Chicago fishing: Access updates, coho on the lakefront and inland fishing

Access updates and coho on southern Lake Michigan lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

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Erik Brztowski caught this walleye at Three Oaks. Provided photo

Erik Brztowski caught this walleye at Three Oaks.


Access updates lead this sprawling raw-fie Midwest Fishing Report, but there are also reports on coho on southern Lake Michigan and crappie and other fishing inland.

Fishing, provided you’re doing good social distancing, is considered a good option and Erik Brztowski made good use of his time recently.

He messaged the photo at the top and this report:

Report from 3 oaks: 32-35 degree air temps. Water temps were 38-39 degrees. Caught this walleye on a spybait. Also got some bass on jerkbaits, darksleeper, and also a A-rig.


I decided to include updates on access questions within individual reports. But, remember overall, as of now, the Illinois DNR sites are closed. Also I try to regularly update access news I gather by posting at


Click here for the statewide release and list of sites. It is set to open April 4 and will be at sites then open.

Via [fisheries chief] Mike McClelland: Trout will be stocked at all spring stocking locations as most of the stocking sites are not state park and recreational areas, but rather partnering city and county conservation and park districts. As you know, trout purchase for stocking is a result of inland trout stamp sales and the order of trout for spring season has already occurred, we want to be sure to get those trout to the water.

Click here for an update on spring turkey hunting as well as spring trout.


Readers suggest SpotHero app downtown. Montrose (free parking); DuSable Harbor (fisherman’s lot); Northerly Island/Burnham Harbor (meters or fisherman’s lot); Steelworkers Park (free street parking at east end of 87th).


The $10 parking passes (DuSable, Burnham fisherman’s lots) are available at Henry’s Sports and Bait or Park Bait.


Most lakes, other than the closed IDNR sites, are open, as of now.

Largemouth bass at Twin Lakes. Provided

Largemouth bass at Twin Lakes.


Rob Abouchar emailed the photo above and the report below:

Hi Dale Last Tuesday was the last time I got out before the Shutdown. I hit Belleau lake and it was cold and crystal clear. I was the only angler and could not coax a bite so I headed over to Palatine Twin Lakes Area to try the in-line spinner bait bite. The water there was cold and stained and I was able to pull one Largemouth out of the catch and release lake. There were a lot of people walking, running, fishing and enjoying the sunny cool conditions. It was a bit surreal to me with what was on the near horizon. Tight Lines Rob

There has been surrealness to the past 10 days that will endure in memory for the rest of my life.

Pete Lamar emailed:

Hi Dale, First of all, many thanks for tracking down all the information about what is open or closed, access, etc. it’s been very helpful. I went after bass the other evening-last Thursday to be exact, on a relatively warm drizzly evening-and managed to land exactly one, after dark. This was on a retention pond in a nearby industrial park that usually produces good numbers of decent-sized fish. At least it’s a start; things should only get better. Allow: me to sign off with a quote from the Wisconsin DNR from their weekly report, in reference to their state parks and trails remaining open: we recognize that spending time outdoors benefits both physical and mental health... Stay safe and healthy. Pete

I too found that quote and found it stunningly apt.

Tim Adkins at Henry’s Sports and Bait in Bridgeport texted the report and photo below:

Covered water quickly on a few forest preserve lakes right before the Governor’s shelter-in-place order. Caught and released a few small largemouth bass and this spunky little pike

Tim Adkins with a northern pike from the Forest Preserves of Cook County. Provided

Tim Adkins with a northern pike from the Forest Preserves of Cook County.



Remember IDNR sites, such as the Chain O’Lakes State Park, are closed.

Proprietor Greg Dickson at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said, “It is a drive-up situation, not really letting anybody in the shop. People call us and I come out.”

The number is (847) 395-0813.

He noted that you cannot launch at the state park, but people can launch at other public facilities or where there is a fee launch. “The fish are biting pretty good and there are some nice walleye being caught. It’s pretty easy to keep the social distance out on the lake,” Dickson noted.

Arden Katz said crappie, bluegill and perch are really going in the channels.

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


As of last word, the Daley Boat Launch was open and the Riverwalk is open to the public (use proper social distancing).


