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Perch, pier passes, ice creeping closer: Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report

Resized/Sun-Times

May the perch fishing on the Chicago lakefront may as good as the play of the Chicago Bears; photo taken from Northerly Island on Nov. 12, 2018.
Dale Bowman/Sun-Times

Perch came in better last week and by the weekend were going up and down the lakefront, so obviously that and the beginning of ice building to the north lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

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

LAKEFRONT PERCH

Perch are in on the Chicago lakefront. The best catches from shore have been at Navy Pier and Steelworkers Park; boaters are doing best in the Calumet River and Cal Harbor. It is the beginning, so some days are better than others and size varies. It is the focus of my Wednesday column.

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Dennis “Bigbo” Ocasio caught these quality perch on the Cal.
Provided

Dennis “Bigbo” Ocasio messaged the photo above and this note on Monday:

Hey Dale its Dennis Ocasio this was my catch from earlier today down on the Calumet River

Henry’s Sports and Bait (M-F 6:30 a.m.-7 p.m., Sat. 6 a.m.-7 p.m., Sun. 6 a.m.-5 p.m.) had people lined up buying perch stuff and minnows on Monday, one of those signs of perch being in around the Chicago lakefront.

Stacey Greene texted this on hours and how long Park Bait will be open:

I’m also planning on staying open until the beginning of December and then maybe even a little longer if the weather holds time will tell I’m planning on 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. now but if the weather is bad I’ll close earlier cuz it’s only me in here sometimes it just gets too cold and I can’t handle it

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

Lots of perch being caught in river cal park xl fatheads best bait
. . .
Slezs will be open 5 am till noon on thanksgiving  please pass it on

The Anglers Outlet in Oak Forest has these hours: M-T 7 a.m.-6 p.m., F 7-7, Sat. 6-5, Sun. 6-3.

PIER PASSES

Selected piers in the Chicago harbors–Montrose, Belmont, Diversey, DuSable, Burnham, Jackson–open Thursday, Nov. 15, to fishermen with a pier pass. The $6 passes will be available at Henry’s Sports and Bait and soon will be from the Chicago Park District at Northerly Island (10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday).

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Sample pier pass.
Provided by Chicago Park District

PARKING PASSES

Passes ($10 for two months) for parking at the two small fishermen’s lots at DuSable and Burnham harbors are available at Henry’s Sports and Bait and soon at Northerly Island (10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday).

ICE FISHING

Up in the North Woods, ice fishing is near (a few already trying on thin ice on smaller lakes). Kurt Justice of Kurt’s Island Sport Shop in Minocqua, Wis. emailed this:

The cold has come to the Northwoods and winter’s icy grip is not far behind!

Temps in the teens have helped push lakes from a surface high of 40 degrees down to just about ready to get solid!  The pond behind our shop froze up Friday (11/9) and typically that means 7-10 days till Lake Minocqua locks up.  Some bays already skimming over.

. . .

Watch our social media sites for ice reports as these night time temps in low teens will start freezing things up.

Kurt Justice – Kurt’s Island Sport Shop
www.kurtsislandsports.com
Like us on FaceBook

AREA LAKES

Shell ice formed around some lakes and ponds, but it is not going to lead to ice fishing nearby any time soon. Fishing is mainly crappie and waiting on real ice.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley sent this report:

Hey Dale,

Here is a recap of this past week’s fishing.
Area lakes-crashing water temps and winds made for a difficult week. Best time was late afternoon with light winds for bass. Work a TRD slowly over the tops of weed clumps. Slight twitches of the bait then poping it off the weeds produced a reaction strike. Panfish were slow.
TTYL
Ken “Husker” O’Malley
Husker Outdoors
Waterwerks fishing team

AREA RIVERS

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

BRAIDWOOD LAKE

Closed for the year.

CALUMET SYSTEM

It’s one of the perch hotspots, especially for boaters. See above.

CHAIN O’LAKES

Art Frisell at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said that there is some open-water fishing and it is best to focus on main lake points toward deeper water for walleye (moving up evenings) and crappie on fatheads; muskie are fair, best on suckers.

Check updates at Fox Waterway Agency or (847) 587-8540 for more information.

STRATTON LOCK AND DAM: The lock is closed through April 30. Click here for more info on the lock and dam.

CHICAGO RIVER

No update this week from Capt. Pat Harrison at Pat Harrison Outdoors.

