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Midwest Fishing Report: Crappie and lakers

Crappie fishing and the start to lakers on southern Lake Michigan lead this Midwest Fishing Report.

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


There’s a couple good seminars at Mik-Lurch Fishing Tackle Outlet–(219) 989-0575–in Hammond, Ind. Saturday afternoon. At 1 p.m., Glen Gajewski and Mark Radvonausky talk about fishing the Indiana streams for salmon and trout. They will include access points. At 3 p.m., Ed McCain and Mike Starcevich talk about deep-water perch on southern Lake Michigan and give way points.


It’s crappie time. FPD of Will County reported good crappie caught early before the sun clears the trees at Monee Reservoir. Henry’s said other improving spots included Saganashkee Slough, Busse, Tampier and Fermi Labs.


For an overview of nearby river conditions, click here.


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


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

(Head): Big walleyes, big muskies and big bucks – -right now; all in and

amidst the lakes and the Wisconsin River of Wisconsin’s Marathon and Lincoln

Counties (near Mosinee and Wausau).

Wow this past week has been explosive for big fish and big game in the

central Wisconsin area. The musky and walleye bite has gone into overload

with not only numbers of fish but some real giants as well. In addition to

the great fishing that we are encountering the deer have started to go into

rut and the big bucks are becoming less nocturnal and daytime sightings and

opportunities are happening.

Walleyes have moved into the deeper pools in the main river channel of the

Wisconsin River along with some of the deeper areas of Lake Dubay and Lake

Wausau. They can be caught by vertical jigging 1/8th and 1/4 ounce jigs

tipped with minnows or plastics very slowly right on the bottom in 12 to 16

feet of water. During our trips this past week we have caught over 15 slot

sized walleyes along with 3 over the slot reaching that magical 30 inch


Muskies are now on the prowl in the central Wisconsin area, and catching

them is as easy as it is going to get. In the past four days we have put 14

muskies in the boat (all released!). Large crankbaits, jerkbaits and rubber

baits are the way to go along with suckers in the 10 to 16 inch range. Work

your artificial baits near deep water break lines and areas on the river

with less current like inside river bends and deep sloping breaks on the

channel edges. Suckers should primarily be set 3 to 6 feet down and run

anywhere from 20 to 40 feet behind the boat. like Run one of your sucker

rigs with a slip bobber and then free line the other sucker rig without a

bobber and let it go where ever it wants.

The crappie bite has been pretty good in the central Wisconsin area but most

of the crappies that we are seeing are incidental to walleye fishing. We are

finding the crappies holding in the deeper water associated with the

walleyes. The key to getting the bigger crappies is to run some slip

bobbers and set them 7 to 10 feet down over 12 to 16 feet of water. The

larger crappies will hold higher in the water column above the bottom

feeding fish as opposed to the smaller crappies which will mix right in on

the bottom with the walleyes.

Archery deer hunters in the central Wisconsin area are starting to see the

bucks rutting activity pick up. Scrapes are becoming more abundant and rubs

on trees are visible when walking in the woods or along a field edge. These

are the signs that a good hunter should start taking note of and looking at

for places to set up stand locations for the next two to three weeks as the

rut progresses into full blown rutting activity. These areas will become

frequented more and more in the next couple of weeks by not only bucks but

does as the breeding season comes to a peak. Just remember to check wind

direction when choosing a stand location as the bucks wary nose is still his

number one defense against predators like us.


Triangle reported good crappie on Petite, Marie and Bluff. Bluegill are still shallow along shoreline areas. Muskie are fair on small jerkbaits or small suckers.

For more reports, see

More Chain info at


Jeff Nolan of Bridgeport Bass sent this:

Chicago river fishing report ; A roller-coaster of a week one day great numbers next zip South branch (best bet) big large mouth stacking up in slip near lumber street with some catfish hitting drop shots you can leave the crank baits at home . Wolf point ; large mouth hitting jigs down low at 17ft .Ogden slip ; a few very good days with smallies of decent size


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 Report:

Pike are relating to lay downs near deeper water

areas. Find wood, and you will find fish.

Anything bright in color will work. Fire tiger, red,

orange and yellow. Husky jerks, rattle traps and spinner

baits have all caught fish past few days.

Bass are tight to shore. Same technique as

above. Larger fish seem to be on the move.

USGS has the river flowing at just under 300cfps in

Riverside. Wading anglers can walk almost anywhere on

the river in these conditions.

Andrew Ragas, Counsellor of the Fish Parliament, sent this:

Conditions haven’t changed much at all since last week. Some rainfall

would be nice in order to trigger the fall feed and to get fish moving

once again. But we need a little rain, not a lot. Otherwise, it will

flood and the river and its tributaries will become miserably


Since Dan Sims knows what’s going on with northern pike and bass, I

will say that I agree with him and there isn’t much input needed from

me in that department. My report from last week remains about the same

with very little change.

