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Bass, catfish, walleye, May, “Game time”: Chicago fishing/Midwest Fishing Report



We finally settle into real May fishing for this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report on Chicago fishing.

Anthony Cwiok messaged about the walleye above:

Caught him on the same set up as the last two walleye I caught from the Dupage, 3-inch Kalin’s chartreuse twister tail. Not as big as the 28 or 29 incher I caught out of the Dupage last fall, but still a great way to kick off the summer.

Yes, it is a great way to kick off summer.

And we heartily welcome Matt Bach to the reports with one on Three Oaks Recreation Area, one of the premier public fishing spots around the area.

The Midwest Fishing Report appears on the Sun-Times newspaper outdoors page on Wednesday. The sprawling raw-file report is posted here online on the Sun-Times outdoors page.


Perch fishing on Lake Michigan is closed through June 15. That closure also includes a closure on the Chicago River.


Lions’ Pride Big Bass Tourney is Saturday on Bangs Lake in Wauconda.

The Fox River Valley chapter of Muskies, Inc.’s Challunge on the Chain is also Saturday on the Chain O’Lakes.


Depending on the lake, different or multiple species are in the spawning mode.



Matt Bach begins with this report on Three Oaks:

Hi Dale,

Surface water temps are skyrocketing quick at Three Oaks, as they were 48 degrees at best on May 6th, and shot up to 58 degrees this past Sunday;  10 degree warm up in 7 days, and after yesterday’s rain I wouldn’t be surprised if we are now at 60.

Smallies were just beginning to stage on Sunday the 13th, but 80% of nests were still vacant.  Everything out here is one full week behind; Keep in mind ice out didn’t happen at Oaks until early April.  Also important to remember the temp is still colder in the depths, and a lot of these fish will spawn in 10-20ft of water.

Largemouth are looming in the shallows in high numbers taking in the sun, and were seen all over the shoreline on Sunday.  Fishing from shore can be just as productive now.

Expect murky turned over water this week from all the rain.  It will be a lot of blind fishing this week unlike previous years, but fish are starting to come in good numbers off the normal migration points.  On Sunday we managed 10 fish in three hours; 3 Smallies all 2lbs 9oz, Half Dozen Largemouth, and one Northern.  Smallies have been most active while fishing aggressively, and chasing reaction lures all the way back to the boat.

Hit the usual spots, and fish like you know the fish are there.  Water Temp doesn’t lie – it’s game time!

“Game time!” pretty much covers it.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley sent this update on largemouth bass:

Hey Dale,

Here is a recap of this week’s fishing.
Area lakes- recent rains have decreased water clarity to about half a foot. That has slowed the bass bite. Bass can still be caught shallow using   lipless  crankbaits and flick shake senkos. Overcast days they preferred the fast moving bait.
Heading to Heidecke on Friday. I’ll report back to you on that trip.
Ken “Husker” O’Malley
Husker Outdoors
Waterwerks fishing team


Click here to find river closures listed by the Illinois DNR. Go to http://water.weather.gov//ahps2/index.php?wfo=lot to check area water levels and projection. To get to more specific gauges, even on creeks, in Illinois, go to http://waterdata.usgs.gov/il/nwis/current/?type=flow


Rob Abouchar sent this report:

Hi Dale

Braidwood continues to crank out good limits of fish for anglers using a variety of techniques.  Flipping, pitching jigs and plastics remains good.  Don’t overlook fast boving baits for reaction strikes.  Squarebills and bladed jigs.  The Happy Hookers Angling Club Postponned it’s tournamnent for the Exelon Fishing For A Cure event.  The weather was something else but fishing was awesome with lots of fish weighed.  This year the tournament benefitted Ronald McDonald House Chrities Chicago (RMHC).  The event was won by the team of Tom Ondras and Kevin Rebouche.  The event raised $55,000 this year.  Another aAnglers Choice event will be held this week on Sunday May 20th.  Will this be the tournament to get in the money?
Tight Lines

Check with Jon’s Bait Shop–(815) 237-2822–in South Wilmington.


No update.


