Chicago fishing: Topwater fishing time of year

It’s that time for year for topwater fishing on lakes and rivers (at the least ones not too high) and that leads this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

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Vince Oppedisano holds a big walleye caught and released on the Fox River.

Vince Oppedisano holds a big walleye caught and released on the Fox River.

Provided

It’s that time for year for topwater fishing on lakes and rivers (at the least ones not too high) and that leads this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

Vince Oppedisano emailed the photo at the top. His report is in the Fox River section.

SALMON-A-RAMA

Salmon-A-Rama runs through Sunday, July 23. It’s headquartered a Reefpoint Brew House parking lot in Racine, Wisconsin, Information at salmon-a-rama.com.

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, during the summer, 7-10 a.m. Tuesdays and Fridays).

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

ILLINOIS FROG SEASON

Illinois’ bullfrog (only) season runs through Oct. 15. A fishing license is required. “Bullfrogs may be taken only by hook and line, gig, pitchfork, spear, bow and arrow, hand, or landing net.” Daily bag limit is eight, possession limit is 16.

AREA LAKES

Jason “Special One” Le texted the YouTube video above.

I love challenges such as that.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a good largemouth bass from local waters. Provided photo

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a good largemouth bass from local waters.

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 heavy rains midweek brought lake levels back up to normal levels. The downside is rivers are high and dirty right now.

Area lakes-bass are very good at first light until mid morning hours working a swim jig with a On’Em Bait Co. swimbait trailer just over the top of the weeds.

The last hour of light is taking good numbers as well on senkos and top water baits

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

TTYL

Ken Husker O’Malley

Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team

Nature photo with a turtle on downed wood. Credit: Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Nature photo with a turtle on downed wood.

Credit: Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Pete Lamar emailed the photo below and this

Hi Dale

I fished still water only once this week-last night-and it was typical for mid-July. Water levels did come up with all the rain, lots of algae but otherwise clear. The bass in the photo was representative : not very big; good numbers; all on surface patterns; most went airborne. I did see the telltale honeycomb shapes near one of the shorelines. A lot of bluegills spawning again with some good-sized ones on the redds.

Pete

A largemouth bass caught fly fishing in the western suburbs. Provided photo

A largemouth bass caught fly fishing in the western suburbs.

Provided by Pete Lamar

Rob Abouchar emailed the photo beloow and this:

Hi Dale

I’m back in island lake after a fantastic trip to Amsterdam and Germany. The panfish are going but a bit slowed. My neighbor got some big gills on bigger crawler pieces. Bass still hitting zman topwater poppin shad. I caught a nice red ear sunfish on trout worms on gold gaoen bug. A little raun would help.

The Gazortenplatt shows in Hoorne Netherlands and BadDoberon Germany were off the chain and the experience of a lifetime. The sundog on the last day was sublime! Zappa music is alive and well. Next up its up to Merrill for some river fishing and promotion of gigs for conscious rockers and midnite mile. Music is the best!

Tight lines and good health

Rob

Rob Abouchar with one of the panfish being caught on Island Lake. Provided photo

Rob Abouchar with one of the panfish being caught on Island Lake.

Provided

Jeffrey Williams messaged:

Independence Grove was alot of fun yesterday

Between 3 of us, 11 LMBs biggest being 2.5 pounds mostly on wacky rigs and a bonus pike

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.

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Art Frisell at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said bluegill are very good, waxies, small ice jigs, try different depths (8-12 feet), Pistakee best; wallleye are good around current areas or main lkae points with jig and leeches or troll in 4-12 feet, zig-zagging, Marie best; catfish are good all over on crawlers or stinkbait; white bass good, start in 8-12 or try down 12 over main basin; crappie are fair, main lake points in 6-12 evenings or early morning.

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

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

DELAVAN LAKE, WISCONSIN

Arden Katz said largemouth are in 14-16 off weed line, drop-shotting; bluegill and perch are in 15 feet on weed lines with trout worms.

Capt. Dave Duwe emailed:

Delavan Lake 7/17/23 through 7/24/23

Fishing overall on Delavan remains very consistent. There are many anglers trying to test their talents on the wary fish.

