Midwest Fishing Report: Lakes and rivers around Chicago fishing

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Looks like a weekend going from mild to a hint of winter for this Midwest Fishing Report, but at least there are beginning reports of perch around southern Lake Michigan.

May we have a repeat of this scene of Eric Suda at Navy Pier from a year ago.

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.

Normally, I post Wednesday mornings.

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


CHICAGO SHORE: There’s hope for traditional Thanksgiving perch. Arden Katz reported some limits–takes sorting–at Diversey Harbor. Mike Repa at Park Bait reported a powerliner picked up some Tuesday morning off the “South Rocks” at Montrose. Steve Palmisano at Henry’s said reports are just starting at Navy Pier.

INDIANA BOAT: Mike Starcevich at Mik-Lurch said the best bite has shifted east to Portage in 40-42 feet off the reef. There’s variable perch in 37 feet out of East Chicago Marina, in front of the blow-out at Lake Street and in 46 feet off Gary Light. Key is glow flies and large fatheads.


Henry’s Ice Fishing Extravaganza is at Henry’s Sports and Bait, 3130 S. Canal, from 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday. Jim “The Crappie Professor” Kopjo talks on “Winter panfish” at 10 a.m., then Tony Boshold talks about “Modern Mobility, the Next Generation,” at 1 p.m. There’s the usual famous Italian sausage sandwich and jambalaya.


The $6 pier passes for Chicago harbors, except 31st, are available at Henry’s.


The main interest is on crappie fishing, and I would expect a number of people to get out on Thanksgiving with the nice weather.

For example, Ken Gortowski sent this note on pond fishing and looking at deer:

Pond fishing. Started out helping drive deer for a guy I’ve got to know. Pushed three, they went the wrong way. He told me about a big buck he’s after. Nine largemouth and eight crappie and missed an equal amount. One pond out of the four I’ve never fished, shore was overgrown and I thought it was too shallow… boy was I wrong. Produced the biggest bass and crappie of the day, but had to go, getting dark. I have no clue how I’ll get to it next year when it’s all overgrown again. On the way out, too far from the deer hunter, spooked another four deer. One looked big. Got within 50 feet of it, easy shot if I had been hunting. It gave me it’s side and just stood there. Biggest damn deer I’ve seen, ever. Like a horse with antlers. Too dark to get a picture. I was thankful it ran away from me. I wouldn’t shoot one like that if I had the chance. I’m not a trophy hunter. Would be nice to have a skull with antlers like that attached, but no way I would mount the head. At least I know where that big buck likes to hang out.


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) Walleye and crappies providing very good action, with musky consistent, and gun deer season is open; all in and amidst the lakes and the Wisconsin River in Wisconsins Marathon and Lincoln Counties (near Mosinee and Wausau). Walleyes, crappies and muskies have been providing anglers with great action this past week in the central Wisconsin. Walleye in the central Wisconsin area are coming in 10-14 feet of water during the mid-day hours on jigs tipped with fathead minnows, but towards the evening these fish are moving up to shallow rocky shorelines in 1 to 3 feet of water, and can be taken by tossing shallow diving rank baits like Rapalas and Thundersticks. A slow retrieval is necessary as these fish are lethargic with the cold water and they will not chase a fast moving bait. In addition to the walleyes, we’ve had some pretty good action from crappies in the central Wisconsin area. Most of these crappies were 10-12 inches long but we did a couple up to 14 inches. We found the crappies suspended over 14-18 feet of water holding approximately 4 to 7 feet down. We caught the crappies by tossing light, 1/16th and 1/8th ounce jigs tipped with fathead minnows and slowly letting them sink through the water column. We also set up slip bobbers and caught a few fish on our baits that we suspended 3 to 5 feet down. Even though slip bobbers worked well, we caught more fish by simply casting and slowly retrieving the light jigs through the upper water column. Musky activity in the central Wisconsin area remained consistent this past week. We caught several nice fish using suckers on our quick-set rigs. When running the quick-set rigs we usually like to suspend one sucker around 4 to 8 feet down from a slip bobber and let it drag about 20 feet behind the boat. With no bobber attached the sucker can roam freely and go wherever it wants. More times than not the sucker that is allowed to roam freely without a bobber is the one that gets hit.


