Spring trout, coho, smelt, Heidecke: Chicago fishing

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The formal openings–Heidecke Lake, spring trout in Illinois and Chicago lakefront smelt netting–and less formal beginnings–spawning patterns starting–highlight this sprawling raw-file version of the Midwest Fishing Report, which appears much condensed Wednesdays on the Sun-Times outdoors page.

Assistant Illinois fisheries chief Dan Stephenson sent the photo above of biologists Rob Miller (front with walleye) and Steve Pescitelli and this explanation:

[A] really nice 8.5-pound Kankakee River walleye our people collected to send to the LaSalle hatchery for spawning.


Illinois’ spring trout season opened Saturday and there were some big fish to be caught this year.

Assistant fisheries chief Dan Stephenson sent this note:

On another note, the Spring trout season, by all accounts, has been very successful. Both the catch and release fly fishing and the opening of the regular season this past Saturday. We didn’t stock as many trout as we sometimes do but they are much larger on average. Ranging from 14-20. We have received many nice testimonials and pics. Fish up to 4.5 pounds have been reported.

Then added this tidbit:

As a follow-up there was a 5 ½ pound trout caught at Willow Lake, Peabody River King in SW IL near Belleville. Really nice fish this year.

Those 16 and older need an inland trout stamp. Daily bag is five.

Here is the list of sites in Chicago-area, including the sites stocked by forest preserves and the IDNR: Area waters include Axehead, Belleau, Green, Wolf lakes (Cook County); Grove, Pickerel, Silver lakes (DuPage); Bird Park Quarry, Rock Creek in Kankakee River SP (Kankakee); Big Lake at Silver Springs SFWA (Kendall); Banana, Sand Lake at Illinois Beach SP (Lake); Lake Atwood, Piscasaw Creek (McHenry); Lake Milliken (Will).

Click herefor the statewide information on regulations and sites (however, it does not list the sites stocked by forest preserves).

LAKEFRONT COHO (and other fish)

CHICAGO:Staff at Henry’s Sports & Bait said shore fishermen taking coho and spotty browns, up and down lakefront. Staff at Park Bait said powerliners are switching to crawlers for good coho; casters taking some coho. Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters said before the blow, there was good action by the breakwalls off Navy Pier. WAUKEGAN: Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop texted boats trolling shallow with flies are taking coho and a few browns, it slowed a bit for shore fishermen; powerliners taking browns with crawlers; another pike was caught off the South Rocks. INDIANA: Ed McCain at Mik-Lurch said there is still coho, more of a trolling bite; casters that find clear water taking some on Little Cleos or jig and squid; smallmouth bass started, Poor Boys are the bait. Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters (he is in at East Chicago Marina) said they are doing well on coho every trip, spots vary–Hole-in-Wall, Cal Harbor or Shipping Channel–on Dodgers and flies; a few bonus kings.


Zero reports on smelt so far. Netting is allowed through April. The prospects are as down as they have been, as indicated in a brief preview in the Sun-Times outdoors. Regulations on the Chicago lakefront are the same: Nets may go in at 7 p.m., no alcohol and netters must be out of the parks by 1 a.m.


The former cooling lake near Morris reopened Wednesday, which was a tough day with water temperatures in the low 40s. Some warm rain could turn that around some.

Click here for my previewin on the March 29  Sun-Times, which is very encouraging.

Launch opens at 6 a.m., shore fishing at 6:30 a.m. Close is sunset. It is open daily.


Staff at Henry’s Sports & Bait said crappie are starting to go at Tampier. Spring trout drew the most interest over the weekend, but with spring building, crappie and bass come to the fore.


Go 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


Hooksetter’s Guide Servicesent this:

(Head): Ice fishing season is done in the central Wisconsin area. Walleyes hitting well on open water; all in and amidst the lakes and the Wisconsin River in Wisconsin¹s Marathon and Lincoln Counties (near Mosinee and Wausau). As much as I hate to say it our ice fishing season has come to an end. We were out this past week for one last trip and had a great outing catching jumbo perch. The bite was fast and furious on large jigging spoons and jigging Raps in 12 to 18 feet of water. But with deteriorating ice conditions and recent warm weather and rain we have decided that this would be our last trip of the year, and to put our ice fishing gear away for now. On the positive side, open water fishing is here! Š. The walleyes are ready and waiting to be caught. We have been out and the bite has been good for walleyes on the Wisconsin River system. There is not a lot of current and the water is still low so navigational hazards play an important role when heading out. We have been catching quite a few nice walleyes in the 15 to 20 inch range in the deeper pools in the main Wisconsin River system along with a couple of ³bonus² muskies that decided a jig and minnow was what they wanted for dinner.


Water levels are improving and should keep improving with the rains. And with the flow, walleye should be going.

Arden Katz  said ice-fishing jigs are taking good crappie, when you find the right channel. Over the weekend, he found water on both sides of 50 degrees.

For more reports, see http://www.foxlakefishing.com/

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


Jeff Nolan sent this, particularly on the North Branch:

Bowling ball bass did not disappoint Easter Sunday with almost 40 fish in 3 hours bass crappie ,gills…. one 14inch crappie to note and one 14inch smallie . Water temp 57degrres . Mostly on cranks and surface frogs ….yep surface bait in deep water ? HUH?

