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Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Coho, river fishing, fading ice, early catch-and-release trout

Lakefront coho, return of river fishing, fading ice and the opening of Illinois’ early catch-and-release trout season on Saturday leads this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

Erik Brztowski said the walleye are pulling up on the Wisconsin River.  Provided photo
Erik Brztowski said the walleye are pulling up on the Wisconsin River.
Provided

Of course, the good weather last week helped spark a lot of fishing and for this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report leading the way are lakefront coho, return of river fishing, fading ice and the opening of Illinois’ early catch-and-release trout season on Saturday.

One sign of spring is walleye pulling up in rivers, such as Erik Brztowski showed on the Wisconsin River.

ILLINOIS SPRING TROUT SEASON

Opening day is April 3, except at the five Forest Preserves of Cook County sites, which open April 7.

Click here for general information on Illinois’ spring trout season. Click here for details on the delayed start of FPCC.

ILLINOIS’ EARLY CATCH-AND-RELEASE SPRING TROUT SEASON

Early catch-and-release season opens Saturday, March 20. You need a trout stamp and fish must be released. Nearby sites are Rock Creek at Kankakee River State Park, Pine Creek at White Pines Forest SP, and Apple River at Apple River Canyon SP.

Click here for general information on Illinois’ spring trout season.

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 (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

Most area lakes and ponds are open or still opening up.

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait in Bridgeport texted:

, , . Crappie at tampier.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with an early largemouth bass. Provided photo
Ken “Husker” O’Malley with an early largemouth bass.
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-open water is here. Most lakes opened up towards the end of last week out south. Nature is coming to life as frogs, turtles, and muskrats were enjoying the warm weather. Even flocks of Sandhills were seen flying back.

Bass have been decent on lipless crankbaits during mid afternoon hours on sunny days. Fish the north shorelines as they will warm faster.

Bluegill are good on leftover waxworms fished under a float using ice jigs. They are active on sunny days in shallow bays with wood.

Here is the nature pic of the week [below]. Enjoying the warm sun after a long winters nap.

TTYL

Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Husker Outdoors
Waterwerks fishing team

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with an early largemouth bass. Provided photo
Ken “Husker” O’Malley’s nature shot of the week.
Provided

BRAIDWOOD LAKE

Open daily 6 a.m. to sunset.

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Art Frisell at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said ice if gone; crappie are going area-wide with ice-out; walleye are fair on large fatheads or roaches on slip-bobber rig (some perch mixed with the walleye).

DOWNSTATE

POWERTON: Shore and boat fishing is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

SPRING: Open for fishing.

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

HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Closed for the season.

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

FOX RIVER

Dicky’s Bait Shop in Montgomery reported water level is up and dirty, and current is strong; good walleye below the Montgomery dam on Monday; catfish are a little slow, but some good ones on cut-up muskie suckers in North Aurora; a few nice smallmouth, especially downstream.

FOX RIVER, WISCONSIN

Guide Mike Norris emailed:

Fishing Report 3/15/2021

Mike Norris

. . .

Wisconsin Dells - Numbers of walleyes are being caught on the Wisconsin River by boaters drifting downstream from the Wisconsin Dells dam along current seams with a split shot and minnow. The walleyes tend to run on the small size though.

Pettenwell Flowage – This 23,000-acre opening in the Wisconsin River is a favorite for early-season walleye anglers. Try fishing within the first three miles beneath the Nekoosa Dam where walleyes congregate to spawn early each spring. Cast jig and minnow combinations to eddies formed by bridge pilings and downed timber.

. . .

GREEN LAKE AREA, WISCONSIN

Guide Mike Norris emailed:

Fishing Report 3/15/2021

Mike Norris

Ice is all but gone here in south-central Wisconsin and anglers are turning their attention to the Fox, Wolf, or Wisconsin River for early season open water walleye fishing from boats.

. . .

GREEN/STURGEON BAYS, WISCONSIN

Click here for the Wisconsin DNR weekly report.

HEIDECKE LAKE

Reopens April 1.

ILLINOIS RIVER

The Masters Walleye Circuit tournament is Friday and Saturday out of Spring Valley Boat Club.

KANKAKEE RIVER

Victor Blackful with a Kankakee River largemouth bass. Provided photo
Victor Blackful with a Kankakee River largemouth bass.
Provided

Victor Blackful emailed the photo above and this on Wednesday:

Just when I thought I could not have a better day or dinner than yesterday.....SUPRISE.....I hit the kankakee backwaters in the des plains wildlife area down from I 55 and wow. Largemouth bass were jumping out the river and when they slowed down the 12 inch slab crappie came in.

23 Bass Average 10 inch Largest 19

11 Crappie 7 of those were 11 to 12

Well time to break out my cajun spice.

Shelbyville this weekend.

Victor Blackful with a Kankakee River crappie.  Provided photo
Victor Blackful with a Kankakee River crappie.
Provided
Charlie Mack with a Kankakee River smallmouth bass. Provided photo
Charlie Mack with a Kankakee River smallmouth bass.
Provided

Larry Green tweeted the photos above and below and this:

We should had called you but the terrain was terrible and I was wobbly but the fish were happy

An inside joke, Green took me one year about this time for smallmouth at his early spot.

