Glory of spring fishing: Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report

SHARE Glory of spring fishing: Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report

Spring fishing in all its glorious variety–catfish, coho, crappie, bluegill, coho, bass and even a few Chinook–is here and that shows for this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

There have been some nice brown trout caught around southern Lake Michigan, such as the one by Schurz teacher Dan Smykowski, who emailed:

Hi Dale,Not sure this is FOTW worthy, but I caught this Brown Trout earlier today (Easter). I’m a high school teacher in CPS (Schurz High School), and I decided to get out on my last day of Spring Break to try my luck on the Lake. My buddy Jim and I headed to the Southside to shore fish. I lost 2 on our last outing, and was looking to make up for it. Needless to say, this fish definitely did that! I caught the fish casting cranks and released it back to be caught again. Although I didn’t have a scale, I definitely think this exceeded 10 lbs., and was a personal best for me. Thanks for the time and consideration.Take care,Dan Smykowski

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 fishing is closed in Illinois waters of Lake Michigan from Monday, May 1, to June 15.


Smelt netting ends Sunday night on the Chicago lakefront.


The Michigan DNR sent this reminder:

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources reminds anyone who fishes to dust off their gear and get ready for the opening of two fishing seasons Saturday, April 29. The statewide trout season and the Lower Peninsula inland walleye, northern pike and muskellunge seasons all open that day. Anglers are reminded that in Upper Peninsula waters the walleye, northern pike and muskellunge seasons open Monday, May 15. Don’t forget the catch-and-immediate-release season for largemouth and smallmouth bass is open all year on nearly all waters (unless otherwise closed to fishing – check the current Michigan Fishing Guide for specifics). The possession season for bass opens statewide Saturday, May 27, except for Lake St. Clair, the St. Clair River and the Detroit River, which open Saturday, June 17.


Crappie fishing should be going and is in spots, but struggling in other areas, perhaps because of the vigorous swings in weather.

As to bass, Ken “Husker” O’Malley emailed:

Hey Dale, The bass bite has been very good on area lakes. The recent warm temps has triggered a very good even bite. Bass are up shallow, so casting parallel to the inside weedlines keep the bait in the strike zone longer. Lipless cranks have been the most productive bait. My personal choice is the strike king red eye shad. TTYL —Ken Husker O’Malley Huskeroutdoors Waterworks fishing team


Probably another week to keep an eye on water levels. Go to to check area water levels and projection. To get to more specific gauges, even on creeks, in Illinois, go to


Rob Abouchar emailed:

Hi Dale Big Anglers choice tournament out of North End on Sunday at Braidwood. Beautifal calm conditions and water temps in high 70s. Several limits came to the scales but still many teams struggling to find keepers. 1st place went to Tom Sanders and Pete Banach with a 3 fish limit weighing 11.06 pounds. 2nd place went to team of Hubbard and Catlin with 9.89lbs. Third went to Brian Partak with 9.77lbs. Best bets for bass baits still remain plastic worms, jigs with plastic and crankbaits that dive to depths. Shore anglers still taking small cats.Not sure i will be fishing here or up at Wisconsin river in coming weeks but I will keep you posted of where I am and what is biting.ThanksRob

Braidwood is open daily. Hours are 6 a.m.-7:30 p.m. through May 14; from May 15-June 11, close is 8 p.m.; from June 12-July 16, close is 8:30 p.m.; from July 17-Aug. 13, close is 8 p.m.; from Aug. 14-Sept. 10, close is 7:30 p.m.; from Sept. 11-24, close is 7 p.m.; from Sept. 25-Oct. 7, close is 6:30 p.m.

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


No update.


Arden Katz said bluegill are going very well in the channels.

Greg Dicksonat Triangle said the top bite is bluegill and crappie in the channels; catfish are picking up, on crawlers or stinkbait; some largemouth have moved up already; muskie are shallow, too; for walleye, moving water will be the key in 8-12 feet.

NOTE: As of Wednesday morning, the lower river–Algonquin dam to Stratton Lock and Dam–remained no-wake. Check updates at Fox Waterway Agency. In general for water and lake updates, go to Fox Waterway Agency or call (847) 587-8540.


