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Kings, kings, hopes of kings and summer returns: Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report

The return of Chinook to shore is the big dream, but there are other things also going around Chicago fishing for this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

Flathead on the Chain O’Lakes.
Provided by Jason Fox

The big news for this sprawling raw-fie Midwest Fishing Report is a push of Chinook toward shore around Chicago fishing the last few days; but with summer truly lingering on there is plenty of other stuff going, too. And far down near the end is a bonus report from far afield (thanks to the wit of Frank Knight).

Jason Fox emailed the photo above and this:

Hey Dale been going out to the chain looking for a flathead. I have tried control drifting live and cut gills and only picked off nice channels. Went out yesterday and was too windy to drift so we tried to troll and hooked into this guy. I’m obviously super jazzed up he broke the crankbait. And firetiger does it again it’s got to be the most productive color pattern ever.

I would agree on firetiger as well as chartruese.

Flathead keep growing as a trophy pursuit and their proper respect.


There are better reports, especially north around Waukegan (see column tomorrow on A.J. Cwiok), improving reports around SW Michigan and SE Wisconsin, and some hopeful signs and a few reports around Chicago and Indiana. See individual reports below.


It is free to those 18 and younger (13 and younger need an adult guardian) from 7 a.m.-noon Saturday at Waukegan Harbor. More at

Salmon Unlimited’s Kids Derby:

Where: Waukegan Harbor in the Waukegan Port District Building Directions

When: September 14, 2019 from 7am to 12pm

Registration/check-in: At the Harbor Office Patio

FREE to all kids, 18 and under. Ages 13 and under must have an adult guardian.


Kids 13 and under

Young Adults (Ages 14-18)


Compare fly rods, test new gear from Orvis Yorktown and learn from spey instructor Doug Taylor from 8 a.m.-noon at Glenwood Forest Preserve in Batavia. More at


Rob Abouchar sent this note along with other reports:

Hi Dale

. . .

At Braidwood the Anglers Choice tournament series will resume on Sunday September 15th at the North launch.

Tight lines



Brad Irving at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said muskie are going well on bucktails early and late, walleye doing well in north river last week; catfish going well, white bass are up and down; crappie should go with cooling water.

Check updates on water conditions at or (847) 587-8540; as of 2:30 p.m. Tuesday there were no restrictions after the heavy rains Tuesday morning.

DAM NOTE: The Stratton Lock and Dam will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays (with the exception of Labor Day and Columbus Day) through the end of the 2019 navigational season. Through September, the lock will be operated on Wednesdays through Sundays 8:00 a.m.-midnight. In October, it will operate Wednesdays through Sundays 8:00 a.m. -8:00 p.m.

Go to for details.


Be aware, there were 3-inch rains north on the watershed Tuesday morning.

Pete Lamar emailed this from the weekend:

I finally got into some smallmouths on the Fox tributaries. They were low and clear, normal for this time of year. I didn’t even fish there in the Spring due to such high water; Summer wasn’t productive for me, probably because I haven’t yet figured out the smallmouths’ seasonal movements. But I did better last week far upstream than closer to the mouth.


Guide Mike Norris emailed:

September 8, 2019 Green Lake Area Fishing Report:

Big Green Lake – Bass fishing on Big Green is fair right now. I am finding active bass in the shallows, but number of fish caught, and size is down with most bass running from 12 – 17 inches. A slow presentation has worked best for my clients and me. Senko’s fished weightless over weed tops continue to be a good choice and Ned Rigs worked through mid depth rocks are still accounting for most of the catches. I expect the bass fishing to improve as the water temperature drops into the low 60’s. Catching bluegills has also been a hit or miss proposition this past week. There is an extraordinary amount of northern pike cruising the weed edges this year and they are disrupting the bluegill fishing. I’m locating schools of bluegills in 22 – 25 ft of water but once we start catching them the northern pike show up and scatter the fish.

. . .

Little Green Lake – Muskie fishing is picking up as the water cools. Fish are still deeper in 12 – 15 ft of water though few muskies are still being caught along shore on bucktails. Largemouth bass fishing remains consistent in shallow weedy areas. You can catch all the crappies you want by drifting a split shot and minnow out along the lake basin, but you need to sort through them.

For Green Lake area guided fishing trips, please contact Mike Norris, Wacky Worm Guide Service, at 630-842-8199.


