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Coho, browns & LaSalle: Chicago fishing

The building bite on coho and brown trout on southern Lake Michigan and the reopening of LaSalle Lake lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

The MFR 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.

Photo is Luis Gonzalez, who had a learning experience on powerlining with his uncle, Ralph Vulpitta.

ILLINOIS TROUT (EARLY FLY FISHING)

Illinois continues the new early start for catch-and-release fly-fishing only for trout. It begins Saturday. If 16 or older, you need a fishing license and an inland trout.

Otherwise, here is the word and details from the IDNR on the early fly-fishing season:

The Spring Catch-and-Release Fly Fishing-only season will be available at nine sites beginning onMarch 19. Fly fishing anglers can use fly fishing gear to catch and release trout beginning March 19 at the nine select sites designated in the list below. No trout may be kept during the fly fishing-only period, but anglers can keep trout after the opening of the regular season beginning April 2.

North — Kankakee County — Rock Creek, Kankakee River State Park

North — Ogle County — Pine Creek, White Pines Forest State Park

North — Jo Daviess County — Apple River, Apple River State Park

Central — Adams County — Siloam Springs State Park Lake

Central — Cass County — Gridley Lake, Jim Edgar Panther Creek SFWA

Central — Hancock County — Horton Lake, Nauvoo State Park

Central — Morgan County — Morgan Lake at Nichols Park, Jacksonville

Central — Sangamon County — IDOT Lake, Springfield

South — Willow Lake at Peabody River King State Fish and Wildlife Area

LaSALLE LAKE OPENER

The cooling lake south of Seneca reopened Tuesday. Boaters had a tough time as the east winds built. Shore fishermen packed the place. Hybrids were tough, but a few quality ones were caught from the south shore. Some nice blue catfish were caught, mainly on the east side of the second and third pools. Tons of small channel catfish caught. Bass were fair. I found quality bluegills on the east bank, but did not see many trying for them.

The cooling lake south of Seneca is open daily, 6 a.m.-sunset. District fisheries biologist David Wyffels expects blue catfish to be “historically good;’’ fishermen have caught blues heavier than 50 pounds and biologists surveyed them heavier than 30. Expect the usual on bass and hybrids. Bluegill should be good on the east bank. I plan to be there, waiting in line Monday night.

AREA LAKES

Crappie continue to lead the local reports.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley sent this:

Hey Dale,

Bass have slowed this week on area lakes. Lipless crankbaits or chatterbaits have taken a few bass along channels with submerged wood. Repeated casts were needed to draw that reaction strike.

TTYL

Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Huskeroutdoors

Waterworks fishing team

AREA WATER LEVELS

This is another week to check 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

Hours are 6 a.m.-sunset daily. Continue to receive good bass reports. The best news may be the big blues, several in the 9-pound range, then one that bottomed a 25-pound scale, caught by Vince Strickland and others. I am trying to set up getting regular water temperatures and such.

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Arden Katz said the water is down (as of the weekend, that could change with the rains tonight), so you needed to find the right channel, but if you did there was good crappie action on a white jig and plastic.

Art Frisell at Triangle Sports & Marine seconded good crappie in the right channels; walleye bite is only improving with the building water flow, try large fatheads and a split shot or a slip-bobber rig; bluegill are fair most shorelines.

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

CHICAGO RIVER

No update.

DELAVAN/LAKE GENEVA AREA, WISCONSIN

Brian Gates at Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle said lakers are slow on Geneva; there’s some crappie on Delavan, mostly on the west end; Como is quiet.

DES PLAINES RIVER

No update.

DOWNSTATE NOTES

HENNEPIN CANAl (BUREAU COUNTY): Thom Matejewski at Illinois Valley Outdoors said crappie are starting to go well in the brush piles. HENNEPIN-HOPPER: The Wetlands Initiative will have the fishing season at the Dixon Waterfowl Refuge (Hennepin-Hopper) from May 15 to Labor Day. Regulations will be the same as last year, with an emphasis on reminding fishermen there may be no large motors on boats. LAKE OF EGYPT/REND: Check with Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing. POWERTON: Boat and shore fishing is open, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. HENNEPIN-HOPPER: See top. NEWTON: If you are looking for open-water fishing, especially for largemouth, this is your lake from numerous reports. EMIQUON: Because of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s shutdown, fishing and boating permits will be done at the launch. Call (309) 547-2730. SHELBYVILLE: Check with Ken Wilson of Ken Wilson Guide Service.

