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Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Focus on shoreline Chinook, hoping on fall fishing inland

Shoreline salmon/trout fishing (and in some tributaries) around southern Lake Michigan lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report, but the good fall fishing inland should come, even with lingering heat.

Jason “Special One” Le with a good Chinook caught Tuesday morning at Montrose Harbor. Provided photo
Jason “Special One” Le with a good Chinook caught Tuesday morning at Montrose Harbor.
Provided

Shoreline salmon/trout again lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report, but it also feels like the fall fishing bite is building on inland waters, though the return of hot weather might matter.

LAKEFRONT SHORELINE SALMON/TROUT

Jason “Special One” Le texted the photos at the top and the one below Tuesday morning from Montrose Harbor, and this:

15.5lbs

Almost spool me lol

They’re back

Three landed this morning

Sox fan lol

Even a Sox fan can do well for Chinook on the North Side of the Chicago lakefront. Provided by Jason “Special One” Le
Even a Sox fan can do well for Chinook on the North Side of the Chicago lakefront.
Provided by Jason “Special One” Le

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

The reports I’ve been getting is quite a few salmon scattered all around the area; Horseshoe, mouth of Montrose, Diversey, Belmont etc. All Kings from what I know haven’t had any trout reports yet. As far as I know they’re hitting all on spoons and crankbaits no baits yet.

. . .

I also wanted to bring up to you that you might want to mention about these parking meters down here. They start at 8 a.m. but if you get to it earlier in the morning before 5 and push the button it’s a little confusing because it makes you think that you have to pay but you don’t not till 8

Considering how many people are fishing before 8 a.m., this is useful info.

I was at Jackson Park Harbor over the weekend and saw Chinook caught and lots of people trying around the mouth.

Brian at Henry’s Sports and Bait said lots of reports of kings, including at least half a dozen Tuesday, from Diversey and Montrose. “I thought the heat wave would drive them out, but I guess not.”

Capt. Dan Leslie at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan said water remains warm, so action slowed. The bite remains mainly on spoons. “It is a holding pattern from shore.”

Capt. Scott Wolfe of School of Fish Charters emailed about Waukegan:

. . .

Kings and coho are moving into the harbor. The first wave came in Thursday and as is usual, they were very active at first. It seems like the hot water zaps them and they get lethargic in about a day. That occurred here and fishing was tough with the fish inactive over the weekend. West and Southwest winds will cool the water and get them active. That is the forecast for the coming weekend so I’m optimistic next weekend will be good for the shore guys.

Capt. Scott Wolfe

School of Fish Charters/Manipulator
schooloffishcharters.com
630-341-0550

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

A king here and there out of burns ditch what fish we did have out there has ran up the creeks.

Fishing the creeks you must cover a lot of water and find a hole with a few fish use spinners or use spawn sacks

Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor, Mich., said some kings and coho were caught Sunday in the turning basin at St. Joseph. Lots of coho and Chinook can be seen going up the Berrien Springs ladder. See what Paddle and Pole hosts with the Berrien Springs Fish Ladder Camera.

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 (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).

AREA LAKES

Dicky’s Bait Shop in Montgomery reported slabs of crappie and largemouth on extra large minnows are producing at local ponds.

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

Ken “Husker” O’Malley emailed the photos above and below:

Hey Dale,

Here is a recap of this past weeks fishing.

Area lakes-with the recent warmup, temps have been staying steady in the lower 70’s. Fish seem to be in-between right now awaiting fall patterns.

Bass have been decent but running on the smaller size. Top water baits at first light followed by senkos in the later morning and evening hours. Green pumpkin has been the best color. Work the outside and inside weedlines for the most active fish.

Here is the nature pic of the week. Time to admire the surroundings.

TTYL

Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Husker Outdoors
Waterwerks fishing team

“Time to admire the surroundings.” Credit: Ken “Husker” O’Malley
“Time to admire the surroundings.”
Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Pete Lamar emailed:

Hi Dale,

Pretty much the same report I’ve been providing for the past month. Lakes and ponds have cooled slightly (the smaller the pond/lake, the more it has cooled). Bass and some big bluegills have been hitting poppers in low light.

