clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Some really big kings are being caught, some turning color

Some really big Chinook, even some turning color already, lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

Pete Merkel with a big Chinook. Provided by Ryan Merkel
Pete Merkel with a big Chinook.
Provided by Ryan Merkel

Some really big Chinook, a few turning color already, lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.


Ryan Merkel sent the photo at the top Sunday evening and this:

Hi Dale,

Pete Merkel, my cousin, caught a new boat record for us today out of Winthrop Harbor. (Two photos of the fish are attached below)This king was 28 lbs and 42” long. Hit on a green/white flasher with an Aqua Howie’s fly behind a rigger. We were in 125 feet of water and the rigger was set 110 feet down. Fish took a massive initial run pulling 500+ feet of line off the reel. Great day on the water, we also got a 23 lbs king a just few minutes prior. Not a lot of bites but the two we got were awesome.

Thanks for considering our fish,

Ryan Merkel

Sleepy Hollow IL

Andy Knapp with four big Chinook. Provided photo
Andy Knapp with four big Chinook.

On Monday, Andy Knapp messaged about the four kings pictured above:

85 pounds 4 fish and some sore arms! Friday out of Northpoint marina

On Saturday, Andy Mikos emailed:

Hi Dale! Got some kings today. One was a male and already turning colors. Could be an early run? Hope all is well.

Time marches on.


The Wisconsin DNR sent this:

Update To Lake Trout Harvest Regulations For Lake Michigan & Green Bay

As a result of an emergency rule, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is restoring previous recreational regulations for harvesting lake trout for Lake Michigan and Green Bay as of July 23, 2021.

The previous regulations ended earlier this year and returned to a daily bag limit of two lake trout and a season running from March to October. With this emergency rule, the season will be open year-round for waters of Lake Michigan, Lake Michigan tributaries, Green Bay and major Green Bay tributaries, and have a daily bag limit of five trout or salmon, but all five may be lake trout.

This bag limit will also apply to all tributary streams, rivers and ditches to Green Bay upstream to the first dam or lake. However, the regular fishing season, from the first Saturday in May to the first Sunday in March, will remain in place. The Mid-Lake Reef Complex will remain closed to lake trout fishing.

This change will provide additional fishing opportunities for anglers and charter businesses while maintaining a balance between lake trout and their alewife prey base.

The DNR is working on a permanent rule to continue these changes into the future.


The deadline to apply for a sturgeon spearing tag for the Upriver Lakes (Poygan, Winneconne or Butte des Morts) on the Winnebago system in Wisconsin, only 500 will be selected, is Sunday, Aug. 1.


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).


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

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

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-bass have been good very early and late with the recent hot weather. Work the outside weedlines with a wacky stick-o. Frog fishing is starting to heat up with a few blow-ups. A few frogs will draw interest from your bait as well. Always entertaining.

Here is the nature pic of the week. A setting sun after a thunderstorm.


Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Husker Outdoors
Waterwerks fishing team

A setting sun after a thunderstorm. Credit: Ken “Husker” O’Malley
A setting sun after a thunderstorm.
Credit: Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Pete Lamar emailed the photo below and this:

Hi Dale,

I only got out briefly on Sunday afternoon (taking advantage of the lower humidity while it lasted). I never changed flies: only a foam hopper-as can be seen in the bluegill photo-on my kid’s tenkara rod. Bluegills-some of them large, the tail of the one in the photo extended past my wrist-were active. I also got a bonus largemouth on the last cast of the day.

The aquatic vegetation on the edges of the lakes and ponds is high and thick, chest height at least. I couldn’t see what was going on, but I could hear a lot taking place. I think bullfrogs were taking dragon and damsel flies and making a ton of noise in the process.


Pete Lamar with a big bluegill caught fly fishing in the western suburbs. Provided photo
Pete Lamar with a big bluegill caught fly fishing in the western suburbs.


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


Jason Fox emailed the photo below and this:

Good morning Dale. My friends and I had a great morning on the chain yesterday. My buddy Mark hooked into this beast on his second cast at route 12 bridge. He got it in on 8Ib test and a 7ft ultra light. 20 minute fight. I have to add it was made possible by my excellent boat control and net job. I got an 8 lb channel on the very first cast of the day. We also got 12 walleye all keepers, one slot 19.5.

We also got a dozen good size gills. Everything caught on jig and crawler. We were off the water by 11. It was a great morning!

That’s truly a great morning.

Jason Fox’s buddy Mark caught this on his second cast. Provided
Jason Fox’s buddy Mark caught this on his second cast.
Provided photo

Staff at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said bluegill are pretty good, shallow in the channels and around docks with brush; catfish are good on cut bait, live bluegills or crawlers; bass are slow, shallow in the slop on frogs or off deep weed lines with swim jigs or drop-shots in 9-12 feet; crappie suspended in deeper water; catfish and walleye are better at night.