Braidwood and LaSalle are closed, as are all IDNR sites. Date of Heidecke reopening is uncertain.


Remember, IDNR sites are closed. As of last word, the Army Corps of Engineers lakes—Shelbyville, Carlyle and Rend—are open for fishing and launching.

EMIQUON: Here is one update.

Due to the closure of Dickson Mounds Museum, boating and fishing permits are available at the small shed at the boat launch parking lot in the Emiquon Preserve’s Visitor Use Area.

For the general regulations, go to

SHELBYVILLE: Check with Ken Wilson of Lithia Guide Service. SOUTHERN ILLINOIS: Check with Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing. Lake of Egypt is open. HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Closed for the season.


Guide Mike Norris emailed:

Fishing Report – 03/23/2020 Mike Norris Fox River, Montello, WI - With virtually no ice left on area lakes I’ve spent the last few days storing ice gear, stringing new line on reels, sorting through new tackle purchases, and getting my boat ready for open water fishing. Lake Puckaway, a shallow 5,000-acre lake located in Marquette County, is part of the Fox River system and is 95% ice free. As pre-spawn walleyes move upstream from the west end of Lake Puckaway into the Fox River, they will be vulnerable to boat anglers fishing the mouth of the Fox River with 1/8 oz jigs tipped with half a night crawler. A warming trend is in the forecast and by week’s end I hope to be targeting walleyes on Lake Puckaway from my boat. Shore anglers fishing the Fox River below the Montello, WI dam are already harvesting 15-inch or better walleyes on jig and minnow combinations suspended from floats. Other boat anglers are chasing Wisconsin River walleyes while fishing below the dams at the Dells and below the Prairie du Chien dam. Fox River, De Pere, WI – A two-inch rainfall late last week muddied this popular river walleye destination, but the water is both clearing and warming up. This should result in a torrid walleye bite there in the next week or so if the weather stays decent. A variety of vertical boat presentations, including but not limited to Jigging Raps, bladed jigs, and a jig and minnow combination produces big walleyes this time of year on this catch and release fishery. Try fishing the main channel during the day and cast up into the shallower shoreline areas early and late in the day. Contact Mike Norris, Wacky Worm Guide Service, at 630-842-8199 for Big Green Lake and other south-central Wisconsin guided fishing trips.


Click here for the Wisconsin DNR weekly report.

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

Good morning guys. Quick update on the fishing As of right now, we still have fishable ice along some of the shorelines and bays and fishermen are out targeting big Walleyes, Pike and Whitefish. With that said, there are boat launches open and a bunch of fishermen are out trolling and casting for an array of fish like Brown Trout, Pike and Walleyes. And the first wave of Steelhead have pushed up in the Lake Michigan tributaries. So it’s a pretty unique time to be fishing here in Door County. As for the fishing… Ice fishermen have been getting into some really big Walleyes as of late through the ice as they usually do this time of year. Sawyer Harbor, Sherwood Point and Sand Bay, Riley’s Bay along with Riley’s Point all good options this time of year. Jigging Raps, Rippin Raps, Slab Raps and Odd Ball jigs all great options for the ice fishermen. Pike fishermen are still having some really good action through the ice as those fish push closer to the spawn. Set up in shallow back bays out in front of creek mouths with large sucker minnows under tip-ups and auto fishermen And the Whitefish are still going good for ice fishermen that are walking out in the near shore areas like the Sand bay are. Howie’s Whitefish jigs tipped with plastics have been the best baits As for the open water scene…. Boat and shore fishermen have been enjoying some pretty good Brown Trout action throughout the county as of late. Trollers generally look for warmer water pockets like out in front of creek mouths and or marinas and troll a mixture of spoons and floating or suspending baits. Shore fishermen will cast spoons like Cleos or Krokodiles along with suspending jerk baits in and around the marinas along with wader fishing from the Lake Michigan shoreline. Another option is still fishing with spawn sacs which at times can be very effective and can be done while casting And like I said the first wave of Steelhead have moved into the Lake Michigan tributaries and that has been providing some good action. That fishing will just continue to pick up as our temps warm and we get more rain and run off. Drifting with spawn sacs and casting spinners generally the best method Thanks; Lance LaVine Howie’s Tackle 1309 Green Bay Rd Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235 Ph: 920-746-9916


IDNR sites and launches are closed, but other launches, such as Barto Landing at Spring Valley, are open.

