Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Wisconsin opener, bass, crappie, catfish, coho, lakers, hybrids
The Wisconsin opener on Saturday, with some ice questions, leads this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.
Prospects for the Wisconsin opener on Saturday, May 7, including some thoughts on ice far north, lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.
Sean Whippo, who regularly provides reports on the Des Plaines River, emailed the photo at the top from a local private lake, and this:
Hey Dale! Hope you’re grinding through this long cool spring? Des Plaines River is blown out with all the rain and even wading is tough so I’ve been forced to rediscover our wonderful lakes. It paid off yesterday (Sunday) with my personal best and first, beautiful 40 inch Northern. She took a lot of work, after only my first year fishing seriously- but the wind Sunday had them fired up and on the move. Caught in 5 feet of water on a live shiner 3 feet under a float, off a wind broken bank in slack water. Landed at a private lake, but other very clear waters have produced similar results recently with a little post rain murk- makes them a bit less spooked I think. Cheers Dale. - Sean Whippo
Now that’s a pike.
The big question was whether the ice would be out in northern Wisconsin for the opener on Saturday, May 7.
On Monday, Kurt Justice at Kurt’s Island Sport Shop in Minocqua emailed his report, which is below in the “Northern Wisconsin” section. The essence of his prognostication is that “ice, for the most part, being gone by the opener (Trout, Fence could still be iced).” He breaks it down more in his report and he will update on Facebook later this week.
Other opening weekend previews are in the Green Lake, Madison Chain, Menominee River and Walworth County (Delavan, Geneva) sections.
Click here for the general release on the opener from the Wisconsin DNR.
High school bass-fishing sectionals are scheduled for Thursday, May 5, give the youth their space to do their thing. Area waters include Braidwood Lake, Busse Woods, Chain O’Lakes, Des Plaines River, Heidecke Lake, Shabbona Lake and Skokie Lagoons. Also Busse Woods will host another sectional on Monday, May 9.
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).
Ron Urick texted the photo above mid-day Monday and this:
Just now back to back flips Get this in your paper Flipping was key
That “Get this in your paper” has a Lee Elia ring to it.
Ken “Husker” O’Malley of Husker Outdoors emailed:
Hey Dale, Here is a recap of this past weeks fishing. The cold and wet spring continues to keep the usual spring patterns at bay. Area lakes-bass continue to hold off main breaks. When we do have warmer days they will move up shallow. Best presentation has been flipping an IJO Plastics craw bait. Crappie have moved to the outside weedlines with those cold overnight temps. Work a variety of plastics under a slip float to take a few biters. Bluegill have been the better bite as they can be found in the same area. . . . TTYL — Ken Husker O’Malley Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team
Dustin Perkins messaged the photo above and this:
Caught some absolute giant hybrid’s on a private lake in Illinois. 13 lb was the biggest on topwater baits. Those fish are just mean!!!
Pretty good accurate description of hybrid striped bass.
Rob Abouchar emailed the photo above and this:
Hi Dale I wanted to get this to you early before the week gets busy with Gardening club plant sale and high school sectional competition this week. Over the weekend I was checking baits I had might be good at Busse lake for the sectional competition and a manns baby one minus got a bass on the second cast. Hopefully this will carry over for one of my anglers on Busse Thursday. Also the other evening I saw my neighbor jim walking from my dock to the neighbors dock wit a net and take. I saw a bobber in the water and as he went to snag it it went under and came up again by my dock. Seeing his quandary I grabbed my lipless crank rod and took a couple casts to snag the bobber. When I did snag it a nice pike went airborne. We netted and released the pike. It was the kind of pike that would have been nce with home fries. On the music front it’s time to go back to re record vocals for the reggae album. The kind of anticipation you get for a dream fishing trip. Hopefully the years of preparation pays off. Tight lines and good health! Rob
On one level, I understand his anticipation for recording vocals; on another level, I know my own personal vocals sound like a warped guitar with broken strings.
