Chicago fishing: Coho spreading, the ice goeth and Braidwood reopens

Coho reports spread over southern Lake Michigan, Braidwood opened on Sunday and ice fishing fading leads this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

SHARE Chicago fishing: Coho spreading, the ice goeth and Braidwood reopens

Lucas Miller caught this 12-pound catfish last week while fishing for walleye on the Chain O’Lakes.


The reopening of Braidwood Lake on Sunday, spreading coho on southern Lake Michigan and the fading ice lead this sprawling raw-fie Midwest Fishing Report.

Figure I better get ice fishing photos in while they matter. Lucas Miller messaged the photo at the top and this:

12lb channel cat caught on a small sucker on the chain last week

I asked if he was trying for catfish or walleye and he replied:

Trying for walleye. 8 lb fluoro leader and number 12 treble


We found water temperatures from the 50s to the low 70s on Sunday, opening day. My column for Wednesday is off my opening day with Jimmy Ellison and his son Chaser.


Bass on the opening days of Braidwood Lake


Rob Abouchar emailed this report and the photo above.

Hi Dale The gates at Braidwood were open a 5:55am Sunday morning for the season opener. As the first boats were splashed the cars kept forming in the line that stretched down the country road. The first two anglers in line stated that they arrived at 10:30pm Saturday night to secure their spots in line. Joe The Grasseater Schatz and I were 15th and only left Melrose park at 4am to get there. The wind was howling a bit more than predicted but the bass action was very good if you could battle the wind. Joe got the seasons first couple of bass on a Berkely Max Scent Creature Hawg, and I soon followed with a couple on the Berkely Max Scent General stick worm. These Max scent baits should be a real fish catcher this season. The scene was like a tournament at the launch and the shore fisherman were seemingly shoulder to shoulder. I was back on Monday to celebrate Pulaski day with some nice early season bass and the bite continued on Squarebill cranks and wacky rigged Max Scent bait the General. Fish were caught by rip-rap on the warm side, and midlake natural areas near rocks and wood. Other anglers reported lots of 1,2,3,4, and even some saying 5 founders...? maybe this is the year a fiver comes to the scales at a Braidwood tournament. Tight Lines Rob


Lake Michigan Angler in Winthrop Harbor hosts another round of free seminars. Capt. Harley Goodman goes at 9 am., then Capt. Dan Wheeler, at 10:30 a.m., For more information, call (224) 789-7627.


Readers suggest SpotHero app downtown. Montrose (free parking); Navy Pier (check in parking office in east lot, be out by 10 a.m. for $8 angler 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 Northerly Island (10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday, credit card only).


Southern lakes are opening up rapidly, other lakes will not be too far behind with a glance at the weather forecast.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley emailed:

Hey Dale, Here is a recap of this past week’s fishing. Area lakes- lakes the are not wind protected are starting to open up. Others are locked up with thin ice and eroding shorelines. With the week’s forecast, get the long rods ready. . . . TTYL By chance did you make it out for the Braidwood opener yesterday? — Ken Husker O’Malley Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team

I did make the Braidwood opener. That is the column for tomorrow.


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

The guys taking ther boats up river to around 105 106th street old General Mills plant have been doing good on perch and a lot of nice size ones with the warmer wether starting I’m sure more guys will be trying it again


Change is coming.

Proprietor Greg Dickson at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said, ``In my opinion, we are going to wrap up pretty quick. We will still get some dogs going out. I think it is time to start thinking of open water’’



Chicago River carp in winter.

Tim Adkins

Tim Adkins texted the photo above and this:

Took advantage of the nice weather to try for perch and crappie in the Chicago River, ended up catching this carp on an ultralight rig with 4lb test line & a small jig + plastic

I’m impressed.


Braidwood is open daily, 6 a.m. to sunset. See Wednesday’s column for an account of opening day and see top for an account of opening day conditions.

LaSalle Lake reopens March 15th; Heidecke Lake, April 1.


POWERTON: Open daily 8 a.m.-4 p.m. for boat and bank fishing. EMIQUON: Go to SHELBYVILLE: Check with Ken Wilson of Lithia Guide Service. SOUTHERN ILLINOIS: Check with Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing. HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Closed for the season.


Frank Macikas emailed this report (and I am looking forward to more): Good Morning Dale, Since my plan is to do quite a bit more River fishing this year I thought I’d send you my first report from the Dupage. I floated a lower section of the Dupage yesterday for about 3 hours to clear my head, I want expecting much with most ponds and lakes still having at least skim ice but needed to be on the water. Flow was good with probably around 2-3 feet of visibility. Ended up with 6 smallies, all came off chunk rock in slack water in the slower slightly deeper sections. Look for the scum bubbles and they were under or right outside of it. All fish were on craw colored squarebills. Not a sniff on jerk baits or plastics today. Felt great to float one of my favorite rivers again and will most likely spend a good part of the season on the Dupage. Frank


Guide Mike Norris emailed:

Fishing Report – 03/02/2020 Mike Norris Wisconsin’s game fish harvest season closed at midnight Sunday, February 29 and won’t reopen until the first Saturday in May. Nonetheless, panfishing remains open in most south central Wisconsin lakes. Ice anglers are now focusing on catching bluegills from weedy bays or crappies out in open water basins. Other anglers will head to open waters of Wisconsin’s river systems where catching game fish remains open all year long. One of the early river spots to look forward for open water walleyes is the Wisconsin River below the dam at the Wisconsin Dells. Another area where we should also soon see the ice leave is the Fox River in De Pere where boat anglers will try their luck at monster pre spawn trophy walleye. To protect the spawners though, all Fox River walleyes caught below the De Pere Dam must be immediately released at this time of the year. Lake Petenwell, which is part of the Wisconsin River, will also soon be receiving a lot of attention for walleye as the ice there melts away. Effective April 1 this year, a host of new fishing regulations will go into effect in Wisconsin. A continuous catch-and-release season for bass at all times of the year outside the harvest season will apply statewide, except where refuges or closed areas are in effect. On the Lake Winnebago System, the daily bag limit for walleye and sauger will decrease to three in total, with only one being a sauger. There is also regulation changes for muskellunge and other fish species. A full list of the changes can be found at:



Quick limit of whitefish on Green Bay last week.

