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Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Coho, crappie, rainbows, browns, walleye, largemouth, openers

As befits true spring weather arriving, all kinds of fishing is going around Chicago from coho and brown trout (and smelt traditions) on the lakefront to openers for inland trout to river walleye.

Crowd at Sand Lake for trout fishing. Photo provided by Eddie Pasiewicz
Crowd at Sand Lake for trout fishing.
Provided by Eddie Pasiewicz

The various opening days and a gorgeous weekend for being outside lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

Eddie Pasiewicz emailed the photo at the top and this on trout season:

Good afternoon Dale

Sand Pond was loaded with Men and Women fishing for spring trout fishing at Sand Pond Adeline Geo Karris Illinois Beach State Park. Pond was full all around with more then 70 cars this past Saturday 7:30 AM. Was a beautiful day.

Thanks Eddie

ILLINOIS SPRING TROUT SEASON

JF Semple and his buddy Willie with trout limits from Grove Lake. Photo provided by Bob France
JF Semple and his buddy Willie with trout limits from Grove Lake.
Provided by Bob France

Reports have generally been good for opening weekend. I suspect the gorgeous weather had something to do with it.

Regulation are same: daily bag of five, those 16 and older needed a license and a stamp. Remember: the five Forest Preserves of Cook County sites—Axehead, Belleau, Green, Horsetail, Sag Quarry East—open Wednesday, April 7. Other nearby sites opened on Saturday, April 3: Wolf Lake (Cook County); Silver, Pickerel and Grove (DuPage); Bird Park Quarry and Rock Creek (Kankakee); Big Lake (Kendall); Sand (Lake); Piscasaw Creek and Atwood (McHenry); Milliken (Will). Click here for general information on Illinois’ spring trout season. Click here for details on the delayed start of FPCC.

SMELT

Click here for the story of the sparsest opening night in decades on Thursday.

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted Tuesday:

. . . For those interested I have had no smelt reports.

Nor have I.

Smelt netting in Chicago runs through April 30. Chicago Park District regulations: nets may go in at 7 p.m., must be out of the parks by 1 a.m., no open fires, no closed tents, no parking on grass or sidewalks, dispose of coals in appropriate trash receptacles. Click here for the preview of smelt prospects from last week.

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

Tom Platt messaged:

I’m going to hit up horsetail probably 5pm hopefully they still bite lol. . . . Crappie are just starting in the preserves, this warm weather might get them going. Rain might slow things down this weekend

Crappie caught and released at Palmisano Park by Dan Bernstein. Provided photo
Crappie caught and released at Palmisano Park by Dan Bernstein.
Provided

Dan Bernstein, lover of local fishing and cohost of “Bernstein & Rahimi” from 9 a.m. to noon on WSCR-AM, took advantage of the beautiful weather Monday while his son was doing baseball at McGuane Park to fish Palmisano Park. Bernstein sampled the multiple species of the great catch-and-release site in Bridgeport, including the crappie above.

Dicky’s Bait Shop in Montgomery reported a good opening day at Silver Springs SFWA, a limit was even caught on Monday, best on minnows; places such as Phillips and Big Rock Quarry are starting to get better bass action, especially if you find warmer water; still crappie reports.

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait texted:

Similar to the previous 2 weeks . . . crappie still going

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a local largemouth bass. Provided photo
Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a local largemouth bass.
Provided

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

Hey Dale,

Here is a recap of this past weeks fishing.

Area lakes- once we got past last weeks cold front, fishing has been improving with the above average temps.

Bass have been decent on jerk baits worked over the top of emerging weed beds. Vary the cadence until the fish tell you want they want. Each day seems to be different.

Crappie are slowly starting to stage and grouping up. Once you can locate them action has been decent on a variety of plastics under a float. A few bluegill can be caught with this presentation as well.

Here is the nature pic of the week. Waterfowl are not the only ones trying to pair up. This guy is drumming to find a mate.

TTYL

Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Husker Outdoors
Waterwerks fishing team

Pete Lamar emailed:

Hi Dale,

I found a wide range of water temperatures in recent days. Not too many fish, but a wide range of temperatures.

A park district pond near home had warmed into the mid-50s. An office complex retention pond was just below 60 degrees (I only fished the latter, without success). If this trend continues, I think I may be using small poppers on the local ponds by next weekend.

. . .

We’re headed in the right direction. A few more days or a week and things should really get moving.

Pete

“Right direction” is the right thought in my world view.

