Chicago fishing: Illinois early C&R trout, LaSalle opened, Braidwood bass, river walleye, Lake Michigan trout and coho

Illinois’ early catch-and-release trout season opening Saturday, LaSalle Lake’s reopening, Braidwood bass, river walleye, and trout and coho on southern Lake Michigan lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

SHARE Chicago fishing: Illinois early C&R trout, LaSalle opened, Braidwood bass, river walleye, Lake Michigan trout and coho
Casey Shell with a big lake trout caught off downtown Chicago Sunday. Provided photo

Casey Shell with a big lake trout caught off downtown Chicago Sunday.

Provided

Illinois’ early catch-and-release trout season opening Saturday, LaSalle Lake’s reopening, Braidwood bass, river walleye, and trout and coho on southern Lake Michigan lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

Jim Shell sent the photo at the top and this on Sunday:

Hi Dale! Team Shell (Jim & Casey) on our first trip this year fishing the Chicago lighthouse and breakwalls. It was a last minute decision to go as the winds were pretty strong. First we tried for perch at Navy Pier and nothing. Then we headed to the lighthouse and breakwalls. We set up (2) crankbaits on planer boards and (2) spoons with dipseys. Trolling depth on all lures was around 25 to 30ft. It didn’t take long to get the first laker in the boat. It was a chunky 32 fish. Fishing was on fire after that. The next 3.5 hours we boated 12 and hooked and lost at least another 4. We had (2) doubles! There was a passing sightseeing boat that watched us get one of the doubles in the boat as they were cheering us on! It was a great first trip! Jim Shell

Shell followed up with this YouTube video from his son’s Casey’s FishCraft channel:

Dale, Here’s the video from our trip. My favorite part starts at 12:00, we double up and get a cheer from the passing sightseeing boat!

EARLY CATCH-AND-RELEASE TROUT

Illinois’ early catch-and-release trout season opens Saturday, March 19, at nine sites statewide. The nearby ones are Rock Creek at Kankakee River State Park; Pine Creek, White Pines Forest SP; and Apple River, Apple River Canyon SP. The regular season opens April 2. Click here to read statewide information.

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).

AREA LAKES

South, lakes and ponds are wide open; things are more varied north and west; use the sense God gave you.

File photo of Rob Abouchar with a largemouth bass near the end of the ice-fishing season last years on Island Lake, which has the big Island Lake Lions Club Ice Fishing Derby Saturday.

A largemouth bass caught from near the end of ice-fishing season on Island Lake.

Provided

Rob Abouchar emailed the photo above and this:

Hi Dale The sub freezing temperatures had the ice firmed up enough to set out some tip ups on Saturday. The day was beautiful but quite cold with many different birds migrating. Several groups of Sandhill Cranes flew overhead as did different Hawk species and an Eagle. A nice bass hit the tip up rigged with a large golden roach and came through the ice hooked in the corner of the mouth. Early in the season I switched from treble hooks to worm hooks on the tip ups and this helped with less swallowing of hooks. The boat is in for seasonal maintenance and should be ready by Spring break. Hopefully we will be on the water at Braidwood. On the music front we have secured a gig at the Montrose Beach Dock in July. Nothing like an outdoor gig; and on the lakefront is even better. Years ago we played there to a record crowd. This time it’s different as it is all my original music we are performing. Should be quite a thrill. Tight Lines And Good Health! Rob

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a late-winter crappie. Provided photo

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a late-winter crappie.

Provided

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

Hey Dale, Here is a recap of this past weeks fishing. Area lakes-the cold front that pushed through at the end of last week slowed fishing. This weeks forecast will get things back on track. Bass have been slow since the cold front, but the bite is getting better each day with the warmers temps. Focus efforts along outside weedlines on North shorelines with a lipless crankbait. Crappie have been the most consistent bite. A variety of plastics worked along the outside weedlines under a slip float will take the aggressive biters. Fishing will only get better. TTYL — Ken Husker O’Malley Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team

BRAIDWOOD LAKE

Bob Johnson with another big largemouth bass from Braidwood Lake. Provided photo

Bob Johnson with another big largemouth bass from Braidwood Lake.

