Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Trout opening day, coho, browns, steelhead, largemouth, (smelt?)

The opening of Illinois’ trout season leads this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report; plus there’s coho, brown trout and steelhead on southern Lake Michigan with largemouth bass and crappie bites building inland.

SHARE Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Trout opening day, coho, browns, steelhead, largemouth, (smelt?)
Jim Sanaxay’s son with a trout in the snow on opening day Saturday. Provided photo

Jim Sanaxay’s son with a trout in the snow on opening day Saturday.

Provided

The opening of Illinois’ trout season leads this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report; plus there’s coho, brown trout and steelhead on southern Lake Michigan with largemouth bass and crappie picking up inland.

ILLINOIS’ SPRING TROUT

Spring trout season for catchable rainbow trout opened on Saturday, April 2. Those who ventured forth ahead of the incoming weather apparently did well, other than those fishing high and dirty creeks.

Jim Sanaxay messaged the photo at the top of MFR and the one below, and this:

Hey Dale. Fished the trout opener at The Hallows in Cary this morning. Had a blast and both my son and I caught our limits! It was pretty calm and peaceful fishing during the snow fall. They were hitting on everything, worms, powerbait, spinners.

Jim Sanaxay provided proof of the good trout fishing on opening day Saturday. Provided photo

Jim Sanaxay provided proof of the good trout fishing on opening day Saturday.

Provided

His line of “It was pretty calm and peaceful fishing during the snowfall” is one I would like to borrow some time.

Matt Teri emailed the photo below of sons Luke and Joe with limits from Pickerel Lake caught on opening day. Yes, those are his sons who had the Turkey of the Week, too.

Luke and Joe Teri with trout limits from Pickerel Lake. Provided photo

Luke and Joe Teri with trout limits from Pickerel Lake.

Provided

Jason “Special One” Le texted Saturday:

A lot of stocked trout at busse wood

On Sunday, he added the photo below and this:

A lot of stocked trout at horse tails lake of this year But a lot of lil one

Jason “Special One” Le with an opening weekend trout at Horsetail Lake. Provided photo

Jason “Special One” Le with an opening weekend trout at Horsetail Lake.

Provided

Dicky’s Bait Shop in Montgomery reported limits at Silver Springs, but trout were small.

As usual, anglers 16 and older need an inland trout stamp and a fishing license. Daily bag is five trout.

The nearby sites included (Cook County): Axehead, Belleau, Green, Horsetail, Sag Quarry East, Wolf Lake at William Powers SRA; (DuPage): Silver, Pickerel, Grove; (Kankakee): Bird Park Quarry, Rock Creek; (Kendall): Big Lake at Silver Springs SFWA; (Lake): Sand Lake at Illinois Beach SP; (McHenry): Lake Atwood, Piscasaw Creek; (Will): Lake Milliken at Des Plaines SFWA.

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).

SMELT

No reports and very few tried on opening weekend.

Prospects are a tiny bit better than recently, but not very promising.

Smelt 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

Opening weekend of trout season was the main pursuit, but there were others catching largemouth and crappie.

Michael Bartolotta nicely captured a crossover

Michael Bartolotta with a surprise largemouth bass while trout fishing at Horsetail Lake. Provided photo

Michael Bartolotta with a surprise largemouth bass while trout fishing at Horsetail Lake.

Provided

between trout and other fishing with the photo above and this:

Dale, My son Michael came home from college and we went to Horsetail lake for the inland trout. We did catch 9 trout, but he caught this bass at sunrise and I caught this one an hour later. Two of the better accidental catches we have had.

Trout at Horsetail Lake on opening day. Photo provided

Trout at Horsetail Lake on opening day.

Provided

Guess I could have put the trout up in the trout section, but I figured they fit better here

BTW, that’s right about the sunrise photo. I found it more interesting.

Mike Hansen with a good largemouth bass from the southwest suburbs. Provided photo

Mike Hansen with a good largemouth bass from the southwest suburbs.

Provided

Mike Hansen emailed the photo above and this:

Didn’t weigh it but likely about 4lb.Full of eggs, caught on red rattle trap in a small lake in the SW suburbs.Caught five others, but none this big. I’ve had a good couple weeks shore fishing with the red rattler but they haven’t hit anything else.Nothing on worms, swim jigs, or other colors. Spring is coming…isn’t it? Mike Hansen

I’m not convinced spring is coming.

Dan Bernstein’s nice crappie with “trickles” of blue on it. Provided photo

Dan Bernstein’s nice crappie with “trickles” of blue on it.

