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LaSalle opener, coho & crappie: Chicago fishing

A lot of us are hoping to see a sunrise like this over LaSalle Lake, when the cooling lake reopens Friday.
Dale Bowman/Sun-Times

LaSalle Lake reopens Tuesday, coho are beginning and crappie fishing builds in area ponds and lakes and they lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

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

Online here on the Sun-Times outdoors page, I am going to start pulling the cooling lakes out as individual entries rather than being lumped under Cooling Lakes.

LaSALLE

The cooling lake south of Seneca reopens Tuesday, you read that right, and it will be 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 reports picked up dramatically with the warmth. Steve Palmisano at Henry’s reported catches from Tampier, Busse and Skokie; as well as local ponds.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley sent this:

Hey Dale,

The crappie bite on area lakes slowed this week with the up and down temps. Bite was very light using minnows under a slip float with crappie dropping the bait numerous times.

Larger bass are starting to pickup on lipless crankbaits and chatterbaits. This week should be good with the consistent warm temps.

Here’s a nice one that my friend Tom Le caught on a chatterbait. This one went 7 pounds.

TTYL

Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Huskeroutdoors

Waterworks fishing team

AREA WATER LEVELS

This is a 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. Bass fishing continues good, especially for boaters. Water temperatures obviously vary with whether or not the plant is pumping. When it is pumping, hot side is in the 70s, otherwise 60s; pumping 60s on cold side, 50s otherwise. Some have been getting into the hybrids, Ramzi Zein messaged this explanation over the weekend:

HI Dale. Last few years I’ve been catching the stripers by the the boat ramp. In between the docks,outside the docks and far out from the docks is where I’ve been getting them.The boats in and out don’t really scare them either lol. Oh this is on the warm side. I’ll be out tomorrow Fishing cold side with my son. The hunt for a big bass….Hopefully

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Art Frisell at Triangle Sports & Marine said the ice should be gone by the weekend; meanwhile walleye are being caught around current areas and crappie are moving into the channels with ice-out.

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 the first boats are getting out at Fontana, while Delavan is still iced.

DES PLAINES RIVER

No update.

DOWNSTATE NOTES

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

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

Good morning fellas,

Here is what we have…and as you guys obviously know, the weather is going to be quite balmy here for the next week so things are probably going to change quickly

The Whitefish action continues to stay very good and will stay good right up until you no longer can get out on the ice….which may be sooner than later. Areas that have been good are…from Hendrson’s Point south all the way to Chaudoir’s Dock, the mouth of Little Sturgeon, Riley’s Bay and of course the Larson’s Reef area.

Now with that said, ice breaking procedures are going on so the ships can head out of Sturgeon Bay and will be going out the Bay side, not the Lake side because of bridge work that is going on. That means fishermen REALLY need to watch the wind if they decide to head out on the Bay. There are cracks out there and they WILL open up with the wind and currents. We recommend fishing with a friend at the least or stay clear if you have any uncertainties. The best baits for the Whitefish continue to be Sweedish Pimples, Rapala jigs and Slick jigs just to name a few. Tip your jigs with minnow pieces, wax worms, spikes or Gulp.

Perch action has really picked up as it usually does right before the close of the season to protect the spawn. A couple of the better areas have been the Little Sturgeon area and around Sawyer Harbor. Jig and minnow combinations and medium and large lake shiners along with big Rosy Red minnows under tip-ups working quite well.

The Walleye fishing is also picking up as it usually does when we approach the spawn. And some very big fish are showing up and becoming quite active. There have been a pretty good handful of those 8 to 10 pound fish caught along with a few fish over that 11 pound range approaching that 12 pounds. So this is the time of year to catch your trophy. The whole Henderson’s Point shoreline and south will hold fish, some areas in Little Sturgeon and Riley’s Bay have some nice fish, Sherwood Point, Sawyer Harbor, the Potawatomi Park shoreline can be good along with the shoreline to the north of the Old Stone Quarry…basically, any steep shoreline drop or any area those Walleyes go to spawn are good places to set up this time of year. Odd’ball jigs and Rapala jigs tipped with minnows and minnow heads always a good bet.

Pike action has been steady as they too approach their spawning pattern. Which means anywhere you find Perch you will most likely find a few big Pike like in Little Sturgeon and the Sawyer Harbor area. Large suckers and Golden Shiners under tip ups and auto fishermen is usually the method of choice.

Now I have to touch on some open water opportunities which could and most likely will happen within the next 2 weeks…

Brown Trout fishermen are chomping at the bit here in the Door County area. Generally, as soon as the first boat launch is open, whether it is Sturgeon Bay or Baileys harbor, there will be fishermen trolling the shorelines and most likely experiencing good action on Browns and some Lake trout. Concentrate your efforts along shoreline transitions and dirty water transitions with Mauler spoons and floating body baits like Rapalas and Thundersticks. That goes for the same on the bay side of the Peninsula…fishermen will mainly fish those primary drop-offs and sand to rock transitions with those same types of baits.

There have been a few reports of a couple fresh run Rainbow Trout in the streams throughout the county and as the swamps thaw and we get some rain those fish should pile into those Lake Michigan tributaries. Small spinners and spawn sacs will be the ticket.

And I imagine the Sturgeon Bay ship canal will be open here in the next week or so and you will find anglers drifting and jigging for Pike and Walleyes.

The biggest thing for this time of year if you do venture out on the ice is to use the buddy system and really do your home work before you head out…or just get your boats and long rods ready for the open water season which is just around the corner

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 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 going well from Starved Rock to Henry, though shallower now in 8-14 feet (but some are still in the holes; jig and minnow are best but just about everything is working. Best question relates to the flood watch later this week.

