Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Catfish, pike, coho, lakers, largemouth, smallmouth, bluegill

The odd and variable weather has made for some interesting fishing inland for bass, catfish and bluegill and on Lake Michigan for coho, lake trout and steelhead; those two threads lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

SHARE Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Catfish, pike, coho, lakers, largemouth, smallmouth, bluegill
On Diamond Lake, Evan Burian added a good northern pike to list of catches. Provided photo

On Diamond Lake, Evan Burian added a good northern pike to list of catches.


Swinging weather has made for some interesting fishing both inland and on Lake Michigan; that interesting fishing is the backbone of this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

Brian Burian emailed the photo above and this:

Dale, I know you enjoy photos of nice catches by kids, so thought you might enjoy this one. My nine year old son Evan Burian recently caught this beauty on Diamond Lake in SW Michigan. He was using a Rapala DT and after a quick photo, we released it back into Diamond Lake. Evan loves fishing with his older brother Gavin every chance they get- whether its neighborhood ponds or up at the lake on weekends. Thanks for helping spread the love of the outdoors. Best, Brian Burian

I love that kind of story, plus I love the beauty of northern pike.


Cast for a Cure, benefiting Phil’s Friends, a cancer foundation, goes out of Musky Tales on the Chain O’Lakes Saturday, July 17. Click here for more information from the Fox River Valley chapter of Muskies Inc.


The Kankakee River Fishing Derby runs through Sunday, July 18. Click here to check updates. Through early Tuesday, here are some notables on the Big Board: Big Board regular Jeff Dummer with a 7-pound, 13-ounce northern pike and Jim Anderson with a 23-9 flathead catfish.


The famous tournament out of Racine, Wisconsin runs through Sunday, July 18. As of Tuesday morning, most notable was the lone 30-pound Chinook (31.61 pounds, caught by David Brinkmann).

Click here for more on Salmon-A-Rama.


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.


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 (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).


It’s unsettled weather, but the bass are active and panfish are still doing their thing, even spawning.

BIG FISH: The Forest Preserve District of Will County’s Big Fish Contest at Monee Reservoir runs through Aug. 31. Click here for details.

Keith Vandermeir found good largemouth bass at Blackwell. Provided photo

Keith Vandermeir found good largemouth bass at Blackwell.


Keith Vandermier emailed the photo above and this:

Caught at blackwell in front lake 21 in about 4lb on a crawlers hit 2 times at 2 feet down

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

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a largemouth bass from local waters.


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

Hey Dale, Here is a recap of this past weeks fishing. Area lakes-water levels are still up on a few lakes from the recent rains. Bass have been decent despite the up and down temperatures. Cast a chatterbait parallel to flooded vegetation during evening hours along the windblown shorelines. Follow-up missed strikes with a 4 1/4 inch senko. . . . Here is the nature pic of the week (below) courtesy of Vickie O’Malley. Time for a quick drink. TTYL — Ken Husker O’Malley Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team

A hummingbird feeding. Credit: Vicky O’Malley

A hummingbird feeding.

Vicky O’Malley

Pete Lamar emailed:

Hi Dale, I didn’t want to take a chance on driving to a Fox trib and finding it blown out after the rain, so I stayed close to home and fished some Kane County Forest Preserve ponds after the afternoon rains. It was interesting; a lot going on. Bluegills were spawning again: the redds were obvious in the shallow water. Just beyond them, in the deeper water, a lot of big bluegills and small bass were holding. There was a lot of damsel and dragon fly activity, all stages of the life cycle from what I could see: breeding; depositing eggs, hatching. The biggest bass in the ponds were tucked right up against the shore, under overhanging vegetation. I spooked many more than I hooked. They were either waiting for terrestrial insects to fall in off of the plants or waiting for frogs to make themselves available. There were also schools of fish feeding near the surface out in open water, away from shore-it looked like stripers busting baitfish. Some heroic casting showed them to be big bluegills hunting in packs, probably for hatching damselflies. I think the rain and cooler weather turned things on. Willing biters were not hard to find. Pete


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


Staff at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said crappie are in deeper water; walleye close to bridges when there’s current, water remains low; bass early morning in shallow weeds later in open-water weed mats or on weed lines; catfish (live bait, cutbait or crawlers) and flatheads are good in the river; some bluegill still spawning shallow, bigger ones suspending out deep.