. . .

Pete

BRAIDWOOD LAKE

Brian at Henry’s Sports and Bait said catfish were doing well at Braidwood. Open daily 6 a.m. to sunset.

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Tucker at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said white bass are running, both in the rivers and lakes; some walleye are shallow and some in the river, some big catfish are being caught at night; bluegill are in the 5-7 feet.

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.

CHICAGO RIVER

Shaun Murphy and others have called the river as “on fire” for multiple species.

Jeffrey Williams doubling on the Chicago River. Provided photo
Jeffrey Williams doubling on the Chicago River.
Provided

Jeffrey Williams messaged the photo above and this on Friday:

doubled up on a crappie rig

DELAVAN LAKE, WISCONSIN

Dave Duwe emailed:

Delavan Lake Fishing Report 9/13/21 through 9/20/21

With the cooler nights, the water temperature is starting to drop. The fishing remains above average and the boat traffic is below average.

Largemouth bass are starting to move out of their tight summer schools and can be found throughout the weedline in 12-14 ft of water. In the early morning, the top water bite is available and you can also find them casting medium diving crankbaits. The best patterns are chrome/blue or perch for the crankbaits. The best location has been just west of the Yacht Club or by the Browns Channel weedline.

Northern pike action is starting to improve. With the cooler water, the fish are moving into the 12-14 ft depth range. They can be caught on Thill slip bobbers fished with medium suckers or casting white spinner baits. The best location is the Viewcrest Bay or the weed flat by Browns Channel. As the fall progresses, the northern pike action will continue to improve.

Walleye fishing has been slow. There is some action coming from chrome/blue jigging Rapalas in 20-22 ft of water, or lindy rigging jumbo leeches. The best location has been by the concrete point or by Willow point. The walleye bite is always best in the fall, so the cooler nights will help improve the bite in the coming weeks.

Crappie fishing has been above average in the 30-35 ft depth range. They can be caught on slip bobbers and fat head minnows. The fish are in the main lake basin. Look for them by Willow Point or in front of Assembly Park. They are typically soft this time of year, so you want to get them on ice quickly.

Bluegill fishing has been average. The best bite is in the 12-15 ft depth range. The fish are biting on small leaf worms or wax worms fished on an ice jig. The best color is chartreuse or orange. I’ve been catching most of my fish by Del Mar subdivision.

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

DOWNSTATE

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: Closed for the season. Check regulations at http://www.wetlands-initiative.org/dixon-paddling-fishing.

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

FOX RIVER

Dicky’s Bait Shop in Montgomery reported water as low as it has been in years; catfish picking up on suckers.

Here’s how Pete Lamar described the levels:

Hi Dale,

. . . Every time I go to the Fox or one of its tribs, I think to myself that the water couldn’t possibly get any lower. Yet every week it does. I found some big smallmouths in a slow and deep (deep being a relative term). They weren’t the least bit interested in eating. I think they were more concerned with avoiding overhead predators in the clear water. The fish I caught all came out of fast, broken water.

Pete

GENEVA LAKE, WISCONSIN

Dave Duwe emailed:

Lake Geneva 9/13/21 through 9/20/21

School is back in session for both kids and the bass. The bass bite has improved dramatically with the cooler water temperature and the decreased fishing pressure. It’s a great time to be able to fish.

Smallmouth bass fishing has been good. The fish are positioned on main lake weed points in 20-25 ft of water. They are aggressively hitting lindy rigged nightcrawlers and small perch caught in Lake Geneva. The biggest fish I caught last week was almost 21 inches. The fish are very schooled up now, so if you catch one, you’ll catch a bunch. The best locations have been by Black Point, the Military Academy or by Belvidere Park.

