Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: High water, good Lake Michigan bite, IN steelhead, catfish, bass
The heavy rains and the coming Fourth of July weekend headline this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report; but other highlights are boat fishing on Illinois’ Lake Michigan, steelhead going from shore and boat alike in Indiana, and summer catfish time.
Very good fishing for boaters on Lake Michigan, steelhead in Indiana, catfish inland, the coming holiday weekend and the impact of our recent rains lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.
As of Tuesday midday, here are some closures and restrictions related to recent weather: Middle Fork Vermilion River remains closed to boating; Lower Dells and Upper Dells are closed at Matthiessen State Park; at Starved Rock SP, the main parking lot, launch and picnic area in between remain closed.
Probably a good week to stay tuned to IDNR social media in case other closures (or openings) come.
ILLINOIS FROG SEASON
Illinois’ bullfrog (only) season runs through Oct. 15. A fishing license is required. “Bullfrogs may be taken by hook and line, gig, pitchfork, spear, bow and arrow, hand, or landing net.” Daily bag limits eight, possession limit 16.
Readers suggest SpotHero app downtown. Otherwise, here are some basics: Foster (free street parking or pay lot); Montrose (now a mix of metered and 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).
I think the holiday weekend focus will be on bluegill and largemouth bass, even with the high water on some ponds and lakes. Especially for bass, it helps to focus on inflow areas after the rains.
Dicky’s Bait Shop in Montgomery reported some decent largemouth bass on ponds, best on leeches or basic night crawler.
Jeff Brown emailed the photo above and this:
Hi Dale, I took my daughter fishing in Frankfort Square, IL at a neighborhood pond. 6 inches of rain over 3 days had the water up and this ~5 lb largemouth took our zoom u-tail worm! Released her back into the water after capturing this memory! Thanks for your weekly articles and fishing updates. Sincerely, Jeff Brown, Frankfort, IL
Ken “Husker” O’Malley emailed the photo above and this:
Hey Dale, Here is a recap of this past weeks fishing. Area lakes-The much needed rain for some lakes finally came. Problem is it was too much. However it is allowing some predictable fishing if your timing is right. Bass have been very good. Focus on areas of current in-between down pours. Chatterbaits and crankbaits have been best with the stained water. Switch to topwater baits in the same areas during evening hours. . . . TTYL — Ken Husker O’Malley Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team
Lou DiNicola of Libertyville Fishing Club emailed the photo above and this:
14 year old Isaac Biggerstaff of the Libertyville Fishing Club not only catches big northerns, bass, and salmon, but he recently caught this fat gizzard shad from Lake Minear. What the fish lacks in beauty, it makes up in size! Lou DiNicola Libertyville Fishing Club
The young man is somebody to keep an eye on,
Open daily 6 a.m. to sunset. Click here for the preview.
CHAIN O’LAKES AREA
Tucker at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said catfish, as usual, are on fire (stinkbait is favored); bass are pretty good, females are starting to bite; lots of walleye on main lake, fairly shallow for summer, look for weeds or wood; bluegill and crappie are on main lake docks.
NOTE: Probably a good week to remind to 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 6/28/21 through 7/5/21 Fishing remains excellent. With the warmer weather, the northern pike have been biting very well. Northern Pike have been great. The fish are off the weedline anywhere between 20-25 ft of water. Look for the fish by the gray condos, willow Point or the west end by the island. The best approach is lindy rigging suckers. I fish the suckers on a 6500 Abu Garcia with a bait clicker, so when the fish bites, it will click out line and indicate that a fish is on. Walleye fishing has been average. The fish are on the weedline in 15-24 ft of water. The fish I’m catching are on nightcrawlers fished on either a lindy rig or a split shot rig. This week it was kind of a battle to catch a legal fish. Every trip out I caught a couple but nothing to brag about. The best locations are by Browns Channel or west of the Yacht Club. Largemouth bass can be either caught on the deep weedline in 17-20 ft or on top water lures first thing in the a.m. The best bait is chug bugs or white buzz baits. It’s best to work a depth of 8-10 ft. The fish I’ve been catching on the deep weedline, I’m catching on split shot rigged nightcrawlers. You want to concentrate on inside turns or the points on the weedline. A few fish have also been caught drop shotting Berkeley Gulp. Bluegills are done spawning. They have moved out on the deep weedline. The nicer fish are in the 22-26 ft depth. Fishing so many nightcrawlers, I catch many right off the weedline. Some of the fish are in excess of 10 inches. Nightcrawlers or small leaf worms are the best approach. Crappies have pulled off the weedline. They are suspending in 15 ft of water. The best approach has been purple plastic. Look for the fish over by Browns Channel or west of the Yacht club. I use a 1/32 oz Arkie Jig and a 3/0 split shot 1 ft above the jig. That allows you to cast a good distance and the fall rate is very effective. Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050
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.