DELAVAN LAKE, WISCONSIN

Tim Baker sent this:

The Timmy Bakes Report

Lake Delavan Report

The fishing reports have slowed down which may be attributed to cooler weather and increased hunting activity among anglers. The reports I’ve collected indicate a tough bite with limited success among the anglers I’ve heard reports from. The fish are starting to really settle into their winter routines so you can likely find them in the same areas you do during ‘First Ice’. Live bait on jigs or under slip bobber rigs is good live bait choices. A blade bait, jigging rap, or spoon would be good casting options for this time of year. We aren’t that far from Ice Fishing in Wisconsin with skim ice being reported across the state.

DES PLAINES RIVER

Tim Baker sent this:

The Timmy Bakes Report

Des Plaines River Report

No major reports this week but water temps continue to fall on the Dirty D with the latest report showing temps in the mid-40’s. In my experiences, river fish tend to be more aggressive in the cool water so I would not be afraid to throw moving baits like a lipless crankbait or spinnerbaits. Inline spinnerbaits are deadly on the DPR, especially in cool water. A size 3 or 4 Mepps Aglia is a great choice but make sure to bring a spare, there are a ton of snags! Tight lines!

DOWNSTATE NOTES

LAKE SHELBYVILLE:  Check with Ken Wilson of Ken Wilson Guide ServiceSOUTHERN ILLINOIS: Check with Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing.

Larry Dozard of Larry’s Fishing Hole sent this update on closures and fall/winter hours at some Downstate sites:

BANNER MARSH:
* THIS AREA Will CLOSE TO BOAT FISHING on Oct. 17th. With the Last Day to Boat Fish being Oct. 16th
AND BANK FISHING ONLY ALLOWED AFTER 1PM but NO FISHING ALLOWED in EAST POINT ACCESS AREA, 
(lakes to the East) which is CLOSED TO ALL FISHING to provide a GOOSE REFUGE AREA during season
CLINTON LAKE:
An easterly area of Clinton Lake (The Waterfowl Refuge Area) between the DeWitt Bridge East (CH14) 
and the Rt. 48 Bridge . . . remains Closed typically until April 1st.
COFFEEN LAKE:
During the Central Zone waterfowl season: No fishing north of the railroad tracks (upper pool) 
until after 1pm daily through Jan. 31st
DOUBLE T STATE FISH and WILDLIFE AREA:
* THIS LAKE IS CLOSED TO FISHING – . . . till Feb. 1st
EMIQUON PRESERVE:
No boating, fishing or ice skating access before 12:00 pm during waterfowl hunting season.
Oct. 27 – Jan. 31
Lake users should be aware that hunting might occur on the Preserve other times as well.
EVERGREEN LAKE:
– A SOUTHERN PART OF EVERGREEN LAKE – AROUND DEER ISLAND and ALL OF SIX-MILE CREEK BAY
 IS CLOSED TO GAS from Oct. 15th through JAN. 1st to allow resting areas for migratory waterfowl.  
YOU ARE ALLOWED TO STILL RUN A TROLLING MOTOR ONLY IN THESE AREAS.
HENNEPIN-HOPPER LAKES:  * Lakes are CLOSED for season.. And will be Open spring 2019.
McMASTER LAKE at – SNAKEDEN HOLLOW:
Lake will CLOSE TO FISHING on Oct 15th . . . Lake will Re-Open on February 1st.
NEWTON LAKE:
As written in the fishing regs booklet : * The cold arm of Newton Lake shall be CLOSED daily 
 from one-half hour before sunrise until 1:00 pm to all fishing and boat traffic except for 
legal waterfowl hunters during waterfowl season commencing with regular duck season through 
the close of the Canada goose and regular duck season.
* For here – Regular South Waterfowl Season for 2018: Nov. 10 – Jan. 31
PRAIRIE LAKE in Jim Edgar/ Panther Creek State F&W Area:
Lake Partial Closures during Waterfowl Season from Nov. 1st to Jan. 15th 
Lake access is CLOSED until after 12:01 PM on Wednesday & Saturday.
POWERTON LAKE:
*- Lake Will RE-OPEN to Shore Fishing on Dec. 24th
– but – Will Remain CLOSED TO BOAT FISHING Until Feb. 15th
RICE LAKE: 
Will Re-Open at end of Duck & Goose season.
SANGCHRIS LAKE:
* THE WEST & EAST ARMS OF LAKE and Small AREA NEAR DAM WILL CLOSE DURING WATERFOWL SEASON to boat traffic . . . through Jan. 31, 2018
SPRING LAKE (South & North):
Last Day of Boat Fishing in Hunting Areas is Oct. 19th 
 As – THIS AREA will CLOSE TO BOAT FISHING in Hunting Area on Oct. 20th
— with BANK FISHING ALLOWED ONLY AFTER 1pm–
– AREAS THAT REMAIN OPEN TO BOATS ALL DAY ARE NORTH OF MAPLE ISLAND with ramp at 
 north end at the Sky Ranch Road launch and IN PIKE HOLE with carry in boats —
and Shore Fishing is allowed in entire lake after 1pm in Hunting areas or at boat ramps all day.

