Inland trout set to open, early kings: Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report

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Inland trout opens Saturday in Illinois and leads this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report, but there’s plenty more, including some early Chinook on southern Lake Michigan.

Ben Dickinson, Indiana’s assistant Lake Michigan fisheries biologist, posted on a Throwback Thursday:

Someone just brought this 20 lb king into the office to weigh…caught in a boat out of MC. Gonna be another big fish year!

I’m a big fan of big-fish years.

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


Illinois’ inland trout season opens Saturday. Click here for the statewide release.

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


The catch-and-release fly fishing season is open at nine sites around Illinois, including in the north at Apple River, Apple River State Park, Rock Creek, Kankakee River SP and Pine Creek, White Pines Forest State Park. The other six sites are Siloam Springs State Park Lake, Gridley Lake, Jim Edgar Panther Creek SFWA, Horton Lake, Nauvoo SP, Morgan Lake at Nichols Park, Jacksonville, IDOT Lake, Springfield, and Willow Lake at Peabody River King SFWA.

Here are the basics on licensing from the IDNR:

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 basics on the catch-and-release fly fishing season:

The Spring Catch-and-Release Fly Fishing season opens at nine sites on March 24. Anglers can use fly fishing gear to catch trout at that time, but they cannot keep the fish. All trout must be released until after the opening of the regular spring trout season, which begins at 5 a.m. on April 7. Anyone attempting to take trout before the legal harvest season opening will be issued citations.


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.


As we inch toward spring I expect crappie to pick up and am hearing more bass reports.


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


Wind remains a factor, but fishing also remains good.


Rob Abouchar sent the photo above and this report:

Hi Dale I hope you had a great holiday. I was able to get out on Braidwood during Spring Break last week on Wednesday and Friday. Cold nights and passing rain fronts made morning bite a little slow both days; but as the day warmed the bite picked up. Good fish from 1 to 4 pounds on slowly worked plastics near newly emerging grass in midlake natural areas by markers 11-16. Green pumpkin with red, green n purple flake was best color. Some fish caught by flipping into holes in old grass canes. The fish location and how they were hitting, as well as the moon phase indicates spawnig activity is underway. Crankbait near riprap points and around shad schools still taking fish. The action is picking up for jig/Plastics flipped/pitched near riprap into canes. The water temp in the midlake area was 73 degrees and 65 on the cool side. Tournament action for High Schools and Anglers Choice Bass Circuit will be starting soon. Good catches should be in store! Also loons, pellicans and osprey sighted.Tight Lines

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


No update.


Arden Katzsaid they did well on crappie and perch, yes, perch in the channels, those that were accessible with the low water, on 1/64th- or 1/32nd-ounce jigs with white tails, spikes or minnows.

Greg Dickson at Triangle Sports and Marine said water remains low, but there is slowly warming temperatures and this rain might help water levels.

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 I hope to get the season started this week boat is set and so am I. I am still finishing seminars for a few clubs and organizations then I’m out to find fish I have a few trips booked for next week and a few to get in that were canceled due to weather. Water temps are still low due to our extended cold weather. I talked with a couple guys that shore fish and they are catching Trout along shore on spoons and a few on Flicker Shads. There is a little movement on the river near Michigan Ave. Bridge a guy got a few Ned Crappie on pieces of night crawler. Looking forward to a Great season hope we get some stable weather soon. Tight Lines and Big Fish. Capt. Pat — 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.



Ken Gortowski sent the photo above, to understand read the report below:

Went 9 miles inland on a creek that feeds the Fox River to a big, long, deep pool that I know holds a few fish year round. Rare that happens on these little creeks. They usually empty out. Wanted to start the year here because I know nobody ever comes here. When I used to fish it a lot, I never ran into another human or sign of one.First fish caught was a smallie, wound up being the only smallie caught. Took a little bit to find a school of skaters / rock bass and wound up catching 10 of them. Pretty good size to them. Not bad for a guy that quit fishing a couple of years ago. Normally I start out the season fishing near creek mouths and working my way up, following the fish. I’ll be doing that again as soon as things warm up in about a week. I won’t do it with the frequency I used to do, but enough to keep adding to my fish pictures. Might go pay homage to Norm by hitting one of his beloved creeks, we’ll see if I feel like traveling. Over the winter I’ve been eye balling via maps the little rivers and creeks here in Northern Illinois that have always been on my To Do List. Might be time to go do some of them before my hip and knee no longer allow it. For those that need to know, I tried crayfish and didn’t get a tap. All fish came on my usual 3 inch pearl twister. There’s a surprise, eh? Ken G

I love his photos even more than his reports. I was just tramping around some of the late Norm Minas’ territory last week.


No update.


No update.


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

The Wisconsin DNR’s Lake Michigan Fishing Report restarted today. Click here to see it.


Reopened Sunday. Hours are 6 a.m. to sunset daily.


The Spring Valley Walleye Club tournament, a three-man this year, is Saturday. Water is holding in the 40s.

From Saturday, Joe Sanderson messaged this on a tournament:

Thanks to those whom came out braving the weather and fished the Illinois river sauger bash.. Congratulations to Chase Rockstead and partner mark actis on the win with 13.15 lbs and the big walleye of 6 1/2 lbs.. Bob Horvathand Mike Thomas came in second with 12.15.. 3rd went to Neil and Brandon Heston with12.12lbs..

Pete Riedesel of Fishin Friend Guide Service noted some white bass going, too, on his Facebook page.

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.

