Chicago fishing: Hoping for and catching shoreline kings among the fall patterns

This sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report takes a look at fall patterns.

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BoRabb Williams with his first Chinook of the year from Jackson Park.

BoRabb Williams with his first Chinook of the year from Jackson Park.


Hoping for and catching shoreline kings on the lakefront are among the fall patterns in this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

On Sunday, BoRabb Williams texted the photo at the top and this:

I’m Finally on the BOARD... 6:45 this morning with a 18lb King at 63rd Street Harbor mouth.

More reports on shoreline kings around southern Lake Michigan in the Lakefront, Milwaukee, Northwest Indiana and Southwest Michigan reports below.


Salmon Unlimited Illinois Kids’ Derby is Saturday, Sept. 16, for those 18 and younger. It’s free; details and more are at



Wayne Hankins sent the flyer above. I hope to be there. It is usually an event of note. There’s a special point to it this year.


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 through 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


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.


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

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


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

Hey Dale,

Here is a recap from this rollercoaster of a week.

The week started off with record heat and water temps rising to the upper 70’s. The week ended with average temps and water temps dropping to 70 as of this morning. Several inches of rain midweek helped crash those water temps.

Bass have been tight to cover after the cold front hit. Pitching a variety of plastics texas rigged with a Vector Hooks 4/0 EWG into open weed pockets took a few willing biters.

Bluegill were very good in 8-11 fow on a IJO Plastics pannie crawler rigged on a Wiggleyourworm_fishing custom jig. Active biters were found in isolated weed clumps. A few smaller crappie were also caught in the mix.

I’m noticing fall colors starting in places as many trees and shrubs are stressed from the dry spring/summer months.

It won’t be long as fall patterns will start setting up.

. . .


Ken Husker O’Malley

Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team

Dan Bernstein, a midday host on The Score, tweeted on Wednesday:

. . . But thought I’d report on Palmisano Park this afternoon. Water level high after the rains, and the whole pond is bright green with algae. Caught three small largemouth, and small bluegill were aggressive very close to shore.

Pete Lamar emailed from the western suburbs:

Hi Dale,

. . .

Fish were much more active this week in the local ponds and lakes. Lots of variety: largemouths, bluegills and more than a few crappies. I also went hog hunting on Sunday afternoon/evening (better than wasting time on a howler of a Bears game): eight weight rod and a big popper targeting largemouths. I got a few but nothing big. I was surprised to get some huge green sunfish; hard to believe they could eat a fly that big, but they saved the day again. This was a forest preserve lake and I could hear owls hooting after sunset. Then one flew over me-without making a sound which was a clue-to the other side of the lake and landed on the roof of a house and continued hooting. A few minutes later another one flew over me, landed on the same roof and chased off the first owl. Based on their sounds and silhouettes against the night sky, I’d say they were great horned owls. I thought as a top predator they would be more spread out and each occupying a bigger territory. But there were definitely three or more in this oak grove. Maybe parents encouraging their offspring to disperse and find their own territory?


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

Final day is Oct. 17.


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:

My Walleye fisherman are starting to say the bite is getting better. Hard bottom and current areas being the best. Both on the Fox River and Chain.

Staff at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said white bass are going, especially on the northern part of the Chain; other species are slow.

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

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


Capt. Dave Duwe emailed:

Delavan Lake 9/11/23 through 9/18/23

Walleye fishing has started to improve. They are positioned in the 12-15 ft depth range on the weedline. The best lures are the chrome/blue and chrome/black jerk baits. Look for the fish around the main lake points like the Village Supper Club and Willow Point. You can catch some fish on live bait by lindy rigging nightcrawlers. This has been working during the day.

Northern pike are starting to put the feed bag on for winter. They are in the medium depth weeds in 12-15 ft of water. The best presentation is casting white spinner baits or using ½ oz rattle traps in chrome/blue. The best location has been by the gray condos or down by the island.

Largemouth bass fishing has been excellent. Most of my success has been coming in under 10 ft of water. The key to the presentation is finding the sandy holes in the weeds and flipping a split shot rigged nightcrawler or an All Terrain Stik fished Wacky rigged. The best color is watermelon seed or green pumpkin. Lakeside Bait and Tackle has an ample supply. For minnow fishermen, there is some success fishing small or medium suckers under a slip float in the shallow weeds. I position the bait a foot above the weeds.