NOTE: As of today, there is no wake from the Algonquin dam to the Wisconsin line. Check updates at Fox Waterway Agency–(847) 587-8540.

Staff at Triangle Sports and Marine said said bluegill are moving shallow to spawn; walleye are best on northern lakes; white and yellow bass are best on Pistakee and Channel; crappie starting to move out.

STRATTON LOCK AND DAM: Open daily 8 a.m.-midnight through Sept. 30. Click here for more info on the lock and dam.

FOX WATERWAY AGENCY: Go to Fox Waterway Agency or call (847) 587-8540.


Capt. Pat Harrison at Pat Harrison Outdoors sent this update:

Chicago River and Lake Michigan Report

 Well finally last week I started to get out a bit. Monday I spent the Day with Captain Jerry up in Kenosha Harbor. We setup to pull some boards with dodger and fly setups. Boated some nice Coho I brought some home for the family. We fished 10 to 22 f.o.w.  The alewives were in large pods on the surface and the Coho were in after them. A Big Thank You to Captain Jerry to the spending the day showing  me some tricks of the trade, and catching fish doing it.

 Spent some time on the River Wednesday got a couple small fish surface temps are still down 43 to 48. Rain and wind are keeping things cold.  Saturday I met Oscar Santos Kayak Fisher on the river we spent a few hours checking spots Oscar set the hook on a fish that put a big bend in the Grandt Rod fought the fish for quite awhile when we got it closer to the boat it pulled off we next got to see it but the fight was awesome. Water was cold wind was cold and then it started to rain so we headed in.

 I picked Oscar up at the dock at Lawrence’s Fish House on the River. BBQ Pontoons dock there They are under New Ownership I talked with the new owner for quite awhile. He is going to do some positive things with the company. He gives his clients a 10 minute Rules of the River talk before they move the boats on the water. We talked about fishing on the river and he said he was will to let Anglers rent his Pontoons to fish the river. This is pretty cool he said he would do it as long as they stayed clean. He doesn’t let his Pontoons go out through the locks that have to stay on the river.

 I have a few trips booked for this week and a lot to catch up on due to the rough start to the season. I’m out a couple times this week then Saturday I’m on Bangs Lake for the 3rd Annual Big Bass Tournament sponsored by Lake County Water Sports out of Lindy’s Landing there’s still time to register.  Then Sunday I am on the Chain of Lakes in Antioch Il. Out of the Thirsty Turtle the Take A Vet Fishing Event  this is always an Outstanding Event, Come on out and spend some time Thanking Our Veterans.

Till next week tight lines Big Fish and Bigger Smiles.

 Capt. Pat


Guide Dave Duwe sent this update:

Delavan Lake Fishing Report 5/13/18 through 5/20/18

Fishing in the shallows is very good. The fish are all pre-spawn. The bluegills and crappies are starting to show up in the shallows. They are starting to be found on hard sand bottoms away from the channels.

Largemouth bass can be caught on in the shallow spawning flats approximately 2-5 ft depth range. Look for the fish by Lake Lawn or by the Highland bay or Viewcrest Bay. I’ve been casting a Texas rigged or Wacky rigged weightless Senko. Green pumpkin is the only color I’ve tied on. For live bait, split shot rigged nightcrawlers have been very effective.

The smallmouth bass are with the largemouth bass in the shallows. The best location has been by Lake Lawn or by Del Mar. Split shot rigged nightcrawlers are working well. They are found in the 4-5 ft depth range until the water warms.

Northern Pike have been kind of slow. The water is still a bit cold for the deep weedline bite. I’ve been dragging suckers around with very limited success.

Crappie fishing has been good and getting better. Most of the fish I’ve been catching are in 6-8 ft of water right on the weedline. I’ve been casting small purple plastics on a 1/32 oz Arkie jig. Look for the fish by Browns Channel or west of Willow Point and by the Village Supper Club

The Bluegills are in the shallows in 2-3 ft of water. The channels are holding a lot of small fish but you need to move around to find the bigger fish. Most of the bigger fish are by Lake Lawn Lodget and by Willow Point. Wax worms or small red worms fished with a bobber are producing most of the action.