Lance LaVine at Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay emailed this:

Good morning fellas

Here is a quick update on the fishing

Perch fishing has been going very good as of late and should just stay good right through fall and into ice fishing as it did the past few years. Areas to try include…Downtown Sturgeon Bay, Pot park shoreline, Sawyer Harbor, Rileys Bay and Little Sturgeon. Fathead minnows, leaf worms and crawler pieces still good live baits

Walleye fishing has slowed a bit as of late, but fishermen are still catching their fair share of fish, just not the crazy action we had a month ago. Both trolling and casting during the day and at night with crank baits has been good along with rip jigging with shiver minnows, rippin raps and some blades

The fishing out on the big lake has been going ok on a mix of mostly 1,2 & 3 year old Kings and some Rainbows. 150 out to 250 feet of water, fishing the top 80 feet of the water column has been the best. A mix of flasher and fly combos along with some spoons has been working. And the big 4 year olds are staging up to take their final swim so there is some good opportunity for shore fishermen along with smaller boat fishermen to get in on some of that action. For the shore and small boat fishermen a mix of spoons, plugs and spawn sacs will work well there.

Bass fishing continues to stay good and should stay really good and probably even get better as our water cools. Pretty much the whole peninsula from Little Sturgeon up to Washington Island has some good fishing opportunities. Concentrate your efforts along the steep shoreline breaks, deep channels and offshore structure like the many reefs and shoals we have throughout the county


Lance LaVine

Howie’s Tackle
1309 Green Bay Rd
Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235
Ph: 920-746-9916


River may be in its best wading shape of the year (as of Tuesday afternoon the rains had avoided the watershed).

Big bluegills came as a surprise while fishing the Kankakee.
Provided by Victor Blackful

Victor Blackful emailed the photo above and this note on Monday:

I was out on the Kankakee this afternoon fishing for smallies and got a surprise. After two smallies around ten inches I started hitting very big and aggressive Bluegills. They were hitting everything I through in the water. When I was done I had got 20. The water was very clear and the best bite was between 2pm and 4pm. I was fishing just west of the BNSF rail bridge down from I 55.

Victor Blackful


The big story is waiting on and sometimes catching the dreamed-of big kings.

A big king caught at the Pipe at Burnham Harbor last week.
Provided by Michael Foley.

On Aug. 10, Michael Foley caught a small king from shore at Diversey Harbor, but in the four weeks afterward very few shoreline kings were caught; that has finally changed some last week. Foley caught the 26.2-pound king above at the pipe at Burnham Harbor: and other kings were caught around the Chicago lakefront.

Stacey Greene at Park Bait texted:

There have been a few salmon and trout being caught seems that there have been more trout than salmon but there’s been all species Kings, Rainbows, Brown trout, & Coho. From my knowledge all have been caught on spoons or crankbaits not necessarily all in the dark some of been caught in the daylight hours even on a few bigger spinners. If you guys are starting to use spawn and medium roach minnows on a bobber. I’ve also been told there’s been a lot of activity with them jumping around the Harbor’s the last couple nights. It seems that we’re going to get some Southwest wind so the water should cool off a few more degrees and I’m thinking that should make them quite a bit more active. There’s been a lot of good activity for Smallmouth in the Harbours some really nice size ones also some guys using artificial bait some guys using soft shells.

I used all my word space LOL.

I was also going to mention that I had a guy has a boat down by Burnham and he said he’s caught a few nice perch while just fishing off the side of his boat along with some couple big catfish I’ve heard of quite a few can’t fish this past couple weeks but anyways getting back to the perch I’m sure there might be some around but I don’t think anyone’s trying because all these guys want to fight the big guys and catch a salmon. Just thought I’d mention it.

Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters said lakers have been good mornings out of Chicago, but it is changing with the east winds (winds are shifting back south and west again), mornings are dramatically better, very occasional other species. Starting to see some bait again in 100 feet.

Out of North Point, some good lakers, generally, in 180-220 feet, but east winds slowed it. There are fish out to 300 and deeper with an occasional steelhead, coho and Chinook.

Capt. Scott Wolfe emailed:

Hi Dale –

Waukegan fishing has been good and typical for this time of year. Fishermen have 3 options. All 3 can be good and depend on what people want to catch.

Option 1 – casting or jigging for kings in the harbor. It is well known that stocking of chinook is down so that the baitfish population can increase. There are many kings in Waukegan harbor now. It’s probably at the peak of the run as this moment. The kings are already in and the mature, spawning coho should start coming in this week. As the king females begin dropping their eggs brown trout, steelhead and other species will be in the harbors eating them. Casters who have but in their time are taking kings. It’s like muskie fishing, lots and lots of casts to target trophies. Shore fishermen need to be aware of the areas where they are allowed to case and be careful of the high water this year. Casters from boats need to have trolling motors to maneuver out of the way of other vessels. Lake Michigan Angler Custom painted flicker shads are the hot bait for the 3rd year in a row. Wonderbread and Zebra are the best patterns.

