Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Hoping on a warm-up, coho, smallmouth, browns, steelhead

Hoping on a true spring warm-up around Chicago fishing later this week leads this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report; plus there’s salmon and trout on southern Lake Michigan and better smallmouth on inland rivers.

SHARE Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Hoping on a warm-up, coho, smallmouth, browns, steelhead
Pete Lamar showing that, cold weather and cold water or not, the bluegill are on the move. Provided photo

Pete Lamar showing that, cold weather and cold water or not, the bluegill are on the move.

Provided

The promise of a true spring warm-up around Chicago fishing later this week lends hope to this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report; plus there’s salmon and trout on southern Lake Michigan and better smallmouth on inland rivers.

A thread runs through many or nearly all fishing reports this week and that is the impact of the extended cold weather and the hope that it will truly change later this week.

Pete Lamar emailed the photo at the top from Sunday and this:

. , , I fished a local forest preserve pond.I was surprised at how active the fish were.I got a couple of bass-definitely on the small side . . . and some good-sized bluegills [at the top]). . . .As it was working well, I never changed from the tiny wet fly with which I started-I didn’t think fish would be in the mood to chase anything bigger in the cold water.

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).

SMELT

If you happen to have a report, I would love to hear it.

Otherwise, what Steve Palmisano at at Henry’s Sports and Bait texted:

Hi Dale no smelt reports

The same as Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted, after we finished a discussion on parking changes at Montrose:

. . . No Smelt reports at all. No surprise there. . . .

Season runs through April 30 in Chicago. Chicago Park District regulations remain the same—nets may go in at 7 p.m., must be out of the parks by 1 a.m., no open fires, no closed tents, no parking on grass or sidewalks. The park district’s informational card is available from Henry’s Sports and Bait, Park Bait and The Northerly Island Visitor Center.

AREA LAKES

Robert Coutinho shows the bounty of largemouth bass possible from the Forest Preserves of Cook County. Provided photo

Robert Coutinho shows the bounty of largemouth bass possible from the Forest Preserves of Cook County.

Provided

Robert Coutinho messaged the photo above and this on Thursday:

Caught these two big bass at a local Cook County Forest Preserve. Spring has sprung and the big bass are biting!

Pete Lamar emailed:

Hi Dale, A couple of outings on which to report.The cold weather is the main story running through everything. . . . The next day, late in the afternoon when the temps climbed all the way to 50 degrees, I fished a local forest preserve pond.I was surprised at how active the fish were.I got a couple of bass-definitely on the small side; no bigger than the brook trout from the previous day-and some good-sized bluegills (see attached images [at the top]).As it was working well, I never changed from the tiny wet fly with which I started-I didn’t think fish would be in the mood to chase anything bigger in the cold water. I hope you and your family had a happy Easter. Pete

I am confident (well at least hoping) that the cold theme is done by later this week.

Rob Abouchar with a largemouth bass on a cold spring day. Provided photo

Rob Abouchar with a largemouth bass on a cold spring day.

Provided

Rob Abouchar emailed the photo above and this:

Hello Dale With the snow falling and I send this I’m wondering when I’ll be able to fish without winter gloves. With the recording session in the can I hit Island lake on Easter Sunday morning.It was deceptively cold with sun blue skies and cloudd. Crystal clear water in the mid 50-60 degrees had some bass visible on or around beds in some areas. I got some nice bass on the Arucu Shad lipless crank. With the weather being so cold it’s odd to see bass on beds but it had to go soon.This weekend I’m having the bass club out so hopefully this is it.The Redwings and cow birds indicate Spring. On the music front the reggae original music session yielded 9 cuts and one cover of king yellowmans’ lost mi love. Wednesday at Teddy O’Brien’s in Highwood Unity The reggae band possible melodica appearance.Giving Thanks! Tight lines and good health! Rob

What more can I hope for? A reggae report, a snow report, a fishing report, a high school fishing mention and an observation on birds, all rolled in a few paragraphs.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a spring crappie. Provided photo

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a spring crappie.

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. Area lakes-the inconsistent spring weather continues to disrupt typical spring patterns. Bass have been decent working a jig and Berkley chigger craw along the edge of the drop offs adjacent to spawning flats. Crappie have been good working plastics under a slip float. Focus on wind blown bays as it won’t be long before they start staging for the spawn. Here is the nature pic of the week. Tree swallows enjoying a sunny but brisk morning. TTYL — Ken Husker O’Malley Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team

Swallows working a shoreline. Credit: Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Swallows working a shoreline.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley

I think “Husker” nailed the variability of our weather and by result fishing.

And I always enjoy anglers who are keeping an eye out for the natural world that is naturally around them.

AREA RIVERS/STREAMS

Bill Meyer with a good spring smallmouth bass from a local waterway. Provided photo

Bill Meyer with a good spring smallmouth bass from a local waterway.

