Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Ice hanging on, river fishing slowly returns, crappie, coho
Coho fishing picks up in southern Lake Michigan (more lakers in Chicago), plenty of ice fishing remains despite the warmth, and river fishing begins as the ice leaves to lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.
Coho action building in spurts in southern Lake Michigan (more lakers on the Chicago lakefront), plenty of ice fishing remaining, even with the warmup, and rivers opening up lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.
Charlie Gimmler messaged the photo of a 15-inch crappie at the top and this:
Caught on a fathead in 8’ of water Friday morning in Lake County, with still 8-10 inches of ice.
The cooling lake in southwestern Will County opened as usual on March 1, Monday.
Pete Banach posted the photo above and this:
We did really well out there today. Over 100 fish. LOTS of little ones but 16 keepers. Best 5lbs. 1 at 41/4 handful of 3 1/2s and. Few 2s. Great day.
Amy Russell-Ellison posted the photo below about her husband and son and this:
Jimmy and Chaser . They caught at least 50+.
I love that Chaser added this note to his mom’s:
Amy Russell-Ellison We got 80 if we count the little 12 inchers
Rob Abouchar emailed the photo and report below on shore angling:
Hi Dale I made it to the Braidwood opener on Monday morning and there was no line when I arrived at the West ramp at around 6:30. The trailers were being parked in the extra lot as the shore anglers were out in numbers. The shoreline anglers were plentiful and scattered all the way to the fence on the West side. The conditions were classic Braidwood with windy clear and cold conditions. I saw a large water spout pop up mid morning and watched it travel across the lake; very weird. The time on the water seemed surreal after the long deep freeze. Upon releasing the first bass of the season the water was very warm to the touch possibly high 60’s. I was able to land a few bass and lost a few other fish that hit. The size was down compared to last year and the shad that were plentiful last year seemed gone where I was fishing. All but one of the fish seemed to stockers from the last couple years. I may buy into the fish kill that occured last summer. But More trips to Braidwood will help determine that. My fish were caught on Squarebill cranks in Shad and Purple Craw near rocks and a few feet out from the rocks. Also a purple Max Scent General got some bites. Another boat suggested switching colors to purple and as soon a I switched I connected. Nice to see anglers on the water willing to share tips these days. Tight Lines and Good Health Rob
Braidwood is open daily 6 a.m. to sunset.
The Chicago Park District’s parking passes for the two small fisherman’s parking lots on the Chicago lakefront (DuSable and Burnham) are ready to go as soon as official clearance comes. Details to come when that happens.
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); Northerly Island/Burnham Harbor (meters); 31st/Burnham (meter parking between McCormick Place and 31st Street Harbor); Oakwood/39th (limited meters); 63rd Street/Casino Pier (pay lot); Steelworkers Park (free street parking at east end of 87th); Cal Park (free parking).
South, fishable ice is nearing the end, but many northern areas should hold fishable ice into at least the weekend.
Frankie Paull emailed the photo above and this:
Dale, Got both these out at prairie road lake in aurora. Fish have moved from being suspended over basins to shallow and aggressive both these were caught in less that 10ft of water on a hair jig and minnow both bought over at Dickies Bait in Montgomery. Bass Wishes, Frankie Paull
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- Ice conditions are fading fast. There is six inches of frozen slush on top of a base layer of 3-4 inches of clear ice. There is a pocket of water between the two layers. By the time I came off the ice after a morning of fishing, I busted through the top layer of slush a few times and the shorelines were getting soft. With the weeks forecast, the season will be coming to an end. Bass have been very good during early morning hours on Northland buck shot rattle spoons. Flats with remaining green weeds adjacent to deep water have produced the best bite. Bluegill have been decent on Vexan tungsten jigs tipped with multiple spikes. Weed flats have been good during early morning hours and work out along the outside weed lines as the morning goes on to keep up with the active biters. Here is the nature pic of the week. Waiting for a flag on the last day of the season. TTYL — Ken Husker O’Malley Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team
The tip-up photo seems emblematic of the week.
