Midwest Fishing Report: Rivers or crappie

SHARE Midwest Fishing Report: Rivers or crappie

Area rivers are putting on a decent to good bite, especially for those switching to live bait, and crappie fishing should keep improving on most local lakes and ponds, those lead this Midwest Fishing Report.

This is a rare photo of Ken Gortowski with a fish, well at least the fish can be seen, a fine fall smallmouth from the Fox River.

This is the extended online version of the MFR, which appears on the Sun-Times outdoors page on Wednesdays.

If you have suggestions, post in the comments section or let me know at straycasts@sbcglobal.net.


There’s still some trying for leftover trout, but most are switching toward crappie and I would expect that to continue.


For an overview of nearby river conditions, click here.


For guide Mike Norton’s report, go to www.nortonsfishingandhuntingadventures.com, then click on fishing, then lake report.


From licensed guide and trapper Phil Schweik and guide Glenn Moberg of Hooksetters Guide Service:

(Head): Strong fall fishing bite for musky, walleye and panfish, with archery deer season in full swing; all in and amidst the lakes and the Wisconsin River of Wisconsin’s Marathon and Lincoln Counties (near Mosinee and Wausau). Big muskies and walleyes are on the prowl…. This past week we have seen a real turn around as far as action goes in the central Wisconsin area. With the weather changing and the cooler temperatures the fall bite has resumed and is now in full swing. The big walleye bite is in full force and we are catching lots of very large walleyes in the 20 to 28 inch range along with some that are up to that magical 30 inch mark. Most of the fish are in 8 to 14 feet of water holding tight to the bottom. Jigs worked with minnows has been the best bait but we have been running a lot of large plastics to catch the bigger fish. The musky bite has been outstanding especially in the afternoon hours. Jerkbaits like Suicks and deep running crankbaits like Depth Raiders have been our best producers this past week but we are starting to see a few fish on the suckers again. Most of the activity has been from working deeper water and break lines that average 6 to 12 feet deep along with a few fish holding out over 20+ feet of water. Panfish activity has been excellent and good numbers of fish hare being caught. We are catching most of our crappies while targeting walleyes in the deeper pools along with a few perch and white bass as well. The deeper pools in the main river channel along with the main river channel that runs through the lake are magnets for these types of fish now until ice-up. Work jigs tipped with minnows or plastics right on the bottom and work the entire area. Most of the days the fish will be in tight schools in the hole but don’t hesitate to work the entire area as several different schools of fish may be present. Be especially aware of any contour breaks in the pool as these are spot on the spot locations for fish to be holding. Archery season is in full swing and with about two weeks until the rut starts hunters should start looking at areas that big bucks will be running in search of does. Funnel type areas between bedding and feeding areas are a good place to start as well as any area near water as bucks will likely cruise shoreline areas in search of hot does. As season progresses into November don’t be afraid to sit all day long. Some of the largest bucks of the season are shot during mid day hours when the rut is going and the bucks are running wide open all day long…


Arden Katz said water cooled to 52 and the walleye bite is on (keepers take sorting); he trolls at 1 mph with minnows in 5-6 feet on the points of Marie. He said white bass moved deeper in 8-10, fewer fish but larger. Bluegill are shallow, around remaining piers; find fish and stay. Triangle reported crappie improving, look around channel mouths. Muskie should keep improving. Three were caught during the Fall Challunge on the Chain on Saturday; Russ and Chris Schaller won with a double.

For more reports, see http://www.foxlakefishing.com/

More Chain info at www.foxwaterway.state.il.us.


Jeff Nolan of Bridgeport Bass sent this:

Chicago river fishing report ; South branch is still producing good numbers of 12/13 inch large mouth the blue gill bite has slowed with a few 9 at inches hitting drop shot w/wacky worms. The river was turned up by all the boats going to winter storage. Downtown, Ogden slip zip.


BRAIDWOOD/MAZONIA: Only Monster Lake at Mazonia South remains open year round. HEIDECKE:Closed for the season. LaSALLE:Closed for the season.


