Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Wisconsin opener, star-Power king, largemouth, panfish, hybrids

Wisconsin’s general fishing season opens Saturday, a hometown actor made good with a big king, big largemouth bass being caught, bluegill moving shallower, and a mix of big fish at Clinton Lake are part of the sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

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Actor Joseph Sikora taking a break from shooting Power 4ce with a Chinook caught with In the Box Charters out of St. Joseph, Michigan. Provided by Chris Belz

Actor Joseph Sikora taking a break from shooting Power 4ce with a Chinook caught with In the Box Charters out of St. Joseph, Michigan.

Provided by Chris Belz

This sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report contains everything from a Chicago actor meeting a king to big bass pulling up to lots of varied big fish at Clinton Lake.

Actor Joseph Sikora, product of Notre Dame College Prep and Columbia College, found some time for fishing between some recent shoots.

Lifelong friend Chris Belz emailed the photo at the top and this:

Hey Dale, Appreciate your column and have enjoyed it for years thank you! Find attached photo of Chicago’s very one, actor Joseph Sikora, who caught this 18lb King off of St Joes thanks to In the Box Charters. Joe is currently filming Power 4ce in Chicago and had time to go fishing in between shoots. Thanks, Chris Belz

Sikora has and is starring as Tommy Egan in various incarnations of Power.

WISCONSIN OPENER

Wisconsin’s general fishing season opens Saturday, May 1.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds anglers that the 2021-2022 fishing season will open May 1, without any changes to season dates. All regulations and license requirements still apply.

Prospects look generally good. Weekend weather looks generally mellow. Various breakdowns for individual waters are in their usual places.

CHICAGO RIVER NOTE

The Daley Park launch (31st and Western) on the Sanitary Ship Canal/South Branch of the Chicago River is rented out Monday, May 3, and Tuesday, May 4, and will not be accessible to launchers.

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

Some bigger largemouth are starting to go; crappie vary from good to scarce and bluegill should heat up with the weather.

Jelainie Gutierez with a largemouth bass from Busse. Provided by Rob Abouchar

Jelainie Gutierez with a largemouth bass from Busse.

Provided by Rob Abouchar

Rob Abouchar emailed the photo above and this update, mostly from Busse:

Hi Dale I wanted to email before things get real busy with school, music and other things.It was a great day at Busse Lake South Pool on Saturday. It was an outing that reminds one why we fish.I had the Leyden Bass Club out for sectionals practice and it was the kind of morning you could tell they might be hitting.Muskrats, White Egrets, and red wingers were abundant and the lake was like glass.Fish werebioiling and jumping, withminnows moving in the shallows. First time fisherman and new club member Jelainie Gutierez had a day she will most likely remember for a long time. 40 bluegill and other panfish; possibly shiners caught on her first time fishing ever. Beginners luck or a natural I don’t know.Other club members got in on the panfish action as the bass were still very reluctant to bite. Even Robert the Bus driver got in on the action as he was due to catch just a fish.To cap the day off coach Mike Hurt was able to coax a pre-spawn Largemouth out of the still cold waters with a Jointed Rapalain black and white as the sun started to come out and the temps warmed. Next up hopefully a trip to farmer Bobs farm pond in Wisconsin Kettlemoraine area near Alpine valley this weekend. Tight Lines and Good Health Rob

OK, that just makes me happy.

Bryan Missey with big largemouth bass. Provided photo

Bryan Missey with big largemouth bass.

Provided

Bryan Missey emailed the photo above and this:

Hi Dale, This bass weighed 6.07lbs on my digital scale.I caught it on a spinnerbait at a Cook County pond. She put up an awesome fight, but I managed to bring her in on 8lb test line. Keep up the good work. Sincerely, Bryan Missey

He added:

That’s the third six pounder I’ve caught and released there. Let them spread their genes. Bryan

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a nice crappie. Provided photo

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a nice crappie.

