clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Shoreline salmon and inland the fall bite builds

Fishing for shoreline salmon and trout on southern Lake Michigan leads this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report, but the fall bite also builds on inland waters.

Sondra Katzen with a good muskie in northern Wisconsin. Photo provided by Dave Derk.
Sondra Katzen with a good muskie in northern Wisconsin.
Photo provided by Dave Derk.

Shoreline salmon continue to be the glamor fishing for this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report, but there’s also signs that the fall feeding frenzy is building with the cooler water.

Should maybe add that there are signs, such as the photo above, that the muskie are going up north.

Dave Derk emailed the photo above of Sondra Katzen and this:

Dale,

Sondi and I are currently in northern Wisconsin on our first of two fall trips. Just wanted to share a picture.

Hope you are well.

Dave Derk

I’m doing well enough, but better would be with one of those muskies.

SHORELINE SALMON/TROUT

Some better action on the Chicago lakefront, including a number of coho. See lakefront and northwest Indiana reports.

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 there are smaller ones being caught and a few legals being caught and released.

A quality sturgeon on the Wisconsin River. Photo provided by Erik Brztowski.
A quality sturgeon on the Wisconsin River.
Photo provided by Erik Brztowski.

Erik Brztowski messaged the photo at the top on Saturday and this on sturgeon in Wisconsin:

30+ fish night, lots of fish over 40 inches. Had to move around a lot to stay on fish but got it done.

That’s a good night.

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.

CHICAGO FISHING PARKING PASSES

The parking passes for the fisherman’s parking lots are not being sold while the lakefront remains officially closed.

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

BoRabb Williams on a fishing mission. Provided photo
BoRabb Williams on a fishing mission.
Provided

BoRabb Williams messaged the photo above and this:

.....crappie are almost Ready... the water is changing to Fall season at Wolf lake.... still lots of vegetation in the way for trolling.... but they’re coming in. The Forrest Preserves are doing better for crappie..... the Calumet system is about the same with the water temperature at 64 degrees.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley emailed:

Hey Dale,

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

Area lakes- bass have been slow with the drastic drop in water temps. Best bait has been a flick shake rig worked along the outside of deep weedlines.

Things should stabilize with normal temps this week.

Sunset during the hazy smoke of these days. Photo provided by Ken “Husker” O’Malley.
Sunset during the hazy smoke of these days.
Photo provided by Ken “Husker” O’Malley.

Nature pic of the week. We have been getting some beautiful sunsets. Unfortunately, it has been at very high cost because of the fires out West.

TTYL

Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Husker Outdoors
Waterwerks fishing team

BRAIDWOOD LAKE

The cooling lake in the southwest corner of Will County is open daily 6 a.m. to sunset. Final day of fishing is Oct. 13.

CALUMET SYSTEM

BoRabb Williams messaged the photo above and this:

crappie are almost Ready . . . the Calumet system is about the same with the water temperature at 64 degrees.

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Muskie on the Chain O’Lakes breaks a drought for Pat Karpinski. Provided photo
Muskie on the Chain O’Lakes breaks a drought for Pat Karpinski.
Provided

Pat Karpinski emailed the photo above and this on Wednesday:

Sorry so late but I finally broke my slump Monday and got my first one since last June! Fox chain 36 + 1/2 but pretty sick absolutely made my day

Arden Katz said that crappie are starting on Marie in 11-14 feet with a few white bass mixed in, going about .7 mph with double hooks with minnows. Water is in the mid-60s.

Brad Irving at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said crappie are decent, especillay in the T and Deadend channels on live bait; white bass are going in the lake and rivers on bladebaits and Mepps; catfish continue very good on cutbait, stinkbait and crawlers; bluegills good on Loon on the deeper weed lines, but they starting to move into channels.

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 big catfish from the Chicago River. Provided photo
Jeffrey Williams with a big catfish from the Chicago River.
Provided

Jeffrey Williams messaged the photo above and this:

thought i give u a small river update, crappie action slowing up at least for us shore anglers but did get this big boy in, 2nd biggest i ever caught, 6 pounds even. Been hitting my local CPD lagoon and boy small bass and crappie are biting like crazy

On Tuesday, he added:

Catfish at the river, usually bite good around this time

ive noticed that the past 3 years

DELAVAN LAKE, WISCONSIN

NOTE: Grant Severance was diagnosed four years ago with Batten disease, an autosomal recessive disease. The fourth annual Rise Up for Grant Big Bass Tournament is Saturday.

Here is more information from his dad, Allen:

This Saturday, we’re hosting the 4th Annual Rise Up For Grant Big Bass Tournament on Lake Delavan in southeast Wisconsin. If you’re local and want to join us, please meet us at Delavan Community Park boat launch prior to 730A. More information, including electronic raffle prizes can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/Rise-Up-For-Grant-Big-Bass-Tournament-114623310330709.