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


No update.


HENNEPIN-HOPPER NOTE: Fishing reopened Click here for regulations and other information.

EVERGREEN: Here are the bait shop and boat rental hours through Memorial Day weekend:

The hours will be as follows:  Bait Shop: 8 a.m.- 4 p.m. 7 days/week.
Boat Rental:  8 a.m.- 4 p.m. Friday, Sat. & Sun.

SPRING LAKE NOTE: Both the north and south lakes have two regulation changes. Largemouth and smallmouth bass now have a protected slot of 12-18 inches; the daily bag is three bass either under 12 inches or over 18 or some combination of three over or under. Also, the daily limit of 25 crappie may include no more than 10 crappie 10 inches or longer.

POWERTON: Open 6 a.m.-6 p.m. LAKE SHELBYVILLE:  Check with Ken Wilson of Ken Wilson Guide Service. SOUTHERN ILLINOIS: Check with Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing 


River is projected to be around flood stage at Montgomery.


No update.


Dave Duwe sent this:

Lake Geneva Fishing Reports 5/13/18 through 5/20/18

Due to the cool spring, fishing on Geneva has remained relatively slow. Most of the action has been coming in shallow waters, 3-4 ft deep.

Largemouth bass have been biting in Geneva Bay, Trinkes and Abbey Harbor. Most of the fish are coming in and around the boats. Use a split shot rig nightcrawler or Senko in Green pumpkin. Some consistently warm weather will turn on the fish and make them more active.

Smallmouth bass have been really spotty. They are suspending out with the pods of bait fish in 12-15 ft of water. The ones that are being caught are biting on a small hair jig or a Kalin’s grub fished on a darter head. The best color is smoke and black or avocado pepper. Look for the fish by Elgin Club or by Crawford’s bar.

Crappies have been hit or miss. One day they are in by the boat docks thick and the next they’ve moved into deeper water. Look for the fish by the Geneva Inn or by the Williams Bay piers. Most of the fish are being caught on slip bobbers and small fat head minnows.

Bluegills, like the bass, are searching for the warmest water. They can be caught in Trinkes Bay or in Abbey Harbor. The variable water temperatures have also made them spotty to catch. The best approach is a small leaf worm fished underneath a bobber.

Northern Pike have been caught in the shallow weed flats. Look for the fish in 6-8 ft of water in Trinkes bay or Williams Bay. They can be caught on shallow diving crankbaits in perch pattern or slowly trolling large spinner baits in white. The best speed is about 1 ½ mph.

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


No update from Lance LaVine at Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay.

Click here to see the Wisconsin DNR’s Lake Michigan Fishing Report/


Traditionally, this is around the prime week. Hours are 6 a.m. to sunset daily.


At LaSalle, the river is projected to crest tomorrow under flood stage.

For Ottawa area, check B & B Live Bait at (815) 433-0432.


Access points for Trail Creek can be found on the Trail Creek Access Map. Access points for Little Cal and Salt Creek, which are closer to Chicago than Trail Creek, may be found at littlecal_saltcreek_access.




Kyle Lund messaged:

Kankakee river update. For the most part the smallies are wraping up their spawn and we are starting to see an increase in feeding activity. They are holding in post spawn areas and those are basically the same areas they stage in before the spawn. The smallie bite should be back in full swing by weeks end. Catfish are still eating like crazy. Day or night. I took my first night trip of the year with a long time fishing buddy that moved to Michigan. We used cut bait and caught them moving out of the deeper water on a slow shallow flat. Picked up 10 in a few hours of fishing. Most eaters but did get a pair over 8lbs. And one just over 9. Another target option as I mentioned last week are the carp/roughfish. They have also been on a feeding frenzy. Got a report and some photos from brothers Tom and Tim Brandenburg and what was supposed to be a relaxing day of fishing turned into work with so many fish being caught. Most anglers swear by a top secret homemade bait and a hair rig but the baits the are selling pre made from the store will work just fine on a small treble hook and a slip sinker rig. Find some lazy deeper water bring your favorite beverage, some lunch, and a comfy chair and you will have a blast. River is in great shape level and clarity wise. There is some grass and moss that we could do without bit not a big problem yet. Get out and get after it. See you on the water!

