Midwest Fishing Report: Coho lead, but warming inland waters give variety

Coho on southern Lake Michigan continue to lead the sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report, but the extended balmy conditions have drawn multitudes of anglers to fish for many species, smallmouth bass to bullheads.

SHARE Midwest Fishing Report: Coho lead, but warming inland waters give variety
The informal first South Loop Coho Derby went well as shown by (L-R) “Tony” Jingchen Zhu, Quinn Wunar, Isaiah Jeong, Jesus Reyah and Christian Taylor.

The informal first South Loop Coho Derby went well as shown by (L-R) “Tony” Jingchen Zhu, Quinn Wunar, Isaiah Jeong, Jesus Reyah and Christian Taylor.

Provided

Coho on southern Lake Michigan continue to lead the sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report, but the extended balmy conditions have drawn multitudes of anglers to fish for many species from smallmouth bass to bullheads.

Quinn Wunar tweeted the photo above and this:

Also, should probably mention, couple of us locals got together for the First Annual South Loop Coho Derby.

It was last Friday and was a ton of fun. Those of us using TS Jigs did very well.

SHORELINE SALMON/TROUT

Noah Robinson with a pair of spring coho from Calumet Harbor shoreline. Provided photo

Noah Robinson with a pair of spring coho from Calumet Harbor shoreline.

Provided

Dana Robinson messaged on Saturday the photo above and this:

Grandson Noah Robinson.

Caught 2 Coho today at Calumet Harbor. Slip bobber, 8’ down with nightcrawlers on the hook.

He/we would have limited out but kids will be kids. Lol

That’s the thing about kids and fishing.

Jason “Special One” Le texted the YouTube video above, celebrating the run of coho early this year on southern Lake Michigan.

He also texted the photo below and this:

Hey Dale I was targeting coho salmon and I got lucky hook up a Skamania! Happy Easter

5494745477767298140.jpg

A bonus steelhead caught while coho fishing on the Chicago lakefront.

A bonus steelhead caught while coho fishing on the Chicago lakefront. Provided photo

The variety on the lakefront is one of its bonuses.

As Quinn Wunar pointed out Saturday with his general report:

Hey Dale,

Obviously coho still going strong. Same presentation. Hair jigs under a bobber. With the warm temps lower than normal. Picking them up and shaking them off at this point at 6-8 feet fishing for steelhead. Speaking of steelhead, lots cruising. Along the walls up and down. Hair jigs tipped with wax worms, spawn sacs right off the bottom when the sun is high. . . .

Fun time of year. Except for White Sox baseball.

^Quinn

Coho success in the lakefront in downtown Chicago. Provided by Jeffrey Williams

Coho success in the lakefront in downtown Chicago.

Provided by Jeffrey Williams

He’s right about that Sox comment.

Jeffrey Williams messaged he photos above and this on Friday:

Cohos still biting good, we fished along the wall between the field and monroe harbor, their not being toopicky on wat they c, caught 5 but only kept 3, biggest was around 16 inches

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

Good morning Dale!

Coho still very good. Not sure how this mild stretch of weather will have them but the weekend was fantastic. Biting on most anything. Minnows, Worms, Spawn sacs, Shrimp, Frozen Shad, Wax Worms with hair/feather jigs, spinners, lures etc... Nice Browns and Steelhead in the mix too.

Capt. Dan Leslie at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan said, “Fishing on the pier is hot.” Alewives came in close and the coho are here, best is spawn, but mnnows and crawlers also work with some catching quick limits Tuesday. Boaters during even better in close, inside of 30 feet, on Dodgers and flies.

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

Coho action for trollers slowed down some but still plenty of them caught. Thinfish and dodger fly best baits.

Action for shore coho has slowed up but still some being caught. Crawlers, skein, shrimp and squid baits to use.

Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor, Mich, said coho are slowing down, but when winds allow, are still being caught off St. Joseph pier, (a bonus sturgeon caught, too); a few charters are working 75-100 feet

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 Park Bait at Montrose Harbor (cash only) and 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

SMELT

No reports of catches

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 Park Bait at Montrose Harbor and The Northerly Island Visitor Center.

AREA LAKES

Chris Shaw with a good crappie from Lake County. Provided photo

Chris Shaw with a good crappie from Lake County.