Larry Green with a Kankakee River smallmouth bass. Provided photo
Larry Green with a Kankakee River smallmouth bass.
Provided

LAKE ERIE

Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.

LAKEFRONT

Perch on the Chicago lakefront. Provided photo
Perch on the Chicago lakefront.
Provided

Victor Blackful emailed the photo above and this last week:

Good Evening Dale

Well got out to 87th mid morning and action was slow but then came 2pm and it was time for action. Plenty of 10 and 11 inche perch and I saw at least 2 perch that were 13 to 14. Action lasted for about a 90 minutes then the fish got small. I also caught a white bass that was a surprise but over all it was a great day. The fishermen were great and so was dinner.

Wayne Hankins with an early lakefront brown trout. Provided photo
Wayne Hankins with an early lakefront brown trout.
Provided

Wayne Hankins (Salmon Nightmares) on Instagram had the photo above and this:

Messing around and caught a brown! Nice fish to open the season up! #browntrout #cohoseason #cohosalmon #lakemichigan #lurefishing #cabellas #salmonnightmaresTour #tutfishing67onyoutube @bowmanoutside

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait in Bridgeport texted:

Great coho fishing Friday and Saturday. Crappie at tampier.

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

Hi Dale,For the most part there’s been some Coho and some brown trout around seems like the afternoon bite around this area was better for the coho the past week then the morning bite.After the windy weather yesterday the lake got pretty churned up and from the reports I had this morning from a couple guys the Coho were biting pretty well.Was quite a few Northerns caught one day last week 4 that I know of.Have reports from the south side that the perch are on fire! Nobody’s trying perch up this way that I know of.

Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan texted:

Power line fishing on the pier has been good guys are getting browns and boat fishing also has been okay got one report and the fish are getting ready to go in my smoker

LaSALLE LAKE

Reopened Monday, March 15, under tough weather conditions. Open daily 6 a.m. to sunset.

MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN

Click here for the update from D&S Bait.

MAZONIA

Both units are open for fishing.

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

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

With mild daytime temps and no precipitation for several days, fishing should be very comfortable. A few vehicles still being spotted on the lakes but not recommended. Almost all anglers using foot travel to stay safe. Best to wear your cleats.

Bluegills: Very Good – Reports of anglers getting nice sized Gills in 6-10’ weeds (a few 10” ers), but some still in 15-16’. Best using small jigs tipped with spikes or waxies. Beaver tail and red, blue and darker plastics also effective.

Crappies: Good – Good action with tip downs in 16-20’ weeds using Crappie minnows and medium fatheads. Some people using tungsten jigs tipped with glow plastics having success too. A few finding them mixed with Gills in 6-10’ range with small jig tipped with beaver tail or grubs. With water running through the holes, there have also been some reports of suspended fish right under the ice.

Yellow Perch: Very Good – Large numbers being caught in 20’ or so mud flats using tip downs with Crappie minnows or heavy jigs that get down quicker (Halis Pimples & Tungsten jigs). Wigglers always the go to when available though.

With good ice yet between 18-30” we should still have at least a solid couple of weeks before its over. Also anglers having very good success in Tomahawk below the dams with big Walleye numbers using large fatheads, medium shiners and suckers.

Kurt Justice

Kurt’s Island Sport Shop
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NORTHWEST INDIANA

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

Some decent gill and crappie action already at Willow slough

Coho action hit or miss for shore fisherman and boat fisherman doing a little better must put some time in to go home with some fish

With the warm up coming at the end of the week look for crappie to really pick up at the crappie spots

Slezs bait is already on the 3rd load of musky suckers some good musky already been had in musky county

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 coho are being caught the Cook Plant, water plant, in front of the harbor and slightly north in 8-20 feet; some whitefish being caught off the pier; lot of steelhead running up the river not many biting. Paddle and Pole hosts the Berrien Springs Fish Ladder Camera.

SHABBONA LAKE

March site hours are 8 a.m. to p.m.

SOUTHEAST WISCONSIN LAKEFRONT

Tony Hammond with a brown trout from Milwaukee. Provided photo
Tony Hammond with a brown trout from Milwaukee.
Provided

Tony Hammond messaged the photo above and this from Milwaukee:

Browns are goin good up north in Wisconsin

BTW, I love the kayakers doing it.

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

WISCONSIN RIVER

Erik Brztowski messaged the photo at the top and this:

Walleyes are starting to heat up on the mighty Wisconsin river, water is getting higher and warm weather with that has the bigger fish coming up to spawn. Water is still 38-39 degrees. So plenty of time left to get out and enjoy the run.

Guide Mike Norris emailed:

Fishing Report 3/15/2021

Mike Norris

. . .

Wisconsin Dells - Numbers of walleyes are being caught on the Wisconsin River by boaters drifting downstream from the Wisconsin Dells dam along current seams with a split shot and minnow. The walleyes tend to run on the small size though.

Pettenwell Flowage – This 23,000-acre opening in the Wisconsin River is a favorite for early-season walleye anglers. Try fishing within the first three miles beneath the Nekoosa Dam where walleyes congregate to spawn early each spring. Cast jig and minnow combinations to eddies formed by bridge pilings and downed timber.

. . .

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:

Water temp is 34.9 this morning, been fishing 1 1/2 hrs , have 6 walleye in the boat. Fishing has been good up and down the river. Rigs and jigs working