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Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Variable shoreline salmon, fall fishing patterns build inland

Variable shoreline salmon (colder water would help) and the building of fall fishing patterns inland around Chicago lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

A couple of big ones caught early Tuesday on the Chicago lakefront. Provided by Oscar Santos
A couple of big ones caught early Tuesday on the Chicago lakefront.
Provided by Oscar Santos

Variable shoreline salmon around Chicago fishing lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report, but fall fishing patterns also set up on inland waters.

Oscar Santos messaged the photo at the top early Tuesday:

Salmon bite is OOOONNNN in Chicago,Dale!! Just POPPED 2!!! And STILL working on MORE!!! Going to take it to Henry’s after Im done getting my revenge on these fish.My last 4 fishing sessions were all SKUNKS so Ima GET MINE!!!

SHORELINE SALMON/TROUT

With the wind shifts, warmer water had come back to shore on the Illinois side and made for tougher fishing, but there have been some caught as Santos messaged above. The Chicago lakefront remains officially closed, but those walking or biking in are fishing. Capt. Scott Wolfe emailed that warmer water showed shore salmon in Waukegan. Capt. Rich Sleziak texted that some salmon in Indiana tributaries are being caught on spawn sacs or spinners, a few off Portage Riverwalk or East Chicago at night on glow spoons.

KANKAKEE DERBY

The Northern Illinois Anglers Association’s 37th Kankakee River Annual Fishing Derby ended Sunday. The glamour fish were a 34-pound, 15-ounce flathead catfish caught by Paul Smith of Kankakee and Aaron Rice’s 10-11 northern pike.

Details are at http://www.kankakeefishingderby.com/.

LAKE STURGEON

Hook-and-line sturgeon season, below the Dells dam (and other spots across Wisconsin), runs through Sept. 30. A permit is needed if you plan to keep fish, minimum length is 60 inches. For details, go to https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/Fishing/sturgeon/SturgeonInlandFishery.html

Staff at River’s Edge (https://www.riversedgeresort.com/) said that it is mainly short sturgeon being caught, though there was a report of a 62-incher caught and released; water is up a bit.

Erik Brztowski with one the sturgeon caught over the weekend around the Wisconsin Dells. Provided photo
Erik Brztowski with one the sturgeon caught over the weekend around the Wisconsin Dells.
Provided

Erik Brztowski messaged the photo above and this:

Got nothing huge this weekend, caught a decent amount of fish. Flow got higher hopefully fishing gets better.

Sturgeon, big or small, are still special.

ILLINOIS FROGGING

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.

ILLINOIS RIVER LOCKS

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.

AREA LAKES

Fall feed bag time is near or here.

Charles Zheng with a quality largemouth bass from Lake County. Provided photo
Charles Zheng with a quality largemouth bass from Lake County.
Provided

Charles Zheng emailed the photo above from Lake County and this:

Hey Dale,

Apologies for emailing so late. Finished up another good day, the main thing happening after the rain is bass schooling up on shad. Everywhere in Lake County I’ve went, if there’s shad, bass are eating good. Spinnerbaits, flukes, jerkbaits, whopper plopper, almost anything can catch these aggressive fall bass. The best fall bite is on the way.

Like that “almost anything can catch these aggressive fall bass.”

Pete Lamar emailed:

Hi Dale,

I didn’t really go after bass this week. But the water is definitely cooler than it had been in recent weeks Bluegills were much more active than they’d been. There was a hatch taking place on one pond I fish-no idea what it was, I never saw an adult make it to the surface and get airborne-and the bluegills were feeding voraciously just under the surface-they completely ignored the small streamer I was throwing.

Maybe time for smallmouths later this week.

Pete

There is always time for smallmouth.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley emailed:

Hey Dale,

Here is a recap of this past week’s fishing.

Area lakes-bass slowed with the drastic drop in water temps from the cold and rainy week. A jig and craw trailer worked slowly on the bottom took a few bass.

. . .

