Trout, walleye, coho, hope for spring: Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report

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Spring fishing comes in, OK kinda herky-jerky with the variable weather, but spring does come for this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

Take Victor Blackful sent a note about the photo above and this explanation from opening day of inland trout season at Milliken Lake:

OK here is my submission for cooked fish of the week. It was really cold this morning but I got my catch and now it’s lunch. Courtesy of Milliken Lake. Victor

I like the idea of a “Cooked” Fish of the Week.

One more note before we get to it. Ice hangs on and it is worth noting the final sentence on Kurt Justice’s report for Minocqua, Wis.

The Midwest Fishing Report appears on the Sun-Times newspaper outdoors page on Wednesday. The sprawling raw-file report is posted here online on the Sun-Times outdoors page.


Considering the weekend cold, I suspect there may be more trout remaining than usual after opening weekend. On the other hand, I did have reports of good trout catching by those who did get out.

Click here for the statewide release on inland trout fishing.

Daily bag is five. The other general regulations are that “anglers will need both a fishing license and an Inland Trout Stamp to participate, unless they are under the age of 16, blind, disabled, or are an Illinois resident on leave from active duty in the Armed Forces.”

Here are the northeast Illinois sites:

Cook County: Wolf Lake at William W. Powers State Recreation Area, Chicago; Green Lake in Calumet City, Cook County Forest Preserve District; Axehead Lake, Cook County Forest Preserve District; Belleau Lake, Cook County Forest Preserve District; Sag Quarry East, Cook County Forest Preserve District; Horsetail Lake, Cook County Forest Preserve District DuPage County: Silver Lake, DuPage County Forest Preserve District;l Pickerel Lake, DuPage County Forest Preserve District; Grove Lake, DuPage County Forest Preserve District Kankakee County: Bird Park Quarry, Kankakee; Rock Creek, Kankakee River State Park Kendall County: Big Lake, Silver Springs State Fish and Wildlife Area Lake County: Banana Lake, Lake County Forest Preserve District; Sand Lake, Illinois Beach State Park McHenry County: Lake Atwood, McHenry County Conservation District; Piscasaw Creek, McHenry County Conservation District Will County: Lake Milliken, Des Plaines Conservation Area



Well, got a report. And I emphasize “a” report. It came from Jef Walczak Saturday night along with the photo above of following the tradition of the first smelt:

There runnin lol we got 1

Here are the general notes and regulations for smelt netting in Chicago, same as last year, from Carl Vizzone of the Chicago Park District.

SMELT REGS FOR CHICAGO LAKEFRONT Smelt Fishing is a family affair. It’s a community of Fishermen enjoying each other’s company and nature’s bounty. Let’s make this season a safe and clean one for families and our fishing future. The following rules apply: * No open fires * No enclosed tents * No alcoholic beverages * No parking or driving on the grass or sidewalks. Park only in designated areas. Violators will be ticketed and towed. * Do not destroy fences, benches, trash receptacles, walkways, and grassy areas. * Do not dump hot coals under trees, on concrete or on grassy areas. Dispose of all coals in the appropriate trash receptacles. Harbor Gates will close at 1 a.m. –start breaking down at 12:30 a.m. to be out by 1 a.m.

I would emphasize that last one, the regulation is to be out of the parks by 1 a.m.


Most focus has been on trout, but I suspect with the warm-up many more will be out fishing this week for crappie and bass.

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

Hey Dale, Here is a recap of this past week’s fishing.Area lakes- the bite is much like the weather. Cold. Water temps have dropped to the low 40’s. We definitely need some spring temps to get the bite going again. Slow dragging a jig with a Berkley chigger craw can pick off a bass here and there during midday hours.TTYL—Ken Husker O’Malley Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team


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



Rob Abouchar sent the photo above and this report:

Hi Dale The cold weather has not stopped the good bite for Largemouth and yes smallmouth; at Braidwood. Cold mornings slow the bite early but bite improves if sun is out. Flipping and pitching jigs and texas rigged plastics is a good bet to get bites. Work baits slowly around newly emerging grass points and tips. Young Joe Tessone of Morris and his partner Trey Budach had a great tournament weekend [pictured above]. They took 4th place at the IHSA event at Clinton lake and then took 7th at the Happy Hookers Tournament on Braidwood. Some nice fish were caught at the Braidwood Happy Hookers event with the big bass weighing 3.95. The winning weight was 10.03 pounds 118 bass were caught and 36/50 boats had 3 bass limits. Two Smallmouth bass were brought to the scales and there were 0 dead fish.The tournaments will continue on Braidwood with The Lunkers Unlimited of Mokena Team Tournament Saturday April 14th. The Anglers Choice Tournaments will begin on April 22nd.Tight LinesRob

Braidwood is open daily 6 a.m.-sunset. Check with Jon’s Bait & Tackle Shop–(815) 237-2822–in South Wilmington.