Provided

Ken “Husker” O’Malley emailed the photo above and this:

Hey Dale, Here is a recap of this past weeks fishing. Area lakes- the cold front that hit during the week had waters temps going down the the low 50’s. Fish have pushed off fom the shallows to the main basin and outside weed lines . Bass have been decent on lipless crank baits fished in the main basin. Ripping the bait off the top of the weeds caused a reaction bite. Slow crawling a jig and craw trailer along the bottom got a few bigger bass. Crappie are along the outside weed lines. Use crank baits to find the schools with active fish. Then follow-up with a variety of plastics fished under a float. A few decent bluegill can be had as well with this presentation. Here is the nature pic of the week. A reminder that spring is still present. TTYL — Ken Husker O’Malley Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team

Rico Cantu with a good largemouth bass. Provided photo

Rico Cantu with a good largemouth bass.

Provided

Rico Cantu emailed the photo below and this on Monday:

Hey Dale I got this nice bass last Friday it weighted about 4-1/2 lb and was 20 inches, I’m stilllooking for the crappies to start but this spring has been a strange one and we need rain, we’ll take care and be safe.Rico Cantu Lockport IL. Rico Cantu from Lockport IL.

Dicky’s Bait Shop in Montgomery reported that when targeting largemouth in west suburb ponds you need to work through the slow periods to the sporadic windows.

Pete Lamar emailed:

Hi Dale, Interesting weekend.I fished three different bodies of water and found 55 degree water in all of them.The warming appeared to have leveled off last week:those temperatures weren’t very different than I’d found the week before.However, with three consecutive days near 80 degrees, the warming trend has likely resumed. I fished a couple of Kane County F.P. ponds/lakes on Friday and Saturday.I got a mix of bluegills and bass, nothing noteworthy as far as size.Fish did bite well, but once hooked were pretty docile in the cold water.A lot of the bass were in very close (staging for the upcoming spawn?) in shallow water.I probably spooked more of them than I hooked.Bluegills were out deeper. . . . Pete

BRAIDWOOD LAKE

Open daily 6 a.m. to sunset. Click here for the preview.

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Pat Karpinski with a PB muskie. Provided photo

Pat Karpinski with a PB muskie.

Provided photo

Pat Karpinski sent the photo above and this:

Got my pb musky 41 3/4 last week on the chain had a great day we boated the 3 fish that ate and had action from another dozen fish! It was an amazing day

Arden Katz said crappie were still in the channels, but will probably move out by the end of the week; bluegill are starting to pull into the channels.

Staff at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said largemouth are prespawn with lots on riprap and in the channel mouths; crappie are in the deeper channels and starting to move out to the brushpiles; walleye are spawned out and good in the river or around bridges and some are on shad schools; white bass slowed; lots more smallmouth in the river; panfishing has picked up; a few flatheads have been caught already and otherwise channel catfish being caught.

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

NOTE 2: The Stratton Lock and Dam reopens Saturday, May 1. Here is the word from the IDNR:

IDNR Announces 2021 Operating Schedule for Stratton Lock MCHENRY, Ill. – The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) today announced the operating schedule for the William G. Stratton-Thomas A. Bolger Lock facility on the Fox River in McHenry County. The lock will open Saturday, May 1 for the 2021 navigation season. Normal operating hours will be seven days per week from 8:00 a.m. until midnight for the months of May through September, and 8:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. for the month of October. The Stratton-Bolger Lock facility is closed for the winter season each year from November 1 through April 30.

DELAVAN/GENEVA/WALWORTH COUNTY, WISCONSIN

Dave Duwe emailed this preview:

Outlook for Opening Day; Walworth County It’s like Christmas for most outdoor enthusiasts, the opening day of inland fishing season. After a long winter it’s time to catch some game fish. Opening day for game fish on most inland waters is the first Saturday in May. Walworth County in Southeastern Wisconsin is blessed with many great fishing waters. The county has one of the deepest lakes in the state in Lake Geneva along with a bunch of shallow fast warming bodies of water such as Lake Como and Whitewater Lake. In early May, Lake Geneva has some disadvantages being so deep and big. The water tends to be really cold and the fish aren’t usually that active. Most of the smallmouth bass are being caught suspended, not associating with any structure. They can also be very active chasing bait fish pods near their spawning flats. I work the suspended fish in 12-15 feet of water. My preferred presentations are Kalin Grubs in Avocado color fished on a darter head or Arkie Jigs Shinee Hinnee (a small crappie hair jig that resembles a shiner). The spawning flats I focus on are the near the South Shore Club (formerly the Military Academy), Elgin Club or near Knollwood. Largemouth bass will be the most active in the shallows, in such places as Trinkes, Abbey Harbor or in Geneva Bay. I like using baits such as a Yum Dingers or a Texas rigged plastic worm. Green pumpkin or watermelon are always my best colors. The larger bluegills will be in the warmer shallow waters around the emerging weeds and shallow structure. The best presentation is Thill slip bobbers with Lindy’s Toad ice jigs. I prefer using wax worms or leaf worms. My favorite bluegill spots are Abbey Harbor, Geneva Bay near the library or by the South shore club. Statewide, Delavan Lake is known as one of the best fishing lakes. Since it is so well known as an awesome fishery, it will also be one of the busiest lakes on opening day. The crappie fishing has already been pretty good for the first few weeks of April. The best depth is in the 8-12 foot depth range. I like mini-mites or small plastics in purple or yellow. For live bait fishermen, Thill slip bobber rigs tipped with small fat head minnows also produces a lot of fish. Look for the fish by Browns Channel or by the island on the west end of the lake. Walleyes in early May are shallow. Delavan is very clear this time of year and that can make the walleyes a bit skittish. The fish are in the emerging weeds in 5 to 10 feet of water. Night or low light conditions produce the most fish. Trolling shallow diving crankbaits typically produces the most fish. Largemouth bass will be cruising the shallows in pre-spawn. The best approach is Yum Dingers fished Texas rigged in 3-5 feet of water near the outlet and by Lake Lawn Lodge. While Delavan and Geneva are both great for fishing, personally I prefer some of Walworth Counties shallower lakes for opening day. The lakes tend to have a much higher water temperature and that helps keep the fish more active. The smaller lakes also receive a lot less fishing pressure and can be very productive. My favorite lake choices are Whitewater, Como and Tripp lakes. Work the shallow emerging weeds in 3 to 5 ft of water for largemouth bass. My lure choices are a Booyah white spinnerbait in ¼ oz or a Texas rigged Yum Dinger in Green pumpkin. Being such shallow lakes, the weed growth can be tremendous so early May can be the best fishing of the year on these bodies of water. Shore anglers in Walworth County can have good action as well on opening day throughout the county. Turtle creek has a decent smallmouth and pan fish bite along with the requisite suckers and carp. Shore anglers are welcome to fish in the Town of Delavan’s community park for a small fee. The Kettle Moraine State forest also has some great shore opportunities on and near Whitewater lake. The opportunities are abundant here is Walworth County. Come and enjoy opening day. For guide parties contact Dave Duwe of Dave Duwe’s Guide Service at 262-728-8063.

DOWNSTATE

There are updates on Hennepin-Hopper and Emiquon.

Casey Shell with a 28-pound blue, one of a variety of big fish caught at Clinton Lake. Provided by Jim Shell

Casey Shell with a 28-pound blue, one of a variety of big fish caught at Clinton Lake.

Provided by Jim Shell

CLINTON: Jim Shell emailed the photos above and below and this:

Dale, Here’s a report to go along with the pics.. Fished Clinton Lake this past Saturday, late afternoon and Sunday morning. Our target species were the wipers (hybrid stripers). We ended up boating 3 adult wipers (biggest was 6lb-11 oz), several smaller ones, (2) 15 walleye, many large drum and some BIG blue catfish. The (3) biggest weighed 20, 28 and 37lbs!ALL fish were caught trolling a Buck Perry spoonplug, the series 250 which has a running depth of 6 to 9 ft. All fish caughtwere very active. It was a very fun trip for the both of us! Jim & Casey Shell

Hello Buck Perry.

Here’s their video:

POWERTON: Summer hours, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., beginning Saturday, May 1.

EMIQUON: As of Saturday, May 1, access permits and liability waivers are again required. They are available from Tuesday to Saturday at Dickson Mounts Museum, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Reopens May 15. Open through Sept. 6. Closed Mondays (except Labor Day). Check regulations at http://www.wetlands-initiative.org/dixon-paddling-fishing.

