Free fallin’ into Chicago fishing: The Midwest Fishing Report

SHARE Free fallin’ into Chicago fishing: The Midwest Fishing Report
SHARE Free fallin’ into Chicago fishing: The Midwest Fishing Report

The odd fall with weather yo-yoing all over the place, “Free Fallin”’ to give a nod to the late Tom Petty, for this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait sent the photo above of a Lake Michigan catfish and texted this explanation:

Wow. A 20 lb 2 oz channel cat. 35 inch length caught on spawn!! Angler Ed Rinkevicius. I love it. Please spread the word. Thx, Steve

First off, that is a pretty good catfish anywhere. Two, it is interesting it came on spawn.

The Midwest Fishing Report for Chicago fishing 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.


Start to snagging for salmon, the season opened Sunday, has been snow up and down the Illinois lakefront.Snagging season on the Illinois lakefront is open in four places. The daily bag is five total of Chinook and/or coho. Here are the details from the fishing regs booklet:

Snagging for chinook and coho salmon only is permitted from the following Lake Michigan shoreline areas from October 1 through December 31; however, no snagging is allowed at any time within 200 feet of a moored watercraft or as posted: A) Lincoln Park Lagoon from the Fullerton Avenue Bridge to the southern end of the Lagoon. B) Waukegan Harbor (in North Harbor basin only). C) Winnetka Power Plant discharge area. D) Jackson Harbor (Inner and Outer Harbors).


The early catch-and-release trout season in Illinois opens Saturday at nine sites statewide. Here are those sites:

North Jo Daviess County: Apple River, Apple River State Park (*) Kankakee County: Rock Creek, Kankakee River State Park (*) Ogle County: Pine Creek, White Pines Forest State Park (*) Central Adams County: Siloam Springs State Park Lake (*) Cass County: Gridley Lake at Jim Edgar Panther Creek SFWA (*) Hancock County: Horton Lake, Nauvoo State Park (*) Morgan County: Morgan Lake, Nichols Park, Jacksonville (*) Sangamon County: IDOT Lake, Springfield (*) South St. Clair County: Willow Lake, Peabody River King State Fish and Wildlife Area (*)

Here are the applicable regulations for those doing the early fly fishing:

Two weeks prior to the fall trout opener, the Fall Catch-and-Release Fly Fishing Season will open at nine sites (locations marked with an asterisk (*) in the list below) on Saturday, Oct. 7. Fly fishing anglers can use fly fishing gear to catch and release trout beginning Oct. 7 at those nine sites. No trout may be kept during the fly fishing period, but anglers can keep trout after the opening of the regular fall trout season beginning Oct. 21. . . . All anglers – including those using fly fishing gear who intend to release fish caught before Oct. 21 – must have a valid fishing license and an Inland Trout Stamp, unless they are under the age of 16, blind or disabled, or are an Illinois resident on leave from active duty in the Armed Forces. The daily catch limit for each angler is five trout. Illinois fishing licenses and Inland Trout Stamps are available at DNR Direct license and permit locations, including many bait shops, sporting goods stores and other retail outlets. For a location near you, check the IDNR website at this link: Fishing licenses and trout stamps can also be purchased by using a credit card through DNR Direct online via the IDNR website at, or by calling DNR Direct toll-free at 1-888-6PERMIT (1-888-673-7648).


CHICAGO:Staff at Henry’s said a few Chinook still being caught, but it is slow; Burnham/Northerly Island/McCormick is one spot to try. Cory Gecht at Park Bait said a few steelhead have been caught at Montrose and Diversey; kings are very slow.

WAUKEGAN: Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop texted:

Guys are getting brown trout and a few steelies on the bottom using frozen shrimp and Frozen roaches, a few guys are still getting panfish, but that is slowing down because the water temperature is cooling off. Snagging of course is good, some of the kings are still silver but are starting to turn. Thesereports have been off the government Pier, only a few reports off the South rocks, and Johnson Motors Pierre.

SOUTHEAST WISCONSIN:Water would help, especially with the Root and Pike. Check theWisconsin DNR Lake Michigan Report or the Root River Report.

INDIANA STREAMS/NORTHWEST INDIANA: Capt. Rich Sleziak atSlez’s Bait in Lake Station, Ind., texted:

Decent batch of kings came thru the ditch making it as far as they can go to 29ave dam in lake station Trail creek hAs coho few kings and steelhead lots of fishing pressure on those fishSkein spawn saks and spinners baits to use

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN:Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said there’s some steelhead and browns at Berrien Springs.