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

Steelhead decent in trail and salt spawn and voodoo jigs best


From last week, I saw first hand that the walleye spawn is truly spread out because of the cold water, which is still holding in the 40s. But some quality fish are being caught. Only heard of a few smallmouth.


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


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.


Well, along with the dose of coho and browns, there’s been some smallmouth.


First was the Chicago Park District’s Carl Vizzone texting last week:

Not only are piers in. Smallies are starting too

Always surprises on the lakefront, such as the note and photo that Nick Tarchala sent Saturday:

Got 3 smallies coho fishing earlier today…no coho!


I think that falls in the “mixed blessings” category.

Stacey Greene at Park Bait reported powerliners and casters taking coho and some browns at Montrose.

Despite the weather, there were people fishing and catching coho and browns Saturday during Henry’s Coho Derby at Navy Pier, as shown by the results sent by Steve Palmisano:

Results for the 10th Annual Coho Derby on Navy Pier Rod & Reel Division 1st Pl.- Thomas Kocher 3lb. 12oz 1 brown trout 2nd Pl.- Michael Trester 2lb 9 1/2oz 1 coho Powerline Division 1st Pl.- Chris Kim 6lb 6oz 3 coho 2nd Pl-Gregory Cargile 4lb 3oz 2 coho 3rd Pl- Marcus Phillips 2lb 2 1/2oz 1 coho Big Fish-Thomas Kocher 3lb. 12oz brown trout 43 participants 8 total fish caught Temp at 6:30 registration 27degrees with overcast NE winds

That last line is the notable line.

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

Dear Dale – I hate to sound like a broken record, but my report this week could basically be ditto to the report from the last 2-3 weeks. The water is still very cold and very dirty from North winds at Waukegan and Chicago. Most people know that usually the key to locating salmon early in the year is to find the warmest clean water possible. Since we have basically neither, anglers have not been boat fishing in Illinois waters. The people I have spoken with have been going out of Indiana and doing very well. It appears the bite has slowed over the weekend, which may indicate the coho are beginning to migrate North, as they should this time of year. Trollers out of Chicago should run a combination of rigs for both trout and for coho. Body baits custom painted in Lake Michigan colors are a good choice to harvest both salmon and trout. Rapalas custom painted by Warrior Lures and flicker shads painted for Lake Michigan Angler in Winthrop Harbor will take both. Waukegan charters will be running this week and concentrating on brown trout. The past few springs have been great for trout and coho mixed bags in April. Waukegan pier fishermen have been getting OK catches on power lines. The powerlines use live or dead bait which works better in the dirty water. Anglers casting have not had a good week. Casting lures rely on the fish being able to see the lure and the very dirty water has made casting tough this week. The weather forecast this week should help all anglers in Illinois waters. The water should be cleaner and getting warmer. Capt. Scott R. Wolfe Manipulator/ School of Fish Charters 630-341-0550

Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop texted that report is about the same with some powerliners getting fish off the piers as are some boaters in close.


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


Weather limited boating. 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:


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


Gamefish season is closed.

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

Winter just is not ready to say goodbye to the Northwoods this year. About 10 inches of snow fell over the weekend and they are predicting another 6-9 over the next couple of days. There hasn’t been much fluctuation in temperatures so we are not seeing much change in the fishing patterns from last week. Yellow Perch: Very Good – Minnows/wigglers look to be the preferred meal for Perch. Look for them deep in mud flats, morning or afternoon best. Bluegill: Good – Waxies on Rocker jigs or MoonGlo Crappie: Fair – Finding best bite a couple of hours before dusk using tip downs with rosies. Not seeing any temps above freezing for the coming week, evening temperatures still in the teens or even single digits some nights, leaving plenty of ice. Be cautious along shorelines that could be open/thin but camouflaged with the new snow cover. Also be on the lookout for opening waters created by aerators (‘tis supposed to be the season). As usual, be prepared, all this new white stuff could make travel to your favorite spot quite adventurous. Don’t forget to get your new fishing license for 2018. Kurt Justice Kurt’s Island Sport Shop Like us on FaceBook

EAGLE RIVER: No update this week from B+L, from reports from Colin Crawford of Colin Crawford Guide Service, for the Eagle River Chamber of Commerce.


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

Coho still steady on lake from Hammond to Michigan city beach to 40 ft of water thinfish spoons j9 dodger fly Shore coho spotty one day great next day slow baits to use skein crawlers squid shrimp ko wobblers and lil cleosCrappie good pine and stone lake Laporte on minnows or jigs tipped with waxwormsWillow slough giving up gills for those that move around waxworms on jigs best baitSteelhead decent in trail and salt spawn and voodoo jigs bestStocked trout being had at lake county fairgrounds in crown point powerbait and waxworms doing best


No update.


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


Did not get Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor, Mich. called.


Click herefor reports from the Indiana DNR.


Staff at Lakeside reported few trying, but there were some shoreline muskies and some crappie, still deep. Water is holding around 40 degrees.

Lakeside–(815) 824-2581–is open 6:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. through Sunday, then regular hours of 6 a.m. 7 p.m. resume.

Park hours 6 a.m.- 10 p.m.

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


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.


Gary Bloom messaged the photo below on Saturday and this explanation:

Winneconne. Channel ice is gone. Right we’re I keep my boat. But water is extremely low. Surprised to see perch already. Need lots of rain.

And added this:

And width. Very wide. Threw over 100 back between dad and me. Lots of lil females.


Good point to end on.

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