Yellow Perch have been biting in front of Township Park in 12-14 ft of water. Locate yourself in front of the beach area for the best success. The best presentation has been using Thill slip bobbers tipped with a leaf worm or a hellgrammite. Most of the fish have been positioned a foot off bottom. The other method for using the leaf worms is fishing a split shot rig straight beneath the boat.

Northern Pike fishing has been up and down. Earlier in the week you could catch as many pike as you had suckers. It did slow as the week went on however. The best success has come off of medium suckers fished on a lindy rig. The tight schools have dispersed so it’s been kind of hit or miss as you troll down the weedline. The best location has been west of Willow Point in 20 ft of water.

Largemouth bass remain on the deep weedline. They can be caught on nightcrawlers fished on a split shot rig or drop shotting 4 inch finesse worms. They haven’t been schooled as heavy as they were in past years. The key is to keep your boat moving to find the active fish. In years past you could sit on a school for 4 hours and catch them non-stop but that isn’t the case this year yet. The best location is by the Island or by the Village Supper Club.

Bluegills remain on the weedline in 15-20 ft of water. They can be caught on Thill slip bobbers with leaf worms or small panfish leeches. You need to keep moving to find the larger fish. My best success has been by Willow Point or by the Oriental boathouse or by the Assembly Park weedline. Bluegill fishing has not been as good as last week, however if you keep moving you should catch a nice limit.

Walleyes have remained consistent. The best action has been coming after dark. However, I’ve been catching fish during the daylight too. I’ve been averaging a legal fish every other trip. My best success has come off of leeches or nightcrawlers. I’ve been using lindy rigs with an 1/8 oz sinker or a split shot rigged nightcrawler.

Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 262-728-8063.

DOWNSTATE

Gene Jarka with a good largemouth bass from Hennepin-Hopper lakes. Provided photo

Gene Jarka with a good largemouth bass from Hennepin-Hopper lakes.

Provided

HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Gene Jarka emailed he photo above and this:

Hello Dale,

You frequently have the site regulations listed for Hennepin Hopper Lakes in your weekly fishing report. This Largemouth is a good representation of this fishery. Hennepin Hopper Lakes are not necessarily numbers lakes, but rather lakes with the opportunity for anglers to catch their personal best. I have caught a few fish in this class this summer , along with my first ever Musky and a few Northern Pike over 30 inches. Anyone that makes the trip needs to keep in mind that this is an electric motor only lake, and gas motors are not allowed, even if trimmed up. This lake is extremely weedy, so be prepared with braided line and heavy tackle.

Tight Lines,

Gene Jarka

Princeton, IL

I agree and was just there kayak fishing on Friday.

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.

SHELBYVILLE: Check with Ken Wilson of Lithia Guide Service.

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS: Check with Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing.

FOX RIVER

Ken Gortowski emailed;

Dale,

We got another downpour on Wednesday and the Fox River went from a low flow of 330 CFS to 1390 in a very short period of time. A one gallon bucket I keep around for measuring rain amounts showed we got nearly 4 inches. Within 24 hours the river dropped to 744 CFS and I decided to go directly to the sweet spot I hit days earlier to see if anything changed.

The river was flowing along about 3 inches higher than the last time I was out and muddied up a little bit. Depending on ones perspective, I then ascended into dink heaven or descended into dink hell. Either way, like I’ve always said, the dinks don’t know their dinks. 11 of them hit hard and fought hard in the faster water and I was surprised when I landed each one that they weren’t considerably bigger. Another dozen refused to cooperate on being landed.

Like usual I had this section of river all to myself. Let’s me get lost in my thoughts while I wait for the next hit to shake me awake. Can’t think of a better way to spend the last couple of hours of daylight.

Ken G

No pictures this time, didn’t feel like taking a chance of dropping the phone in the river for a dink shot.

I understand that.

Vince Oppedisano emailed the photo at the very top and this:

Hey Dale,

Fox River fishing in Kane County has been good overall the past week. I would estimate that the pretty steady rainfall has kept levels a few inches higher than the drought conditions that preceded. That was the case as late as Sunday evening July 16.

The water where I fished was mostly very murky for a day or two following each heavy rainfall. Bright colors and moving baits that create vibration in the water did the best for me during those periods. Just a few inches of extra water makes a big difference in some spots, making many areas fishable with shallow running lures whereas before it was impossible to make a cast without running into weeds.