Provided

Bill Meyer emailed the photo above and this observation/quip:

Dale, So between the storms, I fished a local favorite stream, planning on catching something cool like river redhorse or northern hogsucker or drum, but a bunch of these guys crashed the party.What are they?Like green sunfish or snakeheads or something? ReGARds, garman

Garman has a ready wit. Plus he knows I would love a northern hogsucker for the sprawling raw-file MFR.

BRAIDWOOD LAKE

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 texted:

. . . Calumet River was 45 degrees... a few whitebass and smallmouth bass ... over slow... should improve with the warm up

I think that is the hope all over, the warm-up will spark better fishing.

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Arden Katz shore fished over the weekend in a channel and reported 153 bluegill and some crappie. “The bluegill were on fire, all different sizes,” on spikes and white Nail Tails. There’s enough water for boaters; he will be out boating next weekend.

Tucker Siminak at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said crappie going pretty well in the channels, along with the bluegills, but it slowed with the cold; bass are hit and miss; some good catfish on Fox; walleye should be going back out into the main lakes again. Expect major changes with the weekend warmup.

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

CHICAGO RIVER

See the Fish of the Week for the possibilities.

COOLING LAKES

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

DOWNSTATE

HENNEPIN CANAL: Pete Reidesel texted this Friday:

Got my 3rd 5 pound largemouth yesterday..never fished in wind like that...

More is on his Fishin Friend Guide Service Facebook page.

I happened to working on a story in Bureau County that day and could barely drive, fishing had to be brutal.

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.

GREEN LAKE AREA, WISCONSIN

Guide Mike Norris emailed:

Fishing Report – 4/17/2022 Mike Norris Big Green Lake – The warmer backwater channels are drawing in bluegills and crappies.Shore anglers are float fishing with jigs tipped with either half a redworm or with smaller crappie minnows.Concentrate at the back end of the channels for bluegill, and under piers for the crappie.Shore anglers are also doing well catching perch up in Dartmouth Bay.There are very few if any boats out on Big Green due to high winds. Lake Puckaway – Walleyes continue to congregate in the Fox River in the no wake zonewhere the river exits into Lake Puckaway.Drift downstream with jigs tipped with a half crawler and troll crankbaits back upstream. Fox Lake – Due to the late spring, Fox Lake’s water temperature is still in the low to mid forty’s and the largemouth bass fishing in fickle.One day they bite, the next they do not.Things will improve quickly here upon the arrival of warmer weather.Early season lure choices include swimbaits, jigs with plastic trailers, and Senko’s.

GREEN/STURGEON BAYS, WISCONSIN

Click here for the Wisconsin DNR weekly report.

HEIDECKE LAKE

See column Wednesday on prospects.

Open 6 a.m. (6:30 bank fishing) to sunset.

KANKAKEE RIVER

Bob Johnson with a good smallmouth bass from the Kankakee River, a sign of the spring fishing. Provided photo

Bob Johnson with a good smallmouth bass from the Kankakee River, a sign of the spring fishing.

Provided

Bob Johnson emailed the photo above and this:

Hi Dale -

From early morning until 10 am the river was quiet with only 1 Bass boated but when the sun warmed up the bass action turned on. Was able to catch and release almost 20 quality bass on several lures - chatter baits,Jerk baits, crainkbaits all mimicking minnows. River temp was at 53 this morning and clarity was good just a slight stain. This coming week should be prime time for spring smallmouth. No walleye yet. Enjoy your Easter

I especially think that will be true by the weekend.

LAKE ERIE

Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.

LAKEFRONT

Weather has not made it easy, but that weather component should change greatly later this week.

Staff at Henry’s Sports and Bait said some smallmouth bass are starting to be caught.

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted, after we finished a discussion on parking changes at Montrose:

Now for the fishing report Coho fishing up and down just like the weather but when the winds are right (north/east) they are biting. Horseshoe seems to be the hotter spot. Some nice Browns and Steelhead caught as well as a few of the not so common catches such as White fish anda Burbot on a powerline. No Smelt reports at all. No surprise there. No Smallmouth action to report in our area yet. Have a great week.

Staff at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan said weather on Tuesday limited it to shore anglers.

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 (815) 640-8099.

MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN

Pete Lamar emailed:

Hi Dale, A couple of outings on which to report.The cold weather is the main story running through everything. My daughter and I took part in the Wisconsin youth turkey hunt on Saturday in Juneau County.I put up a ground blind a few weeks ago in a wooded area at the base of what would turn out to be the leeside of a hill.One would think that would’ve shielded us from the wind, but that wasn’t the case; it was relentless.Morning temperatures were in the 20s and even though dressed for it, we only lasted a couple of hours.We didn’t hear any gobbling before sunrise and didn’t hear any shooting from neighboring properties.The only excitement was a hen walking through our set-up.Fortunately, on the way home the brook trout in a stream north of Madison were cooperative.They were feeding pretty aggressively, including some smaller fish on the surface.I think there was a midge hatch taking place. . . . I hope you and your family had a happy Easter. Pete

We had a good Easter, though not as much family as usual.