Crappie fishing is starting to improve with the cooler water. They are located in the 15 ft weeds. Cast a small 1/32 oz cubby jig with a split shot position 1 ft above it. They split shot will allow you to cast much further and also let it sink faster into the fishable water. The best location is by Browns Channel or the Delavan Lake Marina.

Bluegill fishing has been slow for me. I haven’t fished for them much. I believe most of the bigger fish are suspended over the main lake basin 10-15 ft down in 40 ft of water. Look for the fish off of the Yacht Club or by Willow Point.

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


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.



Capt. A.J. Cwiok with his girlfriend’s golden retriever Rory enjoys the catch of a good smallmouth bass from the DuPage River. Provided photo

Capt. A.J. Cwiok with his girlfriend’s golden retriever Rory enjoys the catch of a good smallmouth bass from the DuPage River.


Capt. A.J. Cwiok messaged the photo above and this on Friday:

The cold front and a bit of rain did the Dupage a lot of good. Bottom bouncing Ned rigs was the stand out


Vince Oppedisano emailed:

Hey Dale,

The Fox River is still very low right now across Kane County, but the start of some cooler fall weather seems to have been helping the fishing.

The smallmouth appear to be feeding more heavily overall, with a lot more chunks out there even if only in the 10 to 15 inch range.

With levels low, the key for me continues to be finding a little bit deeper water and transition areas between depth levels and flowing water. Activity has continued to be the best early and late in the day, especially on sunny days.

Tried covering as much water as possible over the weekend to find active fish....The smallmouth are all over as usual. Aside from that, I lost a good sized musky over the weekend that hit a small crankbait and immediately went fully airborne and spit the hook before I could process what was happening.

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:

My Walleye fisherman are starting to say the bite is getting better. Hard bottom and current areas being the best. Both on the Fox River and Chain. Most are using extra large Fatheads in a jig head. Some like a half of a night crawler.Catfishing has slowed a little but still good. Cut bait, stink bait or medium golden roach minnows. Below McHenry, Algonquin and Carpentersville dams is best.

Pete Lamar emailed:

Hi Dale,

I did not fish the Fox watershed this week but got some good looks at it. Before the rain, it could best be described as stagnant: almost no current and a lot of vegetation and algae. The rain Sunday night and Monday seemed to do a lot of good: much more current, much of the algae was flushed downstream, levels were raised and I’d guess it had cooled by a few degrees.


Capt. Dave Duwe emailed:

Lake Geneva 9/11/23 through 9/18/23

Largemouth bass fishing has been up and down. There are some days that you can get them really good and then the next day in the same spot, they vanish. It appears that the key to the bite is some wind. When the lake is dead calm, they have a tendency not to bite. The best location has been by Trinkes or by Linn Pier. A lot of success has been coming on split shot rigged nightcrawlers or casting medium diving crankbaits in chrome/blue color.

Perch fishing has been improving by the day. There is some sorting that needs to be done, however the average size has increased quite a bit in recent years. This bite will be improving as the water cools even more. Look for the fish by Rainbow Point or by Belvidere Park. The best depth is 10-12 ft of water. Slip bobbers with small fathead minnows are producing most of the action. Position the minnow about 1 ft off bottom.

Rock bass fishing has been excellent. The bigger fish seem to be in 15-20 ft of water. However, for better action, the 12 ft range seems to always produce. No need to get fancy, the old split shot rig and a single hook works fine.

Smallmouth bass are just off the weedline in 18-22 ft of water. They can be caught on a lindy rigged nightcrawler or a lindy rigged yellow perch. The best location is by the Military Academy or off of Black Point. With cooling water temperatures, the smallmouth bass are starting to school up and within the next couple of weeks with start moving to the main lake points.

Bluegills are being caught in 12-15 ft of water by Chapin Road. They can be caught on slip bobber rigged leaf worms positioned 6 inches to 1 ft off bottom. Some of the bluegills last week were in excess of 9 inches.

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


Wayne Karlins, Northbrook, holds a 3-pound smallmouth bass from Green Lake. Provided by Mike Norris

Wayne Karlins, Northbrook, holds a 3-pound smallmouth bass from Green Lake.

