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Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Fall comes with its changes, steelhead, muskie, crappie, perch

The arrival of fall and its change in feeding patterns bring the time for crappie, steelhead, muskie and perch (on southern Lake Michigan); those threads headline this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

James Baranski said that despite the weather “the big lake” “starting to pop” last week for smallmouth bass. Provided photo
James Baranski said that despite the weather “the big lake” “starting to pop” last week for smallmouth bass.
Provided

The arrival of fall and its change in feeding patterns brings the time for crappie, steelhead, muskie, and perch (on southern Lake Michigan); those threads headline this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

James Baranski messaged the photo at the top and this Saturday afternoon:

Smallies were starting to pop last week on the big lake dale. Only managed 5 in the churned water but got 3 x 4lb, 1 x 3lb and a 2

I should say so.

You know what, the smallmouth is worth a full-length view.

James Baranski said that despite the weather “the big lake” “starting to pop” last week for smallmouth bass; and this one is worth a full-length view. Provided photo
James Baranski said that despite the weather “the big lake” “starting to pop” last week for smallmouth bass; and this one is worth a full-length view.
Provided

LAKEFRONT PERCH

Repots pickup on perch on southern Lake Michigan.

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait texted on Tuesday:

Lake perch reports picking up significantly on south side. 87th

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

Perch in the cal park area and up into the river will start real soon fisherman be ready.

The time is near.

Navy Pier COO Brian Murphy emailed last week that the north side of Navy Pier is open for fishing, good news for when the perch arrive.

Bob Jurgeto messaged some details on Monday:

Hi Dale,

The other day in a post you mentioned whether or not Navy Pier would be open for perch. I went there this morning to give it a try and had no problem. The discount parking is in effect for fisherman $9.00 out by 10 AM. No fish caught but had to give it a try.

LAKEFRONT PARKING

Chicago Park District’s parking passes for the fisherman’s parking lots at DuSable and Burnham harbors are on sale at Henry’s Sports and Bait in Bridgeport and Park Bait at Montrose Harbor.

Readers suggest SpotHero app downtown. Otherwise, here are some basics: Foster (free street parking or pay lot); Montrose (now a mix of metered and free street parking); Belmont (pay lots on north and south sides); Diversey (pay lot or street parking); DuSable Harbor (pay lot or fisherman’s lot); Northerly Island/Burnham Harbor (meters, pay lot or fisherman’s lot); 31st/Burnham (meter parking between McCormick Place and 31st Street Harbor); Oakwood/39th (meters); 63rd Street/Casino Pier (pay lot); Steelworkers Park (free street parking at east end of 87th); Cal Park (free parking).

AREA LAKES

A few trout are still being caught, but we are now several weeks in.

I would expect this to be the week when the focus switches to crappie.

A big shiner Johnny Wilkins caught on a local pond. Provided photo
A big shiner Johnny Wilkins caught on a local pond.
Provided

Johnny Wilkins tweeted the photo above and this:⁦

@BowmanOutside

⁩ - no trout, but 56 bluegill and a golden shiner bigger than some trout I’ve caught 13 1/2 inch beastie - released to spawn and feed the pond residents. Johnny - in Lombard…

I enjoy that catch.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a fall crappie, it’s that time. Provided photo
Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a fall crappie, it’s that time.
Provided

Ken “Husker” O’Malley emailed the photos above and below, and this:

Hey Dale,

Here is a recap of this past weeks fishing.

Area lakes-the fall bite, while a little late starting, is on.

Crappie are very good on a variety on plastics worked under a slip float. Best colors have been chartreuse and pink. A few nice bluegill can be taken as well. Focus on outside weedlines and bays that the winds has been beating on for a few days.

Bass have been good on lipless crankbaits. With all the recent rain, work inflows with current as fish have been stacked up there.

Here is the nature pic of the week. Area colors in full bloom.

TTYL

Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Husker Outdoors
Waterwerks fishing team

Fall is here and not just color is changing. Provided by Ken “Husker” O’Malley
Fall is here and not just color is changing.
Provided by Ken “Husker” O’Malley

CALUMET SYSTEM

Last week, BoRabb Williams messaged that the crappie were on fire.

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Arden Katz said the Chain was 52-53 degrees over the weekend with white bass (to 14 12 inches) and yellow bass “on fire,” plus a couple crappies and drum, in 10-14 feet on Marie and Bluff trolling small minnows at .5 to .8 mph.

Staff at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said panfish are going shallow around docks; walleye eating the minnows that are hit around the white and yellow bass; pike good everywhere; sucker bite starting for muskie.