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

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


Dave Duwe emailed:

Delavan Lake 7/12/21 through 7/19/09 Bluegill fishing has been excellent. Most of the bigger bluegills are in 15-18 ft of water. The best location is west of the Yacht Club or by the island. They are being caught on leaf worms or small red worms. The best presentation is slip bobbers or fishing straight beneath the boat. I have found that the bigger fish are deep. You can catch a lot of 5-6 inch fish in 8-10 ft of water, but the larger bluegills are deep. A good graph is essential to finding the biting fish. Most of the fish can be located on your fish finder. Walleyes have started to bite. The best presentation has been leeches fished on either a split shot rig or lindy rig. The fish are being caught in 15-20 ft of water. There aren’t many and the ones I’ve been catching haven’t been legal however, they have been biting aggressively. The best location has been Browns Channel or by the Yacht Club. When fishing leeches, the key to the presentation is a very light weight. You want to fish over the top of the very dense weeds. Northern Pike have been biting on medium suckers. The best depth has been 24-25 ft of water. Look for the fish by the gray condos, Browns Channel or over by Willow Point. The key to the Northern Pike bite is keeping your bait alive. Make sure you have an extra aerator to keep your bait alive. I’ve been using a lot of 1/0 circle hooks and it’s amazing that every one of them hooks in the corner of their mouth. Largemouth bass have been the best bite on the lake other than the bluegills. They are in the 15-20 ft depth range and can be readily caught on either drop shots with a 4 inch worm or nightcrawlers fished on a split shot rig. The best location is by 3 flags or by concrete point. The fish are now schooled up so if you catch one, you will catch a bunch. If you don’t get bit, you need to keep moving. A lot of yellow perch are biting. The best depth is 12-14 feet of water. I have been using leaf worms on a split-shot rig through the weeds. Best locations by Brown’s channel and Willow Point. Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050


Ken “Husker” O’Malley emailed:

Hey Dale, Here is a recap of this past weeks fishing. . . . DesPlaines river-water temps are 76-77 and levels are receding. Bass have been decent pitching a variety of plastics along shoreline cover. . . . TTYL — Ken Husker O’Malley Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team


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: Open through Sept. 6. Closed Mondays (except Labor Day). Check regulations at

SHELBYVILLE: Check with Ken Wilson of Lithia Guide Service. SOUTHERN ILLINOIS: Check with Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing.


Dicky’s Bait Shop in Montgomery reported same old catfish and flathead hitting, including a 39-pound flathead in Oswego; bass are spotty; water levels are about average level for summer.


Dave Duwe emailed:

Lake Geneva 7/12/21 through 7/19/21 If you are interested in Walleye fishing, this is the best time for both quantity and quality. Many fish are being taken between 11 pm and 3 am. Boat traffic is at a minimum at this time. Most of the legal fish are being taken on leeches. Night crawlers are a good option, however you will catch more bass and rock bass with them than walleyes. The suspended walleyes are coming from the deeper water, 20-25 feet and coming up on the shallow weed lines in 13-15 feet of water. A lot of the fish are being taken on the west side of Williams Bay, Fontana Beach or east of Abbey Springs on the flats. Some walleyes are being caught on shallow diving Bandit Lures in the perch pattern. However all the floating grass has made this very difficult without wind. This past week the small mouth bass have made a showing in shallow water chasing minnows. The legal fish however, are hard to come by. I have been using the split shot rig with night crawlers. Once I find the active fish, I like to work between 12 and 18 feet of water, trying to find the legal fish. My best success has been west of Black Point or by Coleman’s Point. The numbers and size have been there almost all week. Saturday, quite a few nice small mouth were taken by Knollwood, outside of the buoys in 14 feet of water. Lake Trout fishing continues to be good; the fish are in the central basin chasing the schools of Cisco. Look for the suspended fish in 70-90 feet of water. They have a tendency to bite better than the lakers that are holding tight to the bottom. As always the chrome/green and chrome/blue spoons seem to work the best. The northern pike fishing has been great. With the warm weather the thermocline has formed and they can be easily caught in 31-33 feet of water. The legal fish (32 inches) have been very scarce this summer so far. The best success has been the channel buoys in Fontana, the east shore in Williams Bay or just east of Cedar Point by the blue boathouse. The best way to catch the pike has been lindy-rigged suckers. I prefer the 5 or 6-inch size bait. The only drawback is that the suckers are quite expensive, considering the legal fish are hard to catch. Largemouth bass fishing has slowed slightly. I have been getting many of my fish in the 8-10 foot range, fished through the weeds. The night crawler rig has been the bait of choice for me. The top water bite has been effective in the early morning or in the evening. Try the chrome zara spook or the chrome and blue chug bug. The best location has been east of Linn Pier or by Coleman’s Point. The bluegill and perch fishing has been good. I’ve caught plenty of keeper fish as I fish for the small and large mouth bass. Some of the perch I caught last week were 10-12 inches, and I could have kept a good bunch of either fish. Good Luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050


Scott Heilman from Rockford holds a 21-inch smallmouth bass from Big Green Lake. Provided by Mike Norris

Scott Heilman from Rockford holds a 21-inch smallmouth bass from Big Green Lake.