EVERGREEN: Bait shop is closed.

Larry Dozard of larrysfishinghole.com also had these updates:

CLINTON LAKE – REMEMBER an easterly area of Clinton Lake between the DeWitt (CH14) and the 48 bridges is CLOSED FROM OCT. 10th through MARCH 31st to protect fish and wildlife.

DuPAGE RIVER

No update.

FOX RIVER

No update.

GREEN BAY/STURGEON BAY

No update 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

HEIDECKE

Reopens April 1. Hours are 6 a.m.-sunset.

ILLINOIS RIVER

Thom Matejewski at Illinois Valley Outdoors said sauger are “fantastic,” but the river came up and muddied some Sunday night (and may more tomorrow); but a jig and minnow are the best thing in 6-14 feet; white bass are starting the mouths of the tribs, at Starved Rock and by the Peru rip-rap. With the rising water, crankbaits trolled will be tougher. NOTE: The MWC tournament is this weekend out of Spring Valley.

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

INDIANA STREAMS

Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station said the steelhead slowed significantly, maybe because of the amount of pressure on the streams over the weekend. Access points for Trail Creek can be found on the Trail Creek Access Map.

KANKAKEE RIVER

Norm Minas sent this Monday night, before the storms Tuesday:

I got in a bunch of short trips before work while the river was below normal flow and dropping and one when it started raining and rising. One long trip in which the flow rate climbed to more than double the normal flow and in which the water temps dropped from the low 50’s to the high 40’s .

On the trips while it was dropping I was trying something different everyday at least to start. One day it was crankbaits out on the current seams , cranks designed to run 8 ft or so worked against the current in 3 to 4 feet of water. That worked well enough that I stuck with it the entire trip . 8 decent smallmouth . One day it was hard suspending jerk baits on flats , nothing doing. I switched to rattlebaits picked up 2 smallmouth . Next day I started with the rattlebaits on the flats, one decent smallmouth. I made the switch to paddle tail flukes on a 1/8 darter head jig, one more smallmouth . Last trip before it rained , fished spinnerbaits over stubble on water willow humps. islets that I kinda pushed it a little to reach wading wise. Had a very nice day 11 smallmouth , mostly decent , a couple good sized but not trophy status .

On the short trip in the rain started aggressive with cranks, rattlebaits and swimbaits on flats and seams. Ended up with one mercy fish on a jig/twister behind a bridge abutment, this bridge has a history for me of producing mercy fish .

On the long trip with the high muddy water, it was a no brainer , inflows , slack areas and flooded trees . I hit a large slack area twixt two inflows, one permanent the other intermittent . I got some smallmouth on a single spin fishing around flooded trees and where the flow from the intermittent creek met the river, I started hearing splashes up stream , looked like gar feeding all the way up to the permanent creek in a zone from right off shore to about 20 feet out into the river. I switched to a paddletail fluke on a 5/0 unweighted ewg hook. I just slowly worked my way up staying on shore to avoid spooking the fish. Hooked 17 , landed 11 , which considering I had no metal leader was pretty good. Went thru 3 hooks and a dozen flukes, and sustained no injuries unhooking them . That’s also pretty good for an old dude with slowing reflexes and a short pair of needlenose pliers, I tossed a weighted keeper/twister up stream of a debris pile and let it wash under . Saw the line jump, felt the hit, set the hook, landed a largemouth about 14 inches . I worked up into the permanent creek with a weighted keeper/power pulse worm , got 3 rock bass about 6 -7 inches and my smallest smallmouth of the year , almost 4 inches long .

nice week on the water, not a single skunk trip, although one came perilously close

peace

norm

KANKAKEE NOTE: The Route 102 bridge over Rock Creek is undergoing work, which means access to the state park and Warner Bridge will require some driving around.