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.


Chicago River largemouth bass. Provided photo
Chicago River largemouth bass.

Sgt. Lucas Wise emailed photos, including the one above, and this:


Sgt Lucas Wise from the Police Marine Unit here. Hope all is going well for you. The largemouth bass have been biting really well on spinnerbaits in the river near the police marine unit lately. Double willow white and bluegill pattern #4 Colorado blade have been the ticket. Me and the little guy have been casting em out, reeling as slow as possible and waiting for the strike. I even had a big hog hit the jackall gantarel jr glidebait, which was a ton of fun. Tight lines brother!


Lucas Wise

Jesse Gonzalez with a Chicago River crappie. Provided by Jeffrey Williams
Jesse Gonzalez with a Chicago River crappie.
Provided by Jeffrey Williams

Jeffrey Williams messaged the photo above and this Tuesday afternoon:

decent crappies and bass being caught by the riverwalk


Dave Duwe emailed:

Delavan Lake 7/26/21 through 8/2/21

Fishing remains fantastic. The fish are in their mid summer pattern and they have schooled up and can be caught if you find the schools.

Northern Pike fishing has been relatively slow this week. I think most of the problem is that the bluegills have slid off the weedline and are in 18-24 ft of water. The few pike I’ve been catching have been in 22-24 ft of water. The pike are getting filled up on the small bluegills. Either that or the anglers are so good there aren’t any left. The best locations that I’ve found have been by Willow Point or by Belvidere Park.

Bluegills are literally everywhere on the lake. If you find a weed line, you will find the bluegills. Unlike prior weeks, the bluegills schools are all integrated with different size fish. You can fish a school and catch big ones, even though there are small ones present. The biggest fish I’ve caught have been by Willow Point or Belvidere Park. The best depth has been 20 ft of water. I’ve been casting the split shot rigged leaf worm and catching all I care to catch.

Largemouth bass are schooled up really heavy right now. They can be caught on jigs and split shot rigged nightcrawlers. The key is finding areas with rock and weed. They are schooling up very heavy. At certain times last week, I fished for four hours with a guide party and never left the first location. The key is to stay in a location where the fish are feeding, if you catch one, you should catch many.

Walleye Pike have been a bit slow. The only fish I’ve heard about have come from trolling crank baits in 20 ft of water, right off the weedline. The best location is by Delavan Lake Marina or by Belvidere Park. You want a crank bait that dives 16-18 ft and then troll it at 1 ½ - 2 mph. The best color has been pearl.

Crappies have again been biting over the medium depth weeds in 12-15 ft of water. They can be caught by the Oriental boat house or by Assembly Park. The best approach is small plastics, try purple or chartreuse. The fish have been on the smaller side, the average size has been about 8-9 inches.

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


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 water is way down, “lowest in seven years I have been here.”


Arden Katz said he had the best day of the year, 25 bass and six walleye, drop-shotting at night in 18-22 feet on the south end; biggest walleye was 22 inches.

Geneva Lake walleye. Provided by Roger Jackson
Geneva Lake walleye.
Provided by Roger Jackson

Roger Jackson followed that with the photo above and this:

Dale, my name is Roger Jackson I live in Elkgrove Village I was fishing Saturday night with Arden Katz, on Lk Geneva walleye are doing great we were drop shotting in 20 feet of water for smallmouth bass and couldn’t keep the walleyes off!

“Couldn’t keep the walleyes off!” sounds like the right kind of problem.

Dave Duwe emailed:

Lake Geneva 7/26/21 through 8/2/21

Fishing on Geneva remains very consistent. There are fish to be caught every time out. The best bite is the Northern Pike and Walleyes after dark.

Northern Pike fishing has been excellent. Most of the fish are being caught in 30-32 ft of water. The best location is in Fontana or the north shore in the narrows. The best presentation is lindy rigged medium suckers right on bottom. Most of the fish can be seen using your electronics. I typically will not fish a spot unless I see active fish.

Lake Trout are being caught on the main lake basin. They are in 108-120 ft of water, 70-80 ft down. Nickel/blue and nickel/green spoons have been the best presentation. I have been doing a big circle from Conference and Cedar Point. The best bite still remains ½ hour before sun up and ½ hour before sun down.

Perch have been very aggressive. They have been in the 10-12 ft depth range. They can be caught on ½ nightcrawlers or fat head minnows. The best location has been by Rainbow Point or Knollwood. The biggest issue as always is the size, you need to sort through a lot of small fish to get to the keepers.