CHAIN O’LAKES AREA
Still plenty of ice, Channel continues to draw the most effort in a remarkable run of ice fishing. Arden Katz reported still 13-14 inches of ice on Channel over the weekend, decent crappie and bluegill (wax worms best), as he hole hopped constantly.
Proprietor Greg Dickson at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said, “Looking into the weekend, I think we will be fine. Thank God, we are not getting a quick transition. The ice is going to hold and the sportsman will be able to get out.”
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. Fishing is allowed sunrise to sunset even during waterfowl season this year because The Nature Conservancy has suspended their public waterfowl hunting program this year due to COVID-related issues. TNC hopes to resume the public waterfowl hunting program next year.
HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Closed for the year.
We welcome a new contributor, which opened on Labor Day.
GREEN LAKE AREA, WISCONSIN
Guide Mike Norris emailed:
Fishing Report 3/1/2021 Mike Norris Big Green Lake - Finding safe ice up here in south-central Wisconsin is not a problem after the 17-day Freeze-A-Thon we had in the first three weeks of February. Most, but not all, areas of Big Green Lake have 12 inches or more of ice and anglers are out in droves and doing well catching lake trout in depths anywhere from 80 to 120 feet. Northland Rattle Jig, VMC spoons, and white tube jigs are working well for the lake trout. Try the Shale Bar and the deep water adjacent to Sandstone Bluff. Fox Lake – There is 12 to 18 inches of ice and the bluegills and crappies are cooperating in 4 to 5 feet of water on small tungsten jig tipped with plastic in an area on Fox Lake known as The Jug. Move around and when you find them, they will bite like crazy. The warmer weather we have experienced last week has melted the snow cover and smoothed out the surface of the ice, but the landings are getting sloppy though. With warm weather this week it might come down to where you will need to walk out.
GREEN/STURGEON BAYS, WISCONSIN
As the Fish of the Week showed, whitefish continue good around Sturgeon Bay.
Click here for the Wisconsin DNR weekly report.
Closed for the season.
Rod Thorson tweeted:
Walleye fishermen are starting to catch near starved rock.
Time seems right.
Stopped by to grab some bait from Nick Carr at Kankakee River Trading Post in Altorf Monday. The ice went out relatively quickly on the river, now it is high, fast and dirty, but soon enough.
Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.
With the Chicago lakefront open, some of the casters and powerliners are out trying for early coho, but lakers are more often caught.
Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait texted:
We still have plenty of ice around the Chicago area . The edges are getting a little soft but still a good base. I’m not sure about the city harbors tho. The coho anglers are beginning. No reports yet. That’s about it. Gearing up for spring/summer with lots of new tackle coming in daily ! Take care
Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:
Supposed to get the water on today. Hoping to fill up the tank and that everything is okey dokey and the plan is to open Saturday at 5 a.m.
Reopens to fishing on March 15.
MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN
Both units are open for open-water fishing or ice fishing. The ice fishing is near the end.
MILLE LACS LAKE, MINNESOTA
Justin Lederer emailed the photo above and this from McQuoids Inn in Isle, Minn.:
Justin Lederer checking in from McQuoids Inn Lake Mille Lacs. The walleye season is over till spring time to target big perch and pike. The perch are hitting small crappie minnows and fathead heads use small tungsten jigs and smaller versions of buckshots and 360’s. Wax worms are also producing smaller ones. Work 20-35 feet of water around rock structures. Pike are back in the bays work the outside of the weed lines target 4-12 feet of water. Hang 6-9 inch suckers on tip ups, rattle reels or dead sticks. We have warmer weather coming in this week so it should be turning the fish on. We still have two feet of ice on the lake so if you want to extend your ice fishing season head up.
Gamefish season ends Sunday, March 7.