Provided

Chris Shaw emailed the photo above and this, which I think captures the essence of fishing at several levels:

Hi Dale,

I caught this dinner plate at a Lake County pond and I had to send it to you. It’s not going to be a record other than a personal one, but I was truly blown away. Thought she was a bass until I had her in my hand. Lined the fish up on my pole and checked later with a tape and it came out at 13.5 inches. Kind of regret the effort to measure because if I was allowed to guesstimate I would have surely put it at over 15 inches… 20 if my buddies were around. Either way, I’m on the board for 2023. Cheers,

Chris Shaw, Evanston

I screwed up and didn’t get this in last week, but think his points were worth sharing.

Crappie and northern pike on the same outing. Provided photo

Crappie and northern pike on the same outing.

Provided

BoRabb Williams texted the photo above and this:

CCFP and Wolf Lake are coming along Fast... until a Cold Front comes... crappie.. gills.. bass are active ... if the pike aren’t around.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a big spring largemouth bass. Provided photo

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

Area lakes-

Spring is here and the bite is going to take off with the nice weather.

I talked about bite windows being important. The major times are producing good numbers but the minor times are producing the larger fish. Bass are being caught on spinner baits, bladed jigs, and ned rigs. Work these baits along the break line in 7-10 fow. However, the star of the show has been a texas rigged chigger craw on a Vector Hooks EWG pitched into the thick reeds along wind blown shorelines.

. . .

TTYL

Ken Husker O’Malley

Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team

Pete Lamar emailed:

Hi Dale,

The long weekend resulted in several outings with multiple species caught. I got to Dupage and Kane County Forest Preserve lakes and ponds, as well as a Fox Valley Park District pond. The smaller the water, the better I did, likely due to it warming faster. I fished a couple of good-sized lakes and didn’t catch a thing (neither did anyone else I saw). But on the smaller ponds in the same forest preserves I got into crappies and bluegills. Nothing hot and heavy yet, but they are feeding more as the water slowly warms. Also, on a 60+ degree afternoon on a windblown corner of the north shoreline (all of which combined to give the warmest water possible) there were packs of largemouths hunting baitfish. This was in shin-to-thigh deep water, so everything was visible. Most but not all the bass were on the small side.

. . .

Pete

Rob Abouchar with a bullhead caught on Island Lake. Provided photo

Rob Abouchar with a bullhead caught on Island Lake.

Provided

Rob Abouchar emailed the photo above and this:

Hi dale starting to get some bites in the cool stained water. Some fat bullhead cats are going on golden roach minnows on a green kalins google eye jig under slip float i 3 feet of water. Bass are starting to hit lipless crank .

Gearing up for Zappanelle festival in Germany in Milwaukee last night. The conscious rockers turned in a great show last Friday at Wild hare

There’s something both comforting and enjoyable about having Abouchar’s back and having a music component to the MFR.

Capt. Dan Leslie at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan said crappie are going in the Lake County forest preserves.

ILLINOIS’ SPRING TROUT: There are still some being caught, even with this extended run of beautiful weather. As usual, anglers 16 and older need an inland trout stamp and a fishing license. Daily bag is five trout.

Nearby sites include (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 at Kankakee River SP; (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 herefor the statewide announcement.

BRAIDWOOD LAKE

Bob Johnson with big largemouth bass from Braidwood Lake. Provided photo

Bob Johnson with big largemouth bass from Braidwood Lake.

Provided

Bob Johnson emailed the photo above and this:

Hi Dale - Back to Braidwood Saturday morning and the lake did not disappoint. Although I would have liked numbers along with a solid 4 lb bass but only caught a half dozen today. Fished in 75 degree water in 3 to 7’ using hardbaits mimicking shad and bluegill. Pretty sure I might have caught a few more slow fishing the grass however I went for reaction bite so stuck with crainkbaits. No hybrids were caught today.

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

Hey Dale,

Here is a recap of this past weeks fishing.

. . .

Braidwood lake-

Overall morning bite has been slow with a few shorts being caught and that was the consensus on the water and at the ramp. No real pattern seemed to setup.

Best bait was flipping a crazy legs chigger craw to shoreline cover.

Water temps were 65 on the cold side and 71-74 mid lake. We didn’t run to the hot water side. There was plenty of boat traffic over the Easter weekend.

. . .

TTYL

Ken Husker O’Malley

Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team

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

On Tuesday, Arden Katz was catching crappie in the channels with Bobby Garland baby shad in chartruese and white while Kyle Tepper was catching them with minnows.

