Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Illinois’ inland trout opens Saturday; shoreline salmon/trout

The opening of fall inland trout season in Illinois, slightly limited, leads this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report; and there are updates on shoreline salmon and trout, among other things.

SHARE Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Illinois’ inland trout opens Saturday; shoreline salmon/trout
A pumpkinseed from the Calumet system. Credit: Steven DeGraw

A pumpkinseed from the Calumet system.

Steven DeGraw

The opening of most fall inland trout sites on Saturday in Illinois lead this sprawling raw-fie Midwest Fishing Report, but there is also some shoreline salmon and trout action.

The photo has nothing to do with shoreline salmon or inland trout, but with one of my favorite fishes.

Steven DeGraw emailed the photo and this:

Beautiful pumpkinseed caught calumet system thought you would like it

He thought correctly.


Regular season, with some changes and remaining questions, opens Saturday, Oct. 17. Click here for details. Daily bag is five; those 16 and older need a fishing license and trout stamp.

Here are the Chicago-area sites opening on Saturday, Oct. 17: (Cook County) Wolf Lake, William Powers SRA; (Kankakee) Rock Creek, Kankakee River SP, and Bird Park Quarry; (Kendall): Big Lake, Silver Springs SFWA; (Lake) Sand Lake, Illinois Beach SP; (McHenry) Spring Grove Hatchery Pond; (Will) Lake Strini and Van Horn Woods.

The Forest Preserves of Cook County fall trout season will start at sunrise on Wednesday, October 21 at Axehead Lake, Belleau Lake, Busse Reservoir – North Pool, Sag Quarry East, Horsetail Lake and Green Lake. These lakes will be closed to all fishing from Monday, October 12, until sunrise on Wednesday, October 21.

Click here for details on the FPCC sites opening.

Early catch-and-release trout season is open at nine sites statewide. In northern Illinois, those are Rock Creek at Kankakee River State Park, Pine Creek at White Pines Forest SP and Apple River at Apple River SP. A fishing license and an inland trout stamp are required for those 16 and older.


Bullfrog-only season ends Thursday, Oct. 15.


The parking passes for the fisherman’s parking lots are not being sold while the lakefront remains officially closed.


Closures are on for the Dresden Island, Marseilles, Starved Rock, and LaGrange locks on the Illinois River to facilitate major repairs. Peoria Lock has reopened.

Here are the two lead paragraphs from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:

ROCK ISLAND, Illinois – Beginning July 1, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District is temporarily closing the Dresden Island, Marseilles, Starved Rock, Peoria and LaGrange locks on the Illinois Waterway to facilitate needed repairs and maintenance. The closures, which will be conducted simultaneously to limit impacts to navigation, are scheduled to last through late October. During the closures, no vessels will be able to pass through the closed locks. Navigation on the rest of the river, between the locks, will be able to continue without impact as water levels will be maintained at a normal level throughout the season.

Click here for details on the timing and other details on the closures.


Rico Cantu with a beautiful crappie from Romeoville. Provided by Rico Cantu

Rico Cantu with a beautiful crappie from Romeoville.

Provided by Rico Cantu

Rico Cantu emailed the photo above and this:

Hi Dale I was out today at a pond in Romeoville and got this nice 14 inch crappie on a jig, keep up the good work and be safe, Rico Cantu from Lockport Il.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley emailed:

Hey Dale, Here is a recap of this past week’s fishing. Area lakes- bass and crappie continue to be good. Work outside weedlines with lipless crankbaits and jigs with a craw trailer. Plastics under a slip float and jerk baits are taking crappie in the same area. . . . TTYL — Ken Husker O’Malley Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team


Closed for the season.


Arden Katz said that he never so many boats and jet skies in his life on the Chain, but he was still catching white bass in 9-12 feet off points. “They didn’t go deep yet, probably after this week when it gets cold,’’ said Katz, who was rip-jigging minnows.

