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Wisconsin opener, lakefront coho/trout: Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report

Gar on the Des Plaines.
Provided by Marcus Benesch

Coho and trout on southern Lake Michigan and the upcoming Wisconsin opener lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report for Chicago fishing.

And please remember that the sectionals for IHSA bass fishing are scheduled (weather may be a factor) for Thursday. Give the kids space to fish.

Marcus Benesch sent the photo above and this note from the Des Plaines River:

While bass fishing Sunday morning I ran into a lot of hungry longnose gar that made for some excellent battles. Some as small as 15inches and few around 40 inches including a 54″ I landed in the kayak after a 5 minute fight.

The condensed Midwest Fishing Report appears Wednesdays on the outdoors page of the Sun-Times newspaper. The sprawling raw-file report is posted here online on the Sun-Times outdoors page.

LAKEFRONT SALMON AND TROUT

Lakefront action over the weekend.<br>Provided
Lakefront action over the weekend.
Provided

David Stachura emailed the photo above and this:

good day on Lake Michigan even though it snowed yesterday. Lake trout were plenty but the Coho were not. See ya soon, Dave..

Mike at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor said coho and browns have been steady at Montrose. “There are even guys on the Horseshoe now,” he said in the rain Tuesday.

Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station, Ind. texted:

Coho action on boats good from cal park all the way east to new buffalo a good number of kings mixed in also

25 to 50 ft along the shoreline good using thinfish spoons and some plugs

Fish full of smelt and alewives

Thanks some really big kings are around some in mid to upper 20s

A bunch caught near and around Michigan city

But some all along shoreline

Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters said coho have been good on the Chicago shoreline by Montrose, north of Montrose and by Navy Pier 00 Dodgers and peanut flies; lakers are good on leadcore and spoons in 45-55 feet.

At North Point, a few coho are showing up, lakers are “lights out” from 30 feet to the hill.

Lori Ralph at The Salmon Stop in Waukegan texted:

About the same as last week, this stupid weather isn’t hurting the fishing, they are still biting,,,, it’s the fishermen who don’t want to go out in the chilly temps! I’ve told a few guys to “grow a pair” and just do it!

Speaking the truth, she is.

Capt. Scott Wolfe of School of Fish Charters emailed:

Hi Dale

Fishing all over the South end of Lake Michigan is on fire now.

Waukegan has some of the best trout fishing of all time. Limits of lakers are the norm in 50 to 70 feet of water South of the harbor. Most fish are over 10 pounds with some well over that. If anglers don’t want to keep the fish this is the time of your you can catch and release them safely. The water is still cold and they do not get the bends from being brought up from deep water. If anglers want to do that they should use de-hookers like are common in salt water and not handle the fish at all. Jimmy Fly laker rigs and Mo rigs with the UV skirts run near the bottom behind 0 metal Luhr-Jensen dodgers are the work horses. More and more silver fish are taken each trip with coho staring to show in good numbers. Peanut flys and Warrior flutter spoons off yellowbird trolling boards should be run. Jimmy fly UV peanuts or Lake Michigan Angler Liz flys have been the top choices.

Waukegan shore fishing is getting good. On Friday guys casting were getting steady action with coho and browns coming in. Flicker shads custom painted for Lake Michigan by Lake Michigan Angler in Winthrop Harbor were best with small spoons like Cleo’s and Krocs a close second. Unfortunately The weekend was slow and it appeared the coho there moved. This is typical for the start of the year and indicates for the next 4-5 weeks at least fishing will be good.

Chicago fishing was excellent with limits of coho the norm. The best news was that fishing inside the break wall near Navy Pier, protected and great for small boats, was the best area. The closer to shore the better with massive amounts of bait and coho. There are also kings there so at least some Magnum Warrior spoons should be run. The alewife are huge in Chicago so match the hatch with Magnum spoons.

Elsewhere I traded emails with Captains in Indiana and New Buffalo and it was the same story – excellent fishing. Now is the time to book your charters or get out on your own.

Capt. Scott Wolfe

School of Fish Charters

630-341-0550

http://www.schooloffishcharters.com

[ADDED NOTE] Chip Porter dropped a note about lake trout not getting “the bends.” This is a raw-file report. However, catch-and-release lakers can suffer from normal fishing-related stress, such as thermal and hooking/unhooking issues.

IHSA BASS-FISHING SECTIONALS

Sectionals for IHSA bass fishing are scheduled for Thursday. I feel I shouldn’t need to do this, but give the kids room to fish. Nearby sites include Braidwood, Busse, Chain, Des Plaines River, Heidecke, Lake Holiday, Shabbona and Skokie Lagoons.

WISCONSIN OPENER

The traditional opening day for Wisconsin is Saturday, the first Saturday in May, and I put the prospects reports in the individual reports. Click here for more general information on seasons, bags and such.

