Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Turning kings, lakers, catfish, smallies, dogs, last blue Rapala

Turning Chinook and excellent fishing for lakers on southern Lake Michigan along with largemouth, catfish and smallmouth inland lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report; with a couple bonuses from a dog photo and the tale of a last blue Rapala story.

SHARE Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Turning kings, lakers, catfish, smallies, dogs, last blue Rapala
Marcus Benesch celebrates a big bowfin in the dog days of summer. Provided photo

Marcus Benesch celebrates a big bowfin in the dog days of summer.


Catfish, largemouth and smallmouth headline inland rivers and lakes while lake trout and turning Chinook do so for southern Lake Michigan in this sprawling raw-fie Midwest Fishing Report.

And there are some hidden tidbits, a tale of a last blue Rapala, a dog photo and kids taking a break from fishing to swim.

Marcus Benesch posted the photo at the top on Instagram and this:

Dog dayz #nofilter #bowfin #freecrotchshot

Later, he messaged:

Caught with a Joe Bucher Slop Master and it was destroyed after landing the bowfin.

The power of bowfin. I should ask Joe Bucher what he thinks.


Bullfrog-only season runs through Oct. 15 in Illinois. Daily bag is eight.

A couple key notes from the Illinois DNR:

A sport fishing license is required to harvest bullfrogs. Bullfrogs may be taken by hook and line, gig, pitchfork, spear, bow and arrow, hand, or landing net. No person shall harvest bullfrogs or any other reptile or amphibian by commercial fishing devices, including, hoop nets, traps or seines or by the use of firearms, air guns or gas guns or during bowfishing tournaments.


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, Peoria and LaGrange locks on the Illinois River to facilitate major repairs.

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.


Lots of people, particularly kids and family, for largemouth bass and bluegill generally.

Then there is a Jeffrey Williams, who caught the beautiful koi below at a catch-and-release Chicago lagoon.

Koi from a Chicago lagoon. Provided by Jeffrey Williams.

Koi from a Chicago lagoon.

Provided by Jeffrey Willaims


The cooling lake in the southwest corner of Will County is open daily 6 a.m. to sunset.


Staff at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said most everything slowed down with the cold front, even the catfish; but some crappie picked up. Water cooled into the low 70s.

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

NOTE 2: The Stratton Lock and Dam is closed Mondays and Tuesdays, operating Wednesday through Sunday, 8 a.m. to midnight.


Dave Duwe emailed:

Delavan Lake 8/03/20 through 8/10/20 The fish are in their mid summer patterns. The water temperatures have increased so most of the fish are in the deeper water and aggressively hitting. With the excessive rains we had a couple of weeks ago, there is a severe algae bloom on the lake. Northern Pike fishing has been a bit slow. The fish seem to be very particular about the size of the sucker they are biting on. It seems that they want the bigger suckers, about 9 inches. Look for the fish in 22-25 ft of water off the weedline. The fish I’ve been catching have been on the deep end of that range. My favorite spot last week was by the gray condos or by the Marina on the north shore. Largemouth bass still remain in their summer schools. Look for the fish off of main lake points or in areas of hard sand bottom with scattered weeds. One thing that has started to happen is that they are actively feeding on small suckers fished beneath a slip bobber in 8-9 ft of water. When you find an area of active fish, the sucker will hit the water and the bobber will go under almost immediately. Bluegill fishing remain excellent. Once you get on a school of larger fish, it takes very little time to catch as many as you want to clean. I constantly am amazed with all of the pressure that the bluegills get and yet the quality of the fish is still strong. Most of the fish I’ve been keeping for clients are in excess of 8 inches. The best approach has been leaf worms fished on a small hook without any kind of bobber. Most of the success is coming off of Assembly Park or the west end by the island. In the last week, I have caught only a few smallmouth bass. I think the fish are scattered in the open water away from the structure. I haven’t been looking for them exclusively. The jumbo perch are starting to show themselves. The best depth for them is the 7-9 ft range. I’ve caught quite a few by the Yacht Club and by the outlet by Lake Lawn Lodge. Either use hellgrammites or small nightcrawlers for the best bite. You want to use slip bobbers, with the bait positioned about one foot off the weeds. Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050


See photo at the top by Marcus Benesch.