Provided

Bob Johnson emailed the photo above and this on Sunday:

Hey Dale -It was game on at Braidwood today if you were willing to take on the wind and chill in air. This lake is definitely improving and headed back to the trophy Bass lake it was from years past. I fished later in the day today towards evening bypassing the morning frost.Largemouth Bass were again hitting a variety of baits from lipless crainkbaits to finesse worms. I caught this 5 lb hog on a jig with trailer in dark colors on and was able to land fish from the north and south side of lake. I believe 17 Bass total. I was a bit surprised that no hybrids were caught. Catch and Release.

District fisheries biologist Seth Love would like to hear from anglers on hybrid catches at Braidwood. You can email him at seth.love@illinois.gov.

Open daily 6 a.m.-sunset.

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Water levels are extremely low as the ice comes off, use caution navigating if putting in a boat this weekend.

Art Frisell at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said crappie are fair, find open water other than the channels, which are too shallow with the low water; walleye are fair, use extreme caution if navigating with the low water; try for bluegills if you find a spot with enough water; pike are fair.

NOTE: Check updates on water conditions at foxwaterway.com or (847) 587-8540.

COOLING LAKES

Braidwood and LaSalle are open daily 6 a.m.-sunset.

Heidecke reopens April 1.

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: Reopens May 15. Check regulations at http://www.wetlands-initiative.org/dixon-paddling-fishing.

FOX RIVER

Dicky’s Bait Shop in Montgomery reported a few channel catfish; some smaller walleyes below the dams.

GREEN/STURGEON BAYS, WISCONSIN

Staff at Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay said ice breaking began Monday, March 14, so must be “super careful” because there is now some open water; guys are ice fishing whitefish in shallower water.

HEIDECKE LAKE

Reopens April 1.

ILLINOIS RIVER

NOTE: The Masters Walleye Circuit event is Friday and Saturday, March 18-19, out of Spring Valley Boat Club.

LAKE ERIE

Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.

LAKEFRONT

There’s lakers for boaters (see photo and email at top from Team Shell); browns and a few coho for shore anglers, and some good perch at the South Side slips.

Mark Simpson with a big lake trout from southern Lake Michigan. Provided photo

Mark Simpson with a big lake trout from southern Lake Michigan.

Provided

Mark Simpson messaged the photo above and this:

I got into some nice lake trout (again) on Wednesday . I’d like to submit my photo for fish of the week before my mom has a chance to beat me out. 35 15lb laker chicago lake front . Mark Simpson Aka Anna’s son .

He sent a tip on his mother, Anna Simpson, last year, which members of Riverside Fishing Club told him to send in, and, in January, it turned into one of my favorite columns.

Now I wish I had a similar picture of a perch that Arden Katz talked of when he called with his report. “They’re still in at 89th.” He caught good perch on Instinctrix jigs. He caught a perch weighing 1 pound, 7 ounces, “Biggest, I’ve caught in a long time.”

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait texted that it is about the same as last week.

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor said a few coho are being caught on North Side; a 10-pound-plus northern pike, caught at Montrose, was weighed Tuesday; an 11-pound lake trout, caught around the Planetarium, was weighed Sunday.

LaSALLE LAKE

Column Wednesday is on opening day and prospects. From shore today, I saw some catfish and one blue but no hybrids caught.

Lim, Jason “Special One” Le’s buddy with some of the blue catfish and channel catfish they caught on opening day Tuesday at LaSalle Lake. Provided photo

Lim, Jason “Special One” Le’s buddy with some of the blue catfish and channel catfish they caught on opening day Tuesday at LaSalle Lake.