The bluegill action has also been fantastic. The bluegills are suspended in 25-30 ft of water. The best location has been by the Yacht Club or by the Military Academy. I’ve been using a split shot rig with a ½ of a nightcrawler right beneath the boat. Some of the bluegills have been in excess of 10 inches, with the average size being about 7 inches.

Perch fishing has been good however , the size has been very small. Most of the fish I’ve been catching have an average size of 6 inches. They make nice bait but not a great fish fry. The best location has been by Knollwood or by Rainbow Point. The best presentation is a slip bobber rig with a small minnow. Work a depth of 10-12 ft of water. The perch fishing will be improving as fall wears on.

Northern Pike action still remains kind of slow. The fish are still deep and still scattered. I think we will see a major improvement as the water cools and the fish move up into the weeds. Look for the fish by Fontana Beach or the North shore of the narrows. The best approach continues to be lindy rigging suckers.

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 – 09/09/2021

Mike Norris

Big Green Lake – Water temp on Big Green dropped from 77 to 72 degrees last week following a cold front. The cooler water temperature altered the bluegill bite somewhat. The massive schools of bluegills I graphed the last few weeks were thinned out and the size of the gills were slightly smaller. But this bite is far from over and should continue through the remainder of September. October will bring fewer bluegills, but it’s a great time for jumbo gills over 9 inches. Perch fishing also pick up. Work inside and along the edge of weedbeds with a drop shot rig and redworm for perch running from 9 to 12 inches. Lake trout can be caught vertical jigging hair jigs tipped with cisco meat.

Fox Lake – Largemouth bass fishing has improved with the onset of cooler water temps. They are eating square billed crankbaits worked along rocky shorelines. Northern pike and walleyes are falling for deep diving crankbaits trolled outside the weed line in 12 to 15 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

Click here for the Wisconsin DNR weekly report.

HEIDECKE LAKE

Open 6 a.m. (6:30 bank fishing) to sunset.

ILLINOIS RIVER

Brian at Henry’s Sports and Bait said white bass are being caught at Started Rock

KANKAKEE RIVER

Bob Johnson shows the fall bass bite seems to be underway on the Kankakee River. Provided photo
Bob Johnson shows the fall bass bite seems to be underway on the Kankakee River.
Provided

Bob Johnson emailed the photo above and below, and this:

Hi Dale - River was on this morning with some good action using a variety of lures. The temp was 69 and just a slight stain and at normal pool. I caught several bass including my personal best largemouth out of the river,(4.37). Surface lures worked early this morning along with soft plastics bouncing plastics off structure of any kind. The fall bite seems to be picking up as temps slowly drop. Walleye was at 4 lbs and also released.

Bob Johnson with a good mix of fish from the Kankakee River, including a walleye. Provided photo
Bob Johnson with a good mix of fish from the Kankakee River, including a walleye.
Provided

LAKE ERIE

Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.

LAKEFRONT

NOTE: Salmon snagging is NOT open, yet.

Brian at Henry’s Sports and Bait said lots of reports of kings, including at least half a dozen Tuesday, from Diversey and Montrose. “I thought the heat wave would drive them out, but I guess not.” Pike are very active around the harbors; smallmouth bass slowed a bit.

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

The reports I’ve been getting is quite a few salmon scattered all around the area; Horseshoe, mouth of Montrose, Diversey, Belmont etc. All Kings from what I know haven’t had any trout reports yet. As far as I know they’re hitting all on spoons and crankbaits no baits yet.Smallmouth still hitting scattered around here and there.

I also wanted to bring up to you that you might want to mention about these parking meters down here. They start at 8 a.m. but if you get to it earlier in the morning before 5 and push the button it’s a little confusing because it makes you think that you have to pay but you don’t not till 8

Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters said that out of North Point, really good deep (200-300) for steelhead and a few smaller coho in the top 100; out of Chicago, in 100-160, plenty of lakers with the occasional steelhead, coho and Chinook.