Art Frisell at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said white bass excellent 8 feet and deeper, mostly suspended (check screen); bluegill is also good, start in 8 feet with ice jigs; for walleye, fish around bridges or main lake points with crawlers or minnows, either slip-bobbering and/or Lindy-rigging; muskie are fair, definitely sucker time; also try for crappie (shallower earlier) in that same 8-foot range.

NOTE: Check updates on water conditions at or (847) 587-8540.

NOTE 2: The Stratton Lock and Dam is closed for the season.


Chicago River catfish. Provided by Jeffrey Williams

Chicago River catfish.

Provided by Jeffrey Williams

Jeffrey Williams messaged the photo above and this:

Long day at the river not to mention rainy and cold, managed a 3 lb Cat today, lost a Carp which i fought for a hour, got my net down to get him in, i got him up one splash and he jumped out out breaking my line,he had to be at the very least close to 30 pounds

Jeff Nolan texted the photo below and this:

A big Northern I caught in Ogden slip on Thursday

Jeff Nolan with a northern pike from the Chicago River system. Provided photo

Jeff Nolan with a northern pike from the Chicago River system.



Dave Duwe emailed:

Delavan Lake 10/12/20 through 10/19/20 Fishing has been very tough over the last week or so. The water is really dirty and I think the warm weather has confused the fish and they aren’t sure whether they should be in their fall or summer patterns. Walleye pike can be caught trolling deep diving crank baits or jigging in 35 ft of water. You want to be just outside the main lake points when trolling. I troll between 16 and 22 ft of water. The early morning hours are the best. You want a fire tiger or pearl colored crank bait which resembles the crappie. Look for the fish by Browns Channel or by the island. You want to get to the lake about an hour before sunrise. Northern pike have been spotty. The pike I’ve caught were in 10-12 ft of water on the weedline. They can be caught on medium suckers fished on a slip bobber. The best location has been by the Oriental boathouse or by the Yacht Club. I haven’t been fishing suckers on lindy rigs so that might be a possibility. Keep the boat on the outside of the weed edge in 17 ft of water and back troll into the wind. Bluegills remain suspended in the main lake basin. They are 20 ft down in 35 to 40 ft of water. A good fish locator is essential to find the active fish. The best presentation is an ice jig or a single hook with a heavy split shot. You want to fish straight lined right beneath the boat. Look for the fish by the Village or off of Willow Point. Perch are being caught in 12-15 ft of water. The best bait is large leaf worms or small fat head minnows. Look for the fish by the outlet channel or down by the old Boy Scout camp. Fish the worms on a slip bobber rig for the best success. Largemouth bass are in 4-5 ft of water around the boat docks. I’ve been concentrating on south shore piers. They can be caught on Senkos. Green pumpkin or watermelon seed are the best colors. Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050


Ken Husker O’Malley emailed: Hey Dale, Here is a recap of this past week’s fishing. . . . Area rivers- smallmouth and largemouth are decent on the Illinois and DesPlaines. Work crankbaits and chatterbaits along discharges, ledges, and rock humps that are holding bait fish. Water temps are in the upper 50’s to low 60’s. . . . TTYL — Ken Husker O’Malley Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team


POWERTON:Final day of regular fishing is Oct. 16.

HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Closed for the year.

EMIQUON: Basically, go to the launch. General information at

SHELBYVILLE:Check with Ken Wilson of Lithia Guide ServiceSOUTHERN ILLINOIS: Check with Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing.


