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Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Chasing shoreline Chinook, expecting real fall feed bag inland

Salmon and trout on the southern Lake Michigan shoreline and in the tributaries continue to lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report; otherwise, it is anticipating the real fall feed bag to set up on inland waters this week.

Pattie Stone has had and up-and-down year for fishing in northern Wisconsin, but this smallmouth bass was special. Provided photo
Pattie Stone has had and up-and-down year for fishing in northern Wisconsin, but this smallmouth bass was special.
Provided

Fishing for salmon and trout on the shoreline and in the tributaries of southern Lake Michigan again lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report; but there is also the waiting for the real fall feed bag to set up on inland waters, something that might start happening in earnest this week.

Patti Stone emailed:

I’m a former Chicagoan who has recently retired to the Northwoods in Birchwood, WI. Caught this beauty on Big Lake Chetak on a slip bobber and a crawler and very light tackle in the middle of the day. The minute this fish broke water I knew I was in for a fight! Had time to weigh this fish in at 4.7 lbs before releasing. The fishing this year has been off up here, but this catch made up for all the times we got skunked!

Patti Stone

Birchwood, BTW, bills itself as “Bluegill Capital of Wisconsin.”

SHORELINE SALMON/TROUT

I’ve heard of numerous first Chinook this fall for some reason. My favorite so far, beside the FOTW, is the guy on Thursday who posted on Facebook about catching his first Chinook and added, “Shoutout to a stranger named Quinn who helped net him.” I guessed from the spot on the lakefront that it was Quinn Voss. He tweeted Friday, “Indeed it was.”

Also on Friday, BoRabb Williams texted about Jackson Park, “I’m there 3times a week. . . . none yet [myself] but many fish are being caught.”

Brian Caunter at Henry’s Sports and Bait said on Tuesday some salmon reports around the lakefront, including some smaller ones at Montrose.

On Tuesday, Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

Chinook fishing is still pretty steady up and down the lakefront. Mostly in the dark but there have been a few caught in the daylight hours. Glow in the dark spoons and crankbaits are working best. Best spoons to use Moonshines, KO Wobblers and Little Cleos. Best crankbaits are Livingstons, Thundersticks and Flickr Shads. Personally haven’t seen or heard of any trout being caught yet but they should be starting any time soon. Trout can be caught by casting spoons also but mostly caught under a slip bobber with spawn sacs, larger minnows such as a medium shiner (golden roach) nightcrawlers and even shrimp. . . . Have a great week!

WAUKEGAN: Capt. Dan Leslie at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan said it’s been slow around the harbor with warmth and no west winds, what is being caught is early mornings on spoons; some starting to use crawlers and spawn 5 feet down on bobber.

Capt. Scott Wolfe of School of Fish Charters emailed:

. . .

Kings and coho are in the harbor. When the water is cool they are active. When hot water moves in they will be inactive. Flicker shads have been the best lures so far. The skein bite should be starting this week.

. . .

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

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

With the cool weather and rain coming this week it will help push what salmon we do have up in the tributaries. Casting spinners or using spawn sacks is best.

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN: Winds and waves shut down boat and pier effort Tuesday.

MILWAUKEE: Arden Katz said they were doing OK for Chinook in the harbor, but you had to work for them. He was using a 3/4-ounce blue and silver Rat-L-Traps; kayakers were catching them with No. 9 Flicker Shads. “They are in the harbor and not real dark yet. They are in good shape.”

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 Big Rock Quarry had some good on bass on shiners and minnows deep as 30-35 but they are rising with cooler temperatures.

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

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

Hey Dale,

Here is a recap of this weeks fishing.

Area lakes-with the warming water temps and low water conditions, fishing has been a grind. Early morning hours have been the best times.

Bass have been buried in heavy weed mats. Best bait has been texas rigged powerbait worms. Use a heavy enough weight to punch through the weeds. Patience is needed as this is not a numbers game, but will be rewarded with some larger fish.

. . .

Here is the nature pic of the week[below]. Change is coming. Photo courtesy of TJ O’Malley.