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.
Matt Dlouhy emailed the photo above and this:
Wanted to send this off to you. Before the first wave of rain on the fox. Probably close to 4-4.5lbs. Caught on 3 swimbait below the dam. Fox river has been producing some real nice fish these past couple years. Let’s hope the trend continues!
From his typing fingers, the truth of “Let’s hope the trend continues!”
Dicky’s Bait Shop in Montgomery reported the river went up nine inches, then dropped eight inches; sort of quiet other than good flatheads and channel catfish (goldfish or cutbait).
Pete Lamar emailed:
Hi Dale, I’ve got an update from the north woods of Wisconsin this week too. First, a local report. I was on the Fox in Aurora last night. It was surprisingly low and clear, about normal conditions for this time of year. Of course, one brief cloudburst, especially upstream, could change all that. On Saturday in the rain it had been flowing high and fast, a big change from recent weeks. I tried to fish a tributary, in the hope that maybe it had risen fast and then dropped and cleared just as quickly. No such luck: it was high, fast and off-color. I should’ve gone home at that point, but instead tried a few casts to slack water near shore. On my last cast of the day, the line stopped and I felt what I thought was a rock or tree limb. Then it shook its head and ran slowly and steadily upstream. If it had gone downstream, I wouldn’t have had a chance in the fast water. I couldn’t turn whatever it was or even slow it down; after a short time, it threw the hook. It didn’t fight like any channel cat or smallmouth I’d ever caught, so I keep telling myself it was a carp or sucker (I’d hate to think I never even got a look at what could’ve been a heavy game fish).
I love the mystery tales.
GENEVA LAKE, WISCONSIN
Roger Klass emailed the photo above and this:
Good morning mister Bowman, I wanted to send you a picture of this largemouth bass I caught in Lake Geneva this Monday. This is the biggest largemouth bass I have caught to this date, and I have been catching some good ones in Lake Zurich and a few other places. Lake Geneva is where I also caught my first muskie, which was on Columbus Day 2019. In case you want that picture I can send it as well. Have a great weekend. Roger Klass
Arden Katz said, “You can’t keep the rock bass off the hook. If you want to take a kid out, now is the time for action.” For smallmouth and largemouth, he said they are on summer patterns in 14-18 feet, best drop-shotting at night; bluegill are in the same range.
Dave Duwe emailed:
Lake Geneva 6/28/21 through 7/5/21 Fishing is excellent on Lake Geneva. There are literally fish to be caught almost anywhere on the lake, which makes it very nice when the winds are strong because you still have choices. The water temp has finally warmed up to about 75-76 degrees. With the warmer water, the pleasure boat traffic is increasing. Smallmouth bass can be caught in the 20-22 ft depth range. The best bait has been either drop shotting small 4 inch worms in green pumpkin color or drifting nightcrawlers. Some of the best locations have been by Knollwood or by Belvidere Park in Fontana. The warmer weather will continue to make the fish go deeper. Largemouth bass are now being caught on the weed flats. Try by Trinkes or in Williams Bay. Most Success is coming by drop shotting 4 inch worms or drifting nightcrawlers. With the warmer temperatures you can once again catch fish on the top water. Chrome/Blue or Chrome/Black Chug bugs are my favorite choices. have also been some reports of success while fishing around docks. Most people are casting spider grubs on a jig. A good choice of spider grub is the Arkie Crawlin Grub. Rock bass have slowed a little but are still plentiful pretty much any place you fish. They seem to still be in the 6-8 ft depth range. The best choice of bait remains the nightcrawlers. Yellow Perch have also slowed a bit. Last week I didn’t catch any of the real big ones like I did the prior week. The little ones that I did catch were on pieces of nightcrawlers. The best locations are by Colemans Point or Knollwood. Lake Trout are still being caught in the main lake basin. Some success is coming on large chrome/blue Rapalas or chrome/black Rapalas fished on a down rigger. The best success has been coming on the suspended fish, 80 ft down in 110 ft of water. Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050
GREEN LAKE AREA, WISCONSIN
Guide Mike Norris emailed:
