Midwest Fishing Report: Expanded online (lakes, areas)

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We have a mix of open-water fishing and ice fishing in this Midwest Fishing Report. This week, I am dividing the MFR into the lakes and areas section and the rivers section, which will come shortly.

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

Normally, I post the online MFR by Wednesday morning. I am running late this morning with pair of sick boys.

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

Let’s open with the Braidwood opener, which had a typical day with wisps of cold fog blowing across the warm water (above) as open-water fishing returned for Chicago fishing.

BRAIDWOOD OPENER

The cooling lake south of Joliet reopened Tuesday. Click here for my story today, which included the note that hybrid striped bass will be stocked this summer. I can’t wait for another year or two to see what that adds to the fishery.

Channel catfish (mostly fiddlers) and bluegill were the best catches Tuesday. There were some bass being caught Tuesday, both from shore and boat.

Until the time change, hours 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. The boat ramps at both ends were extended 15 feet last year, so launching is better. Click here for site info and directions.

AREA LAKES

Ice conditions vary widely, from borderline or unsafe south to holding north and west. It’s common-sense time. Conditions will change even more by the weekend.

BIG GREEN LAKE, WISCONSIN

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

CENTRAL WISCONSIN

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

(Lead): Late ice? Open water? Both can be had in the central Wisconsin area right now. As the seasons change, central Wisconsin offers a variety of opportunity for outdoor enthusiasts, and at times they conflict. But in a very good way! Right now with ice fishing getting to be the very best of the season, and with a few open water opportunities starting to pop up, what does an angler do? So many decisions, and so little time! And don’t forget that when areas north of central Wisconsin have their walleye, northern and bass seasons close in a week, these seasons REMAIN OPEN on many of the waters in the central Wisconsin area. Just check carefully as which are open, and you’ll never have to settle for just panfish again! Ice fishing has been outstanding in the central Wisconsin area, with the number of crappies and bluegills flying off the charts. Big bull nosed gills have been feeding readily on small tear drop jigs in green and yellow, tipped with a waxie or spike. Jig for them in both deep and shallow water, with the main difference being structure. Target the shallow water gills in weeds in 3 to 6 feet of water, with the deeper water gills holding out in 16-20 feet of water along channel breaks and deep open flats. Any structure you find on these open flats will be a magnet for the gills. The crappies in the central Wisconsin area are starting to move up in the water column, and ice anglers are taking them literally right under the ice, with a few actually coming right into the holes and sinking baits. Now that is aggressive! Most of the fishing for the crappies has been in 10-16 feet of water, with some areas being over 20 feet deep. Run tip downs baited with small crappie sized minnows set at various depths from tom to bottom, as you want to cover several different water levels. You can also jig with medium sized spoons like Fire Eyes and small Northland Buck Shot spoons in red and orange. The use of a flasher unit really gives you a distinct advantage when it comes to locating the crappies, as it will show you the exact depth the fish are hanging out in. Ice anglers are seeing the northern activity in the central Wisconsin area really pick up. Tip ups baited with small suckers or large golden shiners seem to be producing the best. Run them in 4-6 feet of water along weed edges with the baits set right below the ice. The walleye action in the central Wisconsin area has been very good, with good numbers of nice keepers being taken running from 16-20 inches. Most of the walleyes are in 6-8 feet of water holding tight to the bottom. Use tip ups baited with extra large fat head minnow. The key to success is running an extra small hook in red like a number 10 or 12 Mustad, and lightly hooking the minnow right behind the dorsal fin. With the warm temps in the central Wisconsin area, anglers have been getting the itch to get on open water. With that said, there is open water and PLENTY OF ROOM right now below many area dams. Most of the action is in 14-17 feet of water. Run 1/8 ounce jigs tipped with a fathead minnow, or if you like, try Berkley Gulp plastics as they have been working very well. Slow is the key to presentation as the walleyes are very lethargic, but can be taken. Limits are not uncommon at this time of year, as most open water anglers are catching anywhere from 25 to 30 fish per outing right now.

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

It’s changing. Triangle Sports reported excellent crappie, where you can access the ice, but use extreme caution, shorelines are quite hazardous. Be aware of open water. Walleye are good, where you can get on, stay out of current areas.

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

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

COOLING LAKES/STRIP PITS

BRAIDWOOD/MAZONIA: See top for Braidwood opener. Shorelines are gave way or are giving way at Mazonia. LaSALLE: March 16 reopener depends on staffing. HEIDECKE: Reopens April 1.