Click here for the update from D&S Bait.

MAZONIA/NEARBY STRIPS

Jon Meder at Jon’s Bait & Tackle Shop in East Brooklyn said water has been holding in the mid-40s, so just a few big largemouth, a smattering of crappie and some bluegill beginning. He speculated that if the weather kicks in as forecast the redear should be really start to go.

Hours are 6 a.m. to sunset.

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

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

A month ago, never believed we’d be worried about ice out for the opener, but here we are 20 days prior with 24-26 of ice to go!Past week did not help with night time temps in upper teens and few daylight hours of temps enough to melt the NEW snows we’ve been getting.Cold winds and iffy access kept anglers off the ice most days this past week.Despite having over two feet of ice on the lakes, its getting to the safe ice that can be a limiting factor. Crappie:Very Good – Working 7-9’ weed edges with tip-downs tipped with small rosies or Crappie minnows made for quick action despite the wind Saturday.Slow dropping jigs with plastics or waxies also effective (just difficult with the high winds).Lots of 10-11 fish reported, plus enough slabs (12-14) to make things interesting! Bluegill:Very Good – Tough conditions due to wind most of the week.But when possible, #3 tungsten jigs tipped with waxies 1-2’ off bottom in 7-9’ of water.While Crappies were found higher up (2-4’ down) the Gills seemed to prefer hanging just below. Yellow Perch:Good – Not as many reports, but nice Perch moving up to weed edges as their time to spawn will be quick once (if) ice goes! With almost no sub-freezing temps forecasted for this week, highs from upper 30’s to upper 60’s by Saturday and rain four of the next eight days, we could be looking at the last week of ice fishing, mostly due to shoreline ice lost, but I’ll believe it when I see it! Kurt Justice Kurt’s Island Sport Shop - Like us on Facebook

He followed that up later Monday with this:

Ice depth update...

Just sent Mackenzie out to measure ice on Lake Minocqua in front of the shop - She drilled 18, so it is going down. Hallelujah!!!

NORTHWEST INDIANA

Tom Starcevich’s sister-in-law Debbie with her first coho salmon, caught from Indiana’s Lake Michigan. Provided photo

Tom Starcevich’s sister-in-law Debbie with her first coho salmon, caught from Indiana’s Lake Michigan.

Provided

Tom Starcevich emailed the photo above and this:

Hi Dale, I took my sister-in-law Debbie trolling for coho salmon off of Whiting Indiana last week. We went 3 for 4 on salmon. Nice size fish this year. She caught them on a strike king red rattle trap. Her first salmon ever!

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

Coho action still good for trollers when weather allows. Thinfish and dodger and Flys in 20 to 35 ft of water best. Crappie on and off with the weather. Lakes and ponds use minnows or Rufus jr jigs tipped with waxworms. Warm weekend coming up will be lots of groups out. Slez’s is loaded to the gills with bait and tackle

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

Hi, Dale! Are you looking forward to the beautiful weather this upcoming weekend as much as I am? Also, don’t forget to let everyone know that Hammond Marina is hosting its annual Fishing Derby on Saturday, April 23rd, from 7AM-4PM. Entry is free, & there are prizes & trophies in both the children & adult categories for largest Bass, Salmon, & Trout. Refreshments will be provided , & parking is also free. Hope to see you there! Salmon fishing in Lake Michigan & its subsidiary inlets is MORE THAN decent right now. Coho fishing is really good currently, with many limit catches. Trollers are having the best luck on Brad’s Thinfish; the must-have colors of the moment are the Red w/ black squiggles & the gold w/ the red herringbone, numbers #71 & #259, respectively. There have been a few more Kings showing up; the lures to try are the small spoons in the colors Mixed Veggies & Santa’s Little Helper. Inland fishing is getting better; for Crappie: smaller minnows, with rosy reds a decided favorite; for Bluegill: beemoths & red worms. Catfish are doing well in most of the rivers, as well as at Dowling Park & Oak Ridge Prairie. Mealworms, hornworms, & nightcrawlers are all seeing success.

ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN

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

SHABBONA LAKE

Some crappie are being caught by boaters, starting in the deep trees.

Summer hours—6 a.m.-10 p.m.—run through Oct. 31.

Bait shop is open 6 a.m.-7 p.m. daily; restaurant, 11-8 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 winds and weather have limited effort to almost nothing.

Paddle and Pole hosts the Berrien Springs Fish Ladder Camera.

WOLF LAKE

BoRabb Williams texted:

Wolf Lake water temperature dropped to 45 degrees ... should warm up this weekend.

From his texting fingers to God’s ears.

Staff at Henry’s Sports and Bait reported some crappie starting on the Illinois side.

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:

Fishing has slowed a bit with cold weather. Water temp was 40.5 degrees today. Smaller males and some females coming in. Warmer weather on the horizon

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