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Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: The hope of lakefront kings, inland bass, crappie and walleye

The hope of Chinook on shore around southern Lake Michigan leads this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report, but there are bass, crappie and walleye reports on inland waters, too.

Brad Wooten with a good walleye from the Fox River. Provided photo
Brad Wooten with a good walleye from the Fox River.
Provided

The hope for fall Chinook on shore around southern Lake Michigan leads this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report, but there are plenty of fish on inland waters getting prepared for fall patterns.

Brad Wooten emailed the photo above and this:

Hi, Dale.

Went out to the Fox River Labor Day evening and caught this chunky 4lb., 21.5 in. Walleye on a swimbait.

Thought I’d submit for FOTW, or if nothing else to send encouragement for the upcoming Fall bite for walleye on the Fox River.

Best Always,

Brad Wooten

LAKEFRONT SALMON/TROUT ON SOUTHERN LAKE MICHIGAN

It’s the beginnings for shoreline and tributary fishing for fall kings and some

Ralph Vulpitta Jr. posted that they saw four Chinook caught Sunday night at Belmont.

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait texted: texted on Friday:

First one [king] we witnessed. Caught by Jesus Maya 13 lb chinook at montrose on a 1 oz moonshine lure at 6:30 am.

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted that a 14-pound king was caught Monday morning, it has been spotty before than other than the burst the previous weekend.

Dan Leslie at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan said, “Kings are in, early bite (3 a.m. to an hour after sunrise) because of warm water.” If the west winds build and bring in cooler water, it will be an all day bite. It’s a spoon bite, though a few are using live bait under a bobber. Fish color is good, though some are spawned out already. “Seems like a good year for them.” There’s fewer steelhead than recently, but worth trying for them, too.

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

Some salmon have starting moving in the tributaries. #3 spinners, spawn sacks and skein are the baits to take.

In Michigan, staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said quick run of kings came in last week for a couple days late at night at St. Joseph pier before the water warmed; a couple steelhead and a few kings ran into the river; at South Haven, a couple kings and a few steelhead were caught off the pier.

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

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

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

Hey Dale,

Here is a recap of this past weeks fishing.

Area lakes-water temps are starting to decline with the cooler overnight temps. It won’t be long until the fall patterns start.

Until then, bass have been very good during morning hours. At first light, work a top water popper over the top of the weeds. Once the sun starts to rise, work a senko along the outside weedlines. A few cruising bass can also be caught close to shore with long parallel casts.

. . .

TTYL

Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Husker Outdoors
Waterwerks fishing team

Pete Lamar emailed:

Hi Dale,

Things changed for the better this week. The water is cooling-at least on small ponds, less so on the bigger bodies of water-and the fish seemed to like it. I was targeting bluegills and getting them, but there were some unexpected largemouths as a bonus.

. . .

Pete

The times are changing.

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, running shallower in 5-8 feet, try ice jigs with waxies, spikes or red worms; catfish, as always, are good overall, best on small to medium roaches or crawlers; crappie are fair, try Bluff; walleye are fair, look across main lake flats with slip-bobber or split-shot rigs; muskie are fair on large bucktails or small jerkbait, try Fox Lake.

NOTE: The Fox Lake Youth Fishing Derby is 8 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Sept. 11 at Lakefront Park. Click here for details or call (224) 225-1404.

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 his heaviest-ever crappie from the Chicago River. Provided photo
Jeffrey Williams with his heaviest-ever crappie from the Chicago River.
Provided

Jeffrey Williams messaged on Monday the photo above of a 1.12-pound crappie and this:

heaviest Crappie i ever caught

crappies and LMB are stacked up, went through 4 dozen minnows in a 6 hr period

Things were so good that he kept a precise tally of all caught.

On the photos above and below, and this:

today was a adventure 14 LMB 7 Crappies A rock bass Catfish and my brother got in a 13 lb carp Also pictured if my bass thumb

Good ole bass thumb.

Jesse Gonzalez with a big Chicago River carp. Provided photo
Jesse Gonzalez with a big Chicago River carp.
Provided

DELAVAN LAKE, WISCONSIN

Dave Duwe emailed:

Delavan Lake Fishing Report 9/6/21 through 9/13/21

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.

