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Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Lakefront Chinook, closing dates, snagging to open, C&R trout

Recent weather making fishing for lakefront Chinook more variable, snagging for Chinook and coho opening Friday at select spots on the Illinois lakefront, closing dates for cooling lakes, and early catch-and-release trout opening Saturday are in this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

Brian Murphy, from Oswego, with a Big Green smallmouth bass caught on a swimbait. Provided by Mike Norris
Brian Murphy, from Oswego, with a Big Green smallmouth bass caught on a swimbait.
Provided by Mike Norris

Weather impacts on fishing for shoreline and tributary salmon and trout around southern Lake Michigan, the opening of snagging for Chinook and coho at select Illinois spots on Friday, the closing dates for cooling lakes, and early catch-and-release trout are in this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

Mike Norris emailed the photo at the top of Brian Murphy of Oswego with a nice smallmouth bass from Big Green Lake in Wisconsin. When I saw the photo, I marveled at the size of the belly and replied to Norris. He answered with a typically erudite answer:

Yes I wish I had taken a shot of the stomach. From the shape of it he must of ate a bluegill and it wedged in perpendicularly so the stomach was really wide. The amazing thing about my lake compared to Geneva is our fish are fat. Geneva fish are long and skinny. You will see the difference in the photos. Our bluegills are the same

SHORELINE/TRIBUTARY SALMON/TROUT

The winds really altered conditions last week.

CHICAGO: Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

Good morning Dale. Those big winds in the middle of the week really stirred the lake up it was pretty dirty for quite a few days but it did push from what I heard salmon into Diversey and Belmont harbors, Montrose has been a little slower. Before the big winds one of my regular customers was using medium roaches and got a nice little Rainbow so I have a feeling the trout are going to start being around also. All in all is so far been a decent salmon season. Have a great week.

WAUKEGAN: Capt. Dan Leslie at the Salmon Stop said salmon/trout picked up and more are being caught days on spawn sacs (5 feet under a bobber) or Rat-L-Traps and some big stickbaits; at night it is back to big glow spoons.

Capt. Scott Wolfe of School of Fish Charters emailed:

. . .

In the harbor the hot water is taking its toll. Fishing was slow and the fish inactive. Most anglers are still casting but they need to fish skein or sacks in these conditions. The fish are not active enough to chase lures now.

Unfortunately, winds look to be East almost all week, which won’t help. Hopefully cold water currents will migrate in and spark some action.

Capt. Scott Wolfe

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

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

Tributaries have what salmon we are getting in them now skein,spawn sacks and spinners best baits

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN: Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said some straggler coho are in the river and up at Berrien Springs; no report. Paddle and Pole hosts the Berrien Springs Fish Ladder Camera.

SOUTHEAST WISCONSIN: The better reports seem to be coming from Kenosha, Racine (such as the FOTW) and Milwaukee.

SALMON SNAGGING

Here are the details from the IDNR:

4) Snagging for chinook and coho salmon only is permitted from the following Lake Michigan shoreline areas from October 1 through December 31; however, no snagging is allowed at any time within 200 feet of a moored watercraft or as posted: A) Lincoln Park Lagoon from the Fullerton Avenue Bridge to the southern end of the Lagoon. B) Waukegan Harbor (in North Harbor basin only). C) Winnetka Power Plant discharge area. D) Jackson Harbor (Inner and Outer Harbors).

d) Disposition of Snagged Salmon and Paddlefish. All snagged salmon and paddlefish must be removed from the area from which they are taken and disposed of properly, in accordance with Article 5, Section 5-5 of the Fish and Aquatic Life Code.

TROUT SEASON

Early catch-and-release season for trout opens Saturday, Oct. 2 at select spots, closest is Rock Creek at Kankakee River State Park. The regular fall trout season opens Oct. 16.

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.

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

A few more crappie reports trickle in.

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:

Hey Dale,

Here is a recap of this past weeks fishing.

Area lakes-some much needed rain has temporarily helped with water levels. Colder overnight temps have water temps coming down to slowly start fall patterns.

Bass are still in the weeds so search baits are productive to find active bass. Top water poppers in the morning and evening hours has been productive. Follow up misses with senkos.

Crappie are becoming active. They are scattered but a few can be caught twitching minnow baits over the top of weeds.

. . .

TTYL

Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Husker Outdoors
Waterwerks fishing team

Dicky’s Bait Shop in Montgomery reported better fishing for bluegill and largemouth with the cooling temperatures.