Fish were sluggish for a while following each storm, but feeding activity still seemed to increase around an hour before sunset. Found several species over the past week besides smallmouth— quillback, flathead, river redhorse, bluegill, and a lot of walleye (especially at dawn/dusk hours & overcast days). Pictured walleye was feeding in a shallow flat about 8:45pm. Healthy female I believe, still swimming out there somewhere...

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 summertime River fishing on the fox can be a lot of fun! Something is always biting. Right now catfish, drum and smallmouth are hitting good within a mile or two of the Algonquin and Carpentersville dams. Wading is great way to fish these stretches but always be careful and if you’re unsure of depth a life vest is recommended. Cut bait, crawlers for the cats. Small lures for the smallmouth, I like top waters!

Fishing report early because I am fishing with a friend Tomorrow morning!I am looking forward to it!

Pete Lamar emailed the photo below and this

Hi Dale

. . .

As far as the Fox watershed, the tributaries finally rose with the recent heavy rains. Even the usually clear creeks had some color. Not chocolate milk-still fishable-but not nearly as low and clear as they usually are now. Fish were still there, but they were trying to stay out of the now-heavy current. Target areas close to shore, in front of or behind in-stream obstructions or fish near the bottom in deeper water. Water temps had dropped a lot and that seemed to liven up the smallmouths. I heard the first cicadas of the year: they were almost deafening in a grove of hardwoods.

Pete

GENEVA LAKE, WISCONSIN

Arden Katz said small smallmouth are very good night fishing in 18-20 feet, drop-shotting with Berkley Flat Worms; bluegill on every cast in 15 feet with drop-shots.

Capt. Dave Duwe emailed:

Lake Geneva 7/17/23 through 7/24/23

Lake Trout fishing has been good. They are being caught ½ hour before first light until 6:30 a.m. and again at dusk. They can be caught on nickel/silver or nickel/green spoons. Most of the fish are being caught between 75 and 80 ft of water in a total depth of 108-135 ft. With good electronics, you will be able to see the suspended fish and you will be able to adjust your down rigger presentation.

Smallmouth bass have moved off of the weedline. They are chasing the pods of minnows. They can be caught by the Elgin Club or by Linn Pier near pier 600. They are readily being caught while drop shotting live nightcrawlers or small 4 inch worms. With an active school of minnows, you can catch the fish while casting top waters or small pinfish. Chrome/blue and chrome/black are the best colors.

Largemouth bass are either being caught on top water or Carolina rigging. The best presentation for largemouth bass has been the Chug Bug or the Pop-r. The best location has been by Trinkes or Williams Bay. You want to work a depth of 8-10 water. For Carolina rigging, you want to concentrate on the deep weedline. Look for the fish in Trinkes Bay, the narrows or Knollwood. Look for the deep weeds with hard bottom. You either want to use a Arkie root beer Crawlin’ Grub or a green pumpkin 6 inch lizard.

Bluegills are in the 16-20 ft depth range. The best location is by Elgin Club. They are being caught on either leaf worms or nightcrawler pieces straight beneath the boat. Due to the depth, you have to pick a day that is not too windy. Some of the bluegills are in excess of 9 inches.

Walleye Pike are biting at night on the nights where the wind is blowing. If the wind isn’t blowing, fishing has been very slow. The weed flats have still been the key. You want to use large Rapalas or the Walleye Bandits. Chrome/blue and chrome/black have been my favorite colors. Look for the fish by Abbey Springs or by Fontana Beach.

Rock bass can be caught in the 10-12 ft depth range. They can be readily caught on nightcrawlers fished on a split shot rig. My best success has come by Linn Pier or by Elgin Club. They have been getting very soft, so if you want to keep them make sure you get them on ice.

Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 262-728-8063

GREEN LAKE AREA, WISCONSIN

Mike Norris with a smallmouth bass from Green Lake in Wisconsin, where it “fell victim to a tube jig.” Provided photo

Mike Norris with a smallmouth bass from Green Lake in Wisconsin, where it “fell victim to a tube jig.”