Capt. Pat Harrison (click here for his site) sent this Tuesday:

Good Morning. Out a few times last week fish on the river are a bit confused with the change in weather and current. Water levels were up and down on the river last week and sometimes almost still. Had to work for the fish we caught the Carp are starting to move to spawn and are jumping they have moved some of the Crappie Gils and Bass out of areas that normally hold them. Catfish 16″ to 22″ seemed to like what was going on we caught about 20 in 3 trips. Bass were comung on crank baits along the walls with sun on them biggest being about 15″. Crappie/Gills were tough but some were good size on Jig and Waxie or minnow about 6 fot down in 12 to 14 foot of water.. Out on the lake we flat lined cranks baits and boated one nice Brown about 6 pounds. I’m in the transition period waiting for the new boat but still fishing. I have a few trips this week and the weather looks a bit better. Have a Great week go fishing. — Thanks Pat

“a bit confused” defines a lot of wild things with this up and down weather.


No update this week.


Marcus Benesch emailed:

Dale, River levels are awful high still. Water temps hovering around 60 degrees with our drastic air temperature swings.Didn’t find bedding bass, but found biting bass all while sweeping the chocolaty waters with a mepps spinnerbait. More largemouth than smallmouth, also a good variety of species including gar, channel cat, and a hungry carp that hit a small chatterbait.Marcus BeneschRiver Grove


HENNEPIN-HOPPER: The lakes reopen to fishing on May 16 and remain open through Labor Day, Sept. 4. Fishing is closed on Mondays other than Labor Day. Click here for complete list of regs and details. POWERTON: Boat and shore fishing is open. Hours are 6 a.m.-8 p.m.  LAKE OF EGYPT/REND LAKE: Check with Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing. LAKE SHELBYVILLE: Check with Ken Wilson of Ken Wilson Guide ServiceEVERGREEN LAKE: Will find out about bait shop and boat rental hours.


Ken Gortowski sent this:

It’s time for creeks. Actually, it’s been time for 3 weeks now, but better late than never.Wandered along the shores of 3 creeks that feed the Fox far below Aurora over the past weekend. They were all in excellent shape and I was a bit surprised at my continued lack of interest in fishing them. Enjoyed the hike and sitting much more.Didn’t see any smallies swimming around, but bait fish populations were quite large. Always a good sign.River and creek anglers forget that the river can stay high for weeks, but the creeks that feed the Fox can return to normal within a few days.Once upon a time, from April 1st to June 15th, 95% of my smallie fishing was in the creeks that feed the Fox. On average in that time frame I would catch 500 smallies.The mistake anglers make is to concentrate on the mouths of the creeks. It’s now the third week of April and with a spring like we’ve had, I would be miles inland. Many, many miles. Trick is to fish light and take what hits. Smallies, bluegill, rock bass, crappie, white bass and the occasional smallies bastard cousin, the lowly largemouth bass. And when all else would fail and I just wanted to feel a tug on the line, I’d target the big creek chubs that are in full spawning mode about now.I might give it a try again. We shall see.

Ken G

NOTE: As of Wednesday morning, the lower river–Algonquin dam to Stratton Lock and Dam–remained no-wake. Check updates at Fox Waterway Agency or (847) 587-8540.


No update.


No update this week from Lance LaVine at Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay.

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


The coming couple weeks tend to be the prime time at Heidecke, might be time to really start targeting it. Click here for my preview column, which included some prospects from fisheries biologist Rob Miller; good news is that walleye looked good last fall in the survey and white bass, hybrids and yellow bass were solid, too.


Levels have stablized. B & B Live Bait–(815) 433-0432–is open in Ottawa, as is Cajun’s in Utica.


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 at littlecal_saltcreek_access.


River is on fire, especially for catch-and-release smallmouth bass. As of Tuesday, levels were very good for spring.


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


CHICAGO:Smelt report at top. Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters said coho are decent and lakers are “outstanding” in 40-50 feet, basically outside of the crib line. He’s doing Dodgers and flies, for the coho best has been a red Dodger and peanut flies, but some fish are being caught on spoons and crankbaits.

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait Shop said smallmouth are hitting up and down the lakefront, mostly on soft plastics on jigs or on roaches; coho are moving off shore.

Stacey Greene at Park Bait said a few salmon and trout are being caught afternoons, more being caught on spoons, from shore at Montrose.

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.

