Midwest Fishing Report: As one season closes in Illinois, another opens in Wisconsin

A reminder that perch fishing is closed in Illinois, the prospects for the Wisconsin opener on Saturday, and some early reports of Chinook on southern Lake Michigan lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report; but there are plenty of other options from coho to spawning bass to crappie to walleye.

SHARE Midwest Fishing Report: As one season closes in Illinois, another opens in Wisconsin
Jason Fox caught a fantail carp, which he thinks he caught a year ago, from the Des Plaines River.

Jason Fox caught a fantail carp, which he thinks he caught a year ago, from the Des Plaines River.

Provided

A reminder that perch fishing is closed in Illinois, the prospects for the Wisconsin opener on Saturday, and some early reports of Chinook on southern Lake Michigan lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report; but there are plenty of other options from coho to spawning bass to crappie to walleye.

Jason Fox emailed the photo at the top. Some interesting details on that catch are in the Des Plaines River report.

PERCH CLOSURE

Perch season in Illinois waters of Lake Michigan is closed through June 15.

WISCONSIN’S GENERAL INLAND FISHNG OPENER

Opening day is Saturday for Wisconsin’s general inland fishing season. Prospects are given in the individual reports below as apt.

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

AREA LAKES

BoRabb Williams texted on Thursday:

Wampum Lake was ok... got a few crappie.. and a small Pike... all returned

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 weather cooled down and so did the fishing. That will be short lived though, the full moon this week will turn it all back on again. Bass and panfish will head back to the banks for the spawn. Don’t fish to deep the next couple of weeks and I believe you’ll be in the right zone. For bass I would throw Baby minus ones, senkos and chatter baits. Wax or red worms for panfish. Small to medium minnows if you want crappies. For catfish you can’t beat cut bait!

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

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a 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.

The up and down spring continues. The way below average temps since Friday and rain had water temps dropping to the lower 50’s.

Area lakes- The late afternoon bite with the peak temp of the day and major bite window has been the best time for bass.

Flipping a max scent general texas rigged on a 4/0 Vector Hooks EWG to shoreline cover took active biters. A lipless crankbait with the focus on bays that were pounded by the winds all day also took good numbers.

I found bluegill, crappie, and a few small bass in isolated weed clumps in 7 fow during the minor bite window midday. The bait of their choice was an IJO Plastics quiver minnow in wonder bread. The warmup starting at the end of the week will have crappie ready to start the spawn.

. . .

TTYL

Ken Husker O’Malley

Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a spring bluegill. Provided photo

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

Provided

Rob Abouchar messaged the photo below and this:

Hi Dale

The cold front pushed the fish out from the shallows. Some big gill were atarying to hit red trout worms on a silver gapen bug under a bobber. With the last of the cold weather today hopefully things will pick up. Thursday is our sectionals at Busse main pool and the weather looks great. On the music front i have finally got a gig date in Merrill Wisconsin at Rock island right on the water. The conscious rockers will play on August 26th and the midnite mile rock band will perform September 6th. Last night was our best rehearsal so far for Gazortenplatt. The band is getting tighter each rehearsal. The brass section on yo Momma has to be right and im hoping to get there. Also this Friday possibly sitting in with Midnite mile in Mundelein the old home town!

Tight lines

Rob

Rob Abouchar caught bluegill from Island Lake, despite the cold weather. Provided photo

Rob Abouchar caught bluegill from Island Lake, despite the cold weather.

Provided

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

Randy Shomo with a smallmouth bass from the Little Calumet. Provided photo

Randy Shomo with a smallmouth bass from the Little Calumet.

Provided

Randy Shomo messaged the photo above from the Little Calumet last week.

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Brennan Critzer at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said, spot on I would agree, “as soon as the weather warms up, everything should be in full mode; this should be the week that everything starts going.” Crappie are being caught, but recent weather changed daily where they were at; bass are picking up.

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

NOTE 2: Stratton Lock and Dam is open 8 a.m.-midnight daily through Sept. 30.

