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Braidwood opener & opening water: Chicago fishing

Braidwood reopened Tuesday, more waters keep opening up from ice, steelhead are strong in the Indiana streams and the final weekend of gamefish season in Wisconsin lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

Speaking of Braidwood, I think that is Brian Pentecost in the photo above wrapped up and happy with a big largemouth bass from the cooling lake in the southwest corner of Will County.

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

WISCONSIN NOTE

Gamefish season ends at midnight Sunday, March 6.

COOLING LAKES/STRIP PITS

BRAIDWOOD: Reopened Tuesday. Hours will be 6 a.m.-sunset, daily. On Tuesday morning, I and other shore fishermen did well with crankbaits and topwaters for largemouth; shore fishermen caught catfish but it mainly looked like fiddlers.

Boater Pete Banach sent this:

We fished from 6 till noon. Water Was 59 at the north ramp. Mid pool was 64. South ramp was 68. We threw crankbaits painted by Daves custom crankbaits all were 1.5 squarebills. I tested a new bait made by Odin outdoors which proved to be a very effective. We caught 47 fish. Several 3 pounders and two in the 4 pound range. Once the wind really picked and the fog increased we figured it was time to head out before the roads got bad.

—with Thomas Sanders.

In my preseason preview with biologist Rob Miller said he is pleased with hybrids and blue catfish; bass have good numbers, but fewer legal fish in the fall survey; expect the same fiddlers on channel catfish; Miller is concerned about drop in threadfin and gizzard shad as forage.

MAZONIA: Reopened Tuesday. Open daily, 6 a.m.-sunset. LaSALLE: Reopens March 15, you read that right, and it will be open daily, 6 a.m.-sunset. HEIDECKE: Reopens April 1. Hours are 6 a.m.-sunset (usually 6:30 on shore side).

HENNEPIN-HOPPER SCOOP

I learned the 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.

AREA LAKES

I do not expect ice fishing to return, but for one last time I will say click here for the ice fishing regulations on area public sites.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley sent this:

Hey Dale,

The crappie bite is the most consistent bite going right now on area lakes. Working a crappie minnow under a slip float and letting it drift along the outside weedlines is producing good numbers. A few bass are being taken on lipless crankbaits close to shore on sunny days.

TTYL

Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Huskeroutdoors

Waterworks fishing team

AREA WATER LEVELS

To 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

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA/FOX RIVER BACKWATERS

Art Frisell at Triangle Sports & Marine said the ice is not recommended, some channels are opening. Try open-water fishing at the dams and along a few shore lines. Boat launching by the weekend? Call first.

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 all shanties are off the ice on Delavan, some are still ice fishing on the west end, snow could make it really treacherous; on Monday, some were still venturing out on Como.

DES PLAINES RIVER

No update.

DOWNSTATE NOTES

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, but Brian Gates cracked that all his customers were going ice fishing for whitefish.

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

ILLINOIS RIVER

Sauger continue to go up and down the river, and river levels and conditions should remain relatively good for this time of the year.

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

INDIANA STREAMS

Assistant Lake Michigan fisheries biologist Ben Dickinson posted this Tuesday:

Passed 76 steelhead upstream of the barrier this morning. Fish were jumping like crazy yesterday when the water temp was 41… no jumping at all this morning and the water was 39

Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station said that Voodoo jigs and waxies (or spawn) are best.

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

KANKAKEE RIVER

Norm Minas sent this:

river has come up almost a foot in the last couple days, went from about a foot of visibility to nearly none, a bit above normal flow, water temps up from low to mid 40′s . weather out side of wind has been good . starting to see larger concentrations of waterfowl , wild turkey in nice numbers, hawks all over . insect activity , lots of furry type critters getting loosey-goosey .

first trip before the water came up 6 inches or so, water had a about a foot of visibility . I fished a series of slackwater spots with cobble, some larger rock , ledge rock and softer bottoms . water willow stubble patches/islands in softer bottoms . some wood cover here and there . not much algae but some leaves on the bottom .

I fished a KVD 1.5 squarebill crankbait and caught fish at the upstream side of rock piles , rock humps, isolated larger rock and dips/ holes in the cobble . Every fish I caught came on a downstream cast , brought back slow/steady from a river left casting angle . any other casting angle speed or direction[quarter cast , cross cast or upstream cast] was ignored . I fished hard and soft jerk baits, swimbaits, spinnerbaits, rattlebaits and jigs/plastics with no success no matter the angle/direction/ speed/cadence used .

Next trip after the water came up , I went back to the same areas to see what would or would not work . After much experimentation the only two things that worked were a jig/twister swum ticking the tops of the newly covered waterwillow stubble or jig/erie darter on the bottom barely moving in the openings in the waterwillow stubble where it doesn’t grow .