FOX RIVER: WESTERN SUBURBS

Pete Lamar sent this update (or relief from cabin fever):

Hi Dale,

Nothing spectacular to report-more a case of cabin fever defeating good judgement.  I hit several spots far upstream on the Fox tribs Sunday afternoon (when things had “warmed” up to the highs for the day).  Not much going on.  Only a few small sunfish landed.  I had one smallmouth hooked; there was some weight to him, but he came right to the surface, fought sluggishly and threw the hook.  Water levels were normal for this time of year; it was so clear I could see straight to the bottom regardless of depth.  I did find some likely feeding lies for 6-7 months from now when the fish get active again.

Pete

FOX RIVER, WISCONSIN

No update.

GENEVA LAKE, WISCONSIN

I could use somebody to give winter reports.

GREEN BAY/STURGEON BAY

No update this week from Lance LaVine at Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay. Click here to see the Wisconsin DNR’s Lake Michigan Fishing Report.

HEIDECKE LAKE

Closed for year.

ILLINOIS RIVER (UPDATED)

As of Friday, Barto Landing has reopened, according to Bill Guerrini of Spring Valley Walleye Club. On fishing and conditions, check with B&B Live Bait in Ottawa–(815) 433-0432.

INDIANA STREAMS (LAKE MICHIGAN TRIBUTARIES)

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.

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

. . .
Winter run steelhead will just get better the next few weeks voodoo jigs tipped with waxworms under Bloodrun floats will do the trick

. . .

Slezs will be open 5 am till noon on thanksgiving  please pass it on

KANKAKEE RIVER

Kyle Lund sent the fishing report below:

Good morning Dale! Kankakee river is in great shape. Water levels are just about perfect. Water temp is sitting at 38° as of 7am today. It should come up to the low to mid 40’s with the warm up towards the end of the week. I’m sure everyone is on the edge of their seats waiting to hear if I caught the walleye that got away. I’m sad to report that I did not. I did however have a very good couple of days before the cold front came through. Smallmouth have slowed down considerably but can still be caught out in deeper pools. We should get one more good window later this week into next week. Try smaller swim baits on a jig heavy enough to get down close to the bottom in swift current and fan cast the deeper pools. Most productive pools will have medium to large size boulders for the fish to use as ambush points and resting areas. Onto my focus for the past week. Mr marble eyes. Thursday we fished from 3pm till about 30 mins past dark. Throwing a paddle tail swim bait out into the deeper fast water and letting swing into the current seam on the edge of the drop off where it met the flat they use for feeding. No fish until the was behind the tree tops and then the switch flipped and it was on for the hour. Landed and released 7 walleye that were under the 18″ slot and then just after dark I danced with 23 3/4″ walleye that hit on the edge and dragged me into the current. It got my heart pumping and mind racing for a split second thinking it could be the giant I was hoping for. Then I remembered I had 6lb mono on a ML action rod. Still an awsome fight. Excited from the previous night I headed back out in the morning before the sun was up. Snow and frozen guides made it somewhat of a tough morning. Still managed 2 fish right at blue light. Moved around till noon and called it a day. Fishing shut down after the cold front but seemed to be picking up a bit Sunday and Monday. A fellow angler on the Kankakke River Rats fishing page shared a photo of a 28.5 in walleye taken on Sunday. The Walleye bite should be fairly consistent into Thanksgiving week. Pre frontal and 2 days post front being best during low light hours. This is by far my favorite part of the year. From chasing perch in the harbors of the big lake, fall walleye on the Kank and traveling to the northwoods of Wisconsin in search of first ice excited is an understatement. Stay warm and and stay safe and go catch some fish!
“If fishing don’t get you excited there is something wrong with you” – Mike Iaconelli

Lund and Iaconelli got that right.