Provided

The erudite Dan Bernstein, the longest serving on-air personality at The Score (670-AM), caught the crappie above on Sunday and tweeted:

Look at the color That fluorescent blue trickles up under the belly.

It’s also a good crappie.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley of Husker Outdoors emailed:

Hey Dale, Here is a recap of this past weeks fishing. Area lakes-dropping water temps and rain have made fishing difficult. The best bet for clearer water has been strip pits that don’t receive as much runoff. Dropping water temps have the late fall pattern going. Slowly work a jig along the edge of drop offs adjacent to shallow flats. The best trailer has been the Berkley max scent creature hawg. While this is not a numbers game, some bigger bass can be caught. . . . TTYL — Ken Husker O’Malley Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team

Rob Abouchar with a spring-break largemouth bass. Provided photo

Rob Abouchar with a spring-break largemouth bass.

Provided

Rob Abouchar also channeled the snow theme and emailed the photo above and others, and this:

Hi Dale, It was a great spring break filled with rest and some big Bass. I headed out with Joe the Grasseater Schatz on friday as it looked like the best weather day. The bass bite was slowed after rain snow and cold nights. I did get a nice bass out in the main basin on a Aruku Shad lipless crank.We had great bird watching with a feeding look just yards away. The weather was better for birds and ducks; of which I saw many. Had to consult the field guide for some.On sunday evening the biggest bass of the week came on a golden roach minnow under a slip bobber. After that the muskrat came swimming in. On the music front I sat in with Midnight Mule band on Friday at Teddy o’Brien’s in Mundelein for some classic rock jams. Seeing some of the folks from the home town who were there when I was just starting out was really great. The reggae album recording session is on for April 16th ! Tight lines and good health Rob

From fishing to rock to reggae, you can’t beat it.

BRAIDWOOD LAKE

Bob Johnson with a nearly 4-pound largemouth bass from Braidwood Lake. Provided photo

Bob Johnson with a nearly 4-pound largemouth bass from Braidwood Lake.

Provided

Bob Johnson emailed the photo above and this:

Hi Dale - Braidwood is still producing quality Bass 1 month after opening day however has slowed as expected due to pressure. Water temps were still good with cold side in low 60s and hot at low 70s. Traditional Bass baits like texas rigs and jig/pig combos and others are working. I had a quality Smallmouth up to boat in view but could not finish that out. My first Smallmouth hooked from Braidwood in a very long time. Bass in pic was just under 4 lbs.

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

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

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. . . . Braidwood-water temps warmed over the weekend. The cold side was 66-68while at the launch it was 62. Work areas with current by pitching a Berkley chigger craw along shoreline cover. My good friend Tom Le with a chunky bass [below]. . . . TTYL — Ken Husker O’Malley Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team

Tom Le with a good largemouth from Braidwood Lake. Provided by Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Tom Le with a good largemouth from Braidwood Lake.

Provided by Ken “Husker” O’Malley

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 improved.

Arden Katz said while shore fishing he “tore up bluegills in the channels Sunday. I think the crappie moved out.” He was fishing downs-sized plastics with spikes. He thinks the better crappie bite will come next week with the forecast in the 60s.

Art Frisell at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said walleye is good on large fatheads rigged on slip-bobber rigs or a split-shot rigs, best o Bluff or Petite; for crappie, if not in channels, go to channel mouths, Petite best; on warmer days, bluegill will move up shallow.

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

CHICAGO RIVER

First-of-the-year smallmouth bass from the Chicago River Tuesday for Jeffrey Williams. Provided photo

First-of-the-year smallmouth bass from the Chicago River Tuesday for Jeffrey Williams.

Provided

Jeffrey Williams messaged the photo above Tuesday afternoon and this:

Hey Dale So decided to setup my ultralight with a white underspin jig with a gulp minnow, didnt disappoint, 2nd cast and got a decent Smallmouth in, my 1st of the year, still down here on the riverwalk while im typing this so hoping for more luck

I wished him luck, then he replied:

wasnt expecting a smallie this early, especially for the chicago river

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

As with other waterways, it is high and fast.

Pete Lamar emailed:

I fished a Fox trib last night for an hour or so before sunset.After all the recent rain, it was flowing high and fast, but surprisingly clear.I thought I could pick up a few smallmouths in slack water areas or current breaks, but that didn’t turn out to be the case.I didn’t see a thing, other than an eagle flying over me on Route 31.