Pete Lamar emailed:
Hi Dale, . . . I fished a local lake instead of the small ponds over the weekend, not because I thought it would have warmed up enough to activate the fish-definitely not the case-but because it’s possible to get out of the high winds there. There was a midge hatch taking place while I was there. Birds were swarming and picking off the midges the moment they left the water surface. Unfortunately, the local bluegills took no notice of all the food available. Everything but fish seemed active: beavers, muskrats and even a merganser hunted near me for a while. I hope he did better than I. Pete
District fisheries biologist Seth Love would like to hear from anglers on hybrid catches at Braidwood. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Open daily 6 a.m.-sunset.
CHAIN O’LAKES AREA
Arden Katz said they “killed the crappie in the channels” over the weekend on Bobby Garland Baby Shad Tails; good bluegill caught on Nail-Tail jig tails; water at 51.
Art Frisell at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch seconded crappie being good; walleye are fair, but some bigs one, best on split shot, hook and fatheads; catfish are fair, stinkbait or crawlers; fish pike around weed beds; try for suspended white bass in 12-15 feet with a slip-bobber with horizonal ice jigs.
NOTE: Lower river went to no-wake today with the entire Chain under a debris advisory. Check updates 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.
Jeffrey Williams messaged the photo above and this on Monday:
River temps are around the mid 50s but hopefully rise when we get a warm up next week, but overall not a bad day for me and my brother [Jesse Gonzalez], 3 fish, 3 different species White Bass was 0.77 lbs Largemouth was 2.33 pounds Carp was 15 pounds
Braidwood, LaSalle and Heidecke are open daily 6 a.m.-sunset.
DELAVAN LAKE, WISCONSIN
See Capt. Dave Duwe’s preview for Delavan is part of his preview for opening weekend on Walworth County, Wisconsin, which is posted below.
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.
HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Reopens May 15. Check regulations at http://www.wetlands-initiative.org/dixon-paddling-fishing.
SHELBYVILLE: Check with Ken Wilson of Lithia Guide Service.
SOUTHERN ILLINOIS: Check with Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing.
Larry Narro emailed the photo above on Thursday (yes, it was that cold) and this:
Dupage only caught 2 but to beautiful smallies
Pete Lamar emailed the photo below and this:
Hi Dale, I mostly found high cold water and sluggish fish this past week. On the Fox tribs, I found a school of crappies under a highway bridge last night-they saved the day. Late last week, I found a few smallmouths on a different trib. All were just average-sized, with the lone exception shown in the attached image. They came out of deep slow water with good current breaks. . . . Pete
GENEVA LAKE, WISCONSIN
See Capt. Dave Duwe’s preview for Geneva is part of his preview for opening weekend on Walworth County, Wisconsin, which is posted below.
GREEN LAKE AREA, WISCONSIN
Guide Mike Norris emailed this:
Fishing Report – 5/2/2022 Mike Norris Fishing pressure has been light here in south central Wisconsin with all the rain and wind we have endured this month. Big Green Lake – Lake trout are biting in sixty feet of water. Locate them on with your electronics and jig with three-eighth ounce hair jigs tipped with cisco meat. Smallmouth bass are still deep. Try lindy rigging with a 3-to-4-inch sucker minnow. Largemouth bass are seeking warmer water in both the T-Channel’s and in Beyer’s Cove. The general game fish opener is Wisconsin is Saturday, May 7th. Beaver Dam Lake – Shore anglers are catching walleyes below the dam, while downstream in Lowell, WI, shore anglers are catching a few with bluegill, perch, and white bass below the Lowell Dam. Try casting jig and minnow combos at both locations. . . .
GREEN/STURGEON BAYS, WISCONSIN
Click here for the Wisconsin DNR weekly report.
BoRabb Williams messaged on Monday:
Dale Bowman .... Heineke Lake was 51 degrees... but the air was 48 and breezy.....BAD...plenty of boaters... ZEROES
It’s got to change eventually. By the weather forecast, I suspect that will be next week.
