Yo-yoing weather and fishing is back for this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report, but Braidwood Lake also reopens to fishing Wednesday, March 1.
Larry Green sent the photo of Charlie Mack from an early-week smallmouth trek on the Kankakee River.
The MFR 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.
Perch continues to be the top, most consistent, story of the winter (such winter as we’ve had). Generally, sorting is required for keepers. Steve Palmisano at Henry’s said perch remain good around the South Side slips. Arden Katz said the good perch fishing, sizes he hasn’t seen in years, goes on around the South Side slips, but the best slip can change daily depending on the day and weather.
Some crappie reports started in the warmth last week, effort slowed this week.
On bass,Ken “Husker” O’Malley sent this:
Hey Dale, Before the cold front hit, bass were very good on area lakes. Who would have guessed that a 27 degree high in mid February would be considered a major cold front? Good numbers were being caught using a variety of swimbaits. Focusing on wind blown shorelines yielded the best numbers as bass were most active in these areas. Stable temps this week should get the bite going again.TTYL—Ken Husker O’MalleyHuskeroutdoorsWaterworks fishing team
AREA WATER LEVELS
Considering the storms tonight, might be worth going to tohttp://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
Reopens to fishing on Wednesday, March 1. Open daily 6 a.m.-sunset (6 a.m.-6 p.m. currently). See today’s column for prospects and observations.Check withJon Meder at Jon’s Bait Shop–(815) 237-2822–in South Wilmington.
CHAIN O’LAKES AREA
Art Frisell at Triangle Sports and Marine said the ice is gone, water levels OK for boats; walleye continue to improve before the the spawn, especially around current areas; crappie are picking up daily, look for them to move shallower on sunny days toward evening; also try bluegills shallow on sunny days.
For Chain updates, check with Fox Waterway Agency or call (847) 587-8540.
Capt. Pat Harrison (click here for his site) sent this first update:
Feels good to be able to post an Open Water fishing report in February, Well my brother Bern and i hit the Chicago River last Wednesday to see what things were looking like. Surface temp at the ramp was 49 degrees I thought to myself that’s about 6 to 8 degrees higher than the previous couple years. I said to Bern when we get downtown we may see temps in the 50’s and sure enough we did temps 52 to 54. My 2nd cast hooked up with 10″ Crappie soon Bern was catching fish too. We spent about 6 hours moving around and checking temps water surprised me being a warm as it was. We ended the day catching 75 plus fish 7 species.The bite was mainly Crappie Gils and Sunnies they seem to be moving we would get a dozen or so then none for about 5 to 10 minutes then they would be back. A few of the spots produced Bass Small and Large mouth stripper. The Bait of choice was a 1/8 white jig and twister tail. (small bait to match the season) a couple of the Bass came on a Tight Rope jig and Trailer white again.It was Awesome to have a day like this to start the season I will be out this week too.We never made it out onto the lake that will happen this week looking forward to that. We went out to mainly check water temps and changes in the river from the off season.If you have any questions feel free to contact me I will help any way I can always willing to help. Here’s to a Great 2017 Season Hope this is a sign of whats to come.— www.patharrisonoutdoors.com Thanks Pat
It makes me happy to have a Chicago River report in February.
DELAVAN/LAKE GENEVA AREA, WISCONSIN
No update this week.
DES PLAINES RIVER
POWERTON:Boat and shore fishing is open. Hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. LAKE OF EGYPT/REND:Check withJason Johnsof Boneyard Fishing.SHELBYVILLE:Check withKen WilsonofKen Wilson Guide Service.EVERGREEN: Bait shop and boat rental are closed for the season.HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Closed for season.