Option 2 – Trolling the lake trout spawning grounds between the Waukegan South Reef and Gumby’s Reef off Evanston/Wilmette. This is what the majority of the boats and all charters are doing. The lake trout fishing is world class and as good as I’ve ever seen it. Every trip has had laker limits in just a few hours with most fish over 10 pounds. Both Mo rig laker takers and spoons produced about evenly this week. These should be run on downriggers from 70 to the bottom or 200 foot plus copper rods. Best patterns were Jimmy Fly Mo Rigs in Orange Guy, Mystery and Caitlyn Jenner. Best spoons were Warrior standard or XL sizes in Blueberry Muffin UltraGlow, Green Menace, Pink Alewife and Colville Crusher. The fish wanted a quick troll this week, which is probably why the spoons did so well.

Option 3 – Running to very deep water, over 250 feet and hunting for 3 year old kings, steelhead and likely getting some immature, non-spawing coho and lake trout in the mix. This is hit and miss where there is a chance to hit a school and do really well and a chance to never hit one and do really poorly. Usually trollers who do best with this pattern troll quick and cover a lot of water with baits between 40 and 100 feet, mostly smaller spoons in Warrior XL and flutter patterns.

Chicago has yet to really see the salmon come in. The should be coming in this week with the majority in Diversey and Jackson Park, where they are planted. Trollers have been getting excellent lake trout action North of the city with limits for every trip run this week. The same baits as listed for Waukegan are working for the Chicago boats. Gumby’s ’and the R4 area are especially loaded.

We have one charter spot remaining for the 2019 season due to a cancelation, Saturday 9/14 if any reader is interested.

Capt. Scott Wolfe
School of Fish Charters – Manipulator


Mike Zindrick with a nice bluegill from Monona on the Madison Chain.
Provided by Mike Norris

Guide Mike Norris emailed the photo above and this bonus report:

Madison Chain – While most lakes in my area have slowed the Madison Chain of Lakes remains excellent for bluegill and perch. Bluegills are cooperating on both Lake Mendota and Lake Monona. I fished Monona this past week and caught bluegills up to 9 inches long. I’ve also received reports of bluegills over 10 inches being caught. The Lake Mendota bite is equally good. Weeds and rocks are the keys. Fishing vertically near weed edges in 10 -14 ft of water with a jig tipped with a redworm or casting a jig out under a slip float remain two of the best techniques for catching numbers of bluegills. Try fishing out from Tenney Park and around The Rock on Monona. Anglers are catching perch on Mendota in University Bay.


Kurt Justice at Kurt’s Island Sport Shop emailed:

Early September has not been the best for anglers of certain species so far. Walleye and panfish anglers have struggles. Bass fishing has been just so-so, Musky and Pike anglers are reporting good action though, lucky to have so many options! When one doesn’t work out, switch tackle and chase something else.

Musky: Good – Still working inside weed edges and shallow flats. Most reports from fish in 4-8’ of water. Bucktails, spinner baits with large fluted or Colorado blades for lift and thump! Top-water still producing well, more subtle baits best. A few anglers already reporting action on suckers as surface temps ranging 60-64 degrees.

Northern Pike: Good – Like their larger cousins, Pike working the 4-8’ weeds taking bucktails and spinner baits well. Some nice mid-30” fish reported this week.

Largemouth Bass: Good-Fair – LMB moved out to deeper weed edges once Musky moved in. Texas rigging plastics helped a local team take 2nd during a Bass tournament this past weekend. Other reports of anglers using jig and creature combos and Tokyo rigs to work deep weeds as well.

Smallmouth Bass: Good-Fair – Best drop shotting deep gravel humps. Still getting reports of anglers scoring BIG Smallies on inside weed lines while Musky fishing, top-water and spinner baits, fish to 20+”!

Crappie: Fair – Usually very good right now. Anglers having hard time dialing in any concentrations of fish.

Yellow Perch: Fair – Mostly around deep wood on ½ crawlers.

Walleye: Fair – Reports of fish not very consistent and all over depending on lake type. Shallow (less than 22-24’ max depth) work shallow green cabbage with large fats, small chubs or leeches on 1/16 oz weedless jigs. Deeper lakes work depth of 18-30’ using full crawlers or medium chubs or suckers on Lindy style rigs.