TTYL

Ken “Husker” O’Malley
Husker Outdoors
Waterwerks fishing team

A fall scene in 2021. Credit: TJ O’Malley
A fall scene in 2021.
TJ O’Malley

Pete Lamar emailed:

I’ll give you the still water report for this week (I’m going to fish a Fox trib this evening-let’s see if the rain materializes and if it does any good). I did much better on small ponds than bigger water. Bluegills were hitting aggressively on and near the surface. All sizes too, everything from bass bait up to hand-sized. Things were much tougher for me on the local lake. There are very few openings in the shoreline vegetation big enough to drop a fly into. All I got were some small bass. Fishing from a boat or float tube and casting in towards the outside edge of the weeds might have been much more productive.

Pete

BRAIDWOOD LAKE

Open daily 6 a.m. to sunset.

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Art Frisell at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said bluegill are good in 8-12 on waxies and chartreuse jigs; for crappie, try Mini-Mites or Rat Finkees with small minnows or spikes; walleye are fair, try around current or troll crankbaits on the main lake flats; catfish are fair on crawlers or roaches.

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

Jeffrey Williams with a rare summer perch from the Chicago River. Provided photo
Jeffrey Williams with a rare summer perch from the Chicago River.
Provided

Jeffrey Williams messaged on Sunday the photo above from the river. That is a more common sight in winter, rare in the heat of September. When he caught another, he noted it was a good sign. I agree.

He added:

yeah caught 2, 11 and 10 in

Brian Caunter at Henry’s Sports and Bait said some white bass are being caught downtown, too.

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

Scott Oglanian with one of the many smallmouth he caught this summer from the Fox River. Provided photo
Scott Oglanian with one of the many smallmouth he caught this summer from the Fox River.
Provided

Scott Oglanian messaged the above photo, one of many, from the Fox over the summer.

He later messaged:

4.6lbs is the biggest one I’ve caught this summer

Dicky’s Bait Shop in Montgomery reported rain helped a bit with water levels; a 44-inch muskie caught on a spinner while bass fishing; otherwise catfish up and down the river, live suckers or cutbait.

Pete Lamar emailed Tuesday:

Hi Dale,

We did get rain yesterday afternoon. Just not enough to change conditions at all. The Fox above a dam was barely moving (there was flow over the weekend for a while after some rain to the north of us). The creek I fished was low, clear and cold thanks to the groundwater flow. I lost count of how many smallmouths I caught; not one threatened the 10-inch mark. But they did behave the same as their older and larger relatives: they were chasing minnows into shallow water and against barriers and then attacking aggressively. I hooked what turned out to be a chub in some slack water, Immediately it got very heavy and I couldn’t control him at all. I reeled up the slack in order to let the drag do its work and prepared for a long battle. Something much bigger had grabbed the chub. It let go after a moment and I landed the chub. He didn’t have any teeth marks on him, so I don’t think it was a pike or muskie. All I can think of in that stretch of water was maybe a big smallmouth or a channel cat.

I love the mystery of unseen big fish.

GREEN LAKE AREA, WISCONSIN

Tyler Uteg with a smallmouth bass caught along a weed edge on a tube. Provided by Mike Norris
Tyler Uteg with a smallmouth bass caught along a weed edge on a tube.
Provided by Mike Norris

Guide Mike Norris emailed this:

Mike Norris

Big Green Lake – Water temp. has dropped to 67 degrees and both smallmouth and largemouth bass remain active out on weed edges. Drop shot rigs or tubes are good choices. It took 19.06 lbs. to win a bass tournament on Big Green last Sunday. Bluegills remain excellent outside of weed edges and around cribs. Vertical jig with a drop shot rig with a small hook and half of a redworm. Lake trout moving shallower and can be caught vertical jigging with three-quarter oz. Northland Rattle Spoons. Late trout fishing closes September 30th and doesn’t reopen until January 1st.

Fox Lake – Largemouth bass fishing is good. Water temp cooling down 8 to 10 degrees and fish are starting to feed regularly. Try pitching Bitsy Bug jigs tipped with imitation crawfish up against shoreline rock piles. Senko’s remain a good second choice.

