Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Yo, coho, lakers, harbor pike, cooling lakes, surprising catches

Coho action on southern Lake Michigan/Chicago lakefront lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report; but there is also lake trout on southern Lake Michigan, northern pike in Chicago harbors, the opening days of Braidwood and LaSalle cooling lakes, and lots of the joy of surprise catches.

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Bill Meyer with a near-record shorthead redhorse from the Fox River. Provided photo

Bill Meyer with a near-record shorthead redhorse from the Fox River.

Provided

Coho action on southern Lake Michigan/Chicago lakefront lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report; but there is also lake trout on southern Lake Michigan, northern pike in Chicago harbors, the opening days of Braidwood and LaSalle cooling lakes, and lots of the joy of surprise catches.

Bill Meyer emailed the photo at the top and this:

Dale, Though low for the season, the Fox gave up a few nice fish last week including this fat 22 shorthead redhorse. Thought about keeping it as a state record but I forgot my scale, forgot my stringer, and, most importantly, didn’t want to knock Olaf from the record books. He’s such a sensitive soul. ReGARds, Bill

That’s angler humor. Olaf Nelson caught the Illinois shorthead record last year and runs moxostoma.com.

That is but one of several slightly less usual fish mentioned in this sprawling raw-file MFR; others include whitefish, buffalo, burbot and ciscoes.

EARLY CATCH-AND-RELEASE TROUT

Illinois’ early catch-and-release trout season is open 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, Park Bait at Montrose Harbor, and the 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

Pier passes are good through March 31, then the gates are chained until boating season. 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), Park Bait at Montrose Harbor (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

Reminder: The waters will open for spring trout are closed to fishing until regular spring trout season opens April 2.

BoRabb Williams texted Monday:

Slow Today at wolf.... but Maple lake is good... all of the southern Forrest Preserves are good for NOW Crappie and gills Too Windy today at Wolf..... we’re getting em at Saganashski Slough The Cold fronts gonna move them Back out.... water temperature is 49 at Wolf lake.... warmer inland

Unfortunately, I think he is spot on in that last comment. We’re going back to colder and/or wetter weather for a stretch.

Also, for somebody like me, who loves baseball about as much as fishing, BoRabb Williams’ “Chicagoland Baseball Chronicles” on YouTube hit just right. The latest session in the second season is on twice-drafted Michael Tolbert.

God, I love the sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report and the range it allows.

BoRabb does the legends of Chicago baseball; Rob Abouchar gives reggae updates.

Rob Abouchar and Joe “The Grasseater” Schatz with a good largeouth bass from Island Lake. Provided photo

Rob Abouchar and Joe “The Grasseater” Schatz with a good largeouth bass from Island Lake.

Provided

Speaking of Abouchar, he emailed the photo above and this:

Hi Dale, The last of the ice came off the lake in Island lake on Tuesday so I took a few casts as the last ice was pushed to the northwest corner of the bay. I got a tip on what they might be hitting when one of my best bass from the lake came on a lipless Aruku Shad crankbait. It appeared to be a pre-spawn male. With that bit of info I headed out on the water in the boat for the first time on Saturday with Joe The Grasseater Schatz. The weather was spectacular and the fishing was good too. I landed several nice largemouth on the Aruku shad with a slow lift and fall retrieve in 2-6 feet of water. Neckdown areas leading to back bays and main lake points were the best locations. Joe got some nice bass on a shallow running Bandit crankbait. Others were catching bass on in-line spinners in size #3 and with shiners under a bobber. I lost something big that was making big runs like a pike would make; so a return to that area will be in the future. Next week is Spring Break and I hope to hit Braidwood at least one time to re-calibrate the system. On the music front we will be returning to the Art Gallery Kafe in Bensenville with The Conscious Rockers Reggae Band on April 16th. Jenkue Barzo! Tight Lines and Good Health! Rob

There’s your reggae update for the week.

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

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

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-bass are finally starting to get active. Focus on wind blown north shorelines on sunny days. The best bite has been during the mid-afternoon hours working the outside weed lines. A few bass have even been caught up shallow as the best bait has been a lipless crankbait. . . . TTYL — Ken Husker O’Malley Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team

Jeffrey Williams messaged the photo below and this:

so not much going on down by the river but my local lagoon(gonna keep it nameless) was HOT

He added:

the credit for the goldfish goes to my brother [Jesse Gonzalez]

Jeffrey Williams’ bounty from an unmamed lagoon. Provided photo

Jeffrey Williams’ bounty from an unmamed lagoon.

Provided

BRAIDWOOD LAKE

Jon Meder at Jon’s Bait & Tackle Shop in East Brooklyn said some hybrids, lots of channel catfish and a few blues are being caught; that beside the bass catches.

Bob Johnson with a good largemouth bass from Braidwood Lake. Provided photo

Bob Johnson with a good largemouth bass from Braidwood Lake.

