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Chicago fishing: Big bounty of spring largemouth and smallmouth bass, and a big walleye from Heidecke

Big largemouth bass being caught from local lakes and ponds, big smallmouth bass being caught from area rivers and the Chicago lakefront, and a big walleye caught from Heidecke Lake are among the reports in the sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

Douglas Wagner (left) holds a big walleye from Heidecke Lake. Provided photo
Douglas Wagner (left) holds a big walleye from Heidecke Lake.
Provided

The big fish of May continue for this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report, from big smallmouth bass on the Chicago lakefront and area rivers to a big walleye at Heidecke Lake to big largemouth on local ponds and lakes.

Capt. Mike Hanson of Starved Rock Guide Service messaged the photo at the top and this:

Douglas Wagner with a 27” walleye from Heideke lake fishing with Starved Rock Guide Service

Released

PERCH CLOSURE

Perch fishing in the Illinois waters of Lake Michigan is closed through June 15.

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

Cold and rains knocked back fishing a bit, but a long stretch of stable weather should help.

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 photos above and below and this:

Hey Dale,

Here is a recap of this past weeks fishing.

Area lakes- some bass are on beds whiles others are still staging. Water temps dropped along with clarity from the weekend rains. Majority should be on the beds with the warmup later in the week.

Bass have been good on buzzbaits and chatterbaits during early morning hours. Senkos are starting to take good numbers during mid-afternoon hours.

Here is the nature pic of the week taken by my daughter Hailey from her apartment balcony. The calm before the storm.

TTYL

Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Husker Outdoors
Waterwerks fishing team

Calm before the storm. Credit: Hailey O’Malley
Calm before the storm.
Hailey O’Malley

Dicky’s Bait Shop in Montgomery reported largemouth are picking up on around the ponds lakes in the western suburbs.

BRAIDWOOD LAKE

In an indication of the bass fishing, it was the only IHSA sectional in the area where every boat weighed fish last week during the sectional.

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

CALUMET SYSTEM

BoRabb Williams texted the photo below and this:

We getting Slab crappie in the Calumet system ...also in Indiana Cedar Lake and Willow Slough.... excellent... water is 59-60 degrees almost PERFECT

BoRabb Williams with a quality crappie. Provided photo
BoRabb Williams with a quality crappie.
Provided

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Staff at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said some walleye are being and a lot of crappie are, too, both in the channels and moving out; with the forecast warmup, bluegill should be going well by the weekend.

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

NOTE 2: The Stratton Lock and Dam is open 8 a.m. to midnight through Sept. 30.

DELAVAN LAKE, WISCONSIN

Dave Duwe emailed:

Delavan Lake 5/10/21 – 5/17/21

The weather continues to cause fishermen trouble. This past week it was cold and the very high winds that made fishing difficult. Overall, the fishing has been pretty good considering Mother Nature’s challenges. With a few warm days, the fish should really turn on. However, the forecast is for continued cool temperatures.

The best action continues to be the bluegills and crappies. Bluegill fishing has been best in 3-4 feet of water. I’ve been getting all of my fish by the outlet dam, Lake Lawn Harbor and the Viewcrest Channel. I’m still using leaf worms. A few people I’ve spoken with are telling me that hellgrammites are producing larger fish for them. This year I’ve been catching quite a few smaller fish compared to prior years. It’s still relatively easy to catch enough quality fish. Crappie fishing was also good this past week. I caught most of my fish in front of Lake Lawn and in front of Lake Lawn Harbor. The fish are in a pre-spawn pattern. I caught several 13 inchers off of some of the main lake boat docks that I fish consistently all year. Last week, I caught all of my fish on small shiners fished beneath a bobber. I did not boat a fish on the popular plastics. With warming water, the crappies throughout the lake should begin to spawn and become very easy to catch.

The best game fish bite has been the largemouth bass, although this bite is just starting. The best success has been around boat docks and shallow water with sand bottoms. The fish have started to spawn. I prefer using spider grubs or white spinner baits. This past week, the best action was when the winds were calm, making sight fishing possible. The best locations were by the condos near the outlet and by Assembly Park piers.

Walleye fishing continues to be rather slow. Only a few fish are being caught during the day, with no legals reported. The best action has been at night. The fish have been in 6-8 feet of water. The best approach has been a small jig, 1/16 oz with a large fathead minnow. Some warm stable weather will help this bite tremendously. With the water clarity so high, night fishing is the only way to go.

Come on Sun!!! Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties call Dave Duwe at 262-728-8063

DOWNSTATE

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

POWERTON: Hours are 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Sept. 30.

EMIQUON: Access permits and liability waivers are again 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.

FOX RIVER

Jim Sanaxay messaged:

Hi Dale, my son got another on the Fox River this evening. The small mouth are really starting pick up now with the warming temperature.