Later, he texted this:

Forget to mention at Wolf Point carp are stacked up like cordwood.


LaSALLE: Best fishing–blue catfish, bass and hybrid stripers–in the area goes on from boats and shore. Hours are 6 a.m. to sunset daily. There is a concessionaire with bait and food options. It should be fully operational soon, if not already. HEIDECKE: Reopened Wednesday. It is open daily. Launch opens at 6 a.m., shore fishing at 6:30. It closes at sunset. With cold water, it was 40 degrees on opening day, fishing has been really tough to non-existent. Warm rain may help.  BRAIDWOOD:  Joe Sanderson messaged: “Water temps are down at braidwwod but still biting” Lake is open daily 6 a.m.-sunset daily. MAZONIA: Lakes are open. Few reports, but that should change this weekend.


Brian Gatesat Geneva Lake Bait and Tackle said that bluegill and crappie are picking up by Lake Lawn on Delavan; boaters are taking bluegill at Abbey on Geneva.


No report this week.


EVERGREEN: Jim Robbins of Illinois Valley Outdoors texted that crappie are doing well in 12-16 feet, drifting with a jig and minnow just off the bottom near weed lines. HENNEPIN CANAL: Jim Robbins of Illinois Valley Outdoors texted  that crappie are starting to hit wax worms around stickups or snags; a few walleye jigging the lock walls.

EVERGREEN: Mike Steffasent these reminders:

NEW SAUGEYE (WALLEYE HYBRID) REGULATIONS FOR EVERGREEN LAKE Starting April 1, 2015 the following new regulations will take affect for Saugeye (Walleye Hybrid) on Evergreen Lake: Minimum Length Limit – 18″ Daily Creel Limit – 3 Fish/Day Evergreen Lake Bait Shop & Boat Rental Opens Saturday, April 4, 2015! The Evergreen Lake Bait Shop & Boat Rental will open this Saturday, April 4, 2015! Hours are as follows: Bait Shop: Monday – Thursday from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. & Friday – Sunday from 6 a.m. – 4 p.m. Boat Rental: Open ONLY Friday – Sunday from 6:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Expanded Hours Beginning Memorial Day Weekend! Thank you, Mike

SHELBYVILLE: Check with Ken Wilson of Ken Wilson Guide ServiceLAKE OF EGYPT & REND LAKE: Check with Jason Johns of Boneyard FishingPOWERTON: Both shore and boat fishing are open. Hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. daily. HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Lakes will reopen this year at an undecided date. EMIQUON: Call (309) 547-2730.


No report this week.


No update this week.


Lance LaVineat Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay sent this:

Hello all….here is what I have for an updated fish report as of 3/6/15 Brown Trout fishing has been going quite well along the Lake Michigan shoreline basically from Bailey’s Harbor all the way south to Algoma. The best depths have been anywhere from as shallow as 3 ft. of water out to about that 20 foot mark. There have also been some decent catches of nice Lake Trout and an occasional Rainbow. The best baits have been Mauler Spoons, Rapalas, Thundersticks and smaller sized Husky Jerks. There is still ice on bayside of Door County but that should be gone very shortly and that will open up a lot of Brown Trout opportunities just in time for the Bailey’s Harbor Brown Trout tournament which will be held on April 23rd through April 26th. Pike action has been going O.K. in the Sturgeon Bay ship canal for both the shore fishermen and boat fishermen. The fishing should get better as the Pike retreat from the creeks and shallow bays and start putting on the feed bag. The best techniques are drifting with bottom bouncer rigs with sucker minnows, drifting and jigging Odd’Ball jigs tipped with Tuffy fathead minnows and trolling or casting large crank baits Since there is still some ice on top of the spring Walleye hot spots, the reports have been fairly slim, but there are still opportunities to hook some nice fish for both shore fishermen and boaters alike. Shore fishermen generally cast soft plastic swim baits or suspending crank baits right downtown Sturgeon Bay on the public fishing areas and the boat fishermen can do the same thing along with slow trolling long lines behind there boats in those same areas until the outer bay breaks free from the ice. The best crank baits to have in the box are…Husky Jerks, Smithwick Rogues, Flicker Shads and minnows and Matzuo’s 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


Jim Robbins at Illinois Valley Outdoors said that sauger are good on jig and minnow or plastic, mostly in 8-16 feet; they should move shallower with warmer water. White bass are starting to hit bladebaits, some quality fish. Some crappie by bridge pilings.

Joe Sanderson messaged:

went to starved rock temp 52 managed 10 sauger 2 keepers including one full female ..so they aint all done spawning yet… 12 to 14 ft..chartreuse jigs..picked up a few whitebass then spun a bearing and my day was shott..

