Midwest Fishing Report: Rivers and lakes around Chicago fishing

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Fall trout season opening in Illinois on Saturday leads this Midwest Fishing Report.

This is the extended online version of the MFR, which appears on the Sun-Times outdoors page on Wednesdays. I think until next spring I will go back to combining the rivers and lakes sections again.

Running late today because I am trying to catch up.

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


Illinois’ fall trout season opens Saturday. Those 16 and older need a license and an inland trout stamp. Daily bag is five.

Nearby lakes are Axehead, Belleau and Horsetail (Cook County; Pickerel, Grove and Silver (DuPage); Bird Park Quarry (Kankakee); Big Lake at Silver Springs State Fish and Wildlife Area (Kendall); and Sand Lake at Illinois Beach State Park and Banana Lake (Lake).

The basics are light spinning gear and use ice jigs, pieces of PowerBait, small minnows, cheese or tiny spinners.

Click here for more Downstate options.


Big news is fall trout opening; otherwise, it is crappie fishermen.


I am starting to wonder about water levels heading into winter. Some of the rivers, especially the Iroquois and Kankakee are very low. I think we need a lot more than what is forecast over the next day or two.

For a general overview of nearby river conditions, click here.

To get to more specific gauges, even on creeks, in Illinois, 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):Great action for musky, walleye, crappies and smallmouth bass, with deer rut just around the corner; all in and amidst the lakes and the Wisconsin River in Wisconsins Marathon and Lincoln Counties (near Mosinee and Wausau). Fall has really come on in the central Wisconsin area, as you can tell from the cooler temperatures and the masses of leaves falling from the trees. That change in seasons also means a change in fishing presentations and hunting patterns. The musky bite in the central Wisconsin area is really good, and we are now starting to see quite a few fish being caught on suckers suspended below slip bobbers, 3 to 5 feet down. We are also catching a fair number of nice fish on crankbaits like Depth Raiders, jerk baits like Suicks, and rubber baits like Bulldawgs. Most of our action has come from fish holding in 6 to 12 feet of water. Walleye action in the central Wisconsin area just keeps getting better and better, with a lot of nice fish in that 15 to 20 inch range. We are also catching a few nice slot fish and even a couple up to and over that magical 30 inch mark. Most of the walleyes are holding in deeper water right now, and you can find them by working 1/8 and 1/4 ounce lead head jigs tipped with fathead minnows. For consistency target the fish that are staging in the deeper pools in the main Wisconsin River system or lake. The key to being consistent is finding the active feeding fish in these areas. These fish are either at the head of the pool which is where the current is coming into it, or they are holding at the bottom end of the pool where the current is leaving. The fish that are staged in the center of the pool are the lethargic fish that won’t be as easily tempted into striking your presentation. If you are fishing a lake, us the wind as your current determining factor. The fall crappie bite in the central Wisconsin area is excellent and consists of suspended fish holding over deeper water. To find these active fish target water depths in the 10 to 16 foot range. Use slip bobbers rigged up with tiny jigs set 4 to 8feet down. Tip the jigs with tiny fathead minnows and slowly drift through these deep water areas. After a few drifts you will see a pattern forming as to which depth most fish are holding and where they are in the area At that point you can readjust your baits and drift pattern to be more consistent and successful. Smallmouth bass action has been phenomenal this past week in the central Wisconsin area. with the cooler water temperatures which are now in the mid to upper 40 degree range, you will find your active fish relating to rocks and wood in 6 to 10 feet of water. Target these areas with crank baits like Rapala Shad Raps and jigs tipped with plastics like beaver tails.


Arden Katz said bluegill are excellent shallow on the south end of Channel, while crappie and white are in 12-15 on Marie. Triangle staff reported walleye good around current on small jigs and fatheads; some quality fish from Channel and Marie; for white bass, find them, then switch to slip-bobber and minnows; muskie are active on small suckers or jerkbaits or try trolling southern lakes.