Capt. Dan Leslie at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan said water remains warm, so action slowed. The bite remains mainly on spoons. “It is a holding pattern from shore.” Boaters are cleaning up on lakers and steelhead, too.

Capt. Scott Wolfe of School of Fish Charters emailed:

The offshore lake trout fishing was again outstanding with limit catches every trip. 110-140 feet using smoke or silver Luhr-Jensen Dodgers and Jimmy Fly Laker Takers near the bottom, Green/Silver and Green/Orange were the best. 300 coppers with Magnum Warrior Spoons in UV Green patterns like Green Menace and Psycho Perch Ultraglow also took lakers, some big steelhead and smaller salmon, both Chinook and Coho.

For more non-lakers some boats did OK in 160 to 200 to the North of the harbor. Riggers from 50 to 100 down and 200 plus leadcores with green and blue/green combos like Warrior Green Menace and Hey Babe were best. Some action on wire divers way out, 200 to 350 feet with NBK flashers and Green or Aqua flies with some black in them. Steelhead and smaller salmon with a few smaller lakers were taken.

Kings and coho are moving into the harbor. The first wave came in Thursday and as is usual, they were very active at first. It seems like the hot water zaps them and they get lethargic in about a day. That occurred here and fishing was tough with the fish inactive over the weekend. West and Southwest winds will cool the water and get them active. That is the forecast for the coming weekend so I’m optimistic next weekend will be good for the shore guys.

Capt. Scott Wolfe

School of Fish Charters/Manipulator
schooloffishcharters.com
630-341-0550

LaSALLE LAKE

Open daily 6 a.m. to sunset.

MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN

Click here for the update from D&S Bait.

MAZONIA

Both units are open for fishing.

MILWAUKEE

Arden Katz boated two of three big kings (both heavier than 20 pounds) over the weekend and saw many others caught.

MINNESOTA

Nash Pratt with a Mille Lacs walleye. Provided by McQuoid’s Inn
Nash Pratt with a Mille Lacs walleye.
Provided by McQuoid’s Inn

Justin Lederer emailed from McQuoid’s Inn in Isle, Minn.:

Justin Lederer checking in from McQuoids Inn Lake Mille Lacs. The fall bite It is turning on with the smallmouth drag suckers on jigs over the rocks 10-18’ feet of water. Nash join us on a launch boat trip on Sunday with hope kids and got a nice walleye. Here is a little bit about what this group does.We are just a group of people that call ourselves the big hearts group. I am the director in charge of planning, Logistics and volunteers. No one gets paid. As of now we are working in conjunction with the Hope kids organization. We put on two events for the kids and Families involved with hope kids. These are kids and their families who are affected by life-changing and debilitating childhood diseases and illnesses. The great thing about the organization is they have events throughout the year for both the kids and their families. Most of these kids spend a lot of time in the hospital it’s a great way to get both the kids and their families Minds off of things and helps the families network with other families who are going through the same thing as them. If you are interested in helping them out any way look them up and give them a hand. Thanks

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

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

The hot fall fishing can’t come soon enough for those of us looking at warmer than usual mid-September lake temps and some finicky fish of late.

Even early fall patterns have yet to kick in fully, leaving some anglers frustrated at the level of activity. Some, on the other hand, are seeing good action based on the reports of anglers targeting Musky and large Smallmouth!

Musky: Good-Very Good – Top-water action has been picking up as anglers are finding shallow water fish eager to take tail baits (Whopper Ploppers, Tally Wackers and Top Raiders) fished from just inside weed lines to just outside. Smity’s Flaptails have also been a good “throwback” bait on short sighted fish.

Smallmouth Bass: Good-Very Good – Don’t tell that to deep gravel anglers as only smaller fish seem to be out there. But outside weed edges are holding average fish, while the real brutes (19”+) are hanging in weeds (inside edges) hitting #90 Whopper Ploppers and buzz baits.

