Midwest Fishing Report: Coho, steelhead, perch, lakers, browns, receding ice, Chicago fishing

Coho on southern Lake Michigan, as well as some steelhead, lake trout, brown trout and ongoing perch action, lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

SHARE Midwest Fishing Report: Coho, steelhead, perch, lakers, browns, receding ice, Chicago fishing
Nate Torres, 13, caught a good steelhead while coho fishing Sunday at Montrose Harbor.

Nate Torres, 13, caught a good steelhead while coho fishing Sunday at Montrose Harbor.

Provided

Coho on southern Lake Michigan, as well as some steelhead, lake trout, brown trout and ongoing perch action, lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

Nate Torres, 13, sent the photo at the top and this on Sunday:

Hey Dale went out to Montrose Harbor today looking to catch some Coho but I got a nice steelhead on a marabou jig tipped with a little piece of shrimp, I thought it was a goby because the bobber was barley moving so I decided to set the hook and got her just about 5 feet down she weighed 11 pounds and she was 29inches

LAKEFRONT SALMON/TROUT

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Jason “Special One” Le texted the photo above from powerlining Sunday at the Chicago lakefront and and the YouTube video below that from Michigan City, Indiana.

Fish are going are southern Lake Michigan and it is not all coho, as the reports below indicate.

Ian Gen-Murray with a trout caught while coho fishing on the Chicago lakefront. Provided photo

Ian Gen-Murray with a trout caught while coho fishing on the Chicago lakefront.

Provided

Ian Guen-Murray emailed the photo above and this:

Hi Dale,

Hooked this steelhead (26in., 7lb. 4oz.) on President’s Day. No bites on previous outings so it was more than I wished for. Mepps spinner. Credit Adam [Doscher] for his sudden appearance with a net. Offered him the fish free and was traded instead for three dollars worth of steel, a lure, good start all around.

Thanks,

Ian Guen-Murray

Casey Shell with five coho from southern Lake Michigan. Provided photo

Casey Shell with five coho from southern Lake Michigan.

Provided

Jim Shell emailed the photo above and this:

Hi Dale,

Another mild day, light winds this past Sunday. Perfect day to get out on the big pond. Heard the coho bite was starting. Launched out of the Calumet boat ramp. We trolled the long break wall about a mile from shore. The bite started out very slow. Boated one coho early morning. Then between 11am and noon, we boated 4 more, for a total of 5 in the box. Trolled crankbaits, about 10ft deep. The bite should really pick up as we get closer to spring.

Jim and Casey Shell

Matt Larkin with a bonus lake trout caught while coho fishing. Provided photo

Matt Larkin with a bonus lake trout caught while coho fishing.

Provided

Matt Larkin messaged the photo above and this:

I wanted to go perch fishing yesterday. I head out to 89th St. even though Noone else is out there I set up for 40min an no action. I text a friend that was powerlining at Cal Park. I decide to go over and see how he’s doing. He set up at 6am and hasn’t had a hit all day. He tells me to grab my gear and try for coho. I set 1 rod with a bobber, floating a minnow. I tie a snap swivel on my other rod and throw a variety of spoons hoping for a coho to hit. After casting for about an hour I get a hit. This was my perch rod with 6lb test. My buddy Luis Zuniga runs and grabs a net and helps me to land this girl. 15lb 34

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

Coho action at portage Riverwalk and Michigan city pier fishing near bottom best. Skein, spawn saks, squid and shrimp doing well.

Coho action for trollers in and out of the mudd line in portage and down around Gary light. Brad’s thinfish and j-9 rapalas along with other shallow running crankbaits doing the job.

Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor, Michigan, said weather limited effort from the St. Joseph Pier, but coho are around when weather allows access; some coho inside at New Buffalo.

LAKEFRONT PERCH

Some have been night fishing with some success at South Side slips. Not sure what the weather later this week will do to the bite or access.

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

Perch action still decent when wind allows you out 50 to 58 ft of water out of portage and to the west.

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 ($20 for two months) for the anglers’ parking lots at DuSable and Burnham harbors are on sale at the Northerly Island Visitor Center (credit card only, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday), but call (312) 745-2910 first to make sure someone is there.