Open 6 a.m. (6:30 bank fishing) to sunset.
River is projected to crest at flood stage over the next couple days at Starved Rock and LaSalle.
Before the latest water rise, Jason “Special One” Le texted the photo above on Sunday and this:
Starved Rock is on fire White bass
Bob Johnson emailed the photo above and this:
Hi Dale - I got out Sunday morning a few hours on the Kankakee River for more of spring Smallmouth Bass fishing. To start out the river was in great shape despite showers Saturday with just a slight stain and water temps in the mid 50’s. It was a slow morning compared to how it’s been the past few weeks. I have to believe the chilled air this morning had a lot to do with it. Nothing boated over 2 lbs and of course the big one got away. Does that happen to anyone else? Texas rig with Yamamoto Baby craw worked along with some jerk bait action. Another Bald Eagle flying above tree tops today as well.
Somebody else loses a big fish, too?
And another bald eagle sighting.
Ken “Husker” O’Malley of Husker Outdoors emailed:
Hey Dale, Here is a recap of this past weeks fishing. . . . Kankakee River-despite the recent rains, river is in good shape but cold. Overall bite for smallmouth have been slow. A few can be taken working a lipless crankbait along current seams or bridge foundations. . . . TTYL — Ken Husker O’Malley Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team
Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.
PERCH: Season is closed through June 15 on Illinois’ Lake Michigan.
Weather has limited effort, shore and boat; but coho are good from Waukegan and north, especially for boaters.
Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters said fishing at North Point was “spectacular, coho huge and loaded;” coho are going from Waukegan to Racine on Dodgers and flies on the beaches shallow. “They are big fish. Lots of bait, piles of alewives. What we see in their bellies, lots of different sizes [of alewives].”
Out of Chicago, lakers are in 40-100 feet.
Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan said boats are limiting on coho with a few kings in 25-30 feet; powerliners still catching some coho.
Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:
Hi DaleI really have nothing to report other than a couple trout here and there and a couple really nice Smallmouth in the Harbor. Just waiting for this weather to straighten out. Have a good week.
Next week at least the weather will break.
Pete Riedesel (see Fishin Friend Guide Service on Facebook) posted last week about catching some good hybrid striped bass again (see above).
That’s a good thing to see.
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
For perspective, Pat Hasburgh at D&S Bait, Tackle & Fly Shop said, “We’re about two weeks behind weather-wise.” But he also said that bass and bluegill are starting to pull up shallow. The water remains in the high 40s, With the extended cold, crappie have held in the same spots for five weeks now. Some good catfish (to 20 pounds) are being caught.
Overall, he said panfish are starting to move into shallow; walleye are just finishing spawning. “Walleye should be pretty good; pike are always being caught, lots in the 20- to 30-inch range, not a lot reports of bigger pike.”
White bass are picking up on the rivers.
He said Inland trout have been good, streams relatively clear, on dark nymphs and Woolly Buggers. .Consider blue wing olive and dark Caddis.
Hours are 6 a.m. to sunset.
MENOMINEE RIVER, WISCONSIN
Guide Mike Mladenik of bigsmallmouthbass.com emailed:
Opening Day Fishing Walleye fishing on High Falls Flowage should be good for the season opener on May 7th. Walleyes will either be spawning or in post spawn depending on the water temperature which is presently in the mid-forties. Either way, High Falls Flowage has a good walleye population and is a good pick. On the Menominee River the water is high but nothing unusual for this time of year. Walleyes are spawning and fishing could be tough. Northern pike go on the feed after they spawn and fishing sloughs should be productive. Smallmouth should be active if the water temperature rises this week due to the slight warming trend.
