Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Braidwood opener, late ice fishing, open-water spots, coho, trout

Hints come in this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report of the in-between time with both ice fishing and the start of open-water fishing around Chicago; plus there’s trout and early coho on southern Lake Michigan.

SHARE Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Braidwood opener, late ice fishing, open-water spots, coho, trout
Keith Greene with a good largemouth bass caught from the first patch of open water in months. Provided photo

Keith Greene with a good largemouth bass caught from the first patch of open water in months.

Provided

Hints come in this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report of the in-between time with both ice fishing and the start of open-water fishing around Chicago; plus there’s trout and early coho on southern Lake Michigan.

That in-between time is perfectly illustrated by Keith Greene, who emailed the photo at the top and this on Saturday:

Weather broke a bit ice seperated gave me a 12 ft x 30 YD lane I took the chance with a crankbait half hr later it was hit.. It was a great Friday afternoon.

That is kind of the definition of a good February Friday afternoon.

He added these details:

Small Lake in Hoffman Estates our scale settled on 4.3 ..

That’s a good open-water largemouth. And it symbolizes where we are or where we will be in the next week or two.

ICE FISHING

Nearly all reports contain ice-fishing reports, but ice is deteriorating fast, especially south; north should hold through the weekend and maybe well into next week. It’s late-season, use common sense and wisdom.

NAVY PIER ANGLING

The north side of Navy Pier is open for anglers. The discounted parking for anglers is $9 daily, if out by 10 a.m.

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 Northerly Island Visitor Center.

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).

PIER PASSES

The $6 pier passes, which allow legal access to select piers at most Jackson Park, Burnham, DuSable, Diversey, Belmont and Montrose harbors, may be bought at Henry’s Sports and Bait (cash only) and Northerly Island Visitor Center (credit-card only). A number of additional piers were added this year to bring the total to 31 piers.

AREA LAKES

South, ice is rapidly deteriorating, especially on smaller waters; north should hold through the weekend and maybe well into next week.

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait texted:

Loosing ice fast. Spud bar and life jacket time. Be safe if you must ice fish.

That is well put.

John Trammel with a pair of good late-season northern pike. Provided photo

John Trammel with a pair of good late-season northern pike.

Provided photo

John Trammel emailed the photo left, and this from around Coal City:

On the ice from 9 am till 11 pm Friday, set tip ups out for pike and hole hopped shoreline for gills, did ok, sorted out little ones, caught 3 pike within 20 minutes right before sunset, caught a few crappies late into the night, was hoping for walleye but didn’t catch any.Pike were 35 and 30 inches, turned the 16 inch one back, also caught a nice big cat that we turned loose also.Hole hopped yesterday, lot’s of little gills released, nothing on tip ups.Ice was 9 inches yesterday, did not fish today, may be done here in Coal City.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a late-season largemouth bass. Provided photo

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a late-season largemouth bass.

Provided

Ken “Husker” O’Malley of Husker Outdoors emailed the photos right and below, and this:

Hey Dale, Here is a recap of this past weeks fishing. Area lakes-This weekend was the conclusion of the ice fishing season out south and pretty much Illinois. This weeks forecast will open up many lakes. It has been a solid two months of fishing, but the long rods are calling. Bass have been very good during the early afternoon hours on tip-downs with large fatheads and jigging tungsten jigs tipped with a J & S Custom jigs ice mite along the outside weedlines. Bluegill have been consistent throughout the day working shallow flats with still green weeds in 5-6 fow. Best bait has been the jester by C & N Custom plastics. Here is the nature pic of the week [below]. Are we ever truly alone? TTYL — Ken Husker O’Malley Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team

Ken “Husker” O’Malley’s nature photo of the week. Provided photo

Ken “Husker” O’Malley’s nature photo of the week.

Provided

That philosophical question by O’Malley should be pondered with seriousness.

Rob Abouchar emailed the photo below, another sort of nature photo, and this:

Hi Dale, The ice action is winding down on Island lake.Only one largemouth bass was taken over the weekend; and the weather forecastlooks like melting time ahead.Maybe one more shot at a big pike tonight after work.The water has turned a green tea color.Hopefully this is just runoff from melting snow and ice and not some kind of indicator of a fish kill.We will see when the ice comes off soon.My thoughts have already turned to Braidwood lake and my annual Pulaski Day outing.Whetherby shore or boat it’s one of those traditions that sets things in balance for me.Hopefully some largemouth will be looking for a crankbait or worm or maybe even a topwater bite in March.A coupleof Coyotes were huddled in a field as I drove to theBait shop inCrystal Lake Sunday morning and I tried to capture a pic. On the music front it was a fantastic show Friday night at the Art Gallery Kafe with the Conscious Rockers Reggae Band.The crowd was extremely appreciative and the owners would like to have us back quarterly. Next scheduled gig is June 25th in Mundelein at The Tighthead Brewing company. Tight Lines and Good Health! Rob

Coyotes spotted while driving to a bait shop Sunday. Credit: Rob Abouchar

Coyotes spotted while driving to a bait shop Sunday.