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 slower fishing, but some smallmouth are hitting below the dams and in the shallows as water levels remain very low; water was 59 on Monday (probably into the 60s now); reports come of the first flatheads, primarily in the North Aurora area.

An 18-inch smallmouth bass from a Fox River tributary with a fly rod. Provided by Pete Lamar

An 18-inch smallmouth bass from a Fox River tributary with a fly rod.

Provided by Pete Lamar

Pete Lamar emailed the photo above and this:

Hi Dale, Interesting weekend.I fished three different bodies of water and found 55 degree water in all of them.The warming appeared to have leveled off last week:those temperatures weren’t very different than I’d found the week before.However, with three consecutive days near 80 degrees, the warming trend has likely resumed. . . . I fished a Fox trib on Sunday.Near the mouth, just upstream of the Fox, the stream bottom was covered with suckers on their spawning run.I made a few casts and drifts through the pool.It was far more likely that I would foul hook a sucker, but somehow a smallmouth found my marabou leech in that crowd.It too, was pretty docile and came to hand quickly.Farther upstream, I hooked the 18 inch smallmouth in the photo.It also ate the marabou leech. Pete

GREEN LAKE AREA, WISCONSIN

Dane Kirk with a 20.5-inch bass caught during a recent guide trip with Mike Norris. Provided photo

Dane Kirk with a 20.5-inch bass caught during a recent guide trip with Mike Norris.

Provided

Guide Mike Norris texted the photo above and emailed this:

Fishing Report 4/26/2021 Mike Norris Lake Puckaway – Puckaway is best known for its northern pike and walleye fishing and very few anglers target bass on this body of water.Well, that may change.The Wisconsin Elite Series stages both bass and walleye tournaments across Wisconsin.One week after staging a walleye tournament on Puckaway the group returned there last Saturday to hold their first bass tournament of the 2021 season.The results were impressive.The winning weight for five bass was 19.59 lbs. and the big bass was a smallmouth bass weighing in at 5.46 lbs. Big Green Lake – The smallmouth bass bite remains good.The bass are holding on secondary drop offs waiting for the shallows to warm.Water temp remains in the low 40’s but I’m hoping to see bass show up in the shallows as warmer weather approaches this week. Fox Lake (Dodge Co)I’m continuing to target this lake for early season largemouth bass and northern pike.While my clients are not catching numbers of bass, the size has been impressive.Blade baits worked over shallow rocky points is the ticket right now. To book me for a guide trip reach out to me via my Facebook page at mike.norris.7773 or email me through my website atwww.comecatchsmallmouth.com

GREEN/STURGEON BAYS, WISCONSIN

Click here for the Wisconsin DNR weekly report.

HEIDECKE LAKE

Water is reaching that magical mid-60s range. Click here for the FOTW for a big muskie, a really big muskie, caught Friday while fishing for walleye.

Open 6 a.m. (6:30 bank fishing) to sunset. Click here for the promising preview.

LAKE ERIE

Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.

LAKEFRONT

SMELT: Season, such as it was or wasn’t, ends Friday, April 30.

The winds haven’t helped with a slow-down in shore fishing; more smallmouth bass being seen. The warmup today should bring out more anglers, which might help with the catches.

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait texted:

No reports on smelt. Cold weather slowed down anglers and reports.

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

Hi Dale Fishing around Montrose area has been slow. Waiting on the baitfish to move into the harbors and then hopefully a few Trout and Salmon will follow them in. Absolutely no word on any smelt or smelters.Have a great week.

Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters said that out of North Point on Tuesday (where the wind switched north midday and temperatures dropped nearly 30 degrees) fishing was so-so for coho (the bait has disappared) and most of their bites came in 40-150 feet (one caught shallow) with some big lake trout in 40-50 and a couple steelhead in 140-150. Coho had bugs in their bellies, lakers all had gobies. Out of Chicago, as of Sunday, no coho, but the good laker bite continues in 35-60 from off McCormick Place to the R-4.