TTYL

Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Husker Outdoors
Waterwerks fishing team

Bob France messaged about a frog and other fish and the photo below:

Plus about 20 or so bluegill...

On my ultralight. Would have rather got them

Bob France with some good panfish action in the northwest suburbs. Provided photo
Bob France with some good panfish action in the northwest suburbs.
Provided

BRAIDWOOD LAKE

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

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Art Frisell at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said white bass are probably the top bite on Mepps spinners or slip bobbers with minnows in 8-15 feet, some suspended over deeper water; the fall bite for walleye is beginning on crawlers or minnows, try up on flats mornings or evenings; muskie are fair on big jerkbaits or bucktails; for bluegill, focus on 8 feet and deeper on ice jigs and waxies.

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

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

CHICAGO RIVER

Jeffrey Williams with a PB carp from the Chicago River. Provided photo
Jeffrey Williams with a PB carp from the Chicago River.
Provided

Jeffrey Williams messaged the photos above and below Thursday and that carp was his personal best (“22 lbs 34 in”) and that “took [him] half a hour to get him in.” The crappie went “15 in 1 lb 9 oz.”

He later messaged:

water temps are dropping which i what i love to hear

On Monday, he updated:

caught 11 yesterday biggest being 10 in, i actully switched up what i used for em in the past and results are better

Jeffrey Williams with a quality crappie from the Chicago River. Provided photo
Jeffrey Williams with a quality crappie from the Chicago River.
Provided

DELAVAN LAKE, WISCONSIN

Dave Duwe emailed:

Delavan Lake 9/14/20 through 9/21/20

Fishing this past week has been rather spotty. There are some nice catches of pan fish and a few game fish, however, the numbers of game fish have been reduced by about ½. I have no idea if this is due to the water temperature or the 20 days of stable weather.

Bluegills are in 16 ft of water. I have been getting some of the biggest fish of the year. I’ve been using nightcrawlers and small leaf worms. The best location is by Assembly Park or by the island. The best presentation is anchoring and fishing right beneath the boat. Some of the bluegills that we’ve been catching are 9-10 inches.

Some legal walleyes are starting to show up however, there just aren’t that many. They can be caught on leeches or on nightcrawlers. I’ve tried trolling crankbaits a few different times, but with only limited success. The best depth is 18-20 ft of water. Most of my fish have been caught by the Yacht Club or just west of the Village Supper Club. The best presentation is either lindy rigging the fish with a ¼ oz walking sinker and a painted green hook or by split shotting a leech.

Largemouth bass can be caught using two different methods. The first is early morning when it’s flat calm. The fish can be caught on white buzz baits or other surface lures right around the north shore piers. The best depth is about 6 ft of water. The other is a live bait presentation with lindy rigged nightcrawlers in 16 ft of water. The best location is by the island or the point by the gray condos.

Northern Pike have been almost non-existent. I’ve been catching one here and there. I actually caught one legal fish this week. I’ve dragged suckers around for hours and hours with very little success. I think the fish may be more shallow than where I’ve been fishing. If I were to fish exclusively for them, I would be casting white spinner baits in the 8-10 ft depth range. Look for the fish by Lake Lawn Lodge or Viewcrest and Highland Bay.

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

DOWNSTATE

POWERTON: Reopened to fishing after the levee repairs.

HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Closed for the year.

EMIQUON: Basically, go to the launch. General information at http://experienceemiquon.com/sites/default/files/LakeAccessRules.pdf.

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

GENEVA LAKE, WISCONSIN

Dave Duwe emailed:

Lake Geneva 9/14/20 through 9/21/20

Well there’s good news and bad news on Lake Geneva. Since Labor Day has come and gone, the pleasure boat traffic has dropped off a lot. There is plenty of room for the fishing boats. The bad news of course, is that the fishing is just not that great.