Provided

Guide Mike Norris texted the photo above and emailed this:

Fishing Report – July 17, 2023

Mike Norris

Big Green Lake: Smallmouth bass are roaming in twelve to twenty-five feet of water and Tube jigs are my go-to technique for catching smallmouth bass. A two and three-quarter-inch long green pumpkin tube matched with a three-eighth-ounce tube jig allows me to make long casts and maintain contact with the rock and gravel areas where smallmouth bass reside. Try slowly dragging the tube jig over rock and gravel areas, and don’t be afraid to dead-stick the tube for up to thirty seconds. I’m locating largemouth bass around and under docks and out along weed lines. For largemouth, my go-to lure is a three-eighth-ounce Miller’s Swim Jig in the bluegill color paired with a matching green pumpkin Zoom Speed Craw Jr. trailer. I’m still waiting for the big bluegills to appear around the cribs.

Fox Lake: Anglers are catching largemouth bass and northern pike with live shiners hung from a slip bobber along the steep drop-offs outside Dead Island. Anglers trolling with crankbaits and spinners out in the lake basin are still catching a few daytime walleyes, but residents fishing off the end of their piers after sunset are catching more walleyes bobber fishing with leeches.

GREEN/STURGEON BAYS, WISCONSIN

Click here for the Wisconsin DNR weekly report.

HEIDECKE LAKE

Bob Johnson with a big bluegill caught on a Ned Rig at Heidecke Lake. Provided photo

Bob Johnson with a big bluegill caught on a Ned Rig at Heidecke Lake.

Provided

Bob Johnson emailed the photo above and this;

Hi Dale - Fished Heidecke early Sat morning. Day started out overcast, light rain good fishing weather. Lake temps still low 80 and slight stain from weather. I had some luck early throwing Rapala crainkbaits switched over to finesse later morning. Caught a few smallmouth and 1 largemouth along with a 23 Walleye on the Rapala. Rare catch for me was the Bluegill caught on a Ned rig later morning.Nice fish!

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

KANKAKEE RIVER

George Peters with a good smallmouth bass from the Kankakee River. Provided photo

George Peters with a good smallmouth bass from the Kankakee River.

Provided

George Peters emailed the photo above and this:

Hi Dale, we don’t need any more rain! Kankakee very high. Fish are close to the banks behind current breaks. They can’t hold in fast middle stream. Water clears close to the. Bank first. G. Peters

LAKE ERIE

Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.

LAKEFRONT

Big T with an unexpected northern pike while fishing the Chicago lakefront between the Shedd Aquarium and Monroe Harbor. Provided by Jeffrey Williams

Big T with an unexpected northern pike while fishing the Chicago lakefront between the Shedd Aquarium and Monroe Harbor.

Provided by Jeffrey Williams

Jeffrey Williams messaged the photo above Thursday and this:

Caught between the Shedd and Monroe Harbor on a flicker shad

That’s Mr. T in the photo.

Williams added:

Caught between the Shedd and Monroe Harbor on a flicker shad

Jeff Downey found success at the R4 Tuesday. Provided

Jeff Downey found success at the R4 Tuesday.

Provided

Jeff Downey tweeted the photo above and this Tuesday:

Dale, Thanks again for the directions. Got a nice 38 inch laker and a couple salmon of the R4 buoy today.

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

nit a thing worth talking about other than sheephead

Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters said out of Chicago lakers are biting really well, coho are decent; out of North Point, fishing is close to the hill, mostly chunky coho, steelhead, occasional kings and lakers, early bite important (go out in the dark).

Capt. Dan Leslie at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan said most are still going out deep; starting to see some more kings in the mix, when biting everything is working.

Capt. Scott Wolfe of School of Fish Charters emailed:

Hi Dale

West wind this week did its job and upwelled cold water. Fishing out of Waukegan was very good 50 to 75 feet. Most fish are in the bottom half of the water column but will come up to as high as 20 feet to feed. We took many nice kings this week. In general we are getting the kings at sunup and then mostly coho after the sum comes up.

Best presentations for kings have been white flashers and white or Little Boy Blue files 40 to the bottom on wire divers and glow spoons like Warrior Blueberry Muffin and Green Menace on 7, 8 and 10 color leads. Cohos are biting those same spoons and also coming on big magnum spoons like Warrior UV Hey Babe magnums and bloody nose 45 to the bottom.