CHICAGO RIVER

Jeffrey Williams with personal-best carp from the Chicago River. Provided photo

Jeffrey Williams with personal-best carp from the Chicago River.

Provided

Jeffrey Williams messaged the photo above and this on Friday:

3 yrs it took me to beat my PB This Hog was 27.5 lbs

The picture doesnt do numbers, it was alot bigger in person

Usually it is the other way around in fish photos.

DELAVAN LAKE, WISCONSIN

Arden Katz said bluegills are good in the channels, white Nextalgx tails from panfishpro.com with spikes 18 inches under a bobber; for bass, work the channels with Texas-rigged Senkos or wacky-worming.

Capt. Dave Duwe emailed:

Opening Day – Delavan Lake

Typical of Delavan Lake I expect the fishing pressure on opening day to be tremendous. You can’t have a great fishery without a lot of fishermen. However, if you don’t know where to look and what to try, fishing will be tough with the cold spring we’ve had.

The walleye will be hard to catch. In early May they are in shallow water in the thick weeds, with the clear water they are easily spooked. I only try them using slip bobbers and flathead minnows. I suggest working the 10-12 ft depth range.

The crappie fishing this spring has been above average. People have been catching a lot of fish in the 8–12-inch range. The best location is in front of Lake Lawn Lodge in 5-12 ft of water. I prefer using plastics, mini-mites, or small twister tails. My favorite colors are purple, white, and yellow. A lot of fish can be caught using small minnows fished off slip bobbers.

Largemouth bass are cruising the shallows. The fish are in 2-4 ft of water. I like fishing the outlet area of the channels. I use floating worms or Senkos. With the cold spring the bass are not anywhere near spawning yet.

Bluegill fishing has been particularly good throughout this cool spring. Most of the fish are being caught on the west end in 4-6 ft of water. Most people are using small ice jigs tipped with a wax worm or leaf worm. Some good catches are being reported. The water temperature is still very cold, and they won’t be spawning for another month or so.

Good Luck – See you on Opening Day! For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 2262-728-8063

DES PLAINES RIVER

Jason Fox emailed the photo at the very top from Wednesday and this explanation:

Hey Dale. Got out yesterday for an hour and half yesterday. Got onebite on the Des Plaines river in Des Plaines. It was a great one 14 lbfantail carp. I got the first one last year same time. Do you thinkit’s possibly the same fish? Didn’t really know there was that many ofthem in there if it’s not. It’s amazing how well the river has cleanedup since dam removal. Hope all is well.

And yes, he is damn right about the dam removal and the impact on the river.

DOWNSTATE

SHELBYVILLE: Art Costa messaged Saturday night:

Fished the last 3 days in Shelbyville with the Alsip Sportsman Club, fishing for crappy was great, a bit windy today made it a little tougher

Otherwise, check with Ken Wilson of Lithia Guide Service.

HENNEPIN-HOPPER:. Site is open through Sept. 4, sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. Check regulations at http://www.wetlands-initiative.org/dixon-paddling-fishing.

POWERTON: Summer hours—6 a.m.-8 p.m.—run through Sept. 30.

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.

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS: Check with Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing.

FOX RIVER

A Fox River muskie. Provided by Vince Oppedisano

A Fox River muskie.

Provided by Vince Oppedisano

Vince Oppedisano emailed the photo above and this:

Hi Dale,

Fished the Fox River Kane County stretch this morning with a friend. In a few hours we caught a handful each, smallies, quillback, largemouth, white bass & a healthy musky around 30 inches. River is much lower than the last time I was out a couple of weeks ago. Water temps must be slowly warming, starting to see more fish on moving artificial baits.

 Omer Kishanov with a nice smallmouth bass from the Fox River. Provided

Omer Kishanov with a nice smallmouth bass from the Fox River.

Provided

Omer Kishanov emailed the photo above and this:

18.25 inch on Euro tackle lippless in crawfish pattern . Fox River Montgomery area.