George Peters took two grandkids fishing and swimming in western Illinois. Provided photo

George Peters took two grandkids fishing and swimming in western Illinois.


George Peters emailed the photo above and this:

Hi dale, what with the pools closed I took my grandchildren Brianna and Quinn out to do some creek fishing in western Illinois. We had lots of fun and when we got hot we went swimming! G . Peters

That’s getting it done right. That’s how you take kids outdoors.

HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Here is the word from The Wetlands Initiative:

Paddling and Fishing at the Dixon Refuge Hennepin & Hopper Lakes are now open for summer paddling and fishing! The opening was delayed this year because of COVID-19 but you still have plenty of time to enjoy the lakes before the season ends on September 7. As usual, the lakes are closed on Mondays during the summer season except for Labor Day. For all other paddling and fishing rules, please click here. And many thanks to everyone who has been following the special health guidelines while using the Refuge trails during the COVID-19 epidemic. We want all our visitors and restoration staff to stay healthy!

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

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


Pete Lamar emailed:

Hi Dale, Only a moving water report this week-didn’t go after largemouths or bluegills. I fished a couple of Fox tribs and moved around more than usual. Water was clear, as low as I’ve ever seen it and COLD. It was a real mixed bag: some smallmouths, which were the target species; a largemouth (more about that in a moment); lots of tiny sunfish, which may have been pumpkinseeds based on their gill plates but it’s hard to be certain with such small fish and the channel cat in the enclosed image. I’m not sure channel cats will ever be popular with the fly rodders (I guess we’d know if Scientific Anglers or Rio ever comes up with a catfish taper fly line) but some patterns are starting to emerge: they like deeper and slower water than smallmouths; they’ll spend a lot of time around rocks where available but do better than smallmouths over silt and sand bottoms; they usually feed deep, especially when eating leeches and crayfish, but will feed just under the surface and the middle of the water column if targeting baitfish feeding on an insect hatch, especially in low light. As far as the largemouth I caught in the stream, he wasn’t especially large. What was notable was the beating he took from a big smallmouth in the same pool. I was casting to the big smallmouth at the tailout of a pool and couldn’t get her to eat, no matter what I tried. But I did hook the largemouth and a different smallmouth and the big smallmouth responded to their thrashing by chasing them around the pool, biting them and ramming them with her snout. I thought she might have been agitated enough to eat a fly after that, but it didn’t happen. The only thing I didn’t try was a salt water or musky pattern about the size of the smaller bass, only because I didn’t have any with me. Pete

I enjoy following how Lamar breaks things down.


Dave Duwe emailed:

Lake Geneva 8/3/20 through 8/10/20 Fishing on Lake Geneva, remains a very consistent bite. Most fish species are very active and able to be caught. Northern Pike fishing has been the most consistent pattern. The fish are now positioned from 32-35 ft. Most of the fish are averaging around 26 inches with several legal fish taken throughout the week. I’ve been using small suckers fished on a lindy rig. Chubs have become very scarce with only Geneva Bait and Tackle having any at all. The best location has been in Williams Bay and Fontana. Walleye fishing has been very good this last week, with both size and numbers being caught. All of the fish are being taken at night. Most of the fish have been caught on lindy rigs fished with either leeches or nightcrawlers. The best depth has been 14-17 ft. right on the weed line. Look for the fish by Abbey Springs and Fontana Beach. Largemouth bass have been very active. Most of the fish are in the 10-13 ft. range. They are very catchable in the morning and late afternoon. Most of the success is coming on top water lures. The best choice is either a chug bug or a Pop-R. The best location has been Williams Bay or by Trinkes. With the warming water, they can also be caught on the deep weed lines using Carolina rigs. I prefer a 2 ft. leader fished with a ½ oz weight. Either use green pumpkin lizards or an Arkie salty crawling grub. The best location has been the narrows or by Colemans Point. I position the boat in about 20 ft of water and cast in toward the structure. Lake Trout fishing has been very good. Basically the same pattern as last week. The fish are located 3-4 ft. off bottom in about 108-112 ft. of water. The best location is by Yerkes Observatory or Uhline’s Creek. Panfish have been biting well. You will have to sort through a bunch of fish to catch the ones with decent size. The bigger fish seem to come from deeper water, the 15-18 ft. range. The most active specie has been the bluegill. Rock bass fishing is becoming a bit more limited. Look for the fish by the Elgin Club or in Geneva Bay, outside the buoys. Good Luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 262-728-8063


Click here for the Wisconsin DNR weekly report. The reports have restarted.