My column from Nov. 30, 2022, on parking the length of the Chicago lakefront is posted at https://chicago.suntimes.com/2022/11/30/23485385/chicago-lakefront-parking-fishing

PIER PASSES

The $10 pier passes, which allow legal access to select piers at Jackson Park, Burnham, DuSable, Diversey, Belmont and Montrose harbors, may be bought at Northerly Island Visitor Center (credit-card only, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday), but call (312) 745-2910 first to make sure someone is there.

STURGEON

Josh Ausloos speared the final biggest daily sturgeon, a 106.9-pound female, on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2023. Credit: Wisconsin DNR

Josh Ausloos speared the final biggest daily sturgeon, a 106.9-pound female, on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2023.

Wisconsin DNR

Wisconsin’s sturgeon-spearing season ran the full 16 days on Lake Winnebago through Sunday, Feb. 26. The Upriver Lakes closed on Feb. 18 after a cap was hit.

The recap on Sunday, included this wrap-up on big sturgeon:

There were plenty of big fish to see this season, with 46 fish over 100 pounds for the season (9 fish from the Upriver Lakes and 37 fish from Lake Winnebago). The largest fish this season was a 177.3 pound, 79.9 inch, F4 female that was speared on Lake Winnebago and registered at the Southwest Winnebago registration station.

WISCONSIN REMINDER

Inland gamefish season ends at midnight, Sunday, March 5.

AREA LAKES

Juan Macias with a good day of fishing at Busse Woods on Sunday. Provided photo

Juan Macias with a good day of fishing at Busse Woods on Sunday.

Provided

Juan Macias messaged the photo above and this:

Hi Dale ,today Sunday with the warm weather the fish was aggresive and baiting very well ,I have successfully and had a mixed bag of fish completing my limit of crappies in 2 hours perch and yellow bass as well all on minnows under the bobber again at busse.

Dave Kranz of Dave’s Bait, Tackle and Taxidermy in Crystal Lake and with his You-Tube channel, Dave Kranz Living the wild outdoors, texted:

No ice that [I] know of that’s safe.

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

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a late winter 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 weeks fishing.

Area lakes- We have had a few days in the upper 40’s but overnight temps in the 20’s.

Today was just what the doctor ordered on natural lakes. Day time temps near 54 and plenty of rain to get those take temps up just a bit.

The bait of choice was a cordell spot with #6 Vector Hooks tornado treble replacement hooks.

Working the current seams was the focus today.

Only going to get better from here!

Here is the nature pic of the the week [below].

Preparing for spring.

TTYL

Ken Husker O’Malley

Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team

Muskrat swimming in open water of late winter. Credit: Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Muskrat swimming in open water of late winter.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley

BRAIDWOOD LAKE

Closed. Reopens Wednesday, March 1.

My column on prospects for fishing at Braidwood can be found here.

Open daily 6 a.m.-sunset.

District fisheries biologist Seth Love would like to hear from anglers on catches at Braidwood. You can email him at seth.love@illinois.gov.

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Proprietor Greg Dickson at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said most of the ice is blown off and a couple boats around. Still a lot of unknown. If going to navigate, be aware most ice is gone, just take it easy in case of any remaining ice floes are around.

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

COOLING LAKES

Braidwood opens Wednesday, March 1; LaSalle reopens March 15; and Heidecke, April 1.

DOWNSTATE

POWERTON: Hours through April 30 are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. daily.

EMIQUON PRESERVE: Fishing is sunrise to sunset. Access permits and liability waivers 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.

SPRING LAKE: Back to regular hours.

HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Closed for the season.

FLORIDA

Casey Przybysz with a giant bluegill from Florida. Provided by Wally Olson

Casey Przybysz with a giant bluegill from Florida.

Casey Przybysz, bluegill,Florida, Wally Olson, fishing, outdoors

Wally Olson emailed the photo above and this:

Casey Przybysz caught this 12 1/4 Bluegill last week from a Private lake on the East Coast of Florida ! These large Gills are Quite common in this lake !