NOTES: Check updates on water conditions at foxwaterway.com or (847) 587-8540. The Stratton Lock and Dam is closed for the season.

CHICAGO RIVER

Jeffrey Williams emailed the photo below and this last week:

this guy saved me from the skunk

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

COOLING LAKES/STRIP PITS

Braidwood, Heidecke, Mazonia (except Monster stays open all year) and LaSalle are closed for the season.

DOWNSTATE

POWERTON: Fishing is closed for waterfowl season.

SPRING LAKE: Boat fishing is closed on the main lake; boat fishing is allowed from the Sky Ranch Road ramp to Maple Island buoy during waterfowl seasons. Bank fishing along South Lake Road is not allowed until after 1 p.m. during waterfowl season.

EMIQUON PRESERVE: During waterfowl seasons (Emiquon is in the central zone), non-waterfowl hunting boating (which includes fishing) is not allowed until noon. Access permits and liability waivers are required. They are available Tuesday to Saturday at Dickson Mounts Museum, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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

HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Closed for the season. Check regulations at http://www.wetlands-initiative.org/dixon-paddling-fishing.

FOX RIVER

Dicky’s Bait Shop in Montgomery reported water levels are staying up and flowing, crappie were hitting on waxworms and jigs and around bridges and brush, some smallmouth action on largemouth minnows in the same area; some walleye around Oswego.

Pete Lamar emailed:

Hi Dale,

. . .

I tried fishing a nearby lake yesterday afternoon, but the winds had built by then. Casting was difficult-and unsafe-so I pulled the plug. I did fish the Fox tribs after some of the rain we had. The rain looked to have done a lot of good: levels were up; there was some color, but not so much that the streams were unfishable; fish had returned to more typical lies than during the low water we’d had. I caught some respectable smallmouths on the edges of fast water. There are also some nice rock bass around.

. . .

Pete

GREEN LAKE AREA, WISCONSIN

Guide Mike Norris emailed:

Fishing Report – 11/01/2021

Mike Norris

Big Green Lake – As I have been predicting, the big fall bite is on with surface water temps falling into the mid to upper 50’s. My clients and I are catching smallmouth bass, northern pike and an occasional walleye while drifting with live bait. The depth we are locating fish in varies between 6 and 35 feet. With favorable weather early last week, I guided a suburban Chicago client to a chunky 6 lb. 2 oz. smallmouth bass last week that measured twenty-two inches long. Where I find one bass, there are usually more, as my clients and I are experiencing multiple double headers. I should see this bite last a couple more weeks.

I still am focusing on guiding for trophy smallmouth bass right now. To book a guide trip reach out to me via my Facebook page at mike.norris.7773 or email me through my website at www.comecatchsmallmouth.com

GREEN/STURGEON BAYS, WISCONSIN

Click here for the Wisconsin DNR weekly report.

ILLINOIS RIVER

The river is projected to fall off flood stage around Starved Rock area later this week.

KANKAKEE RIVER

River is on a steady drop at Wilmington after the high water.

George Peters emailed the photo below and this:

Happy Halloween Dale! Spent some time at the mouth of a small creek that enters the high water of the kkk. The clear creek water drew this19” fish in close to the bank to feed on minnows. This fish of the week took a white twister tail jig in 55 degree water. G. Peters

George Peters with a good smallmouth bass from the Kankakee River. Provided photo
George Peters with a good smallmouth bass from the Kankakee River.
Provided

LAKE ERIE

Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.

LAKEFRONT

See perch notes at the top.

As the lead photo from James Baranski shows, big smallmouth are going.

Weather should settle down this week and allow fishing to rebound some.

Steelhead are around the harbors, at least being seen. Darkening Chinook are around, too, especially for snaggers.

SALMON SNAGGING: Here are the details from the IDNR:

4) Snagging for chinook and coho salmon only is permitted from the following Lake Michigan shoreline areas from October 1 through December 31; however, no snagging is allowed at any time within 200 feet of a moored watercraft or as posted: A) Lincoln Park Lagoon from the Fullerton Avenue Bridge to the southern end of the Lagoon. B) Waukegan Harbor (in North Harbor basin only). C) Winnetka Power Plant discharge area. D) Jackson Harbor (Inner and Outer Harbors).

d) Disposition of Snagged Salmon and Paddlefish. All snagged salmon and paddlefish must be removed from the area from which they are taken and disposed of properly, in accordance with Article 5, Section 5-5 of the Fish and Aquatic Life Code.

MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN

Click here for the update from D&S Bait.