Ken “Husker” O’Malleysent this:

Hey Dale, I hit the Illinois River over the weekend. River is in good shape with visibility around half a foot. Fished for white bass on a variety of blade baits. Chartreuse colors worked best around current breaks, behind islands and bridge pilings. Did manage to hook into s few Asian Carp. Only landed one. Many areas that were classic white bass holding areas are thick with carp now. Nothing new there. It was fun to battle those carp on light tackle though. – Ken Husker O’Malley Huskeroutdoors Waterworks fishing team

Illinois Valley Outdoors (in the former Time on the Water Outdoors buildings) at Spring Valley is now open with basics, including bait, crankbaits and plastics at 5 a.m.  The phone is (815) 663-1000.


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


No updates this week from my regular guys, but the river, at least as of now, is in very fishable shape for early spring. And as the photo and note at the top indicated, there are quality walleye to be had.


Prospects look good for walleye and perch this year; smallmouth fair but improving. Click here for update. The Ohio DNR has general Lake Erie info and a fishing report.


See report at top.


Gene Dellingerat D&S Bait said, “Open water.” There are good crappie and bluegill on Monona Bay; and fair ones on Squaw Bay; and good catfish on the north end of Mendota.


Check Mike Mladenik of Mike Mladenik Guide Service :


Kurt Justiceof Kurt’s Island Sport Shop in Minocqua sent this:

04/07/15 Minocqua Area Fishing Report: Following a weekend of several reports of anglers breaking thought…one needing rescue, thankfully no fatalities as earlier rumored…ice fishing is nearly over for the season. Big Arbor Vitae still holds fishable ice on the south shore as of today (4/7) as do a few other protected bays, but, with ice thickness of 11-14’ of porous ice, conditions won’t remain safe for long. Weekend forecast in the low 60’s will end any question of ice fishing. The pond behind our shop is nearly 70% open. Historically, once the pond behind the shop is ice free, Lake Minocqua follows in 7-10 days. Keep in mind, while the Lake Tomahawk/Minocqua chain will have a zero bag limit on walleye for both hook and line and tribal spearing starting this opener, the Ceded Territories should see a 3 walleye bag limit over the entire area. Kurt Island Sportshop Minocqua, Wi

EAGLE RIVER: This report came the Eagle River Chamber of Commerce, based on Creative Brilliance interviews with Eagle River guides “Muskie Matt” of Wild Eagle Lodge, “Ranger Rick” Krueger of Guide¹s Choice Pro Shop, Mat Hegy; and Eagle River hunting enthusiast, Dan Anderson:

(Head): Crappies, bluegills and perch putting on a good bite through the ice; all in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area. This is a very iffy time of year what is in this report can change almost in a figurative instant. Caution is the watchword, along with common sense. Right now there is no discernible shoreline ice erosion, but that can change in a blink of an eye. Keep your eyes open and don’t take chances, and for sure watch for ice erosion, thinning and cracking along shorelines and around any structure or current area. Ice conditions in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area remain good, indeed ice thickness has increased a bit due to the colder weather. Ice thickness right now is about 10-25 inches lake dependent. Foot travel and ATV’s are the best ways of getting on and around the ice. Snowmobiles aren’t going to work very well , because of the lack of snow cover, and our guide sources say again – -don’t use a truck or motor vehicle. Best is to substitute a four-wheeler. PANFISH: Crappies, bluegills and perch remain in two locations. Fish main lake basins in 30 feet of water or less. The panfish are holding in areas associated with structure, such as humps, brush piles, depressions, elevations, contour changes and cribs. Or you can fish the shallower weed and break edges in 12 feet of water or less. The perch are tight to bottom, with the crappies and gills suspending anywhere in the water column (these fish have not yet started to move upward, because of the cold snap – -but keep your electronics working, because as soon as there’s some consistent warmth the crappies and gills will move quickly up the water column). Use a crappie minnow, spike, wiggler, waxie or micro-plastic on a small jig or under a slip bobber. All day action and the bite is good.


Lakefront report at the top. Ed McCain at Mik-Lurch said crappie are starting at Cedar and Lemon on minnows or b-moths; a few crappie and bluegill at Willow Slough.


Brian Gates from Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle said nice channel catfish and flatheads are being caught between Fort Atkinson and Jefferson.


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


Capt. Eric Condorof Big Bird Charters at Tackle Haven said coho picked up by boat (when winds keep ice out) and some even reached Cook power plant; pier fishermen are taking coho, browns and a few whitefish; and there are some steelhead being caught at Berrien Springs.


Click herefor reports from the Indiana DNR.


Clint Sands at Lakeside said there’s lots of action on smaller muskies; trollers are taking hybrids; and there’s some crappie by the campground.

Lakeside is open 6:30  a.m.-6:30 p.m.

For information and reports from Lakeside, go to shabbonalake.com or call (815) 824-2581.


The Wisconsin DNR report is at http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/lakemichigan/OutdoorReport.html. They are generally posted by Tuesday afternoon. Stream flow info is at http://waterdata.usgs.gov/wi/nwis/current?type=flow.


Staff at Mik-Lurch said crappie bite is beginning in the corn channel. Otherwise, there is trout fishing now on the Illinois side.


Guide Bill Stoeger said, “Walleyes are really good.’’ He said lots of females are still coming up and some spawned out females are coming back, on river rigs or jigs; there’s even a few white bass being caught.

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