The former cooling lake near Morris is open daily 6 a.m. to sunset.


Pete Riedesel with a topwater catch from the Illinois River. Provided photo

Pete Riedesel with a topwater catch from the Illinois River.


Pete Riedesel (see Fishin Friend Guide Service on Facebook) texted the photo above and this:

I’ve found my pet bass on the Illinois. You should come over for a quick morning run. Topwater!

That’s how you motivate me.


Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a Kankakee River smallmouth bass. Provided photo

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a Kankakee River smallmouth bass.


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

Hey Dale, Here is a recap of this past week’s fishing. Kankakee River-River is very wadeable right now. Water clarity is slightly stained, which is perfect. Working a Bandit 100 along current seams took the larger smallmouth. Pitching a TRD along current breaks took good numbers of bass. — Ken Husker O’Malley Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team

I have a sand bar in Aroma Park that I use to judge proper time to wade. When I checked Monday, the sand bar was long and wide as a road.

George Peters with a Kankakee River bounty. Provided photo

George Peters with a Kankakee River bounty.


George Peters emailed the photo above and this:

Kankakee river in best shape this summer. Fishing pressure heavy, all lures working now. Area near Desplains conservation has been good. G. Peters

Jeff Tempus emailed a bunch of photos, including the one below, last week and this:

That time of year ...I 57 bridge on fire.... He’s right. And I am a sucker for fish jumping out of hand.

Nothing like a photo with a jumping fish. Provided by Jeff Tempus

Nothing like a photo with a jumping fish.

Provided by Jeff Tempus


Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.


The lakefront remains officially closed, but people are doing a lot of things on the lakefront, including fishing by walking or biking in. Fisherman’s parking passes are not being sold while the lakefront remains officially closed.

With all that, the Chicago lakefront has maintained good smallmouth fishing as John Saban checked in last week with the photo below and this:

Hey Dale, Smallie fishing on lakefront has been phenomenal this year. Lots of 3 to 4 lb fish Catching them on all breakwalls, tubes, senkos, and drifting large roaches working best. My buds were out today and boated 25+ fish. My other summer project is a new puppy. I got another Griffon , if new one is half as good as my old girl , I’ll be happy. Stay well JS

Dogs in a fishing report. Provided by John Saban

Dogs in a fishing report.

Provided by John Saban

Yeah, I know dogs are not fish, though we did have a bowfin (sometimes called a dogfish) as the lead photo. What can I say? I’m a sucker for dog photos.

Andy Mikos emailed:

I was out on Sunday and killed the lakers between 115’ and 130’ dead east of the R4. We only fished from about 5:30 to 9 and quit because we actually got tired of reeling them in. We had 15 lakers that we got to the back of the boat(most released) and lost about 10. We also had 2 cohos. I had everything up higher trying to avoid the lakers and catch more salmon but they are just stacked up out there like cordwood and VERY aggressive. Take care. Unfortunately summer is fleeting.

Summer is fleeting. It is just weeks until the youngest is back in high school (at least I think he will be).

Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters said before the blow, out of Chicago it was excellent for lake trout, “Stupendous”; and the ocassional steelhead, coho and Chinook in 95-140 feet, depending on the day, fishing on the bottom. Mornings are better than afternoons and action is deeper afternoons.

Out of North Point before the blow, “has been great” for a mixed bag of lake trout, all different sizes, and some steelhead and coho and an occasional king. There’s some nice cohos (“We had a 10-pound coho a couple days ago.”) It’s 50 feet down and down to the bottom in 140 and deeper.

“It will change with all these north winds,” Poteshman said. “We had a good summer fishery so far.”