GREEN LAKE AREA, WISCONSIN

Guide Mike Norris emailed:

Fishing Report – 4/4/2022 Mike Norris With the general game fishing season closed on area lakes, walleyes are the ticket right now on most rivers in my area.The Fox River, in DePere, is your best bet with both numbers of walleyes and trophy-sized fish.This is a catch and release only fishery.The Wisconsin River below the Nekoosa Dam is another good choice.There is a five fish, 15 to 20 inch size limit, you may keep one walleye over 28 inches.Walleye fishing the river at the Wisconsin Dells is also a good choice, though the walleyes there tend to run smaller.Try vertical jigging with a quarter-ounce jig tipped with fathead minnows on all three fisheries. Mike Norris

My world feels more orderly now that Norris is back and sending his reports again.

GREEN/STURGEON BAYS, WISCONSIN

Click here for the Wisconsin DNR weekly report.

HEIDECKE LAKE

It reopened Friday, April 1. Water remains cold and fishing slow, especially from shore. I fished the first three hours from shore and heard of no fish caught and only one bite.

James Baranski’s first-in-line photo from Heidecke Lake. Provided photo

James Baranski’s first-in-line photo from Heidecke Lake.

Provided

James Baranski messaged the photo above and this, which pretty much nails opening day:

Dale, Heidecki report: poor. We fished my best spots(rip raps)for a few hours with not a bite. We then drove around and scoured with my Panoptix and literally saw no bait fish, do we pulled and went to Braidwood. Got about 25 largemouth biggest 3.4 lbs. Here is my 1st in line photo. Thinking the cold front has the fish backed off Not a sniff in 3 hours Literally no bait fish within hundreds of feet from shore on Panoptix. Water temps at launch area 38 and 41 other side of bridge. I think the front has them slowed down and temps a bit too cold

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

ILLINOIS RIVER

Projected to be in flood stage through Sunday at LaSalle.

KANKAKEE RIVER

River is running high, dirty and fast.

LAKE ERIE

Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.

LAKEFRONT

Catching the essence of early morning coho fishing this spring on the Chicago lakefront. Credit: Jason “Special One” Le

Catching the essence of early morning coho fishing this spring on the Chicago lakefront.

Jason “Special One” Le

Jason “Special One” Le captured the essence of spring coho fishing with the photo above.

He also sent the photo below of his son with a whitefish; that’s the same young man who almost caught the state record during that frenzy of Illinois records a few years ago.

Jason “Special One” Le’s son with a whitefish. Provided photo

Jason “Special One” Le’s son with a whitefish.

Provided

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait texted the photo below and some sage advice for this weather:

Coho and some trout still biting up and down the lake. With the slippery conditions, I used my ice cleats to keep from falling.

Steve Palmisano models the proper gear for this weather and fishing the Chicago lakefront. Provided photo

Steve Palmisano models the proper gear for this weather and fishing the Chicago lakefront.

Provided

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

Fishing in the area has been up-and-down.Coho, Browns and Steelhead all in the mix, as well as an occasional Northern. It’s a wind game. When the wind comes out with some North or East in it they bite better Slower on days that it’s out of the West and South. Powerliners of course are doing a little better but there have been fish on rods and reels with slip bobber’s. Hitting on night crawlers and larger minnows. The Coho bite has been higher up on most days. Good to start in the 2 to 4 ft range.I’m also surprised as cold as this water has been there hasn’t been more lake trout or even a white fish or 2 around. Have a great week.

Capt. Dan Leslie at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan said powerlining cohos doing well, minnows off of Government; casting off of South Rocks with white tubes and shrimp; some browns and steelhead, too. Back to normal hours.

LaSALLE LAKE

Rather than hit the Heidecke Lake opener on Friday, Pete Riedesel (see Fishin Friend Guide Service on Facebook) went to LaSalle and texted:

I hit LaSalle and caught the usual suspects....no big bass but about a dozen little largies...of course catfish and sheepshead...at least I got out

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.

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

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

A fresh inch and a half of snow on 4/4 and reports of 26-34 of ice on our area lakes may be hard for our southern neighbors to believe…but believe it!This week’s forecast of night time temps in upper 20’s to highs of mid-30’s to mid-40’s won’t do a lot to rid of our ice, but it won’t hurt. Bluegill:Very Good – Action good in weeds of 5-8’ using traditional tear drop jigs tipped with waxies or red, purple or motor oil plastics working very well.Anglers reporting good action in afternoons of warm ups. Crappie:Very Good-Good – Daily conditions vary with weather.Too high on barometer, go deep (14-20’).With falling barometer stick to 6-10’ weeds when active Crappies will suspend high, 4-6’ up.Anglers report being able to see fish when light is right.Slow dropping yellow, white and pink plastics on Rocker spoons and Shrimpos.Tip-down action good, but most anglers fishing rigs too deep.Mostly smaller fish holding tight.Lots of nice 10-12 eaters being caught with 14-15 SLABS reported and released! Yellow Perch:Very Good-Good – Over mud flats in 16-26’ using Clam Time Bombs, VMC Chandeliers, Pimples and Hali spoons to get down quick tipped with red spikes or wigglers.Tip-downs with rosies also good.In weeds, Kenders Natural Shrimp, Northland Forage Minnow Spoons and Fry tipped with waxies or minnow head doing best! With this much ice still on the lakes, my guess is at least two more weeks of ice fishing.This coming weekend has temps of 50 degrees forecasted and the 30+ inches of ice we have nowdoeshave pockets of punky ice.Overall, we should see two weekends worth at this rate. But as always, use caution and be safe. Kurt Justice Kurt’s Island Sport Shop - Like us on Facebook

