Midwest Fishing Report: Trout opener, coho, crappie, walleye, (smelt, schmelt, who dealt?)

Illinois’ trout season opener (a success, despite some weather challenges), coho and trout on southern Lake Michigan, crappie improving on inland waters and river walleyes lead his sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

SHARE Midwest Fishing Report: Trout opener, coho, crappie, walleye, (smelt, schmelt, who dealt?)
Roger Jackson with a big walleye from the Fox River in DePere, Wisconsin.

Roger Jackson with a big walleye from the Fox River in DePere, Wisconsin.

Provided

Illinois’ trout season opener (a success, despite some weather challenges), coho and trout on southern Lake Michigan, crappie improving on inland waters and river walleyes lead his sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

Roger Jackson sent the photo at the top from walleye fishing from shore on the Fox River in DePere, Wis. See his and Arden Katz’s report along with Mike Norris’ in the FOX RIVER, WISCONSIN REPORT.

ILLINOIS’ SPRING TROUT

Spring trout season for catchable rainbow trout opened on Saturday. A bunch of reports came in. My column tomorrow is combining opening day and some history of inland stocked trout. As the video below shows, people were literally lined up.

Jason “Special One” Le texted his YouTube video on trout fishing and this:

Horses Tail lake Opening day

Juan Macias found success at Pickerel Lake on opening day for inland trout season. Provided photo

Juan Macias found success at Pickerel Lake on opening day for inland trout season.

Provided

Juan Macias messaged the photo above and this:

Hi Dale, little hard to fishing this morning but make a limit on rainbow trout at pickerel lake in Bartlett very good sizes all in plastic worms pink color.

Luke and Joe Teri with good rainbow trout from Pickerel Lake. Provided by Matt Teri

Luke and Joe Teri with good rainbow trout from Pickerel Lake.

Provided by Matt Teri

Matt Teri emailed that his boys, Luke and Joe, did well at Pickerel:

Good size fish this year. Ended up with 9. # 7. Flicker shad. Luke joe Teri

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.

SHORELINE SALMON/TROUT

Isaiah Jeong with good brown trout from the Chicago lakefront. Provided photo

Isaiah Jeong with good brown trout from the Chicago lakefront.

Provided photo

Isaiah Jeong emailed the photo above and this:

Hi Dale,

Hope you are doing well. I caught a beautiful Brown trout today in the lakefront. The day before, I was fishing and lost a similar Brown about the same size. I had to go back out there to try my luck today. The conditions were terrible. Pouring rain. But the fish decided to bite right before it started hailing. Caught it on the tried and true Mepps spinner. Hit the lure hard, and gave a really good fight. The measurement was 23 inches.

I started fishing as a pandemic hobby, and have been hooked ever since. Been really thankful for the Chicago fishing community.

Best regards,

Isaiah Jeong.

His concluding sentence symbolizes one of the societal shifts that came with the pandemic restrictions.

Dana Robinson found coho success at Calumet Harbor. Provided photo

Dana Robinson found coho success at Calumet Harbor.

Provided

Dana Robinson messaged the photo above from Calumet Harbor.

Jonas Soriano with some of the good catches coming from around McCormick Place. Provided photo

Jonas Soriano with some of the good catches coming from around McCormick Place.

Provided

Jonas Soriano emailed the photo above and this:

Hi Dale,

Been keeping updated with your outdoor column for some time now.

I got this Coho today 3/31/23 right before the big rain storm.

I fish right behind McCormick Place and the Coho bite has been pretty good. Lots of coho and browns being pulled out daily!

Maybe you could use this photo for one of your stories.

Cheers,

Jonas Soriano

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

Hi Dale, Happy April

Coho are still doing well. There have been a few days it has been slower here but better at another part of the lakefront.Powerliners as well as rod and reel. Large minnows and Night Crawlers top the list but other baits that are working are shrimp, shad, med shiners, spawn sacs, lures etc...By far I think it is the best Coho season I can remember. Browns and Steelhead still in the mix. Steelhead hitting good in harbors with Wax worms on hair or tinsel jigs.

Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan said some steelhead and nice coho with an occasional brown, hitting large fatheads, spawn sacs and worms.

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

Coho action for trollers slowed down some over the weekend due to dirty water.

Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor, Mich., said coho are being caught off the St. Joseph pier and by boaters.

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

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

I only saw a couple groups opening night and have heard no reports.

AREA LAKES

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 opening day of Illinois trout Season was good. Power bait, spoons, spinners and crawlers or wax worms all worked. The stable weather conditions temperature wise will make the next 10 days great panfishing.

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

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a big springtime largemouth bass

Provided

Ken “Husker” O’Malley of Husker Outdoors emailed the photo above and this:

Hey Dale,

Here’s a recap of this past weeks fishing.

The most consistent bite that was going for bass was a jerkbait.

The rains that hit at the end of the week dirtied up the water and slowed that bite. A few still can be taken on lipless cranks.

The bladed jig bite is slowly starting to take off.

Spring looks to finally get a consistent weather pattern in place. Look for the bite to start taking off and setting up typical spring patterns.

. . .

TTYL

Ken Husker O’Malley

Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team

Pete Lamar emailed;

From a short outing yesterday afternoon: for all the wild weather of the past week, not much changed. I found things to be pretty similar to last week. The water was still frigid and slow presentations on wind blown shorelines were the most productive. The pond I fished in Kane County has some big bluegills and green sunfish, but they haven’t gotten active yet. I got into decent numbers of fish, but they were all small bluegills. After Friday night, it was surprising to not see any new trees in the water.

He’s not kidding about that last line.

BRAIDWOOD LAKE

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.

CALUMET SYSTEM

BoRabb Williams texted that water needs to warm some to really kick in crappie action.

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Arden Katz said crappie in channels really good.

Kyle Tepper at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said crappies are shallow (mostly around docks) and sometimes deep on plastics or minnows under slip bobbers; perch have been “phenomenal” on a split shot and minnow or plastics; catfish going on cut bait or chicken liver; bluegill are shallow on jigs, waxies and bobbers; walleye shallow on seawalls on jig and minnow (often under the crappie); trollers are catching muskie trolling.

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

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.

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:

. . . Catfishing is also great early spring on the Fox River. Cut bait with an egg sinker stopped about 15 inches above the hook and bait will work.

FOX RIVER, WISCONSIN

Guide Mike Norris emailed this:

HI Dale,

. . .

The Fox River in DePere, Wi, is my best advice for walleye fishing. Walleyes from Green Bay have moved into the river, and anglers are catching walleyes up 30 inches in length. Try drifting current seams with jig and minnow combinations. Bladed jigs and hair jigs are also producing walleyes. You may see a hundred boats on the river, so plan to arrive at the boat ramp early. The river is a catch-and-release-only fishery from March 6 through May 5 to protect spawning walleyes, though an angler may keep one walleye over 28 inches. Fishing the river after dark provides the best chance to bag a trophy walleye over 28 inches long.

Mike Norris

Arden Katz shows one of he big walleye being caught on the Fox River at DePere River, Wis. Provided photo

Arden Katz shows one of he big walleye being caught on the Fox River at DePere River, Wis.

Provided

With that, I get to a report from Arden Katz and Roger Jackson, who fished there over the weekend. Jackson emailed the photo above and the one at the very top and this report:

Dale, Females are going in Depere, Wi, Fox River, me and Arden got several nice ones , water was chocolate milk!( Ripping Raps # 7)

Katz said as busy as shore was, he estimated more than 200 boats around. He said Rippin’ Raps, Moonshine jigs and hair jigs were working.

GREEN LAKE AREA, WISCONSIN

Guide Mike Norris emailed this:

HI Dale,

I am back home from my month-long excursion to Florida and Knoxville for the Bassmaster Classic. What little ice is left on Big Green and other area lakes is unsafe to walk on and is blocking boat ramps and making boat access difficult.

. . .

Mike Norris

See what he recommended instead above for walleye at DePere on the Fox River in Wisconsin.

GREEN/STURGEON BAYS, WISCONSIN

Click here for the Wisconsin DNR weekly report.

HEIDECKE LAKE

I put in a couple hours on opening day Saturday and nothing. Nor did the other car that was there when I was.

Jon Overton with a good smallmouth bass on opening weekend at Heidecke Lake. Provided photo

Jon Overton with a good smallmouth bass on opening weekend at Heidecke Lake.