Be sure to check regulations in areas that will open for inland trout in October. Some sites prohibit fishing those waters beforehand to protect the stocked fish. Regular trout season opens Oct. 21.

Pete Lamar sent this:

Hi Dale, This sounds like the same report I’ve been giving for the past month, but I really have been out fishing: continuing warm and dry weather has resulted in a lot of grasshopper activity. Bluegills-and more recently, some bass-have been in tight to shore towards sunset feeding on the hoppers. Pete

Lamar is spot-on about the plethora of grasshoppers and how they impact fishing. It’s something worth noting, especially if you have kids out. It gives another way to keep their interest up.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley sent this:

Hey Dale, Here is a recap of the past week’s fishing:Area Lakes- with the warmup in temps, we are back to summer patterns. Berkley power worms Texas rigged along inside weedlines are taking good number of smaller bass. Evenings have been much better than morning hours.TTYL—Ken Husker O’Malley Husker Outdoors Waterworks fishing team

AREA RIVERSKen “Husker” O’Malley sent this:

Hey Dale, Here is a recap of the past week’s fishing:Area rivers- levels are very low and moss is becoming an issue to fish most baits effectively. We need a good rain to blow out the moss. If that happens soon, we are in good shape for excellent fall fishing.TTYL—Ken Husker O’Malley Husker Outdoors Waterworks fishing team

We desperately need the forecast rain and on the high end of the forecast, not just showers. And he is right on about the moss.


Click here to find river closures listed by the Illinois DNR. Go to to check area water levels and projection. To get to more specific gauges, even on creeks, in Illinois, go to


Braidwood is open daily. Final day of fishing is Oct. 17.


No update.


Arden Katz said there were lots of crappie, mostly smaller, yellow bass, and some white bass in 9-12 feet on Bluff and Marie, he’s drifting (.6 mph) with minnows on plain hooks.

Staff at Triangle Sports and Marine said they’re moving some muskies (still waiting on suckers to come in); bluegill and crappie are suspended; catfish remain good with this weather; walleye fair.

For more info and lake updates, go to Fox Waterway Agency or call (847) 587-8540.


Capt. Pat Harrison of Pat Harrison Outdoors sent this:

Chicago River and Lake Front Report Well the weather is still playing it’s tricks on us for sure surface temps from 73 to 79 degrees air temps from low 90’s to 70’s and winds that change daily. Last Saturday and again on Monday we were able to see Smallmouth in the rocks on the lake but could not get many to go. We could drop a jig on them and they would just sit and fan right next to it. We managed a few but no monsters 14 to 16. Thursday’s half day trip Bass were still slow but the pan fish are moving back into my spots so we had some nice pan fish action. The bigger Crappie and Gills are in the bottom of the water column and the top is full of 4 to 7 fish so a ¼ oz,. jig is needed to drop through the little guys to get down to the big guys and still have a waxie on. We fished a few of my spots and caught Nice Crappie, Gills, Sunnies, Catfish, a few Bass in the 8’ to 11 class we had 3 hours of action and a lot of fun. Baits for the week Jigs, small cranks, spinners, plastic worms wacky and nose hooked Cleaned and organized the boat and did some work and maintenance on wash, wax window cleaned, checked batteries fluids etc. installed red LED floor lighting and lighting in the rod locker. As the seasons change and I am going up river to downtown in the dark and returning in the dark so the lighting is a plus for sure. If you’re in the downtown area and see me say hi of give me a wave. Till next week be safe and enjoy the outdoors. Also starting to gear up for seminar and show season. Thanks Captain Pat — Thanks Pat


No update.


No update.


POWERTON:Boat and shore fishing is open. Final boat day is Oct. 20; final day of shore fishing is Oct. 27.HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Closed for the season.

Larry Dozardof sent this update on upcoming closing dates:

Dale,Here arethe WinterLakeClosures I havefrom IDNRfor Central IL (& couple extra). ANDERSON LAKE –– – THIS AREAWillCLOSE TO BOAT FISHING in Main LakeonOct. 21stwith Last Day to Fishing beingOct.20th during waterfowl season with bank fishing Only allowed.BANNER MARSH –** THIS AREA WILL CLOSE TO BOAT FISHING Oct. 18th (last day to boat fish will be Oct. 17th) —AND BANK FISHING ONLY ALLOWED AFTER 1PMbut NO FISHING ALLOWED in EAST POINT ACCESS AREA, which is CLOSED TO ALL FISHING to provide a GOOSE REFUGE AREA during season till Feb. 1st – –CLINTON LAKE -REMEMBER an easterly area of Clinton Lake between the DeWitt (CH14) and the 48 bridgeswillCLOSE to protect fish and wildlife FROM OCT. 10th through– typically March 31st– but with weekend, could be March 30th, 2018..?DOUBLE TS.F.&W.A.** THIS AREA WILL CLOSE TO FISHING Oct. 1stwithLAST DAYto Fishbeing Sept. 30thand will remain CLOSED till Feb 1st..EVERGREEN LAKE –-Bait Shop Fall Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. 7 Days And LAST DAY BAIT SHOP OPEN is Oct. 14th (Depending on bait supply)–Boat Rental Fall Hours:8:00 A.M. – 4:00 P.M.SAT. & SUN. ONLY – BOAT RENTALwillCLOSE for the seasonOct. 8th – – A SOUTHERN PART OF EVERGREEN LAKE – AROUND DEER ISLAND and ALL OF SIX-MILE CREEK BAY IS CLOSED TO GAS MOTORS from Oct. 15th through JAN. 1st to allow resting areas for migratory waterfowl. YOU ARE ALLOWED TO STILL RUN A TROLLING MOTOR IN THESE AREAS ONLY.-HENNEPIN-HOPPER LAKES– Lakes are CLOSED for the SeasonMcMASTER LAKE at SNAKEDEN HOLLOW –* THIS AREA WILL CLOSE TO FISHING for the Season on Oct. 16th(last day to fish is Oct. 15th) till Feb. 1st—NEWTON LAKE –As written in the fishing regs booklet :** The cold arm of Newton Lake shall be Closed daily from one-half hour before sunrise until 1:00 pm to all fishing and boat traffic except for legal waterfowl hunters during waterfowl season commencing with regular duck season through the close of the Canada goose and regular duck season. * For here – Regular South Waterfowl Season: Nov.23– Jan. 31POWERTON LAKE –WINTER HOURS (Oct. 1st – April 30th): 8am – 4pm – THIS LAKE WILL CLOSE TO BOAT FISHING ON OCT.21th(Last day for Boat fishing will be Oct.20th)and CLOSES TO SHORE FISHING and ALL FISHING ON OCT. 28th (Last day for Shore fishing is Oct. 27th) and REOPENS TO SHORE FISHING ONLY ON DEC. 26thAND NO BOAT FISHING till FEB. 15th – –PRAIRIE LAKE in Jim Edgar/ Panther Creek State F&W Area – Lakeaccessis CLOSED to Fishing from Nov. 1st – Jan. 15thuntil After 12:01 PM on Wednesdays and Saturdays.RICELAKE–* THIS AREA WILL CLOSE TO FISHINGon OCT. 21stwith Last Day of Fishing being OCT. 20thand Will Re-Open at end of Duck & Goose Season..SPRING LAKE (South & North) –* THIS AREA WILL BE CLOSED TO BOAT FISHING in Hunting Area ON OCT.21stwith Last Day to Boat Fish being Oct.20th –with BANK FISHING ALLOWED ONLY AFTER 1pm–AREAS THAT REMAIN OPEN TO BOATS ARE NORTH OF MAPLE ISLAND with ramp at north end at the Sky Ranch Road launchand IN PIKE HOLE with carry in boats –AND Shore Fishing is allowed in entire Lake after 1pm in Hunting areas or at boat ramps all day..SANGCHRIS LAKE –* THE WEST and EAST ARMS OF LAKE and Small AREA NEAR DAM ARE CLOSED DURING WATERFOWL SEASON to boat trafficeffective Oct. 18th (last day to boat fish will be Oct. 17th) through Jan. 31, 2018(during this time fishing boat traffic is permitted in the center hot arm only).Keep up the Good Work,Enjoy the Fall& GOOD FISHINGlarrysfishinghole.comLarry

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS:Check withJason Johnsof Boneyard Fishing.LAKESHELBYVILLE: Check withKen WilsonofKen Wilson Guide Service.


No update.


No update.


No update fromLance LaVineatHowie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay.

Wisconsin DNR report is usually posted Tuesdaysand includes reports from both the bay and lake sides.


Bank fishing is open again. Final day of fishing is Tuesday, Oct. 10 Lakeis open daily 6 a.m. (6:30 shore side) to sunset.


B & B Live Bait–(815) 433-0432–in Ottawa is open.


Access points for Trail Creek can be found on the Trail Creek Access Map.Access points for Little Cal and Salt Creek, which are closer to Chicago than Trail Creek, may be found atlittlecal_saltcreek_access.

