Chicago fishing: Access, inland crappie and coho on southern Lake Michigan

Access, crappie fishing inland and coho on southern Lake Michigan lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

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Bluegill from a suburban pond. Photo provided by Pete Lamar.

Big bluegill from a suburban pond.

Provided by Pete Lamar.

Access once again leads this sprawling raw-fie Midwest Fishing Report; but there are also crappie inland and coho on southern Lake Michigan, where and when you can get at them.

NOTE: Until circumstances with regard to visitors to Wisconsin become more open, there will be no Wisconsin reports.

Pete Lamar emailed the photo at the top and this:

Hi Dale, I got three or four other bluegills no smaller than the one in the photo yesterday evening-these were legitimate 9 and 10 inch fish. They were caught (and released) from a retention pond of a housing development for mature residents. I took a walk around this pond for the first time only last week. As you can tell, I’m still following through on your column from last Summer about exploring new water close to home in office and industrial parks (golf courses are on my radar too). . . . To summarize: social distancing is a simple matter when fishing (I haven’t seen another angler yet); the water is now merely cold rather than frigid as it was only a couple of weeks ago; no big numbers yet but things are picking up steadily. Pete

That is well said about fishing and social distancing.


Remember all four Lake Michigan states start new licenses on Wednesday, April 1. But Indiana has extended the date to May 22 for those with a 2019-20 fishing license.


Scheduled opening day on Saturday, April 4, has been postponed at all Chicago area sites, with only one exception from the nine-county Chicago area and that is Bird Park Quarry in Kankakee. The kids derby there is canceled, but the Kankakee Valley Park District plans to open on Saturday, April 4, as scheduled. They will enforce social distancing.


Smelt netting will not start Wednesday, April 1, as traditional, in Chicago. Any restart would only come if or when “the Governor and the Chicago Department of Health deem it safe,” according to the Chicago Park District.


The former cooling lake near Morris will not open as scheduled on Wednesday, April 1.

From the IDNR, “As is the case with other state parks, fish and wildlife areas, recreational areas and historic sites, Heidecke Lake will remain temporarily closed to the public until further notice.”


Most forest preserve waters are open, the exceptions are generally those lakes stocked with trout (they’re closed until trout season opens in the future).

Chicago Park District sent this update on lagoons as of Tuesday afternoon:

As of today, there are no lagoon closures, except for Jackson Park’s Columbia basin - due to the closure of the Lakefront Trail and adjacent parks. All harbors are closed. Although inland lagoons are not closed, the Chicago Park District strongly urges all park patrons to follow social distancing guidelines set by the Chicago Department of Public Health.

Erik Brztowski with his PB crappie. Photo provided

Erik Brztowski with his PB crappie.


Erik Brztowski messaged the photo above and this from Three Oaks:

16 crappie from oaks Got a good amount of bass on dropshots, Ned rig, vision 110 +1, jig, dark sleeper.

Charles Zheng emailed the photo below and this report from Lake County:

Hey Dale, Sorry to email so late. Just wanted to let you know of a good week of shore crappie fishing for me, picture below is one the fattest I’ve caught this week. I always let go of the females. Though the heavy rain was the end of my luck.

Charles Zheng with one of the crappie from the last week. Photo provided

Charles Zheng with one of the crappie from the last week.


Court Lipsett, whose son caught the FOTW the next day, tweeted this:

fished Wednesday at Turtle head lake, another dozen or more were there. No one was within 20 feet of one another.

Asked if he caught anything, he replied

I did not, but saw a few crappie caught.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a crappie from the past week. Provided photo.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a crappie from the past week.


Ken “Husker” O’Malley emailed:

Hey Dale, Here is s recap of this past weeks fishing. Area lakes-Even though the boat is parked in the garage, opportunities are still available on local waters. Bass have been decent throwing chatterbaits in a variety of colors. Darker colors on sunny days and chart colors on cloudy days. The bite that has been the most consistent are the crappie. Working twitch baits over weed beds has been producing good numbers. An occasional bluegill can be had with this pattern as well. With that said, stay healthy everyone. Better times are ahead. TTYL — Ken Husker O’Malley Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team

Rob Abouchar emailed the photo and report below:

Hi Dale

I hope all is well and everyone healthy. I finally got out of the house Monday to help with lunch prep at the school but that is as far as I have ventured. I am starting to stock up on Senkos for my continued; Musky on a Senko quest. Some great new colors this year! Also I have my replacement Temple Fork Big Fish rod on the way after a warranty for broken rod tip; as well as a Daiwa Lexa 300 from a guy in Elava Wisconsin. If a person could watch any more fishing shows i would like to talk but I’m not ashamed. They really can help with information and tactics, especially baits the pros use. I was really struck for instance on the amount of pros using a Buzz bait with that big frog on it. This I will give a try for sure. I have been doing some music spots on Facebook and some original songs will be in the offing in the coming days. Meanwhile the creeping Charlie and quack grass are establishing roots and the crocus and daffodils are blooming. Early tulips next and more fishing videos!!!