DELAVAN/GENEVA LAKES AREA, WISCONSIN

Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle reported good panfish on the west end of Delavan, but it sorting for limits (better late afternoon), some big pike; on Como, good largemouth on tip-ups; on Geneva, those finding tall green weeds in 16-18 feet are finding outstanding crappie, others are struggling.

DOWNSTATE NOTES

SANGCHRIS: Wilson–(217) 454-2672–of Lithia Guide Service said crappie remain strong on main lake laydowns. You do not need to focus on the hot arm. POWERTON: Winter hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Boat and shore fishing are open. SHELBYVILLE: Wilson said crappie are starting, numbers shallow, but bigger ones deeper. Lake is high, but ramps appear OK. There’s some walleye below the spillway, but the water is high, making access tough. For info from the Corps, call (217) 774-2020. EVERGREEN: Any updated fishing report will be posted here. EMIQUON: 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. SPRING: Heartland Outdoors indicated some good muskie catches going.

GREEN BAY

From the Wisconsin DNR report:

Green Bay Fishing Report: February 28, 2011 Brown Co. Perch and walleye are still being sought and caught at Voyageur Park. Care must be taken as open water has appeared out in the main channel. Jigs tipped with minnows are working well. Ice conditions at Long Tail have deteriorated with the warm weather. Sunset Beach fishermen have been having success with perch and northerns. East Shore Sturgeon Bay: Anglers have been targeting perch with some success around Bullhead Point. Also, anglers fishing out of the Stone Quarry have been finding good numbers of whitefish. Little Sturgeon Bay: Whitefish have been providing consistent success over the last week. Most anglers have been targeting the 20-30 foot depths from Lime Kiln Road to Henderson’s Point. A few perch are being caught inside the Little Sturgeon. Most perch, however, have been small in size. Sugar Creek: Anglers have been targeting perch and whitefish with good success. Some very nice catches of perch have been reported. Most have been targeting 30 feet of water. Dyckesville: Anglers have been targeting perch in 20-30 feet of water using small gold jigs or spoons. Whitefish are also being caught as well; most have been coming in 10-15 feet of water. Most anglers have been fishing out of Red River. Also several large cracks have formed in the area that are limiting travel, so use caution. Chaudoir’s Dock: Anglers have been catching good numbers of perch and whitefish. Fishermen have been seeking whitefish in 15-30 feet of water. The most common rig has been a Hali tipped with a wax warm. Perch have been coming in a little better with most fishermen using jigging spoons tipped with a minnow. Volk’s Reef: Fishing pressure has been light over the last few weeks. As fishing in general has been slow, most anglers that are venturing out are looking for perch without much success. Little Harbor: Anglers have been finding some good success fishing perch in 20-30 feet of water. Oconto Co. The northern pike bite has improved a bit from Geano Beach to the Peshtigo Harbor. Large shiners or dead smelt fished in the round have been working, with most fish being caught in 4 to 12 foot range. Perch and whitefish are being caught in 30 feet of water out of the Oconto River as well as in 8 feet of water by the mouth. Perch fishermen on the Bay have been reporting a good number of smelt being caught using jigs and wax worms or minnow heads. Marinette Co. Good numbers of pike fishermen have been observed north of the mouth of the Peshtigo River with some success using dead smelt fished on the bottom. Walleye on the Menominee River below the Hattie Street Dam have been cooperating with fishermen early morning and evenings; jigging Rap’s and moonglows have worked well. Some perch, walleye, and whitefish are still being caught off 6th Street Slip. Due to the warm temperatures, most permanent shacks have been pulled off.

KENOSHA, WISCONSIN

Check the latest at Harborside.

LAKE ERIE: PORT CLINTON

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

LAKEFRONT

Harbors are transitioning. Dirty water has slowed perch. Harbors mouths are opening. Mik-Lurch reported a few perch in the river around 92nd and 95th. CHICAGO’S FISHERMAN’S PARKING: The $10 parking passes for the small fishermen’s lots at Burnham and DuSable harbors are available at Henry’s .

MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN

D&S Bait reported plenty of ice, getting around is fine. However, the bluegill bite is variable; some perch showing up on Mendota, but only a few people trying.

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

Early inland trout season on select waters opens Saturday. Gamefish season ends Sunday.