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:

The water levels on the river and chain are stabilizing. The warm up has got the bass and crappies active. I hearing that many are pulling into the deeper channels. Small fat heads for the crappies and jigs, chatter baits and plastics for the bass.

Staff at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said some walleye are being caught shallow, even from shore; bluegill and crappie are up shallow, too.

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

NOTE 2: Stratton Lock and Dam is closed through April 30, 2023.

DELAVAN LAKE, WISCONSIN

Arden Katz said fishing the channels on the south end for bluegills is so good with chartreuse or white Jigabite jigs from panfishpro.com, down 18 inches, that he had his 25 keepers in just over an hour. Water in the channels is in the mid- to upper-40s.

DES PLAINES RIVER

Bill Patrick with a stringer of crappie from the Des Plaines River. Provided photo

Bill Patrick with a stringer of crappie from the Des Plaines River.

Provided

Thomas Jones messaged the photo above Friday and this:

Bill Patrick crappies from Channahan

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.

DuPAGE RIVER

Ken Sweda with a good smallmouth bass from the DuPage River. Provided photo

Ken Sweda with a good smallmouth bass from the DuPage River.

Provided

Ken Sweda emailed the photo above and this:

Hey Dale,

Spring smallie action is in full swing. Here’s an 18.5 and a 19 from an Easter Sunday outing. Caught 16 total and lost another 4 good ones. Spawn should be on soon with this week’s warm weather.

Tight lines!

Ken Sweda

FOX RIVER

Mike Cronsell at Dicky’s Bait Shop in Montgomery reported fishing picked up, especially smallmouth bass; river is receding but the flow remains heavy.

Pete Lamar emailed:

Hi Dale,

. . .

As far as the Fox watershed, I was planning on doing more scouting than fishing-water was high and still cold. But I talked to someone who had just finished as I arrived and he showed me photos of a couple of nice smallmouths he’d just caught and a respectable walleye. All came from a tributary within sight of the Fox. I made a few casts, but the water down there had a lot of color-I think my white streamer would’ve had to hit the smallmouths in the snout to get them to eat. I went upstream in search of clearer water and got into a few small smallmouths. I was surprised at how slowly the water levels were falling in the Fox tribs. It may be a few more days before they’re completely back to normal after all the rain last week.

Pete

GREEN LAKE AREA, WISCONSIN

Guide Mike Norris emailed:

Fishing Report – 4/10/2023

Mike Norris

Big Green Lake: Big Green is free of ice now, and both shore and boat anglers are taking advantage of the warm weather. Crappies up to fourteen inches are seeking warmer water in backwater channels near Sunrise Park and are biting a jig with a small minnow. Get there early to secure a shore fishing spot or paddle a canoe or kayak back to the numerous channels east of County Road A. The dock area in Dartmouth Bay’s north end provides action for shore anglers with up to nine-inch bluegills. Try a small jig tipped with a piece of redworm. Boat anglers are catching lake trout with jigging spoons tipped with Cisco meat in 60 to 90 feet of water on or near the Shale Bar, while bass anglers are vertical jigging Z-Man Jerkshads in 30 feet of water for smallmouth bass. The bass fishing is catch-and-release only up to the general fishing opener on the first Saturday in May.

Beaver Dam and Fox Lake fishing is good for shore anglers who work jigs tipped with minnows in and around the neck down areas where water flows under county and township roads.

GREEN/STURGEON BAYS, WISCONSIN

Click here for the Wisconsin DNR weekly report.

HEIDECKE LAKE

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

LAKE ERIE

Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.

LAKEFRONT

The coho and trout report is at the top, but anglers targeting those fish had some surprises, too.

Jeffrey Williams messaged he photos above and this on Friday:

And caught 2 surprise smallies, biggest was 3 lbs

Jesse Gonzalez with a surprise smallmouth bass while coho fishing on the lakefront in downtown Chicago. Provided by Jeffrey Williams

Jesse Gonzalez with a surprise smallmouth bass while coho fishing on the lakefront in downtown Chicago.

Provided by Jeffrey Williams

Bonus catches are just a bonus from life.

Quinn Wunar also caught some bonus fish, while targeting steelhead and coho as the photo below show, tweeted:

Smallmouth also hitting hair jigs if that’s your sort of thing.

Quinn Wunar with a surprise smallmouth bass while fishing for coho and steelhead on the Chicago lakefront. Provided photo

Quinn Wunar with a surprise smallmouth bass while fishing for coho and steelhead on the Chicago lakefront.