Tight lines and good health


OK, I just enjoy Abouchar’s musings.

Spring flowers. Provided by Rob Abouchar

Spring flowers.

Provided by Rob Abouchar


Chain O’Lakes SP, as all other IDNR sites, is closed.

Arden Katz said that crappie, to 12 inches with lots of 10s and 11s, are going in the channels, with bluegill mixed in.

Proprietor Greg Dickson at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said, “Crappie are still pretty damm good. When it’s cold, they pull back; and warm, they pull up. Walleye fishing seems pretty good, too.”

Triangle is strictly curbside service. “Nobody comes in the store.” Call first at (847) 395-0813.

As of 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Fox River from the Stratton Lock and Dam to the Algonquin dam was no-wake. Check updates at or (847) 587-8540.


The Riverwalk remains closed.


Braidwood and LaSalle are closed, as are all IDNR sites. Heidecke will not open on Wednesday, April 1, as scheduled.


Flooded on the upper reaches, coming off flood or near flood at Lemont.


Remember, IDNR sites are closed. The Army Corps of Engineers lakes—Shelbyville, Carlyle and Rend—are open for launching.

EVERGREEN: Lake reopened to launching and fishing last week.

EMIQUON: Here is one update.

Boating and Fishing Permits for the Nature Conservancy’s Emiquon Preserve 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 general info, go to

LAKE OF EGYPT: Fishing and launches are open. SHELBYVILLE: Check with Ken Wilson of Lithia Guide Service. SOUTHERN ILLINOIS: Check with Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing. HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Closed osed for the season.


As of 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Fox River from the Stratton Lock and Dam to the Algonquin dam was no-wake. Check updates at or (847) 587-8540.

Cheryl Smith with a smallmouth bass from the Fox River. Provided photo

Cheryl Smith with a smallmouth bass from the Fox River.


Cheryl Smith messaged the photo above and this:

Fox River smallmouth bite is starting to heat up...

Pete Lamar emailed this:

Hi Dale, . . . Last week, before the rain hit, I tangled with a couple of smallmouths on a Fox tributary in Kane County. I’m sure most tribs and the Fox itself are now high and muddy; Salt Creek, the DuPage and the Des Plaines were all out of their banks yesterday . . . Pete


Coming off flood or will in the next day or so at Starved Rock and LaSalle.


Best shape of local rivers. Plenty of public access and launches up and down the river, other than than the Des Plaines SFWA and the Kankakee River State Park, which remained closed as are all other IDNR sites.


Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.


The Chicago lakefront, including the harbors, remain closed. North Point Marina and the surrounding area remain closed.

Capt. Augie Ralph at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan, who sent the photo below, said, “It is good for us.” Well the northeast winds on Tuesday made Johnson Motors pier unfishable, but otherwise, powerliners on Government Pier are catching coho with fatheads; the South Rocks are producing browns, coho and the occasional pike on live bait or Cleos; there’s a few steelhead from the Government Pier on spawn saks under bobbers.

Skip of the south rocks at Waukegan last week on a med golden roach off the bottom. Provided photo

Skip of the south rocks at Waukegan last week on a med golden roach off the bottom.



Closed, as are other IDNR sites.


As of last word, launching options remain at Michigan City and Portage Public Marina. Indiana DNR FWA sites are open (but as a general rule buildings are closed).

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

Still getting some stocked trout at fairgrounds in crown point beemoth and powerbait best baits When weather allows coho action at Gary light good brads thinfish Dodger and Flys and j9 rapalas good baits Action at portage riverwalk and Michigan city pier hit and miss one day good next day slow but fish still being had squid skein crawlers best but some on spoons and small crankbaits Port of Indiana should pick up usually does this time of year fishing 4 to 8 ft under slip bobbers with crawlers squid or golden roaches being go to baits Cedar lake in the harbors giving up some crappie on Rufus jr jigs tipped with beemoth work the docks and pilings Some walleye and white bass action at Norway dam area in Monticello on hair jigs Crappie bite under Wisconsin street bridge in Hobart on lake George has been good most days crappie minnows and Rufus jr jigs tipped with beemoth Lots of people in Indiana fishing dnr and fish and wildlife promoting to get out just keep distance and enjoy relax


Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said earlier in the week there was some good coho shallow as 15-20 feet at the Cook plant; there’s still steelhead at Berrien Springs.


Closed, as are other IDNR sites.

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