Be prepared for winter low water, if putting a boat in for the holiday. Staff at Triangle reported muskie are fair on suckers; some deeper channels have crappie on minnows, but keep moving; for walleye, try current areas or off deeper main lake slopes.

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

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


MAZONIA/BRAIDWOOD: Only Monster Lake at Mazonia South remains open year round.


Marcus Benesch of River Grove sent this:

Water levels are still at drought stage. Awfully low in a lot of sections making navigatingjust a canoe a pain.Fewlargemouth bassare still being had on cranks and spinners. Pike fishing hit a wall a few weeks back, but its still the easiest catch on the river. Most pike coming on larger baits like storm minnows and big bucktails. Any creek with water in itor wood structureswith water around it seems to be their hiding spots. When the river is up those spots are easy to find, but at the moment most of thecreeks are barely a trickle and most submerged wood is now way upout of the water. Catching a walleye on a crank this fall hasn’t produced a thing.The odd year continues… Overall assessment: Pike-Good Bass-Fair Walleye-Poor

Marcus nailed that about this being an odd year.


REND: Guide Jason Johns reported crappie limits on jigs, best in 8-14 feet, but some shallower on brush.

SHELBYVILLE: Guide Ken Wilson of Lithia Guide Service reported crappie limits, best on the north end in 5-10 in creek channels or stick-ups.

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

POWERTON LAKE: Fishing is over until shore fishing reopens Dec. 24. Boat fishing reopens Feb. 15.


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


Click here to check for an updated Wisconsin DNR Lake Michigan Fishing Report.


We are close to the time for the winter-run steelhead to begin in earnest. Mik-Lurch reported some already arriving of “the chromes,” especially in Trail Creek.


SPRING VALLEY: Time on the Water Outdoors reported sauger and walleye, takes sorting, from Spring Valley downstream; it’s pulling up and jigging down.


Nick Carr at the Trading Post reported good rock bass bite on minnows at the Kankakee dam. Guide Matt Mullady reported catching a few, but high quality smallmouth to 4 pounds, on plastics fished very slow.

Norm Minas sent this report:

Well it’s about normal for this time of year more unsuccessful or less success than you would like than successful trips. The larger average size of the fish is the attraction, you know the numbers will be lower than summer and adjust your expectations accordingly. The river has been below normal flow rates, the water temps in the low 40’s and the amount of weeds/leaves floating in the water has decreased dramatically. However, the algae on the bottom appears to have gotten thicker in many places. It just about eliminates bottom bouncing presentations. There is really no need anyway as with the heavy algal cover on the bottom the predators are feeding up not down. Flukes, swimbaits, swim jigs, rattlebaits, spinnerbaits, float-n-fly and topwaters are the way to go. There have been some notable skunk trips including Sunday when three of us flew the Pepe flag all the way home. There was another trip in which I caught a fish on the second and fith casts and nothing for the next 2.5 hours. The best trip was a day that saw 5 topwater strikes[only three hookups though] three fish on rattlebaits and two on magnum flukes. The other trips were about what I expected 4 or 5 good sized fish. I don’t know where the smaller bass get to this time of yea but they just don’t show up. I spent 3 years trying to figure it out because of curiosity but gave it up. I know it sounds a little weird, actually looking for little fish but it was just part of trying to understand as much of the coldwater river bass scene as I could. I think I’m finally going to have to start wearing the poly pro or under armour under the waders,. I’ve been feeling the chill lately in these low 40 degree water temps.

It is good to have Norm back.

