Coho & browns: Spring signs in Chicago fishing

SHARE Coho & browns: Spring signs in Chicago fishing

The improved fishing for coho and brown trout on southern Lake Michigan makes the surest sign of spring for this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report; meanwhile local strengths include Braidwood and LaSalle cooling lakes and walleye running in the Wolf River in Wisconsin.

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.

The topper photo, artfully taken and sent by Carl Vizzone, is of a nice variety caught on the North Side lakefront by Tom Collins, George Wolfe, Gene Harris and Dow.


Illinois continues the new early start for catch-and-release fly-fishing only for trout. It began Saturday. If 16 or older, you need a fishing license and an inland trout. The regular inland trout season begins April 2.

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


Crappie continue to lead the local reports.

Ken “Husker” O’Malleysent this:

Hey Dale, Area lakes remain slow due to the inconsistent weather. With the colder overnight temps, no need to get out early. Best bite for bass has been midday along inside weedlines on sunny days. Overcast days keep the bass deeper. A strike king red eye shad worked parallel along the weedline has produced the best numbers. TTYL — 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


Hours are 6 a.m.-sunset daily. Continue to receive good bass reports. I am trying to set up getting regular water temperatures and such. NOTE:Exelon’s Fishing for a Cure is May 7. Click here for info and to register.


Staff at Triangle Sports & Marine said walleye are best below the McHenry Dam, by Wilmont or deeper on Marie points; bluegill are good in back channels; catfish are good, mostly on stinkbait, around the Route 12 bridge; on good weather days, crappie are good in the channels, bad weather pushes them back out.

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


No update.


Brian GatesatGeneva Lake Bait & Tackle said crappie are going on the west end of Delavan, sometimes in the boat channel, too; a few lakers are being caught on Geneva.


No update.


HENNEPIN CANAL (BUREAU COUNTY):Thom Matejewski at Illinois Valley Outdoors said crappie continue to do well in the brush piles. HENNEPIN-HOPPER:TheWetlandsInitiativewillhave the fishing season at theDixon 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 withJason JohnsofBoneyard 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 withKen WilsonofKen Wilson Guide Service.

EVERGREEN:Bait shop is closed.

Larry 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.


No update.


No update.


Lance LaVineatHowie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay sent this Tuesday:

Good Morning Fella’s…was off yesterday so I apologize for the delay Well, the ice is pretty much gone for the most part throughout the Door County Peninsula and now everyone has switched gears to the open water opportunities that are endless here in the county. Brown Trout fishing has started off with a bang just like it ended last year in December. Fishermen have been finding really good numbers of Brown Trout trolling the shorelines on Lake Michigan from Sturgeon Bay south to Algoma. There have been some scattered catches to the north to Baileys Harbor also, but the water is a bit dirtier to the south and the fish are less spooky. Concentrate your efforts in less than 15 feet of water, fishing those clean to dirty water transitions and creek mouths. Floating Rapalas, Storm Thundersticks and Mauler spoons have been the best baits. And on the Bayside of the Peninsula, Brown Trout action is heating up now that the ice has pretty much gone away. The better areas have been and will be from the Sturgeon Bay Flats all the north to the Sister Bay area. Fish shoreline drops and rock to sand transitions with the same types of baits Pike fishing has been going pretty good as of right now and should just get better as the spawn finishes up. The Sturgeon Bay ship canal, Sawyer Harbor and Little Sturgeon all great spots to try fishing for those Pike. Oddball Jigs tipped with large Tuffy Fat heads, dragging Sucker Minnows on bottom bouncer style rigs, casting or trolling big suspending baits all good methods to entice a big Pike to eat Walleye fishing has been OK…in normal years we are still sitting on the ice waiting for that trophy to bite and now we are in the boats doing the same things. During these early ice out years, especially when your targeting pre-spawn fish the best methods seem to be….Rip jigging on certain areas that you know fish are just before the spawn or slow trolling at super sloth like speeds in and around those areas. Jig fishermen will use Rippin Raps, Clackin Raps, Blade baits and soft plastics. Live bait is also a great option…Oddball jigs tipped with minnows or dragging suckers around those shoreline drops will work well at times Stream fishermen are having some really good success especially after it rains. Spawn sacs and small in-line spinners have been the ticket Thanks; Lance LaVine Howie’s Tackle 1309 Green Bay Rd Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235 Ph: 920-746-9916

The Wisconsin DNR posts a report, typically updated on Tuesdays at


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


Thom Matejewski at Illinois Valley Outdoors said the sauger bite is rebounding as the river stabilizes; best is a jig and minnow, but three-ways are also working. Few white bass reports.