FOX RIVER

Dave Kranz of Dave’s Bait, Tackle and Taxidermy in Crystal Lake and with his You-Tube channel, Dave Kranz Living the wild outdoors, texted:

. . . Most are trying for walleyes below Algonquin and McHenry Dams. Extra Large Fatheads on a 1/8th once jig head. Some channels are open and crappies and bluegills are being caught. Use Cubby Mini Mite with a crappie nibble or Gulp Minnow on a size 4 Aberdeen hook. A wax worm on an ice jig will work well for the Bluegill.

Mike Cronsell at Dicky’s Bait Shop in Montgomery reported some walleye going below the dams, many smaller ones but one 7.9-pounder caught last week below Montgomery.

GREEN LAKE AREA, WISCONSIN

Dawson Kelm, 13, caught and released this northern pike at the Kingston, Wisconsin, mill pond. Provided by Mike Norris

Dawson Kelm, 13, caught and released this northern pike at the Kingston, Wisconsin, mill pond.

Provided by Mike Norris

Guide Mike Norris texted the photo above and emailed this:

Fishing Report – 2/27/2023

Mike Norris

Big Green Lake – Conditions are not great on Big Green with ice thickness only measuring between 4 - 8 inches. The majority of anglers trying to reach the Heidel Bar are just walking out from Horner’s Landing or Sunset Park. Nonetheless a trout derby was held on Big Green Lake last Saturday during Green Lake’s annual Winterfest celebration and the lake trout did not disappoint. The winning trout measured 37.5 inches.

Fox Lake – Local reports indicate there is 8 – 10 inches of ice on Fox Lake and anglers are running their four-wheelers out to the better fishing spots. Walleyes are biting off Maple Point after sunset and into the night on tip-ups baited with medium shiner minnows. Bluegills and crappie can be caught during the day in the Jug on jigs tipped with plastics or spike and waxworms. The Kingston Mill Pond has produced some nice northern pike in the last week.

Wisconsin River – Anglers are doing well on walleyes up to 21-inches vertical jigging with jigs tipped with minnows and fished along eddies and current breaks below the Wisconsin Dells Dam.

GREEN/STURGEON BAYS, WISCONSIN

Staff at Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay said the usual ice-fishing spots are not accessible for whitefish (I don’t think it is going to happen this year); still getting perch and pike near shore, use caution as March comes in

HEIDECKE LAKE

Closed. Scheduled to reopen April 1.

ILLINOIS RIVER

Projected to be in flood through the weekend at Starved Rock.

KANKAKEE RIVER

River is high, especially below the confluence with the Iroquois, which is in minor flood stage upstream.

LAKE ERIE

Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.

LAKEFRONT

See the perch report and salmon/trout reports at the top.

No final word yet on when Park Bait reopens at Montrose Harbor.

A few fish are in at Waukegan, such as this beauty. Provided by the Salmon Stop

A few fish are in at Waukegan, such as this beauty.

Provided by the Salmon Stop

Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan messaged the photo above and texted this:

A few fish are showing up. I think next week we may be back to somewhat normal hours. 7 am to 6 pm I think.

LaSALLE LAKE

Closed. Scheduled to reopen March 15.

MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN

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

Arden Katz said bluegills continue good on Monona Bay, lots are fishing “The Triangle.” He’s jigging waxies or red spikes down in 5 feet of water. Ice was about 7 inches on Sunday.

MAZONIA

Hours are 6 a.m. to sunset.

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

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

Just one weekend left to the inland gamefish season here in the Northwoods. At the stroke of midnight, Sunday, March 5th, it’s time to pack up the tip-ups for the season (unless you’re headed to the U.P.)

Mixed reports from this past week. Some anglers did well, while others struggled. Few very good reports with the exception of Largemouth Bass, so let’s start there.

Largemouth Bass: Very Good – Always seems to be a correlation between warm (20 degrees +) weather and ice fishing Largemouth. Using medium shiners under tip-ups or jigging Shad Raps or Rippin Raps seemed to conjure up the most fish. Lots of action from 12-15 fish, but for the second week in a row, a 19 ½ LMB was caught and released!

