Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Lilacs blooming, walleye, coho, white bass, crappie, opener

Lilacs are blooming as befits the first real week of spring and that leads, or sorta leads, this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

SHARE Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Lilacs blooming, walleye, coho, white bass, crappie, opener
Stevenson High School’s first place team with their 9.7-pound bag at the IHSA’s bass-fishing Chain O’Lakes South sectional. Provided by Ron Urick

Stevenson High School’s first place team with their 9.7-pound bag at the IHSA’s bass-fishing Chain O’Lakes South sectional.

Provided by Ron Urick

Lilacs are blooming as befits the first real week of spring and that leads, or sorta leads, this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

MUSKIE TOURNAMENT

The Challunge on the Chain, the big event of the Fox River Valley chapter of Muskies, Inc., with a top prize of $5,000, is Saturday, May 14.

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).

AREA LAKES

Ken O’Malley shows the crappie bite is improving with late arrival of true spring. Provided photo

Ken O’Malley shows the crappie bite is improving with late arrival of true spring.

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. Despite the typical rain and cold days, the bite has been good and fish will be spawning with this week with the upcoming summer like temperatures. Area lakes- Bass have been good flipping plastics to shoreline cover. Male bass are up shallow and ready to start spawning. A few females can be caught right on the break. Crappie are moving up shallow as well and getting ready to spawn. A few males are starting to turn black. Focus on wind blown spawning flats for the most active fish. The best presentation has been working an IJO Plastics pannie crawler under a slip float. . . . TTYL — Ken Husker O’Malley Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team

Pete Lamar emailed:

Hi Dale, Things picked up on some of the bigger water. I don’t mean Shabbona or Heidecke big; more like the 50-100 acre forest preserve lakes. It took them a long time to warm up, but it’s happening. I was fishing for panfish with a small wet fly and that’s what I got: mostly bluegills and some crappies. I didn’t go after bass, but that should be improving rapidly too. . . . Pete

BoRabb Williams texted:

Southern CCPF are going strong for crappie... Saganashski Slough... Maple... Arrowhead.... Wolf and warming Fast ... Calumet Bass.. perch.... white bass hitting... water warming fast .

Rob Abouchar emailed:

Hi Dale Wanted to get this out before we take the class fishing today at Woodale Grove and then after school it is off to the studio to re-record vocals for the reggae album. Last Thursday my Leyden High School Bass Club competed in the Busse Lake Main Pool sectional competition. We were able to finish a very respectable 6th place out of 16 boats. Two of the teams brought in 5 fish limits weighing 11.5 and 11.9 pounds. Some very nice fish were brought to the scales a 3.21 was big bass for that pool. I was struck by the modifications coaches made to boats for this competition. The winning boat from Hersey was a hi performance water ski/tubeing boat from the looks of it. They had a cooler with an aerator for a livewell. They were not the only boat with a cooler for a livewell. . . . On the music front back to the studio in river forest today after school to re-record vocals! Tight Lines and Good Health Rob

I am intrigued by the modifications on the boats.

Mike Cronsell at Dicky’s Bait Shop in Montgomery reported local pond bass are biting on shiners. “I assume everything will spawn this week,” he said.

I think he is about right.

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.

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Art Frisell at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said bluegill picked up considerably on ice jigs with red worms or waxies; crappies dropped back, try 8-12 feet with small minnows or spikes and small jigs; pike good on medium roaches, Dardelves or Johnson spoons; white bass are good, try in 8-12; catfish (some good ones recently) are fair on crawlers or stinkbait.

NOTE: Lower river is no-wake. Check updates on water conditions at foxwaterway.com or (847) 587-8540.

NOTE 2: The Stratton Lock and Dam has normal daily operating hours of 8 a.m. to midnight through Sept. 30.

CHICAGO RIVER

Jesse Gonzalez holds a thick channel catfish from the Chicago River. Provided by Jeffrey Williams

Jesse Gonzalez holds a thick channel catfish from the Chicago River.

Provided by Jeffrey Williams

Jeffrey Williams messaged the photo above and this:

So my brother caught this nice 2 lb channel from the river also on monday

COOLING LAKES

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

DELAVAN LAKE, WISCONSIN

Capt. Dave Duwe emailed:

Delavan Lake 5/9/22 through 5/16/22 Opening Day has arrived. With the number of boats at the boat launch, all the other lakes in Walworth County must have seen very light boat traffic. Boat trailers were being parked all the way to South Shore drive. The best action continues to be the pan fish. The bluegills are biting in the shallow water about 3-4 feet. The best locations are the boat launch channel, the outlet near the dam, and near Lake Lawn Lodge. The best approach is a single hook with a bobber, fishing red worms or leaf worms. The bluegills are a few weeks away from spawning due to the cool spring. Crappie fishing has been sporadic, some days they are biting well and the next day you’ll get skunked. The best success has been in front of Lake Lawn or near Township Park. The fish are suspended in 8-10 ft. of water. Two presentations have been producing the most fish. The first is a small 1/32 oz. Jig fished with a small Twister tail, white and yellow seem to be the best colors. The second is slip bobber fishing for them with small minnows. Walleye fishing was kind of slow. Some nice fish were being caught on slip bobbers in 8-9 ft. of water. The fish are just ending their spawn and will start to move out onto the weedlines. The best bait for this week is large fat head minnows. Check locations such as Willow Point, the Yacht Club point and Browns Channel. Largemouth Bass can be readily found in a pre-spawn pattern. The best depth is 3-4 ft. There was a lot of fish activity in the outlet and in Lake Lawn Harbor. The fish could be seen cruising all over, however, they didn’t bite that well. Like the bluegills, the bass should be spawning in the next few weeks, so the sight fishermen should start having great success. Good Luck and I hope to see you on the water, for guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 262-728-8063.

DOWNSTATE

HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Reopens Sunday, May 15. Closed Mondays, except for Memorial Day and July 4. Check regulations at http://www.wetlands-initiative.org/dixon-paddling-fishing.

POWERTON: Summer hours are 6 a.m.-8 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.

FOX RIVER

NOTE: Lower river (Stratton Lock and Dam to Algonquin Damd) is no-wake. Check updates on water conditions at foxwaterway.com or (847) 587-8540.

A stream smallmouth bass caught on a light fly rod. Provided photo

A stream smallmouth bass caught on a light fly rod.

Provided

Pete Lamar emailed the photo above and this:

Hi Dale, . . . The Fox tributaries were back close to normal Spring levels after all the rain late last week. But there was a lot more color than there has been. Nothing notable about the smallmouth in the attached image-a fairly typical size for the small streams-but what made it unusual was that I caught it on a two weight rod. They’re not the usual choice when going after smallmouth. I use it for bluegills when it’s not windy and brook trout. It’s definitely a case of being under-gunned when hooking a smallmouth, but these are tight quarters on this stream and the rod is a couple of feet shorter than my others. It did the job with no harm to the fish. . . . Pete

Mike Cronsell at Dicky’s Bait Shop in Montgomery reported said river remains high, fast with slow fishing (but dropping Tuesday), some muskie being caught below the dam.

GENEVA LAKE, WISCONSIN

Capt. Dave Duwe emailed:

Lake Geneva 5/9/22 thru 5/16/22 Opening Day, fishermen found an awesome day, sunny skies and light winds. The boat ramps were not as busy as in past years. The water temp is approximately 5 degrees colder than last year. Fishing should be improving as the water warms and the bass become closer to spawning. The best action was small mouth bass. The fish this time of year are suspending on the outside of drop offs, close to their spawning flats. The bass are chasing the pods of shiners. Most of the fish are being taken on small minnows fished on either a small split shot rig or a slip bobber with a single hook. Another good method is swimming a small grub at varying depths in the water columns. I prefer smoke colored or a light green. The best locations were by Elgin Club or by the Military Academy. Largemouth bass can be caught in Trinkes both in the harbor and outside the weed flat. Most of the fish were caught on night crawlers with a single hook with a split shot. This fishing was pretty slow. Another good location for Opening Day and the first few weeks of May is the Abbey Harbor, fish around the boat docks in 3-4 ft of water. Northern Pike are cruising the weed flats in 6-8 ft of water. The best locations are in Fontana Beach or in Williams Bay. Fish the northerns with golden shiners and slip bobbers for best results. Perch are being caught in 6-8 ft. of water around the shallow weeds. Due to the cool water temps the fish are still shallow, normally by this time of year they are starting to move deeper. The best location is by Knollwood or Rainbow Point. The fish are being taken on small minnows or leaf worms fished beneath a bobber. Walleye fishing has been awesome casting or trolling stick baits in the shallows. Best locations Maytag Point and Buttons Bay. Fishing is still slow; the report will cover other species once they become active. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 262-728-8063

GREEN LAKE AREA, WISCONSIN

Guide Mike Norris emailed:

Big Green Lake – Numbers of walleyes are still shallow due to the chilly water and late spring. With little weed growth right now, it is a wonderful time to troll for walleyes in water 8 -12 feet deep with crankbaits. Good sized bluegills remain active in Dartmouth Bay and can be caught from shore with a jig tipped with a half of a red worm suspended under a float. Largemouth bass are inhabiting the T-Channels, and the shallow waters of Beyers Cove. Try working close to the shoreline with a quarter-ounce white Chatterbait. Lake Puckaway – Smallmouth bass are active in the back channels and in the upper Fox River. Try drop shotting with an imitation leech or pitch a crawfish imitating lure along the rocky shorelines and bullrushes. Troll Salmo crankbaits in the main lake basin for walleye.