Matt’s dad, Ed Mullady, sent this:

Fishing continues good throughout Kankakee River in both Indiana and Illinois. Try available shoreline fishing at mouths of ditches, bayous, backwaters that have enough water to fish at. Again, Dave Zack,President of Momence, ILKankakee River Conservancy District, presents that fishermen have been having success in catching all kinds of the river fish from the IL-IN State Line through Momence, IL. Water remains clear and the fish are feeding! Fishing also good throughout Indiana at all open fishing areas. Smallmouth Bass good in quiet river waters next to faster moving locations.*Sides and downstream parts of bridge piers *Below dams, spillways. *Spinners *Minnow shaped plugs, live minnows good. Largemouth Bass in quieter shorelines, drifts, logs in the water. Try *Mr. Twister Wtd. Keeper Hook & Twister tails *spinners*minnows *plastic nightcrawlers. Catfish continue good throughout river on *live minnows *chicken liver *catfish cheese baits. Cheese bait especially good as long as water remains fairly warm. Walleye fishing fair to good where shallow and deeper waters meet *quiet shorelines. *Weedless Doctor Spoons *Spinners *Jointed minnow shaped plugs *jig and minnow. Rock Bass, Bluegill, Croppie hitting on *nightcrawlers *smaller minnows *redworms *small spinners. Best to you, Ed Mullady


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


For perch, see top. Mike Repa at Park Bait reported a few steelhead at Diversey. Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters, who will charter until Dec. 3, reported outstanding lakers on the Waukegan Reef; he is catching coho with some steelhead in 220-270 feet east and north of Waukegan.

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.


Probably looking at ice forming by next week, but the holiday weekend looks to have mostly open water.

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

(Head): Good to excellent action for panfish, with walleye and northern providing a good bite, and musky fair. Grouse hunting very good, ducks on bigger waters, and gun deer season is open. All in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area. Water temps in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area are in the mid 30s. Panfish (crappies, bluegills and perch) are putting on a good to excellent all day bite in the Eagle River area. Fish 10-30 feet of water off of break edges, or over adjacent mud flats. The perch are tight to bottom, with the crappies and gills suspending anywhere in the water column. Use a crappie minnow, waxie or chunk of crawler on a jig or under a slip bobber. Walleye in the Eagle River area are putting on a good all day bite. Fish 10-30 feet of water off of break edges, or adjacent mud flats. The walleye are tight to bottom. Use a jig and minnow. Northern are in 10 feet of water or less holding near green weeds, in the Eagle River area. Use a Husky Jerk in a minnow or walleye pattern, or a northern sucker under a slip bobber. Good all day bite. Musky in the Eagle River area are locating off of break edges or weed edges in 10-25 feet of water. Use a medium sized jerkbait, or glidebite, and suckers in the 12-17 inch range are also working. Use a slow retrieve, and do a figure 8 as your bait nears the boat. All day bite, with short feeding windows. The action is fair. (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:

With deer on the minds of most sportsmen, not a lot of fishing going on. Warm weather has kept ice off the lakes, so while surface temps range from 37-40 degrees, it looks like the lakes will stay open through the holiday weekend. Musky: Fair. Action slow with the cold water. Few catches and fewer follows. Suckers on quick-set rigs and slow moving glide baits. High winds Saturday didn’t help as baits moved too quickly. Vertical jigging Bondi Baits and Fuzzy Duzzits also effective over deeper holes of 20-35′. Walleye: Fair. The few anglers targeting deep walleye having a tough time locating them. Big smallmouth bass being caught by walleye anglers in 30-45′. Retrieve slowly to keep from killing these deep fish. Doesn’t look to be making ice until next week.


Lakers are being caught on the Port of Indiana reef. Mike Starcevich at Mik-Lurch said best are white tubes; he said some are being caught inside of Lake Street, too. Whitefish are just starting.


Click here to check if there is an updated Root River Fishing Report from the Wisconsin DNR.


Denny Sands sent a photo of an outstanding muskie caught by his son and wife. I am holding it as a potential FOTW.

Lakeside is closed for the season. It will reopen mid-December, when there is ice fishing.

For more on Lakeside, fishing reports and the lake, go to shabbonalake.com.


Click here to see if there is an updated Wisconsin DNR Lake Michigan report


Tyler Harmon messaged:

A few steelhead around in the rivers, white fish off the piers.









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