First day ended up with 11 smallmouth medium to large in size . Second day ended up with 23 smallmouth medium to pig status . First day noticed some craws in gullets , second day minnows in gullets. all fat healthy fish, evidently eating well . First day definite , no doubt about it hits, had one tail walker . Second day all hits light to barely noticeable . I’m pretty sure I missed at least a half dozen fish because I just didn’t feel it and execute a hook set quick enough .

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

Lake and weather needs to settle before coho fishing rebounds.

MADISON CHAIN, WISCONSIN

Gene Dellinger at D&S Bait said ice fishing is questionable, though some areas are still fishable.

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:

Minocqua Area Fishing Report 2/29/16

A February record temperature for Saturday (52 degrees) unfortunately did not set any records for fish catching.

As been the case on most of our nicer weekends, great weather did not equate to great fishing.

Maybe it was the number of anglers, maybe the high barometer at times. While certain lakes produced well, others that had been improving suddenly went quiet. Still, enough anglers had catches of fish to rate the entire weekend fair – good.

Walleye: Fair –Good. What started out not so good mid- week picked up by the weekend. Evenings best with anglers having success jigging with Raps, Rippin Raps, RPM’S and Slender Spoons tipped with a minnow head worked over off – shore humps and along breaks in 18-28’ of water. Tip –up anglers did best using 3-4” sucker minnows or large fatheads. While no reports here of monsters- nice catches of 14-22” fish from the larger lakes.

Northern: Fair – Good. Pike action slowed compared to last weekend, though some anglers found pockets of good action on tip – ups baited with big shiners and suckers. By the looks of their bellys these fish are feeding heavy to help with egg production.

Largemouth Bass: Fair- Good. With the warm up came the bass action. Tip – ups baited with medium shiners scored best, but anglers targeting crappies and gills using small minnows or teardrop jigs and waxies inadvertently caught more than a few bass.

Yellow Perch: Fair – good. Deep mud flats (18-28’) are best. Mayfly larvae (wigglers) and red spikes on Hali jigs, Pimples, Flash Champs, Chandeliers and Perch Talkers best. These mud fish relating to invertebrates and don’t seem interested in minnows. Small windows of activity as seen on Saturday when bite is good early A.M., followed by hours of no interest, till minor bite mid – afternoon.

Bluegill: Fair – Good. Good bites scattered. Anglers finding pockets with small numbers of gills willing to bite for short periods. Small dark colored tungsten jigs (black, red, dark green) tipped with mousee on spike in 7-9’ best.

Crappies: Fair. Flowage bites shut down, while anglers working lakes with standing weeds in 10-12’ enticing bites using plastics (this weekend motor oil and root beer were best). Some tip – down / minnow action early and late in the day. Some success on Lethal Cecils tipped with waxies as well as Rembrandts and Purist tipped with spike.

The gamefish season ends March 6th at midnight. With averages of 14-18” of ice on most lakes we should see a few weeks of good March pan fishing. Not much snow cover as of now means the ice could go quickly if we get any prolonged warm spells. Forecast for this week looks mild – shouldn’t lose any ice, probably won’t make any.

Kurt Justice

Kurt’s Island Sport Shop

http://www.kurtsislandsports.com

EAGLE RIVER: B+L, from interviews with guides George Langley, Muskie Matt and Colin Crawford, provided this report for the Eagle River Chamber of Commerce:

Fishing Report

Northern Pike: Suspended in about 8 to 14 feet of water. Set tip-ups 1 to 2 feet above the weed tops tipped with a medium to large golden shiner or a sucker minnow. The bite seems to be good all day long until dark.

Walleyes: Set up along the deepest weed edges during the day and in the evening look to rock humps that have deeper water around them using tip-ups tipped with golden shiners set 1 to 2 feet above the bottom. The bite is best in the morning and at dusk. Jigging spoons tipped with a minnow head or tipped with a couple wax worms.

Crappies: Located deep in the main lake basins suspended just a few feet off the bottom. Jigging with tungsten jigs tipped with either plastic tail, spikes or waxies will get you bit. Bite has been fair during the daylight hours.

Perch: Located on deep rock bars and on the mud flats. Jigging a tungsten live bait combo of wigglers, spikes, and waxies or crappie minnows. The bite is good to very good during daylight hours.

Bluegills: Using small ice jigs tipped with plastics, spikes or waxies in shallow weed of 4 to 8 feet of water.

NORTHWEST INDIANA

Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station said dirtier water made it tougher for catching coho and browns from shore at the Port and Burns Ditch.

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 there’s a few steelhead being caught in the river, while icing has made pier fishing tough.

ST. JOSEPH RIVER, INDIANA

Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR.

SHABBONA LAKE

Clint Sands at Lakeside said the lake is virtually open. Crappie and muskie fishermen are or will be out. He expects Lakeside to reopen for open-water fishing on Monday, March 7.

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.