Fishing Report 6/27/2021 Mike Norris Big Green Lake – Smallmouth bass fishing is exceptionally good right now. The smallmouth bass are post spawn and hungry and are biting on a variety of different lures. My clients are catching them on Senko’s, Ned Rigs, Drop Shot Rigs and Swim Jigs. Look for active fish in the 8 to 12 depth range. Little Green Lake – Muskie fishing continues to be good with reports of several anglers catching up to three muskies per outing. Try working bucktails along the weed edges. Crappies have moved out to the central basin of the lake and can be caught with minnows suspended from a slip float. Fox Lake – Fishing for all species has slowed due to dirty water from recent wind and rain. Look for the shallow water bass bite to return as the water clears. Also try trolling crankbaits for northern pike in 10 to 12 feet of water. To book 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
Rob Abouchar sent the photo above and this:
Hi Dale I wanted to get away to some different scenery so I headed to the end of the road in Door County. I hit Rowleys bay and stayed at Rowleys Bay resort. I had been there years ago and did well in the Mink River. The weather was beautiful but very windy and Lake Michigan was still a cool 62 degrees. The smallmouth were pushed off somewhere in the lake and the ones I did see were very shy. I was able to connect with a Strike King Rodent on Football head jig in some cattails before being blown off the big lake. This trip was more about rest and relaxation which I was able to do on a nice lakeside balcony. The boats i did see limp into the mink river had to battle the swellls to get back to safety. I figured discretion and a lake view was better than battling 5 footers. On the music front we have secured a gig at the Dancing In The Streets Festival at the On Tour Brewing Company in Chicago. The festival features some of the top Grateful Dead bands, like Terrapin Flyer and Paradise Waits. Seems appropriate as I used to play in a fantastic Dead band in the 90’s called Fat Banana. Reggae and Grateful dead...What a long strange trip it’s been. Tight Lines and Good Health Rob
I love his music side notes almost as much as his reports.
Click here for the Wisconsin DNR weekly report.
Bob Johnson emailed the photo above and this;
Hi Dale - Made it back out to Heidecke Sunday again. It’s been a few weeks however the bite has not slowed down! Got a variety today Walleye, Crappie, White Bass, large and Smallmouth on chatterbaits and plastics mainly off rocks. Water temps were at 75 and clarity was good even after heavy rains. I was expecting some stain from rainstorms. The Smallmouth bite was really aggressive and shows no sign of slowing down!
Open 6 a.m. (6:30 bank fishing) to sunset.
As of Tuesday, the river is projected to be in flood into the weekend at Starved Rock and LaSalle.
River is high, fast and stained, but, as of Tuesday, generally within its banks.
The conditions led to a postponement of the Kankakee River Fishing Derby to July 9-18. Click here to check updates.
George Peters emailed the photo above and this:
Dear Dale, fishing Midwest rivers has always been a challenge. This year has been among the hardest. Early cold and drought caused irregular spawning. Now massive floods. Will take weeks to stabilize, this 18 fish was caught the day before the big rain started. Without additional rain things should be OK by mid July. George Peters.
He has a universal truth on fishing our rivers.
Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.
Just in time for the holiday weekend, some of the best boat fishing is going on Lake Michigan.
Best action from shore is within the harbors for those trying for rock bass and bluegill, though a few perch reports come.
Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters said that out of North Point on Monday, the fishing “was outstanding, not good, outstanding” for “big chunky” coho; early starts are best. Out of Chicago, there are lots of coho in 50-90 feet off Navy Pier and lakers are very good on the bottom in 100-130.
Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:
Good morning Dale There is not much to report around here. There are a few guys that are finding some perch but you have to work for them. Been some really nice rock bass at the mouth of the harbor. We have our regular hours through the holiday weekend the only thing I will mention is that Chicago Police have been doing a lot of weekend traffic control down here so once the parking fills up and traffic starts to get heavy they’ve been closing the entrances for a couple hours in the afternoon to get a handle on traffic. I’m trying to get a solution for our customers I just haven’t got there yet.Have a fun safe weekend.
Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan texted:
Getting some perch off the pier, along with some browns on the bottom. Boat guys are all over the place, fish are scattered anywhere from 50 to 150 feet
Capt. Scott Wolfe emailed:
We had the best fishing of the year this week off Waukegan. Limit catches almost every trip. Mostly coho and they are averaging about 6 pounds. We had kings to 22 pounds, steelhead, including some in the 13-14 pound range and lake trout in the mix too. The most consistent depth has been 85 to 115 feet. On a couple of days when the West wind was strong, we had coho going as shallow as 40 feet of water. Some of the coho had gobies in addition to the alewife in their stomachs. Most fish have been taken on Jimmy fly slider style flies in Spectra, Blue Liz and Green Liz patterns. Purple and dark green pattern of Warrior lures were also good in patterns called Voodoo and Forrest Gump. Any presentation in the top 40 feet, from yellowbirds, short leads, shallow divers and shallow downriggers worked. This now the third or fourth year in a row where we have seen fast coho fishing we are used to in April and May happening in late-June. This will likely last until mid-August. Also, afternoon has been as good or better than the morning. This again is becoming the norm. I didn’t see any fishing going on in the harbor this week. One last note, after a dry spring, the rains are flushing out the rivers and there is a massive amount of debris out there. Everyone needs to cruise slow enough to veer off. I personally had a couple of very close calls in the past few days. Capt. Scott Wolfe School of Fish Charters/ Manipulator 630-341-0550 schooloffishcharters.com
Open daily 6 a.m. to sunset. Click here for the preview of prospects.
MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN
As of Sunday, fishing was good, but the water was high and some roadways were even flooded.
Both units are open for fishing.
MILLE LACS LAKE, MINNESOTA
Justin Lederer emailed the photo above and this from McQuoid’s Inn in Isle, Minn.:
Justin Lederer checking in from McQuoids Inn Lake Mille Lacs. Walleye are still being caught in 28-30’ of water leech and slip bobber are still producing the best. Work the gravel flats and deep rock to mud transitions. Smallmouth are in 20’ live bait on lindy rigs and drop shots are producing the best. Either night crawlers or leeches. Emerson was the star of the boat he beat out his brother dad and grandpa with 10 walleye on the night. Have a great 4th of July weekend everyone.
Pete Lamar sent the photo above and below and this:
Hi Dale, I’ve got an update from the north woods of Wisconsin this week too. . . . North central Wisconsin is one of the few parts of the region not experiencing drought-they’ve been getting a lot of rain. On Sunday, we drove through rain all the way from Madison to Minocqua. I think it was in the 40s when we arrived; daytime highs on Monday were in the low 50s. One of my turkey hunting partners spends much of the Summer in the area, so on Monday he took me to a stream-which I couldn’t find again if my life depended on it-in the nearby national forest. We hooked a lot of brook trout [photo below] of all sizes and landed a few. This was not long casts with drag-free drifts; it was short and accurate roll casting and bow-and-arrow casts to get the fly to likely holding water. The other photo is my daughter [above] with a nice smallmouth she caught. I was rowing a boat slowly around whatever structure we could find-this is a deep and fairly featureless lake, so her usual Tenkara approach is not effective here-when the bass hit her deep diving crankbait. It was a good battle with the fish making several runs and dives. A quick photo and the fish was released in good shape.
Lamar knows that small brook trout from streams are one of my favorite fish.