The largemouth bass are in small schools. Once you hit a school you can catch a few but then you’ll have to keep moving to find the next schools. The majority of fish seem to be in the 1 ½ to 2 lb range, so there not huge either. Look for them in 20 ft of water. Try drop shotting or lindy rigging live nightcrawlers. For the drop shot rig, use a 4-inch green pumpkin worm or pearl and black sassy shads. The best location is by Trinkes Bay or by Knollwood.

The northern pike bite is still miserable. That disease they had last year must have knocked the population way down. There are few being caught in deep water and a few in the shallows. The best fish have been caught while casting white spinner baits in 10-12 ft of water over weeds. Try for the fish in Fontana or Williams Bay. Pike fishing should improve once all the fish move shallow. Fall is the time to slip bobber fish for them in the shallow weeds.

Smallmouth bass can be caught in about 26-28 ft of water, sometimes deeper. They have not really schooled up as they usually do this time of year. The water temperature has been a challenge this year. Some big fish have been caught, in excess of 20 inches, but it’s search and find. The best bait is lindy rigging nightcrawlers. Depending on the wind I use a ¼ oz to ½ oz weight, with a 24-inch leader. The best location has been by the Military Academy or Elgin Club.

Perch have been all over the 8-12 ft range. As usual, you need to do a lot of sorting to catch a decent limit. Slip bobbers fished with fat head minnows are producing most of the action. Look for the fish by Rainbow point or by Knollwood.

Rock bass are literally everywhere. There’s no problem catching them, sometimes the problem is keeping them off your line while you’re fishing for other species.

Bluegill and sunfish have been great. The fish are in 21 to 26 feet of water. Small leaf worms fished on a split shot rig. Work the bait six inches off bottom. The fish are off the weeds, I locate the fish locator before I start fishing.

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

GREEN LAKE AREA, WISCONSIN

Guide Mike Norris emailed:

Fishing Report 09/11/2020

Mike Norris

Fox Lake – With cooler temps and recent rains water temps on Fox Lake have dropped 15 degrees. Anglers are doing well are in 10 ft of water on the rock bar adjacent to Elmwood Island. Also try for bluegills off the weed edge at Keno Trail, Maple Point, and by the Boat House. Largemouth bass are falling for swim baits. Try along the north shoreline weed patches and in isolated weed beds in the Government area.

Lake Puckaway – Shallow water bluegill activity remains excellent. Try the numerous coves and bays that line the south shore of the lake. Anglers are also doing well along main lake weed lines just east of the incoming mouth of the Fox River. Redworms suspended beneath a float remains the way to go.

Little Green Lake – Muskies were stocked in this 462-acre lake in the early 70’s by the Wisconsin DNR as a test to see how they would do in central Wisconsin lakes and the results were good. Big muskies are caught each year on Little Green and September is one of the better months to fish for them. Work the 10 to 12-foot range with bucktails for best results.

Beaver Dam Lake – It rained every day here last week resulting in an increased the amount of water flowing over the Beaver Lake dam. Shore anglers fishing below the dam are casting jig and plastic combos and are catching walleyes, perch, and crappies below the dam. The Waterworks Park area is also good for crappies. Try a jig and minnow suspended below a float. Anglers are also starting to catch 8 to 10-inch perch from around shoreline piers.

Phone me at 630-842-8199 to book a guided fishing trip or contact me through my website at www.comecatchsmallmouth.com

It makes my day to hear (read) a big-time angler like Norris talk with passion about regular anglers fishing below a dam.

GREEN/STURGEON BAYS, WISCONSIN

Click here for the Wisconsin DNR weekly report.

HEIDECKE LAKE

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

Ken “Husker” O’Malley emailed:

Hey Dale,

Here is a recap of this past week’s fishing.

. . ,

Heidecke-slow. Water temps dropped to 65-67 with the cold and rainy week. Working mid lake humps, a few short walleye took the offering of a Kalin’s jerk minnow hopped off the bottom. Lots of boats out with little success.

TTYL

Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Husker Outdoors
Waterwerks fishing team

ILLINOIS RIVER

Pete Riedesel weighing a big smallmouth bass from the Illinois River. Provided photo
Pete Riedesel weighing a big smallmouth bass from the Illinois River.
Provided

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

Whopper today

I finally got out with Riedesel on Monday. It was my column for Wednesday.