NORTHWEST INDIANA

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

Boat action for coho strong near and around Gary light brads thinfish, spoons and dodger and Flys best. Coho fishing on shore is hit or miss. Squid, shrimp and night crawlers are the baits to try. Perch still good most days at the slips. Fisherman in boats moving around doing best.

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

Hi, Dale. Can’t wait for the upcoming warmer weather! Here’s what’s been going on… Coho fishing has been good on Lake Michigan; far to the east out of New Buffalo to St. Joseph with very nice catches. Steelhead river fishing is nearing its end, so get out there! Catfish fishing is picking up, with some nice catches at Dowling Park, Wolf Lake, & on the Little Calumet River; stinkbait, Shad, & mealworms, have been baits of choice. Crappie fishing also has experienced an upsurge recently; red worms, beemoths, & Mini Mites are doing well.

ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN

The Wisconsin DNR emailed:

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) continues spring spawning operations at the Root River Steelhead Facility in Racine County. The third fish processing day was Monday, April 4. A total of 661 steelhead have been passed upstream of the facility so far this season. The next processing day is scheduled on Monday, April 11.

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

SHABBONA LAKE

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

Adam Honiotes at Boondocks reported three muskie were caught this weekend and the crappie are starting in the deep trees. Bait shop is open 6 a.m.-7 p.m.; restaurant, 11-8 and the camp store is open weekends (Friday-Sunday).

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 all kinds of boats were out for coho on Tuesday, mostly around the pumphouse in 30 feet; looks like the rain pulled a lot of steelhead up through at Berrien Springs.

Paddle and Pole hosts the Berrien Springs Fish Ladder Camera.

WISCONSIN BROOK TROUT

A brook trout from a Wisconsin stream. Provided by Pete Lamar

A brook trout from a Wisconsin stream.

Provided by Pete Lamar

Pete Lamar took a swing of turkey scouting and fishing brook trout through Wisconsin last week and sent some photos, including the one above, and this:

We started far north, not far from Wausau.There was still snow on the ground in a lot of places up there and ice on the edges of streams.I fished a brook trout stream, but it was running high and frigid-no fish moved.I’ll be back up there in May to hunt and plan on fishing the stream again under more conducive conditions. Farther south, Spring was starting to take hold.Streams were higher than usual there too, but conditions were good for fishing; brook trout were at least feeding, if not aggressively so.Somewhere there must be brook trout who live in an ugly environment, but I have yet to find them. As far as turkeys, after some rain, they began to show themselves in open fields.Numbers appear to be very good in the southern half of the state.The last few dry Springs and Summers haven’t done much for stream-dwelling fish, but they’ve allowed for some good hatches and survival of ground-nesting birds.Should be a good turkey season. We saw good numbers of sandhills in much of the state.Most open fields had a pair or several.I’m pretty confident that I saw some whoopers too not far from Wisconsin Rapids.I wasn’t close enough to get definitive confirmation, but there were white birds out in a couple of fields and they definitely weren’t egrets.I’d spoken with a fisheries biologist about the streams before our trip.In a follow-up I mentioned the possibility of having spotted whooping cranes; he said he would pass it on to the wildlife biologist for the area. I’m curious to see if he responds and what he thinks.

I love fishing reports that encompass even more of life.

WOLF LAKE

Trout season opened Saturday

BoRabb Williams texted the photo this and the photo below:

I’m at Wolf Lake... water temperature is 41 and rising again.... slow... but they’re out catching the stocked trout. Things should improve with the gradual warming. Anthony Kelley Orr HS...

A teaser for the latest Chicagoland Baseball Chronicles episode. Provided photo

A teaser for the latest Chicagoland Baseball Chronicles episode.

Provided

I highly recommend Chicagoland Baseball on YouTube. I often put it on while I am working, especially if it is somebody I remember playing or from when I covered high school baseball. Click here for this week’s episode mentioned above.

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