Dicky’s Bait Shop in Montgomery reported the river is about the same as it has been; best story came Monday when a woman caught muskies of 36 and 32 inches on her first two casts at Montgomery.

A small smallmouth bass from a Fox River tributary. Credit: Ken Gortowski
A small smallmouth bass from a Fox River tributary.
Ken Gortowski

Ken Gortowski emailed (be still my beating heart) another report and the photo above:

Dale,

Hmmm, another fishing report. Maybe hell actually did freeze over.

In a normal year the Fox River in the spring flows along high, fast and muddy for weeks because of the spring rains. The creeks that feed the Fox normally come down relatively quickly regardless of rain quantity. That’s one of many reasons I’ve always fished the creeks in the spring. Another reason being the fish that take advantage of normal water levels and migrate into the creeks for spawning and easier meals. The smaller scale of the creeks makes these fish much easier to catch.

That didn’t happen this year. Up until this past Saturday night we hardly got any rain in the Fox Valley and all flowing water was ridiculously low.

Hit two creeks on Saturday, a couple of hours on one and about 15 minutes on the other. As soon as I got to the shore of the first creek, I knew I should put on either a helgie or a small crayfish and drag them along the bottoms of what was left of deeper areas. The creek was really low and clear. Laziness kept me from reaching into my pocket to look for either of those so I left the twister on from the previous week.

Managed to catch 3 smallies and 3 rock bass. Biggest smallie 13 inches. Last week I sent you a picture of the biggest fish of the day, this time I’m sending you the smallest, a little smallie. It was smaller than the rock bass, but still impressive I think.

The second creek is where I spent only 15 minutes. Pretty devoid of life under the surface of the water and I knew I would have to put in a good half mile of wading to accomplish catching anything that looked like a fish.

Wasn’t worth it.

Some are saying we got 3 inches of rain in my area Saturday night. Won’t bother checking the river gauges like I used to obsessively do, but if my interest level in creek fishing remains, I might go again next weekend.

We’ll see.

. . .

Ken G

GENEVA LAKE, WISCONSIN

Dave Duwe emailed:

Lake Geneva 5/10/21 - 5/17/21

The main lakes water temperature is still hovering around 49 degrees. Unfortunately fishing on Lake Geneva is tough but should be improving if we get some nice weather that sticks around for a while.

The bass have not yet begun to spawn. This bite is very predictable once the water starts to warm. With the very cold water, the fish are hard to pattern. If you find the bait fish, you will find the small mouth bass. Most of the fish are suspended 8-10 ft down in 20 ft of water. Some of the best locations are by Knollwood and the Yacht Club. Most of the success has been by casting small jerk baits or slowly reeling Kalin Grubs.

Crappie fishing has been relatively good. The best location has been off of the Bible Camp or by Gage Marine. The best depth has been 8-10 feet of water. Use small shiners fished with slip bobbers for the most action. Warming water temperatures will make this action more consistent.

Bluegill fishing has been relatively good in Geneva Bay off the north shore. The fish, however, have been relatively small. Leaf worms or red worms have been producing most of the fish. Abbey harbor has also been producing fish.

With the cool water temperatures, rock bass have not been concentrating in the shallow water. They are suspending off the break lines. With warming water these fish should move into the 10-12 feet depth, hopefully within the next few weeks.

Walleye has been really good at night. Cast the shallows with Rapalas or other stick baits. Look for the fish by Maytag Point, Fontana Beach, and Williams Bay beach.

The cold water hasn’t affected the bite.

Good luck and I hope to see you on the water, for guide parties call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050

GREEN LAKE AREA, WISCONSIN

Steve Mortenson, of Appleton, Wis., with a Big Green Lake largemouth bass caught with a bladed jig. Provided by guide Mike Norris
Steve Mortenson, of Appleton, Wis., with a Big Green Lake largemouth bass caught with a bladed jig.
Provided by guide Mike Norris

Guide Mike Norris texted the photo above and emailed this:

Fishing Report 5-10-2021

Mike Norris

Big Green Lake – Water temperature is 49 degrees and smallmouth bass have transitioned from their deep wintering zones and are spreading out onto adjacent flats in 12 – 16 ft of water. This calls for a more horizontal presentation and covering water with jerkbaits, bladed jigs, and umbrella rigs comes into play now. I am also catching largemouth bass in back channels and shallow bays. Though I am not pursuing them, I am seeing big bluegills lurking deep beneath the piers.

Fox Lake – The up and down fluctuations in the daily air temperatures have slowed the movement of largemouth bass onto their spawning areas. Bigger bass have become harder to catch, and the number of smaller bass caught per angling hour is also down. Northern pike remain active but good patterns for panfish are almost non-existent. A few anglers are catching walleye in shallow water on swim jigs and chatterbaits.