Provided by Mike Norris

Guide Mike Norris texted the photo above and emailed this:

Fishing Report – September 11, 2023

Mike Norris

Big Green: Bass fishing remains subpar. That is not to say my clients and I are not catching any bass. We are just not getting numbers of bass. Water is one theory on why the bite is tough. I have never seen the lake so clear at this time of the year. One of my buddies said it best when he called it November clear. The number of bluegills and perch in the lake is another factor. My clients and I caught bluegills up to nine and a half inches while fishing over a crib this past weekend. I saw images of several smallmouth bass suspended twelve feet above the crib on my Active Target forward-facing sonar display. The crib was twenty-five feet down. I caught a six-inch bluegill and threw it back. On my display, I watched as one of many suspended bass charged up and ate the bluegill before the gill swam four feet down. My best advice for catching bass right now is crankbaits. You can cast crankbaits a long distance and reel them in fast. This can cause a reaction bite.

Fox Lake: Water temperatures fell to the low seventies last week, and the bass have moved to shallower structures. As one of my friends stated, You will find bass wherever you can find rocks. Just about every island in Fox Lake has rocky points. Work swim baits shallow-running crankbaits over and around the points. Early morning and later in the day is an excellent time to fish for bass.


Mike Joho with his first muskie from Green Bay. Provided photo

Mike Joho with his first muskie from Green Bay.


Mike Joho emailed the photo above and this:

Hello Dale, I caught my first musky out of Green Bay since moving here a little over a year ago. I was fishing for bass outside the mouth of the Fox River. That’s the I-43 bridge in background. The 34 fish hit a small fire tiger Storm crankbait near rip rap. I never miss your articles online weekly. Thanks for all you do. God bless, MikeJoho (formerly of Joliet)

Click here for the Wisconsin DNR weekly report.



Bob Johnson emailed the photo above and this:

Heidecke lake Sunday morning with more smallmouth however a sign of fall is bigger smallies as water starts getting cooler. Lake temp down to 73 degrees. I’ve been throwing a lot of the same at them and will continue until the jig bite slows. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it thing. 3/8 oz jigs with craw style trailer and changing that up with Ned rigs when I miss one. Both methods have produced. Better days are coming as fall weather cools the lake. Bigger bass in pick at 3 lbs.

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

Final day is Oct. 10.


Bob Johnson holds a pair of smallmouth bass caught and released from the Kankakee River. Provided photo

Bob Johnson holds a pair of smallmouth bass caught and released from the Kankakee River.


Bob Johnson emailed the photo above and this:

Hi Dale - Kankakee river Saturday morning. River in great shape water clear and water temps at 71. Found Smallmouth grouping up around weed beds scattered near shoreline in 3 to 7’. Used finesse baits along with jig and trailers in craw patterns. Catch and Release!

George Peters wtth a really big freshwater drum from the Kankakee River. Provided photo

George Peters wtth a really big freshwater drum from the Kankakee River.


George Peters emailed the photo above and this:

Hi Dale , Kankakee is low and clear, however weed growth is a problem. Many areas are unfishable. I did get this monster Drum. I don’t know the river record but this fish was 25 and had to weigh over 15#. Took forever to get in. G. Peters.


Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.


See the BoRabb Williams’ first king of the year at the top.

Quinn Wunar holds his second king of the season from the Chicago lakefront. Provided photo

Quinn Wunar holds his second king of the season from the Chicago lakefront.


Quinn Wunar tweeted the photo above and this on Wednesday:

2nd King of my season was a nice chrome hen on a green glow KO right when the temps dropped tonight. Dead slow roll just off the bottom.

Been a long stretch in between fish with a lot of bad White Sox baseball in between.


Been lots of bad Sox baseball all year.

Nate Torres with early fall action at Montrose Harbor. Provided photo

Nate Torres with early fall action at Montrose Harbor.


Nate Torres emailed the photo above and this in late August (I misplaced the info then) and happened to cross it again):

Hey Dale, This was my first outing of the year, we got out right before the wind started to pick up, I casted and let it drop for a second and as soon as I started retrieving he slammed the moonshine, as soon as I hooked it he started going crazy jumping and running for a little while. caught it just at sunrise.

Tight lines

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

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

Hello Dale

With these few cooler nights and a little bit of rain, the water is starting to drop in temperature, and there’s a few more fish showing up.Monday morning there were 5 caught on the Horseshoe. This I know because the game wardens were in and told me. There were also a few salmon and trout over the weekend at the mouth of Montrose. I also heard there’s been some good catches of salmon at Diversey Harbor.They are on the move so you just have to get out and cast. Most have been on spoons and crankbaits. A few are using bait such as spawn sacs, larger minnows and crawlers. Haven’t heard if those are producing much yet.