Northern Pike: Good – Bite started late mornings, but improved throughout the days. Big, active shiners and suckers seemed to interest Pike the most. A few anglers using frozen smelt also reported success. Definitely feeding up, as many Pike caught showed signs of full gullets as egg production in full swing!

Yellow Perch: Good-Fair - Another species packing on the ounces as they are early spawners also and building up weight for ice out. Still two types of bites. Outside weed edges in 8-10 using minnow or fry shaped jigs, such as Z-Vibers or K-Rips tipped with waxies. Over mud flats of 18-26’, fast dropping Nils, Kastmasters, Bull Spoons and Pinheads tipped with wigglers or red spikes. Start with an aggressive jigging motion to draw them in, then watch on your flasher as Perch rise 6-8’ to meet your jig on the way down.

Bluegill: Good-Fair – Best along weeds of 7-10’. Small tungsten jigs in sizes 2.5mm – 3mm tipped with waxies, spikes or dark plastics. A few reports of deeper Gills in 14-18’ also, same presentation along coontail edges.

Walleye: Fair-Good – Best on 3 suckers along 12-14’ weed edges at dusk or 18-25’ humps depending on what the lake has to offer. Anglers reporting some success jigging Slab Raps and the new Jigging Shadow Rap.

Crappie: Fair – Bite seemed off. Basin fish scattered, tough to pinpoint. Weed fish seemed negatively affected by high pressure, so fish tighter to the bottom on days like these.

Despite Thursday’s snow (2/23), travel on the lakes remained good as snow was light and fluffy. What things will be like by the end of the week remains to be seen as snow on 2/27 and 3/1 with highs in the low 30’s could bring weight. Temps look good for the final weekend of gamefish with highs forecasted for mid to upper 30’s and some clouds to offset the coming full moon.

Upcoming Ice Fishing Tournaments

Mar 4th – KISS Highschool Ice Fishing Tournament

Kurt Justice

Kurt’s Island Sport Shop - Like us on Facebook

NORTHWEST INDIANA

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

Coho action at portage Riverwalk and Michigan city pier fishing near bottom best. Skein, spawn saks, squid and shrimp doing well.

Coho action for trollers in and out of the mudd line in portage and down around Gary light. Brad’s thinfish and j-9 rapalas along with other shallow running crankbaits doing the job.

Perch action still decent when wind allows you out 50 to 58 ft of water out of portage and to the west.

Crappie action on lake George in Hobart around 3rd and Wisconsin street bridges using minnows.

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

Hi, Dale! I hope you & your family enjoyed the recent mild weather as much as we did. It’s looking more & more like a very early Spring & fishing season this year, & also remember: the Northwest Indiana Fishing Expo is this weekend in Highland, Indiana to jumpstart the new season!

Fishing remains really good on the south end of Lake Michigan, with limit catches of Perch & Coho.

Perch fishing has been the best in 45-55 FOW off Gary Lighthouse; slips on the Illinois/Indiana border are also still getting good action. Red worms, minnows, & beemoths are still the go-tos.

Coho are coming on body baits in 12-15 FOW. Spawn sacs & squid are both working well.

The rivers are still very dirty & fast from all the rains. Hopefully they clear up & slow down soon to enable easier, better fishing conditions.

Catfishing is moderate right now, with a steady increase as the weather becomes nicer. Nightcrawlers & stinkbait are performing best.

SHABBONA LAKE

Site hours on Wednesday, March 1, go to 8 a.m.-8 p.m.

Boondocks is closed

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN

Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said weather limited effort from the St. Joseph Pier, but coho are around when weather allows access; some coho inside at New Buffalo.

Paddle and Pole hosts the Berrien Springs Fish Ladder Camera.

WINNEBAGO SYSTEM, WISCONSIN

Sturgeon-spearing season ran the full 16 days on Lake Winnebago through Sunday, Feb. 26. The Upriver Lakes closed on Feb. 18 after a cap was hit. Ice conditions were a complicating factor.

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:

Ice conditions haven’t changed much, snowmobile or ATV traffic is still the safest bet. Some good northern action on Partridge, along with perch, gills, and crappie. The Wolf river should be open soon for the early walleye anglers.

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