Rob Abouchar

BRAIDWOOD LAKE

Reopened today. It is my column for Wednesday. Shore and boat anglers were catching largemouth, looked like spinner baits and ChatterBaits were best. Some some keeper catfish caught, too.

Pete Banach messaged from a good day on the cold side:

Water was 60ish everywhere from midpool to the cold side. Didn’t venture on the hot side. Didn’t need to. .lol

Hot side was in the 70s.

Hours are 6 a.m. to sunset daily. Regulations are the same.

With the opening of Braidwood, Jon Meder at Jon’s Bait & Tackle Shop in East Brooklyn said he is going to regular hours, roughly 6 a.m.-8 p.m. weekdays, opening around 5:30 on weekends.

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Arden Katz said crappie and some bluegill were good on the south end of Channel in 4 feet with red spikes and tungsten jigs; ice is good and he expects it to be at least into the weekend.

Staff at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said ice should probably hold up through the weekend, but there are a couple open spots on Marie and Petite, be smart; on Fox, white bass, yellow bass, crappie and catfish being caught; on Maria, lot of crappie and walleye (better numbers than size); walleye and crappie picking up on Bluff

COOLING LAKES

Braidwood reopened today, March 1.

LaSalle reopens March 15; Heidecke, April 1.

DES PLAINES RIVER

Sean Whippo messaged last week;

Dale, I hope you’re well sir and most of all, staying healthy. I had a great week fishing on the Des Plaines River with 8 or 9 Pike landed over a few days, not normal for casting in February. Warmer weather & ice melt had them majorly active. I had 2 today this size (photo) & 3 little jacks on Monday. Unfortunately I lost a monster on a ridiculous head shake that threw my lure before I could get a hook set, but this one striking 2 feet from shore like a train absolutely cheered me up. I had similar action on Sunday and last Tuesday as well, and from social media chatter, it seems on the ice and on the open water on the rivers, the Pike bite is very hot right now, which leads me to believe the pre spawn Pike bite is on fire right now as they fatten up before the Spawn. Notably, all fish located were also in shallow slack water (recent rains helped push them in) and staging near typical spawning areas. All fish were also caught on swimbaits fished slow, and slow rolling big jerkbaits in 3 feet of water. A larger presentation still seems key right now as well.

DOWNSTATE

POWERTON: Boat and bank fishing is open. Winter hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

EMIQUON PRESERVE: Hours are sunrise to sunset. Access permits and liability waivers are 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. Check regulations at http://www.wetlands-initiative.org/dixon-paddling-fishing.

GREEN LAKE AREA, WISCONSIN

Kash Nighbor, from Cambria, Wis., with a northern pike caught from Lake Puckaway with a medium shiner on a tip-up. Provided by Mike Norris

Kash Nighbor, from Cambria, Wis., with a northern pike caught from Lake Puckaway with a medium shiner on a tip-up.

Provided by Mike Norris

Guide Mike Norris texted the photo above and emailed this:

Fishing Report – 2/27/2022 Mike Norris Big Green Lake – White bass are active around cribs located in the southeast corner of the lake.Try jigging spoons and jigs with twister tails.Lake trout bite remains good in 60 to 120 feet of water with hair jigs.An angler registered a 12.98-ounce walleye during a fishing derby on the lake last weekend. Little Green Lake - Fishing continues to improve.Anglers catching walleyes at night with shiners on tip-ups, and crappies are consistent during day on micro jigs with spikes or waxworms. Fox Lake - Bluegills still biting in the Jug and out from the golf course.Northern pike are biting in the Jug as well.Walleyes in the Government Marsh around weed patches. Anglers must remove their shacks from all area lakes by midnight March 15th.

He added this on Puckaway:

I forgot to include a Lake Puckaway report in my email to you.Pike fishing is still strong on Lake Puckaway though the walleye bite has slowed somewhat.

