Leading this Midwest Fishing Report are the cooling lakes, coho, the coming of smelt netting and spring trout season, and, for those who need more, more ice is being made up north.
Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters sent this photo of a 28-inch, 7-pound coho caught Saturday in Indiana waters.
This is the extended online version of the MFR, which appears on the Sun-Times outdoors page on Wednesdays, well, it is the lakes and areas section.
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There’s a bunch of openers this weekend–Heidecke Lake, smelt netting and spring trout–so let’s lead with that, and with a reminder.
New fishing, hunting and trapping licenses are required Friday.
Season opens Saturday. For those 16 and older, a fishing license and inland trout stamp are required. Steve Palmisano of Henry’s recommended live bait (butter or wax worms, or rosy red minnows) under a float, small in-line spinners or jar baits.
Area lakes include Axehead, Belleau and Sag Quarry East (Cook County); Grove, Pickerel and Silver (DuPage); Gebhard Woods SP pond (Grundy); Bird Park Quarry and Rock Creek at Kankakee River SP (Kankakee); Big Lake at Silver Springs SP (Kendall); Sand Lake at Illinois Beach SP and Banana Lake (Lake); Lake Atwood, Hollows Conservation Area, and Piscasaw Creek (McHenry); Lake Milliken at Des Plaines CA (Will).
Smelt netting begins Friday in Chicago and runs through April. Most popular is Montrose. Nylon-mesh nets, commonly known as “Filipino Nets,” are essential. Because of harbor work, 31st is closed; alternatives are Adler, Burnham, 39th, Casino Pier or Cal Park.
Former cooling lake near Morris reopens Friday. Concessionaire has not been able to sell yet, so come prepared. Hours: Daily till sunset; launch opens 6 a.m.; bank at 6:30 a.m. Level is low, so getting under the trestle should not be an issue; however, use caution when launching.
The bi-annual survey last fall showed the most promise for striped bass (hybrids, white and yellow), according to biologist Rob Miller. Hybrids were at an all-time high, however majority were smaller fish. White bass were up almost 40 percent, average size of 12 inches. Yellow bass, averaged 8 inches, and had the highest number since 92. Walleye (back to normal levels, almost 44 percent legal size of 16 inches or better), largemouth (strongest in years for big fish), muskie (good numbers, biggest surveyed was 44 inches), smallmouth (poor), crappie (both blacks and whites, improving), channel catfish (troubled, but some big ones).
Even with the extended cold weather, crappie are top bite, but, as Fish of the Week showed, there’s some quality bass, too. Most of the focus this weekend will be on spring trout.
BIG GREEN LAKE, WISCONSIN
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:
(Lead): Central Wisconsin providing a hot bite for both late ice panfish, and open water walleyes. Late ice is offering plenty of opportunities for anglers in the Central Wisconsin area. Not only are there good numbers being taken, but the size structure is great, as well. Shallow weeds have been the key for bluegills and crappies, and deep open flats have been a consistent producer for perch. For the gills and crappies, run light 2 to 4 pound test line and small tear drop style jigs in white or yellow. The jigs are then tipped with waxies or spikes, depending on the water that’s being fished. You can also run tip downs baited with small #14 treble hooks and tiny crappie sized minnows set at various depths to cover the entire water column. Once you find the active level at which the fish are migrating then transfer your line(s) to that level. The crappies have been primarily holding 2 to 4 feet off the water, but on occasion have been as high as right under the ice. The later the season, the higher the crappies will ride. The perch have been coming on a variety of baits from small jigs tipped with waxies or spikes to wigglers and/or minnow on a small rocker style jig. Most of the perch are in 20 to 30 feet of water holding tight to the bottom. Open water anglers in the Central Wisconsin area are finding lots of opportunities for walleye. Jigs tipped with fathead minnows and/or plastics like Berkley Gulp or Power Bait have been working very well. Target eddies and deeper pools in 12 to 16 feet of water for the larger, keeper sized fish. If you target deeper water, right now (18 to 24 feet), you’ll will catch more dinks than anything else.
CHAIN O’LAKES AREA
Triangle Sports reported excellent crappie in most channels. Walleye are picking up, try crankbaits in shallower waters or light jigs tipped with minnows or crawlers. Pike are spawning, catch and release.
For more reports, see http://www.foxlakefishing.com/
More Chain info at www.foxwaterway.state.il.us.
COOLING LAKES/STRIP PITS
LaSALLE: Lake goes daily, 6 a.m.-dusk, as of Friday. Action remains good, though winds limited boating and weather generally limited fishermen last week.
BRAIDWOOD/MAZONIA: Weather and wind limited effort, but Angelo’s reported best bites are bluegill and small catfish.
HEIDECKE: See top.
DELAVAN/GENEVA LAKES AREA, WISCONSIN
Brian Gates at Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle reported mainly bluegills in the Abbey on red worms, just a few crappie; not much on Delavan. Piers are in at Williams Bay on Delavan and at the park at Delavan.
LAKE OF EGYPT: Todd Gessner Outdoors guide Jason Johns reported big crappie (fair numbers) and decent bass.
REND: Johns reported outstanding channel catfish, decent crappie.
EVERGREEN: Site staffer Brad Wood sent this:
Evergreen Lake Fishing Report – March 29, 2011 Water Condition Water Clarity: 6″-2′ Water Level: Flowing at Spillway Water Temps: Low 40’s Fishing has slowed down with the cooler weather conditions on Evergreen Lake . Before the cooler weather several crappie were being caught from the banks and docks. A few are still being caught, but not with any regularity. The Saugeye bite is still fair, with some keepers being caught. Most have reported catching several smaller Saugeye with one or two keepers being caught per outing. Most Saugeye have been caught with dark colored jigs a bit of crawler tipped on the end and fished at a real slow pace. Other than a few smaller Bass being caught fishing has been kind of slow. Bring on the warm weather. We will be conducting netting surveys in the next few weeks, so we look forward to seeing those results.