Beaver Dam Lake – Crappies are spawning, and fishing is good right now on mid-lake structure. Anglers trolling with crankbaits for walleye are also catching crappies. Water temperature was near 60 last week but has fallen back to 56 degrees.

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 at www.comecatchsmallmouth.com

GREEN/STURGEON BAYS, WISCONSIN

Click here for the Wisconsin DNR weekly report.

HEIDECKE LAKE

Matt Schmit holds a pair of 23-inch walleye from Heidecke Lake. Provided by Mike Hanson
Matt Schmit holds a pair of 23-inch walleye from Heidecke Lake.
Provided by Mike Hanson

Capt. Mike Hanson of Starved Rock Guide Service messaged the photo at the top and the one above as well as this:

Also a pair of 23” walleye with Matt Schmit

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

KANKAKEE RIVER

The basin received significant rain over the week, more than 2 inches in some areas, and the river is high, stained and fast, some of the tributaries are too.

LAKE ERIE

Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.

LAKEFRONT

Smallmouth are the talk of the shoreline, lake trout anchor the catches in deeper water.

Catching smallmouth bass on the Chicago lakefront and measuring them by the foot. Provided by Ken Maggiore
Catching smallmouth bass on the Chicago lakefront and measuring them by the foot.
Provided by Ken Maggiore

Ken Maggiore messaged the photo above and this from Sunday on the lakefront:

6.5 lber. Size 15 boot for comparison

First off, I had to doublecheck if he really wore No. 15s; second, that is a helluva smallmouth.

Quinn Voss tweeted the photo above and this last week:

Quinn Voss with a good smallmouth bass on the Chicago lakefront and some sage observations. Provided photo
Quinn Voss with a good smallmouth bass on the Chicago lakefront and some sage observations.
Provided

smallmouth are really pumped for Justin Fields/ Red DT-10’s.

I am really pumped for Justin Fields, too.

Jeffrey Williams sent this smallmouth bass, one of many caught at Burnham Harbor in the last week. Provided photo
Jeffrey Williams sent this smallmouth bass, one of many caught at Burnham Harbor in the last week.
Provided

Jeffrey Williams messaged the photo above and this on Wednesday:

wow burnam was on fire today for the smallmouths

between me and my brother we caught 7 with biggest being 4 lbs 7 oz

all using a small silver jighead with a gulp minnow

James Hay with a smallmouth bass from Northerly Island on Saturday. Credit: Dale Bowman
James Hay with a smallmouth bass from Northerly Island on Saturday.
Dale Bowman

Saturday I gave smallmouth bass a shot at Northerly Island (casting crankbaits with fair success), coming back I passed James Hay just before he landed one. It made my afternoon.

Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters texted the photo above and this on Wednesday:

Quinn Voss with a good smallmouth bass on the Chicago lakefront and some sage observations. Provided by Capt. Bob Poteshman
Ron Nicholson with a big Chinook on Confusion Charters.
Provided by Capt. Bob Poteshman

Ron nicholson from st charles,59 years old, 22lbs on boga grip, 35.5” long his is dedicating this fish to his son that passed away Easton Nicholson

Today by the Wreck off Montrose on the Confusion C4

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

Hi Dale fishing has been pretty slow there’s been a few Coho out on the end of that horseshoe and that is about all I’ve heard.

Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters said lake trout fishing off Chicago is “spectacular; as far as salmon, I am sure they are here but God knows where.” Best laker bite, on virtually every typical laker presentation, is in 40-60 feet of water off Navy Pier.

“Out of North Point, quite a few lake trout, but it is mainly coho, it has been very good, but they move around. Letely they are on the hill in 40-100 feet, but it changes every day. Hopefully they stay.” Little Dodgers and little flies are best.

Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan texted:

All good, boats anywhere from 30 to 100 feet, south. Pier good as well, mainly coho, bait and spoons.

Capt. Scott Wolfe emailed:

Hi Dale

Waukegan boat fishing continues to be very good. The fish are pushing out to deeper water. By the weekend good catches of mixed bags of coho, kings, lakers and steelhead were in 80 to 120 feet. Lake trout were taken in the bottom 10 feet and again preferred spoons like Warrior Psycho Perch and Colville Crusher over traditional Mo Rigs. Kings, coho and steelhead were taken in the top 40 feet mostly on Downriggers and dipsey divers with orange spoons like Warrior Steelhead Candy and Orange Killer. Stubby dodgers with Jimmy Fly green and green/gold patterns were also good. A few coho continued to be taken on traditional 00 dodger and peanut flies on trolling boards. Waukegan harbor saw less success with the fish moving out.