Pete Lamar emailed:

Hi Dale, Here is this week’s report (only moving water this week-no lakes or ponds). I practiced casting on the Fox because the rain that is falling right now will likely bring in some fresh salmon to the tributaries on the west side of Lake Michigan-I want to be ready with the Spey rod when they show up. I did catch a few small smallmouths right along the bank in the clear water. I went after smallmouths again on Sunday, this time closer to the mouth on the Fox, Kendall County instead of Kane. I was intent on using topwaters only, so started with a foam hopper (still a lot of grasshoppers around in the long grass when the day warms). I had an aggressive follow from a couple of smallmouths, but they both peeled off right before committing. After a fly change or two and still no bites from the fish, I tried to approach their most likely lie and give them a different look. Unfortunately they weren’t in the most likely lie and I spooked them while moving up on them. I did get a good look at them; they were good-sized. Either would’ve made the day. Consolation came in the form of a lot of nice crappies out of the deepest pools on the creek. Trout season in Wisconsin closes on Thursday, so I may take one last shot at some brook trout before then. Pete


A thick Lake Geneva smallmouth bass. Photo provided by John Saban.

A thick Lake Geneva smallmouth bass.

Photo provided by John Saban

John Saban emailed the photo above and this:

Dale, Smallmouth bite on Geneva is on fire. We bought bait and gas pre Wisconsin border to be covid safe. Caught most on Lindy Rigs with large golden roaches. We wanted to go out on the lakefront but wind and waves changed our mind. Glad we went to Geneva instead a bit windy but you could find sheltered points that produced fish.

Mike Enzel emailed the photo below and this:

Hey Dale I fish a few of the lakes around lake geneva and caught a nice largemouth in the late afternoon this week. Water temps were cool, high 50s and only got bites on moving baits. Booyah 1/2oz spinner with a kalins paddle tail trailer, white/blue pattern was what I landed this guy on

A Geneva Lake largemouth bass. Provided by Mike Enzel

A Geneva Lake largemouth bass.

Provided by Mike Enzel

Dave Duwe emailed:

Lake Geneva 10/12/20 through 10/19/20

With the cooling temperatures, the fish have been aggressively biting. The best bite on the lake has been the smallmouth bass and the yellow perch.

Smallmouth bass can be caught lindy rigging in 22-28 ft of water off the main lake points. I’ve been catching most of my fish by the Yacht Club, Military Academy or in front of Gage Marine. The fish can be caught on fat head minnows or yellow perch caught in the lake. With cooler temperatures forecasted, the fish will even move shallower making the main lake points even more productive. For shallower points, try Black Point and Conference Point.

Yellow perch can be caught in 2-9 ft of water. The best location is by Knollwood, Rainbow Point or Belvidere Park. The best approach is fishing Thill slip bobbers tipped with a fat head minnow. You want to position the bait, 1 foot above the weeds or 1 foot above the bottom. There are a lot of fish in the 10-12 inch range.

Largemouth bass are in the shallows. Look for the fish in Geneva Bay around the piers or in Trinkes. With the cooler water, the fish have moved very shallow, look for them in 4-6 ft of water. The best approach is casting spinner baits or a white swim jig. This bite will be consistent for the next few weeks with the water temperatures as cool as they are.

Northern pike have moved into the shallow weeds. The best bet is Williams Bay or Fontana Beach. They can be caught on slip bobber rigged large golden shiners or medium suckers. You want to position the boat in 12-15 ft of water, keeping the bait 1-2 ft above the weeds.

Walleyes can be caught at night. They are being caught on large Rapallas or Smithwick medium diving rogues. The best location has been trolling from Abbey Springs to the Yacht Club or in front of Yerkes Observatory.

Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050


Rich Connor from Madison, Wis. caught this 4-pound smallmouth bass on a recent guide trip. Provided by Mike Norris

Rich Connor from Madison, Wis. caught this 4-pound smallmouth bass on a recent guide trip.