A kid checks out Rob Abouchar with a largemouth bass from Twin Lakes. Provided photo
A kid checks out Rob Abouchar with a largemouth bass from Twin Lakes.
Provided

Rob Abouchar emailed the photo above and this:

Hi dale

With one day left of Spring break I felt good enough to take some casts on Monday. I headed to Twin Lakes in Palatine for some early morning bass. Not sure if it was the black cat in my back yard or the brief rainbow that appeared as the sun rose but I was able to at least get one fish to go. The wind was up and the weather did not seem conducive to fish catching. One of those mornings where you just can sense it might be tough. The one fish to hit fell to a Mepps #5 in line spinner in white and red. A young boy was very impressed as he saw me land and release the fish. I said I will send your picture to the man at the new paper and he smiled as he went along his walk. Other anglers did not report any fish being caught. The water was very cold and stained. One shore angler was saying the bite was very slow and he had not caught anything using minnows. Hopefully the weather will turn for the better and the bite should improve.

Tight lines and good health

Rob

BRAIDWOOD LAKE

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

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Art Frisell at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch aid fishing is actually good, but water needs to come up big time. Crappie are decent; walleye should be setting in main lake areas because of the low water. Catfish are biting pretty good, large fatheads or crawlers.

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

CHICAGO RIVER

Jeffrey Williams messaged the photo below and this:

so i got my butt kicked at the river yesterday, thought i give a lil report, got sum good bites under the bridge with sum grubs, other than tht Carp are hitting pretty good

When I asked, he added:

it felt like crappie bites, my brother Jesse is holding the Carp.

Jeffrey Williams’ brother Jesse won the day with this carp on the Chicago River. Provided photo
Jeffrey Williams’ brother Jesse won the day with this carp on the Chicago River.
Provided

DELAVAN LAKE, WISCONSIN

Arden Katz said there are lots of panfish in the channels, but must downsize to something ice jigs and spikes to catch bluegills up to 8 inches.

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

Catfish from the Montgomery dam area on the Fox River. Provided by Dicky’s Bait Shop
Catfish from the Montgomery dam area on the Fox River.
Provided by Dicky’s Bait Shop

Dicky’s Bait Shop in Montgomery emailed the photo above and reported the water temperature is 53.5, “so it is definitely climbing;” a good 4 1/2 pound smallmouth caught in the Geneva area; catfish still going good, as photo above shows.

Pete Lamar emailed:

Hi Dale,

. . .

Saturday afternoon, we went to Silver Springs to sight in a turkey gun for the upcoming season. On the way home, we stopped just to look at a Fox tributary near its mouth with the Fox. There was a school of large suckers in a deep pool, easily spotted in the low clear water. But even after a day with temperatures approaching 70 degrees, water was only 42; I doubt much would be actively feeding under those conditions.

We’re headed in the right direction. A few more days or a week and things should really get moving.

Pete

I’ll take that headed in the right direction.

GREEN LAKE AREA, WISCONSIN

Guide Mike Norris emailed:

Fishing Report 4/5/2021

Mike Norris

. . .

. . .

Big Green Lake – Big Green is Wisconsin’s deepest inland lake and is slow to warm. Water temp is only 38 degrees on the main lake but boaters are finding active lake trout in 90 feet of water. Try catching them on Northland Rattling Spoons or a white jig tube.

For information on guide trips 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.

Lance LaVine at Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay emailed this:

Good morning fellas….here is a quick fishing update

Brown Trout fishing has been going fair to good in recent weeks and with the rains predicted in the near future the Brown Trout fishing should just get better. Trolling the shallow water both on the lake side and the bay side of the peninsula will be the area to target. Floating Rapalas, Thundersticks and Mauler spoons are just a few of the top baits

Pike fishing is going quite well and that fishing will also get better as we move through spring. Both trolling and casting spawn/staging areas with jerk baits, spoons and plastics has been effective along with drifting large sucker minnows.

Walleye fishing is starting to pick up as the water continues to warm. Casting and trolling crank baits at night along with rip jigging with Rippin Raps, Hair jigs, Blades, Paddle tails and shorty Howie Tubes. Concentrate your efforts along the secondary shoreline drops, especially during the day and the primary shoreline drops in the evening and after dark

The stream fishing for Rainbow Trout was off to a strong start then started to dwindle due to the lack of run-off. Again, that fishing with definitely ramp back up as we finally get some much needed rain to get those Lake Michigan tributaries rolling again.

The catch and release Smallmouth bass fishing is also just starting to get rolling as some of those fishing are starting to push into the shallow bays as the water starts to warm. Jerk baits, Howie tubes, small paddle tails and hair jigs just a few of the top baits to use early in the season.