Northern Pike: Fair-Good – A few reports of decent Pike action on spinner baits and 4” swim baits. Live bait seems to have been a better choice for the “windows” when the bite was good.

Bluegill: Fair-Good – Interestingly, another flying ant hatch (usually about the third week of August) appeared this past weekend. Saw signs of small Gills feeding, but not as much from larger Gills. Weed beds without wiltering (yellowing) weeds best.

Largemouth Bass: Fair-Good – Best in heavy, green cabbage on jig/creature combos or wacky worming. Some top-water action on warming evenings.

Yellow Perch: Fair – Loosely mixed into green cabbage of 8-12” on some lakes taking crawlers. Not many reports.

Walleye: Fair - Anglers finding some migration to rock humps on lakes the further north you go. 1/8 – 1/4 oz jigs tipped with large fatheads best.

Crappie: Fair – Very few reports but some anglers using medium fatheads caught some scattered fish. Best bet to start at weed edges in 16’ with fish suspended 6’ off the bottom.

Lake surface temps range 64-69 degrees still! Rising in afternoons. Seems the flat, clear days were tough but wind created opportunity for anglers to find action by Saturday. Doesn’t look like temps will drop very fast, highs in mid-70’s will see to that. Trees just starting to show a little color in the Lakeland Area.

Kurt Justice

Kurt’s Island Sport Shop
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NORTHWEST INDIANA

A graph with what perch can look like in the Indiana waters of southern Lake Michigan when the weather is right. Provided by Shaun Murphy
A graph with what perch can look like in the Indiana waters of southern Lake Michigan when the weather is right.
Provided by Shaun Murphy

Shaun Murphy sent the photo above from perch fishing in Indiana and a saga of perch tales with a classic line:

Yes but they moved out.

Started off of Portage, moved to Michigan city.

Water warmed up and they disappeared, graph was filled Saturday [Sept. 4], gone on Sunday [Sept. 5]. Water temp rose to 78°

He added:

All perch on the bottom.

We clutch at hope.

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

A king here and there out of burns ditch what fish we did have out there has ran up the creeks.

Fishing the creeks you must cover a lot of water and find a hole with a few fish use spinners or use spawn sacks

Not much perch fishing going on around the ditch and Michigan city but I have groups going to New Buffalo most mornings doing ok using baby golden roaches fishing 35 to 45 ft of water.

Crappie on lake George in Hobart doing ok in the evening using minnows around the bridges.

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

Hi, Dale! This late heat is a monster! On the bright side, fishing has remained pretty awesome all-around, with a slight let-up for certain species.

Trolling on Lake Michigan was much slower last week due to the storms, but the Perch anglers had some nice luck when they were able to get out fishing, specifically in depths of 55-65 FOW

Coho have started running the rivers with anglers having their best luck around the creek mouths. Due to the warmer weather as of late, the Salmon have gone to shallower rivers and areas of lakes.

Bluegill & Bass fishing on the inland lakes is still steady.

Walleye fishing has been good; Catfishing has been even better. Leeches for the former, nightcrawlers for both, & Skipjack & Sonny’s for the latter.

ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN

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

SHABBONA LAKE

Josh Oman at Boondocks reported few trying, but some striped bass and some catfish caught over the weekend, water holding around 80.

Concessions are going. 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.

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN

Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said some kings and coho were caught Sunday in the turning basin at St. Joseph. Lots of coho and Chinook can be seen going up the Berrien Springs. See what Paddle and Pole hosts with the Berrien Springs Fish Ladder Camera.

WISCONSIN DELLS

Hook-and-line sturgeon season in Wisconsin runs through Sept. 30. Click here for the details. Click here for the harvest areas. Check with River’s Edge, which has not registered any keepers yet, but reported lots of sturgeon are being caught. Water levels are down a bit. Smallmouth and white bass are going.

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:

Water levels are dropping, although with warm weather moving in, the water temperature is holding in the mid 60’s. White bass have slowed down. Crappie are doing better with slowing current. Some walleye action on crawlers and minnows