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Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Crappie, smallmouth bass, pier passes, lake trout, perch

In this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report, there’s a good run of smallmouth bass on many waters, pier passes for select piers at Chicago harbors come back Monday, Nov. 15, and time is near or here for crappie inland and for lake trout and perch on southern Michigan.

Frank Smith with one of the slab crappies from the Calumet system. Provided by BoRabb Williams
Frank Smith with one of the slab crappies from the Calumet system.
Provided by BoRabb Williams

There’s a good run of smallmouth bass on many waters, pier passes for select piers at Chicago harbors come back Monday, Nov. 15, and the time is near for here for crappie inland and for lake trout and perch on southern Michigan in this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

BoRabb Williams texted the photo at the top and gave details in the CALUMET report. He also added this on fishing Chicago:

When the salmon and steelhead LEAVE .... the perch and crappie will Take Off good..... then ICE

The rhythm of the year.

LAKEFRONT PERCH

Jeffery Kantor emailed Monday:

Hi. Dale, are they catching any perch around 87th street ?? I caught a few small perch at Burnham this morning

That’s good to know and here is some of the answer. But the time is near for perch fishing to take off at the South Side slips.

Brian Caunter at Henry’s Sports and Bait said he’s only been getting gobies at 87th, but that shore anglers are getting some perch up the Calumet.

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

Perch at cal park area and up the river will start real soon few perch caught but mother load isn’t there yet.

PIER PASSES

A sample pier pass for select piers at most Chicago harbors. Provided photo
A sample pier pass for select piers at most Chicago harbors.
Provided

On Monday, Nov. 15, the $6 pier passes become available allowing legal access to select piers at most Chicago harbors. A number of additional piers were added this year to bring the total to 31 piers.

Carl Vizzone, fishing coordinator for the Chicago Park District gave these details:

A pier pass gives fisherman an opportunity to use various docks in 6 of our harbors. There are 31 different piers to choose from in our harbor system. The only harbor that may not be ready to go on schedule is Burnham as it is our late leaver harbor for boaters. We printed Covid guidelines on the passes as well as Westrec has hand sanitizer stations at each accessible gate that we will try to keep filled. Pier pass program runs from November 15th through March 31st, from 6 AM to 11 PM 7 days per week. Passes will be available at Henry’s Bait & Sports, Park Bait Shop and at Northerly Island Visitors Center. There should be metal signage on all eligible pier gates with info and contact number.

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

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a fall largemouth bass from a local lake. Provided photo
Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a fall largemouth bass from a local lake.
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-while the recent warmup has been nice, it has slowed the fall bite some over the past few days.

Crappie have become scattered. Focus on shorelines that have been pounded by the winds for a couple days. A variety of plastics under a slip float worked along the inside and outside weedlines will take the aggressive biters.

Bass have slowed with the temperature swing. The most consistent bait has been a Kalin jerk minnow worked slowly over the top of the weeds.

Here is the nature pic of the week [below]. Taking in the fall vibe.

TTYL

Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Husker Outdoors
Waterwerks fishing team

Ken “Husker” O’Malley’s weekly nature photo, a sign of the times. Provided photo
Ken “Husker” O’Malley’s weekly nature photo, a sign of the times.
Provided

That’s apt for the season.

Pete Lamar emailed:

. . .

I fished a forest preserve pond on Sunday afternoon. The water is cooling rapidly, so I went with a more vertical presentation: a white minnow pattern tied on a jig hook fished under a very buoyant strike indicator. I tangled with a few largemouths. Some hit on the drop; some hit when I moved the fly horizontally (slowly); others hit with the fly completely stationary. The bigger lakes in the area cool more slowly and this kind of fishing can be effective for a few weeks longer: I’ve caught largemouths around Thanksgiving and crappies as ice was forming on a streamer under a strike indicator.

. . .

Pete

CALUMET SYSTEM

BoRabb Williams texted the photo below and this:

Frank Smith ... Dwayne Armstrong and BoRabb Catch Gorilla Crappie in the Calumet RIVER under the Bridges and Barges

BoRabb Williams with a good crappie from the Calumet system. Provided photo
BoRabb Williams with a good crappie from the Calumet system.
Provided

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Arden Katz said water cooled to 46; white and yellow bass remain very good in 7-14 feet around current at the mouths of Bluff and Marie; bluegill are good on the south end of Channel.

Art Frisell at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said crappie are excellent on small minnows on slip-bobber rigs, usually early; walleye fair on 1/4-ounce Lindy rigs on Marie and Bluff; muskie fair on big suckers or big jerkbaits.