It’s been a while since I’ve been around someone who mentioned Euro tackle.

Despite cold weather and cold water, Pete Lamar found active smallmouth bass on tributaries of the Fox River while fly fishing. Provided photo

Despite cold weather and cold water, Pete Lamar found active smallmouth bass on tributaries of the Fox River while fly fishing.

Provided

Pete Lamar emailed the photo above and this:

Hi Dale,

Only one outing on which to report this week, but it was a good one. I hit a couple of Fox tribs on Saturday morning right around sunrise. It was worth the effort to get there that early because it was about the only time all weekend the wind wasn’t howling. 40 degrees, but with such calm conditions it felt alright. I got into fish immediately. In fact, I reached double digits without moving my feet, all taken from one deep pool. Most of the fish were smaller (10-14 inch) males as can be seen in the attached images, but I did get a couple of bigger females too. I rarely leave fish to find fish, but after such a good start, I thought it would be a good time to explore on another nearby trib. I did catch some other fish much closer to the junction with the Fox, in sight of it. They were clearly at a different stage of their spawning run: they had their dull winter colors, while the ones from farther upstream had the deep bronze color and vertical bars. They don’t all spawn at once and this should go one for a few weeks more.

Suckers were starting to show too. They didn’t cover every inch of stream bottom yet, but they were hard to miss.

A couple of things to add about equipment: I usually use what would be considered a light rod-a five weight-for small stream smallmouths. It’s shorter and easier to manipulate in such tight quarters. Also, these streams usually run clear so I like a more subtle presentation and a lighter rod allows that. But I knew I was going to be using some heavily weighted flies to get deep in a hurry, so I went with the eight weight. That rod was not too much gun, even on the smaller fish when they got in the current downstream of me. I was glad to have it on the bigger fish so that they could be landed and released quickly to get back to their urgent task. I used only one fly all morning, a balanced leech. Other than hook, thread and the tungsten bead, the only material was some turkey marabou, of which I still have a lot (thanks Wisconsin).

Pete

That’s good info from somebody who does a lot of fly fishing on local waters. Also enjoyed the turkey comment.

GENEVA LAKE, WISCONSIN

Capt. Dave Duwe emailed:

Opening Day – Lake Geneva

The fishing season on Lake Geneva is about to begin. Unfortunately, just because May 6rd is almost here doesn’t mean that fishing season is in its prime on the big water. Being the largest and deepest lake in the county does have its disadvantages, especially in early May. The water is still really cold and the fish are not very active. Most of the smallmouth bass are caught suspended, not associating with structure. They are actively chasing bait fish pods near their spawning flats. The best presentation is casting small hair jigs or throwing small jigs with twister tails. I like working the water depths of 12-15 ft of water. The best locations are by Knollwood, Elgin Club or over by Bigfoot beach.

Most of the largemouth bass activity is related to shallow water, areas like Trinkes and Abbey Harbor are good choices. I like using Senkos in green pumpkin color or a plastic worm Texas rigged. I work in depths of 4-5 ft of water. With the unusually cold spring, fishing for bass will really be tough for awhile.

Panfish should be biting in the 4-6 ft of water depth. The yellow perch will be the most active and biting on small minnows or wax worms. I prefer using a slip bobber set up. The best location for the panfish are by Knollwood or by Rainbow Point.

Good Luck, I’ll see you on the water Opening Day! For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 262-728-8063.

GREEN LAKE AREA, WISCONSIN

Guide Mike Norris texted:

Fishing Report – 5/1/2023

Mike Norris

Big Green Lake: Cold weather and windy days hampered fishing last week. The water temperature remains in the low 40’s. The Green Lake pier bite for bluegills has stalled, but a few bass and bluegills are active in the warmer waters of Beyer’s Cove. A prediction for warmer weather later this week and the traditional game fish opener set for this coming Saturday should draw more anglers to the lake.