Dan Sims of Sims Spinners sent this:

Des Plaines River: Colder water is upon us. Toothy critters have been on the feed bag lately. Northern Pike, Walleye and Sauger. From the border to the confluence. Pike are on the move most of the day, looking for an easy meal. Bigger baits will produce bigger fish. Spinner Baits, Big Cranks shallow running and Inline Spinners should be you go-to baits. White or something bright has produced best results. 30″ fish are not uncommon this time of year. Casting near undisturbed shore will also increase your odds. Bigger fish will push smaller fish out of prime holes. A stealthy approach will give you the one or two more casts you need to hook that giant. The next 5 days forecast looks great! Highs of 51 Thursday through Saturday and 55 on Sunday should bring anglers out for one of the last Good weekends to fish this year. If you are searching for the 30″+ DPR Pike, the next few days are it. Walleye/Sauger Many people have many different methods of searching out this species. One of the most elusive fish in the system. Here are a few pointers to get you started, or advance your arsenal of fishing techniques. Keep in mind… I am not a professional. These are just my observations through the years. 1.) Rapalas; A MUST have! Work these baits with either a very erratic action, or just a rip, rip, pause action. 2.) Jig n Twister; Another MUST have! Bouncing the bottom, feeling every rock you can. These fish will hold near the bottom and are always on the move. If your bait enters their space you will most likely be hit. White always worked for me. 3.) Minnows; While I am not a fan, this method is a proven winner. Bigger the better if you ask me. Find out what depth the water you are working is and set you rig 1′ up off the bottom. Be prepared to lose floats and jigs. 4.) Time; Time on the water will teach you more than anything while chasing these fish. Whether it’s reading the river, or learning of new holes in the system. Each outing will help you along the way. Best of Luck!

Andrew Ragas, Counsellor of the Fish Parliament www.fishing-headquarters.com, sent this:

The fishing is heating up, though nowhere near the fall peak. The river is going good, and the creeks are alright. I enjoyed a fun float trip with friend, Dan Cahill, on Saturday the 22nd. The report can be seen here: http://www.heartlandoutdoors.com/index.php/andrew/story/des_plaines_river_float_trip/ For the river, clarity is good at 1.5 feet, and gauge height is decent at 3.45. As of Sunday, water temperatures were at 53 degrees. Best bets for right now are northern pike, largemouth bass, crappie, and nighttime walleye and sauger. Northern pike are being found in deeper holes, channel edges, the edges of log jams, near laydowns and stumps. Fish up to 30″ are being caught, mostly on rattlebaits (shad pattern extremely important), white and silver jerkbaits (X-raps, Husky Jerks), and white/gold spinnerbaits. North stretch of river (Lake County) offering best action but smaller fish while southern stretch of river (Willow Springs & south) offering more size and better trophy potential. Feeding windows are mid to late afternoons. CATCH AND RELEASE OF BIGGER FISH IS A MUST!!! Plenty of largemouth bass are being caught alongside of pike. Most bass are relating to downed wood and log-jams. In addition, bridge pylons deeper near-shore holes, and rock piles are also concentrating fish. Rattlebaits such as Cotton Cordells, Rattlin’ Raps, Clackin’ Raps, and Rat-L-traps are catching majority of the bass with anything resembling a shad or shiner pattern faring the best. Fish up to 17″ are being caught but there are plenty of healthy 12 to 14″ inch fish to go around. Best fishing taking place during mid-afternoons with sunlight and wind. Very few smallmouth bass reports although a few can be expected alongside of the largemouths from the very exact same areas. Crappies are holding near deeper brush and slackwater areas with hard rock bottom. Fish are transitioning towards their mid-river deep channel wintering holes and anglers have been catching fish up to 12″ on smaller jigs and plastics drifted beneath a float, and small minnows. Walleye and Sauger are finally making their presence be known during the nighttime hours as wade fishermen have been catching both species up to 16 inches on jig and plastics, and minnowbaits such as 3 to 5 inch Husky Jerks, X-Raps, Floating Rapalas, Rattlin’ Rogues, and Rebel Minnows. The fishing overall is very slow, but the fish are present and moving into their fall staging areas – slowly but surely. We are absolutely nowhere near the peak of their fall run and it will only begin with this incoming cold spell. For both species of fish, look for mid-river riffle areas and their deeper pools (downstream ends) and deeper pools with rocky bottom (slower current the best). In addition, wing dams, gravel bars, and anything in the way of rocks and bottom transitions with depth and current and nearby baitfish will hold fish. As for the tributaries such as Salt Creek, the fishing is only so-so. Few walleyes up to 22 inches are being found downstream of Busse Dam and at other areas in Cook and DuPage County. Jig and plastics, and minnowbaits during late afternoons and into the after dark hours are catching them. In addition, largemouth bass and northern pike are scattered and not as concentrated and actively feeding as they should be for this time of year. Deeper pools with rock or gravel bottom, wood, and some current are all holding fish such as walleyes, crappies, largemouth bass, northern pike, and even carp. It’s fall, and fishing during any time of day can be good. The fishing will only get better from here.