Capt. Scott Wolfe emailed the photo below and this:

Hi Dale Waukegan fishing was excellent for lake trout and fair for other species offshore. For anglers who adamantly do not want lakers, offshore waters from 170 to 220 north of the harbor to the state line have had decent catches of steelhead, coho and some kings. Leadcores, divers and downriggers from 25 to 70 feet with both spoons and flasher flys have taken fish. No real best set up. Covering water and looking for pockets of colder water with a temperature gauge worked best. More consistent catches were taken in 110 to 125 with laker limits every trip and some trips also taking kings, coho and steelhead. The fish wanted a fast troll this week with 2.5 to 3.3 mph speeds. Small spoons were best on copper lines with Warrior Flutter and Warrior XL in Steelhead Candy, Jamaican Sunrise, Colville Crusher, Green Spoiler and Green Menace all working for lakers, coho and steelhead. Flasher and fly rigs from Jimmy Fly and Smokin Fish in Aqua and Aqua/LBB patterns on wire divers and downriggers took lakers, kings and coho. As always the Jimmy Fly Caitlyn Jenner Mo rig on wire divers and downriggers took as many lakers as you can catch. Several trips saw us take our laker limits in an hour with 3-4 on at a time. Biggest was 23 pounds. In the harbor northern were very active on rapalas and silver minnows dressed with pork. If any readers get a 40 inch northern with a 30 year old Blue Rapala in its mouth, call me. I got taken around a post and that was my last blue Rapala. Attached is a picture of Capt. Mike Fuys (my boat partner) with a king caught Saturday. You will see it’s darkening but also has an adipose fin. Presence of the fin means to a 97% certainty its natural from a Michigan or Wisconsin River. This means they are getting ready to run but not yet far enough along to stage outside the river or harbor. To me this means we are about two weeks from the king staging and then the first really cold water due to rain or West wind bringing them in. I’d expect 3 - 4 weeks and Waukegan Harbor will see some, 4-5 for Jackson Park. Capt. Scott Wolfe School Of Fish Charters 630-341-0550

Capt. Mike Fuys with a turning Chinook. Provided by Capt. Scott Wolfe

Capt. Mike Fuys with a turning Chinook.

Provided by Capt. Scott Wolfe

Another sign of soon time for fall kings.

Also, that last blue Rapala story is my kind of tale.


The cooling lake, south of Seneca, is open daily 6 a.m. to sunset.


Click here for the update from D&S Bait.


Lakes are open daily for fishing 6 a.m. to sunset.


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

The previous week’s poor fishing looks good now! Cooling water temps due to night time lows below 50 degrees have lakes going through a major chill, many loosing 10 degrees or more of surface temps in the past couple days. Northern Pike: Fair – On windy or cloud covered days, Pike moving up to weed tops to take spinner baits, chatter baits or swim baits. On calm, clear days, anglers having to jig chubs or suckers into cabbage flats to entice bites. Bluegill: Fair – Active in shallows and deep coontail edges (a sign the larger predator fish are NOT present)! Small jigs tipped with plastics or small leeches best. Largemouth Bass: Fair-Poor – Fish not numerous, seems to be a bite here…a bite there. Signs of feeding on crayfish (look down mouth when unhooking-antenae piking out) so there is a clue to lure choices. Smallmouth Bass: Fair-Poor – Some nice fish, along coontail edges of 14-18’ as well as rock humps. Puking out small fish-so drop shotting 3 imitation minnows makes sense. Crappie: Fair-Poor – Have to find in right conditions. Cooler water seems to be pushing them down into thick weeds, not as aggressive. Musky: Fair-Poor – A few reports on smaller bucktails, for mid 30 fish. Anglers plying deeper water using rubber baits for larger, suspending fish. Walleye: Poor – Spotty bites dependent on cloud cover, wind. Leeches and crawlers best over eel grass on warmer days, cabbage on cooler and deep rocks where applicable. Yellow Perch: Poor – Not much of late. Small Perch on crawlers meant for Walleye. An overall cool week ahead, until weekend. Hopefully, rise in temps will bring back rise in fish activity. Kurt Justice Kurt’s Island Sport Shop Like us on FaceBook