We hit the smallmouth on the river.

KANKAKEE RIVER

Water levels remain low. Derby details at the top.

LAKE ERIE

Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.

LAKEFRONT

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.

See update on what is fishable at Navy Pier by clicking here.

Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters said fishing for lake trout, especially mornings, was very good out of Chicago. “They are just chewing the hooks, most of the time they are really hooked good,” he said. “And they are big fish, too.” Salmon has been tough. In 100-140 feet of water.

Out of North Point, lake trout are also good, but there are a few more salmon. With the lake trout, there are also a couple steelhead, a few coho and some jack kings starting to show in 140-180 feet.

“We need heavy south winds to start cooling that water down again,” he said. “It is meandering.”

Like that, “It is meandering.”

Capt. Scott Wolfe emailed:

Hi Dale

Offshore fishing was outstanding in the few chances to get out. Weather greatly limited time on the water with lots of North wind. Lake trout fishing was spectacular with limits every trip in 105 to 150 feet. The water was much warmer this week which kept the trout from 90 feet to the bottom. Jimmy Fly Mo Rigs in Orange Guy, Yellow Guy and Gold Goby patterns out performed the blues and greens. Magnum Warrior Spoons were great for both lakers and for a few nice silver 3 year old kings and brown trout, again trolled 90 feet or lower. There are also lots of 2 year old tiny coho and kings around and trollers should frequently check lines for those. We are releasing 5-10 per trip.

Fishing in Waukegan Harbor was slow. Some fish were caught, but most anglers left with nothing. The water was warm and not clear. Likely skein presentations could be effective or using colored and scented cures from Lake Michigan Angler in WInthrop Harbor.

Attached are a few pictures from this Sunday showing the nice offshore catches.

Capt. Scott Wolfe

School Of Fish Charters
schooloffishcharters.com
630-341-0550

LaSALLE LAKE

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

MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN

Click here for the update from D&S Bait.

MAZONIA

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

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

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

Following what seemed like late October weather in early September, morning temps in the 30’s at launch time on several days, temps warming up mid-week, though mornings can still be downright cold.

The yo-yoing temps have made for inconsistent fishing on many days with afternoons better than mornings as the difference between water and air temps shrink.

Crappie: Good+ – Deep wood holding Crappies in Flowages. Slip-bobber medium fatheads for slabs of 12-14”. On natural lakes anglers finding Crappies along deep coontail edges of 14-18’, suspended 3-4’ off bottom, and around deep cribs of 18-28’.

Bluegill: Good – Not for action but big Gills taking ½ crawlers beneath slip-floats in and around same areas as Crappies, deep!

Northern Pike: Good – Casting swim baits, spinner baits and #4 Mepps Comets above cabbage. Also jig and chubs. Windy days providing best action.

Musky: Good – Reports have been mostly of anglers using fast moving glide baits, twitch baits or bucktails. Some top-water. Suckers on bladed quick-set rigs as surface temps in low 60’s already.

Walleye: Good-Fair – Deep lakes vertical fishing gravel/med transitions using Shiver minnows/Jigging Raps or ¼ oz jig w/ large fathead or ½ crawler. If trouble finding in this area, drift mud flats with Lindy rig and crawlers in 18-30’.

Largemouth Bass: Fair – Weather has kept Bass anglers off water. Plunging weeds with heavy jigs and creature baits best to draw reluctant fish. Afternoon warmth improving fishing.

Smallmouth Bass: Fair – Same as above. Sandgrass flats giving up a few fish on drop-shot rigs, gravel humps of 20-28’ holding some Smallies feeding on crayfish and sculpin!

Yellow Perch: Fair – Few reports, probably due to wind.

Mid-September already and not a typical one, cool, wet and windy. Water temps down, water levels up from typical average this time of year.