Thanks;

Lance LaVine

Howie’s Tackle

1309 Green Bay Rd

Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235

Ph: 920-746-9916

HEIDECKE LAKE

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

ILLINOIS RIVER

Retired veteran Carter Cavitt with some quality crappie caught from the Illinois River with Capt. Mike Hanson. Provided photo
Retired veteran Carter Cavitt with some quality crappie caught from the Illinois River with Capt. Mike Hanson.
Provided

Capt. Mike Hanson of Starved Rock Guide Service texted the photo above and this from an outing with retired veteran Carter Cavitt:

They tell me the Illinois River don’t have big crappie- I disagree

We smashed good ones today let go a bunch too- keeping only ten with his personal best going on his wall-

I’m impressed, crappie aren’t the species I normally think of with the Illinois River.

KANKAKEE RIVER

Chris Strand with a spawned-out walleye from the Kankakee River. Provided photo
Chris Strand with a spawned-out walleye from the Kankakee River.
Provided

Chris Strand messaged the photo above and this:

This was the “Easter egg” I was looking for lol

Spawned out female. 25in caught in kankakee river on a live shiner

Released

Walleye on the Kankakee River have a protected slot from 18 to 26 inches.

He also sent this and the photo below:

I would guess [the walleye weighed around 4lbs because of the length? No more than that. Let me tell you it was a very light hit, then a great fight. Pulled drag that was pretty tight. Thought I had a big catfish. Caught a smallmouth before that that jumped and pulled but didn’t fight as much

Kankakee River smallmouth bass. Provided by Chris Strand
Kankakee River smallmouth bass.
Provided by Chris Strand

Bob Johnson emailed the photo below and this on Monday:

Hi Dale -

Fished the Kankakee today and was able to land several smallmouth and a couple largemouth mostly undersized with a few decent ones mixed in. River is in pretty good shape with a slight stain on main channel. Had success working a slight mudline on Crainkbaits actually landing 2 on same cast. Pic attached are the Smallies that were caught together. A first for me.

Bob Johnson and a double of Kankakee River smallmouth bass, caught on the same bait. Provided photo
Bob Johnson and a double of Kankakee River smallmouth bass, caught on the same bait.
Provided

LAKE ERIE

Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.

LAKEFRONT

Michael Fogarty with a good brown trout, which are starting to move on the Chicago lakefront. Photo provided by Chris Ranney
Michael Fogarty with a good brown trout, which are starting to move on the Chicago lakefront.
Provided by Chris Ranney

On Sunday, Chris Ranney, who sent the photo above of Michael Fogarty and a good lakefront brown, also sent this extended report:

Within an hour of each other [we got two browns] ...... we get this rain , it should really go off as the alewife move in ..... the coho are crazy big for this time ..... late April early may sized fish .... hope your holiday was excellent... be well Dale

I am feeling well, of course this weather helps.

He added this:

Browns were on set lines (bottom) . . . coho were a mix of float lines and the power line. . . . bite started way out . . . then moved in as the chop progressed shallow. . . . that disturbed water is so important with this clear water. . . . we need some turbidity. . . . 3/5’ down for the coho.

Greg Laveau messaged the photo below and this:

2 hours today at Montrose 2nd limit this week

He added:

Yes. Night crawlers were the ticket today. On Monday we alternated minnow, worm etc

Coho limit on the Chicago lakefront. Provided by Greg Laveau
Coho limit on the Chicago lakefront.
Provided by Greg Laveau

Tom Platt messaged:

. . . Guys that are putting in the hours are being rewarded. Bass are doing well and some reports of drum. . .

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait texted:

Similar to the previous 2 weeks coho . . . still going

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

Good morning Dale Coho fishing still good. Powerliners are doing better then rod and reel. Still some nice brown trout and steelhead around. Large minnows and nightcrawlers still seem to be the baits of choice. I would anticipate that the water is starting to warm up this week so guys casting some spoons and crankbaits should start getting a little more action. For those interested I have had no smelt reports.

Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan texted:

guys are getting browns, steelies, and a few cohos are showing up off the pier.

Capt. Scott Wolfe emailed:

Waukegan 4/5

Hi Dale

In Waukegan coho are starting. Only a couple of serious boats are in now so reliable information is sparse. Some coho are being taken in 25 to 65 trolling dodger and peanut flies or body baits. For boats targeting coho the shallower waters 25- 35 have more then the deeper water Big lake trout are plentiful in 60 feet. The trout are suspended all over the water column. Suspended spoons as well as typical laker taker Mo Rigs are working. The bright rubber skirted Jimmy Fly Green Guy and Green Goby were best.

It’s will still be 2 weeks before my running gear is on and I’m in so my reports may be sporadic until then. It’s already an above average start of April.