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

Steelhead pushing up trail creek at a good pace now spawn sacks, spinners best to try Over weekend best for boats trolling was offshore in 100 to 140 ft mix bag of fish fishing 55 ft to the bottom spoons and spin doctors and flys best baits Willow slough giving up nice gills and a few crappie for those in boats and moving around crickets,jumbo red wrigglers and beemoth best baits Evening into dark crappie at pine lake in LaPorte has been good for those fishing into the night in 22 to 25 ft of water 15 to 18 ft down fishing minnows having lights in the water help the bite Perch fishing has slowed not a lot even trying as of late new buffalo and st joe Michigan pretty good when wind allows u to get out From the ditch to Michigan city not to many even trying lately wind and slower perch bite has put it to a stand still as of late

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

Hi, Dale; this is what I got for this week: ~ The cold water has brought in some Kings into 80-100 FOW ~Lake trout are being caught in 110-140 FOW ~South some steelhead caught off piers ~Walleye are still good in river ~Perch have slowed down but still catching them 40-45 FOW, mostly on minnows & softshell ~Catfish going strong on stinkbait, liver, & cutbait ~Bluegills great on worms & smaller crankbaits


Click here for the Wisconsin DNR’s report, usually on Tuesday or Wednesday. The reports have started again.


Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said a few steelhead are being caught off the pier, boaters doing OK on walleye in the river, which is now high and muddy. Before Saturday, boaters were going to 110-150 feet for lakers with some kings and coho.


Staff at Lakeside said fishing slowed with the cold front, but some crappie are being caught in the deep trees; catfish along the dam and the weed lines; for a few bass, trythe dam face and rocky points; and a few walleye are being caught on the drop-offs; water cooled into the mid-70s.

Site hours are 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Lakeside (6 a.m.-7 p.m.) is open with boat rentals (6 a.m.-6 p.m.). Pokanoka’s Cafe is open daily, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The camp store is open 5-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, noon-8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, and 8 a.m.-noon Sunday.


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


Wisconsin River fish and fashion. Provided by Rob Abouchar

Wisconsin River fish and fashion.

Provided by Rob Abouchar

Rob Abouchar emailed the photo above and this:

Hi Dale It was a great decision to participate in the Multispecies fishing tournament on Alexander Flowage in Merrill on Saturday. I had Larry Lixx LoCascio along for the event as he has a nack for catching a big one from time to time. We pre fished Friday afternoon and I noticed the moon being close to full. There was a bug hatch occurring as we drove back to the house on the river and I had thoughts of top water action in the Morning. Saturday morning the flowage had heavy fog and on my first cast a nice smallie hit. Larry said isn’t that bad luck...? I said not today. We released the fish and headed to the event at Rock Island. 20 Boats were in the tournament with the entry fee $10 per angler, with , prizes, raffles, and pay outs for biggest Smallmouth Bass, Pike, Walleye and Muskie. The bass action was excellent all day for different sizes and numbers of Smallmouth Bass. The Biggest bass of the day for the tournament was 19&1/2 landed by a local angler. Larry had a nice 18.5 bass caught from a dock on a 4 inch stick worm. Bass were hitting wacky rigged Senkos, strike king bitsy bug with small rodent and a Live target popper with feather tail hook. The big surprise came when I caught a 17.5 inch keeper walleye on a wacky rigged senko in 2 feet of water in eel grass. That would be the only keeper walleye brought to the scales and good for $80. Another big surprise came when a huge fish hit in the middle of a slop lily pad bed. I thought it was the long sought after Muskie but it was a 31.5 inch Northern. The fish turned out to be the biggest Pike of the day and good for $90. It really was a great day on the water. As we made our final pass of the tournament I flipped my Senko into some sparse pads and was quickly bitten off. I think it was my Musky on a Senko. Now I know where it lives! Best areas for bass were under docks and shore stations. Also wood and rock areas in shade. Topwater action early was good but quickly ended with high sun. Pike and Walleye were good around mixed weed areas near rock bottom. Flip ino holes in weeds, and edges of the eel grass. Tight Lines and Good Health!!! Rob

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