Provided

Jason “Special One” Le texted the photos above and below, and this Tuesday afternoon from opening day:

Nothing but channel cat and blue cats

“ Jason “Special One” Le blues and channel catfish Tuesday at the opener of LaSalle Lake.

“ Jason “Special One” Le blues and channel catfish Tuesday at the opener of LaSalle Lake.

Provided photo

Site is open daily 6 a.m.-sunset. As a perched lake, boating is closed when winds top or will top 14 mph. Check daily updates on boating at a new number, (815) 640-8099.

MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN

Click here for the update from D&S Bait.

Pat Hasburgh at D&S Bait said as of Tuesday morning, they were getting on the ice; but it is going fast.

MAZONIA

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

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

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

With windy conditions and colder weather, angler participation has been low. Despite this, fishing is gradually improving on most lakes. Travel remains iffy, but the cold and wind of the past week has helped harden some lakes. Warmer temps on the way. Crappie: Good – Solid reports of trophies and eaters alike. Basin bite remains the go to method overall, although anglers still report some fish in shallower, 8-14’ weeds. When searching for basin Crappies, starting off with small 3-5 mm tungsten tipped with waxies, spikes or plastics doing well. When you’re on a school, it’s a good idea to switch it up to a heavier jig such as a pinhead minnow, tungsten Chandelier, or tungsten Kastmaster. Doing so allows you to get down faster and have more time fishing those short, sweet moments of schools moving through, as well as weed off the smaller ones. Tip downs are also a great method to track fish movement. Bluegill: Good – Anglers reporting those same mid-depth weeds that some Crappies are found holding quality Gills. Fish getting a little more fired up, but smaller presentations still best. 3- or 4-mm tungsten, or #14 lead jigs tipped with spikes, waxies doing best. Plastics can be a better option on finicky fish as well. Earl and late periods are still the most active bite. Yellow Perch: Good – Same old methods of working deep mud of 18-30’ and beyond still producing fish. Halis, tungsten spoons, and smaller buckshot spoons tipped with spikes and wigglers the norm. Tip-downs, whether rigged with minnows or wigglers, are a good way to spread out and produce fish. Be careful while targeting Perch at depths greater than 30 ft, as fish will experience barotrauma and will not release. SPECIAL SPECIES REPORT – Burbot, Whitefish and Ciscos. Most of the areas deeper, clear lakes contain one or all of these three species. Burbot: Very Good – Anglers have taken to pursuing this delicious freshwater cod. Good action right at and past dark using mid-large size spoons or large jigs tipped with large portions of dead minnows. Find deep structure (humps, holes, points) and fish just a few inches off the bottom. Burbot roam around just off the bottom, using their great sense of smell to locate prey, so fish accordingly. Whitefish and Cisco: Good – anglers pursuing these tasty fish more since gamefish closure. Fish found anywhere from 20-70’+, usually relating to some sort of structure similar to Burbot. Although difficult to find, fish still fired up when found. Willingly taking Halis, slender spoons, and buckshots. Good method is to tie a fly such as a VMC bullfly a foot or two above a heavy spoon, pounding bottom with spoon to attract, and fly to catch. Kurt Justice Kurt’s Island Sport Shop - Like us on Facebook

NORTHWEST INDIANA

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

Coho fishing good last couple days for trollers fishing the mudd line out of burns ditch and some action at Gary light. Thinfish, and small crankbaits along with dodger and Flys taking fish. Shore fishing still on slow side for coho. Squid, skein and golden roaches taking some fish Perch fishing in the slips has been good using minnows on perch rigs. Crappie bite going around the bridges at lake George in Hobart on crappie minnows.

SHABBONA LAKE

As of Tuesday morning, lake was about a third open, but launches were still iced in; that will change quickly.

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

Concessions are closed, reopening April 1.

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN

Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said boaters are catching just a few coho; too windy for the piers; a few steelhead by Berrien Springs.

Paddle and Pole hosts the Berrien Springs Fish Ladder Camera.

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