At the moment, water levels are moderately low (3.20 gauge), and

clarity is pretty good at around two feet. Right now I’ve been fishing

exclusively for walleye and sauger during the afternoon and nighttime

hours and the fishing has not been all that great for them. A few fish

are around, but most are smaller in the 14 to 18 inch bracket, and

it’s been inconsistent. Things can instantly change with some

drastically colder weather, or some rainfall to bring water levels up

a bit and to activate fish.

Despite the river not producing much, I’ve had better success locating

walleyes at the tributaries (Salt Creek). In the last week I’ve pulled

out a few nice ones with fat bellies in the range of 18 to 22 inches.

Jigs with big 4 and 5 inch plastics are taking fish during the daytime

while minnowbaits are catching them during the lowlight and nighttime

hours. In order to locate fish, places to look for are deeper holes

and hard bottom with current (must be 4ft deep or greater), large

pools just downstream of riffle runs, deep rocks with current, and

dams. There are plenty of these types of areas from Busse Lake all the

way downstream to the river mouth. . . . . And these fish are present

throughout the entire system.

Surprisingly, a few largemouth bass and pike up to 28″ may be caught

as bonuses while casting for walleyes during the nighttime.


EVERGREEN: Time on the Water Outdoors reported good crappie down 13-15 feet over brush piles. Any updated fishing report from staff will be posted here.

EMIQUON:With the central zone waterfowl hunting open, fishing on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays is afternoons only. 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 Ken Gortowski sent this:

I was able to get out Friday to a creek and, like an idiot, for some reason I tortured myself in the wind and the rain on Sunday.

Best bet at this point is to just put up the links to the blog posts I made for each. I hadn’t planned on putting down so many words, but they got in there anyway. Not the best, but it’s something.

Here’s the link to Friday’s creek outing.

And the link to Sunday’s outing. I had to be nuts going out in that crap.

Hopefully, next weekend, hunting at Marseilles. Not sure how much more fishing I’ll be doing. Depends on the weather. I know for sure no more outings on days like Sunday.


Time on the Water reported sauger/walleye doing well, best by Lake Senachwine area (sauger haven’t went to the wintering holes yet); jigging has been best, but pulling three-ways is also working. White bass and crappie are fair.


Stained water has slowed the salmon and trout. Mik-Lurch staff reported Trail will clear the fastest and is probably the best bet for the weekend.


Norm Minas sent this:

actually caught more walleye than bass recently. water temps under 50 degrees monday, water level still higher than normal. all the walleye action has been on a rattlebait, mostly at the back end of eddies, worked just above the bottom.

Fished with Dan Sims on Monday, fishing was extremely slow. We didn’t get a handle on what they wanted until afternoon. You needed to cast a jerkbait upstream , jerk it down and let it drift. The take was real light, all you saw was the line move a little, floating weeds hit harder than the fish.

Ed Mullady reported:

Indiana fishing on the Kankakee continues good throughout most areas not closed during

hunting seasons. Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass good on *minnows *plastic worms *Mepps

Spinners*streamer flies. Catfish, northern pike continue good. Walleye improving.

In Illinois, Smallmouth Bass, walleye, good east of Momence, per Dave Zack, Momence.

Kankakee, IL Dam through Sawmill Creek good for smallmouth, bass, catfish. Try along islands in Kankakee River State Park Rock bass also hitting in river at creek mouths.

Wilmington area from Island Park downstream for walleye(jig and minnow, crankbaits good)and smallmouth bass on *minnows *minnow shaped lures *#2,#3 Mepps Spinners good.


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


CHICAGO: Henry’s reported some trout being caught in the harbors on spawn sacs under a float. WAUKEGAN: Salmon Stop reported those bait fishing (frozen shiner or shad) are picking up a few browns.

SALMON SNAGGING: Salmon Stop reported very good snagging at Waukegan, as Henry’s did at the two Chicago locations. Snagging for chinook and coho is open 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): Good action for walleye, northern and panfish, with musky fair, in

the Eagle River , Wisconsin area.

Water temperatures in the Eagle River area dropping through the mid 40s.

Walleye in the Eagle River area are putting on a good all day bite. Fish

10-25 feet of water off of break edges. The walleyes are locating about a

foot or so off the bottom. Use a jig and a fathead minnow.

Northern are hitting all day in the Eagle River area. Fish 15 feet of water

or less in and around weeds. Use a Husky Jerk (minnow or walleye pattern),

small Mepps or a northern sucker under a slip bobber. Good action.

Panfish (crappies, bluegill and perch) in the Eagle River area are all

locating in 10-25 feet of water outside weed or break edges. The perch will

be tight to bottom, with the crappies and bluegills suspending up and down

the water column. Start fishing for the crappies and gills about a foot or

two off the bottom and work your way up. Use a crappie minnow under a slip

bobber, or a chunk of crawler under a slip bobber- – especially for the

bluegills who are gobbling up crawlers right now. Good all day action.

Musky action in the Eagle River area is fair. Anglers are definitely getting

fish, but there are plenty of just sightings, follows and light hits. Fish

15 feet of water off of weed and break edges. Use a medium size jerkbait,

glidebait or crankbait, and a moderate retrieve. You can also use a 12-16

inch sucker hooked up to a quick set rig ? remembering that suckers are

quite expensive this season. The action is pretty much all day, with

varying small feeding windows. No real specific time for these windows, as

they change almost daily. Don’t forget to always use a “figure 8” as your

lure nears the boat.