Provided

Bob Johnson emailed the photo above and this:

Hi Dale - more of the same at Braidwood just not as many bites today. Morning was fast action as usual and slowed down with high skies. Caught morning fish working rip rap with jig/trailer and chatter baits then a few more later on with lipless crainkbaits. I did hear chatter at dock of someone catching a 6 lb Bass so u may see a pic of that fish. As always, catch and release

I love dock chatter.

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.

CALUMET SYSTEM

BoRabb Williams shows crappie season is underway. Provided photo

BoRabb Williams shows crappie season is underway.

Provided

BoRabb Williams texted the photo above and this last week:

I’ve been checking... the area lakes... Wolf Lake was 48 degrees and warming along with the rest of the lakes in that area such as Wampum and Powderhorn lakes.... the Calumet River was 50

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Remains really low, so use extreme caution

Proprietor Greg Dickson at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said, “Water has to come up. This lake is low.” Those getting out are catching crappie, some walleye on minnows. The bite is fair, but the water is low.

Arden Katz said he didn’t even try to put his boat in with the low water, but from shore he caught crappie (to 13 inches), bluegills and perch, which are starting to move to the channels. Saturday he got a lot of perch. Trick is a small jigs with ice-fishing plastics with two spikes or a wax worm. “Like you’re ice fishing, basically,” he said.

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

EMIQUON PRESERVE: Temporarily closed because of possible Avian flu. 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, who said last week that crappie are going both shallow and deeper on a cork and minnow.

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

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

See photo at the top of Bill Meyer and his near-record shorthead redhorse from the Fox River.

A customer with a nice smallmouth bass from the Fox River. Provided by Dicky’s Bait

A customer with a nice smallmouth bass from the Fox River.

Provided by Dicky’s Bait

Dicky’s Bait Shop in Montgomery sent the photos above and below, and reported some nice walleye and smallmouth bass by the casino boat from boat; some action on mainly smaller fish below the dam.

Customer with a walleye from the Fox River. Provided by Dicky’s Bait

Customer with a walleye from the Fox River.

Provided by Dicky’s Bait

GREEN/STURGEON BAYS, WISCONSIN

Click here for the Wisconsin DNR weekly report, which should

Staff at Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay said the end is coming for ice fishing and whitefish; there’s some open water, so trollers are out trying for northern pike and brown trout.

HEIDECKE LAKE

Reopens April 1.

ILLINOIS RIVER

Winning weight at the MWC Saturday out of Spring Valley Boat Club was 22 pounds, 12 ounces for 10 walleye/sauger over two days.

KANKAKEE RIVER

Staff at Kankakee River Trading Post in Altorf said smallmouth are picking up and a few walleye are being caught (mostly near dams), mostly on live bait; river had been nearly perfect before the rains came.

LAKE ERIE

Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.

LAKEFRONT

Coho have been in and out, while perch have generally been in around the South Side slips.

Quinn Wunar with a pair of hard-earned coho. Provided photo

Quinn Wunar with a pair of hard-earned coho.

Provided

On Monday, Quinn Wunar tweeted the photo above and this:

Really hard to find so far this year. Did a lot of jigging. Believe it or not the water temp near shore actually dropped overnight with this wind. Never get this kind of west wind weather cooperation during king season. Hahaha Big browns by rod and reel guys. That’s been it for the most part

On Wednesday, he had tweeted the photo below and this:

First day out since the surgery. Twitched up a nice chunky coho

That’s getting back on the horse, so to speak.

Quinn Wunar with his first fish since surgery on the Chicago lakefront. Provided photo

Quinn Wunar with his first fish since surgery on the Chicago lakefront.

Provided

Anglers are trying for multiple species up and down the lakefront, as BoRabb Williams showed when he texted the photo below and this:

The last picture is 63rd Street Harbor by the Statue

BoRabb Williams with the anglers lined up fishing at 63rd in the warmth last week. Provided photo

BoRabb Williams with the anglers lined up fishing at 63rd in the warmth last week.

Provided

Andrew Mikos emailed on Thursday:

Ran out after work to the lake yesterday. Casted a Little Cleo off the rocks in Evanston. Had hits right away. Ended up 4 for 7 in about 1-1/2 hours Fish would come in spurts. All coho - game on.

Jason “Special One” Le texted the photo below and this on Sunday:

6 bites land one and lost one

Jason “Special One” Le with a coho caught powerlining. Provided photo

Jason “Special One” Le with a coho caught powerlining.

Provided

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait texted:

Perch still biting at 87th and scattered coho reports up and down the lake. Hours same, 7 days a week 6am-5pm. Thx

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

Coho bite is up and down. A few Browns and Steelhead around. Large minnows and crawlers mostly. Heard perch still biting on south side.Have a great week.

Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan texted:

Sounds like cohos are hitting, spoons and bait.

LaSALLE LAKE

Brandon Troupe with a hybrid striped bass from LaSalle Lake. Provided photo

Brandon Troupe with a hybrid striped bass from LaSalle Lake.

Provided

Brandon Troupe messaged the photo above and this:

It was good the first 1 and a half Dale but the bite slowed down a lot. Thought that we would catch more but we did what we could. Probably boated about 8 largemouth, 1 hybrid and 2 channels

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a nice blue catfish at LaSalle Lake. Provided photo

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a nice blue catfish at LaSalle Lake.