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

HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Closed for the season.

DUPAGE RIVER

Pete Lamar emailed:

Hi Dale,

. . .

The Fox and DuPage are about the same distance for me, but I rarely fish the DuPage. That may change. I was in the area for a social call over the long weekend and stopped to make a few casts. The water was low, crystal clear and surprisingly cold. There must be some ground water entering the river nearby. I hooked a fair number of small fish but didn’t land any. And this was in a heavily utilized area: I was always in sight of other anglers, kayaks, cyclists or hikers. The fishing would probably only improve with some more walking.

Pete

FOX RIVER

Dicky’s Bait Shop in Montgomery reported quite a few people fishing over the weekend, catfish are starting to bite better with the cooler temperatures at night on a wide variety of baits; suckers are back in stock. River remains low, but bite improved.

GENEVA LAKE, WISCONSIN

Dave Duwe emailed:

Lake Geneva Fishing Report 9/06/21 through 9/13/21

Smallmouth bass are still relating to hard bottoms in deep water. The best depth has been 21-25 ft of water. The best locations are by Fontana Beach, Conference Point or by Black Point. I’ve been using nightcrawlers and fat head minnows with equal success. The bigger fish are coming out of slightly deeper water in the 25-28 ft depth range, but the majority are a few feet shallower.

Largemouth bass fishing has been improving. The bass are starting to move into shallower water from their deep summer haunts. Look for the fish in Williams Bay or by Trinkes. The best depth currently is about 14 ft. Use drop shot rigs or Carolina rigged green pumpkin lizards.

Northern Pike action has been almost non-existent this summer and that continues. There are a few fish being caught in the 25-30 ft depth range. Lindy rigs with medium suckers have been producing the most but it’s still not that great of a bite. The northern pike will continue to move shallower as the water cools and the fishing should improve significantly.

Bluegills remain in the deep water locations. Some of the nicest fish I’ve caught in recent years are coming right now. The best depth is 22-25 ft of water. Look for the fish by Fontana Beach or by the Chicago Club. Straight lining leaf worms beneath the boat has been producing most of the fish.

Lake Trout fishing has started to slow with the cooling water. The fish aren’t suspended as much and they are laying close to the bottom making them hard to catch. There are still some people trying for them in the main lake basin.

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 texted the FOTW and emailed this:

Fishing Report – 09/03/2021

Mike Norris

Big Green Lake – Bluegills remain my favorite choice for fishing right now. This year’s crop of gills on Big Green have been phenomenal as I am finding massive schools of gills throughout the lake. I must keep moving around until I locate bigger gills, but once I find them its lights out. I am using a drop shot rig with a half of a red worm threaded onto a small Aberdeen hook. The bonus is the number of smallmouth bass I and my clients are catching while gill fishing. I am also targeting smallmouth bass with a Berkley Max Scent Flat Worm on a drop shot rig.

Fox Lake – The arrival of cooler weather here in south central Wisconsin has cooled the water down on Fox Lake and the largemouth bass and northern pike fishing has picked up. Try Senko’s around rocky shoreline areas. White chatterbaits remain the best choice for northern pike.

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

Bob Johnson with an early fall smallmouth bass from the Kankakee River. Provided photo
Bob Johnson with an early fall smallmouth bass from the Kankakee River.
Provided

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

Hi Dale -Back to my favorite Midwest body of water fishing for the native smallmouth Bass. The Kankakee river is in good shape with temps falling to 73 in areas and water clarity good out of current slightly stained in other. Fishing the end of summer can be spotty. Numbers are down this time of year however quality fish can be caught by working baits shallow back to deeper water down to 9’ Soft plastics in dark colors worked along with surface lures early. The Pike busted a buzz bait, a pleasant surprise. The smallmouth was 18” at 3lb.

Bob Johnson with a nice northern pike from the Kankakee River. Provided photo
Bob Johnson with a nice northern pike from the Kankakee River.
Provided

Ken “Husker” O’Malley emailed:

Hey Dale,

Here is a recap of this past weeks fishing.

. . .