So Far Musky suckers look to be getting hard to get. Pond suckers due to past two winters in Minnesota, wild suckers due to high river levels. Cool down of lakes from nights in 30’s should get the Musky bite going this week.

Kurt Justice

Kurt’s Island Sport Shop
Like us on FaceBook

NORTHWEST INDIANA

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

Some salmon up in area tributaries few here and there spawn sacks and spinners are baits to start with

A few fish have been caught from the rocks at portage river walk and East Chicago marina casting at night glow in the dark spoons and frenzy crankbaits again just a few so far must put the time in

Fresh spawn sacks and skein in last week. Open 5am to 6pm daily this time of year

Crappie bite on lake George in Hobart will start going good around the bridges with the cooler weather crappie minnows under a bobber is best

Not much to say about boat fishing wind has been blowing hard for awhile making it hard to get out

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

Hey, Dale! Here is this week’s report:

~Salmon fishing has slowed down slightly, with the increase in temperature, in the immediate areas & out of St. Joseph; it is much stronger on the Chicago lakefront. A lot of fish have run the rivers; guys are catching them at the dam & in creek mouths. Skein/spawn saks & spoons are the tried & true working best.

~Perch: fishing has picked up in 40-45 FOW; doing well on minnows & beemoths.

~Crappie & Bluegill: fishing is strong on the inland lakes

~Walleye: guys are still catching a few walleye in the Calumet & St. Joseph Rivers as well as Wolf Lake; leeches & Nightcrawers still holding strong.

~Catfish: very strong at Illinois River, lakefront, & area ponds. Stinkbait, Nightcrawlers, & liver working well.

~Northern Pike: very good at Wolf Lake & lakefront; lures & Nightcrawlers performing well.

ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN

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

SHABBONA LAKE

Site hours are 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Lakeside (6 a.m.-6:30 p.m.) is open with boat rentals. Pokanoka’s Cafe is open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the weekends. The camp store is open Friday through Sunday.

SOUTHEAST WISCONSIN LAKEFRONT

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

WISCONSIN DELLS

See sturgeon update at the top.

Hook-and-line sturgeon season, below the Dells dam (and other spots across Wisconsin), runs through Sept. 30. A permit is needed if you plan to keep fish, minimum length is 60 inches. For details, go to https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/Fishing/sturgeon/SturgeonInlandFishery.html

WISCONSIN RIVER

Fall signs are creeping in up in the North Woods. Photo provided by Rob Abouchar
Fall signs are creeping in up in the North Woods.
Photo provided by Rob Abouchar

Rob Abouchar emailed the photo above and this:

Hi Dale

As the foliage turns in the NorthwoodsI was finally able to get out on the water for some alone time fishing to clear my head and send some of Bella off with the waters she loved so much. I guess it is the price of being a guide; so solo fishing is cherished. The weather was wet from sunrise to sundown but I was able to fish a full day testing the rain gear, and catching some nice fish. Pike and maybe other toothy critters were going as I lost some big fish to broken, or bitten off line. If I want to get that Muskie on a Senko I will need a leader or tieable wire to get it done. Smallmouth Bass were caught on a wacky rigged Senko in Chartreuse and white. Again a Spinnerbait was also getting Northern Pike. My Longtime friend Matt “Homey” Centanno caught his biggest bass yet on the river at 20 inches on a Sexy shad KVD 1.5 squarebill crank; so the big fish are starting to go. The fish I caught were all very thick and healthy. The fall feed is on in the Northwoods!

Tight Lines and Good Health!

Rob

WOLF LAKE

Christina Petrites at Stan’s Bait & Tackle Center in Hammond emailed that some walleye and pike were being caught on the Indiana side, as were bluegill and crappie,

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted the photo below and this on Friday:

White bass and crappie are moving into the river. Water temp was 58.6 this morning. Only going to get better

Fall bounty on the Wolf River in Wisconsin. Provided by Bill Stoeger
Fall bounty on the Wolf River in Wisconsin.
Provided by Bill Stoeger