Rock Bass have moved deeper. They are in the 14-18 ft depth range. They can be caught on split shot rigged nightcrawlers. The best location has been by Elgin Club or by Maytag Point. With the water temperature being so warm, their meat is getting soft. I wouldn’t recommend keeping them this time of year.

Walleye Pike fishing has been good at night if there is some wind. Without wind Lake Geneva is a dead sea for Walleye. The best location has been by Fontana Beach or Abbey Springs. Work a depth of 16-18 ft of water with medium diving crank baits. I prefer chrome/black Walleye Bandits.

Largemouth Bass can be caught in the shallows or on the deep weedline. The shallow fish can be caught on split shot rigged nightcrawlers or on top water lures. The best location has been Trinkes Bay or by Linn Pier. I’ve been working a depth of 10-12 ft. Some of the largemouth are starting to school on the hard rock bottom in 18-25 ft of water. They can be caught Carolina rigging Arkie Crawlin’ grubs or drop shotting 4 inch finesse worms. In either case, green pumpkin is the only color to tie on.

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


Guide Mike Norris emailed:

Fishing Report 7/23/2021

Mike Norris

Big Green Lake – Both largemouth and smallmouth bass are active, and we are catching them on jig and pig combos out along weed edges in 14 – 18 feet of water. We are also finding smallmouth bass in 15 - 20 ft water along the Sliding Rock area. Try a drop shot rig with a KVD dream shot, or with a half crawler or a leech. Bluegills are grouping up nicely and can be caught with a red worm on a drop shot rig just outside of the deep weed edges.

Fox Lake – Largemouth bass and pike fishing on Fox Lake has slowed considerably with the return of hot weather. We are still getting some bass and pike on guide trips, but the numbers are down. The walleye bite has also slowed. Bluegill are biting along weed edges in 5 - 9 feet of water on jigs suspended beneath floats.


Click here for the Wisconsin DNR weekly report.


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


George Peters with a Kankakee River smallmouth bass. Provided photo
George Peters with a Kankakee River smallmouth bass.

George Peters emailed the photo above and this:

Hi Dale, fishing continues to be tough on the kkk. High water is coming down but not low summer level. Shore eddys have some fish , this 18” on a jig. G. Peters


Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.


See some good reports of big Chinook at the top.

A good freshwater drum from Lake Michigan. Provided by Henry’s Sports and Bait
A good freshwater drum from Lake Michigan.
Provided by Henry’s Sports and Bait

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait texted the photo above and this:

This sheepshead was caught last week. Sorry no angler info.caught on a crawfish from the lake.

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

Good morning Dale.When the winds are out of the North Northeast the sheephead we’re going crazy on the horseshoe and surrounding areas. Seems to be a lot of carp being caught in and around the harbor. Some big ones. My husband went out last week just messing around for some perch or rock bass and hooked into one that was over 20 lb of course he didn’t land it on his ultralight Rod but he had fun playing it for a long time. Smallmouth have been hit or miss. No perch that I know of.Have a great week!

Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters said out of Chicago on Tuesday morning they had a couple steelhead and lakers; “Fish keep going deeper all way to 160-180, most everything is down 70-80” on a little bit of everything. Out of North Point, there’s some good king action on the hill, for about an hour around dawn, it’s between 80 and 100 feet early, then deeper; out in 180-300 (changes every day) there’s decent fishing for a mixed bag.

Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan texted:

Deeper water, south, for quality kings and Lakers.No boat perch reports, but guys are doing it, just not getting back to me.A few guys fishing perch off the pier, but there is NOTHING in Waukegan harbor to bring anyone in, so it’s a ghost town.

Capt. Scott Wolfe emailed:

Hi Dale - Waukegan fishing is definitely an early bite now. Boats are doing well on staging kings in 115 to 140 from 3 am to about 6 - 7 am. After that they are shut down. There are lakers moving to structure in 107 - 140 on hills and humps, mostly holding in deeper water off the humps. The lakers are hitting until 9 or 10 am. After 10, it has been really, really slow. The afternoon trips were a real struggle. It was a spoon bite for our boat this week with the Warrior Spoiler series taking everything, Kings and lakers. We had several kings on Warrior Green Spoiler and Spoiler up to 25 pounds on downriggers run within 10 feet of the bottom. 300 to 450 coppers with those same spoons in Standard and XL sizes were good for lake trout.

Capt. Scott Wolfe

School of Fish Charters/Manipulator


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.


Anthony Lederer holds a beautiful Mille Lacs walleye. Provided by McQuoid’s Inn
Anthony Lederer holds a beautiful Mille Lacs walleye.
Provided by McQuoid’s Inn

Justin Lederer from McQuoid’s Inn in Isle, Minn.: emailed the photo above and this:

Justin Lederer checking in from McQuoids Inn Lake Mille Lacs. Fishing has picked up now that the bug hatch is over. Evenings are the best for walleye leeches and slip bobbers are still the go to. 30’-35’ of water is the key. Smallmouth are in 18’-22’ around big boulders drop shots with tubes and lindy rigs with small suckers or night crawlers is producing the best. Hope everyone is enjoying the summer it’s going bye quick.