Lake Puckaway: Walleye fishing is slow, but smallmouth bass fishing is hot. Puckaway is not known for smallies, but a week ago, it took 23.7 lbs. of bronze backs (six fish) to win a local team tournament on Puckaway. For Puckaway smallies, try fishing the Fox River side channels with either tubes or drop shot rigs.

Lake Winnebago: Lakeside Park, located along the south end of Winnebago, is good for bluegills on jigs tipped with redworms suspended from a float.

Buffalo Lake: Buffalo has only a little green vegetation this early in the year, but lily pad fields left over from last season are holding largemouth bass. Try working the pad areas with chatterbaits.

GREEN/STURGEON BAYS, WISCONSIN

Click here for the Wisconsin DNR weekly report.

HEIDECKE LAKE

Bob Johnson found quality walleye on Heidecke Lake. Provided photo

Bob Johnson found quality walleye on Heidecke Lake.

Provided

Bob Johnson emailed the photos above and below, and this;

Hi Dale - Fished Heidecke a couple times past few days taking advantage of the hot Walleye bite while it lasts. Water and weather staying cool and conditions right. Ran into a school of solid Walleye sitting off East wind blown point. Fish were feeding on bait blown in the area off rocks in 3 to 8’. Finally I was able to boat a Muskie weighing 8.10 at 34 also loosing a much bigger one Saturday morning. Caught bass on both days working riprap using finesse baits.

Bob Johnson with a muskie from Heidecke Lake. Provided photo

Bob Johnson with a muskie from Heidecke Lake.

Provided photo

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

LAKE ERIE

Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.

LAKEFRONT

Andy Mikos’ Bismarck in the dawn light just before launching from Diversey Harbor. Provided photo

Andy Mikos’ Bismarck in the dawn light just before launching from Diversey Harbor.

Provided

Andy Mikos emailed the photo above and this:

Good morning Dale. I hope all is well. A friend took the attached picture Saturday morning of my boat when we were going salmon fishing. It struck me that we were the only salmon boat launching out of Diversey. Back in the 80’s when we launched this same exact boat the place was a madhouse with long lines to launch. Now we have the whole place to ourselves. A bass boat did launch later but no other salmon boats. We ended up 8 for 11 with one 8 pound brown and 7 coho. Missed a brown and 2 coho. All from Monroe Harbor main gap to Chicago light. I thought you would like the picture with the sunrise and LSD in the background. Evanston launch still not dredged yet.

Take care – Andy Mikos (Bismarck)

I do enjoy photos like that, especially from Diversey Harbor, where LSD is just on the eastern edge.

As to his larger point, he is right. Salmon fishing doesn’t have the same draw as it did, even as recently as 20 years ago.

Isaac Biggerstaff with one of the salmon caught on a good day of salmon fishing out of Waukegan. Provided photo

Isaac Biggerstaff with one of the salmon caught on a good day of salmon fishing out of Waukegan.

Provided

Isaac Biggerstaff messaged on Instagram the photo above and this from Waukegan on Friday:

Kings are showing up a little bit and really good coho action everywhere

King was the first fish of the morning and took us not too long to limit on our boat

Found a good pod that morning and at one point we had 6 fish on and that caused some chaos for a quick four man limit

Jason “Special One” Le sent the YouTube video above and the photo below with this explanation:

Hi Dale

Do carp count? lol

We was trying to catch lakers and I never knew a carp would bite on swimbait.

Jason “Special One” Le with a surprise carp while fishing for lake trout. Provided photo

Jason “Special One” Le with a surprise carp while fishing for lake trout.

Provided

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

Good morning Dale

Coho still the hot topic! Still hitting mostly anything. Live bait as well as artificial! Powerliners as well as rod and reel. Also a few Trout in the mix. No Bass reports.

Have a great week.

Brian Dvorak with his 6-pound coho, caught on Confusion Charters out of Montrose Harbor. Provided photo

Brian Dvorak with his 6-pound coho, caught on Confusion Charters out of Montrose Harbor.