Capt. Rich Sleziak atSlez’s Bait in Lake Station, Ind., texted:

Decent batch of kings came thru the ditch making it as far as they can go to 29ave dam in lake station Trail creek hAs coho few kings and steelhead lots of fishing pressure on those fishSkein spawn saks and spinners baits to use


River, as of Tuesday afternoon, was as low as it has been and very wadeable. I would suggest checking withNick Carr at Kankakee River Trading Post in Altorf.


Click here for the Ohio DNR’s annual fishing prospects.The Ohio DNR hasgeneral Lake Erie info and a fishing report.


Snagging at top. Shoreline salmon/trout at the top.

CHICAGO: Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters said it is tough for boaters,try for lakers north off the R4 in 100-140 feet on bottom. Staff at Henry’s said some drum are being caught, and that big catfish.

WAUKEGAN:Capt. Scott Wolfeof School of Fish Charters and president of Trollers Unlimited sent this report:

Hi Dale – Waukegan continued to have excellent lake trout fishing, slow for everything else. In the harbor in the last days before snagging season started fishing was slow. The fish that were taken were a combination of kings and coho on skein and spawn sacks. Presenting them suspended just a foot or less off the bottom was successful. I didn’t hear of, or see anyone casting having any success. Lake Trout trolling was excellent on the days you could get out with limits being the rule, not the exception. 105 to 150 feet of water South of the harbor. If the fish are holding tight to the bottom Jimmy Fly Mo rigs (8 Metal Dodger pulling a spin n glo with a Jimmy Fly skirt) tolled slow will take fish using downriggers and Magnum Dipsey divers right on the bottom. If the fish come up, those same Jimmy Fly Mo rigs and Warrior UV spoons trolled faster (at a normal salmon trolling speed) work. Lures spread from 35 feet to 10 feet off the bottom if the fish are up and active. Dragging them on the bottom will not work if the fish are up. This week I did not hear of any boats going way out to deep water (250+ feet, 15 or more miles out). Typically trollers can find a combination of steelhead, suspended lake trout, 2 and 3 year old kings and 2 year old coho there this time of year. The combination of some rough weather and the fact the lake trout fishing was excellent kept us from going out there. It looks like interest in Lake Michigan remains strong as we are getting lots of calls for next spring already. Tight Lines ! Capt. Scott Wolfe

Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop texted:

Guys are getting brown trout and a few steelies on the bottom using frozen shrimp and Frozen roaches, a few guys are still getting panfish, but that is slowing down because the water temperature is cooling off. Snagging of course is good, some of the kings are still silver but are starting to turn. Thesereports have been off the government Pier, only a few reports off the South rocks, and Johnson Motors Pierre.

NORTH POINT: Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters said goodlakers being caught in 150-230 feet, very few silver fish; a few browns and young kings are shallower.


Final day is Oct. 15. The cooling lake south of Seneca is open daily, 6 a.m. to sunset.Also, boaters should be aware that there will be no launching if wind is 14 mph or higher.


Check the latest from D & S Bait on Facebook.


Oct. 17 is the final day, except Monster Lake remains open year-round.

Check withJon Meder at Jon’s Bait Shop–(815) 237-2822–in South Wilmington.


Check withMike MladeikatMike Mladenik Guide Service sent this:


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


MINOCQUA: Kurt Justiceof Kurt’s Island Sport Shop in Minocqua, Wis. sent this:

Following a weekend of record highs, temps mellowed out only to be rising by this past weekend. After todays (10/3) highs of nearly 70 degrees, the next two weeks look to be in the 50’s – 60’s. Good news for musky anglers. Walleye: Very Good-Fair – Early in week Walleye catches were great with lots of lake limits being caught. Once located in shallows, Walleyes preferring larger baits suck as chubs, suckers and mud minnows. Even on the larger, deeper lakes where reports of bites along coontail edges of 12-14’ and rocks of 24-28’, lots of eaters (15-19+) with good numbers of slot (20-24) and larger fish (26-28) released this past week. Action slowed in shallows by weekend, but deeper lakes still producing. Musky: Good – Despite warm air temps, the bite has largely been on suckers of late. Fish following bucktails and spinner baits passing on the hardware for the live stuff. Crappie: Good – Starting to show up again. 10-12’ depths on natural lakes along coontail edges. Small minnows, jigs with tinsel on slip-bobbers. Northern Pike: Good – Liking the live bait (usually meant for Walleyes) but also responding well to spinner baits, #4 Mepps and 4 swim baits. Smallmouth Bass: Good – Some surprisingly good shallow action producing larger fish in the 18-20 range. Pitching creature baits and 3-4 swim baits along wood flooded in 3-7’. On deep lakes work gravel humps of 22-36’ using drop-shot rigs. Yellow Perch: Fair – Gone absent from locations two weeks ago. A few pockets in Flowages giving up fish. Largemouth Bass: Fair – Most action on Wacky worms, 4 worms on 1/8 oz jigs. Bluegill: Fair – Wind kept most anglers from targeting this species. Few reports. Following a spike in water surface temps of 70-74 degrees the weekend prior, surface temps back into low 60’s now. Good time for surface musky action prior to turn-over. Suckers and red-tailed chubs still in limited supply. Trees only about 25-30% turned. Kurt Justice Kurt’s Island Sport Shop Like us on FaceBook