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

(Lead): Ice conditions generally good, but foot travel right now can be treacherous with very slippery ice. Northern action is good to excellent in the Eagle River area, and northern anglers are getting a bonus largemouth bass here-and-there while going for the northerns. Use a tip up with a large shiner or sucker minnow. All day bite. Crappies in the Eagle River area are in two different locations. Shallow weeds – -10 feet of water or less – – or suspending over structure on deep mudflats. Depth ranges from 20-35 feet of water. Fish up and down the water column, starting at the bottom and working your way up. The larger crappies seem to be nearer the surface. Use a crappie minnow under a slip bobber or tip down. Electronics will definitely help. Good action – -when you find them. Bluegills are providing decent action in the Eagle River area. Fish 15 feet of water or less in and around weeds. Use a small teardrop jig with a waxie or spike. Perch in the Eagle River area are locating shallow and deep. Fish shallow weeds – – 10 feet of water or less; or mudflats in 20-30 feet of water. The perch will be tight to bottom in both locations. Use a small jig or hook, tipped with a small minnow, waxie or wiggler. Good action, but like the crappies you must hunt for them. Use electronics, dig a lot of holes and be mobile. Walleye action in the Eagle River area is fair. Best bite near sundown. Fish 8-25 feet off of break edges. Use a tip up with a small to medium walleye sucker or shiner. (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 Island Sports sent this:

Wind made things a little sharp outside. Tough for anglers using certain techniques. Pike: Good. Lots of tip-up action on large shiners. No monsters reported but fish from 24-30″ common with lots of little (under 20″) fish keeping the flags flying. Bluegills: Fair to Good. A missed out on location has been deep sandgrass on lakes lacking much for shore line weeds. Small, light colored (white, glow) jigs tipped with single waxie, spike accounting for a lot of action. Weed fish in 6-10′ sitting 2-3′ off bottom most days. Largemouth Bass: Fair-Good. Tip-up and jig anglers alike hooking into good numbers and size (to 20″) LMB. Shiners on tip-ups, fatheads on tip-downs and even small jigs tipped with waxies meant for panfish. This species will probably get busier this weekend with the warm up. Perch: Fair. Changing weather seemed to put fish off. Lookers in deep mud, but window of opportunity small. Wigglers still best on Gapen Flickers, Northland Forage Spoons and #2 pimples. Rosie reds on tip-downs accounting for some. Along 8-10′ weed edges, stick to minnows on rocker jigs. Crappie: Fair. Experience similar to perch. Small windows of good action. Minnows on tip-downs best (or under small float). Slow drop method tough last week due to high wind. Walleye: Fair. Best on deep off-shore humps. Shiners/suckers or try #7 jigging rap in Firetiger/Perch patterns. Some anglers reporting limit catches after dark (6:30 to 7:30pm). New moon plus a return to warmer weather should make this a very good closing weekend to the game fish season (ends Sunday at midnight). Anglers should see good low light time bites and be able to finesse crappies and gills with less wind. Ice picked up in thickness by maybe an inch, but still with average of 20″ and not much snow cover (1/2 to 1″). Could be over by early April. Bring creepers, access excellent, but walking slippery.

NORTHWEST INDIANA

Mik-Lurch reported browns at the stateline plant and Amoco with a few coho. Creeks are high and flooded, look for possible steelhead by the weekend.

SHABBONA LAKE

For reports, click here.

LINES ONLINE

ILLINOIS

www.ifishillinois.org

http://www.heartlandoutdoors.com

CHICAGO AREA CHAT/REPORTS

www.chicagolandfishing.com

www.chitown-angler.com

www.windycityfishing.com

angling101.com

Fishing Headquarters

www.wadauwant.com

http://www.foxlakefishing.com/

www.heartlandoutdoorsman.com

www.patharrisonoutdoors.com

CHICAGO AREA INFO

fishingchicago.org

www.chicagofishinglinks.com

chicagofishing.org

DOWNSTATE

larrysfishinghole.com

www.ilfishing.com

MICHIGAN DNR REPORT

www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,1607,7-153-10364-34956–,00.html

WISCONSIN DNR REPORT

dnr.wi.gov/org/caer/ce/news/or/

IOWA DNR REPORT

www.iowadnr.com/news/currentfish.html

INDIANA DNR REPORT

http://www.in.gov/apps/dnr/fishing/dnr_fishingreport?display=Lake+Michigan

MIDWEST

www.lake-link.com

NORTH AMERICA

www.casualangler.com

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