Kurt Justice at Kurt’s Island Sport Shop in Minocqua emailed:
Here we are (5/2), days from our opener (5/7), and most lakes of any size (800 acres plus) still have ice on more than half their surface area! But don’t despair…Forecasted highs for Wed, Thurs, Fri are in the mid to high 60’s. The ice that is covering our lakes is in very bad shape, most less than 6 and honey-combed and falling apart. Wind shifts are helping to move rafts of ice from shoreline to shoreline, furthering the demise of the ice! With ice, for the most part, being gone by the opener (Trout, Fence could still be iced). Walleye, Pike and Perch will be in spawning modes. Target warm shallows (at this time of year, temperature of water by just a couple degrees can make all the difference). High skies with a lot of sun will warm temps, but best bites in these conditions are typically low light times of early mornings and at dusk. If the sun is shining, as forecasted, check the lee side of the lakes with the most sun for Gills and Crappies warming in the shallows. Long cast, so as not to spook these fish, with rocket bobbers and small crappie minnows, tiny tubes or leaf worms could bring some mid-day life to what might be a lull in the Walleye action. Pond raised minnows (fatheads, suckers etc.) will be in good supply. Wild minnows (redtails, blacks, dace and muds) not running well yet, but could be in better supply come Friday (5/6). Looks like leeches are slowly coming in and crawlers and worms should be in good supply. Watch our Facebook page for mid-week ice updates. Kurt Justice Kurt’s Island Sport Shop - Like us on Facebook
Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station texted:
Trolling from east Chicago to Michigan city has been all over the place. Fish are in 15 to 50 ft of water. Thinfish, spoons and dodgers and flys best. Area lakes and ponds giving up bluegill and crappie. Minnows, red wigglers and beemoth best baits.
Christina Petrites at Stan’s Bait & Tackle Center in Hammond emailed:
Hi, Dale! The warmer weather coming is much anticipated! Here’s what has been going on in the fishing world:
Fishing on Lake Michigan is starting to change; the Coho Salmon are moving off the beach, & the King Salmon are slowly coming in. The Hoosier Coho Club Classic was this past weekend; it started with the Hartman Memorial which was won by the boat names Kicker (Joe Kranc). 2nd place was Sportsmans (Brent Daggett); 3rd place was Hammbone (Tony Hamm).Then we moved on to the Classic which was won by team Give N the Bird (Tom Early); 2nd was the Sportsmen (Brent Daggett), followed by Best Chance Too (Dave Engel) in 3rd; 4th was On Call (Clair Racine). What a tight tournament! The top four boats stayed the same both days. Am Results were as follows: Lakavea (Matt Wing) took the 1st place position; 2nd was the Osprey Harry Stevens); 3rd wasAngler Issues (Sean Coffer). Overall, it was a great weekend of fishing. Inland fishing should start heating up fast with the warmer weather.
John Cachel messaged the photo above and this last week:
Rock River between Dixon and Oregon. Warm windy push water temperature raise in shallow. I fished at only 3 feet deep and use cut bait for channel cats. Largemouth Bass on number 11 pink. Berkley Hit Stick lure in shallow close to shore. White bass on white paddle tail jig close to shore. River is high and most fish closer to shore to avoid strong currents. I think Walleye is finish spawning.
ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN
Click here for the Wisconsin DNR’s report, usually on Tuesday or Wednesday.
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.
Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said, when weather allows, a few coho and kings in 15-50 feet. Weather limited/halted pier action.