No update.


Art Frisell at Triangle Sports and Marine said the water is coming up slightly and the lakes are more navigable. He said as soon as the days warm, the crappie pull back into the channels, then use glow ice jigs in pink or chartreuse, or Rat Finkees; walleye are fair, moving up shallower late in the day and deeper earlier, try trolling with Flicker Shads or Walleye Divers to locate active fish, then jigging or using Lindy rigs; pike should be strong coming off the spawn, try Dardelves or Johnson Spoons; bluegill remain deeper (try in 8 feet), but that could change with warmth; few muskie reports.

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


Capt. Pat Harrison at Pat Harrison Outdoors sent this:

Chicago River and Lake Michigan Report, First I want to say Thank you to everyone for taking the time to read my report and to Dale Bowman for letting me share may adventures. Well my show and seminar season for the most part is over Saturdays event at the VFW in Brookfield was a good time Thanks to everyone that came out to support the VFW raise some funding to help Vets. Riverside Fishing Club members showed up in numbers Thank you guys. Now on to the fishing I have talked to some of the shore fisherman that are taking Trout and Salmon on the lake front with spoons. Rattle traps, crank baits, and live bait spawn sacks shrimp and crayfish. Now is the time to be out when the fish are in the upper part of the water column. They are doing very well on the south end too. This week I will be back at it with a couple clients visiting Chicago from out of county and a local return client what a way to start the season. I will be on the water Thursday Friday and Sunday. I am looking forward to the Best Season yet on the river and lake. Please remember I also fish other inland bodies of water in Illinois and Wisconsin. In the next few weeks I have a couple trips on the Illinois River booked. People are looking to fish Bass Walleye and Sauger looking forward to getting back out there. Have a Great week get out this weekend with our little warm up and catch some fish. I have a feeling we are going to go from winter to summer (what happened to spring?). Capt. Pat Harrison — Thanks Pat


No update.


No update.


SPRING LAKE NOTE:Both the north and south lakes have two regulation changes. Largemouth and smallmouth bass now have a protected slot of 12-18 inches; the daily bag is three bass either under 12 inches or over 18 or some combination of three over or under. Also, the daily limit of 25 crappie may include no more than 10 crappie 10 inches or longer. POWERTON: Shore and boat fishing are open, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. daily. LAKE SHELBYVILLE: Check with Ken Wilson of Ken Wilson Guide Service. SOUTHERN ILLINOIS: Check with Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing EVERGREEN: Bait shop and boat rental are closed for the season. HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Closed for the season.


No update.


No update.


No update.


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

Click here to see the Wisconsin DNR’s Lake Michigan Fishing Report/


Haven’t heard much with the ongoing cold water, expect that to change this week. Hours are 6 a.m. to sunset daily.


The SVWC tournament winners had a decent average size of winning fish, suggesting the sauger are still going.For Ottawa area, check B & B Live Bait at (815) 433-0432.


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.


No update. River is in good flow for spring, but cold. That will change and I expect both fish and fishermen to become more active. I expect a good bit of effort later in the week, especially when temperatures push toward 70.


Click here to see the Wisconsin DNR’s Lake Michigan Fishing Report. It generally comes out Tuesday.


Click here for bag limits and prospects for the season from the Ohio DNR. The Ohio DNR has general Lake Erie info and a fishing report.


Stacey Greene at Park Bait reported more coho and some brown, though fewer reports Tuesday, key for both powerliners and casters.