Kankakee River-river is in perfect wading condition with a slight stain. Smallmouth are good casting lipless crankbaits along current seams and slate flats with larger boulders in faster mover water. Key is to bump the bait off the rocks to draw strikes.

. . .

TTYL

Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Husker Outdoors
Waterwerks fishing team

He’s got that right about the wading conditions, at least before the storms blew through this afternoon.

LAKE ERIE

Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.

LAKEFRONT

Lakefront salmon report at the top. Whispers of boaters catching perch, but I can’t get confirmation.

Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters said that out of Chicago, there’s lakers in 100-150 with the occasional coho and Chinook; out of North Point, fish—coho, occasional king and steelhead with lakers, here and there—scattered from 110 to 250.

Capt. Scott Wolfe of School of Fish Charters emailed:

Lake trout fishing was again outstanding with limit catches every trip. 110-140 feet using smoke Luhr-Jensen Dodgers and Jimmy Fly Green Guy Mo rigs near the bottom. Warrior spoons in green or Aqua with UV Hey Babe and Green Menace as the best on downriggers 5 - 15 feet off the bottom.

For steelhead, coho and 3 year old kings the key is locating cold currents. Early in the week we had a cold current in 70 to 95 feet. Over Labor Day weekend one was in 140-150 that was holding steelhead and coho. These fish are very inconsistent and moving as the current wanders. Long lines with lead core and coppers with purple or orange Warrior Spoons including Voodoo, Riverside and Orange Killer patterns.

In the harbor no luck for kings yet, but I heard of some steelhead caught casting glow spoons.

Capt. Scott Wolfe

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

LaSALLE LAKE

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

MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN

Click here for the update from D&S Bait.

MAZONIA

Both units are open for fishing.

MENOMINEE RIVER, WISCONSIN

Guide Mike Mladenik of bigsmallmouthbass.com emailed:

The topwater bite continued on the Menominee River in August. We had only 4 days this summer that we did not catch smallmouth on topwater! This great topwater bite should continue through mid-September. Lots of quality smallmouth were also caught on Case Magic Stiks rigged with Spearpoint hooks.

The fall bite should be awesome on the river. I still have some prime late September and October dates open so if interested let me know ASAP.

MINNESOTA

Mille Lacs smallmouth bass. Provided by McQuoid’s Inn
Mille Lacs smallmouth bass.
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. Here is a report from one of guides Alan the picture is a nice double on one of his recent trips.

The last week has been fantastic on Millelacs. The leadcore bite has stayed consistent for the last week.. Not alot of big fish , but numbers.. The smallie bit has been a little slower, but consistent on big fish.(20’s , 21’ and biggest just touching 21.75”) big girls are starting too put the feed bag on, Sept and early October should be fire for big smallmouth. Not too mention the muskie fishing firing up.. Have a great and safe labor day and tight lines !!!

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

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

An abbreviated fishing report this week unfortunately.

Labor Day weekend was quieter on the water than most years with wind, rain and clouds not making for an inviting weekend.

Lake surface temps are finally dropping into the mid to upper 60’s. Not seeing a spike in activity yet, but that will be coming soon.

Largemouth Bass, Bluegill and Perch rated good-fair.

Smallmouth Bass and Crappie rated fair.

Walleye, Northern Pike and Musky fair-poor. Did get a report of a Musky on a sucker rig, but for right now top-water lures and large bladed bucktails and spinner baits best.

Will try to update report this week if time allows.

Kurt Justice

Kurt’s Island Sport Shop
Like us on Facebook

NORTHWEST INDIANA

A 27.5-pound Chinook caught on Triplecatch Lake Michigan Sportfishing Charters  on Saturday. Provided photo from Facebook
A 27.5-pound Chinook caught on Triplecatch Lake Michigan Sportfishing Charters on Saturday.
Provided from Facebook

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

Action out of burns ditch for kings and a few coho early in the am best using plugs and magnum moonshine glow spoons

Some good kings have been caught out of burns ditch last few days in 40ft of water.

Some salmon have starting moving in the tributaries. #3 spinners, spawn sacks and skein are the baits to take.

Crappie at dark on minnows fishing around the bridges on Lake George in Hobart.

Perch action spotty few being caught in Michigan city in 35 to 45ft of water.