Jeff Norris

Jeff Norris texted the photo above of a quick catch Thursday morning. Things have been so good, he was back up there again Tuesday (today).

Click here for the Wisconsin DNR weekly report.


I am starting to see some guys in traditional walleye community spots. For the time of year, river is in reasonable shape.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley emailed:

Hey Dale, Here is a recap of this past week’s fishing. . . . Kankakee River-levels are dropping, but clarity is more like chocolate milk from the melting runoff. The weekend may present better opportunities. TTYL . . . Ken Husker O’Malley Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team


Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.


Hints of coho, Chinook, steelhead and browns when weather allows. The weather looks promising enough to at least draw anglers out. 

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

If all goes well the plan is to be open for the season starting Saturday morning at 5 a.m.

Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan texted:

Yes, some browns off the pier and the south rocks, had a guy said he got a coho on a spoon, so it’s starting!!!! Other than spoons, frozen roach on the bottom, spawn sacks getting a few hits, and worms are always good!


Click here for the update from D&S Bait.


Lakes are open daily for fishing.


Gamefish season is closed.

Kurt Justice at Kurt’s Island Sport Shop emailed:

Time to pack up the tip-ups. Inland gamefish season has ended ‘til May 2nd. Great weather (in like a lamb) for the final weekend with some good Pike and Walleye reports to finish up with. From here on ‘til ice out, it will be panfish and some whitefish. Ice conditions are some of the best we’ve seen all winter, with good-excellent travel conditions, 20-24 of ice on average and just a little soft slush from the mild temps of the afternoons making for a wet top. Crappies: Very Good – Anglers finding Crappies in varied locations depending on lake or flowages. Bite in narrow leaf cabbage of 10-12’ on 1/32 oz Forage Minnow spoons, Lethal Cecils and rockers tipped with waxies or Beaver tail. Deeper water (17-28’) and Flowages anglers doing best on tip-downs with rosies or jigging with glow or gold colored jigs tipped with waxies or minnow heads. Yellow Perch: Very Good – Most reports of anglers pounding the mud in 18-26’ using pimples, Flasch Champs and Leech Flutter spoons to carry wigglers down to the Perch. Also, surprisingly, anglers reported Perch in 8-11’ weeds taking K-Rips tipped with waxies. Bluegills: Good – Small #3 tungsten jigs tipped with single spike or moussee effective worked close to bottom (within 1’) in 8-12’. On Flowages, big Gills found in 12-17’ suspending 3-4’ off bottom taking Clam Dingle Drops tipped with a waxie. Without much snow cover the two feet of ice we have may not survive the entire month of March. Overnight temps below freezing will help firm things up for morning travel, but afternoons of mid 30’s to low 50’s forcasted will soften the top and erode accesses. Be careful! While ice thickness is very good, it could go bad quickly. Great time to be on the ice, enjoy! Kurt Justice Kurt’s Island Sport Shop Like us on FaceBook


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

Fishing for coho since last report has been good to really good for most Boat fishing is steady Gary light area and the ditch fishing top 5ft of water column thinfish j9 rapalas flicker shads and a variety of other spoons and small crankbaits The portage riverwalk all the way to the bass pro area section of river giving up coho on skein squid crawlers shrimp u name it coho have been caught on it Michigan city basin area behind dnr or fish camp restaurant has picked up a lot more coho were caught in fair numbers since last report again all over the place on baits but skein and squid and casting ko wobblers and lil Cleo’s spoons seem best


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


Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said there are coho off the pier; guys are walleye fishing near Berrien Springs; and a few steelhead are being caught throughout the river.



Shabbona Lake in winter, a classic photo by Larry Green.

Larry Green

Larry Green tweeted the photo above and below as well as this report:

Last hurrah at Shabbona as ice season ends, maybe. Some keepers and Charlie Mack Released these two 12 plus beauties on Sunday


Charlie Mack with a big crappie caught ice fishing on Shabbona Lake.

Larry Green

Lakeside is closed until re-opening on April 1, though Sands said sometimes you can catch them in the shop. Park hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m.


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


Erik Brztowski messaged:

Was on the Wisconsin this weekend, fishing walleyes and stuff. Lots of great numbers on walleyes, most of our fish were caught on a white buck tail jig or a lindy rig and minnow. Hooked through the back got way more bites then hooked through the lip. Got some fish also on plastics. Also got into some nice buffalos too. Got some sauger, too.


Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:

Not much to talk about. The river is breaking up, and I think most are polishing their boats. I’m thinking there should be soft water by the weekend. I’ll keep you informed.

The Latest
Marlene Hopkins oversaw the 2020 Crawford plant demolition that coated the community in dust. She’s now acting commissioner of the city’s Buildings Department.
Saperstein was the son of Polish Jews who moved to Chicago when he was a small boy. His Harlem Globetrotters played a key role in creating pro basketball as we know it today.
Gould replaces Sam Baker, who held the job for four seasons. Gould met with the Rolling Meadows players on Friday morning.
Gavin Atack, 24, is known as Chicago Geographer in the esports world. He will compete in the GeoGuessr Americas Regional Finals Feb. 22-25 and the World Cup in September.
Langford says Fitzpatrick instilled in him the confidence that art could be more than a hobby for the Chicago-based punk rocker.