EAGLE RIVER:B+L, from reports fromColin Crawfordof Colin Crawford Guide Service for the Eagle River Chamber of Commerce, sent this:

Fishing Report With days getting shorter and water temperatures dropping, shallow weeds will start dying, moving fish into deeper areas to follow the oxygen that is left in the water. As this turnover starts, it will reoxygenate water levels from top to bottom as the thermocline will disappear. Panfish:Perch are found around the deeper weeds. Using slip bobber rigs tipped with minnows or a piece of red worm should catch you a bunch. Crappies are in the deeper weeds and around lay downs, so a slip bobber rig tipped with small minnow or plastic will work on these. Bluegills are up in the shallows, so a slip bobber rig tipped with a small piece of worm or wax worm will work on these fish. Bass:Largemouth will be found around structures such as, laydowns and docks. Throwing spinnerbaits and plastic will work even near top water and around pads and reeds will spark action. Smallmouth are going to be in and around the rocks, so jigs tipped with live bait, plastics, and crankbaits will work here. Northern:You will find these fish in and around the deeper weeds as the shallow weeds are starting to die. Walleye anglers will catch these while jigging. You can use smaller spinnerbaits like #3 or #4 Mepps. Safety pin style spinnerbaits are an effective choice. Walleye:These fish will be found on the deepest weed edges and on the rock piles. Minnows are working better now and crawlers will still work until water gets colder. As the month goes on, these fish will start moving towards the deeper breaks. Early mornings and later evenings will be the best times to catch a few for a fish fry. Muskies:Every strategy is working for these beasts, As the water temperatures start to cool off, fish will start moving to the deeper weed edges. Bucktails, rubber baits and crank-baits will all work this month.


Shoreline and tributaries salmon/trout are above.

Capt. Rich Sleziak atSlez’s Bait in Lake Station, Ind., texted this additional stuff:

Crappie bite with gills good on beemoth and jumbo red worms in the ditch near the old marina boat docks and log jams

LAKERREMINDER: Indiana now has a daily bag of three lake trout on Lake Michigan, to match Michigan. Illinois’ daily bag remains at two.


No update.


The Root River Report from the Wisconsin DNR has started again.TheWisconsin 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.


Shoreline/trib salmon/trout report at top. Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said boaters are takinglakers in 120-180 feet; otherwise, inland lakes have some decent panfish action.


Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR.


Staff at Lakeside said there’s some crappie on fish cribs on the north end; quite a few muskie were caught over the weekend; some hybrids have been caught; bass are being caught out of weeds and on the dam face; bluegill “are all over.”

Park is open 6 a.m.-10 p.m. Lakeside is open 6:30 a.m.-6 p.m., until Oct. 11, when opening goes to 7 a.m. The restaurant is open weekends.

Here are the hours for Lakeside for this month:

Shabbona Lakeside is now OPEN for the SEASON Lakeside will be open everyday, 7 days a week, October 1st to October 10th 6:30 AM to 6 PM October 11th to October 31st 7 AM to 5PM

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


The Wisconsin DNR posts a report during open water at It is usually posted by Tuesday afternoon. Streadsm flow info is at


Check with River’s Edge.



From the Merrill area, Rob Abouchar sent this and the photo:

Hi Dale the fall fishing on the Wisconsin River in Merrill is heating up. Nice pike are starting to bite on spinner baits and swim baits. The storm 360 swimbait is getting multispeceis action. Smallnouth are excellent on strike king rodents and wacky rigged senkos. Musky anglers out fising suckers bulldawgs and bucktails. Last anglers chouce tournament for Braidwood this weekend . Tight lines


No update.


No update.

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