Provided

I would put myself in the category that likes that sort of thing.

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

Good morning Dale!

Coho still very good. Not sure how this mild stretch of weather will have them but the weekend was fantastic. Biting on most anything. Minnows, Worms, Spawn sacs, Shrimp, Frozen Shad, Wax Worms with hair/feather jigs, spinners, lures etc... Nice Browns and Steelhead in the mix too. Smallmouth are beginning to be petty active up and down the shoreline. No perch reports. No Smelt reports. Have a great week.

Capt. Dan Leslie at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan said, “Fishing on the pier is hot.” Alewives came in close and the coho are here, best is spawn, but mnnows and crawlers also work with some catching quick limits Tuesday. Boaters during even better in close, inside of 30 feet, on Dodgers and flies.

LaSALLE LAKE

Darryl Turner with a big blue catfish caught at LaSalle Lake. Provided photo

Darryl Turner with a big blue catfish caught at LaSalle Lake.

Provided

Darryl Turner, who had the FOTW for his big blue catfish last week, emailed the photo above and this on Friday:

21 pounder today 9 fish total 3-8 pounders

Hours are 6 a.m. to sunset daily. 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.

MENOMINEE RIVER, WISCONSIN

Guide Mike Mladenik of bigsmallmouthbass.com emailed:

OPEN WATER

Much of the Menominee River is open, with the exception of the flowages. The 70 degree temps expected this week should take care of most of the remaining ice. River conditions are good and I should be on the river soon.

Many anglers are not aware that the regulations changed a few yers ago and as long as you practice catch and release you can target April smallmouth on the Menominee River. I can’t wait to boat my first 20-incher in 2023.

By early May Smallmouth, Pike and Walleye fishing should be in full swing on the Menominee River

May is prime time on High Falls Flowage for Walleye and Smallmouth

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

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

With some good reports after the dumping of snow coming in, fishing has been overall good.

Now the next question is, How long will the shorelines be OK?. Temps into the 60’s and even possibly 70’s and evenings staying above freezing for the next 5 days is going to determine how easy getting on the ice will be. Watch for slush pockets but some comfortable fishable ice is still out there. Track machine, snowmobile and foot travel is your best bet. Be careful of slush pockets with vehicle travel.

Crappie: Good-Very Good – Still a bit scattered, but plenty of quality fish being reported. Finding some shallow, 8-12’ weed edges best. Still, some being found in as deep as 22’. Minnows working, as well as, waxies or plastics on jigs.

Bluegill: Fair-Good – Mostly found mixed in with the Crappie hitting more jigs with spikes or waxies. Not as aggressive as the Crappie though.

Yellow Perch: Good – The few reports that have come in are indicating a better than decent bite. Small rosies on tip-downs or wigglers seem to be the best.

Walleye: Good-Very Good – Although the season is closed and you cannot target in area lakes, people fishing the dams south of Tomahawk in the river are reporting many big # days using large fatheads or big rosies.

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 for trollers slowed down some but still plenty of them caught. Thinfish and dodger fly best baits.

Action for shore coho has slowed up but still some being caught. Crawlers, skein, shrimp and squid baits to use.

With the warm weather this week the ponds and lakes will really come alive for panfish.

Perch action has slowed some but still good catches being had. 50 to 60ft of water northwest of burns ditch. Move around cover some water.

Slez’s Bait Shop opens at 5am daily.

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

Hi, Dale! With this beautiful weather has also come wonderful fishing! Fishing in our area is great-anglers, get yourselves out there, & fish!

Lake Michigan has finally settled down, & we have a great forecast for the next week. Trolling out of Portage has heated back up for Coho & a few Kings; there are also some Brown Trout in the mix. Thinfish & small spoons are working best.

Inland lakes are producing A LOT of Crappie on minnows & Bluegills on wax worms/spikes.

Catfishing is heating up nicely right along with the weather; nightcrawlers & cutbait are performing well.

ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN

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

SHABBONA LAKE

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

Boondocks bait shop is open daily, 6 a.m.-7 p.m.

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 coho are slowing down, but when winds allow, are still being caught off the pier, (a bonus sturgeon caught, too); a few charters are working 75-100 feet; river slowed as steelhead moved upriver after the big rain.

Paddle and Pole hosts the Berrien Springs Fish Ladder Camera.

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:

The water temp is 48.6 this morning. The walleye are spawning, and the river is filling up with fish as they make their way back to the lakes. Jigs or river rigs

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