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

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

As October exits (one of the warmest most of us can remember), and we move into November, our weather seems to be getting back on track. Saturday (10/30) was a warm (55 degrees) flat calm, sunny day – looks like about it for the rest of the week.

Musky: Good – With water temps ranging 48-55 degrees, working gliders, jerks and medium sized rubber baits moving and catching fish along first breaks in 10-14’ of water (deeper (14-24’)) on large lakes. Suckers and trout on quick strikes picking up the slack when follows don’t take.

Walleye: Good – Locations depending on lake type. Shallower lakes and mid-sized lakes with green cabbage seeing a good bite developing on windward weed lines and at dusk. Daytime concentrate on outside edges of weeds in 12-14’. On larger lakes the deep-water bite in 22-40’ using appropriate weight jigs (1/8 – 1/2 oz) to work chubs, suckers and even 1/2 crawlers, as well as, jigging Raps and Shiver Minnows to score Walleyes.

Crappies: Good-Fair – Best over deep wood and along coontail edges of 14-18’. Medium fatheads under slip-floats best. A few reports early in week of Crappies holding over cabbage flats in 8-12’.

Northern Pike: Good-Fair – Most anglers targeting using jig and chubs as water cools. A few incidentals by Musky anglers.

Bluegills, Yellow Perch – Few reports, most from anglers Walleye or Crappie fishing.

Angler participation has been dropping off, as expected. With the warm October, expect open water to remain for a while. This week’s temps, lows forecasted for low to mid-20’s with mid-week highs in mid-30’s turning to mid to upper 40’s by weekend. Still, plenty of open water opportunities.

Kurt Justice
Kurt’s Island Sport Shop - Like us on Facebook

NORTHWEST INDIANA

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

Lake trout and whitefish starting to be caught off Michigan city peir. Blade baits,spoons and bait fished on bottom best.

Perch in the cal park area and up into the river will start real soon fisherman be ready.

Crappie in lake George in Hobart around the bridges and log jams using minnows

ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN

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

SHABBONA LAKE

Concessions are closed for the season. Site hours through Jan. 31 are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily

SOUTHEAST WISCONSIN LAKEFRONT

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

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN

Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said river is high and muddy and, with north winds, the pier and Lake Michigan are slow. New Buffalo has some lake trout action on jigging for boaters nearshore.

Paddle and Pole hosts the Berrien Springs Fish Ladder Camera.

WISCONSIN RIVER

Rob Abouchar with his biggest smallmouth bass of the season on the Wisconsin River. Provided photo
Rob Abouchar with his biggest smallmouth bass of the season on the Wisconsin River.
Provided

Rob Abouchar emailed the photo above and this:

Hi Dale,

With low temps in the teens and highs in the 30’s predicted for the Northwoods in Merrill Wisconsin we hit the river one more time in the boat with Joe The Grasseater Schatz. The balmy almost 60 degree dead calm day belied the forcast to come but made for a fantastic day. The sunrise was spectacular and the conditions were perfect for one more day of fishing and trying to get the elusive Musky on a senko. The Smallmout bass were hitting in the perfect conditions and I landed my biggest bass of the season, a 21 inch beast that gave me a run for my money as it took drag and went airborne in the low 50 degree water. The bass hit a green pumkin senko with purple and green flake dipped in Chartreuse Garlic Dip n glow. Joe had some beautiful bass also on a new color Senko called Mowed Grass. Very appropriate for a guy known as the Grasseater. I caught a nice Pike on a white and red Mepps musky killer on a mid river hump. I had a vicious follow and assault of my senko by a good sized Musky as I retrieved it back to make another cast after flipping a dock. Unfortunately the fish missed the hook. The musky on a Senko will have to come from the shoreline as the boat is pulled and back in Island lake. There were a couple boats fishing for Musky but the anglers were outnumbered by the nimrods. We knew it was just about time when a hunter let loose with some shots near one of our favorite honey holes. We returned later to the same spot and landed some big bass...The big Possums walk late.

On the reggae front our Polish bass player T.V. Newscaster, real estate agent Sergius Zagrebski has a studio and producer lined up to do some recording of my original reggae music. Also looking for more gigs as the previous three were met with great approval. Big Up!!! Also had a nice session with the old Brain Massage band for some rock/reggae/blues /psychedelic jams. It was kinda like riding a bike. The boys wanna get the band back together.

Tight Lines and Good Health Rob

That just makes me happy, one several levels: fishing, seasons, outdoors and musical.

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:

Water temperature has dropping into the low 40’s with nighttime temps in the 20’s. Water levels are down, keeping crappie biting in the trees along deeper water. Walleye action is a bit slow, but improving.