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

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


MAZONIA/BRAIDWOOD: Monster Lake at Mazonia South remains open year round. Other Mazonia lakes and Braidwood are now closed to fishing.


DELAVAN: Guide Dave Duwe emailed:

Delavan Lake 10/15/12 through 10/22/12 With the cooler water temperatures the fish are moving shallow. Northern Pike and Walleyes are becoming more accessible to the average fishermen. Most of the fish in the shallower water are aggressively hitting crank baits, which is a great method for late fall fishing. Walleye fishing has been excellent in pre-dusk. They are biting on Smithwick Rogues in chrome/blue or chrome/black or Excalibur Spots in the same colors. Look for the fish by the yacht Club, Assembly Park point or by the Village Supper Club. The fish are located in 12-15 ft of water, so when you cast out, you need to let the bait sink a little so you are touching the weeds with the crank baits. Northern pike are being caught in the 12-15 ft depth range. They are biting on large suckers. With suckers larger than 8 inches, I use a quick strike rig, but if they are less than 8 inches I’ve been single hooking them through the mouth. Most of the fish are being taken on main lake points, like Willow Point and the Yacht Club. Bluegill fishing has been very good. The fish are suspended in 40 ft of water, approximately 15-20 ft down. Without wind, you want to anchor and fish straight beneath the boat. The best bait is a one half of a leaf worm or wax worm. Look for the fish off of the Yacht Club or off of Willow Point. Crappies are again on the weedlines in 12-15 ft depth range. They can be caught with purple or chartreuse plastics. Look for the fish by Browns Channel or the marina on North Shore. The key has been casting out and letting the lure sink and retrieving slowly back. Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050

GENEVA: Duwe emailed:

Lake Geneva 10/15/12 through 10/22/12 With the cooling temperatures, the fish have been aggressively biting. The best bite on the lake has been the smallmouth bass and the yellow perch. Smallmouth bass can be caught lindy rigging in 22-28 ft of water off the main lake points. I’ve been catching most of my fish by the Yacht Club, Military Academy or in front of Gage Marine. The fish can be caught on fat head minnows or yellow perch caught in the lake. With cooler temperatures forecasted, the fish will even move shallower making the main lake points even more productive. For shallower points, try Black Point and Conference Point. Yellow perch can be caught in 2-9 ft of water. The best location is by Knollwood, Rainbow Point or Belvidere Park. The best approach is fishing Thill slip bobbers tipped with a fat head minnow. You want to position the bait, 1 foot above the weeds or 1 foot above the bottom. There are a lot of fish in the 10-12 inch range. Largemouth bass are in the shallows. Look for the fish in Geneva Bay around the piers or in Trinkes. With the cooler water, the fish have moved very shallow, look for them in 4-6 ft of water. The best approach is casting spinner baits or a white swim jig. This bite will be consistent for the next few weeks with the water temperatures as cool as they are. Northern pike have moved into the shallow weeds. The best bet is Williams Bay or Fontana Beach. They can be caught on slip bobber rigged large golden shiners or medium suckers. You want to position the boat in 12-15 ft of water, keeping the bait 1-2 ft above the weeds. Walleyes can be caught at night. They are being caught on large Rapallas or Smithwick medium diving rogues. The best location has been trolling from Abbey Springs to the Yacht Club or in front of Yerkes Observatory. Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050 Daily Reports 10/13/12 Lake Geneva, cloudy, rainy, 55 degrees, winds W at 10-15 mph. Water temp 55 degrees. Caught 25 smallmouth. The fish were caught on lindy rigged large fat head minnows. The best location was by the Military Academy and by the Yacht Club. This time of year, the fish are very schooled up so if you catch one there is a likelihood you will catch several more. 10/10/12 Lake Geneva, sunny, 60 degrees, W winds at 15-30 mph. Water temp 56 degrees. Caught 15 smallmouth bass – 7 were legal, and 20 perch. The fish were located in 25-28 ft of water. Fished large fat head minnows on lindy rigs on the east side of Conference Point and in front of Gage Marine.