GREEN/STURGEON BAYS, WISCONSIN

Click here for the Wisconsin DNR weekly report.

HEIDECKE LAKE

Bob Johnson with a smallmouth bass on a tough high-sky day at Heidecke Lake. Provided photo

Bob Johnson with a smallmouth bass on a tough high-sky day at Heidecke Lake.

Provided

Bob Johnson emailed the photo above and this;

Hi Dale - forgot my go pro and turned out to be ok. As you can see it was one of those high blue bird skies slow fishing days Heidecke is known for. I threw an assortment of lures at them all morning and the fish had other ideas. I talked to a couple other die hards and they also had slow mornings. The 2 smallmouth boated both were caught on texas rig craw style bait and I might add the crappie fishing was slow as well. The warm weather this week should be all that’s needed for Heidecke lake to show what it’s got. Smallmouth, largemouth, striper, muskie and mammoth Crappie and of course Walleye and bluegill. I’ll be back!!

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

ILLINOIS RIVER

Projected to continue a steady drop below flood stage at LaSalle.

LAKE ERIE

Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.

LAKEFRONT

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

Good morning Dale Some Coho showed up yesterday on Minnows. A few Smallmouth here and there. Hopefully we will stay with better weather and fishing will get better.Have a great week.

Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters said out of Chicago fishing is very scattered with coho here and there and lakers here and there; a few fish caught by the R-2.

Out of North Point, more by shoreline, from Waukegan to Kenosha, there is a nice band of coho and they are big ones, eating peanut flies and little yellow Dodgers, fish being caught from the surface on down.

Capt. Dan Leslie at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan said pier fishing, both powerliners and casters, are catching coho with an occasional steelhead with extra-large fatheads or shrimp; casters are doing OK off the South Rocks; boaters are in 30 feet; best for the last week have been orange flies or the classic greens.

Capt. Scott Wolfe of School of Fish Charters emailed:

Hi Dale I’m finally back in action after having to wait on parts we needed to complete off-season upgrades. I’m sorry it’s been so long since I have reported to you. The coho are in the Waukegan and Winthrop Harbor areas. They are generally in 15 - 30 feet. A mud line had developed which helped hold fish and bait. The best area early last week was from the mouth of Waukegan to the power plant. The fish seemed to move North. Over the weekend they were from the Illinois Beach Lodge to Northpoint Marina. Best setups were 00 red dodgers with Green Liz, 7-up and UV Two Tone flies from Jimmy Fly and Lake Michigan Angler run off planer boards. They appear larger than average for early May. Let’s hope the chinook will be too. Capt. Scott Wolfe schooloffishcharters.com 630-341-0550

PERCH: Season is closed through June 15, on Illinois’ Lake Michigan.

LaSALLE LAKE

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- when winds permit, hybrid stripers can be taken trolling crankbaits. Water temps are in the 70’s and should rise during the week. Call ahead to check if the ramps are open at 815-640-8049. . . . TTYL — Ken Husker O’Malley Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team

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

Click here for the update from D&S Bait, Tackle & Fly Shop .

MAZONIA

Hours are 6 a.m. to sunset.

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

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

Opening weekend happened! Beautiful weather on opening day allowed for lots of participation as anglers got to let their pent-up open water angling out. Those who got out were met with some surprisingly warm water (avg 48 – 50 degrees) considering ice just left many of our lakes just days (some lakes hours) before. Burdened with carrying eggs somewhat longer (couple weeks) than usual, female Walleyes dumped their eggs quickly as water temps raced through the preferred spawning temps of 38 to 42 degrees leaving lots of males still working the shallows looking for love! Walleye: Excellent-Good – Opening morning started out hot at day break (and even hotter for those starting at midnight). Lots of action from lingering males, with several spent female being caught and released as anglers reported personal bests (PB). While jig and minnow (Dace, fats, chubs) accounted for most, shallow stick baits (Rattlin Rouges, #7 Countdowns, #9 Floating Rapalas and Jr. Thundersticks) as well as jig and plastics produced on bodies with aggressive fish. In some cases, a slow, drag and light wiggle was needed to entice on jig and minnows. Northern Pike: Good – Not as prominent as expected and rarely targeted at this time, some nice Pike were boated by anglers targeting Walleyes in the shallows (3-5’) using jigs with minnows. Largest this week a 40 caught by a Lucky Lady using 6# test! Smallmouth Bass: Good – As with Pike, we received no reports from anglers targeting but some nice incidentals in the 16-18 range were C&R by Walleye anglers. Crappie: Good-Fair – Leading up to the gamefish opener, anglers found Crappies staging in 8-12’ taking small minnows. On the flat, warm sunny afternoons Crappies were seen in less than a foot and a half of water sunning. They are not spawning at this time, just warming their bodies and helping egg production for the time to come. Those fish, when found, are very spooky yet with long cast can be caught. Yellow Perch, Bluegill and Largemouth Bass were caught, but rarely targeted, not enough for a report. With water temps shooting up into upper 40’s to low 50’s before settling down by Sunday/Monday (5/8-5/9) it’s taking a little searching from opening morning onward to stay on fish. The forecast of highs in upper 70’s to low 80’s by week’s end will play havoc on the fisher people as minnow and insect hatches will have to be competed with, and on some smaller lakes our favored post spawn preferred surface temps of the 50’s may just shoot into the 60’s by the weekend. Also of note, lake levels are high and due to late ice out, many lakes don’t have piers in at launches as DNR crews are scrambling to get to the landings and get set up. Kurt Justice Kurt’s Island Sport Shop - Like us on Facebook