Capt Scott Wolfe

630-341-0550
www.schooloffishcharters.com
Manipulator - Waukegan

It feels like the season is truly changing with the first report from Wolfe.

On Saturday, Jason “Special” Le texted the photo below, which I love, and a note and photo on his brother Ricky catching a good whitefish.

Nice to hear of another quality whitefish.

Fishing sunrise on the Chicago lakefront. Credit: Jason “Special” Le
Fishing sunrise on the Chicago lakefront.
Jason “Special” Le

LaSALLE LAKE

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

MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN

Click here for the update from D&S Bait.

MAZONIA

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

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

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

A very unusual warm early April has most of our lakes completely ice free. The few exceptions being the largest lakes, Fence and Trout. But with air temps hitting 80 degrees on Monday (4/5) that won’t last long.

It’s rare to see such an early ice out with open water and such nice weather. Anglers are out checking on Crappie spots, Perch spots and getting the kinks out of their equipment.

Crappie: Good-Very Good – Anglers finding Crappies filtering through standing weeds in 6-8’ of water. Spooking easily, so long cast required with small floats and minnows or tiny hair jigs. While still a long way off from spawning, some anglers reporting Crappies moving close into shallow brush. Most likely to soak up warmth that helps with their egg production later.

Yellow Perch: Good – Below dams that are open to fishing (The Rainbow Dam closes April 10th as a sanctuary until May 1st). Jig and medium fats or pieces of crawlers, lindy rigs or floats in the eddies work.

Bluegill: Poor – Just no reports as of now. Most interest in Crappies and Perch.

With ice off so early and so much warm weather, expect almost all Walleye spawning to be finished by May 1st. A good post spawn bite should occur, but lots can happen here in the Northwoods between now and then.

Catch & Release Bass IS open.

Panfish (Crappie, Bluegill, Yellow Perch) IS open.

NO Walleye fishing is open up here with the exception of the research Lake Escanaba with its one over 28” regulation.

The closed season is to give some species a break from harvest and pursuit. Please be aware and respect these rules. Rules like these and bag limits are meant to ensure opportunities for the future, so everyone can enjoy for years to come.

Kurt Justice

Kurt’s Island Sport Shop
Like us on FaceBook

NORTHWEST INDIANA

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

Willow slough good for boat fisherman gills,crappie on jigs tipped with beemoth

Coho action on the portage river walk is hit or miss everyday has been different

Trolling for coho has been all over the place from good to slow you find a pocket of fish work that area. East Chicago up and down the wall to Gary light to the mouth of the ditch and the mouth of the port of Indiana are the areas that have been getting worked. Brads thinfish and dodgers and peanut Flys best baits

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

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

Hi, Dale. I hope you’re loving this gorgeous weather. Here’s what we have for this week:

Area Anglers are having good luck trolling for Coho in 15-30 FOW with a few kings showing up. Guys are trolling flatlines with thin fish and 3 colors of leadcore with small spoons. The rivers have slowed down a lot with just a few steelhead being caught. There are some catfish being caught. The inland lakes are starting to do much better a lot of nice crappie and some bluegill.

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 boaters are getting coho south of St. Joe, but they don’t have to go all the way to the Cook plant; pier is slow, but it was real good back when the winds were rocking; walleye are closed on the river.

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

As of now, the reopening of the concessions is on hold after the initial sale fell through.

SOUTHEAST WISCONSIN LAKEFRONT

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

WISCONSIN RIVER, PETENWELL FLOWAGE

Guide Mike Norris emailed:

Fishing Report 4/5/2021

Mike Norris

. . .

Petenwell Flowage – For walleye work current breaks from below the Pettenwell Dam down to the mouth of the lake. Both vertical Jigging and casting jigs with minnows work well. Water level is down so careful navigating in rocky areas.

. . .

For information on guide trips reach out to me via my Facebook page at mike.norris.7773 or email me through my website at www.comecatchsmallmouth.com

WOLF LAKE

Trout season is open on the Illinois side.

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

Gary Bloom messaged on Winneconne:

FYI. Water low in Winneconne, but Walleye starting to bite. Friends (3) had limit by 9am yesterday. 13-16 inches. Limit is 3.

Guide Bill Stoeger just texted and I thought the white bass note worth adding late:

Sorry I missed you Dale, damn phone went out this morning. Water temp today was 55 degrees. The walleye spawn should be done in the next few days. Females are coming down now, males will follow in a week or two. I’m thinking we should start picking up a few white bass by the weekend

Guide Mike Norris emailed:

Wolf River – Walleyes are active and can be caught vertical jigging with a jig and minnow. Water temp is in the low 40’s. The walleyes should spawn this week with the incoming warm weather.