Dave Duwe emailed:

Delavan Lake 9/21/20 through 9/28/20

Fishing on Delavan has become a bit spotty. Some days the action is better than others. Fishing pressures remains light.

Walleyes are in the 12-15 ft depth range. They can be caught on Rapala husky jerks or on a ½ oz chrome and blue Rattle trap. The best locations have been the main lake points. Try fishing on the low light periods at dawn and dusk for the most action. Over the next few weeks, fishing should improve I am starting to catch Walleyes almost every trip out now.

Crappies are in the shallow weeds in 10-12 ft of water. Use a small 1/32 oz jig with a purple or chartreuse plastic. I put a small sinker about 1 ft above the jig to cast it further. The best locations have been west of Browns Channel or just west of Willow Point.

Largemouth bass have moved off the deep weedline and now are in 10-12 ft of water. I’ve been fishing either slip bobber rigged suckers or split shot rigged worms. The key to finding the right location is large holes in the thick weed mat. Once you find these sandy spots, you basically just cast your bait out and let it sit and the bass will come and find it.

Northern Pike are in the 10-12 ft depth range. They can be caught on slip bobber rigged suckers or on ½ oz chrome and blue Rattle Traps. The best spots I’ve found were by Belvidere Park and by the gray condos. The fish are starting to put the feed bag on for winter and some of the fish have been extremely big.

Bluegill fishing has been hit or miss on the deep weedlines in 18-20 ft of water. You can fish them on a Thill slip bobber with leaf worms 1 ft off bottom or straight lining split shot rigged red worms. The best location has been by Assembly park or by Willow Point.

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

DOWNSTATE

POWERTON: Final day of regular fishing is Oct. 16.

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.

FOX RIVER

Anthony Hoovers with a Fox River muskie. Provided photo
Anthony Hoovers with a Fox River muskie.
Provided

Anthony Hoovers emailed the photo above and this report:

Hi Dale,

. . . I live in Kane County now and the river has been explosive from St. Charles area to Montgomery. Lots of mixed bags of fish every outing. Smallies, walleyes and even the fall muskie have kicked in with the rain we had last week. Here’s one decent one 37 inches. On a 3 inch white paddletail grub on 1/4th mooneye jighead.

That’s getting it done.

GENEVA LAKE, WISCONSIN

Dave Duwe emailed:

Lake Geneva 9/21/20 through 9/28/20

The William Bay boat launch is open, I miss spoke two weeks ago my apologizes to all affected.

Walleye fishing remains constant at night. Trolling crawler harnesses or lindy rigging jumbo leeches have been producing most of the success. The best location has been by Abbey Springs or Trinke Bay. With fewer boats out on the lake, this bite will be getting better as fall and fall turnover approaches.

Largemouth bass fishing has been up and down. There are some days that you can get them really good and then the next day in the same spot, they vanish. It appears that the key to the bite is some wind. When the lake is dead calm, they have a tendency not to bite. The best location has been by Trinkes or by Linn Pier. A lot of success has been coming on split shot rigged nightcrawlers or casting medium diving crankbaits in chrome/blue color.

Perch fishing has been improving by the day. There is some sorting that needs to be done, however the average size has increased quite a bit in recent years. This bite will be improving as the water cools even more. Look for the fish by Rainbow Point or by Belvidere Park. The best depth is 10-12 ft of water. Slip bobbers with small fathead minnows are producing most of the action. Position the minnow about 1 ft off bottom.

Rock bass fishing has been excellent. The bigger fish seem to be in 15-20 ft of water. However, for better action, the 12 ft range seems to always produce. No need to get fancy, the old split shot rig and a single hook works fine.

Smallmouth bass are just off the weedline in 18-22 ft of water. They can be caught on a lindy rigged nightcrawler or a lindy rigged yellow perch. The best location is by the Military Academy or off of Black Point. With cooling water temperatures, the smallmouth bass are starting to school up and within the next couple of weeks with start moving to the main lake points.

Bluegills are being caught in 12-15 ft of water by Chapin Road. They can be caught on slip bobber rigged leaf worms positioned 6 inches to 1 ft off bottom. Some of the bluegills last week were in excess of 9 inches.

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

Jon Dommissi, from West Bend, Wis., holds a smallmouth which feel victim to a live bait presentation. Provided by Mike Norris
Jon Dommissi, from West Bend, Wis., holds a smallmouth which feel victim to a live bait presentation.
Provided by Mike Norris

Guide Mike Norris texted the photo above and emailed this:

Fishing Report 09/19/2020

Mike Norris

Big Green Lake – Lake trout fishing is good along the north shore of Big Green right now. Look for the telltale lake trout fish arches with your electronics along the bottom in around 90 feet of water. Once found, try rip jigging for them with Rapala Jigging Raps. My clients and I are locating active smallies along weed edges in 14 – 18 feet of water. We were catching them this past weekend with live bait setups. Set up outside the weed edge and cast 4 to 5-inch chubs back towards the weed edge, then slow work the chub back to the boat. I am also finding large schools of 9 – 10-inch perch on the outside edges of the weeds. I am catching the perch on drop shot rigs tipped with red worms and with jigs tipped with red worms hung from a float.

