Wind, waves, coho, walleye, crappie: Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report

SHARE Wind, waves, coho, walleye, crappie: Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report

Monee Reservoir on Tuesday.
Credit: Dale Bowman

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

Eventually the boats above Monee Reservoir, which I photographed Tuesday, will be filled with fishermen; as will other fishing spots around the Chicago area.

Just a heads up, note the photo of The Wild Hare in the Braidwood report. Where else will you get a bonus like that except here. Thanks Rob Abouchar.

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 first two weekends, I suspect there may be more trout remaining than usual after opening weekend. BoRabb Williams said he did good at Wolf Lake over the weekend.

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


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.


Despite weather, Tom Platt at Henry’s Sports and Bait noted that crappie are being caught and bass are picking up on inland lakes, lagoons and ponds. Also see Fish of the Week for a notable big crappie.


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 A big gig at The Wild Hare Friday night and the cold rain and snow kept this angler off the water. At Braidwood; despite some chilling and less than favorable conditions some anglers were still catching fish. Saturday the Lunkers Unlimited Big Bass Clash was cancelled. On Sunday the Happy Hookers first club event went on despite the conditions and 10.3lbs was needed to take first place. Mainlake points and wind protected areas were best for tournament anglers braving the conditions. Extreme caution should be used on this lake when these conditions exist.I am looking forward to getting back on the tournament trail next week with the first Anglers Choice Tournament on Sunday April 22nd going out of the North boat launch.Tight linesRob

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


BoRabb Williams messaged that he got a mix of crappie, perch and bass on Monday and the water was still cold at 46.


Art Frisell at Triangle Sports and Marine said water levels are fine; walleye are the best bite going, despite the weather, witness the two fish weighing 15.25 pounds that won the World Walleye Association opener Sunday; the other bite is crappie for those braving icy ramps. Expect the weekend to be much different as the water and air warm.

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 (updated with latest report):

Chicago River and Lake Michigan Report, Well the guide season started for me last week but not the results I was looking for. Surface water temps are still way down lower 40’s. I had a father and his 2 sons out Thursday from the UK, we fished a few spots on the river without a bite. Locked out onto the lake fished along a few of the areas that have produced fish before and still nothing Sun was shinning and it was really nice out so I setup up some dodger and fly rigs and got them in the water put out a couple planner boards with spoons and we started to troll a little. We were about 10 minutes in and the wind started out of the south and was cold it continued to blow and the air temps dropped quick we ended up trying to fish break walls but it really got cold and windy. Locked back through and fished a few spots downtown with no results we ran down river to spots I have done well on and nothing was happening not the way I wanted to start the season but we gave it our best. The group said they really enjoyed the day even without catching fish. I know there can be days like this with frontal changes and winds but it still hurts to go fishless when you are taking people out to catch fish. Friday I had a return client Martin from Slovakia out we decided to fish inland again due to wet windy weather. We went out to Wauconda stopped at Lake County Water Spots my Boat Sponsor and talked to Mike Salisbury he has been doing ok with the Crappie on Bangs Lake. Headed over to Wauconda boat Launched at Wauconda boat rain gear on and went fishing. Wind and rain got a bit worse I put the front half of the top up with the curtains and we fished on. Martin managed 5 Bass between 11 and 15 and we found one decent Crappie about 10so we at beat the SKUNK. I’m out a couple times later in the week Hope the weather changes and the fish are biting. Have a Great week. Let’s hope our weather changes and the fish are biting. Capt. Pat Harrison Capt. Pat Harrison — Thanks Pat


No update.


No update.


HENNEPIN-HOPPER NOTE: Fishing reopens May 15. Click here for regulations and other information.

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.


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 river is projected to crest under flood at LaSalle.

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.


Kyle Lund sent this:

Hey Dale have a Kankakee River update for you. Early last week and into the weekend fishing really heated up and has since all but died. Smallies were starting to group up in some of the very early pre spawn staging areas and were being caught with some consistency. Early morning the bigger fish have been posted behind currents breaks off shore and moving in shallow on the warmer side of the river to eat sunning crawdads. Talked with a few guys that were still catching some walleye with some consistency. Reports that males are still milting. Lets fast foward to present date. The river is high and cold (40°-42°) again. Typically high water in April is assumed and can be fished efficiently. However, this time of year if the water levels are skyrocketing up and the water temps are plummeting it makes for some very long cold days on the mighty Kank. We got a taste and mother nature said thats enough. This week will be waiting for water levels to fall and temps to climb amd next week we get back to the 60s and we should be back on track.