Capt. Scott Wolfe emailed:

Hi Dale Waukegan and Northpoint boat anglers had to be adaptable. Tuesday through Friday fishing was good for coho, browns and lakers in 15 to 30 feet from Great Lakes NTS to north of the state line. Saturday things changed. The shallow coho chasing the alewife moved North. Waukegan and Northpoint boats had to move out to 70 to 100 feet off Waukegan and 80 to 130 off Northpoint to find the bug eater coho. 2.0 to 2.5 inch slider style files were the key in Blue/Green/Gold, Green/Gold, and Pearl/White from Jimmy Fly, Stanley Stinger or Lake Michigan Angler run in the top 5 feet. There were some suspended lake trout taken from 20 to 60 feet down. The lakers preferred spoons, mostly orange Warrior spoons in Orange Killer, Steelhead Candy and Halftime patterns on divers and downriggers. A couple of boats had the first kings of the year. Chicago and Wilmette had catches of mostly lake trout with a king or coho here and there. Again spoons were most effective in the patterns above. I saw some nice bass moving around Waukegan harbor this weekend. But most shore fishermen were targeting salmon, since they will have the whole summer to catch the warmer water species. Early in the week when the shallow alewife eating coho were in, the shore guys were doing very well, with the casters outperforming the power liners. Capt. Scott Wolfe schooloffishcharters.com630-341-0550

LaSALLE LAKE

Open daily 6 a.m. to sunset. Click here for the preview of prospects.

MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN

Going into the opener, Gene Dellinger at D&S Bait said water levels are low; bass have been pretty good during the catch-and-release season; water is cold (Mendota was 46 Tuesday); some catfish on the north end of Mendota; bass regulations go to the state regulations on opening day.

Click here for the update from D&S Bait.

MAZONIA

Both units are open for open-water fishing or ice fishing.

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

General fishing season opens Saturday, May 1 and weather looks stunning good for opening weekend.

Kurt Justice at Kurt’s Island Sport Shop in Minocqua said that the warm early April has walleye post-spawn, so target them around fresh green weeds with jig and minnow or something similar; pike are on the weeds, too, but deeper; largemouth season opens Saturday, too, target shallow soft-bottom bays that warm faster; crappie moved out with cold, expect them to come in in with weekend warmup (60s and 70s).

NORTHWEST INDIANA

Capt. Rich Slezak texted, “Coho catch this a.m. fishing the mouth of the Port of Indiana to the Donut aboard Triplecatch.” Provided photo

Capt. Rich Slezak texted, “Coho catch this a.m. fishing the mouth of the Port of Indiana to the Donut aboard Triplecatch.”

Provided

Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station texted the photo above and this:

Fishing good from Michigan city to burns ditch in 40 to 50 ft of water using spoons and dodgers and flys best a few kings around also Crappie on lake George in Hobart using minnows Bluegill and redear will really heat up next couple weeks use crickets,red wigglers and waxworms Catfish decent fishing deep river and burns ditch using cut bait as the water warms up triple s stinkbait really takes over for best bait

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

Hi, Dale. Here’s what the past week’s news has been. Hope you’re enjoying this gorgeous weather! Fishing is starting to heat up with more and more Kings showing up on the lakefront & subsidiary waters everyday. Anglers are catching a lot of limits (mostly Coho), but Kings are in the catches also. A few Walleye are being caught on Leeches & Nightcrawlers, but it’s a little early yet. Inland lakes are doing good with Bluegill and Crappie, mostly on Spikes/Beemoths, Butterworms, & Worms.

ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN

The Wisconsin DNR emailed:

The spring steelhead migration is winding down, and the Root River Steelhead Facility has been shut down for the season. A total of 596 steelhead were handled in the facility this spring. Operations will resume in the fall for the Chinook and coho salmon runs.

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

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN

Note the photo at the very top, so there are at least a few good kings out of St. Joseph, as Joseph Sikora showed.

In recent days, fishing is relatively slow fishing or hampered by wind on Lake Michigan.

Paddle and Pole hosts the Berrien Springs Fish Ladder Camera.

SHABBONA LAKE

Site hours through Oct. 31 are 6 a.m.-10 p.m. daily

Concessions are closed and for sale.

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 is picking up with the water dropping. Minnows on jigs or rigs, and dragging crawlers on jigs working best. White bass action still slow withwater temp around 50 degrees

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