Memorial day weekend fishing: Chicago fishing outlook (Update 1)

SHARE Memorial day weekend fishing: Chicago fishing outlook (Update 1)

And suddenly, here’s summer.

Thank you very much.

Regular late-spring early summer weathers sets up for a good Memorial Day weekend for fishing, especially on local ponds and lakes, and leads 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 at the top was sent by Joe Pratl of his dad with a largemouth bass pulled from a small pond in the southwest suburbs.


Local ponds and lakes for bluegill and largemouth for this Memorial Day weekend, maybe even catfish on local rivers, too.


Perch fishing in the Illinois waters of Lake Michigan is closed through June 15.


Bass and bluegill will be the featured catches or attempted catches this Memorial Day weekend. And on at least some ponds, bluegill may be up as well as bass.

Joe Pratl sent this report:

Dale- I read your column all the time, Thank You. I thought I’d drop you a note along with a photo of an 18+ Largemouth my dad pulled out of a little ½ acre pond choked with moss and weeds in the far Southwest burbs. Bass were very active on watermelon colored plastic worms. We landed 5 similar fish and lost another 3 in the 45-minutes we fished the retention pond. Keep up the good work.

Ken “Husker” O’Malleysent this:

Hey Dale, Bass continue to be the best bite on area lakes. With the warm up, bass have been up tight along shorelines. A stealth presentation is key. Pitching soft plastics into open weed pockets has been the best method.TTYL — Ken Husker O’Malley Huskeroutdoors Waterworks fishing team

From Orland Park, John Kudia sent this reminder:

Dale: there is a huge difference now in water temps (Even in the same pond or Lake ) depending on where you are . Several yards can make the difference of 10 degrees Fahrenheit from the 50’s into the 60’s Find the warm water and you will find the fish. Fish the shallower flats and muddier waters, for success. v/r

That is a good point.


Go to to check area water levels and projection, depending how much rain comes, that might matter. To get to more specific gauges, even on creeks, in Illinois, go to


Jon Meder at Jon’s Bait in South Wilmington said after a good spring of bass fishing the bite is more focused on catfish. Site fishing hours are 6 a.m.-sunset daily.



Staff at Triangle said the channels warmed into the 70s; so bass are good shallow; bluegill are or will be spawning for the Memorial Day weekend; catfish are good on stinkbait or crawlers on the bottom; muskie are picking up; white bass were going in the river but that will likely be be finishing up; walleye are around current and some are out in the main lake areas.

Jason Fox sent the photo to the right and this report Tuesday evening:

Went out to the chain today got this 21 incher on a crawler and jig. My buddy got an 18.5 one crappie and some gills a little slow but a gorgeous day. Hope you and your family have a great memorial day. I’ll be musky and catfishing castle Rock dam this weekend hopefully I’ll have a great picture with a true monster

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


No update.


DELAVAN: Arden Katz said that the shoreline scum can make for tough casting, something to remember. It’s bad enough that he is planning to focus on Geneva.

Dave Duwe sent this:

Delavan Lake Fishing Report 5/22/16 through 5/29/16 With the warmer weather, the fish are starting to prepare to spawn. The crappies, bluegills and largemouth bass are all in the shallow waters. Largemouth bass are in 2-3 ft of water. The best presentation is wacky worm Senkos in green pumpkin or root beer with red flake. The best location has been the west end of the lake, near Viewcrest channel or the north end near Lake Lawn Golf Course. The key to the presentation is slow. Most of the fish are coming on the pause during the return. Walleye fishing has been average at night. Most of the fish are coming on shallow diving crank baits in 10-12 ft of water. Look for the fish by the flat in front of the Yacht Club or in front of the island. Troll the crank baits approximately 25 ft behind the board which should be about 2 ft above the weeds. Fire Tiger pattern is the best choice. Crappies are in the medium depth weeds in 5-7 ft of water. They have been readily hitting small twister tails on 1/32 oz jigs near three flags or Willow Point. The best color has been yellow or purple. Make sure to pause the jig on the return for the best success. Bluegills are preparing to spawn. They are in 2-3 ft of water. Look for them in Viewcrest Channel or in the sand pockets by Willow Point or Township Park. The best presentation is a Thill bobber and lindy ice jig. You want to position the bait approximately 6 inches above the bottom. The fish will be moving up in the next few days with the continued warm weather. With the warmer weather some of the fish are completing their spawn and moving off to the deep weed lines. I’ve been catching both largemouth and crappies in 15-17 ft of water. The best location has been by the Yacht Club point or three flags. The warmer the water, the better the bite has been. Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050

GENEVA: Duwe sent this:

Lake Geneva Fishing Report 5/22/16 through 5/29/16 With the cooler than normal spring, the fishing is a bit slower than typical for this time of year. The smallmouth bass are suspended following the bait pods and most of the other fish have yet to reach their normal patterns for this time of year. I’ve been catching most of my smallmouth bass in front of Elgin Club or South Shore Club. They have been off the bottom 2-3 feet in 15 ft of water. The best success has been on white hair jigs with a pink head. With the current weather pattern, the fish should be spawning probably within the next week. Bluegills and Pumpkin Seeds are aggressively biting in the 3-4 ft range. The best location has been by Trinkes or in Abbey Harbor. You want to catch the fish on bobbers fished with a single hook and leaf worm. The fish will be spawning in the next week or so, you can expect the fishing to taper off after the spawn. Walleye fishing has been above average. The key to the bite has been to fish for them at night. Trolling Rapala crank baits in 10-12 ft of water works the best. The best location has been in Trinkes Bay or on the east side of Williams Bay. The fish are aggressively hitting and they are suspended above the weeds. With the warmer water, the rock bass have become hungry. They best depth has been 8-10 ft of water. You want to concentrate on the pier cribs or any structure that’s in the water. The most fish that I’ve caught have been on the west end by Uline’s creek. The best bait has been split shot rigged nightcrawlers and fat head minnows. Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050


No update.


HENNEPIN-HOPPER: The Wetlands Initiative will have the fishing season at the Dixon Waterfowl Refuge (Hennepin-Hopper) through Sept 5, except closed Mondays (open on holidays). Regulations will be the same as last year, with an emphasis on reminding fishermen there may be no large motors on boats. Click here for detailed information.  LAKE OF EGYPT: Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing crappie are anywhere from the weeds to brush in 30 feet, best on cork and minnow; bass are being caught on anything (topwaters cloudy days to shaky-heads otherwise). REND:  Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing said, “Crappie are everywhere, 1-15 feet,’’ on cork and minnow. POWERTON:  Summer hours are 6 a.m.-8 p.m. 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: Mike Steffasent this earlier and I did not get the hours update yet:



No update.


No update.


Jason Fox sent this:

Hi Dale Catfish were suicidal on the Fox river below depere dam. All day on my new 7ft ultra light 4lb test set up. Great 2 days caught about 40. 1 17 inch walleye all on Lindy rigs and crawlers

GREEN BAY/STURGEON BAYNo update from Lance LaVine at Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay.The Wisconsin DNR Lake Michigan Report, typically updated on Tuesdays, includes reports from both the bay and lake sides.HEIDECKE LAKE

Jon Meder at Jon’s Bait in South Wilmington said  the bite is on for crappie and walleye, good-sized fish, too; and some muskie. Lake hours are 6 a.m.-sunset daily.


Barring any major rains, river levels are OK and catfishing is building, some white bass.

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


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



Patrick Patel tweeted this:

Smallies are tight to the banks and the growing islands. Topwater and spinners are working

I would only that as of Tuesday evening, levels and water conditions were decent, catfish should be much improved with the warmer water.

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.

BTW: Norm Minas long-time contributor of fishing reports, has to take a break. Anybody willing to offer some help on the mighty, let me know.


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


Remember the perch closure on Lake Michigan runs through June 15 on the Illinois waters.

CHICAGO: Best shore bite remains smallmouth in the harbors. But staff at Park Bait noted that some coho were caught off the Montrose Horseshoe on Tuesday and the drum bite builds. Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters said that lakers are very good for boaters; move until you find them.

WAUKEGAN: Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop texted that there is a mixed bag in 190 feet to the south, especially good are lakers, best on fly and spin and glow flashers; some shallower (50-100).

NORTH POINT: Poteshman said that some coho arestarting on the beach; but the best bite remains deep for a mixed bag.


No update.


Blues remain the top bite, and the water will be warming rapidly. The cooling lake south of Seneca is open daily, 6 a.m.-sunset.


Go to Facebook for the latest updates from Gene Dellinger at D & S Bait.


Jon Meder at Jon’s Bait in South Wilmington said bluegill and redear are bedding. Open daily, 6 a.m.-sunset. Conditions should be near perfect.


Check with Mike Mladeik at Mike Mladenik Guide Service.


Check the Wisconsin DNR Lake Michigan Report, which generally comes out Tuesdays for updates.