Kurt Justice at Kurt’s Island Sport Shop in Minocqua emailed:
Settling into the summer season. Anglers finding weed growth up and thicker than usual, most likely due to earlier heat waves. A few cool mornings and some weather has accounted for some off bites here and there, but overall good reports. Northern Pike: Very Good-Good – Best working spinner baits, chatter baits and #3 & #4 Mepps over weed tops in 5-9’ of water. Chubs or suckers in the 4-6 range on jigs or under slip-floats using light wire leaders to prevent bite offs. Musky: Very Good-Good – Reports strong with fish working same weed beds as Pike. Large spinner baits, top-water lures and 7 twitch baits ripped over weed tops. Some big fish moving in the shallows with the recent cloud cover. Largemouth Bass: Very Good-Good – Wacky worming very effective as has been jig and creatures, tubes and Ned rigging. Evenings for top-water with Zara Spooks, Jitterbugs, plastic frogs and Whopper Ploppers providing good action and a lot of fun! Bluegills: Very Good-Good – Small leeches, thunderbugs and worms – even small minnows entice nicer Gills of 7½-10 on larger lakes in tobacco cabbage beds of 5-8’. Tiny tubes, Mini Mites and Gapen Shrimp tipped with waxies also hot! Crappies: Good – Typical of the summer, takes some searching casting weed tops of narrow leaf cabbage using Kalin Crappie Scrubs, #0 Mepps, small beetle spins or twitching tube jigs (1-1½ long) to locate active Crappies, then go back and set up with small minnows below floats set just below weed top level. Smallmouth Bass: Good – Many still utilizing weed lines, hunting minnows and craws. Lipless cranks worked parallel with weed edges, tube jigs and Ned rigs working. Casting X-Raps and Shadow Raps along similar edges also producing. Walleye: Good – Still a decent weed bite if you’re willing to fish early or late. Redtails, crawlers and leeches on 1/16-1/8 oz weedless jigs. On large lakes work depths of 14-22’ using whole crawlers of big leeches on 1/8-1/4 oz jigs on Lindy Rigs. Night bite on lighted slip-floats and leeches picking up. Yellow Perch: Good – Anglers reporting nice eaters of 8-10 using medium fats or parts of crawlers in weeds of 6-10’. Cabbage, due to its wider spacing, easier to maneuver into pockets to find Perch. Forecast of clouds for the early part of the week making fishing conditions pleasant, then sun and heat and crowds planned for the Holiday weekend, be prepared to key on early and late for your best fishing times. Kurt Justice Kurt’s Island Sport Shop Like us on FaceBook
Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station posted on the Facebook page of Triplecatch Lake Michigan Sportfishing Charters that the Hall family took two of the top five spots at Skamania Mania in Michigan City. Click here to see the listing on the Northwest Indiana Steelheaders Facebook page of the winners in Skamania Mania.
He also texted this report:
Steelhead action outside of burns ditch has been good lots of hook ups landing them is another story Mag spoons in mix veggie and jelly belly and jager bomb been best Some perch nothing crazy but some from donut down the shore towards Michigan city in 18 to 35ft baby roaches best bait Catfish going good on triple s catfish bait fished on the bottom in deep river and burns ditch with portage lakefront river walk best spot
Christina Petrites at Stan’s Bait & Tackle Center in Hammond emailed:
Hi, Dale. Ready for those fireworks? I know I am; when I was a kid, I used to swear everyone was celebrating just for me...Even though it’s my birthday, we’ll be open from 5AM until 3PM on the holiday. Enjoy your weekend. Salmon Fishing on Lake Michigan remains strong, from the Chicago lakefront to Michigan City & Saint Joseph; Steelhead & Coho are being caught steadily; the best waters have been from 100-140 FOW in the top 50 feet, using small spoons & dodgers & flies. Perch fishing is picking up in 35-42 FOW; beemoths, smaller minnows, & leaf worms are doing well. Catfish have been steady; shad & hornworms have been favorites. Pine Lake, Lake Etta, & Dowling Park have been having good reports of success. Walleye fishing has been moderately good at Wolf Lake & Hammond Marina; leeches & nightcrawlers the baits of choice. Some anglers have been successful using golden roaches as well recently. River fishing has come to a screeching halt due to high waters from all the rain. Carp have been doing well, specifically in the Calumet Park area & at Wolf Lake. Dough bait & corn are the baits of choice. Bluegill are still going strong, with Crappie being more hit or miss. Smaller leeches, spikes, & beemoths have been successful; liver has been a backup that has proven useful also. Oak Ridge Prairie & Dowling Park have been successful spots as of late.
ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN
Click here for the Wisconsin DNR’s report, usually on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Staff at Boondocks reported weather really slowed effort, but the basics of crappie and walleye with a few hybrids and a few catfish will be the main targets for the holiday weekend, lake came up about a foot but clarity is OK. Adam Honiotes said the bait shop and restaurant will have a BBQ on July 4.
Site hours through Oct. 31 are 6 a.m.-10 p.m. daily
SOUTHEAST WISCONSIN LAKEFRONT
Click here for the southern Lake Michigan reports from the Wisconsin DNR.
WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN
Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:
Fishing may be a bit slow. We had over 4 of rain in 3 days. Water levels are still rising, and fish are relocating with the increased current. The fish are still there, you may need to look in different spots then last week.