Provided by Mike Norris

Guide Mike Norris texted the photo above and emailed this:

Fishing Report 10/12/2020 Mike Norris Big Green Lake – Fishing really picked up last week with the return of good weather to south central Wisconsin. Smallmouth bass fishing improved on Big Green Lake as water temps dropped down to the mid to upper 50’s. My clients and I are catching smallies up to 4 lbs. on live bait rigs and this pattern will continue to improve over the next two weeks. I am finding more bass relating to scattered weed patches right now but should see them transition to rock areas soon. Northern pike are also active. Little Green Lake – Most anglers are targeting muskies on Little Green, but the action was inconsistent this past week. The muskie bite should improve with the onset of cooler weather late this week. It will be wise to bring up your own suckers if you plan to fish for muskie. Suckers are hard to get throughout Wisconsin and the price has gone up. Small suckers are going for $4 each locally, with medium suckers at $8 each and large suckers $12.50 each. I am hearing reports of large suckers going for $20 each in northern Wisconsin. Beaver Dam Lake –Anglers are still catching perch and crappies from shore in first and last hours of the day. Hwy G on the west side of the lake has been the most consistent spot for catching crappies, though on some days any of the bridge areas are good. The better crappies are measuring 13.5 to 14 inches. Fox Lake – Walleyes action is picking up. Try trolling crankbaits in 15 feet of water off Kuno Trail. Anglers are also starting to target muskies on Fox Lake with bucktails worked over and around weedbeds. The next four weeks or so should produce the best muskie fishing of the year. I will be speaking to the Lake Geneva Fishing Club about catching huge smallmouth bass during the fall this Wednesday, October 14 starting at 6 p.m. at the Poplar Creek Bowl, 2354 W. Higgins Rd, Hoffman Estates. Guests are welcome for a small fee. Phone me at 630-842-8199 to book a guided fishing trip or contact me through my website at


Click here for the Wisconsin DNR weekly report.


Closed for the season.


Ken “Husker” O’Malley emailed:

Hey Dale, Here is a recap of this past week’s fishing. . . . Area rivers- smallmouth and largemouth are decent on the Illinois and DesPlaines. Work crankbaits and chatterbaits along discharges, ledges, and rock humps that are holding bait fish. Water temps are in the upper 50’s to low 60’s. . . . TTYL . . . — Ken Husker O’Malley Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team


River remains very low. The basin is in the central zone, so waterfowl season opens later.


Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.


People are biking or walking in to fish. Fisherman’s parking passes are not being sold while the lakefront remains officially closed.

SALMON SNAGGING: Salmon snagging on the Illinois shoreline of Lake Michigan runs through Dec. 31.

Here are the key details from the IDNR:

4) Snagging for chinook and coho salmon only is permitted from the following Lake Michigan shoreline areas from October 1 through December 31; however, no snagging is allowed at any time within 200 feet of a moored watercraft or as posted: A) Lincoln Park Lagoon from the Fullerton Avenue Bridge to the southern end of the Lagoon. B) Waukegan Harbor (in North Harbor basin only). C) Winnetka Power Plant discharge area. D) Jackson Harbor (Inner and Outer Harbors).

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

There’s been some trout around mostly on medium roaches with a slip bobber setup. Few guys casting, that is hit-or-miss with a fish here and there. Guys are still hitting Northerns and Smallmouth while casting for salmon. As far as the shop goes through the month of October our hours will stay 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Access to the shop is through the Montrose entrance only.

Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters said it is mainly fishing for spawning lake trout, though there have been some browns taken around the Kenosha area. “Otherwise, it is lake trout by the reefs or rock piles,” he said. “That is pretty much it. The young kings are really not around yet. It is hard not to go to the reefs or even outside of the R4 in 120-160 feet. I think the smaller lake trout are hanging out with [the bigger spawners].” Weather has limited effort.

David Stachura emailed the photo below Tuesday afternoon from a Confusion Charters trip.

The catch Tuesday on Confusion Charters. Provided by David Stachura

The catch Tuesday on Confusion Charters.

Provided by David Stachura

Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan texted:

Seeing some nice steelhead caught on my nightcrawlers, very nice looking fish very clean. Still action on jigging some of our t-traps custom colors and our flicker shads also custom painted colors for just us. Snagging of course is snagging :-) they’re seeing fish. And guys also using spawn sacks and shrimp on the bottom are seeing some trout.