FOX RIVER: WESTERN SUBURBS
FOX RIVER: WISCONSIN
GREEN BAY/STURGEON BAY
Lance LaVineatHowie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay sent this:
Good morning fellas. Here is what I have as far as the fishing is concerned As the ice departs from our Door County waters, boat fishermen and shore fishermen are getting geared up and are already getting in on some pretty decent action. Brown Trout action has been going pretty good from the Bailey’s Harbor area south to Algoma trolling the shallows in about 5 to 15 feet of water. Clean to dirty water transitions have been the best along with the mouths of streams. Rapalas, Thundersticks and Mauler Spoons have been the most productive baits for the trollers. The shore fishermen are also having some pretty decent success fishing from the piers and wade fishing along the shorelines. Casting with Cleo’s, Krocodile’s and throwing some jerk baits like Husky Jerks, Shadow Raps and Smithwick Rogues There are some Pike being caught right in downtown Sturgeon Bay along the shipping channel along with a few Walleye’s and some Brown Trout. So a pretty nice mixed bag of fish for both boaters and shore fishermen. The different methods include…drifting with sucker minnows on bottom bouncer rigs, jigging with OddBall jigs tipped with minnows, rip jigging with Rippin Raps, hair jigs and Blade baits and or trolling or casting with spoons or suspending jerk baits With the recent warm spell, the Lake Michigan tributaries are starting to run and in turn, a few Rainbow Trout have been spotted throughout the county. And as the weather continues to warm up, more and more fish will pour into the rivers and streams. Small spinners, yarn flies, yarn eggs and spawns sacs will be the baits of choice for those spring Rainbows And as we move through February and into March pending on ice cover, there will be lots opportunities to catch a big, trophy Walleye as those fish will push shallow getting ready for the spawn Thanks; Lance LaVine Howie’s Tackle 1309 Green Bay Rd Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235 Ph: 920-746-9916
The Wisconsin DNR report is usually posted Tuesdaysand includes reports from both the bay and lake sides.
Reopens to fishing April 1.
I am not certain what impact the storm will have on access or water levels.
Before that,Joe Sanderson messaged:
Whatever u wanna write about walleye go ahead.. water colors good currents good and a variety of baits are catchin em
Yes starved rock.bites best early..chartruese jig w plastics. Hard to find minnows in the area. Cranks and floaters working as well..
On that note, remember that Illinois Valley Outdoors is closed. Have bait and terminal tackle before going.
INDIANA STREAMS (LAKE MICHIGAN TRIBUTARIES)
Ben Dickinson, assistant Lake Michigan fisheries biologist for Lake Michigan, posted this on the St. Joseph River:
For those of you that love numbers, last week 995 steelhead went through the South Bend Fish Ladder. That makes a total of 1,735 in 2017
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.
Larry Green(photo to the right) tweeted this on an outing with Charlie Mack:
River temps & water levels down slowed the bite but managed a half dozen today. No monsters but a couple 16 inch
See perch at top.Steve Palmisano at Henry’s texted that some browns are being caught, but coho are spotty. Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop texted that some browns are being caught in Waukgean.SHOP NOTE:Stacey Greene said the water is turned on and if everything goes OK Park Bait should reopen by Saturday. NAVY PIER NOTE: The fisherman’s parking special is $6, if out by 10 a.m. Find an parking attendant after you pull in to get the special.PIER PASSES:The pier passes for legal access to fish select piers at Jackson, Burnham, DuSable, Diversey, Belmont and Montrose harbors in Chicago are available at Henry’s ($6 cash, one per valid fishing license).
LAKE VERMILION, MINNESOTA
Check Jarek Wujkowski of Rodsbent Guide Service.
Reopens March 15. Will be open daily.
MADISON CHAIN, WISCONSIN
Both units are open for fishing. Hours are 6 a.m.-sunset daily. Check withJon Meder at Jon’s Bait Shop–(815) 237-2822–in South Wilmington.
MENOMINEE RIVER, WISCONSIN
Check withMike MladeikatMike Mladenik Guide Service.
Check the Wisconsin DNR Lake Michigan Report, which generally comes out Tuesdays for updates.
Remember that gamefish season ends at midnight Sunday, March 5.