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

INDIANA STREAMS

Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station said steelhead picked up again in both the Salt and Trail creeks; best has been spawn, but some are being taken with Voodoo jigs and waxies.

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

KANKAKEE RIVER

Norm Minas sent this:

About 6400 CFS and 2.57 height which are about normal for this time of year. Water temps 44 degrees , not much visibility . weather was nicer when I was able to get out, missed the crappy weather with some sort of bug . I guess if you have to be sick might as well be when the weather is crap .

First trip , fished a couple slack spots from shore , cobble/chunk rock, softer bottom . short trip couple smallmouth on suspending jerk with longish pauses, couple smallmouth on rattlebaits slowly just above bottom . decent size , couple sporting red hook marks so someone else had some success previously .

Second trip , much longer, fished slack spots with cobble, chunk rock, soft bottom combos, couple inflows, couple riffles . Waded carefully and only as needed in spots I know very well , mostly just for casting angles or getting closer to the fast water current seam .

Eight smallmouth , largest on a Rapala Tail Dancer while catching walleye , brute was a shade over 22inches . The other seven were decent fish, one on suspending jerk. the rest on rattlebaits . Thirteen walleye, biggest 28.5 inches on 6 inch swimbait.1/2 oz jig. That setup also got another walleye at 25 inches, both of them fat with tight full egg sacs. Got one walleye on a rattlebait while catching smallmouth, the rest of the walleye on Rapala Tail Dancers . Four channel cats at the downstream side of riffles, on the big swimbaits . All four cats in the mid twenty inch range. One northern pike about 34 inches in a slack area with foam/debris overhead cover on the big swimbait. One gar about 25 inches on a fluke in a slack spot that has produced many a gar over the years .

I carry the tape measure hoping to get some legal walleye to eat in the14-18 inch slot, of course no walleye in that size range . Oh well , 5 species, 27 fish , some with size to them , best outing of the year .

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

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s reported coho and some browns, up and down the lakefront; coho are higher in the water column, browns towards the bottom. NOTE: Stacey Greene at Park Bait said she expects to be open by Monday at Montrose.

MADISON CHAIN, WISCONSIN

I did not ask Gene Dellinger at D&S Bait for an update.

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:

Thanks to high winds last Monday (2/29) that blew most of the remaining snow off the lakes, followed by nights in the single digits, we started the weekend with the best ice/travel conditions of the season. It’s going to go downhill from here.

While forecast can’t always be trusted (didn’t rain last night), the call is for 14 straight days above 32 degrees with the highs in the upper 40’s to low 50’s. With ice almost bare due to last Monday’s wind, we actually gained a little ice thickness (reports were of 16-20” average) but, it will start to deteriorate quickly now.

Gamefish season ended Sunday (3/6). It was one of the better “closers” we’ve had with good reports of walleyes, northern and largemouth bass being caught. Now all attention is on panfish and the next 7-10 days will be key.

Crappies: Very good. Anglers fishing lakes are finding fish in two types of areas. Weed fish in 8-12’ are taking slow dropped rockers and Lethal Cecils tipped with plastics (a variety of shades of pink were hot Sunday). Chena, spikes and wax worms also working. Anglers fishing deeper crappies have had their best success on tip-downs with rosies. Some anglers having success using tungsten jigs to present orange plastic to deep crappies (20-30’). Flowage anglers relying on tip-downs baited with rosie reds. In deep water, watch for crappies suspending 5-7’ off the bottom.

Perch: Very good. Mud flats in 18-30’ are producing nice catches of “eaters” (8-11”) for anglers using wigglers, red spikes on Chandelier jigs. Hali jigs, #2 Swedish Pimples and Slender Spoons also working. These “mud” fish don’t seem to be as interested in minnows, but a few do pick up small crappie minnows on tip-downs as well as a bonus slab crappie from time to time. Shallower “weed” perch taking meat! Crappie minnows on tip-downs as well as jigging Vinglas, Flash Champs and Forage minnow jigs tipped with 2-3 waxies. These plump fish are being found in weeds of 6-10’.

Bluegills: Very good. The tungsten “jig flys” continue to be hot for gills tipped with a waxie or spike. Plastics on #10 rockers in darker colors (plastic colored red, rootbeer, motor oil, purple) as well as thin strips of Chena. Check shallower water of 8’ and less. When bite is good, go to larger jigs (#8’s) to try to discourage smaller fish. When bite lessens, us small 2.5mm to 3mm Fiska jigs with single spike, moussee or thin dark wedgee plastics.

Best to wear rubber boots from here on out with your cleats. Keep an eye on shoreline ice, especially with southern exposures. Safety spikes, rope and flotation are also smart attire from here on out. Truck travel will end soon, but, ATV traffic should be good through the weekend. Keep an eye on our website www.kurtsislandsports.com for updated ice conditions.

Kurt Justice

Kurt’s Island Sport Shop

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

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: Use 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 coho take working for, but are being caught from Michigan City to East Chicago, shore and boat.

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 is a mixed bag of lakers, browns and whitefish being caught off the piers; in the river, lots of suckers, a few walleye and steelhead at Berrien Springs.

ST. JOSEPH RIVER, INDIANA

Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR.

SHABBONA LAKE

Clint Sands at Lakeside said a few muskie guys and crappie fishermen trying open water. 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

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s said there was good crappie in the channel on the Illinois side.

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

No update.