GREEN/STURGEON BAYS, WISCONSIN

Lance LaVine at Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay emailed:

Good morning Here is a quick update on the ice fishing The Whitefish fishing up here in Door County has been fantastic in recent weeks with lots of limit catches being reported.Along with the good numbers of fish there have some very big fish getting caught.We weighed in a massive 8.28 pounder the other day which is the biggest one ever on our scale.The best baits have been Howie jigs tipped with some kind of plastic tail like a Keitech, Howie Shorty Tube or Z-man for example.Hederson’s Point, Riley’s Point, Larsen’s Reef along with the vast structure and shoreline to the north of Sturgeon Bay The Perch fishing has been very good overall especially when you can stay away from high traffic and over populated areas. Chaudoirs Dock, Rights Cove, Little Sturgeon and the Sawyer Harbor area are all good areas to try.Rosy Reds, Lake Shiners along with waxies and spikes on an assortment of jigs all good baits for the Perch Walleye fishing is just normal Walleye fishing for this time of year.Some days you get a bite and some days your just going through the motions.The best bite will happen once we move closer to and into March just like every other year.OddBall jigs, Rapala Jigs, Rippin Raps and Shiver minnows are all good baits to have in the box The Northern Pike action has been super in recent weeks with very good numbers of fish caught along with some big fish starting to show up.Sturgeon Bay, Sawyer Harbor, Sandbay, and Little Sturgeon are all good areas to try for Pike.Large Golden shiners under tip-ups and auto fishermen generally the best method Thanks; Lance LaVine Howie’s Tackle 1309 Green Bay Rd Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235 Ph: 920-746-9916

HEIDECKE LAKE

Closed. Reopens April 1.

LAKE ERIE

Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.

LAKEFRONT

Henry’s Sports and Bait is back to daily operation, 6 a.m.-5 p.m.

Stacey Greene at Park Bait hopes to have the shop open by around the weekend of March 12th, give or take a day or two.

Jason “Special One” Le texted about the arrival of coho around the Chicago lakefront:

They should be in this week m!

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait texted and noted powerliners starting on Tuesday:

Loosing ice fast. Spud bar and life jacket time. Be safe if you must ice fish. Power liners are starting. I’ll let you know their results when I receive info. We are open 7 days 6am-5 pm. Fishing license up and running for Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Indiana increase from 35 to 60$ annually. Take care

Bruce Caruso noted in an email to Perch America members this afternoon:

This morning the ice was completely gone in the North Slip (87th street). And the South slip (89th street) was half iced up but was moving as we were fishing. Caught several fish at each slip.

LaSALLE LAKE

Closed. Reopens March 15.

MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN

Click here for the update from D&S Bait.

MAZONIA

Both units are open. Hours are 6 a.m. to sunset.

With the opening of Braidwood, Jon Meder at Jon’s Bait & Tackle Shop in East Brooklyn said he is going to regular hours, roughly 6 a.m.-8 p.m. weekdays, opening around 5:30 on weekends.

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

Note: Inland lake gamefish season ends at midnight Sunday, March 6.

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

A warming trend over the past weekend made being outside a bit more doable if it wasn’t for the strong winds on Saturday. Anglers finding travel tougher as deeper snow, and in cases slush, kept many areas off limits to all but snowmobile and tracked vehicles.Those able to get to their favorite spots, or any spots, gave fair reviews for the fishing overall. Crappie:Fair-Good – Interesting how anglers were finding Crappies relating to both weeds of 8-12’ and out over mud bottoms of 18-30’ and sometimes as deep as 40’.Crappies relating to weeds were caught fairly tight to the bottom, probably high barometer, and lightly taking small jigs tipped with waxies.Deeper basin Crappies found 1-4’ off bottom taking small rosies or #4 glow tungsten jigs tipped with waxies.In either case, Crappies caught from same lakes in these two very different parts of the lakes. Northern Pike:Fair – Slower than it had been, though anglers still reporting big shiners and suckers best along deeper edges of weeds in 8-12’.The warming trend, if it comes with enough to knock snow down and allow more light under ice, should help by the weekend. Bluegill:Fair – Light biters over the weekend.Some nice Gills, but anglers worked to get bites using flashy spoons (Slender spoons, Pimples) to draw attention, but needing small dark jigs tipped with moussees and waxies to get bites. Largemouth Bass:Fair – Actually a bit better than that.On Friday, action on tip-ups was hit and drop!By Saturday Bass were more committed and holding on.Shiners on tip-ups and jigging spoons loaded with waxies or a minnow head best. Yellow Perch:Fair – Getting tough to get on flats where Perch taking Pimples, Bombs and Halis tipped with wigglers.Some weed Perch, but best out away from weeds over mud of 16-28’. Walleye:Fair – Hoping for better reports leading up to the inland lake gamefish closure this coming Sunday (3/6) at midnight.Bite improved last week prior to snow, but travel made things tough again, limiting anglers’ opportunities.Suckers suspended over humps covered with sandgrass in 14-20’ best.Dusk and early AM. With just a week left of the gamefish season, anglers will be targeting Walleyes, Pike and Largemouth Bass this weekend.Forecast for snow/rain would make things even messier, but forecasts change, so no sense in worrying until we get closer. Don’t forget to carry a shovel, tow strap and a friend with a strong back (and a weak mind) if you plan on exploring off the beaten path. Kurt Justice Kurt’s Island Sport Shop - Like us on Facebook