WAUKEGAN:Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop texted:

Boat trailor parking is in lot just north of yacht club, and on the city docks next to the yacht club, it’s about a 1/2 a block walk, if that. Launch is still free. Car parking is available right in front of government pier, would you like me to send you some pictures befroe i get to work today?Fishing good, boat and pier

NORTH POINT:Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters said there was good coho, but was slower Tuesday.


Check Jarek Wujkowski of Rodsbent Guide Service.


Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait Shop said the catfish and bluegill reports from customers has been very good. The cooling lake south of Seneca is open daily, 6 a.m. to sunset. Click here for my column about prospects. 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.


Time is right for Mazonia for the next couple weeks: redear, bluegill, crappie, bass and catfish should or will be going. BoRabb Williams messaged on Monday about catching big redear and crappie at Ponderosa on the South Unit. I did all right for bluegill (keepers took sorting) and bass at the North Unit, and small bass on Monster at the South Unit.

Hours are 6 a.m.-sunset daily. Check with Jon Meder at Jon’s Bait Shop–(815) 237-2822–in South Wilmington.


Check with Mike Mladeik at Mike Mladenik Guide Service.


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


Gamefish season is closed. Open-water season is here.

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

Pan fishing has been very weather dependent, very good reports on the nice warming days. When cold, rainy, and yes, sometimes snowy, the shallows cool and the fish move out.Yellow Perch: Very Good – Most have spawned out by now and have started to recover and are hungry. Great time to find larger perch up shallow feeding on minnows, ½ crawlers below small floats or tipped behind light jigs of 1/32 oz.Crappies: Very Good -Good – Up in shallows on warming days. Tossing tiny plastic tubes under small floats, sometimes dressed with waxie or spike. Small minnows as well as 1 twister tails also effective. This is not a spawning movement, these fish just up to get warmer water to help with egg production.Bluegills: Good – Similarly moving shallow on warming days. Tiny jigs tipped with worms, waxies or Gulp waxies best.Cold weather moving in late this week will slow otherwise good pan fishing. Lots of walleye spawning is done, some larger lakes still in the midst.Kurt JusticeKurt’s Island Sport Shopwww.kurtsislandsports.comLike us on FaceBook

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

Fishing Report Perch: The best approach is to set up slip bobber rigs with split shots and Aberdeen hooks or small jigs tipped with small minnows. Look for areas in the shallows around any structure, or in the water around sand bottoms. Crappie: Anglers can find success with slip bobber rigs. Using either split shots and Aberdeen hooks or small jigs tipped with small minnows, the Crappie strategy is similar to Perch.


Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station, Ind., said that the best bet is bluegill and redears (a few crappie) at Willow Slough for boaters who keep moving around; crappie are good for boaters in the coves of Pine Lake, too; on Lake Michigan, near-shore coho bite (a few steelhead and kings, too) changes daily from Hammond to Michigan City, more Dodgers and peanut flies; lakers are good northeast of the Gong.

BOATER NOTE: East Chicago is closed for launching, so use either Hammond or Portage. LAKER REMINDER: 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 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.


Remember walleye, pike and muskie seasons are closed inland, but reopen Saturday. Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said best is coho and steelhead in 180-200 feet; a few kings mixed in and lakers on the bottom.


Click herefor reports from the Indiana DNR.


Denny Sands at Lakeside said lots of bass are being caught, especially on the dam face, on Rat-L-Traps, ChatterBaits or deep crankbaits; some walleye also being caught on the dam face, too; crappie are just starting to come to shore, probably another week.

Lake hours are 6 a.m.-10 p.m.

Here are the hours for Lakeside for the next few months:

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

Clint Sandssent this update on hours for the bait shop, camp store and cafe.

Pokanoka’s Cafe will be opening for the season on April 8th and will be open Saturdays and Sundays 11 AM to 4 PM! The Camp Store will be opening for the season on April 7th. If you need firewood before the camp store opens for the season, see the friendly campground hosts at site 132. They have large bundles of wood available for sale. If you need anything from the camp store when it is closed. Call the bait shop and we can meet you over at the camp store so you can get anything you need. Spring hours are Fridays 5 PM to 8 PM, Saturdays 8 AM to 8 PM and Sundays are 8 AM to 12 PM.

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


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


No update.


FREMONT: Guide Bill Stoeger said walleye slowed, white bass scattered and the water is 54, likely to cool even more this week with the rains and weather.

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