WALWORTH COUNTY, WISCONSIN
Capt. Dave Duwe emailed:
Opening Day: Walworth County By: Captain David Duwe It’s opening day! The first Saturday in May is the official start of fishing season. The opening of fishing season marks the renewed traditions that have been handed down from generation to generation. My tradition is the start of my guiding season. Of course I do find time to take my son or daughter fishing too. My opening day takes place on the lakes of Walworth County in Southern Wisconsin. The biggest Lake in the county is Lake Geneva; it’s big and cold in the early part of summer. Because Lake Geneva is so deep and cold on opening day, I usually hold off and fish there a couple of weeks later. Thankfully, I am blessed with several lakes in Walworth County that have an abundance of fish. For Opening Day, I will choose a shallow lake that warms quicker making the fish more active. My go to early spring lakes in Walworth County are Whitewater Lake or Lake Como, both lakes have an abundance of shallow water haunts for the wily largemouth bass or Northern Pike. On Como, plastic worms fished Texas rigged are the answer. Purple with a silver flake is my favorite color for the plastics. The Northerns will be aggressively taking either black or white spinner baits. The best depth of water is about three to five feet. I like the east end of the lake and tend to concentrate on the reed patches which mean the bottom has a harder consistency. Whitewater Lake has a great deal of shoreline structure as well as some floating bogs which hold a lot of largemouth bass. Senko’s in a green pumpkin color are very productive. There is a good trolling bite on the lake for northerns and walleyes as well. Crank baits are a good choice and I prefer the fire tiger pattern or chrome and blue. Fish the crankbaits along the weedlines in the main lake basin for the best action. Delavan Lake is one of the best known fisheries in the state and can be very productive. My bait of choice is a White spinnerbait or a Texas rigged Yum Dingers in Green Pumpkin color. I work a water depth of 3-5 feet of water, concentrating on the hard bottom locations where the bass will spawn in a couple of weeks. Panfish are in less than 3 feet of water and feeding aggressively, the largemouth bass and walleyes are cruising the shallow weed flats feeding on the immature baitfish. They can be caught on crankbaits trolled at low light conditions in a crappie pattern or firetiger or a live bait presentation like a Thill slip-bobber rig. I generally work in a depth less than 10 feet of water. The water is ultra clear so low light conditions will always produce the most action. Northern Pike fishing as a rule is fantastic, shallow weed flats is the way to go. I will free swim a medium sucker on a 1/0 hook and let it entice a strike. The west end of the lake is usually the best. I will use either fireline or 17 pound test monofilament to reduce the bite offs. Some opening weekends it is easy to catch a lot of Northern in a short period of time. If smallmouth bass is your deal, then off to Lake Geneva you go. The water is cold, but if you find the baitfish you find the fish. Small hair jigs in pink/white are the best bet. It mimics the mirror shiners in the lake perfectly. I search for the smallies around spawning flats like Elgin Club or the Military Academy. I swim the hair jigs back to the boat and employ a lot of pauses. The strike is really subtle. If you think it is a weed set the hook. Largemouth bass will be in Abbey harbor or Trinkes were the warmest water in the lake is. Like Como the best lure is a weightless Texas rigged All Terrain Stik. Root beer red flake or green Pumpkin always catches the fish. Other lakes that don’t see much pressure are Pleasant Lake and Turtle Lake these lakes have an ample supply of fish. In early Spring the best bite is the panfish. They are located in less than 5 feet of water. The simple bobber and worn can catch all that one desires. At Turtle lake look for the fish in the channels or on the East shore. On Pleasant Lake the fish are in the shallow bays. Both lakes have an ample largemouth bass population, but the fish are usually on the small size. Walworth County is blessed with many small creeks and urban fisheries that have a good population of fish stocked by the Wisconsin DNR. Urban fisheries have special regulations so make sure you follow the rules. The creeks have everything from carp to northern pike. Like the Urban fishery most of the fishing is done from shore. It is a great place to take a kid fishing. Like Christmas, Opening Day of fishing only comes once a year so enjoy. And as always take a kid fishing for memories and traditions that last a lifetime.
BoRabb Williams messaged the photo above and this:
Dale Bowman .... Wolf Lake water is 56 degrees.... almost ready... the males are turning Dark.
WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN
Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted Monday:
48.3 degree water temp this morning. Walleye action is slowing down as the white bass are becoming the dominant factor. Mostly deep current break areas, and rigs with flies or minnows still producing best
Guide Mike Norris emailed this:
Fishing Report – 5/2/2022 Mike Norris Fishing pressure has been light here in south central Wisconsin with all the rain and wind we have endured this month. . . . Wolf River – Trolling with flies on a three-way rig is producing small walleye. A few white bass are starting to show up and can be caught trolling with the same rig.