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

NOTE 2: The Stratton Lock and Dam is closed through April 30.

CHICAGO RIVER

Jeffrey Williams with a Chicago River largemouth bass. Provided photo
Jeffrey Williams with a Chicago River largemouth bass.
Provided

Jeffrey Williams messaged the photo above and this:

still getting on em on the chicago river, 3 lb channel cat and a 1 lb LMB, water temp is in the mid 50s, not a bad day

COOLING LAKES/STRIP PITS

Braidwood, Heidecke and LaSalle are closed for the season; so is Mazonia, except Monster stays open all year.

DOWNSTATE

POWERTON: Fishing is closed.

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 season, 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 walleye starting below the Montgomery dam and crappie in the side channel there on minnows.

Pete Lamar emailed:

I fished a couple of spots on the Fox tribs on my way home and didn’t catch a thing. The only fish I saw were some big carp cruising in the deep slow pools, but I wasn’t desperate enough to try to hook one. Maybe by January or February, when cabin fever is severe.

. . .

Pete

I think cabin-fever time will be here before I care to think about it.

GREEN LAKE AREA, WISCONSIN

Laura and Don Hiestand, of Schaumburg, with a doubleheader of smallmouth bass caught on their first casts over the weekend while fishing with guide Mike Norris on Green Lake. Credit: Mike Norris
Laura and Don Hiestand, of Schaumburg, with a doubleheader of smallmouth bass caught on their first casts over the weekend while fishing with guide Mike Norris on Green Lake.
Mike Norris

Guide Mike Norris texted the photo above of Laura and Don Hiestand, from Schaumburg, on Green Lake in Wisconsin, and this:

“Yes. I guided these two yesterday. Each of them tossed a chub out and hooked up immediately. I have been seeing a lot of grouped up Smallies this fall and getting three to four double headers on each outing.”

Here is his general fishing report:

Fishing Report – 11/8/2021

Mike Norris

Big Green Lake – Surface water temperature has dropped to 51 degrees. With cooler water temperature’s smallmouth bass location has changed. The shallower areas where I have found smallies in the last month are now devoid of fish. Rocky ledges and drop-offs are now the key areas to catch bass. Alabama rigs are still producing big bass. Working with a tube jig will also produce fish. Live bait rigging remains an option. We may see snow flurries by next weekend and the approach of colder weather should push the bass deeper.

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.

KANKAKEE RIVER

Bob Johnson with a good smallmouth bass from the Kankakee River. Provided photo
Bob Johnson with a good smallmouth bass from the Kankakee River.
Provided

Bob Johnson emailed the photo above and this on Monday:

Hey Dale -When the river is in good shape and weather cooperates good things happen. We are now into November so the Bass are loading up. Water temp is 50 and clear. This evening they were taking finesse style baits. I tried crainkbaits along with spinner baits but finesse baits worked. The largest smallmouth was 3.5 lbs 18”. I found a pack of them stacked up on a current break in slack water. Catch and Release

Earlier he emailed about the weekend:

Hi Dale -

Fished the Kankakee River today catching mostly Smallmouth and one largemouth but no Walleye either by accident or design. Water is up however clarity is pretty good just a lot more water these days. Temps were in high 40s. Caught most of my fish on Rapala OG slim but biggest fell for finesse bait green pumpkin. I talked to another angler who reported about 20 Bass up to 3 lbs. He said his fish were caught on swim bait and spinner baits. Rivers in good shape but rains are expected again this week. Fishing the river is top shelf this time of year!

LAKE ERIE

Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.

LAKEFRONT

Lake trout might not have been in yet, but the smallmouth bass were in the Cal Park area. Provided by Bruce Noworul
Lake trout might not have been in yet, but the smallmouth bass were in the Cal Park area.
Provided by Bruce Noworul

I’m putting Bruce Noworul in both the NW IN and LAKEFRONT reports. He messaged the photo above Sunday and this:

95th Calumet Park update. Water 50 degrees stained. There were a few boats jigging for Lake Trout, we trolled and had a few bumps, one on for a few minutes that got off. The good news is they are starting to come in, I think another week with cooler temperatures and clearer water it should pickup. I didn’t want to get skunked so we did some smallmouth fishing, this was our best.

James Baranski messaged the photo below about fishing out of Chicago last Tuesday.

James Baranski with a smallmouth bass from the Chicago lakefront. Provided photo
James Baranski with a smallmouth bass from the Chicago lakefront.
Provided

Brian Caunter at Henry’s Sports and Bait said some steelhead are being caught around the lakefront; there’s pike nd straggler salmon at 31st; he’s only been getting gobies at 87th, but that shore anglers are getting some perch up the Calumet.