BRAIDWOOD LAKE

BoRabb Williams messaged from earlier in the week, “a few small cats... Bass were slow too”

Open daily 6 a.m. to sunset. Oct. 19 is the final day of fishing.

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Arden Katz said yellow and white bass with a few crappie and perch mixed in were good in 10-12 feet on Maria, trolling at .5 mph; he was rip-jigging while his boat partner was using a double Mini-Mite rig. Water was 67.

I was out Friday with Phil Piscitello and Mike Jackson. Piscitello had us on lots of white and yellow bass on wind-blown points, we also caught a few other surprise species, including a beautiful crappie and 17-inch walleye. He has us casting small rattlebaits.

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 Thursday, Sept. 30. Beginning Friday, Oct. 1, hours go to 8 a.m.-8 p.m.

CHICAGO RIVER

Jeffrey Williams with a Chicago River carp with a story. Provided photo
Jeffrey Williams with a Chicago River carp with a story.
Provided

Jeffrey Williams messaged the photo above and his on Friday:

10 lbs 28 in Shout out to IDNR for helping me with this brown torpedo

On Monday, he followed up with the photo below and this:

big boi 17 pounds 32 in, gave me a 35 minute fight

Jeffrey Williams with a Chicago River carp. Provided photo
Jeffrey Williams with a Chicago River carp.
Provided

DELAVAN LAKE, WISCONSIN

Dave Duwe emailed:

Delavan Lake 9/27/21 through 10/4/21

We had a week of warm, consistent weather that produced some great fishing opportunities.

Northern Pike fishing was really good all week, except for Sunday when the cold front moved in. They have again been off the weedline in 20-25 ft of water. I’ve found that the larger the sucker the better. I’ve been lindy rigging 8 inch suckers. The best location is by the gray condos or by Willow Point. 30% of the fish have been legal. Once the weather stabilizes, the pike will bite up to turnover and then go on a feeding frenzy until ice up. Turnover is approximately 3 weeks away depending on the weather.

The walleye have been sporadic. The most success has come while trolling deep diving crankbaits in 22-25 ft of water or by lindy rigging nightcrawlers on the weedline. The best colors for the crankbaits are fire tiger or pearl. I’ve been catching about one out of five fish that are legal. The best location has been by the Village point and the Oriental boat house.

Bluegills are in the 12-15 ft depth range. They are not as easy to catch as they were in the past few weeks. However, with a little perseverance a limit is possible. The best bait is leaf worms straight lined beneath the boat or on slip bobbers. Good success is coming from the Browns Channel area or west of Willow Point on the flat.

Largemouth bass that I’m fishing for are coming off the deep weedline. I’m moving around a lot. There is no rhyme or reason as to their location. I just move down the weedline fishing nightcrawlers on a split shot rig. The best location seems to be from the Village Point down to the Oriental boat house. Once the water cools to about 60 degrees, I will switch from nightcrawlers to fathead minnows.

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

DOWNSTATE

LAKE SARA: Art Costa messaged about his champion dog and added this:

I was with the Village Sportsman Club out of Alsip fishing in Lake Sara in Effingham , Thursday and Friday was slow with the wind , Saturday crappie and strippers were starting to hit but the catfish 3 to 6 # were hungry

POWERTON: Hours are 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Friday, Sept. 30. On Friday, Oct. 1, winter hours—8 a.m.-4 p.m.—return. Last day for boat fishing is Oct. 24. Bank fishing runs through Oct. 29.

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.

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

HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Closed for the season.

FOX RIVER

Dicky’s Bait Shop in Montgomery reported more anglers fishing with cooler temperatures; the river is very low and dropping; some of the larger flatheads started to be caught and some big muskies below the dams.

Pete Lamar emailed:

Hi Dale

All moving water for me this week-I really wanted to catch smallmouths.

I did get to practice some two-handed casting on the Fox last night (at some point, Wisconsin is going to get enough rain to draw salmon and steelhead into the tributaries, isn’t it? I want to be ready if it ever happens). There was barely any flow where I was. I might as well have been casting on a pond.

We did get some rain late last week, but it didn’t affect water levels much. Outings on the Fox tribs reminded me of trout fishing in the central sands of Wisconsin, the water was so clear. I stayed out of the water as much as possible; when I did need to wade, it was upstream-only in order to avoid spooking fish. I did catch fish on minnow patterns, but nothing memorable in terms of size. It was a bright afternoon and the fish were holding in any shade they could find.