Capt. Scott Wolfe emailed:

Hi Dale I hate to start a report with a big negative but since snagging season started on October 1, there have been lots of issues. There have been fish guts and eggs left all over government pier. I took a walk down the pier this week and you literally could not step anywhere and not step in dried, caked guts, eggs and blood on the first 1/3 of the pier near shore. This is totally inexcusable since there is a free, fish cleaning station open 24/7 within feet of where this is happening. In addition some shore guys took carts for the use of slip holders and left them with dried blood, eggs and guts. The cleaning station has been misused and overstuffed, clogging it several times this week. People also continue to cast into the South Harbor, which is not allowed. The harbor management company and many slip holders have had enough. If the behavior of the shore fishermen does not change soon the entire harbor will be no shore fishing. Access to the East rocks, half of the South Rocks and banning of casting into the South Harbor has already come from behavior like this. The next step will be closing the harbor to fishing entirely. Perhaps another solution is to eliminate snagging. The problems don’t seem to arise until snagging season starts. There are always a few problems during snagging season, but this year things are terrible. As for fishing in the harbor, there seem to be few salmon left. A few late-spawning kings and coho are there. Browns and Steelhead are also in the harbor now. I have seen those trout in the water but I have not seen any caught yet. Windy weather again limited boat trips. The lake trout are right on the reefs now about to spawn. As of my last trip this weekend, the females still had their eggs and males had their milt. The spawn has not occurred yet, but will soon. Every trip was a limit catch with fish up to 23#. Jimmy Fly Mo rigs in gold were best near the bottom. The bigger lake trout seemed to come up a little higher and hit spoons with Gold and Purple being best run about 20 to 30 feet off the bottom. Warrior Forrest Gump and Purple Alewife were best. I am done running charters for 2020. It ended up being a great year, surprisingly strong given the fact the stocking is way down to help the alewife population rebound. If any readers need recommendations for trips up to November 10, I have a few friends staying in late this year. I will continue to report as I can with information from my friends. My company’s reservations calendar is open for 2021 and we are taking reservations for up to July 4 right now for single boat trips and the whole year is open for big multi-boat outings. Capt. Scott Wolfe 630-341-0550


The cooling lake, south of Seneca, is open daily 6 a.m. to sunset. Final day of fishing is Thursday, Oct. 15.


Click here for the update from D&S Bait.


Closed for the season, but Monster Lake at Mazonia South stays open year-round.


Kurt Justice at Kurt’s Island Sport Shop in Minocqua emailed:

No two days the same as of late. Wind direction, wind speed, temperature jumps and plunges, clouds, sun…yet lots of lake surface temps hovering around 55 degrees. It’s definitely October and anglers have been busy targeting their favorite fish of the fall, Musky, Walleye and Crappies. Musky: Good-Very Good – It’s really varying from day to day and lake to lake. While suckers are the typical fare for October, glide baits (Smity Jerks:Phantoms), jerk baits (Suicks) and twitch baits (Cranes, Shallow Raiders) are out boating the live bait on some days. High wind makes boat control tough. Most fish coming off weed lines of 6-10’. Some days of actions (3, 5, 6 or more fish per boat reported) or 1 large fish in the upper 40’s. Looks like a couple more weeks of good action in store! Walleye: Good-Fair – Wind and boat control being the largest hindrance. Vertical jigging Shiver Minnows and jigging Raps along deep rocks and transition areas of 24-34’. Jig or Lindy rig live chubs or suckers if fish are not aggressive enough for lures. Be careful bringing fish out of deep – SLOW ascent is key and responsible for safe release. Smallmouth Bass: Fair – Few reports, but a few anglers finding Smallies along transition zones of hard to soft bottoms in 18-28’. Northern Pike: Fair – Most caught by Musky anglers. Smaller twitch baits and glide baits best. Crappie: Good-Fair – Wind making drifts hard on some days. Deep wood best, but possible to score on suspended fish if you watch your locator closely. Schools suspending at 7-9’ down over 14-18’. Largemouth Bass, Bluegill, Perch – No reports. Water temps holding fairly steady at 52-56 degrees due to fluctuating air temps (50-75 degrees past several days for highs). While some bait is tough to find (redtails, Walleye suckers), Musky suckers and farm raised Brook Trout have been available as of late for the Musky anglers. Kurt Justice Kurt’s Island Sport Shop Like us on FaceBook