EVERGREEN: Any updated fishing report will be posted here. There were good crappie reports last week, and I saw Pete Riedesel and his son Cam landed some muskies over the weekend on HeartlandOutdoors.com.

EMIQUON:With the central zone waterfowl hunting open, I should have dug up the fishing regs, but I need to do that. Emiquon Preserve near Lewistown is open to fishing. Interested parties may request a permit (remember you need the new one for 2011) and list of rules between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at the Dickson Mounds Museum in Lewistown. There is no fee. No gas powered motors are permitted, and bank fishing is not allowed. For more, call (309) 547-2730.


River wanderer/ponderer and now ChicagoNow blogger Ken Gortowski sent this update late Tuesday:

With the usual screwed up work schedule, I found myself on a balmy Tuesday afternoon with nothing to do. So I went fishing. Combed a three quarter mile stretch of the Fox that took about 3 hours. Was only able to land five smallies and miss eight more. With the change in the seasons the bite continues to drop off. I miss September. The 10 day forecast shows temperatures barely making it to the mid 50s during the day and the nights getting down into the 30s. The bite should continue to die off. Not sure how much more I’m going to bother getting out. I proved to myself a long time ago that fish can continue to be caught in that kind of weather, I don’t feel any real need to continue to prove it. Besides, I’d rather go chasing squirrels and rabbits. If any do continue to get out fishing, you can torture yourself using lures or just bite the bullet and go get a couple of dozen extra large fatheads. Use either a number 4 or 6 octopus hook and a small split shot about 18 inches up the line. Just remember, octopus hooks work a lot like circle hooks. Don’t set the hook with a sharp snap. Just sweep the rod back with a steady motion and there’s a good chance you’ll hook the fish right in the corner of the mouth.

Here is his original report:

I had no choice but to get out on Sunday, it was far too beautiful, the wife was sleeping between work shifts and I had nothing else to do. I decided to fish the north side of the river not so much because it was the sunny side and I thought the fish would be hanging out there, but because it was the sunny side and I wanted to be in the sun. I didn’t care if the fish liked it or not. For those that think October is the month to get in on a voracious river smallie bite as they begin to feed for the long winter ahead, think again. You missed it. You should have been out fishing in September. The same could be said for the white bass in the river. You missed that too. I’m working on the assumption that the walleye bite will be going strong soon, but I wouldn’t know. I don’t fish for them on purpose, but have caught them all the way into December, in years past, on accident. Years past is how I’m basing what I said. I did a quick check of my past records and September was always the best month for smallies, white bass and a few other varieties of fish that don’t look like walleye. The only two 100 fish days I’ve had on the Fox both came in September. This past September, just last month, may have been the best September I’ve had since I started fishing the Fox 15 years ago. The smallies are still biting, you just have to work a little harder. The white bass have disappeared. This day, 18 smallies were caught and another 14 were missed. They were hitting hard when you could find them and the only place I was finding them was directly on current seams in 2 feet of water or slightly more. More or less water than that on the current seam and it was barren. The only way to entice them to hit was to go back and forth across the seam, holding it still in the current got them to come up behind it and nail it. Moving it through the current, in other words, reeling, didn’t work. They were hitting hard though. Even the little guys got the drag humming a bit on impact. One of the fish landed did look like it came close to the 20 inch mark. Based on the fight of that one, a couple of the other fish I had on would have given it a run for its’ money. Heavy, drag humming, temporary fish on. I hate when that happens. The long range temperatures show a long string of temps in the low to mid 50’s. A wise fisherman would start using minnows if they really wanted to catch fish. A wise fisherman wouldn’t give up just yet, either.


Time on the Water Outdoors reported sauger picking up around the dam where there is more current; white bass are picking at more spots on bladebaits, best toward Vermilion and the state park.


Indiana’s Lake Michigan fisheries biologist Brian Breidert said it is one of the best fall returns in the past five years, and it keeps going. That is the basis of my column today.