Pete

GENEVA LAKE, WISCONSIN

Dave Duwe emailed:

Lake Geneva 9/27/21 through 10/4/21

The yellow perch are everywhere in 12-16 ft of water. You need to sort through a lot of the small ones to catch quality fish, however you can use the small ones as bait for the bass. The best presentation is a leaf worms or a small piece of nightcrawler. I’ve been straight lining with a single hook and a split shot beneath the boat for the maximum success. You could try slip bobbering with small minnows, that may actually produce some bigger fish.

Smallmouth bass fishing has been great. It’s probably a month later than normal but the bass are finally schooled up on the deep weed points in 25-35 ft of water. This is my favorite time to fish for both size and numbers. I’ve been averaging at least 3 fish over 18 inches every trip out. I have been lindy rigging small yellow perch or lindy rigging nightcrawlers. I use a 1/8 oz walking sinker and a 24 inch leader. Good locations are by Knollwood and by the Military Academy.

Northern Pike are off the thermocline and again cruising the shallow weedlines. The best location is by Linn Pier or by Trinkes Bay. Most of the success is coming off of large white spinner baits or by trolling crankbaits like the Bandit Shallow Walleye. Fire tiger has been producing most of the success.

Rock bass and bluegills are again in the 12-14 ft depth range. They can be caught on nightcrawlers fished on a split shot rig. Some of the best success has been by the Military Academy and by Knollwood. Some of the sunfish I caught last week were in excess of 10 inches.

There are some walleyes being caught at night trolling large crankbaits. Most of the success is coming off of large Rapalas or deep diving Walleye Bandits. Chrome/Blue or Chrome/black are the best choices. Try for the fish in Williams Bay or Trinkes Bay.

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 – 09/24/2021

Mike Norris

Big Green Lake – Cooler weather last week brought the surface temp on Big Green down to 63 degrees. Fishing for smallmouth bass with tubes and drop shots along weed edges and cribs has picked up as they begin to feed more with the cooler water temperatures. Largemouth bass are under docks and in shallow weedy areas with healthy vegetation. Try skipping jigs under the docks and Senko’s in the weed pockets. Windy and rainy days late last week hampered fishermen, but with dry weather and lighter winds this week, fishing should be outstanding. The crappie bite is also picking up as is muskie fishing. Lake trout fishing is now closed until January 1.

Little Green – With cooler water temps fishing has picked up on Little Green Lake and now is the time to try fishing for muskies. Work bucktails along weed edges and in the bays. Crappies remain good in the basin and perch can be found along the shoreline.

Fox Lake – Largemouth bass remain active along the shoreline rocks and around the islands. Try swim jigs and Senko’s. Crappies are starting to bite on jigs and minnows in the basin, but you must keep moving to find them.

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. Oct. 12 is the final day of fishing.

KANKAKEE RIVER

Bob Johnson with a good fall smallmouth bass on the Kankakee River. Provided photo
Bob Johnson with a good fall smallmouth bass on the Kankakee River.
Provided

Bob Johnson emailed the photo above and this:

Hi Dale -Another great day on the river. Fall conditions are setting in water temps at 63 and water mostly clear. Caught these smallmouth on surface lures and finesse baits. The earlier the better on the surface lure bite. The big smallmouth was 19” at 3.5 lbs, good river bass!

LAKE ERIE

Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.

LAKEFRONT

Salmon/trout report for the shoreline is at the top.

Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters said they fished reefs out of North Point on Sunday and found good lake trout off the reef in 140-160 with some kings, too. The wind and waves have made Chicago fishing slow.

Capt. Scott Wolfe of School of Fish Charters emailed:

The big NE blow last week really, really hurt the fishing. Until then we hade been getting limits of trout in under two hours with some big steelhead and small salmon to go with them in 105 to 140. We had 46 degree water 100 feet down. After the wind it’s 65 degrees top to bottom on the tops of the reefs, 120 down. We have been getting about 8 fish per trip, a mix of lake trout and 2 and 3 year old kings 125 to 160 down on downriggers. Magnum spoons in yellow and Aqua like Warrior UV Lemon Ice and Hey Babe have been best. Until cold currents come in, fishing will likely be slow.