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

Fall weather coming mid week crappie fishing will get better and better Some coho and few dark kings still in the upper stretches of area tributaries. Slezs bait shop is on fall and winter hours now 5 to 5 everyday 2 sizes of musky suckers in stock

Christina Petrites at Stan’s Bait & Tackle Center in Hammond emailed:

Hi, Dale. I hope you’re doing well; here’s what I have for this week: Fishing on the lakefront, local ponds/lakes, up to St. Joseph has slowed down a lot. ~Perch: anglers are still catching perch in 45 FOW north of the harbor when conditions are good. ~Salmon/Steelhead: moving into the river; anglers are using Maglips & Flatfish. Try drifting spawn under a bobber: seems to be working like a charm. ~Lake trout: still being caught in 100-120 FOW on spin-n-glows, but the fish have been on the smaller side. ~Bluegills/Crappie: doing very well in most inland lakes using jumbo reds & beemoths. ~Bass: have become very active on the river & most inland lakes.


Click here for the Wisconsin DNR’s report, usually on Tuesday or Wednesday.


Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said very few fishing, there are a few coho at Berrien Springs and stgeelhead are just starting to show up.


Click here for the FOTW for the lake-record walleye caught Monday.

The fall look at Shabbona Lake. Provided by Ken “Husker” O’Malley

The fall look at Shabbona Lake.

Provided by Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Ken “Husker” O’Malley emailed the photo above and this:

Hey Dale, Here is a recap of this past week’s fishing. . . . Shabbona Lake-water temps have dropped into the upper 50’s with clarity being about a foot. Work double 10’s along drop offs for muskie. A few follows but no takers. Be sure to finish every cast with a figure eight. TTYL — Ken Husker O’Malley Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team

Site hours are 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Lakeside, Pokanoka’s Cafe and camp store are closed for the season. Lakeside plans to reopen when ice fishing comes.


Click here for the southern Lake Michigan reports from the Wisconsin DNR.


A Wisconsin River smallmouth bass.  Provided by Rob Abouchar

A Wisconsin River smallmouth bass.

Provided by Rob Abouchar

Rob Abouchar emailed the photo above and this:

Hi Dale The nimrods were out early and the calls and shotgun blasts were echoing in the morning breeze. I was back on the water on the Wisconsin River/Alexander Flowage over the holiday weekend. This is my favorite time of the year to be on the river. The foliage was peaking all along the way and the fall bite is going on the river. Smallmouth bass were hitting a Sexy Shad KVD squarebill in Sexy Shad, a Black n Blue Senko wacky rigged, and a white chatterbait with a white Kalins grub trailer. The bass were caught near rocks and green weeds.. The Northern Pike were active and hitting the Senko and the chatterbait in weedy areas. I even had a couple hits from fish under docks that were still in the water. I caught another Hybrid Tiger Muskie on a white Thunder Cricket with a Kalins grub. Other anglers were casting big baits for Big Esox species as well as floating suckers. Some of these anglers reported seeing some but no catches. With a couple nights of temperatures predicted for this week the next couple weeks should be prime Muskie time. Again over the two days I had a couple of big bite offs on both the Senko and the crankbait; reminding me I need some leader material. On the Music front I have started the home recordings and will be doing more in the coming weeks. Also trying to schedule a session with some heavy hitting musicians to work on my original music. But still the unfinished business of that Muskie on the Senko. Tight Lines and Good Health, Rob


Trout season opens Saturday on the Illinois side, as does duck season.


Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:

Crappie are slowing down, best bite is north of Gill’s landing. Walleye action has been good in the Fremont area. Night crawlers and minnows on jigs working best

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