Wolf lake both Indiana and Illinois sides giving up some walleye at night using leeches.

Slezs bait is on fall hours now 5am to 6pm everyday.

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

Hi, Dale! The cooler weather certainly feels nice after that weeks’ long heat wave. We have a couple of hotter days upcoming, including today, but mostly much milder temperatures…& onto the weather’s recent effects on fishing…

Fishing on Lake Michigan has still been consistently good. A lot of King & Coho Salmon have started staging in the river mouths to run the rivers to spawn. Trollers meeting with success are using ace high, moonshine spoons, & j-plugs.

Perch fishing was absolutely excellent last week, with 30-40 FOW being the best depth. Beemoths, smaller minnows, & red worms are all working great.

Walleye fishing remains good on the local rivers & Wolf Lake. Nightcrawlers & the last of the leeches in the area are working wonders.

Inland lakes are starting to heat up with good numbers of Bluegill & Crappie; Willow Slough & Lake George both have good reports of the panfish.

Catfishing is fair-moderate at the moment, with shad, hornworms, & stinkbait finding the largest catches.

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

Justin Breen with a Chinook 20 pounds on the button. Provided photo
Justin Breen with a Chinook 20 pounds on the button.
Provided

Justin Breen of Glenview tweeted the photos above and below, and this from a trip with Jackpot Charters out of Racine:

Justin Breen king salmon near Racine on Sept 1 2021 on jackpot charters … captain Harley Goodman and co-captain Kevin Moran officially 20 pounds on the dot

He added:

Chase caught a massive sheepshead

I love that maybe even more than the big Chinook Justin caught and shown below.

Chase with a big freshwater drum. Provided photo
Chase with a big freshwater drum.
Provided

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

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN

Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said quick run of kings came in last week for a couple days late at night at St. Joseph pier before the water warmed; a few walleye are being caught in the river; a couple steelhead and a few kings ran into the river; at South Haven, a couple kings and a few steelhead were caught off the pier.

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. Staff at River’s Edge said no legals were registered; but lots of shorts are being caught.

There’s good smallmouth going, too.

WISCONSIN RIVER

Rob Abouchar with a Labor Day smallmouth bass from the Wisconsin River. Provided photo
Rob Abouchar with a Labor Day smallmouth bass from the Wisconsin River.
Provided

Rob Abouchar emailed the photo above and this:

Hi Dale

Being slightly superstitious I was not talking much about moving so as not to blow the process. It has gone through and I closed on both homes and now reside in Island Lake. Just need to get the rest of my furniture and belongings moved from storage in Elmhurst. Friday night I caught a bass from the back yard as darkness set in. Some fish mean more than others and that one felt special.

I was back on the Wisconsin River Saturday and Sunday chasing after that Muskie on a Senko that got away a few weeks ago. I did not get the muskie but the Pike and Smallmouth Bass were eating the Senko pretty good. Some good bass of all sizes came on a black and blue Senko and a white Senko. All Wacky rigged. Joe got a couple on his Schatzee Chatterbait and Kaitech swim bait. There was a hint of fall in the air and the leaves are turning crimson, orange, and yellow. Already birds are grouping up. Sure signs of the season about to change. We witnessed a Coopers Hawk fly into a massive swarm of Redwing blackbirds; catch one and fly into a tree with it. A stately pair of eagles watched from a distance.

When I returned home to Island Lake in the evening there were nighthawks flying all around the lake and neighborhood. Definitely a sign of change.

Next up on the reggae front is a return to The Tighthead Brewing Company in the old hometown of Mundelein September 25th at the Hoptoberfest. This time with the full reggae band . Should be a grand homecoming of sorts.

Tight lines and good health,

Rob

Reggae update and catching fish from a new backyard? What’s not to like.

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted this on Monday:

River levels are still high, and water temperature is in the mid 60’s. White bass and crappie can be found near current breaks. Some walleye action on crawlers in the Fremont area and near Lake Poygan. Perch are taking minnows and crawlers in Pages Slough

On Sunday, he texted the photo below and this:

Saturday, still going strong .

White bass were still going strong on Saturday on the Wolf River. Provided photo
White bass were still going strong on Saturday on the Wolf River.
Provided