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

The fires in Canada, as bad as they’ve been, have had a small silver lining for those of us in the Northwoods. On mornings with North winds, the haze from the smoke has cut down on the sun, causing lower light levels than usual, bringing about good conditions for early morning Walleye and Crappie anglers.

Largemouth Bass: Very Good-Good – Fish cabbage beds as signs of heavy feeding on crayfish (look down their throats, you’ll see antennae sticking out). Jig and creature combos, Wacky worms and Ned rigs have been producing well. Evenings and early mornings for top-water lures.

Smallmouth Bass: Very Good-Good – Outside coontail edges using tubes and drop-shotting 3” minnow imitations. Out over rock humps, drop-shotting 3” Wackys and small craw imitations best.

Bluegills: Very Good-Good – Lots of active Gills hovering along coontail tops and edges. Easy marks with small leeches, worms suspended under floats 3-5’ down.

Northern Pike: Good – Targeting using spinner baits best. Anglers using red tail and black chubs for Walleyes in weeds reporting good action.

Musky: Good – Best evenings and early AM on top-water baits. Work gliders and twitch baits fairly quick in warm waters of summer. Staff member Bob Weigandt boated a 45” er this week from a canoe! Boy has balance.

Crappies: Fair-Good – Found Crappies surprisingly shallow gorging on young of year Perch in 3-5’ heavy weeds. 1-2” twister tails on 1/32 oz jig worked over weed tops, surprisingly hard hits. On the same trip – same body of water, also found similar sized (10-13”) Crappies in 14-17’ relating to weed and deep weeds.

Walleye: Fair-Good – Good weed action on “smokey”, overcast mornings on red tails, crawlers. Evenings next best if you fish a day without clouds. Clouds, rain hit the weeds again.

Yellow Perch: Fair-Good – Most as incidental catches targeting Walleyes and Crappies in weeds

Forecast of mild lows (upper 50’s – low 60’s) in morning, warming sun bringing temps into 80’s followed by night showers this week won’t hurt. Cloud cover for most of weekend helpful

Kurt Justice

Kurt’s Island Sport Shop
Like us on FaceBook


Capt. Rich Sleziak posted on the Triplecatch Lake Michigan Sportfishing Charters page, “A great Saturday morning with our great friend Randy Hall and very fun crew!! Thanks for lunch!!” Provided photo
Capt. Rich Sleziak posted on the Triplecatch Lake Michigan Sportfishing Charters page, “A great Saturday morning with our great friend Randy Hall and very fun crew!! Thanks for lunch!!”

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

Fishing still good out of burns ditch mix bag most days.

Perch fishing is at a stand still not many boats out fishing for them. North wind coming Thursday and Friday won’t help.

Willow slough giving up lots of panfish for groups putting the time in and fishing in a boat moving around.

Catfish in the evening at portage river walk using triple s stinkbait.

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

Hi, Dale. I hope you’re keeping cool. Here’s what we have for this week:

Trolling on Lake Michigan is really heating up right now with some very large kings being caught there been 20 over thirty pounds weighed in the past week to 10 days. Trolling out of Chicago, East to Michigan City, all the way to Saint Joseph has produced great catches of Coho and Steelhead and some Kings. Small spoons and spin doctors and flies seem to be best.

Perch fishing has really been spotty with all the current on the lake.

Walleye in the river remains very good, drifting nightcrawlers and trolling crankbaits.

Inland lakes are still producing a nice number of Gills and Crappie

Catfish doing excellently, on Cutbait & Stinkbait


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


Staff at Boondocks reported heat slowed fishing, in general leeches are working best for walleye and big bass.

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


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


Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said perch slowed; it’s 110-150 for silver fish; a few skamania off the pier; a few walleye being caught in the river and smallmouth bass.

Paddle and Pole hosts the Berrien Springs Fish Ladder Camera.


Rob Abouchar with a Wisconsin River smallmouth bass. Provided photo
Rob Abouchar with a Wisconsin River smallmouth bass.

Rob Abouchar emailed the photo above and this from the Alexander Flowage:

Hi dale

Up un the Wisconsin river and the action is good for bass pike and almost the muskie on a senko. Topwater is good early and bitsy but with a ned trailer. . . .

Tight lines and good health.


Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:

Perch and gills are biting on Partridge and in the bayous along the river. Walleye bite still good up river. Water temp in the mid 70’s and levels are dropping