MINOCQUA:Kurt Justiceof Kurt’s Island Sport Shop in Minocqua, Wis. sent this:
Winter came back! A week after the balmy 50’s were here, temps dropped back into the teens and 20’s. Snow and wind made it feel even colder. Wind had the most limiting effect on anglers, especially now that most have removed their permanent shacks. Despite the conditions, some surprisingly good reports came from the hearty souls who toughed it out recently. Crappies: Very good-Good – Best in the afternoons and through dark. With cold and wind effecting tip-down use (which was still good when manageable) anglers fishing minnows below small floats doing well as are dippers with rocker jigs tipped with plastics or Lethal Cecils tipped with waxies. The bite has been good with lots of limits reported. Walleyes: Good – First time this high up on the charts in a long time! Despite lack of walleye suckers for bait, some very good action after dark…and even during the day, including a 25 ½ derby winner from only 7’ of water. Small to medium shiners, jigging Raps and Hyper Glides as the aggressive bite has lent itself to some good jigging action. Northern Pike: Good-Very good – Some nice fish in the 32-34 range the past couple days. Big shiners and suckers (if you can find). Flags not flying, but better quality fish of late. Yellow Perch: Good – Still two distinct bites. The shallow, cabbage flats of 7-10’ producing best #’s with some real big perch mixed in. Minnows best, but a Demon tongue or Vingle Spoon with 2-3 waxies threaded on working also. Over deeper water, mud flats of 16-32’ producing using Hali jigs, Pimples, Flash Champs-tipped with wigglers or red spikes. Punch holes and move around to find roaming schools of perch. Bluegills: Good-Fair – Wind affected these anglers the most, keeping them from moving about. After last weeks heat wave, some bodies of water with incoming stream saw gills move in as shallow as 5-7’. Small dark jigs tipped with dark plastics or Chena doing well. Ice is a concern for anglers even up here. We never received the snow that was forecasted (got about 4) but reports of ice thickness vary from highs of 20 (on heavy traffic lakes) to as little as 10-12. Caution is advised! So far ATV, snowmobile and foot traffic is fine. We can’t advise safe truck travel though. Most permanent shacks have been removed (or should be)! Night time temps in teens have been firming ice up, not making any, just keeping what we have where it’s at. The game fish season for inland lakes ends this Sunday, March 5th. You can fish for walleye, pike and bass up until the stroke of midnight on March 6th. I’d advise watching websites or calling your favorite shop for ice reports in the coming weeks. Kurt Justice Kurt’s Island Sport Shop www.kurtsislandsports.com
Fishing Report Northern Pike: We are finding fish on the weed edges and in the deeper weeds. On the edges, the set up should be tip ups set a foot or so off the bottom. When fishing the deep weeds, set your tip ups so that your bait is just above the tops of the weeds. Walleye: These fish are being caught in a couple of areas, in and around weeds. Setting tip ups on the weed edges baited with walleye suckers or medium golden shiners in low light conditions seem to be best. Also, jigging in the same areas with baits like the buckshot rattle spoon are producing fish. The other good option is on the tops of rock humps for good spots in the early evening. Panfish: Bluegills are being found in the weeds using small jigs tipped with waxies, spikes or tipped with plastic. Perch are being caught on the deep weed edge where the mud meets.
Capt. Rich Sleziak atSlez’s Bait in Lake Station, Ind., said there still are not many coho around; Willow Slough was good in the warmth last week for panfish on jigs, wax worms and jumbo reds; crappie were good at Cedar Lake and Lake George before the weather went crappy. COHO NOTE:Be aware Indiana’s minimum on coho is 14 inches.
ROCK RIVER, WISCONSINNo update.
ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN
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.
ST. JOSEPH, MICHIGAN
Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said fishing was slow, other than suckers in the lower river.
ST. JOSEPH RIVER, INDIANA
Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR.
Muskie fishermen are moving/catching fish.Lake hours are 8 a.m.-8 p.m. during March.Lakeside is closed until April 1 or another round of warm weather, although there will be appointment boat rentals (shabbonalake.com or (815) 824-2581). The restaurant is closed for the season. For more information and reports from Lakeside, go to shabbonalake.com or call (815) 824-2581.
SOUTHEAST WISCONSIN LAKEFRONT
The Wisconsin DNR posts a report during open water 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 RIVER, WISCONSIN