Provided by Mike Norris

Guide Mike Norris texted the photo above and emailed this:

Fishing Report 7/12/2021 Mike Norris Big Green Lake – Water clarity on Big Green has improved significantly and the bass bite has too. Smallmouth bass are sight feeders and the more distant they can see, the better your chance of catching them. We are catching many of our bass with Keitech Fat Swing Impact paddle tails on 3/16th ounce VMC swim jigs, and by drop shotting Berkley Flatworms. Try fishing in 10 -15 ft down along the north shore of the lake. Fox Lake – Largemouth bass are active all over the lake. Try around casting Strike King Thunder Crickets and Senko’s around the islands, and crankbaits in 7 ft of water where weed lines end. Bluegills have moved out to 5 – 7 ft of water and can be taken with red worms on a jig. Lake Puckaway – The summer bluegill bite is on, and we are getting good bluegills around the piers and out along the weed edges. Red worms on a jig hung beneath a float or tight lining with a jig and redworm are both effective means for catching bluegills running up to 9 inches. To book a guide trip reach out to me via my Facebook page at mike.norris.7773 or email me through my website at


Click here for the Wisconsin DNR weekly report.


Good smallmouth bass at Heidecke Lake. Provided by Bob Johnson

Good smallmouth bass at Heidecke Lake.

Provided by Bob Johnson

Bob Johnson emailed the photo above and this; Dale - Smallmouth were slow this evening for us. I stuck to the 3/8 jig crawfish tail and only landed this one but it was a solid 3lb with a couple jumps in her. Lost too many today. If your going for quantity then stick to soft plastic finesse however the quality fish will take the bigger baits but you have to jump around to find them. Crappie are still going to those fishing the cribs. Talked to a couple guys that found them. Fishing should improve with weather forecasting some storms and rain. Open 6 a.m. (6:30 bank fishing) to sunset. Click here for the promising preview.


Note on the derby is at the top.

George Peters with a good smallmouth bass from the Kankakee River. Provided photo

George Peters with a good smallmouth bass from the Kankakee River.


George Peters emailed the photo above and this:

Sure enough this 18 smallie! River looks good, all baits will get fish. G. Peters.

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

Hey Dale, Here is a recap of this past weeks fishing. . . . Kankakee water temps are 73 and dirty still from all the rain that basin has received. . . . TTYL — Ken Husker O’Malley Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team


Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.


Shore fishing has been slow, other than for some drum.

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait texted:

Some drum sheephead reports.

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted that there were few reports with the weather.

A mixed bag Tuesday, including a big king, on the Massive Confusion out of Chicago. Provided photo

A mixed bag Tuesday, including a big king, on the Massive Confusion out of Chicago.


Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters said it has been mostly lake trout out of Chicago, but on Tuesday, more silver fish showed up including a big Chinook in 120-140 feet. Out of North Point; it’s mostly lakers with a couple coho and kings with an occasional steelhead.

Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan texted:

Salmon are still scattered, Aug is fishing salmonarama, went south today, have not heard yet how they are doing.Only a few perch guys, getting a few

Capt. Scott Wolfe emailed:

Offshore fishing was fair this week. The North and Northeast winds finally packed in the warm water, pushed out the bait fish and made for a challenging week. Mixed species of fish are still taken in 100 to 140. The fish are scattered and largely inactive. I went exploring into the very deep water with little success. Green and Aqua spoons were good with Warrior XL Colville Crusher and UV Hey Babe being the best on copper and leadcore lines. On the positive side big kings seem to be coming in. I think they must be starting to stage already because the water temperature and lack of baitfish should be making them move away and not in. If they are showing up now, when the winds bring in colder water and bait, we should have really good king fishing. Harbor fishing continued to be good. The bass and perch were active. My charter partner, Capt. Mike Fuys, caught a largemouth almost 6 pounds and several others in the 3’s and 4’s. Spinner baits in white and chartreuse worked over the top of the weeds worked. Perch wanted minnows this week. Capt. Scott Wolfe School of Fish Charters/ Manipulator 630-341-0550


Pete Riedesel (see Fishin Friend Guide Service on Facebook) and I had a great morning of catching four dozen bass, all but four were largemouth last Wednesday. About anything except topwater worked.