In the harbor the hot water is taking its toll. Fishing was slow and the fish inactive. Most anglers are still casting but they need to fish skein or sacks in these conditions. The fish are not active enough to chase lures now.

Unfortunately, winds look to be East almost all week, which won’t help. Hopefully cold water currents will migrate in and spark some action.

Capt. Scott Wolfe

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

LaSALLE LAKE

Open daily 6 a.m. to sunset.Oct. 15 is the final day of fishing.

MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN

Click here for the update from D&S Bait.

MAZONIA

Both units are open for fishing. Oct. 19 is the final day of fishing; but Monster stays open all year.

MINNESOTA

Tim Potoczny with a nice smallmouth bass from Mille Lacs. Provided by McQuoid’s Inn
Tim Potoczny with a nice smallmouth bass from Mille Lacs.
Provided by McQuoid’s Inn

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

Justin Lederer checking in from McQuoids Inn Lake Mille Lacs. The boss and I managed to get out the last couple days and chase smallmouth. This little pig was caught in 7’ dragging suckers on a Lindy rig. It’s a good sucker bite right now you want to get 3”-4” suckers if possible. Work the tops of the reefs and if your not finding them slide off a little deeper. They are starting to stack up and have the fall feed bag on. Some walleye are being caught in the same area’s using the same technique. The Fall colors are starting to pop. Come on up and enjoy the beautiful scenery on atvs or by boat the trails are awesome right now and the fishing is great.

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

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

A bit of a long, stretched out cool down. Water temps hanging in the low to mid 60’s despite some night time lows in the upper 30’s, afternoon warm spells averaging things out.

Largemouth Bass: Good-Fair – Best in live green weeds in water of 5-8’. Swim baits, Wacky worms. Most action subtle, not a lot of aggressive action.

Smallmouth Bass: Good-Fair – Same a last week, big fish (19”+) in shallows, inside weed edges on Whopper Ploppers and spinner baits with Colorado blades. Off shore humps and coontail edges providing action fish (10-14”) on drop-shot rigs.

Northern Pike: Good-Fair – Most action on spinner baits and 4” swim baits. Wind blown shores providing best action.

Crappie: Good-Fair – Still scattered, but starting to find some small concentrations in around wood of 12-16’. Medium fats under slip-floats best.

Walleye: Fair – Bite best on lakes with depth. Walleyes being picked up along transition areas of hard to soft, with mud flats in 20-30’ producing for anglers jigging large fat heads or ½ crawlers.

Bluegill: Fair - Some big Gills (9”+) being found deep in 14-18’ around wood being used by Crappies

Yellow Perch: Fair – Same as Gills on Flowages. On lakes Perch found scattered along weed flats of 6-10’.

Musky: Fair – Shallow weeds still best with top-water, swim baits and large fluted bladed buck tails. With water temps in low 60’s, the sucker bite isn’t far away.

Gonna have some very nice weather this week, too nice for us anglers, but by the weekend things should cool and improve into October.

Kurt Justice

Kurt’s Island Sport Shop
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NORTHWEST INDIANA

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

Tributaries have what salmon we are getting in them now skein,spawn sacks and spinners best baits

Crappie decent in the evening at lake George in Hobart using crappie minnows around the bridges.

Rosser lake still giving up catfish on triple s stink bait.

Musky suckers in stock now here at Slez’s.

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

Hi, Dale! The recent up-down weather has certainly proven a fishing challenge! Here’s what’s been going on, & hopefully the upcoming beautiful conditions will prove fruitful.

Due to high winds last week, trolling & Perch fishing was very slim last week.

Anglers did get out on the rivers & inland lakes-river anglers caught some nice Walleye & Smallmouth, with a few Catfish mixed in. Those on the inland lakes lake caught some nice catches of Bluegill. This week’s forecast looks much better.

ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN

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

SHABBONA LAKE

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 straggler coho are in the river and up at Berrien Springs; no report from the lake or for perch.

Paddle and Pole hosts the Berrien Springs Fish Ladder Camera.

WISCONSIN DELLS

Hook-and-line sturgeon season in Wisconsin runs through Thursday, Sept. 30. Click here for the details. Click here for the harvest areas. River’s Edge reported its first registered sturgeon last week (62 inches, 65 pounds); otherwise the river is low and the white bass are going by the dam.

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:

Conditions haven’t changed much. Water temp is in the low 60’s. Crappie are still the best bite.