Bluegill: Fair – Some big Gills (9-10”) being caught in local Flowages around deep wood of 14-18’ using crawlers or leeches meant for Walleye. Not a lot of other effort due to recent weather.

The uptick in Musky fishing has anglers looking forward to this fall’s season. High water seems to have disrupted some bites (at least that’s my excuse)

Kurt Justice
Kurt’s Island Sport Shop
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Considering our spring and summer across the Midwest, I am curious how fall muskie fishing and ice fishing will shake out.


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

100 to 120 straight out of burns ditch and east towards Michigan city some lake trout action close to bottom is were all the action is

A few more kings and coho have showed up at the ditch some fish in the dirty water outside ditch and some around #4 marker and down the wall towards the port of Indiana mouth mag spoons and ace hi silver horde plugs along with a variety of crankbaits all taking fish

Creeks have some fish in them nothing loaded bye any means but some fish are in and moving thru all creeks now spawn saks and in-line spinners are best

Now is the time for night casting at the piers glow spoons and rattling cranks are the baits to try first

Crappie starting to bite good in evening thru dark at lake George in Hobart crappie minnows best bait


Tim Shelton with a pink salmon from the Pacific NW.

Frank Knight, while emailing a speaker note for Fish Tales Fishing Club, gave this bonus fishing report:

Member Tim Shelton was Fishing the Pink Salmon run in the Pacific NW 2 weeks ago and caught his limit every day. Fishing on Widbey Island in Washington. Photos included.


Frank Knight

When I say Chicago fishing, I mean about anything. The Chicago market for fishing literally extends around the world.

And I do enjoy Knight’s wit.


The Wisconsin DNR usually issues up dates on Tuesday or Wednesday at


Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said perch limits are being caught 45 feet north of St. Joe; some kings (a few coho, too) are around the pierheads early in the morning from shore and boat; lakers are in 90-1110 feet; a few steelhead are throughout the river; also some walleye, bass and catfish in the river.


Staff at Lakeside said muskie are picking up, including a 48-incher on Saturday; largemouth continue on the weed lines; crappie are going in the cribs; catfish are doing well on crawlers; water in the low 70s;

The restaurant is open daily. Lakeside is open daily 6 a.m.-7 p.m. Park hours are 6 a.m.-10 p.m.


At Racine over the weekend, Arden Katz said while boating around the launch, he had one king on, had several follows, saw a kayaker with two on and saw a boat land one. ``They are starting.’’ Remember at Racine if taking a boat that the launch is outside of the harbor, so know the weather. ``It is nicer than Milwaukee, there is a lot more room to fish.’’

For the southern Lake Michigan reports from the Wisconsin DNR, go to


Staff at River’s Edge ( said no legal sturgeon have been registered yet, but there was a report of a 50-incher. River is normal, white bass are going and walleye are improving.

STURGEON: Hook-and-line sturgeon season below the dam (and other river spots across Wisconsin) and runs through Sept. 30. A permit is needed if you plan to keep fish, minimum length is 60 inches. Go to


We end with Rob Abouchar and a sort of report, which has nothing to do with the Wisconsin River but I enjoy immensely), and an ending photo:

Hi Dale

The Salmon unlimited Kids Derby is this Saturday at Waukegan Harbor. My Leyden Bass Fishing Team will be heading there to help with the event. As Recipients of this years Pass The Passion Fishing Grant we have been helping at Salmon Unlimited events. This Saturday the team will be presented with the grant funds from the club. Big thanks goes to Jerry Taylor, Leslie Darling and the rest of The Salmon Unlimited Club members. The Leyden Bass team is very grateful to be the recipients of this award and have enjoyed the experience and opportunity it has provided our club members.

The double gig on Saturday went off without a hitch. First it was the Jerk Festival at Park 540 in the South Loop. With the Chicago skyline behind the crowd we were rolling through our set and joined by Ras Idre and Princess Kazayha of the Dove Music reggae Family. The crowd was surging when the MC of the event; in Showtime at the Apollo Sandman fashion came onto the stage giving us the no more signal. We were informed that the Windy City Ramblers dance troupe was still due to perform. It was kinda like being on a fall school of feeding smallmouth bass; catching one or two and the DNR coming and telling you the school is closed. Such is show business. It was then on the road to Morgans in Libertyville where we put on an inspired set for our guitar player Dan “Frodo” Starks’ birthday. The hot Sofa is ready for this Wednesday when we will be in the Rock Fight Night at The Brauerhaus in Lombard.

At Braidwood the Anglers Choice tournament series will resume on Sunday September 15th at the North launch.

Tight lines


Jerk Festival in the South Loop.
Provided by Rob Abouchar