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


Click here for the update from D&S Bait.


Both units are open for fishing. Open 6 a.m. to sunset.


Smallmouth bass on the Menominee River. Provided by Mike Mladenik

Smallmouth bass on the Menominee River.

Provided by Mike Mladenik

Guide Mike Mladenik of emailed the photo above and this:

As I predicted the topwater bite has been excellent. Topwater fishing on the Menominee River will peak in late July and August. Prop baits are working best. Case Magic Stiks and Wacky Jacks are hot when smallmouth are tight to the bottom feeding on crayfish. The 1/0 Spearpoint GP Finesse Hook is a must when rigging Wacky Style. When the bite it tough my River Swimbaits are getting the job done. When using swimbaits we have also catching some walleyes and pike.


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

What’s typical for weather these days? Who knows! Temps in the early morning in the low 40’s, highs by next week reaching 90. Another major Mayfly hatch on the Willow Flowage……in July! Tough to figure out a pattern. Morning colds this past week held bites back until mid-morning, high pressure on some days held bites back ALL DAY (it seemed). Largemouth Bass: Good – Best towards evenings on top water baits (Whopper Ploppers, Spooks, Frogs) as mornings were tough during cold nights. Wacky worms on weedless hooks bet during the daytime, fished in the thick of the weeds, down low. Northern Pike: Good – When not able to pick up on spinner baits or Mepps #3’s or #4’s due to cold, slowly working a 4 chub or sucker through the bottom of 8-12’ cabbage best. Live bait best option when fish not chasing. Bluegills: Good – Like LMB, best in late afternoon or early evenings as surface temps hit their warmest. Small leeches, worms for live bait Poppers and small flies fun for the evening bite. Smallmouth Bass: Good-Fair – Evenings have been best. May be high pressure system of late, but mornings and days are tough. Drop-shot humps of 18-25/ using 3 Gulp Alive minnow or 3/8 oz football jogs with creatures. Musky: Fair – Some anglers opted out of targeting musky on very warm evenings. Careful when surface temps hit upper 70’s! Top water good during low light periods, swim baits and long deep coontail also productive. Crappies: Fair – Fish very scattered right now. A fish here and there pitching to boathouses and bog edges! Evenings best along west shores as shadows grow. Yellow Perch: Fair – Mostly incidental catches while targeting crappies or walleys. Walleye: Fair – Mornings Awful! Best towards evenings. Leeches and crawlers over humps off shore in 14-20’. Redtails for weeds in lakes where deep water not as prevalent. Been an off week with the unseasonable cold night. Saw some lakes lose 8 degrees or more of surface temps. Warming back up slowly; have a one day cold coming in Thursday (7/15) followed by heat. Hopefully getting things back to normal. Kurt Justice


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

Lake Michigan last week when the weather let you get out was still giving up coho on the tri-state area. Dodgers flys and spoons doing best. Steelhead in trail creek and salt creek using #3 spinners and floating spawn sacks. Perch bite was hit or miss totally with all the weather fronts we had last week. Boat fisherman fishing Willow slough using crickets and jumbo redworms have been filling baskets. Must move around but it has been very good. Catfish in deep river and burns ditch good using triple s stinkbait and cut bait. Night time action is best.

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

Hi, Dale. I hope you’re enjoying the temperate weather! Here’s what we have for this week: Fishing has really taken off on Lake Michigan, with trollers catching Coho & some very big Kings. Perch fishing from the South suburbs Hammond, Michigan City, & up to the St. Joseph River is very good, in 32-39 FOW. Smaller minnows, beemoths, & redworms are working well The rivers is still giving anglers some nice catches of walleye; Leeches, spinners, & nightcrawlers hot items if the moment Bluegills are off the bed, but anglers are catching them in deeper water. Smaller leeches & worms are the baits of choice.


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


Staff at Boondocks reported bass were being caught on the edges of the weed lines and by the dam; crappie on the north end in cribs or in the deep trees; and catfish were about everywhere and being caught on chicken liver or stinkbait. Water is well into the 70s.

Concessions are all going.

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


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


Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said there was decent action on some coho, lakers and steelhead in 110-120 feet; perch are going in 45-50 by the Pump Station south of the St. Joe pier; there’s been a few skamania off the pier; a 46.7 pound flathead was caught and released last week in the river.

Paddle and Pole hosts the Berrien Springs Fish Ladder Camera.


Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:

Fishing has been a bit slow in the Fremont area. Up river, New London north, walleye action is good. The perch bite on Little Lake Butte Des Mort has been strong in the past few weeks.

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