Mik-Lurch reported the creeks continue to be full of fish–kings, steelhead and coho–and flows are good.


Norm Minas sent this update (I posted his weekend report separately) late yesterday:

The river crested over night and is dropping. Where I was at the visibility was an inch or two, water temps still low 50’s. There is still a lot of weeds in the water column, both emergent and clumps of algae as well as the to be expected leaves. It was pretty neat being right under the edge of a front, the leading clouds right over head, the sun at my back. The wind was blowing across the river while putting a very nice chop on the water. That not only emboldened the bass put discombobulated the shad a bit encouraging the bass to feed up and heavily. The lure that worked was a Skitter Prop tossed downstream and worked very slowly with lots of long pauses back upstream in a slower/slacker/deeper area. Most of the hits came as the lure just kinda floated and drifted with the wind and current combining to slowly twist the prop blade back and forth. None of the hits were hard, in fact most of the time I set the hook when I stopped seeing the sunlight winking off the blade because it had slowly and silently been pulled under by a fish. The action was fairly steady with a good mix of sizes of smallmouth with the biggest being 21 inches. About half the fish either disgorged shad on the way in or had shad sticking out of the gullet. The disgorged shad were immediately eaten by another bass following the hooked one. A grand and glorious day and I had the river to myself.

Ed Mullady reported:

River came up some from upstream rainfall. In Indiana, most river fish are hitting from suckers and carp to walleye and bass in the Point Area! Other good baits include *Walleye: Mepps #3 Spinners *jointed plugs *Rattlin’ Rogue*jig and minnow. Smallmouth Bass: nightcrawlers *No.2,3 Mepps Spinners *jig and twister tails. Illinois: State Line through Momence: smallmouth bass good on above baits. Walleye fair on *minnow shaped plugs *jig and minnow *jig and crawlers. Kankakee River State Park: Smallmouth Bass good around islands *shoreline edges *riffle areas. Wilmington-Island Park area for *walleye on *jointed plugs*jig and minnow *Smallmouth Bass good on *spinners *minnows *crankbaits*streamer flies.


For Ohio DNR report go to wildohio.com and or call (888) HOOKFISH.


The lake is churned up from the blow last week, but there’s some steelhead being caught around Chicago harbors and Waukegan.

SALMON SNAGGING: Snagging for chinook and coho opens on the Illinois lakefront at four locations only: Lincoln Park Lagoon south of Fullerton Avenue, Waukegan Harbor (North Harbor Basin only); Winnetka Power Plant discharge area and Jackson Park Harbor (inner and outer harbors). No snagging is allowed at any time within 200 feet of a moored watercraft or as posted.

CHICAGO FISHERMAN’S PARKING: The fisherman’s parking pass–$10 for two months and available at Henry’s Sports & Bait–is needed to park south of the main building at Northerly Island. . . . That’s the same pass good for the small fishermen’s lots at Burnham and DuSable harbors.


Click here for D&S Bait.


EAGLE RIVER: Creative Brilliance sent this report for the Chamber of Commerce:

(Head): Walleye, northern, and panfish putting on a good bite, with musky action picking up, in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area. Water temps in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area hovering in the low 50s. Musky action in the Eagle River area has picked up a bit, but is still generally fair. Anglers are getting fish, but they’re working for them. Fish 10 feet of water or less on weed or break edges. Use a small bucktail, jerkbait, crankbait, or 10-13 inch live sucker on a quick set rig. Use a medium retrieve, and do a figure 8 as your lure nears the boat. All day bite, with no real peak periods. Walleye are putting on a good bite in the Eagle River area. The walleye are moving deeper. Fish 10-20 feet off of break edges. Use a jig and a minnow. The walleye are tight to the bottom. Good all day bite. Northern are hitting in the Eagle River area. Fish 10 of water or less in and around weeds. Use a Husky Jerk (minnow or walleye pattern), a small Mepps or a northern sucker under a slip bobber. Good all day action. Panfish (crappies, bluegills and perch) are moving out into deeper water. Fish 10-20 feet of water. The perch will be tight to the bottom, and the crappies and bluegills will be suspending up and down the water column. Start fishing right off the bottom, and work your way up until you hit the crappies and gills. The depth that these fish are suspending will vary. Use a crappie minnow or chunk or crawler under a slip bobber. Good all day bite. (Report for the Eagle River Chamber of Commerce based on Creative Brilliance interviews with Eagle River guides Muskie Matt of Wild Eagle Lodge, Ranger Rick Krueger of Guide’s Choice Pro Shop, and Mat Hegy). Contact info for Eagle River: * Eagle River Chamber of Commerce; 800-359-6315; 715-479-6400; e-mail: info@eagleriver.org; web: www.eagleriver.org * Muskie Matt, 715-891-5980; e-mail: rfrgoutdoors@gmail.com * Mat Hegy, 715-571-7544, e-mail: lunkerclunkerguideservice@yahoo.com * Guide’s Choice Pro Shop, guide/owner Ranger Rick Krueger 715-477-2248 * George Langley, Eagle River Fishing Guides Association, 715-479-8804. e-mail: fishing@eaglesportscenter.com