Guide Mike Hanson of Starved Rock Guide Service said they are just clobbering the sauger and the walleye. And yes, he caught and released that big lake sturgeon. Click here for my column on that.


Yes, Kankakee River State Park is closed, but there are public accesses through park districts, forest preserves and other public lands up and down the river.


Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.


As of last word, the launch at 95th was open. All the Chicago marinas and North Point Marina are closed through April 7. Shore fishing in Chicago is still a go, but please us proper social distancing.

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait in Bridgeport said it is about the same as last week with coho “good up and down the lakefront.”

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

Still doing real well on the Coho. Powerliners of course have more numbers but rod and reel guys have been doing ok too. Yesterday one of my rod and reel guys was out a little further south and did very well. Its been a back and forth bite between large fat heads and nightcrawlers. I’m keeping my employees home right now so I’m running part time hours 6am to 2pm Monday through Friday Saturday and Sunday 6am to 4pm. Stay well.


Click here for the update from D&S Bait.


Kurt Justice at Kurt’s Island Sport Shop emailed:

Late ice is upon us and some of the best pan fishing of the year is to be had. Fishing has really been picking up this past week with good catches being reported area wide. Time of day is the key, early morning and evening bites have been the most successful, while mid-day bites have been slow. Crappies: Very Good – While Crappies aren’t showing up in the shallows yet to do their spring migration, anglers are having a lot of success as of late. 18-24’ mud flats seem to be the location where people are having the most success. This could change in the next few days though as warmer weather pushes in. Tip-downs with rosies or small fatheads have had anglers running around catching fish. Jigging has been very productive too, small jigging spoons tipped with a minnow head or waxies will do the trick. Numerous reports of good size Crappies to 12-13 and even had one report of a 16½ fish. Yellow Perch: Good – A few more Perch are showing up in peoples’ buckets, still fishing isn’t on fire yet for this species. Deep mud 18-28’ of water, red spikes, wigglers and minnows are all catching fish. K-Rips, Z-Vibe and small Jigging Raps are also catching the more aggressive fish. Bluegills: Very Good - Unlike the Crappie, the Gills are in shallow. We’ve heard as shallow as 4 feet but try working the 4-8’ weeds. Tungsten jigs with dark colored plastics or a tungsten jig tipped with a waxie has been productive. Warmer weather for the next week will start to deteriorate ice conditions slightly. As of now, ice is holding up well (about 14-20) with little to no snow. Saturday morning temps dropped to low single digits and froze up all that rain we had earlier in the week that was sitting on top of the ice. Kurt Justice Kurt’s Island Sport Shop Like us on FaceBook


As of Tuesday afternoon, Portage Public Marina is planning to remain open, unless ordered otherwise by Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb. Michigan City Port Authority was in limbo on whether a launch or launches would be open. As of Tuesday morning, the East Chicago Marina launch was open. Hammond Marina launch is set to close Wednesday, March 25. The Hammond launch on Wolf Lake will remain open.

Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station said that he is open and serving a lot of pet owners as well as quite a few anglers. Coho are still good, though it slowed some from earlier in the year. Put it this way, it still takes most anglers longer to get to Gary Light than it does to catch their limits. Crappie bite has started at Cedar Lake. Guys are going and catching bluegill and crappie at Willow Slough, which has launches open. ``I have everything from muskie suckers to Rosie Reds, and everything in between,’’ Sleziak said.

Then shortly after we finished, he texted:

Bait guy loaded fridges and minnow tanks now


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


Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said boaters are getting out at St. Joseph and pier anglers are doing “pretty decent” on coho; still some steelhead at Berrien Springs. Launches are open.


As other IDNR sites, closed.


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


Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:

River is open to fishing, all landings are open. Walleye are biting in shallow water early and later in the day. Fishing deeper water during mid day with rigs

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