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

Only report I’ve had is still doing pretty good on steelhead at Diversey and there’s a few here around Montrose and there’s a few coho and Northern also in the mix and I did finally hear of one brown trout.

Capt. Dan Leslie at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan said fishing slowed; mostly using spawn sacks for mostly kings; crappie picking up inland around Waukegan.

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:

First full week of November under our belt and things on the water seem to be slowing down. With most lakes having surface temps of 46 degrees to as low as 41 degrees, and forecast of rain, then snow through the weekend, lakes will see even less pressure this week. Most lakes and launch sites were pretty empty as it was.

Musky: Good-Fair – Action best on live bait this week (suckers/trout), but fish not aggressive. Reports of Musky just holding on to back end of bait, not committing. Set back hook further back or use a 3-hook rig to combat. Is it possible they’ve seen these rigs too often come fall? Seems like a common scenario late season. Slow working large swim baits and jerks moving fish, but not many hits.

Yellow Perch: Good-Fair – Not lots of action, but quality Perch (9-12”) fishing medium fat heads or ½ crawlers around drowned wood. Following last weeks “non” report, reader submitted report…and I confirmed. Thanks!

Smallmouth Bass: Good-Fair – Few targeting, but those fishing Walleyes along transition breaks of 22-26’ finding some big Smallies on chubs fished on Lindy style rigs.

Walleye: Good-Fair – Deep water anglers catching Eyes in 24-40’ using suckers and chubs. Deep clear lakes best with fish hovering along breaks to mud from gravel.

Crappies: Good-Fair – Warming afternoons best with anglers finding scattered fish 2-3’ off mud bottoms. Deeper wood and breaks best.

Northern Pike: Fair – Few targeting. Anglers fishing Musky with suckers being “bothered” and those targeting Walleyes and Crappies on flowages catching some using minnows.

With forecasted lows in the 20’s and nothing higher than 37 degrees forecasted after Friday (11/12) expect water temps to fall further.

Deer hunters: Rut going on right now!!

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

Weekend snow has a ring to it. If it is going to be cold, might as well snow.

NORTHWEST INDIANA

Lake trout might not have been in yet, but the smallmouth bass were in the Cal Park area. Provided by Bruce Noworul
Lake trout might not have been in yet, but the smallmouth bass were in the Cal Park area.
Provided by Bruce Noworul

I’m putting Bruce Noworul in both NW IN and LAKEFRONT reports. He messaged the photo above Sunday and this:

95th Calumet Park update. Water 50 degrees stained. There were a few boats jigging for Lake Trout, we trolled and had a few bumps, one on for a few minutes that got off. The good news is they are starting to come in, I think another week with cooler temperatures and clearer water it should pickup. I didn’t want to get skunked so we did some smallmouth fishing, this was our best.

James Baranski found tough fishing, but some smallmouth bass Friday in Indiana. Provided photo
James Baranski found tough fishing, but some smallmouth bass Friday in Indiana.
Provided

James Baranski messaged the photo above and this:

Dale, spent the day out of Indiana Friday. Tough pickins on the smallies but managed 8. Here are a few

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

Crappie at lake George in Hobart around the bridges and below the dam using crappie minnows or Rufus jr jigs tipped with beemoth

Perch at cal park area and up the river will start real soon few perch caught but mother load isn’t there yet.

Some steelhead action in area tributaries using voodoo jigs tipped with waxworms or spawn sacks

Pine and stone lake in Laporte giving up crappie and bluegills for boat fisherman cubby jigs tipped with beemoth best

Lake trout off Michigan city peir using blade baits and spoons near bottom

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

Hi, Dale! I hope the Autumn season has been treating you right. Here’s what’s been heard ‘round town…

Steelhead fishing is starting to pick up on the rivers, with anglers using spawn & Maglips. Pier fishing has been solid for Lake Trout- jigging spoons, powerbait, & spinners working well.

Inland lakes guys are catching Bluegill & Crappie in nice numbers. Lake George, Powderhorn, & Willow Slough are particularly performing well.

Lake Michigan trolling hasn’t produced much action lately. Shore/pier fishing has been getting much better results as of late.

I’m one of the surly sorts who find fall a brown beige overall.

ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN

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

SHABBONA LAKE

Concessions are closed. Site hours through Jan. 31 are 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

SOUTHEAST WISCONSIN LAKEFRONT

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

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:

Walleye action has been fair from Orihula down to Lk. Poygan. Drifting with jig and minnow, or pulling rigs with minnows. Water temp. 43 yesterday, up 2 degrees with the unseasonably warm weather