Provided

Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters texted the photo above of Brian Dvorak, of Batavia, with an 8-pound coho out of Montrose. It came on a peanut fly on a double 0 red Dodger.

Capt. Dan Leslie at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan said coho, already to pounds, are being caught from shore, and by boaters and kayakers in 20-30 feet; lots of bait being seen in the harbors; stick with what you’ve been catching them on.

LaSALLE LAKE

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 .

Pat Hasburgh at D&S Bait, Tackle & Fly Shop said beautiful weather in the 60s expected for the opener; walleyes are up shallow as the water remains cool (just under 50 degrees); pike are everywhere; lots of bass up shallow; lots of crappie on Monona Bay and Cherokee; bluegill are all over the inlets.

MAZONIA

With the forecast later week, I would expect good action this weekend.

Hours are 6 a.m. to sunset.

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

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

After further review…its going to be down to the wire on most bodies of water and several of our largest lakes probably won’t be open until well after opening weekend.

Yeah, I know…I know…last week I predicted, guessed, wished that ice would be gone by May 1st…I’ve sobered up a bit since then, now the reality of the ice hangover begins!

Too much cold weather, some snow, with only two days above 50 degrees and we are in a pinch. Snow predictions for Sunday/Monday (4/30-5/1) put totals of 10-11 of snowfalls on our lakes. Ice is dark on many lakes and the snow will cover up (but also weigh down, fingers crossed) the rotting ice.

It’s too dangerous to walk on ice for measurements, cold temps with added snow will only cool lakes off. Forecast for warming temps coming on Wed (5/3) through Sunday (5/7).

Check out our website and Facebook for updates.

Kurt Justice

Kurt’s Island Sport Shop - Like us on Facebook

NORTHWEST INDIANA

Liam Neher with his first largemouth bass. Provided photo

Liam Neher with his first largemouth bass.

Provided

Joe Neher emailed the photo above above Monticello, Ind., and this:

Liam [Neher] caught his first large mouth 4-22-23 at the family camper pond using a wacky worm rig just under a pound and a half. first of four for the day now he’s hooked.

And if you don’t feel better about life, I can’t help you

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

Coho and some kings for trollers fishing cal park and all the way to Michigan city here there and lil of everywhere for coho with few kings mixed in. Dodger flys, Brad’s thinfish and spoons doing good.

Few groups did ok last few days off the rocks at portage Riverwalk using squid or crawlers fished on floats mainly but a few took casting lil Cleo or ko wobbler spoons.

Crappie and bluegill action hit or miss with the weather all over the place. Once we get steady days of weather it will take off.

Slez’s Bait Shop has leeches in stock for the season.

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

Hi, Dale. Nice weather is coming up. I hope you & other take advantage of it.

Fishing on Lake Michigan over the weekend was really good, with a lot of limit catches of Coho & a few Kings. Small spoons are working best.

Inland lakes are heating up, & the Crappie & Bluegill fishing is getting good.

Walleye on many rivers was quite decent over the weekend.

ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN

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

SHABBONA LAKE

A fine hybrid striped bass came from Shabbona Lake in late April. Provided by Boondocks

A fine hybrid striped bass came from Shabbona Lake in late April.

Provided by Boondocks

John Honiotes at Boondocks reported a nice walleye caught late last week on a crawler; crappie slowed with the cold; a few hybrid stripers, including the big one below; expect much more action this weekend with the weather forecast.

A fine walleye came from Shabbona Lake in late April. Provided by Boondocks

A fine walleye came from Shabbona Lake in late April.

Provided by Boondocks

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.; restaurant hours are 11-8.

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 weather slowed effort but some fish were caught early Saturday before the winds with coho in 190-220, a few kings by the Cook plant in 40-50.

Paddle and Pole hosts the Berrien Springs Fish Ladder Camera.

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:

Bad weather over the weekend, I didn’t fish. Friday we had 92 white bass. All on rigs, in 12 to 18 ft of water. Minnows or purple and red flies working best. Keep it moving, more action, more fish.

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