LAKE ERIE

The Ohio DNR has general Lake Erie info and a fishing report.

LAKE KOSHKONONG, WISCONSIN

No update.

LAKEFRONT

Both Henry’s and Park Bait, which reopened Saturday at Montrose, reported good coho and some browns up and down the lakefront. Put it this way, they were lined up Saturday at Henry’s to get minnows. Powerliners with minnows have been doing best.

MADISON CHAIN, WISCONSIN

Gene Dellinger at D & S Bait (that is the link to their new Facebook page, which allows quicker updates), said ice is out and there is some good fishing underway for locals.

MAZONIA

Open daily, 6 a.m.-sunset. Few trying yet.

MENOMINEE RIVER, WISCONSIN

Check with Mike Mladeik at Mike Mladenik Guide Service.

MILWAUKEE HARBOR

No update.

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

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

From the forecast, I would have been sure the ice would be done by now. Instead, since a few nights dipped below freezing last week and the rain never really showed Sunday, we still have fishable ice throughout much of the Lakeland area.

Ice thickness that ranged 16-20” last week is now down to 9-13” with the top 2-3” very rotten. Walking is the best approach, but, use caution. A beautiful , high pressure Saturday caused the biggest melt down and didn’t do much for the fishing, but by Saturday night and through this morning (3/15), the panfish bite has been very good.

Crappies: Very good. Following some very good fishing early last week, action slowed on all but the Flowages with the sun and high pressure. Tip-downs were the ticket here, baited with rosie reds and set up along the sides of river channels and over wood piles in 12-18’ of water. On lakes tip-downs with crappie minnows best at dusk and just after dark in 8-12’ weeds. During the day, finesse fishing Rembrandts, Purists or Rockers dressed with plastics (pink has been hot), Chena or waxies has been best. Big crappies of 13-14” coming towards dusk and right at dawn.

Bluegills: Very good. They really turned on with the cloud cover. Many reports of gills coming up high, sometimes 2-3’ under the ice. You don’t need tungsten in these conditions. Standard lead jigs or the Northland Helium jigs work nice for slow drop. Bait with moussees or waxies. Plastic colors of red, raspberry, purple and black have been best.

Perch: Very good. Very early mornings best over deep mud using wigglers on Hali jigs or #4 Tungsten jigs. Anglers reporting perch in the 8-11” range on lakes while the Flowages had 10-13” perch reported on tip-downs with medium fatheads or VMC Chandelier jigs with a waxie on each hook of the treble.

It’s very tough to predict how long the ice will hold. A heavy rain could eat up shore line ice in a hurry, yet a forecast of lows in the teens by Friday may stretch some access out for a while. Just like the beginning of the season, use caution (Rope, Spikes and Friends).

Kurt Justice

Kurt’s Island Sport Shop

http://www.kurtsislandsports.com

EAGLE RIVER: No update from B+L, from interviews with guides George Langley, Muskie Matt and Colin Crawford, for the Eagle River Chamber of Commerce

NORTHWEST INDIANA

Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station said boaters took good coho and some browns Saturday (good baits were J-9s in firetiger or orange and gold, Rattling Thinfish) at the East Chicago wall, mouth of the Ditch and Gary Light; Sunday slowed down. He said crappie are going at Lake George around the bridges and the gazebo; some nice pike below the dam. Cedar Lake had crappie turn on by the marina.

David Martin Repya messaged:

Michigan city Coho very good…Some Browns and Whitefish..New Buffalo just starting….Off pier and trolling Coho and Brown’s

ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN

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

ST. JOSEPH, MICHIGAN

Phil Schuman at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said trollers are taking some coho; some are being caught off the pier; some steelhead being caught at Berrien Springs. Walleye closed today.

ST. JOSEPH RIVER, INDIANA

Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR.

SHABBONA LAKE

Clint Sands at Lakeside said some walleye fishing the bridge; crappie anywhere from 4-30 feet in the deep trees or no-motor zone and some smallmouth. Lakeside, which rents boats, is now open daily, 8 a.m.-5 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.