Chicago and Wilmette had catches of mostly lake trout with a king or coho here and there. Spoons were most effective in the patterns above and in larger magnum sizes.

Our first good king is attached, held by Capt. Mike Fuys, caught on a Warrior Steelhead Candy.

Capt. Scott Wolfe

schooloffishcharters.com
630-341-0550

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 fishing.

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

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

Couldn’t shake out o f these cold mornings (mid 20’s to low 30’s) this past week enough to get a good solid bite going. A few afternoons temps rose enough to spark some activity, but overall bites were tough to dig out most days.

Northern Pike: Good-Very Good – Pike like the cool. And when they don’t have to compete with Walleyes, they tend to pick up the slack. While most reports came from anglers jigging minnows or leeches for Walleye, casting spinner baits, chatter baits and jerk baits all picked up some decent action depending on the conditions (artificials worked better as temps rose)!

Crappies: Good-Fair – Wind and cold has been the biggest hurdle. Anglers finding Crappies staging in bays with tall narrow leaf cabbage in 8-14’ of water. With surface temps hovering in the upper 40’s to just over 50 degrees, these fish just are not ready to move in. Most action on slip-bobbers and small minnows. Small plastics will produce better as water warms. When temps reach the upper 50’s (57-59 degrees) the spawning will start!

Walleye: Fair – Cool weather can be blamed for this prolonged, post spawn duldrums. Shallows are not warming up fast enough, nor enough fresh green weed growth to pull bait fish into typical early May zones. It should be coming. There have been signs of Eyes feeding on small Perch, Gills and even leeches, but the better bites have come from a little deeper water of 10-16’ as nightly colds keep the shallows from filling up with life.

Largemouth Bass: Fair – Surprisingly a few more anglers targeting than usual. Black Marabou jigs in 1/16 – 1/8 oz worked over dark bottomed bays in the afternoon. Mid-day, chatter baits and swim baits drawing some weed flat action.

With slowly rising temps starting this Thursday (5/13), look for action for all species to pick up. Mornings in the 40’s warming to 60’s in the afternoon will put anglers and their quarry in a more active mood.

Kurt Justice

Kurt’s Island Sport Shop
Like us on FaceBook

NORTHWEST INDIANA

A good catch last week aboard Triplecatch Charters. Provided by Capt. Rich Sleziak
A good catch last week aboard Triplecatch Charters.
Provided by Capt. Rich Sleziak

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

Good fishing last week for salmon and trout when weather aloud

From Gary light to the pink house just west of Michigan city in 40 to 50ft of water was full of bait fish and salmon and trout

Dodgers and spindoctors and flys along with spoons took lots of fish

Willow slough starting to get full of weeds but boat fisherman moving around are doing really well on bluegills and red ears.

BoRabb Williams texted:

We getting Slab crappie in the Calumet system ...also in Indiana Cedar Lake and Willow Slough.... excellent... water is 59-60 degrees almost PERFECT

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

Hi, Dale! I’m hoping you’re well & all geared up for the beautiful forecast. Stay safe!

Fishing is really starting to get hot from the Chicago lakefront all the way east to the Portage Riverwalk & St. Joseph River; a good number of Coho & Kings are being caught on Skein, Nightcrawlers, & Cut Salmon. Trollers are doing very well on small spoons & dodgers & flies.

Inland lakes are steady, & Walleye fishing is slowly getting better, with Wolf Lake being the local hotspot. Nightcrawlers, Leeches, & Crawfish seem to be the baits of choice. The little warmer upcoming weather will do wonders.

Catfish & Smallmouth Bass fishing is really good on most rivers, including the Calumet, St. Joseph, & Kankakee, with anglers lucking out using dip & doughbaits, Livers, Shrimp, & Golden Roaches, respectively.

Crappie fishing is steadily picking up, but action slowed down slightly with the sudden drop in temperature; the warm weather rise this week will certainly be welcomed. Dowling Park, Lake George, & Wolf Lake have all been doing fairly well, with most anglers finding success using Redworms, Beemoths, & smaller minnows.

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 it’s mainly coho and lakers with a few nice kings in 150-200 feet of water, coho are shallower and lakers everywhere.

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.

VERMILION RIVER

George Peters with a fine smallmouth bass from the Vermilion River. Provided photo
George Peters with a fine smallmouth bass from the Vermilion River.
Provided

George Peters emailed the photo above and this:

Hi Dale just got back from great winter fishing in Florida. Made it out Friday before the monsoon! Did get this nice 19” smaller in the vermillion river at Peru Il. George Peters, Plainfield.

Been too long since I fished the Vermilion.

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:

Water temp yesterday afternoon was 55.5 degrees, still a bit cool. Some white bass are near the spawning areas, and picking up some males in deep water. Keeping our fingers crossed the warm weather later this week will fire up the river.