Boats need to vary their speeds and headings to dial in the fish as these change substantially. Sunday for example the fish wanted the lures moving at 3 mph early. Later in the day they wanted the lures at barely over 2 mph.

Capt. Scott Wolfe312-933-0552

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 .

MAZONIA

Hours are 6 a.m. to sunset.

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

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

The cool/hot weather pattern for the summer of 2023 continues. This week…cool. Air temps at night in low 50’s has cooled lake surface temps into low 70’s to upper 60’s. Fishing somewhat affected, but not overly.

Largemouth Bass: Very Good-Good – A bit of a drop in action, smaller Bass on average, less willing to commit (like most males)! Smaller Wacky Worms (4:3), as well as a simple crawler or leech below a slip-float. Cool mornings tough, but evenings better for top-water action on plastic frogs and spiders in calm shadows.

Smallmouth Bass: Good – Off-shore gravel/rock humps topping at 14-22’. Ned rigs, drop-shotting and football jigs with plastic creatures or craws. Also finding Smallies along outside weed lines of coontail in 14-18’ taking big leeches.

Bluegill: Good – Active in 8-10’ weeds. Typical worm/small leeches. Tiny jigs tipped with waxies also productive!

Yellow Perch: Good – Better mid-morning on. as water warms a bit. Finding nice Perch of 8-11 in cabbage of 8-12’. Beavertail (small night crawler) under slip-floats best. Medium fats also working.

Northern Pike: Good – Working chubs or suckers on jigs with wire leaders through dense weeds on cool mornings. As temps rise, casting spinnerbaits and chatterbaits over same weed tops best.

Musky: Good-Fair – Bucktails over cabbage beds mid-morning on. Top-water towards dusk.

Crappies: Fair – Scattered through tall curly leaf cabbage in 10-14’. Tiny twister tails, Charlie Bees and Crappie Thumpers working to locate. Finish up with small minnows fished at weed top level.

Walleye: Fair – Night time trollers on deep clear lakes using deep diving (14-20’) cranks. Lighted slip-floats over gravel humps baited with crawlers or leeches. Redtails along weed edges of 10-14’ in the early AM.

The cool has slowed some early morning action, but the overall bite is not bad. If fishing early, slow down size bait/lure to induce bites.

Kurt Justice

Kurt’s Island Sport Shop - Like us on Facebook

NORTHWEST INDIANA

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

Trollers fishing out of portage still getting coho and few steelhead and a king here and there. 65 to 95ft using dodgers and flys and magnum spoons mainly.

Still quiet on the perch few fish have been caught around Michigan city but not much to talk about. Not a lot of reports mainly because not many boats out trying for perch.

Catfish at night fishing deep river and burns ditch using skipjack, shad and triple s stinkbait

Summer is flying the kids will be back to school in less than a month.

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

Hey, Dale! Enjoying the very warm weather? So many festivals & things to enjoy are going on right now!

Fishing is pretty much in full swing now, with great catches on Lake Michigan-Coho & Steelhead out of Michigan City & Coho, Kings, & Lake Trout in the Chicago area to all the way east by Saint Joseph. Spin Doctors, flies, & spoons have been taking great catches; herring & salmon cutbaits are working well. Spin-n-Glows are working excellently for the Lakers. 80-140 FOW have been the best depths.

Inland lakes & rivers are still producing good numbers of fish. Nightcrawlers & beemoths are working wonders.

Perch fishing on the big lake has finally started doing well; hotspots are Gary lighthouse, the slips along Lake Shore Drive, & Burns Ditch. Minnows & redworms are working best at the moment.

Walleye on the rivers & at Wolf Lake are doing well; leeches & nightcrawlers are great right now for catching them. Leeches will soon be out of season, so get them while you still can-they are fantastic for Walleye , Bass, & Catfish during summer months.

Catfish are doing great at the moment just about everywhere. Stinkbait, cutbait, & mealworms of all sizes are the go-tos right now.

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.; restaurant hours are 11-8.

SOUTHEAST WISCONSIN LAKEFRONT

Click here for the southern Lake Michigan reports from the Wisconsin DNR.

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN

Paddle and Pole hosts the Berrien Springs Fish Ladder Camera.

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