baits, buck tails, Rizzo tails. But with water warming back up get the top water baits out for evening action (Whopper Ploppers, Pacemakers, Tallywackers and Top Raiders). Most action up in fairly shallow water this week (2-8). Keep baits moving fairly fast!

Smallmouth Bass: Fair – Good. Improving with warmth. Drop shotting Jackall Super Pintails and Cross tails as well as Yum Ultimate Craws over deep gravel humps of 18-28’. Search out weed points edging out to to deep water around 12-18’ casting Reaction Craws, Christy Craws and smaller Sweet Beavers on Carolina rigs. Live baiting with leeches and mud minnows on jigs or Lindy rigs also productive.

Walleyes: Poor – Good. Despite full moon phase, day time action picking up as we move out of full moon and waters warm to normal. Deep lakes- from 28-34’ using Night Crawlers on Spinner harness or Lindy float rigs. Flowages- search deep wood with crawlers, but also spend time pitching fatheads or chubs to shallow weeds. Jigs (1/2oz.) with 3” twister tails working in same shallow areas.

Northern Pike: Good. Spinners, Spinnerbaits, Chatter baits and Swimbaits. Northland Mimic Minnow Spins and Live Forage Swimbaits have been productive. Weeds of 4-8’ best. Chubs and suckers always a good choice if fish are not chasing.

Bluegills: Good. Action heating up, some late season bug hatches leading to some evening surface popper fishing. Try yellow poppers or bee patterned wet flies (bees are everywhere right now). Day time – small leeches, leaf worms work outside weed lines – coon tail 10-14’ for suspended fish.

Crappies: Fair – Good. Reports have fish spread out. Some surprisingly shallow (4-6’) taking small beetle spins, Charlie Bees. Most relating to deep wood or suspending off coon tail edges of 14-18’.

Yellow Perch: Fair – Good. Best action in 8-14’ weeds, with slip floats or 1/16oz. jigs tipped with ½ crawler or piece of frozen soft shell craws.

Highs in the 80 are forecasted through Sunday night with a chance of rain. Monday (can always change). The consistent weather should help angler’s pattern fish throughout the week. Warm weather will probably move best bites to early and late, yet cloud cover could bring about good day time bites.

Kurt Justice

Kurt’s Island Sport Shop

EAGLE RIVER: This report came the Eagle River Chamber of Commerce, based on Creative Brilliance interviews with Eagle River guide “Muskie Matt” and legendary George Langley of Eagle Sports Center and hunting enthusiast Dan Anderson:

(Head): Musky action very good and picking up. Panfish excellent, with largemouth bass and smallmouth bass, along with northern, very good. Walleye average; all in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area.

Water temps in the Eagle River area have plummeted despite a slight warming trend. Temps now in the low to mid 60s.

George Langley notes: “Fall is coming to Eagle River like a railroad train, and with water temps dropping, anglers can start looking for some spectacular musky fishing in the near term.”

MUSKY: Musky action is very good right now, as the muskies start responding to the drop in water temps and look to begin their fattening up process for winter. The musky action will markedly improve as Eagle River heads into fall. All types of baits- – surface to deep running plastics are working, which indicates the muskies are spread out all over the place – from feeding windows in weed beds to suspending out over deeper water. Use a regular retrieve, and remember to always do a “figure 8” as your lure nears the boat.

PANFISH: The fishing for crappies, bluegills and perch in the Eagle River area is, in a word, “excellent.” Bluegills are best. Fish the shallow weeds using worms or waxies. Always look for weeds when going after the bluegills. The perch are very active in the deeper edges of the weeds. Use a leech, crawler or a minnow. Crappies are around deep brush piles in the 10-15 foot range. Use a minnow for the crappies.

LARGEMOUTH BASS: Very good to excellent action for the very active largemouth’s. Fish relatively shallow water (lake dependent), in locations with the heaviest possible weeds, brushpiles, drowned trees, and piers. The largemouth are hitting most anything including surface baits, spinner baits and plastics.

SMALLMOUTH BASS: Action is improving, as the smallies move a little bit shallower. Fish rocks and humps in hardbottom areas. Use a crayfish imitation, red or brown crankbait, a tube, or a plastic. Leeches are the best live bait.

NORTHERN: The northerns are very active in the weeds, both shallower (five feet deep, or so), or in deep grass type weeds on the clear lakes. Any flashy lure – -inline spinner like a Mepps – – Johnson Silver Minnow, Daredevil, or Rapala will work. Large chubs are the best live bait.

WALLEYE: Walleye action in the Eagle River area is average to just a tad above average. The walleyes are moving to deeper water particularly on the Eagle River Chain of 28 lakes (largest freshwater chain of lakes in the world), where they’re heading towards the holes. George Langley points out that anglers should note that there is still a strong thermocline on the deeper water Eagle River area lakes. Try some alternate baits – -always take minnows- – but make sure you’ve got leeches and crawlers.

FLY FISHING: With untold numbers of rushing streams, brooks and rivers, Eagle River provides wonderful opportunities for fly anglers of every ilk. And for the adventure of a lifetime go for gamefish with a fly rod on one of the Eagle River area’s hundreds of lakes. Eagle River guide guru, and 35 year avid fly angler for musky, George Langley, tells us that it’s a memorable experience for fly anglers, but realistically you must be able to double-haul cast and attain distances of 70-90 feet on your cast.

NORTHWEST INDIANA

For perch/shoreline salmon, see top. Staff at Mik-Lurch said the big fish on Lake Michigan are mostly in 70-90 feet northwest of the wreck; otherwise, there are steelhead, coho and a few kings off Michigan City in 70-90. NOTE: The 40 percent off sale started Tuesday at Mik-Lurch; if the perch come in good, the store will remain open to sell bait as warranted.

ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN

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

ST. JOSEPH, MICHIGAN

For perch, see top. Staff at Tackle Haven said boaters are catching some steelhead, salmon and lakers in 100-140 feet.

ST. JOSEPH RIVER, INDIANA

Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR.

SHABBONA LAKE

Clint Sands at Lakeside said largemouth are improving on topwaters in the weeds early and late, then on live bait or soft plastics during the day; crappie are mainly in the cribs; muskie, best on bucktails, are active. There’s lots of bluegill near shore for holiday visitors, but the the gills are mostly smaller. Clarity is good at 2-3 feet.

Lakeside is open 6 a.m.-7 p.m. For more information and reports from Lakeside, go to shabbonalake.com or call (815) 824-2581.

SOUTHEAST WISCONSIN

The Wisconsin DNR posts a report 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

No update this week.