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

Fall fishing is in full swing with all lakes running in the 40’s for water temps and fish are well into their fall patterns. Musky: Very good – Excellent. High winds during mid-week made fishing tough but the bite was very good. Lots of multi-fish reports. Suckers with spinner bladed quick-sets best during wind up along deep weed edges of 12-18′. On calm days fish deeper rock humps, hard/soft transitions with suckers on plain quick-set rigs. Glide baits such as Mantas, Smity’s, Warlocks scoring along edges. Jerk baits (Suicks, Smity’s) also good. Walleye: Good-Very Good. Slowed on calmer days. Good deep water bite. Vertical jig large fatheads. Lindy redtails, black chubs, walleye suckers or mud minnows. At dusk fish shallow soft bottomed bays casting floating Rapalas, Rattlin Rogues. Crappies: Good. Big slabs to 14″ along deep weed edges in 18-24′. Drowned wood (stumps, roots) on flowages in 12-14′. Large to medium fatheads best (no need to go small). Pike: Good-Very good. Very active on live bait. Jigging suckers, chubs, fatheads. Weeds best, but wood on flowages. Time is now for sucker fishing musky – the Rub – suckers are very difficult to get. Since last year cost has gone up while size has gone down. Call around for availability. Casting rubberbaits, gliders while not the same can help make up a little for lack of live bait. Same for walleye anglers, redtails, black chubs very hard to get – try suckers, large fatheads or even mud minnows if you can find them. I’ve also done well with crawlers in October, especially with a 1/2 crawler along deep mud.


The big lake is chocolate; when it clears the lakers will be going on the reef by the Port and perch should go. Before the blow, some reports of walleye at the reef by the Port and the mouth of the river in Cal Harbor. Mik-Lurch reported crappie improving on inland lakes, and that should only keep getting better.


From the Wisconsin DNR’s Root River Report:

Root River Fishing Report for October 24, 2011 Water and flow conditions Large numbers of chinook and coho salmon continue to move into the Root River over the weekend despite the rather low water conditions. Water clarity is pretty good for this time of year and there seems be enough flow and depth to hold and bring in new fish each day. For up to date river conditions, check out the USGS web site of stream flow conditions [exit DNR] in Wisconsin. Fishing Report Salmon fishing was once again concentrated below the RRSF mainly in Lincoln Park. Anglers were primarily harvesting chinook salmon but about 25% of the fish caught were coho salmon. Fly fishing was the most successful over the weekend on the Root River as most of the fishermen were using flies to catch the salmon


Tyler Harmon messaged:

Whitefish, lake trout, and steelhead being caught off the piers and Lake Michigan surf. Single salmon eggs been working great for the whitefish, spawn bags for the steelies. Look for lake temperatures around 50 degrees when whitefish fishing. In the rivers steelhead, walleye, and brown trout are all doing well. Try bouncing plugs or spawn for steelhead and browns.

Click here for an updated St. Joe report in Indiana. It’s been a good fall return, even some brown trout making it to South Bend.


Lakeside said crappie in the deep trees on crappie minnows are the top bite. The coming cool down, I would think would kick in the muskie fishing.

For reports, click here.


Click here for the Wisconsin DNR’s Lake Michigan Fishing Report. It had not been updated yet when I was compiling this.


Click here for River’s Edge.


Mik-Lurch reported crappie picking up in the corn channel. I would expect walleye to improve too over the weekend, by the looks of the forecast.










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