Little Green Lake – Muskie fishing is picking up. Try trolling with large crankbaits just outside the weed edge. Crappies up to nine and a half inches can still be found suspended over the deep-water basin. Drift with a hook and minnow weighted with a split shot. Bluegill fishing is slow right now.

Beaver Dam Lake – A few anglers are running into crappies and perch from shore. Numbers are getting better each week. Try bridge areas where neckdowns increase the current flow. Fish the shorelines where the wind is blowing in with a jig and minnow hung beneath a float.

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

GREEN/STURGEON BAYS, WISCONSIN

Click here for the Wisconsin DNR weekly report.

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

Hi there. Here is a quick update on the fishing in DC

The 4 year old King salmon are taking their final swims of the year and getting ready for their spawn. This is a very good opportunity for shore fishermen along with small boat fishermen to get in on some very exciting action. Most of the northern Door County harbors both on the lakeside and the bayside of the peninsula will have fish in them along with the Lake Michigan tributaries and the Sturgeon Bay ship canal. Casting and trolling with crank baits and spoons along with soaking spawn sacs will all work for the fall run Kings

The Perch fishing has been absolutely fantastic and will continue right through fall as it has the past 5 years or so. Downtown Sturgeon Bay, Sawyer Harbor, Little Sturgeon and Riley’s Bay have all been good. Crawlers, leaf worms and fathead minnows have been the best

Pike fishing has also been good and will also continue right through fall and into ice season. Pretty much the same areas as the Perch

Bass and Walleye fishing has slowed, but will ramp back up as it usually does in the fall as those fish start to put on their feed bag for the fall. Steep shoreline breaks along with the many reefs and shoals that we have throughout the county will hold both the bass and the Walleye. A mix of live bait like sucker minnows along with an array of artificial baits both very popular methods for both the Walleyes and the Smallies

Thanks;

Lance LaVine

Howie’s Tackle
1309 Green Bay Rd
Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235
Ph: 920-746-9916

HEIDECKE LAKE

The former cooling lake near Morris is open daily 6 a.m. to sunset. Final day of fishing is Oct. 6.

ILLINOIS RIVER

Water remains low and remember the lock closures continue.

KANKAKEE RIVER

Kankakee, as most other rivers, remains low.

As the FOTW showed, the smallmouth bite continues good.

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.

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor said that shore anglers are getting coho, along with a few more Chinook, as well as northern pike and a few steelhead; on the Horseshoe drum are being caught.

Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters said waters are starting to cool down deep with the south winds and that should bring the cold water up, unless we get north winds. “It is a matter of everything setting up,” he said.

Out of Chicago, there’s been a tremendous amount of bait out in the deeper. Nearly all recent catches have been lake trout, still doing very well out of city, straight out of Montrose and Belmont in 120-160 feet; morning bite is way better,

Out of North Point, bait is almost gone from. Lakers are really showing up on and around the South and Julian’s reefs, not always on top, sometimes on the outside edges. “When the water cools off, we will see those little kings and coho more; any day that will start happening,” Poteshman said. “It’s mostly lake trout, last week we were getting some steelhead.”

“But, the big flashers and Spin-N-Glos on the bottom is the key at both locations,” Poteshman said.

Big lake trout, biggest of the season for Capt. Scott Wolfe. Provided photo
Big lake trout, biggest of the season for Capt. Scott Wolfe.
Provided

Capt. Scott Wolfe emailed the photo above and this:

Offshore fishing continued to be outstanding in the few chances to get out. Lake trout limits were taken every trip. The fish moved slightly deeper to 125 to 150 feet of water. The water continued to be warm which kept the trout from 110 feet to the bottom. Jimmy Fly Mo Rigs in Orange Guy, Yellow Guy and Gold Goby patterns. A few came on Magnum Warrior Spoons trolled below 90 feet.

Fishing in Waukegan Harbor continued to be poor. Fixing skein at least 5 feet below a float took a few chinook. Anglers casting caught almost nothing. The harbor is loaded with fish but the warm and stained water kept them inactive.

Lake trout limits should continue an predicted West winds this week should bring in cooler water, bait fish and hopefully the 3 year old king will follow in the bait.

We took the biggest trout of the year on our boat at 26#, attached.

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. Final day of fishing is Oct. 15.