There has been a few Northerns in the mix. I’ve had no reports of really anything else.Have a great week.

Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters said lake trout are the program now, a great lake-trout bite deep on the bottom; out of Chicago, it is fantastic for lakers 130-150, straight out of Montrose; out of North Point, the South Reef is really going in 150-210 generally.

Capt. Dan Leslie at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan said doing well from the pier, rain slowed action recently, some younger kings (spoons) mixed in on the lake trout grounds.

Capt. Scott Wolfe of School of Fish Charters emailed:

In Waukegan fish are coming into the harbor. It looks like the king run is more like a trickle. Instead of large schools coming in at once they are coming in one by one. But they are there. Unfortunately the size is way down from recent years. Hopefully this is an outlier and things will rebound. Good news for shore fisherman is that the coho return to Waukegan looks like it will be great. Trollers are catching good numbers of mature coho staging. Likely because they eat lots of gobies, the coho size is normal. It should be a good fall for shore coho. For lures, orange glow spoons have been most consistent. Moonshine Agent Orange and Nightcrawler patterns are good. Some anglers had success on orange body baits and crank baits as well.

For boaters, waters south of Waukegan in 110 to over 180 feet have lots of lake trout on the bottom with 3 year old kings from 4 to 9 pounds in the 70 to 90 foot band. An occasional steelhead and staging mature coho are taken there too. Downriggers with smoke Luhr-Jensen dodgers and Jimmy Fly Mo rigs in Green and Green/orange or hot pink were great on the bottom. For suspended fish, downriggers 70 to 90 and 200 to 450 foot copper lines with orange spoons like Warrior Orange Easter Egg and Moonshine Agent Orange or Blue Yellow Dolphin were good. Wire divers out 150 to 200 with NBK Flashers and aqua Jimmy Flys were great for all species.

The lake is setting up nicely for fall and I expect the best fall boat fishing in a few seasons based on the number of immature kings around.

Capt. Scott Wolfe



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.

Final day is Oct. 15.


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


Hours are 6 a.m. to sunset.

Final day of fishing is Oct. 17, except Monster Lake remains open all year.


Arden Katz with a Chinook from Milwaukee Harbor. Provided photo

Arden Katz with a Chinook from Milwaukee Harbor.


Arden Katz texted the photo above and said he went 1-for-3 Saturday night at Milwaukee Harbor on Chinook with 3/4-ounce Rat-L-Traps in the gap, others were jigging with spoons. “They are in there, not realy thick.”


Bass player Dan Becker with a giant largemouth bass from Spirit Flowage in Tomahawk, Wisconsin.  Provided by Rob Abouchar

Bass player Dan Becker with a giant largemouth bass from Spirit Flowage in Tomahawk, Wisconsin.

Provided by Rob Abouchar

Rob Abouchar messaged the photo above and this:

That is Dan Becker bass player for midnite mile with a giant of a largemouth for the northwoods. Caught at spirit flowage in tomahawk Wisconsin. the band was stayin on the water in a b and b .

My life is complete, I get to type about a bass player with a big bass.

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

A nice weekend for those fortunate enough to get out on the water. Cooling night time temps with comfortable daytime. Plenty of action from many species, good weather with good fishing – can’t be beat!

These first two fish species reports, I want to thank the WISCO Bass Anglers Single Series for helping out. 37 anglers registered 182 bass with 5 fish limits. Amongst the top ten contestants averaging 2 1/2 – 3 1/2# in weight.

Smallmouth Bass: Very Good – Lots of action as the mornings warmed. Tubes, drop-shots and Ned rigs for the bulk of the action. Lots of 14-18 fish reported over the weekend with some bruisers to 21 1/2 boated. Mostly off shore humps and coontail edges, but some big fish up shallow!

Largemouth Bass: Very Good – Better as wind picked up each day. Reports of some big fish in lily pads. Fish to 5#’s. Top-water action good in shallows. Wacky Worms and jig/sweet beavers in weeds.

Bluegill: Very Good – Very nice Gills of 8-9 3/4 on crawler halves under floats in 7-9’. Mid-morning action picks up from colder early AM. Even picking up larger Gills on Crappie minnows meant for Crappies. With weeds still looking healthy, good time to capitalize on this bite!

