Vague hints of spring come. After this winter, I will grasp at vague hints. And those spring hints lead the Midwest Fishing Report.
Guys were walking into Henry’s
Tuesday to buy things for powerlining for salmon. They must have been reading the weather forecast for later this week with a forecast for a warm-up and rain.
Early Tuesday, George Watford, the 20-something from the Northwest Side, texted: “Caught my first musky @ busse today! woot! these are mean fish he took a 3/8 oz bass pro white spinnerbait. yea! spring is here!”
He followed that shortly with this photo of the 2-foot or so muskie he quickly released.
I’ll go with “yea! spring is here!,” though I fear we are jumping the gun a bit.
This is the extended online version of the MFR, which appears in the Sun-Times on Wednesdays. Normally, I post the online MFR by Wednesday morning.
If you have suggestions, post in the comments section or let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nowhere is the transition more obvious than on area lakes. The fishable ice line, which had dropped south toward central Illinois again over the weekend, will rapidly move north of the city over the next few days.
By the weekend, open water fishing should be much more of an option area-wide.
For an overview of nearby river conditions, go to this NWS site.
It’s spring so all are high, but all are dropping and looking relatively stable and decent for the weekend.
BIG GREEN LAKE, WISCONSIN
For guide Mike Norton’s report, go to www.biggreenlakefishing.com, then click on fishing, then lake report.
CHAIN O’LAKES AREA
Depending on the weather, this might be a weekend to call first. The Fox Waterway Agency has warned the fluctuating water levels may leave gaps between ice and water. Be aware particularly of current areas, but there is plenty of ice, probably enough to hold into next week in spots.
Bluegill remain good shallow, Triangle said Channel is best. Stay shallow for the walleye, but be careful on Marie around current areas. Crappie are good, mornings and evenings, Channel or Catherine are best.
More Chain info at www.foxwaterway.state.il.us.
COOLING LAKES/STRIP PITS
BRAIDWOOD/MAZONIA: Braidwood reopened Sunday, but the cold weather has limited effort the first few days, especially the fog for boaters. Hours are 6 a.m.-6 p.m. until Sunday when closing changes to 7 p.m. Site staff reported fair catches of undersized bass and lots of small catfish. LaSALLE: Opens March 15. In March, the lake is open Wednesday through Sunday only. HEIDECKE: Reopens April 1, unless ice complicates it.
DELAVAN/GENEVA LAKES AREA, WISCONSIN
Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle reported some big crappie in front on Trinke’s and decent lakers on Geneva. And crappie and bluegill remain good on the west end of Delavan.
SHELBYVILLE: For more, call (217) 774-2020. EVERGREEN: Mike Steffa said shell ice covered most of the lake, but he expected it to be gone over the next few days. If there is a fishing report, it is posted here. POWERTON: Winter hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
FOX RIVER: WESTERN SUBURBS
River is high, but slowly falling. I could use a hard-core fisherman for weekly reports.
ILLINOIS RIVER: STARVED ROCK AREA
The river dropped below flood stage at LaSalle overnight, and should continue a steady drop. Best option is Ottawa.
The Indiana side is generally in flood stage and likely to stay that way, the Illinois is high but very fishable. Along that line, Ed Mullady suggested:
If the weather holds as predicted this should be a great weekend for Kankakee River fishing! In Indiana, some nice walleye have been caught. This includes one I just tracked down today from Joe and Penny Bosivert at Greenwood Bait Shop, on south side of river near English Lake. This was a10 lb. 4 oz. walleye caught on a Jig Grub by JOSH CHAMBER . The fish was 29″ long and caught from the Point part of the Kankakee in late February. Smaller walleye have been caught in both Indiana and Illinois throughout the river, mostly on jig and minnow, jig and grub, jig and twister tails, In both Indiana and Illinois. Smallmouth Bass should be hitting good on top water baits if water clears, crankbaits, spinners, imitation crawfish and frogs, live minnows. Pike should be caught now in both IN and IL on *minnows *Doctor Spoons *large spinners.
LAKE ERIE: PORT CLINTON
For Ohio DNR report go to wildohio.com and or call (888) HOOKFISH.
CHICAGO: Weather has fishermen anticipating shoreline salmon by the weekend. There’s some perch at Navy Pier and in the river at 92nd. Mik-Lurch said there’s still decent action at the stateline power plant with crawlers, Little Cleos and Rapalas, but you must come in from the Illinois side.
MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN
D&S Bait said ice is about 15 inches and should hold. The best panfish action remains on Monona Bay and Waubesa. For D&S Bait, go to dsbait.com
Minocqua guide Kurt Justice from Kurt’s Island Sport Shop sent this:
The gamefish season is over up here. All efforts for the next two months will be focused on panfish. Perch: Fair-Good. As reported last week, weather has had a lot to do with the bite. Lots of high pressure with occasional dips in the barometer meant lots of neutral fish with occasional spikes of hot action. On days of high pressure it’s most obvious with mud flat fish. Anglers with flashers watch picky fish move through but show little interest. Try to fish as small as possible during these times, even using a tiny #14 rocker tipped with a single red spike. It takes a long time to drop, but sometimes it’s the only way to catch them. Weed fish taking small/medium fatheads under float, waxies on forage minnow fry. Wigglers, spikes best over deep (20-30′) mud. Crappie: Fair-Good. Suspended fish best bet. Work deep breaks between deepest water and weeds. Fish working 20-30′ flats, usually 3′ off the bottom, but sometimes as high as 3′ under the ice. Tip-downs with minnows (when not too cold) best. Tear drops (#8) with waxies for anglers jigging using flashers. On low pressure days, crappies moving into weeds and taking plastics. Bluegills: Fair-Good. Look for suspended gills mixed with crappies over sandgrass of 18-30′. Waxies and moussees tipped on gill pill/diamond jig to get down quickly over this deep water. Work outside weed edges as late season weed die off pushes fish away from shallow waters on some lakes to suspend out on edges. There were good reports of walleye, pike and LMB this week. Walleyes to 28″, pike to 32″ and LMB to 20″. Now they’ll get a two month rest until we can chase them again. Ice conditions are excellent. The snow from last Thursday left, barely 2″ of light powder. Driving trucks, even two wheel drive cars on most lakes. Ice averaging 30-32″, more on Flowages. Cold this morning (-20) but temps by the end of the week should hit highs in upper 30’s.
Mik-Lurch said prior to the ice blowing back in there had been decent coho (18 inches) in the shipping canal and the Port. The surprise remains some lakers in the shipping channel on copper spoons. There’s decent action at the stateline power plant with crawlers, Little Cleos and Rapalas, but you must come in from the Illinois side.
ST. JOSEPH AREA, MICHIGAN
BJ Sports reported the river is high and muddy, and the piers iced in. Wednesday morning, I got a call that the river is still high and dirty, but they are taking steelhead at Berrien Springs on spawn.
Denny Sands sent info a bunch of monthly opens coming this summer. the first is the Walleye Night Open on April 18 until 9:30 p.m. For more information and reports in this transition time, click here.
River’s Edge reported the river is open from the dam to the shallows with decent action for walleye on jig and minnow or Lindy rigs.
CHICAGO AREA CHAT/REPORTS
CHICAGO AREA INFO
MICHIGAN DNR REPORT
WISCONSIN DNR REPORT
IOWA DNR REPORT
INDIANA DNR REPORT