Any updated fishing report will be posted here.
EMIQUON: Heartland Outdoors reported improved launches and parking, few out. 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.
POWERTON: Winter hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Boat and shore fishing are open.
LAKE ERIE: PORT CLINTON
For Ohio DNR report go to wildohio.com and or call (888) HOOKFISH.
CHICAGO: Powerliners continue to do best, especially at Montrose, for coho and browns. Henry’s reported bite is switching toward crawlers. Ed Schmitt and Cory Yarmuth picked up two browns and three coho at Burnham over the weekend powerlining with crawlers and minnows. Henry’s reported a few coho on spoons and bright crankbaits.
Ed Schmitt of FourSeasonAngler.com sent this account of getting out:
Cory Yarmuth and I had a blast Sunday morning powerlining for Cohos at Burnham Harbor. Cory wrote a really funny blog entry about it and posted it here: http://legend-outdoors.com/blog/2011/03/28/fishing-with-flat-stanley/ Here’s the skinny: We fished from 6am to 2:30pm at the mouth of Burnham harbor on the McCormick Place side. We set out two powerlines baited with 12 hooks each on 16″ droppers, alternating whole crawlers and large fatheads. Total of 5 fish caught. 2 were brown trout 18″ and 21″ and 3 were coho at 18″, 20″ and 22″. It seemed earliest was best, most fish caught before 10am. Fish seemed to be hitting best in the top 1 to 2 foot of water and water clarity was terrible from the strong 15 to 20 mph North/Northeast winds. My infrared digital thermometer had air temps at 26 degrees in the morning with water surface temps of 34 degrees. By late afternoon the air had warmed to 34 degrees and water surface temps shot up to 44 degrees. If the trout opener wasn’t this Saturday, I would be back on the lakefront again this weekend, but my 5 year old son loves those feisty little stockers too much to deprive him of them.
WAUKEGAN: Salmon Stop reported browns and steelhead with the occasional coho from shore; smaller shad or shiner worked better this week. Launch repair is ahead of schedule.
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.
I just find it slightly amusing, with my perverse sense of humor, that they made more ice.
EAGLE RIVER: Creative Brilliance sent this report for the Chamber of Commerce:
(Lead): Ice conditions are generally good in the Eagle River area, but caution is advised, as there are dangerous spots. Be careful! Crappies and bluegills in the Eagle River area are hanging out in the same location. Fish 10 feet of water or less in and around weeds. Both species are suspending up and down the water column. For the crappies use a minnow or a waxie on a tip down or spring bobber. For the bluegills use a waxie or a spike under a spring bobber or slip bobber. Action is good for the bluegills (you’ll do a lot of sorting), and fair for the crappies. Perch in the Eagle River area are in 10-20 feet of water outside of weed edges. They are tight to the bottom. Use a small minnow or waxie under a slip bobber or spring bobber. Good action, but like with the gills, you’ll do a lot of sorting. (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: firstname.lastname@example.org; web: www.eagleriver.org * Muskie Matt, 715-891-5980; e-mail: email@example.com * Mat Hegy, 715-571-7544, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org * 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: email@example.com
MINOCQUA: Guide Kurt Justice of Island Sports sent this:
Cold weather for this time of year. Morning temps as low as 5 below, daytime temps in 20’s. Lakes making ice. High pressure system keeping cold in and turning fish off. Bluegill: Fair. Bite got light with cold and high pressure. Time to go very light line (1-2# test), tiny ice jigs (#14) with single waxie. Use dark colors of gill pills, marmooskas, small teardrops. Fish holding tighter to cover and bottom. Perch: Fair. Reports slow and varied. On some lakes perch have moved up into 3-5′ of weeds, probably staging for spawn which could be weeks away with so much cold/ice. On other lakes 12-16′ depths best. Shallow fish want lively minnows on tip-downs. Deeper perch on wigglers, red spikes on Genz worms, hexi fly jigs. Crappie: Poor-fair. Mostly poor. Best bite at 1/2hr before dusk. Crappie minnows on tip-downs. Some anglers moving from traditionally pounded areas finding some crappies receptive to #10 rockers, also little cecils tipped with spike on each of treble hook. After dark, lantern and tip-downs scoring for those willing to fish late. It’s crazy but we have more ice than the beginning of the month. Thickness ranging 19-30″ keeping power augers and trucks in business. Access still very good. Weekend should see some warm up, but ice fishing continues and we haven’t seen the best of the crappie action yet.
Mik-Lurch said the coho pushed into the shipping channel. Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters seconded outstanding coho in the shipping channel, and said a few are inside at Buffington and in front of the Port. “Dodgers and flies are everything,” Poteshman said. Mik-Lurch said second choice would be rattling Thin Fins. For shore fishermen, the hot spot has been the public access at the Port, both for coho (crawlers, squid or spawn under a bobber) and a few whitefish (salmon eggs on bottom). Thursday is the last day to fish most of the creek areas.
Lakeside reopens Friday. For more reports as the lake changes into spring, click here.
Mik-Lurch reported some good crappie in the corn channel on the Indiana side, while Henry’s reported some crappie action on the Illinois side, too.
CHICAGO AREA CHAT/REPORTS
CHICAGO AREA INFO
MICHIGAN DNR REPORT
WISCONSIN DNR REPORT
IOWA DNR REPORT
INDIANA DNR REPORT