Musky: Good-Very Good – Shallow weeds, 3-8’ working bucktails, swimbaits and top-waters (Dr. Evils, Pacemakers up front, follow up with anglers in back casting Flaptails or Hawg Wobblers). Evening, top-water best!

Yellow Perch: Good-Very Good – Lake fish relating to cabbage and wood in 6-10’. Crawlers, medium fats on 1/16 oz weedless jigs or under slip-floats. Flowage fish scattered, working woody bottoms. Same methods, fewer, but larger fish (9-12).

Northern Pike: Good – Cooling temps getting Pike in mood to chase. Spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, #3 and #4 Mepps Aglias, as well as 4 swimbaits, getting it done! Jigging or floating a big chub or sucker also nice way to spend a beautiful September afternoon.

Walleye: Good – Bite varies, but Walleyes active in both deep gravel/mud locations on Shiver Minnows and Jigging Raps, as well as working 1/8 or 1/4 oz jigs tipped with crawlers or large fatheads. Don’t give up on weeds yet. Also finding Walleyes in shallower (6-9’) weeds and wood.

Crappie: Fair-Good – Picking up as anglers targeting Crappies reporting action in afternoons casting small twisters (1&2) on 1/32 oz & 1/16 oz jig heads. Kalin Crappie Scrubs, Mini Mites also picking up some nice slabs this weekend to 13+!

Continued cool mornings (lows forecasted to hit 40) with mild warm ups to upper 60’s to 70 for the rest of the week should bode well. Water temps have dropped at the surface into the upper 60’s and fish activity should only improve from here out.

Kurt Justice

Kurt’s Island Sport Shop - Like us on Facebook


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

Some salmon have been caught at night off of Michigan city peir casting glow spoons since last report.

With the rain and cooler weather this week it will put some fish up in our nwi creeks.

Crappie in the evening off the Wisconsin street bridge on Lake George in Hobart. Minnows best bait.

Slez’s Bait Shop is now on there fall- winter hours 5 to 5 daily.


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


Site summer hours—6 a.m.-10 p.m.—run through Oct. 3.

Boondocks’ bait shop is open daily, 6 a.m.-7 p.m.; restaurant hours are now 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday through Sunday.


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


Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said a few kings are at the turning, a couple up to the dam and a few in the river; a bit of perch action around the north buoy in 50 feet over the weekend.

Paddle and Pole hosts the Berrien Springs Fish Ladder Camera.


Hook-and-line sturgeon season in Wisconsin runs through Sept. 30 “on certain waters.” Click here for the details. Click here for the harvest areas.

River’s Edge ( reported no legals (60 inches) yet , lots in 40-inch-plus range (as long as 47 inches), mostly on crawlers on the bottom.

The Wisconsin DNR noted:

Please note that a hook and line sturgeon tag is not required if an angler plans to release the sturgeon they catch. Anglers should continue to practice responsible catch-and-release when releasing any fish they do not wish to keep. Review best practices on the DNR’s responsible release webpage.

And the DNR also advised:

Anglers should be aware that some sturgeon may have a tag near their dorsal fin. These tags contain information that is used to monitor the movement and growth of lake sturgeon and will aid the DNR in future management practices. If anglers catch a tagged sturgeon, they should submit the following information to the county’s fisheries biologist:

Where the fish was caught

The date of the catch

Tag number, color and material composition of the tag (i.e., metal or plastic)

Overall fish length


Rob Abouchar emailed:

Hi Dale

I hit the Wisconsin river Alexander flowage Saturday for a couple hours before the gig with midnight mile at rock island. Sticking with my quest for a muskie on a senko is The Bass were0

He added this and the photo below:

Bass were hitting my wacky rig around rocks and weeds. I had a real big bite that about took the rod out of my hand. The water temp was down to 70 degrees and the fish are starting to put on the feedbag as evidenced by the big largie dan our bass player caught at spirit flowage. This is my favorite time on the rive as the colors change the water cools and the big one start to bite.

Tight lines and good health


Rob Abouchar with a smallmouth bass from the Wisconsin River. Provided photo

Rob Abouchar with a smallmouth bass from the Wisconsin River.



Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:

Crappie and white bass are the main target this week. Water temperature is in the mid 60’s, and should drop more with cooler nights. Jig and minnow or plastic for crappie. Most of the white bass on rigs

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