I like to hear about catfish bite beginning, it feels like summer is really near.


Click here to see the Wisconsin DNR’s Lake Michigan Fishing Report. It generally comes out Tuesday.


Click here for bag limits and prospects for the season from the Ohio DNR. The Ohio DNR has general Lake Erie info and a fishing report.


Tom Platt at Henry’s Sports and Bait summed things up this way:

It’s been a weird past few days. Busy yet slow around Chicago. Lots of people made the trip to Wisconsin for white bass and walleye. Seeing bass and northern on the lake front. Crappie are up shallow in the preserves. Guys aren’t afraid of this warm rain, and when they so suck it up it’s been paying off for them.

Capt. Bob Poteshman at Confusion Charters said weather is impacting fishing at North Point (muddy and floating stuff), but coho, kings, lakers and steelhead are good around the Wisconsin-Illinois line from Beach Park to Kenosha. Best depth are area varies even within a day. “Set up in close and troll until you find them,” Poteshman said. “Find them and stay on them, because they are there.”

Chicago is slow, some lakers and coho in 40-60 feet.

Stacey Greene  at Park Bait reported weather limited effort, but there are a few steelhead and coho being caught around Montrose; some smallmouth around Diversey and Montrose.

Capt. Scott R. Wolfe of  School of Fish Charters sent this:

Hi Dale –

Another week with more cancelled trips than trips run. Fishing in Waukegan was good when we could get out. Good mixed species catches.  The chinook are definitely big this year. Lots of good lakers and coho too. We have been fishing close to the harbor. Some days as shallow as 25 feet, sometimes out to 100 with 40 to 60 feet being the most frequently productive. Baits should be run in two areas in the water column.  Peanut flys behind 00 Luhr Jensen red dodgers off yellowbirds up high.  Jimmy Fly Lime Rickey pattern has been best.  The second area is the bottom 10 feet trolling spoons with UV Warrior spoons in blue/green aqua patterns the best, Blue Dolphin, Green Dolphin, Hey Babe are names of the best patterns. The fish are feeding on bugs near the surface and gobies on the bottom with  very little in the mid water column. Other boats did well on meat rigs on the bottom with Musselhead Tackle rigs behind 11 inch Coyote, Bechhold or ProTroll flashers. Wonderbread and Kevorkian (purple) have been best.
Out of Chicago – sorry no report. Our partner boat didn’t make it out and I didn’t hear from anyone else.

Capt. Scott R. Wolfe

Manipulator/ School of Fish Charters


No update from Scott Pirnstill at Cozy Corner Cottages608-304-0371.




Darryl Turner sent this update on blues:

Good evening Mr bowman another  good day at Lasalle caught 24 last Sunday largest 17 the others 13 8 6 and 3’s Today 23 and 17  9 6 5 and 3. Pounders  22 ..3 to 5 pounders on the bobber the other 11 on the bottom total of 33 fish

Open daily 6 a.m.-sunset.


Check updates from D & S Bait on Facebook.


Should be prime time for Mazonia. Check with Jon Meder at Jon’s Bait Shop–(815) 237-2822–in South Wilmington.


Check with Mike Mladeik at Mike Mladenik Guide Service.


Click here to see the Wisconsin DNR’s Lake Michigan Fishing Report. It is geneally out Tuesdays.


MINOCQUA:  Kurt Justice of Kurt’s Island Sport Shop sent this:

With temps fluctuating from day time highs of upper 70’s at times, to night time lows in the 30’s, it has been tough getting a handle on patterning the post-spawn fishing for walleyes as well as the pre-spawn patterns for Crappie.  But as the post-spawn habits of Walleyes, on most lakes, is just beginning, thanks to a late ice out, we actually have spawning Walleyes on some of our larger lakes days after Mother’s Day.