Provided

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

Hey Dale, Here is a recap of this past weeks fishing. . . . LaSalle Lake-the first trip of the season with the boat led me to the Seneca cooler. Water temps at the ramp were 47 with the hot water discharge being 67. It was a multi-species kind of day today. With it being a cooler, you never know what you can get. Bass, drum, blue cats, channel cats, and even a carp were caught on a multitude of presentations. Square bill crankbaits, lipless crankbaits, chatterbaits, shakey head, and drop shot all brought fish on board. Here is the nature pic of the week. Who says you can’t see wildlife at LaSalle? TTYL — Ken Husker O’Malley Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team

American white pelicans at LaSalle Lake. Credit: Ken “Husker” O’Malley

American white pelicans at LaSalle Lake.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley

There is a certain joy that the American white pelicans bring to fishing LaSalle Lake.

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.

MAZONIA

With the open water, kayakers are getting out.

Hours are 6 a.m. to sunset daily.

Jon Meder at Jon’s Bait & Tackle Shop in East Brooklyn said some largemouth bass being caught, mostly on jigs on the bottom; not much on crappie yet.

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

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

With beautiful weather this past weekend, with highs in the mid-50’s on Sunday and abundant sunshine, anglers were flocking to the lakes Crappie: Good-Very Good – The best bite still remains in the basin but starting to pick up a few shallow. Best bite has been on flash champs or Swedish pimples tipped with minnows or spikes. Yellow Perch: Good-Very Good – These guys are starting to get aggressive. They are starting to feed heavily ahead of the spawn. Let’s try to let those big egg filled females go back to help the future of our lakes. Wigglers or minnows have been on the menu. Bluegill: Good – As the days warm up, this bite keeps getting better. Fishing weeds and weed edges have produced best. Small tungsten jigs tipped with waxies or spikes should do the trick. SPECIAL SPECIES REPORT – Burbot, Whitefish and Ciscos. Most of the areas deeper, clear lakes contain one or all of these three species. Few reports coming back to us on these species. The anglers that are out chasing these critters are having good luck. With warm weather and rain ahead, we will have to keep an eye on conditions as they will change quickly. As of right now, we still have 2 feet of ice on most lakes. As our fearless leader is still away on vacation, we will continue our The Boss is Gone Sale until the end of the month. Kurt Justice Kurt’s Island Sport Shop - Like us on Facebook

NORTHWEST INDIANA

Tom Starcevich with a lake trout from southern Lake Michigan. Provided photo

Tom Starcevich with a lake trout from southern Lake Michigan.

Provided

On Sunday, Tom Starcevich emailed the photos above and below, and this on Sunday:

Hi Dale, got some big lake trout today at the Calumet park breakwall jigging 1 oz jig with 3 inch white tubes along a Rock pile in 34 ft of water. This one was 37 inches. I went 5 for 8 on lake trout, we also got a bonus white fish. Great fishing today.

Tom Starcevich with the surprise of a whitefish caught while fishing lake trout on southern Lake Michigan. Provided photo

Tom Starcevich with the surprise of a whitefish caught while fishing lake trout on southern Lake Michigan.

Provided

I love the joy of the surprise fish.

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

Coho fishing for boat and shore fisherman is hit or miss one day good next day slow. Crappie bite good for crappie at lake George in Hobart using crappie minnows and Rufus jr jigs tipped with beemoth Crappie also being caught around the old 249 bridge down from portage marina in the docks using minnows Perch still solid in the slips and spots in the river nice size too Slez’s has musky suckers in stock now.

ROCK RIVER, WISCONSIN

Arden Katz said a few walleye were being caught Sunday around Jefferson and he caught a big buffalo.

ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN

Click here for the Wisconsin DNR’s report, which should be starting soon, usually on Tuesday or Wednesday.

SHABBONA LAKE

The ice is off. Docks should be in by mid-April. Concessions are closed, reopening April 1.

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

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 boaters are catching coho in 10-40 feet by the Cook plant; sporadic catches off the pier; some steelhead below Berrien Springs.

Paddle and Pole hosts the Berrien Springs Fish Ladder Camera.

WOLF LAKE

On Monday, BoRabb Williams texted early:

Crappie and gills

Later on he texted more:

Slow Today at wolf.... but Maple lake is good... all of the southern Forrest Preserves are good for NOW Too Windy today at Wolf..... we’re getting em at Saganashski Slough The Cold fronts gonna move them Back out.... water temperature is 49 at Wolf lake.... warmer inland

Then he texted the photo below and this:

Only ONE fish at Wolf.... but it was a SLAB... 13 inch

The one good crappie from Wolf Lake on Monday. Provided by BoRabb Williams

The one good crappie from Wolf Lake on Monday.

Provided by BoRabb Williams

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:

The river is finally open. Walleye are biting in the shallows morning’s and later in the day. Mid day head for deeper water. Minnows on jigs and river rigs working well. Some angles still walking out on Partridge and doing very good on perch and crappie

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