From Hayward, Kyle Lamm tweeted the photos above and below and this:
Fishing up near Hayward was on fire this weekend. We limited out on crappie multiple days on multiple lakes. Tried tip ups one day as we jigged crappie. Nice Northern
Kurt Justice at Kurt’s Island Sport Shop in Minocqua emailed:
Warm temperatures, followed by 6 inches of wet, heavy snow that fell Sunday morning has made travel a bit difficult as of late. Warmer temperatures this week will contribute to even more slush on top of the ice. Still, there is well over 2 feet of ice beneath the slush. Stick to main paths or venture out on foot to avoid spending all day digging your vehicle out. With that being said, fishing is improving as we move into late ice season. Northern Pike: Good-Very Good – As the days warm up the fishing keeps getting better. Large golden shiners and large suckers are both still producing fish under tip-ups. Walleye: Good – Anglers are reporting good action in the low light hours of the day. The jigging bite has been heating up. Jigging Raps, Tikka Minos, and slender spoons all taking fish. Largemouth Bass: Good – Jigging the shallow weed breaks or tip-ups have been putting fish top side. Bluegills: Good-Very Good – Tungsten jigs tipped with waxies, spikes or mousees are all working. Crappies: Good-Very Good – Tip-down actions is getting better by the day. We are also getting fish jigging with Swedish Pimples, VMC Flash Champs, and tungsten jigs tipped with wedges. Yellow Perch: Good – Mud flats are still the hot bite. Hali jigs, Kastmasters, and small jigs tipped with red spikes or wigglers are working best. Just a reminder, game fish season is open thru Sunday, March 7th so get out there for the last week of it. Weather looks beautiful, just remember to bring rubber boots to avoid wet feet. Kurt Justice Kurt’s Island Sport Shop Like us on FaceBook
Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station texted:
Since last report and up till Saturday morning coho action at portage river walk and Michigan city was good for most fishing skein on the bottom or squid under slip bobber Since Saturday late morning and now water high and dirty from snow melt run off Boats going to Gary light have steady action fishing top 10ft of water using brads thin fish jointed rapalas and a variety of small crankbaits So everybody knows plenty of fresh skein and squid strips in stock over here along with every color they have in the brads thin fish for the trollers
Christina Petrites at Stan’s Bait & Tackle Center in Hammond emailed this important follow-up:
Hi, again. If it’s not too late, the Harbormaster just sent this information: Hammond Marina has had little fishing activity lately aside from the sporadic salmon, due to the snow & ice. There is still ice in the marina, so boats can’t launch yet. Anglers have not been open water shore fishing this season, as the ice on the lake just cleared out last Thursday. Boats should be able to launch in a few days though, with the consistently warmer temperatures.
For information like that, it is not too late.
She originally emailed:
Hey, Dale; hope all is well. Here’s what’s going on this week:~Coho fishing has really picked up out of in the Marinas, Burns Ditch, & Saint Joseph; there are lots of limit catches & some very nice-sized fish. ~Ice fishing is coming to a close with the recent rise in daily average temperatures, as well as the upcoming even warmer days; it has all but about come to an end. To the anglers still frequenting the local ponds, creeks, & streams-exercise EXTREME caution. The regular fishing season will be an early one this year. ~Anglers are catching walleye & steelhead at Wolf Lake & the St. Joseph dam. ~New 2021 fishing licenses & stamps are now on sale in Indiana, Illinois, & Michigan; current, valid 2020-2021 Indiana fishing licenses & stamps are good until March 31st, 2021.
ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN
Click here for the Wisconsin DNR’s report, usually on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said they catching coho off the pier for the last couple days; a few steelhead by Berrien Springs.
Site hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
SOUTHEAST WISCONSIN LAKEFRONT
Click here for the southern Lake Michigan reports from the Wisconsin DNR.
WINNEBAGO SYSTEM, WISCONSIN
Sturgeon spearing season ran the full 16 days through Sunday on Lake Winnebago in Wisconsin while the Upriver Lakes season closed early on Feb. 20.
On Friday, Lana Freiberg speared the largest fish, an F4 female 157.8 pounds, 78.3 inches, on Lake Winnebago.
Christina Petrites at Stan’s Bait & Tackle Center in Hammond emailed:
. . . Anglers are catching walleye . . . New 2021 fishing licenses & stamps are now on sale in Indiana, Illinois, & Michigan; current, valid 2020-2021 Indiana fishing licenses & stamps are good until March 31st, 2021.
WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN
Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:
Perch, bluegill, and some crappie have been getting more active in the past week. The water is starting to come up with the warmer weather, but it’ll be a good two weeks before the boat gets wet