NORTHWEST INDIANA

Slez’s Bait Shop celebrates its 35th. Provided photo

Slez’s Bait Shop celebrates its 35th.

Provided photo

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

Decent coho action in 30 to 40 ft of water from burns ditch to Michigan city dodger flys and spoons best fishing mid water column Catfish at Robinson lake in Hobart using skipjack on the bottom. All the warm weather will spark all lakes and ponds up. Slez’s celebrating 35 years stop in. Open 5am to 6pm daily now.

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

Hi, Dale! With this beautiful weather recently, there’s been an upsurge in fishing also! Here’s what’s been going on: With the nice weather, fishing is really heating up; trollers are catching mixed bags of Coho, Lake Trout, & a few Kings, with small spoons being the best Bluegill & Crappie fishing are both very good on the inland lakes. Beemoths & red worms are performing great. Walleye in the rivers are ok but not lights out. Catfish fishermen are doing well in the rivers. Lots of anglers are catching Coho then heading into the woods to forage and finding mushrooms (which really makes for a great dinner combination).

ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN

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

SHABBONA LAKE

Shannon Hindsonat Boondocks reported good bluegills with some largemouth bass being caught, too, on Tuesday; still crappie being caught in cribs and deep trees; boaters finding some good hybrids.

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 it took 184.3 pounds to win the Summer Challenge; best coho action is in 60 or shallower south of St. Josepyh; in the river, suckers and catfish are being caught at the dam.

Paddle and Pole hosts the Berrien Springs Fish Ladder Camera.

WISCONSIN RIVER

Rob Abouchar with a smallmouth bass on opening weekend on the Wisconsin River. Provided photo

Rob Abouchar with a smallmouth bass on opening weekend on the Wisconsin River.

Provided

Rob Abouchar emailed the photo above and this:

Hi Dale . . . On Friday I headed up to my house in Merrill to meet up with lifelong friend Matt Homey Centanno for the Wisconsin opener Saturday. Driving up through Wisconsin the trees on the ski mountains had an eerie looking color to them as the sun shone on them with just buds that want to burst, but refuse to do so with the long lasting cool weather. Saturday was perfect chamber of commerce weather for the opener but few boats were out early as the air temp was 35 degrees with water temps 52-56 degrees. The action was great for northern pike. I caught lots of pike all day long from hammer handles to, eaters to big’s. The smallmouth did not disappoint and were just starting to move into the shallows. I even hooked a nice keeper sized walleye that almost looked like a sauger. The best baits were a jackhammer bladed jig with a Kalins grub trailer in green pumpkin/craw. A white spinnerbait took some pike as well and the black and blue Senko started to get bites from bass. I had a first for the river when I saw two Northwoods giant Musky smiming side by side presumably in spawning activity. When I got the bass on the senko it was time to hit the launch but it reminded me I have a score to settle with that senko and a Musky. On the music front back to the studio in river forest today after school to re-record vocals! Tight Lines and Good Health Rob

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:

The river full of white striped piranhas. Mostly males right now with water temp at 59.1. The spawn should start in the next day or two, and the shoreline action will pick up

Guide Mike Norris emailed:

. . . Wolf River – White bass are biting in the Fremont area. Troll upstream with purple flies on three-way rigs.

Gary Bloom messaged from Winneconne on Sunday:

Hope all is well there. Been up North, walleye have been good on minnows, water finally warmed up to use flies. Blue Gill have been good in channels. Wh. Bass started to bite, had 20 yesterday. Today was bad as weather changed. Be here all week.

On Monday, he messaged “a couple of 19-inch walleye” in the photo below.

A pair of nice walleye from the Wolf River in Winneconne. Provided photo

A pair of nice walleye from the Wolf River in Winneconne.

Provided

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