Capt. Scott R. Wolfe of School of Fish Charters sent this:

Hi Dale – Well the first few charters out of Waukegan are in the book and unfortunately the results are slow fishing. Mixed catches of Browns, coho and lakers in 20-25 feet south of the harbor. I recommend running body baits like Rapalas and Warrior Flutter spoons (or similar). The Warrior flutters spoons have the potential of taking all of these species effectively. There are no real temperature breaks, so they can be run anywhere in the water column. There is a lot to look forward to for the season. The size of the salmon appear to be up from last year. A couple of Trollers Unlimited friends fished this weekend off Indiana in a couple of trailer boats and took limits of coho, kings and lakers. A great success since this was the first time these new boats had ever hit the water and conditions were very choppy. The coho seem to be larger than last year and they took kings of 15 and 19 pounds. The Indiana fish were really preferring the body baits with orange/black colors being best. Capt. Scott R. Wolfe Manipulator/ School of Fish Charters 630-341-0550


No update from Scott Pirnstill at Cozy Corner Cottages608-304-0371.


Weather continues to limit boating and overall effort, but that will changes. Open daily 6 a.m.-sunset.


Check the latest from D & S Bait on Facebook.


Both Mazonia South and North are open for fishing. Check with Jon Meder at Jon’s Bait Shop–(815) 237-2822–in South Wilmington.


Check with Mike Mladeik at Mike Mladenik Guide Service sent this:


Click here to see the Wisconsin DNR’s Lake Michigan Fishing Report. It is generally out Tuesdays.


Gamefish season is closed.

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

What can be said??? Our mild(ish) winter keeps flexing its muscle, putting cold and snow all over our spring and hopes for a good opener! Temps below zero (it’s April ?!) and a fresh blanket of snow have slowed fishing. Signs of stress on our smaller lakes due to lack of sunlight has hampered angler success. Bluegill: Fair – To be fair, few anglers were venturing out due to weather. Stay clear of the smaller lakes (low oxygen?) while larger lakes and mid-sized lakes with access to depth or moving water best. Yellow Perch: Fair – Snow cover pushing most perch back out a bit deeper for now (10-15’+). Wigglers, rosies best. Crappie: Fair-Poor (for this time of year) – Bite lethargic. Tip-downs with minnows typical, but when fish tight lipped, work small #10 rockers tipped with small plastics to pry open some lips. A warm up by mid-week (4/11) should knock snow down some, but more cooler weather by weekend will hold up the ice melt. Average ice reports are running anywhere from 24-34, we need the snow cover to leave to address the ice melt. No one knows for sure, but as of right now, don’t bury your tip-ups for opener, you might need them. Kurt Justice Kurt’s Island Sport Shop Like 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 REPORTFor a full report on fishing trends, be sure to visit caution on any and all ice surfaces, as conditions can change rapidly. Be very weary of thickness and be sure to thoroughly check before punching holes. However, if you heed these warnings, anglers will find some of the best panfish action.Bluegills are being found in the shallow green weeds using small jigs tipped with waxies, spikes or tipped with plastic.Perch are being caught on the deeper green weed edges.Crappies are moving toward the shallows due to the warmer weather.


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

Coho still really good in boats fishing 20 to 40 ft of water Hammond all the way to st Joe Michigan brads thinfish in all colors best baits Some spring kings showing up also iv seen them up to 18 lbs a good amount in the 12 to 14 lb range being had here and thereStocked trout in a few places waxworms powerbait and money clips good baitsCrappie ok for groups fishing in the ditch around 249 bridge old docks and stick ups minnows or jigs and waxwormsShore fishing for coho spotty one day good next day slow for sure spotty for shore guys squid shrimp crawlers best baits to use


No update.


The Wisconsin DNR’s Root River Report restarted. It is usually out Tuesday or Wednesday. Click here to see it.


Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor, Mich. said northwest winds dirtied up the water and slowed down what had been good coho fishing.


Click herefor reports from the Indiana DNR.


Clint Sands at Lakeside said a few fishermen came out again Tuesday, but he expects water to warm from 40 to around 50 by the weekend and lots more effort and reports.

Lakeside–(815) 824-2581–is open 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Park hours 6 a.m.- 10 p.m.


The Wisconsin DNR’s Lake Michigan Fishing Report restarted. Click here to see it. Streams flow info is at


No update.


Check with River’s Edge.


No update.


No update.


Might be one of the hot bites going.

Guide Bill Stoeger said walleye are really going in the river, from shallow to the middle of the river. With this weather, he expects that good bite to keep going.

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