Yellow Perch:  Very Good – This early spawner is showing up in shallows but with bellys full of wigglers (May Fly larvae) meaning they have moved out to the mud for a while to gorge on bugs before heading to shallows (pay attention Walleye anglers!)

Crappie:  Good – Starting to stage up in shallows on warm afternoons.  So far a lot of in and out due to cold nights.  Small minnows, Gapen Fresh Water Shrimp or tiny hair jigs under small floats in 2-6’ of water.

Northern Pike:  Good – Actively taking chubs and fats jigged for Walleyes.  Swimbaits, shallow running stickbaits and larger Beetle spins worked over any existing green weeds.

Walleye:  Good-Fair – Post-spawn activity in a lull as anglers looking for the fish they had last week not finding much.  Walleyes on most lakes have moved out over mud, but should be retuning to shallow weeds as bugs, leeches and minnows fill in around emerging green weeds.  On larger lakes, spawning in full force.  Chubs (if available), suckers good choice on Lindy rigs, 1/8 oz jigs.

Bluegill:  Not much to report.

Largemouth Bass:  Fair-Good – Searching warmer shallows with soft bottom muck and emerging weeds.

Lots of clear skies of late have not helped.  High temps in 70’s follows by nights in 40’s, and even 30’s, making for shifting fish.  The warm shallows (up to low 60’s in some areas) and sun should have weeds growing quickly.  Lots of “Nice” weather in forecast.

Kurt Justice
Kurt’s Island Sport Shop
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EAGLE RIVER: B+L, from reports from Colin Crawford of Colin Crawford Guide Service, for the Eagle River Chamber of Commerce sent this:

The beautiful weather continued this past weekend in Eagle River. The Chain is open water and temperatures are ranging from 43 degrees – 58 degrees. Bass fishing is catch and release from May 5 – June 15, with the season opener being June 16. Panfish are becoming more active as the waters begin to warm. Perch are almost ready to spawn, as well.

Make sure you are up to date with all openers. Musky and northern seasons do not open until May 26.

Many Walleye were still full of eggs, while others spawned out and the feed bag was on. They will finish up spawning this week.  As the water keeps warming up, weeds will start to become more into play. Keep your eyes on your locator.  Jig and minnow combo will still be the choice for a while.

Perch are being caught on jigs and slip bobber rigs alike.

Crappies are starting to stage closer to spawning areas on the lakes that are in the warmer temperatures,


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

Good salmon action around Michigan city peirhead trolling in 35 to 50 ft of water spoons and spindoctors and flys best fishing 20 to 30 down

Lots of kings in the high teens being had
St Joe Michigan straight out of harbor in 90 to 130 ft of water lots lots of coho and kings for weeks now plugs spoons meat rigs best baits
Willow slough giving up ok gills to groups moving around and working pockets beemoth redworms and crickets best baits
Catfish starting to go decent in burns ditch and deep river cut skipjack and sonnys stinkbait best sonnys is now named triple s same people making it same everything just different name and yes slezs has tons of it

Like I said above, good to hear about catfish reports. Feels like summer coming.


No update.


No update.


The Wisconsin DNR’s Root River Report restarted. It is usually out Tuesday or Wednesday. Click here to see it.


Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said  they are “killing them 80-150 feet,’’ it’s a mixed bag of salmon and trout; river is high and dirty.


Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR.


Clint Sands at Lakeside said crappie are still spawning shallow; bass are near to being finished; the muskie bite is on (more than a dozen recently); catfish are improving; weeds still need to grow more for a better walleye bite; two feet of visibility Tuesday (that will probably drop some).

Lakeside–(815) 824-2581–is open 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Park hours 6 a.m.- 10 p.m. The restaurant is open weekends until Memorial Day when it will be open daily.


The Wisconsin DNR’s Lake Michigan Fishing Report restarted. Click here to see it. Streams flow info is at http://waterdata.usgs.gov/wi/nwis/current?type=flow.


No update.


Check with River’s Edge.


No update.


No update.


FREMONT: Curt Pazdro messaged that walleye were going, but not whtie bass yet:

Small pink jigs with a crawler were the ticket today drifting
A lot or walleye still in the river system
Caught a tagged one