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

Gorgeous weather moved into the Lakeland area this past week, warming up the waters and improving the fishing immensely. Lots of much needed sun; very little- if any wind and temps in the 70’s brought about a lot of great fishing to the area. Crappies: Very Good. It was that weekend. Water temps warmed into the low 60’s bringing the stalled crappie bedding/spawning to a peak. Anglers filled the lakes with buckets of crappie minnows on board to catch, in many cases, limits of crappies. Fish were being found in as little as 1-3’ while others were done, or just staging outside. The cold nights (temps below freezing) helped to stretch the spawn out, but surface temps in the low 60’s are being found on most lakes and the spawn won’t last much longer with that. Walleye: Very Good. Good catches on redtails, Dace, Fatheads and leeches. Some lakes still holding fish in 14-18’ depth over wood, rocks. The cloudless skies have kept the shallow bite curtailed, but early morning anglers and after dark using lighted slip-bobbers with large leeches are doing well. Also, after dark casting shallow running stick baits over newly emerging weeds, producing nice walleyes (though many in protected slot). Cloud cover should make for some good daytime walleye fishing as we move away from this full moon period. Smallmouth Bass: Good to Very Good. (Catch and Release Only!) Smallies moving into shallower water to stage as their time is next. Low to mid 60’s prime for smallies Twitch baits (ShadowRaps, ShadowShads, X-Raps) as well as top water Pop-R’s working well in 3-6’. Nice smallies of 17-20 this weekend C&R pitching jig/minnow combos in shallows for early morning walleyes. Largemouth Bass: Good to Very Good. Cruising the warm shallows. Twitch baits, plastic worms, lizards, craws as well as top-water hand baits. The warm water is bringing lots of small bluegills, minnows and bugs to the shallows. Opportunistic bass following. Bluegills: Good to Very Good: Flooding the shallows to warm up (not spawning till waters in low 70’s). Thunderbugs, wrigglers, small leeches and worms below tiny floats won’t soak long! Make long cast to not spook fish. Tiny 1 tubes also good to target larger gills. 11 monster brought in Sunday. Small minnows also good big gill bait! Northern Pike: Good. Not as much attention with walleyes and crapppies as main focus. Chubs on jigs as well as #3 Mepps, 212 Roostertails and Small Daredevils working anywhere some green weeds are developing. Yellow Perch: Fair-Good. Not being targeted much. When some make way to the fish house, finding dragonfly larvae (Thunderbugs) is heavy part of their diet. The weather had been a plus (Though some clouds would be nice) and much needed chance of rain mid-week is supposed to give way to more nice weather for the Memorial Weekend. -Kurt Justice Kurt’s Island Sport Shop

EAGLE RIVER: B+L, from interviews with guides George Langley, Muskie Matt and Colin Crawford, sent this as part of an update for the Eagle River Chamber of Commerce:

Fishing Report Muskies: Depending on the lake, muskies will be in different phases of the spawn cycle. They’ll need a bit of recoup time, especially the females. Smaller buck tails like the Mepps Muskie Killer or a 500 series Bucher Tail or small twitch bait like a Husky Jerk or Shallow Raider should work well. Northern Pike: These fish have already spawned and are cruising the new weed beds in search of prey. A 1/16thor 1/8th ounce jig tipped with a fat head minnow will catch pike. Bass style spinner baits will do the job, as well. White or chartreuse with willow leaf blades and spoons like Daredevils or Johnson Silver Minnows that are weedless also will get you bit. Walleye: They are coming out of post spawn and should be in the new weeds that are coming in nicely. A good weedless 1/16th or 1/8th ounce jig helps a lot. Jacks Jigs or a Northland Weed Weasel are effective. Plastic weed guards tend to do better than the steel. Bass: Both Smallmouth and Largemouth will be getting ready for spawning. These fish will be easy to spot while preparing their spawning beds. Slip bobbers, split shot, and an Aberdeen hook baited with a minnow or crawler will work fine. Small crankbaits with a small square bill fished in the shallows catch a lot of fish at this time also. A reminder that Largemouth Bass are opened and Smallmouth Bass are only catch and release until June 18 in the northern zone. Panfish: Perch should be hanging out in the weeds and foraging on some young of the year bait fish. Slip bobber set-up should be what you are using. The bait of choice will be theirs, so bring along a selection of small leeches, red worms and crappie minnows. Crappies are in the shallows using a slip bobber and crappie minnows will be your best bet. Bluegills are starting to bite on small minnows and red worms.


With more stable weather, bluegill and redear are improving at Willow Slough, and most area lakes. Capt. Rich Sleziak  at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station said, “Lakers as many as you want in 60-80 feet, good as ever been”; some kings and coho in 45-55 off Michigan City and west; a few trying for perch.  . . . With this warm-up, he expects catfish to pick up in Burns Ditch.


No update, I did not get to call Brian Gates at Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle.


The Wisconsin DNR Lake Michigan Report is generally posted on Tuesday and includes a Root river section. Click here for the stream flow update, which can be really important for how good the fishing is.


Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said lake fishing is picking up with coho, steelhead and kings in the top 80 feet in 90-22o, lakers at the bottom; spin and glows or flies and Flasthers or spoons for the coho and kings. Pier is fair; smallmouth are going in the river, occasional walleye.


Click herefor reports from the Indiana DNR.


Clint Sands at Lakeside said, “Good news for fishing” as the water warms through the 60s: “Tons of crappie”; topwater to night crawlers for bass; lots of walleye and muskie are picking up again.

As of Friday, the restaurant is open every day. Lakeside is now open 6 a.m.-7 p.m. For more information and reports from Lakeside, go to 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.


No update.


Guide Bill Stoeger said that as of Tuesday about 3/4 of the white bass have not spawned, “river is full of fish,” best is a river rig and minnows; those drifting with half a crawler and a 1/16th-ounce jig are still limiting on walleye.

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