Provided

But some, such as Jon Overton of Morris, made it work the next day as he messaged the photo above and this:

Hey Dale, Jon here. Wind was howling like mad at Hedeckie (April 2) but I was able to pick up this small mouthed beauty today. Bit right off shore on a 1/4 oz. Jig-spinner tipped with a brown/green rubber worm.

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

LAKE ERIE

Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.

LAKEFRONT

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

Hi Dale, Happy April

Coho are still doing well. There have been a few days it has been slower here but better at another part of the lakefront.Powerliners as well as rod and reel. Large minnows and Night Crawlers top the list but other baits that are working are shrimp, shad, med shiners, spawn sacs, lures etc...By far I think it is the best Coho season I can remember. Browns and Steelhead still in the mix. Steelhead hitting good in harbors with Wax worms on hair or tinsel jigs.

Smallmouth starting around the mouths of the harbors. Quite a few Northerns, various sizes. Also had a Perch report last week from Steelworkers park area, some really nice size perch still being caught from shore and boat.

No Smelt reports.

We are open full season hours now5am to 8pm 7 days a week.

Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan said some steelhead and nice coho with an occasional brown, hitting large fatheads, spawn sacs and worms.

LaSALLE LAKE

Art Martinez with a nice hybrid striped bass from LaSalle Lake. Provided photo

Art Martinez with a nice hybrid striped bass from LaSalle Lake.

Provided

Art Martinez messaged the photo above and this on Instagram last week:

Got a nice striper at lassalle

Smacked my blade bait close to shore!

Love to see good shore action.

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:

Snow, more snow, and some more snow. 20 plus inches (No April fooling) fell over the weekend, which pretty much shut fishing down over the past few days. Basically, no reports over the weekend to write about.

If venturing out, extensions are needed to get through all the ice and snow. Travel is limited to snowmobile or tracked machines or foot.

Warmer weather is predicted which should knock down snow in days to come to make travel easier.

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 over the weekend due to dirty water.

Same dirty water slowed the shore coho action up also.

Some panfish action started in small lakes and ponds. Water needs to warm up little bit to get em really going.

Perch action still good for a lot of boats when wind allows you out. Same areas straight out of burns ditch and west towards Gary light in 50 to 58ft of water.

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

Hi, Dale! I hope you & your friends & family are are gearing up for the beautiful up’s coming weather. Here’s what’s been happening in the fishing world:

Lake Michigan fishing has slowed down some, due to extreme winds; the water has become pretty dirty. Therefore, most of the Coho have moved out offshore. Trollers have moved out & been catching some fish sporadically. Pier fishing remains fairly steady, with skein, herring, nightcrawlers, & spawn sacs working best.

Inland lakes are producing some nice-sized crappie on minnows, spikes, & red worms. Lake George & Powderhorn have been heard to be hotspots.

Catfishing is off to an early start, with stinkbait, nightcrawlers, & shad performing well. Dowling Park anglers are having great success.

ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN

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

SHABBONA LAKE

John Honiotes at Boondocks reported an 8-pound, 10-ounce walleye caught Monday, a 37-inch muskie caught in the last week and largemouth are going on crankbaits and Rat-L-Traps.

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

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

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 being caught off the pier and by boaters.

Paddle and Pole hosts the Berrien Springs Fish Ladder Camera.

WOLF LAKE

BoRabb Williams texted:

Wolf Lake was 46 degrees yesterday... water is COLD ... Slow fishing including the Trout but temperatures are rising fast.... we need at least 50 plus for good crappie action.

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:

Mother Nature threw us a curve a few days ago. Heavy rains and cool temps brought the river up 18, and water temp dropped back to the mid30’s. The river is very dirty with the runoff, and the walleye bite is very slow

The Latest
The new Peterson-Ridge station, plus the one under construction on the South Side, are positive steps for city transit — and, perhaps, another sign for leaders to find some solution to the ‘fiscal cliff’ the region’s transit agencies face in 2026.
Since losing two good friends, he has changed his behavior and likes to spend time with new companions half his age.
Wheaton North seniors Zach Widelski and Ty Nielsen made the most of late bites Saturday to win the state title in bass fishing; plus cicadas, cottonwood fluff and monarchs fill the spring air.
Too often, use-of-force cases are tried not in courts of law but in the court of public opinion, despite research showing such cases are hardly the norm.