EVERGREEN: Bait shop/boat rental is over for the year. Any updated fishing report from site staff will be posted here.

POWERTON LAKE: Larry Dozard of larrysfishinghole.com reported the final day of boat fishing is Friday; last day of shore fishing is Oct. 26. Shore fishing reopens Dec. 24; boat fishing, Feb. 15. Winter hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

EMIQUON: One of my regrets is that the year is getting away from me and I have not fished it once. The 2012 permits are available for fishing at Emiquon from Dickson Mounds Museum in Lewistown.


Ken Gortowski sent this:

I only got out once in the past week. The weekend temperatures were perfect, but I’ve pushed my luck with lightning a bit too far this year and I didn’t want to find out if the called for severe thunderstorms finally had my number. I tortured myself in two long stretches of the Fox where the algae issues have all but killed off the bite. I should have been having 50 fish days through here since the end of August, but that never materialized. I did okay a couple of days, but nothing like it has been. I only managed landing three and missing another three. Fours hours of fishing gone to waste. I sent along a picture of the algae that was taken last year in this stretch if you care to use it. Looks worse this year, I have more pictures. Last year is when it started showing up like this. It coincides with an article I read two years ago, which I can no longer find, mentioning how the treatment plant in Montgomery was going to change the chemical make up of how water is treated before being released into the river. I’ll be putting up something when I get it documented and done. In the mean time, more reports from Bob Long, Jr, fishing the northern stretches of the Fox and doing well. Also got an email from Nat Lawrence, a dedicated fly fisherman, that said he too was doing well further north. As he said… Fishing has been good this Fall, and I hope to get out a couple more times. That would be an understatement based on the email updates Nat sends me. I like to hear of 20 or more fish days from the fly guys, generally a tougher way to fish the Fox and I like to see them succeed. I had shown Nat a long stretch below Montgomery earlier in the year that he wound up liking. He gave up fishing there because of the algae issues and has been concentrating further north. His latest email ended… why is there so much algae in your section of the River? It is virtually impossible to fish. I now know why and what the source is. Now it’s a matter of what to do with that info and getting the problem stopped.

BTW, Sam Bennett has a getting started guide for the Fox posted here.


Check the Wisconsin DNR fishing report for any updates. There was none as of Wednesday.


Norm Minas set this:

The recent rains did next to nothing to the river. it is still below normal flow, you can see bottom in at least 4 ft of water and the water temps are 54.4 degrees. It did not flush the algae or the floating weeds, surprising on Monday the leaves weren’t much of a problem. The latest trip was pretty much a rattlebait bite, throw it into faster water, bring it back into slower water and be alert when you feel the change in vibration when it clears the current seam. For the most part it went from a change in the vibration pattern from faster to slower water to no vibration at all when a fish took it. A few times a fish hit hard enough to put a bit of bend in the rod but for the most part, it was time to set the hook when it just stopped vibrating. That pattern got seven smallmouth between 17 and 19 inches and four walleyes in the mid twenty inch range. I also fished a spinnerbait in the washout hole behind some weedbeds, there needed to be at least 1.5 ft of water in the washout hole for that to work. They bass were medium sized fish in the 12 to 15 inch range. I hit up a boulder field with cranks, rattlebaits, spinnerbaits, flukes and jigs to no avail. Time for some food as I skipped lunch.

Ed Mullady sent this:

Fishing on the Kankakee continues, with most of it from shoreline *kayak, canoe or flat bottom boats by those who know the depths of the river *wading safely by those who know area. Most fishingdonefrom the shore due to low water conditions. Keep in mind that most fisherman who fish from a boat cast up near the shore! That’s why so many do catch river fish by being quiet while walking along the banks and fishing upstream or downstream along the shoreline. Quiet is very important! *Smallmouth Bass: Good both in Indiana and Illinois on *jig and minnow *#2 or #3 Spinners *weedless Doctor Spoons *Crankbaits *Wtd. Keeper Hooks & Single or Double Twister tails *imitation or real crawfish. *On Fly rods try *streamer flies *imitation frog poppers. Especially good around *brush piles *all shorelines *below piers *mouths of creeks, ditches. ============================================================================ LARGEMOUTH BASS: Improved fishing in Indiana and Illinois along mouths of Creeks *Bayous *in water logs. Baits: Spinner Baits *live and/or plastic crawlers *#3 Spinners *poppers on fly rod *crankbaits. =========================================================================== WALLEYE: Fair in both Indiana and Illinois. *Try shorelines *shallow water near deep water *below sandbars *below dams, spillways *in-water logs. Good baits include:Weedless Doctor Spoons *Jig and Minnow *Rattlin’ Rogues *jig and nightcrawler *Jointed minnow shaped plugs. ============================================================================ NORTHERN PIKE: Good around Indiana and Illinois where rivers or creeks, ditches, meet into the Kankakee River *Also along shorelines where moving water moves along quiet water. Baits include: Weedless Doctor Spoons * Dardevles *#5 Mepps Spinners *4-6″ live minnow. ================================================================================ CATFISH: Good to Very Good throughout river on 4-6″live minnows *cheesebaits *nightcrawlers. ============================================================================== ROCK BASS, CROPPIE, BLUEGILL: Good on smaller streams flowing into the Kankakee *Below bridge piers *in-water logs *brush piles. Good baits:2-3″ minnows *jig and night crawler *fly rod sponge spiders *Fly rod poppers *fly rod streamers. Best to you! Ed Mullady, Sportsman’s Letter


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


In Chicago, salmon are turning dark on shore, but action continues at night at Montrose and Carl Vizzone caught four Tuesday (two on spawn and two on jigs) at Belmont. Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters reported lakers and kings being caught in 120-200 feet out of North Point; fish at all levels but scattered. He said best will likely be around the reefs.

SNAGGING: Snagging season is open for Chinook and coho. The only open areas on the lakefront are the inner and outer harbors at Jackson Park, Lincoln Park Lagoon from the Fullerton Avenue Bridge to the southern end of the Lagoon, Winnetka power plant discharge area and Waukegan Harbor (in North Harbor basin only). No snagging is allowed at any time within 200 feet of a moored watercraft or as posted. Salmon snagging season ends Dec. 31.

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.


Fishing at Morris Wetlands is closed for the season.


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

* Good to excellent action for walleye, northern and panfish, with musky putting on a good bite. Northern mallards starting to show up, woodcock hunting is SUPERB right now, grouse hunting moving into the best hunting of the year, and archery deer hunting is in what is called the October Lull. All in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area. Musky in the Eagle River area putting on a good bite. Fish 10 feet or water or less in and around weeds. Use a medium sized crankbaits, spinnerbait, jerbaits, or medium (12-15 inch) sucker. Normal retrieve, and do a figure 8 when your bait nears the boat. All day bite, with peaks in the evening. Walleye are providing good to excellent action in the Eagle River area. Fish 15-30 feet of water off of break edges over hardbottom. Use a jig and a minnow. Walleye are tight to bottom. All day bite. Northern are in 10 feet of water or less in and around weeds in the Eagle River area. Use a Husky Jerk (walleye or minnow pattern), floating Rapala, or a northern sucker under a slip bobber. All day bite. Good to excellent action. Panfish (crappies, bluegills and perch) are providing good to excellent action in the Eagle River area. Fish 10-20 feet of water off of break edges or weed edges. The perch are tight to bottom, with the crappies and gills suspending up and down the water column. Use a chunk or crawler or a crappie minnow under a jig or slip bobber. All day bite. Hunting report: Some northern mallards are starting to show up in the Eagle River area. There are also some redheads on the big water- – but the buffleheads and other divers are not here yet. There are a few green-winged teal, but the blue-winged teal and wood ducks are gone – -chased out by the recent cold weather. There are only a few flocks of Canada geese from the northern. Swans are staging for their migrations on local Eagle River area lakes. (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: Kurt Justice of Kurt’s Island Sport Shop sent this:

Lake temps continue to drop further into the 40’s, a few larger lakes still in the high 40’s – low 50’s, but the cooling water definitely affecting fishing — some good –some not as good. Musky: Very good. Lots of fish reported this past week. Many anglers reporting multi fish days. With nearly all lakes turned over, anglers finding fish at a variety of depths depending on lake type. Reports from guides Russ and Jake Smith have fish hitting big Smity Jerks worked just off the edge of dying black weeds in 6-10′. Russ boated 6 fish in two days. Guides Paul Habram and myself found best action in 14-20′ drifting large and XL suckers on quick set rigs with blades. Lots of 40-48″ fish over the weekend with Paul’s clients boating fish of 44, 45, 47, 47 1/2, and 48″ over two days. Even Baloney accounted for a couple of big skies. This is the time to be out on the water for Musky. Walleye: Good. Best action deep (30-50′) dragging chubs and suckers on Lindy style rigs. Big eyes at this time of 26-30″ with a 30 1/2″ on a 6″ sucker being tops for the week. Please use caution reeling fish from these depths. Slow is the key to being able to release these fish (think of the future). Perch: Good. Work green weeds to find eaters using 1/2 crawlers or medium fatheads. A few nice 10-11″ers reported but mostly 8-9″ fish. Pike: Good. Live bait best. Some nicer pike hitting twitch baits meant for musky. Overall a slow, live bait presentation is best. As of time of this report, no reports on bass, crappies or gills. The hot musky action has strong correlation to the weather. Cloudy, windy days have been best. While some anglers have reported better action during the afternoons, our boat landed 4 (including a fat tiger) all in the morning on sunday. With many lakes running surface temps of 42-46 degrees. Slow and big seem to be key.


Mike Starcevich at Mik-Lurch reported the creeks loaded up with fish, especially fresh steelhead, after the rains. Some kings are still being taken at Hammond Marina, East Chicago Marina, in Deep River and at the Hole-in-the-Wall.


Check the Root River Report later this week. As of today, there is no new report.

For up to date river conditions, check out theUSGS web site of stream flow conditions in Wisconsin.


I love it, Lakeside keeps trying stuff. They are doing their first Bluegill/crappie open on Saturday. Here are the details:

Shabbona Lake 5 Bluegill/5 Crappie Open October 20, 2012 This is the last Fishing Open of the year. It is a new addition this year. Bluegill have been very plentiful and above average. Crappie have been feeding heavily on schools of shad all summer. We could get some outstanding weights in this event. The weather looks like a perfect Fall Day, get out to Shabbona Lake one more time!!! October 20th, 2012 – 1st Annual Crappie/Bluegill Open Sponsored by Cabela’s Outdoors of Hoffman Estates – Heaviest stringer of 5 Crappie and 5 Bluegill will win a Cabela’s gift card. Catches may be weighed in any time prior to 5 PM. Prizes will be for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place, $100, $50 & $25 respectfully. 2012 has been a very good year at Shabbona Lake. Cabela’s will be offering a $100. gift card for the heaviest 5 Bluegill/5 Crappie caught on October 20th at Shabbona Lake. We will have a Walleye stocking donation jar, set up at Lakeside Bait, Tackle & Boat Rental, for the event. If you donate $5.00 or more to the Walleye Fund, and you place 1st in the 5 Bluegill/5 Crappie event, Cabela’s will double your prize to $200 Cabela’s Gift Card. You Must Sign Up and Donate $5. Prior To Your Catches To Win $200. Lakeside is now taking reservations for Bass Boat, Pontoon, Motor Boat or Row Boat!!! Go toshabbonalake.comor call 815-824-2581.


Check the Wisconsin DNR Lake Michigan report for any updated report. It was not updated by Wednesday.


Mike Starcevich at Mik-Lurch said walleye starting in the corn channel on the Indiana side, even one to 26 inches in the past week.


Heavy rains raised the flow making excellent walleye in the river, according to guide Bill Stoeger. White bass are scattered; heavy current made crappie spots tough.









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