(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:; web:

* “Muskie Matt”, 715-891-5980; e-mail:

* Mat Hegy, 715-571-7544, e-mail:

* Guide’s Choice Pro Shop, guide/owner “Ranger Rick” Krueger 715-477-2248

* George Langley, Eagle River Fishing Guides Association, 715-479-8804.


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

Water temps continue to cool slowly. Angler pressure has dropped.

Musky: Very Good-Good. Action has slowed from the hot bite of the previous week. Not as many fish, but bigger and better. A 49 inch and a 50 inch this week, both on suckers, tops the most recent reports. Almost all reports coming in on suckers. Not as hard to get as last week with fewer anglers fishing. Key depths seem to be between 17-25 feet. Hard bottom areas out producing weed edges. Work drowned deep woods, cribs or rocks.

Walleye: Good-fair. Slower action as water continues to cool. With chubs hard to get, some anglers resorting to suckers and even mud minnows in the 3-4 1/2 inch range. Lindy rigging 22-35 feet hard bottom flats on the larger lakes producing nice fish to 26 inches. Jigs with large fatheads on small weed lakes also helping anglers score some eaters.

Most lakes averaging about 44-45 degrees, larger-warmer, smaller-cooler. Don’t be afraid to search out some open spaces, especially for musky. Bring tall boots as most piers are out. Despite few reports of follows or “action” days-musky are biting well on live bait. Put some time in.


On Monday, an angler went 4-for-8 on lakers at the reef outside the Port of Indiana. Water is slowly clearing, that should help. Mik-Lurch reported Ghost Dodgers with an all-glow Spin-N-Glo are good. There’s been some perch at the Hole-in-the-Wall, a few browns there, too. Some perch have been marked in Cal Harbor. We’ll see, that perch bite should go soon.


The Wisconsin DNR’s Root River Report was not updated yet. Worth checking, especially if rain comes tonight and improves the flow.


Tyler Harmon messaged that steelhead are in the usual places in Michigan.

Click here for an updated St. Joe report in Indiana. It’s more steelhead now, and it has slowed some from last month.


For reports, click here.



Wisconsin DNR’s Lake Michigan Fishing Report:

Southern Lake Michigan Fishing Report: October 31, 2011

Kenosha Co.

Shore fishing in Kenosha has been generally slow, but occasional coho and browns have been taken in the harbor and off the south pier. Most fish were caught on spawn. Flows on the Pike River are low, and fishing remains slow.

Racine Co.

In Racine, water levels on the Root River remain low. Numbers of brown trout in the river have started to increase in downstream areas, while the Chinooks are starting to taper off. Decent numbers of coho have been caught, with most taken on flies. The majority of fishing pressure has been in Lincoln Park, but a few anglers have also been successful near the Horlick dam. Fish were processed at the Root River Steelhead Facility on Monday, October 31. So far this season DNR crews passed upstream 1,673 Chinooks, 662 coho, 25 brown trout, and 1 rainbow trout. A total of 427 coho have been spawned. Fish will be processed again on Thursday, November 3 and Monday, November 7.

Milwaukee Co.

In Milwaukee, shore anglers continue to catch salmon on spawn in the slip near the Milwaukee Yacht Club, and brown trout have now been reported near the McKinley launch. Water levels are low on all Milwaukee area tributaries. In the Milwaukee River, fly anglers have been catching decent numbers of salmon in Kletzsch Park and in the vicinity of Capitol Drive. Egg sucking leeches have produced. Good numbers of fish can still be found in the Menomonee River near Miller Park. In Oak Creek some mature salmon are present in the deeper holes below the dam. Trollers working near the harbor have been catching mature Chinooks on J-plugs. When trollers can get offshore from Milwaukee, immature Chinooks, coho, and rainbows have been taken on flashers and flies fished about 20 to 40 feet down in 120 to 160 feet of water.

Ozaukee Co.

Port Washington Harbor/Shore: Fishing pressure has been light, and success has slowed a bit. Spawn remains the most productive bait. Most anglers have been catching Chinooks and some whitefish. The water temperature near the power plant has been around 48F. Port Washington Pier: Sauk Creek: The water level remains low. Fish are still in the creek, and fishing pressure has been light. The water temperature was around 44F. Flies and spawn have been the most productive lures, and Chinooks and coho have been reported caught.

Sheboygan Co.

Sheboygan Ramps: The lake has been too rough for boaters to get offshore. Sheboygan Piers/Shore: A few brown trout have been reported caught off the lake side of the piers, and some chinooks have been caught on spawn near the Deland boat launch. Sheboygan River: The water level remains low, and fishing pressure has been generally light. Most anglers have had moderate success with spoons and flies for trout and salmon. Chinooks, coho, brown trout, and rainbow trout have been reported.


Click here for River’s Edge.




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