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.


Cory Gecht at Park Bait reported those powerliners braving the weather at Montrose are catching coho and a few trout; before the weekend weather shift casters were catching, too.

Tom Platt at Henry’s Sports and Bait said the same thing, those getting out are catching fish; he said one surprise is the number of powerliners working at 95th.

Capt. Bob Poteshman at Confusion Charters had his first charter out of Chicago Tuesday and they caught a couple coho before the waves forced them back. His crew at North Point had a shakedown cruise Tuesday and caught a few.

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

Hi Dale – Of course this last weekend was 10 foot plus waves and no fishing, even from shore. Before that things were really shaping up great. The coho were moving North up the shoreline nicely. Some Trollers Unlimited friends had nice catches of coho and brown trout around Chicago light. Dodgers with Jimmy Fly peanut flies, no single best color, behind yellowbirds. Brown trout were hitting gold spoons, old Luhr-Jensen Diamond Kings (which are not made now) and Warrior gold flutter spoons, run on 1-2 color lead core or on slide divers 40 to 80 feet behind the diver. Patterns in gold with just a little orange took browns. Out of Waukegan I didn’t get any boat reports and couldn’t run trips over the weekend. A friend who helps mate boats there and is a terrific chore fisherman took several nice coho off Government Pier and told me powerlines were doing great. Unfortunately big wind like we just had will make the water dirty for days and push the fish off-shore. The first boats out should look for clean water. With some luck there may be a break due to currents. They should troll the clean water side of the break. Another option would be to target river mouths and discharges. Even small creeks like the Waukegan River, the Dead River or ravines off of Highland Park will have flow now and that can attract fish. Jigging plastics and drifting using crawlers behind spinners like crawler harnesses can work in those conditions. Capt. Scott R. WolfeManipulator/ 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 change eventually. 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:

Not much to report! Unusual amounts of mid-April snow and high winds have kept anglers off the lakes. Access is tough right now as the snow depth makes getting around very difficult. Crappie: Bad-Poor! – No recent reports over the last five days, though a few anglers heading out as of this writing. Concentrate on bays of larger lakes (small lakes could very well be suffering from low oxygen with all this late snow). Slow, fluttering spoons such as Lethal Cecils and Demon Tongues tipped with waxies, Chena or light colored plastics should do well. Minnows on tip-downs or under small bobbers, as the warm up begins this weekend, should prove effective. Holes staying open, with much needed oxygen flowing down, will improve fish activity…and catches! Yellow Perch: Bad-Poor! – Ditto on reports. Gravid (egg laden) perch moving into weedy bays. As with Crappies, fluttering spoons such as Vinglas, Demon Tongues loaded up with waxies or tip-downs with minnows. Bluegill: Bad-Poor! – See above!! Once warm up keeps holes open, tip small rockers, Moon glows or tear drops with moussees, waxies. Also, Little Atom Duppees or J&S Larva mites or Ice mites for plastics. Keep to larger lakes to start as small lakes with low oxygen will have sluggish fish. In all cases try high under the ice, this is where the best concentration of dissolved oxygen will be. With temps hitting the 50’s this weekend, hopefully snow will melt down enough for decent travel. As far as the Opener…Things look grim, with upwards of 30-34 of ice covered by two feet of snow and only 19 days ‘til May 5th, forecast is bleak. Weekends heavy snow fall quashed the hopes of even the most optimistic of us for open water com early May. 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:

Weather knock most groups out of the game latly when u can get on lake in a boat coho action still good with a decent number of kings around Best baits still brads thinfish I have all colors in stock hereStocked trout in Illinois and Indiana going but cold weather has kept the usual big crowd done to small numbers fishingPowerbait waxworms and fathead minnows best baits for stocked trout casting small money clips or kastmasters food tooOnce weather gets more like spring people will be out full force weather just has to break a little


Tom Platt at Henry’s Sports and Bait said walleye are going around Rockford.


No update.


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


With the weather, did not check with Tackle Haven.


Click herefor reports from the Indiana DNR.


Clint Sands at Lakeside said water warmed to 48 over the weekend, but was down to 42 again on Tuesday; a few catching crappie and a few muskies have been caught.

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.


Snowstorm should help water levels.

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