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.

KANKAKEE RIVER

George Peters with a 19-inch smallmouth bass from the Kankakee River. Provided photo
George Peters with a 19-inch smallmouth bass from the Kankakee River.
Provided

George Peters emailed the photo above, one of three big smallmouth, and this on Monday:

Hi Dale , kkk very low still warm. Many baits working.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley echoed something similar below:

Hey Dale,

Here is a recap of this weeks fishing.

. . .

Kankakee-wading conditions are back to being excellent again. Water temps however are back up to near 80. Summer patterns continue to work. Focus on faster moving water and current seams. Crankbaits in craw patters have been the best bait for smallmouth.

. . .

TTYL

Ken “Husker” O’Malley
Husker Outdoors
Waterwerks fishing team

Bob Johnson emailed the photo below and this:

Hi Dale - The river pool is in good shape and rains on Tuesday should not change much, a small stain added. Temps rose to 74. Fish are in pools scattered throughout river. Any bottom structure should hold bass. I used small finesse baits in dark color and managed a few,

Bob Johnson with some nice Kankakee River smallmouth bass. Provided photo
Bob Johnson with some nice Kankakee River smallmouth bass.
Provided

LAKE ERIE

Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.

LAKEFRONT

NOTE: Salmon snagging is not open.

Brian Caunter at Henry’s Sports and Bait said some salmon reports, including some smaller ones at Montrose; some largemouth and smallmouth at harbor mouths on bladebaits.

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

Chinook fishing is still pretty steady up and down the lakefront. Mostly in the dark but there have been a few caught in the daylight hours. Glow in the dark spoons and crankbaits are working best. Best spoons to use Moonshines, KO Wobblers and Little Cleos. Best crankbaits are Livingstons, Thundersticks and Flickr Shads. Personally haven’t seen or heard of any trout being caught yet but they should be starting any time soon. Trout can be caught by casting spoons also but mostly caught under a slip bobber with spawn sacs, larger minnows such as a medium shiner (golden roach) nightcrawlers and even shrimp. There has been a few nice Northern caught while people were casting for the salmon.There are still some nice small mouth being caught here and there also.Have a great week!

Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters said out of Chicago more smaller kings and coho are mixed with steelhead and lakers in 100-140, it’s pretty good, mornings better; out of North Point, fishing off shore in 160-250 for a mixed bag of lakers and steelhead with some smaller kings and coho, too, reefs are becoming active for lakers, normal for this time of year.

Capt. Scott Wolfe of School of Fish Charters emailed:

The offshore lake trout fishing was fantastic with limit catches every trip. 110-140 feet using smoke or silver Luhr-Jensen Dodgers and Jimmy Fly Laker Takers near the bottom, orange and Yellow Mo rigs were the best. 300 coppers with Magnum Warrior Spoons in purple and blue patterns like Voodoo, Blue Dolphin and Blue/Yellow Dolphin took lakers and smaller salmon, both Chinook and Coho.

Steelhead and smaller salmon were there. Smaller spoons run 50 to 65 down in 80 to 120 feet was productive. Warrior XL Fin Girl and Jamaican Sunrise were the best lures run off downriggers.

Kings and coho are in the harbor. When the water is cool they are active. When hot water moves in they will be inactive. Flicker shads have been the best lures so far. The skein bite should be starting this week.

Please remember safety first. It looks like 8 foot waives multiple days this week. The water is still higher than normal and people need to be careful.

Capt. Scott Wolfe

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

That’s sound advice for both boaters and those harbor fishing.

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.

MINNESOTA

Justin Lederer with a smallmouth bass from Mille Lacs. Provided by McQuoid’s Inn
Justin Lederer with a smallmouth bass from Mille Lacs.
Provided by McQuoid’s Inn

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. The fall bite is one for the smallmouth picked up this football in 7’ of water dragging suckers on a swim bait jig. Been producing good fish in 5-18 foot of water around the reefs and big boulders. Walleye are also in shallow getting reports of guys catching the in 5-15 feet trolling shad raps.