In my world of words, that last sentence in his report is a keeper.

NORTHWEST INDIANA

REMINDER: A public update on renovations at J.C. Murphey Lake is at 6:30 p.m. tonight, March 1, at the Newton County Government Center in Morocco, Ind. About to leave now to hear the update.

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

Coho action for trollers fishing out of portage. Brads thinfish and small shallow crankbaits best baits. Action is still slow for pier fisherman but will pick up better with the mild weather this week Skein, squid and shrimp are baits to use.

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

Hi, Dale! Welcome though the warmer may be, a few changes do also come with it as far as the fishing world in our area is concerned. Here’s what we’ve heard so far: ~Coho Salmon fishing has started, with moderate-good action. Brad’s ThinFish, Rapalas (orange & gold), & skein & nightcrawlers (for shore/pier fishing) have been baits of choice.Nice numbers of fish are being caught off on Lake Michigan in the Chicago area as well as the pier in Michigan City.~Steelhead action is good in the Trail Creek harbor. Steelhead fishing on the St. Joseph River is also heating up, with good amounts being caught off of Mag Lips &Flatfish.~Anglers are snagging some Walleye in Wolf Lake & the rivers using jigs & plastics.~With the warmer weather the past few days & expected to continue this week & next, Ice Fishing is nearing its close & has all but come to an end. Some ice is still safe, but it’s going fast with the warmer temperatures. We resume Spring/Summer hours as of March 1st:Monday-Thursday: 6AM-6PMFriday & Saturday: 5AM-7PMSunday: 5AM-5PM Also, this season’s new Indiana Fishing Licenses are available; as always, we carry BOTH the current season’s Fishing & Hunting/Trapping Licenses & Stamps (valid until March 31st, 2022) & the upcoming season’s (valid April 1st, 2022-March 31st, 2023). For the first time since 2006, both residential & nonresidential licenses for Indiana have increased, significantly; Stamps’ prices & Senior Annual Licenses have remained the same. Please plan accordingly. Michigan Fishing Licenses (both residential & nonresidential) for the upcoming season go on sale today; their prices remain unchanged.

SHABBONA LAKE

Ice, as of Monday, was 8-10 inches.

In March, site hours are 8 a.m.-8 p.m.

Concessions are closed, reopening April 1.

WINNEBAGO SYSTEM, WISCONSIN

In seven hours Sunday at Lake Winnebago, Arden Katz said he marked good perch, but only caught one and lost many. Ice is so thick he almost needed his extension.

The sturgeon-spearing season ended Sunday, Feb. 27.

Here are the basics of the season from the Wisconsin DNR’s daily report:

In total, 1,518 fish were harvested on the Winnebago System, consisting of 203 juvenile females, 627 adult females, and 688 males. Of the 1,518 fish harvested, the Lake Winnebago harvest consisted of 1,169 fish (158 juvenile females, 539 adult females, and 472 males), while the Upriver Lakes harvest was 349 (45 juvenile females, 88 adult females, and 216 males).

WOLF LAKE

Bruce Caruso noted in an email to Perch America members this afternoon about the Indiana side:

Also Wolf Lake was beginning to thaw out. The corn Channel was about 1/3 of the way opened and the main basin had spots that were thawing out.

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:

Heard the first sandhill crane today, first sign of spring. Fishing has been slow this past week. I’m on Templeton Bayou today, catching perch as fast as I canget to the bottom. Although, I haven’t found a keeper yet. But it’s fun.

That sandhill report seems like the perfect way to bookend this fishing report.

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