Blue catfish at LaSalle Lake. Provided by Erik Brztowski
Blue catfish at LaSalle Lake.
Provided by Erik Brztowski

Erik Brztowski messaged the photo above on Sunday and this:

Was on lasalle today, got fish dragging. Cooler weather is turning on the fall bite.

Weather is changing and the season at LaSalle is winding down.

MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN

Click here for the update from D&S Bait.

MAZONIA

Lakes are open daily for fishing 6 a.m. to sunset. Final day is Oct. 13, however, Monster Lake remains open year round.

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

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

Colder than usual morning temps (lows of 30-38 degrees) the past week and more wind, but offset by sun (through the haze) have lake surface temps hovering in the 58-62 degree range.

Musky: Good-Very Good – With many lakes at pre-turn over, top-water action has ben hot. Pick your time and weather, early-late-cloud (haze) and work shallow weeds (3-8’) with Flap tails, Hawg Wobblers, Creepers. Faster moving top-water tail baits also effective such as Whopper Ploppers and Top Raiders. Working jerks and glider above weeds also effective. With water temps averaging around 60 degrees, suckers producing very well also.

Northern Pike: Good – Twitch baits, buck tails (#4:#5 MEPPS Comets, Wizards) and spinner baits. Pike like this cool weather. Jig or float and a chub a nice, relaxing way to spend a fall afternoon.

Walleye: Good – Seems to be a lot of movement from day to day. Deep transitions of hard to mud using vertical jigging techniques (Shiver Minnows, Jigging Raps, 1/4-3/8 oz jigs and 1/2 crawler or large fats). On flowages, river channel edges using chubs or 3-4” suckers.

Crappie: Good-Fair – Reports of Crappies not as bunched up yet, but big slabs in the 12-14” range being caught. Fish suspending 2-6’ off bottom along coontail edges or near sunken wood/cribs. Vertical jig a 1/16 oz jig with yellow, white or mylar body.

Largemouth Bass: Good-Fair – Outside weed edges using jig and creature and Tokyo rigs. Wacky worms also working. Where Musky not as much as issue, work inside weeds with pre-rigged worms, spinner baits.

Smallmouth Bass: Good-Fair – Deep humps, drop-shotting minnow imitations best. A few BIG Smallies hitting shallow top-water meant for Musky.

Yellow Perch: Good-Fair – Few anglers targeting in wind, best fishing has been for larger Perch in heavy cabbage on jig/minnow combo.

Bluegill: Good-Fair – Few anglers due to wind. Big Gills coming from deep wood of cribs, pilings on 1/2 crawlers or beaver tails under slip-floats.

Colors of fall coming in, cold mornings, but late morning through afternoons are beautiful. Fishing overall good, wind has been biggest drawback. Early sucker bite for Musky bodes well for the rest of this month and the next.

Kurt Justice

Kurt’s Island Sport Shop
Like us on FaceBook

Colors of fall coming in.

NORTHWEST INDIANA

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

Few more coho came up in the local tributaries spinners and spawn sacks baits to try.

Some lake perch last couple days east of Michigan city near the condos 30 to 35 ft on xl crappie minnows

Lots of groups still fishing here and there and everywhere they see water.

Slezs got in a batch of musky suckers and scored a few more pounds of late season leeches.

ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN

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

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN

Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said lake trout were being caught in 130-160 feet. Little or nothing off the piers.

SHABBONA LAKE

Clint Sands at Lakeside said catfish are the most consistent bite and for size, they moved back into the cribs; largemouth moved back up shallow and are being caught on spinner baits and crankbaits; been a few walleye being consistently caught again.

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.

Arden Katz said they had four Chinook on over the weekend at Milwaukee Harbor, but none in the boat. “You got to work for them, but they are in there,” he said. Rattle baits were the best.

WISCONSIN DELLS

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, WISCONSIN

Rob Abouchar emailed this report and the photo below, which I think is the right photo for the report this week:

Hi Dale

The foliage continues to turn as the first frosts hit in Merrill on the Wisconsin River. With morning temps in the low 30s and frost on the ground the bite was expectedly a bit slow. I was able to get some nice smallmouth on slow a moving bitsy bug with a craw trailer and also the wacky rigged Senko. Pike were short striking at spinnerbaits and not very active. The weather is supposed to be stable the next week and a good bite should be coming as the water continues to cool. Saturday water temp was 59 degrees on the Alexander Flowage. Still after that Musky on a Senko!

Tight Lines and Good Health

Rob

Start of fall color on Wisconsin River. Photo provided by Rob Abouchar
Start of fall color on Wisconsin River.
Photo provided by Rob Abouchar

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:

Water temp is going the wrong way, back in the low 60’s and rising. Not good for white bass, but the crappie are still biting. Walleye action has been good from Gills Landing north