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


Have not heard much.Access points for Trail Creek can be found on theTrail Creek Access Map.


River is fishable, though spring high and stained.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.


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


No update.


Might be the best fishing going right now for coho and some browns; powerliners with minnows or crawlers are doing the best.


Winds have limited boaters some days, but overall the fishing has been decent to good, especially for shore fishermen. Larry Jennings messaged that “stripers” are going good, that applies to both white bass and hybrids. Thomas Jones found good catfish and blues.

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.


Click here for the Tuesday Facebook update fromGene Dellingerat D & S Bait.


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


Check withMike MladeikatMike Mladenik Guide Service.


No update.


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

We have more and better ice today (3/22) than last Friday (3/18). Anyone surprised? Nights in the teens and not very warm days actually firmed up the ice and made a little. Not everywhere is safe, a few lakes have had shoreline ice pull away enough to prohibit access. There are still plenty of other options throughout the area to quench your thirst for some late ice panfish. Crappies: Very good. On the high sky days, the bite shuts down for the most part, but, early and late in the day anglers scoring big. Cloudy days are seeing bite going throughout the day. Crappie minnows, rosies on tip-downs when the bite is on. Less aggressive bites, finesse with a #8 rocker, Lethal Cecil or Gill Getters sporting a plastic tail (white, yellow, pink, lavender), Chena or waxie. Nice crappies of 11-13 being caught with several anglers boasting 14-15 fish. Bluegills: Very good. Similar to crappie bite, but, a little more willing when the sun is out. Moussees, waxies, spikes and plastics (Red, purple, Maroon, Black) on light lead jigs worked just 2-3’ under the ice in some cases. Limits being caught in short order for anglers starting early in the day. Lots of action, some sorting, depending on the lake, but, gills of 7-9 filling buckets. Perch: Good. Fewer reports of anglers working deep water, but, still producing using wigglers on pimples, Hali jigs. Up along weeds in 6-10’ perch feeding up preferring minnows or jigs loaded with waxies. Caution is advised wherever you go from here on out. North accesses are especially poor. South access, especially those well treed or protected by high hills best. Ice averages 10-13 as of today. Foot traffic best – some areas seeing ATV use, but, while ice can be 12 or more, this is not quality ice, so be careful. Should have fishable ice throughout this weekend and beyond. Kurt Justice Kurt’s Island Sport Shop

EAGLE RIVER: No update fromB+L, from interviews with guidesGeorge Langley,Muskie MattandColin Crawford, for the Eagle River Chamber of Commerce


Capt. Rich Sleziak atSlez’s Bait in Lake Station said Tuesday was “non-stop from 5 to 5; for a change the best spot for coho was around Michigan City, from behind the DNR office to the lighthouse; but boaters are also taking coho from the East Chicago wall and Gary Light, some fish are starting to go on Dodgers and flies; spoons to crankbaits to skein on the bottom to crawlers or squid are working; bank fishing is spotty at the Port and East Chicago. For crappie, places like Grand Boulevard are tunring on, as well as the private lakes around Valpo; crappie are also going in rivers such as Deep river and Burns Dtich. When weather allows, bluegill are being caught at Willow Slough. Fancher Lake was stocked with rainbows.


Brian GatesatGeneva Lake Bait & Tackle said walleyes, mostly smaller males are being caught at Jefferson, Fort Atkinson and Blackhawk Island.


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


Phil SchumanatTackle Haven in Benton Harbor said trollers are taking coho and some browns (I witnessed dozens of boats going out Saturday morning); some are being caught off the pier (also witnessed that Saturday); some steelhead being caught at Berrien Springs.


Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR.


Denny SandsatLakeside said under-sized walleye are good on the road bed or dam face; a few crappie are in the fish cribs; catfish are being caught off the points with chicken live; some muskie are being caught trolling; some perch are being cauhgt where weeds are forming.

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


The Wisconsin DNR posts a report at It is usually posted by Tuesday afternoon. Stream flow info is at


No update.


Guide Bill Stoeger called (glad he did because normally I would not call him for another week or so) and said walleye “are on fire on anything.” He noted that with the high water, there is no-wake within 500 feet of permanent structures.

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