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

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

Things slowly moving into a good fall pattern. With temps this past week swinging wildly from lows of 36 degrees to highs of 84 degrees and water temps fluctuating from low to upper 60’s had things a little mixed up, plus lots of wind!

Largemouth Bass: Good-Very Good – Not the easiest of conditions, yet anglers fishing weeds of 8-12’ did well using Wacky Worms and drop-shot rigs. Large suckers working for the live bait anglers.

Northern Pike: Good-Very Good – Jigging chubs and suckers in the 3-5’ range where ever green weeds of 4-10’ could be found. Casting weedless spoons (Jawbreakers, Silver Minnows) and spinner baits also good.

Smallmouth Bass: Good-Very Good – Numbers found on gravel humps or along coontail edges using drop-shot rigs or Ned rigs. Big Bass have been very shallow! These big fish found along inside weed lines taking top-water (Whopper Ploppers) or tubes on light jig heads (1/16 – 1/8 oz). Big 19-22”+ fish being reported.

Crappie: Good – Starting to group up on certain waters. Look for deeper clusters of wood or outside of 14-18’ coontail. Use slip floats to suspend bait 2-4’ off bottom.

Musky: Good-Fair – Heat over weekend seemed to slow things. Top-water best during low light levels. Bucktails and swim baits over top of deeper weeds. Live suckers on bladed rigs having some success with all the wind of late.

Walleye: Fair-Good – Action starting to pick up on traditional fall locations as anglers fishing deep gravel/mud flat edges picking up fish on jig/minnow and Lindy rigs. Wind blown shorelines are giving anglers some success on scattered Walleyes feeding on young Perch.

Yellow Perch: Fair – Few targeting, but nice Perch (10”+) being caught by anglers fishing Walleyes in shallows on 1/16 oz jigs and large fatheads.

Bluegill: Fair - Some big Gills as incidental catches fishing Crappies, but few anglers targeting in wind.

This coming week looks to be more favorable as temps unlikely to crest mid 60’s until Sunday and night time lows in 40’s should get surface temps to hold in low 60’s. These next two to three weeks should be prime for fish activity and provide lots of opportunities for anglers targeting all their favorites.

Kurt Justice

Kurt’s Island Sport Shop
Like us on Facebook

NORTHWEST INDIANA

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

With the cool weather and rain coming this week it will help push what salmon we do have up in the tributaries. Casting spinners or using spawn sacks is best.

Crappie bite will continue to get better with the water cooling down fish lake George in Hobart with crappie minnows at evening time around the bridges.

Catfish bite at rosser lake has been good on triple s catfish bait lots of action.

Perch fishing is very quiet. Not much going on.

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

Hi, Dale. All ready for the upcoming Fall season that starts this week?! I know I am welcoming that cooler weather and can’t wait to begin putting up those spooky Halloween decorations…here’s what we’ve heard is going on in the fishing world…

Trolling on Lake Michigan the past week, when the weather conditions were fair, (i.e., not windy & calm waters) anglers were picking up some Salmon & Steelhead in 100-150 FOW. Green & orange spoons are currently working best.

Perch fishing remains good in 60 FOW.Beemoths, rosy reds, & red worms are working exceptionally well.

River fishermen are still catching a few Walleye (leeches & walleye spinners having recent success), & A LOT of Smallmouth Bass (Senko Worms & golden roaches working very well) & Catfish (Sonny’s, Skipjack, & hornworms baits of choice).

Inland lakes are producing some nice catches of bluegill, mostly on smaller leeches, worms, & beemoths.

ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN

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

SHABBONA LAKE

Hope is cooler temperatures will increase effort and success.

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 perch were caught in 60 feet over the weekend, but winds stopped pier and boat fishing. Some silver fish are going through the Berrien Springs ladder. Paddle and Pole hosts 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. River’s Edge said decent sturgeon are being caught, but no keepers are registered so far; otherwise, there’s decent smallmouth, smaller walleye and white bass; river is down some.

WOLF RIVER

Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:

Crappie action is picking up. Some walleye and white bass are coming in. Water temp is 67 degrees and should be dropping with nights in the 40’s in the forecast