Lund then sent this sequence of photos and messages:

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Walleye from the Kankakee River in November.
Provided

The one I was excited to share

Until this was sent to me. Nick Scheppler with a 28.5 in Kankakee River walleye
Resized/Sun-Times

28.5-inch walleye, caught by Nick Scheppler, from the Kankakee River in November

KENOSHA, WISCONSIN

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

LAKE ERIE

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.

LAKEFRONT

See perch at top. There’s a few lakers and trout around.

SALMON SNAGGING: Snagging season is open at four spots on the Illinois lakefront. Here is the word from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources:

Snagging for chinook and coho salmon only is permitted from the following Lake Michigan shoreline areas from October 1 through December 31; however, no snagging is allowed at any time within 200 feet of a moored watercraft or as posted:

A) Lincoln Park Lagoon from the Fullerton Avenue Bridge to the southern end of the Lagoon.

B) Waukegan Harbor (in North Harbor basin only).

C) Winnetka Power Plant discharge area.

D) Jackson Harbor (Inner and Outer Harbors)

LaSALLE LAKE

Closed to fishing.

MADISON CHAIN, WISCONSIN

Check updates from D & S Bait on Facebook.

MAZONIA

Closed to fishing, except for Monster Lake at Mazonia South, which is open year-round to fishing.

MENOMINEE RIVER, WISCONSIN

Mike Mladeik at Mike Mladenik Guide Service is done for the year. And ice is building.

MILWAUKEE HARBOR

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

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

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

The cold has come to the Northwoods and winter’s icy grip is not far behind!

Temps in the teens have helped push lakes from a surface high of 40 degrees down to just about ready to get solid!  The pond behind our shop froze up Friday (11/9) and typically that means 7-10 days till Lake Minocqua locks up.  Some bays already skimming over.

Musky:  Good-Fair – Not many brave (read:crazy) souls ventured out last week due to high winds, low temps and generally miserable conditions!  What few anglers did try had best results on suckers as the bite was sluggish, with fish just “mouthing” suckers.

Little else to report as few anglers to report from.  Rut still going on, so our early deer opener should go well.  Four-six inches of snow on ground to improve visibility.

Watch our social media sites for ice reports as these night time temps in low teens will start freezing things up.

Kurt Justice – Kurt’s Island Sport Shop
www.kurtsislandsports.com
Like us on FaceBook

NORTHWEST INDIANA

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

Lots of perch being caught in river cal park xl fatheads best bait

Crappie still good for the guys that go around 249 bridge down from portage public marina best spot fishing docks and long jams minnows and or jigs with waxworms best
When lake allows to get out lake trout around reef area out of portage gives up them on blade baits and crankbaits
Winter run steelhead will just get better the next few weeks voodoo jigs tipped with waxworms under Bloodrun floats will do the trick
Slezs will be open 5 am till noon on thanksgiving  please pass it on

ROCK RIVER, ILLINOIS

No update.

ROCK RIVER, WISCONSIN

No update.

ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN

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

ST. JOSEPH, MICHIGAN

Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said there are steelhead from mid-river to Berrien Springs and there’s been a few whitefish off the piers when weather allows. That last phrase I suspect is the key part.

ST. JOSEPH RIVER, INDIANA

Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR.

SHABBONA LAKE

Lakeside–(815) 824-2581–is closed for the season, boat rentals are by appointment only in November.

Park hours are 8 a.m.- 5 p.m. through Jan. 31.

SOUTHEAST WISCONSIN LAKEFRONT

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.

WINNEBAGO SYSTEM, WISCONSIN

No update.

WISCONSIN DELLS

Check with River’s Edge.

WISCONSIN RIVER

Tim Baker sent this:

The Timmy Bakes Report

Wisco River Musky Mission

I spent the weekend fishing near the Wisconsin River attempting to bring in my last Musky of the 2018 season. The bitter cold and high winds made casting a challenge as my guides and the braided line were continually freezing, but I was able to manage one bite.

I fished a rubber swimbait on my casting rod, and rigged a sucker under a float on the second set-up (Wisconsin allows 3 rods but I find 2 rods to be enough for Musky). The one and only bite came off a live bait rod, it hit two hours in but the battle was short lived. The fish jumped twice before spitting my hook, which was unusual but welcomed nonetheless. I know fish always seem bigger after they come off but this thing looked every bit of 40+ inches.  I hope to get out for one more chance at 2018 musky but realistically, the fish I lost on Saturday may have been my last shot.

One of the biggest truths of fishing, they always seem bigger when they come off.

WOLF LAKE

No update.

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

No update.