AREA LAKES

Two IHSA bass-fishing sectionals are scheduled at Busse Lake and one each at Skokie Lagoons and Lake Holiday.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley sent this on bass:

Hey Dale,

Here is a recap of this past week’s fishing.Area lakes-before winter decided to make another appearance, bass were cruising shorelines. Best bait was a 1/4 oz jig and craw trailer. After the front passed, bass moved out to deeper water. Chatterbaits produced a few fish here are there as they were scattered. A few warm days and they will start staging for the spawn.TTYL—Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Husker Outdoors

Waterwerks fishing team

AREA RIVERS

This is a week where this information is important. Click here to find river closures listed by the Illinois DNR. Go to http://water.weather.gov//ahps2/index.php?wfo=lot to check area water levels and projection. To get to more specific gauges, even on creeks, in Illinois, go to http://waterdata.usgs.gov/il/nwis/current/?type=flow

BRAIDWOOD LAKE

An IHSA bass-fishing sectional is scheduled for Thursday.

Open 6 a.m.-sunset daily. Exelon’s Fishing for a Cure is Saturday.

Angler’s Choice on Braidwood Lake.<br>Provided
Angler’s Choice on Braidwood Lake.
Provided

Rob Abouchar sent the report and photo below:

Hi Dale

The first Anglers Choice Braidwood Lake division tournament went off Sunday with 35 boats in the field. The tournament was won by Nick Connor who fished solo and brought 10.26 lbs to the scale with 3 fish. Second went to Randy Miller and Andy Wegner. Third went to Thompson and Elizando . The big bass of the tournament was caught by 4th place team Ragan and Budach it weighed 5.13 lbs. I would not be surprised if a 6 pounder comes in this season as the average size of largemouth seems to be getting a little better. I missed the tourney to attend a wake of a longtime friend Andy Lucchesi. He and his family lived on the Loch Lomond lake down the street and we had so many memories of hockey, baseball, football and most of all fishing. Even after Andy moved away from the house his mother would allow me to pass through and use the giant yellow aluminum canoe to fish for Bass on the lake. These are the things that remind us of who we are and where we come from. This week will be the Sectionals for IHSA Bass Fishing. My Leyden High School squad is participating for the first time. Going through this i see what the coaches have to do and it is quite a bit of work. So I tip my hat to those who have made this such a big deal. And Friday will be the Gig at Penny Road Pub and then finally some time back on the water in Wisconsin.Tight LinesRob

That is an interesting though on the possibility of a 6-pounder in a tournament.

CALUMET SYSTEM

No update.

CHAIN O’LAKES

Considering the weather, I would suggest keeping an eye on possible boating restrictions at Fox Waterway Agency or (847) 587-8540.

Two IHSA bass-fishing sectionals are scheduled for Thursday.

Brad Irving at Triangle Sports and Marine said bluegills continue to be good in the channels, crappie appear to have moved to the mouths of channels; anglers are raising muskies, not many being caught; walleye are slow, though I wonder if the increased current may pick things up, and the best bite is on crawlers; bass are tough.

STRATTON LOCK AND DAM: The lock reopens Wednesday, May 1. Click here for more info on the lock and dam.

Key information for May and June is this:

To facilitate ongoing construction operations at the Stratton-Bolger facility, the lock will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays (with the exception of Memorial Day on Monday, May 27) during the months of May and June.

During the months of May and June, IDNR lock tenders will operate the lock on Wednesdays through Sundays from 8:00 a.m. until midnight.

CHICAGO RIVER

No update this week from Capt. Pat Harrison at Pat Harrison Outdoors.

DELAVAN LAKE, WISCONSIN

No update.

DES PLAINES RIVER

An IHSA bass-fishing sectional is scheduled for Thursday on the lower end.

Marcus Benesch sent this on Monday before water levels began rising:

Dale,

River levels have been receding back to normal up and down the river. Best bite going now are largemouth bass. Pike are fair at the moment. Bass have been close to shore and easy targets for jerk baits. Water temps have gotten up to the low 50s.While bass fishing Sunday morning I ran into a lot of hungry longnose gar that made for some excellent battles. Some as small as 15inches and few around 40 inches including a 54″ I landed in the kayak after a 5 minute fight.Marcus BeneschGurnee, Illinois

DOWNSTATE NOTES

POWERTON LAKE: Boat and shore fishing are open. On Wednesday, May 1, hours extend to 6 a.m.-8 p.m.

LAKE SHELBYVILLE: Check with Ken Wilson of Ken Wilson Guide Service. REND LAKE: Check with Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing. HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Have not yet seen the opening day for spring/summer fishing to begin.

DuPAGE RIVER

No update.

FOX RIVER: WESTERN SUBURBS

River is at flood and Ken Gortowski had this timely input:

The Fox River and all the creeks flowing into it are all flowing high, fast and muddy. Based on this weeks forecast, it’s only going to get worse.Good opportunity for those that like to do that kind of tight to shore, high fast and muddy fishing, but even I might be persuaded by some pond fishing. It’s been a few years since I’ve hit my secret ponds.For those that do want to do that high fast and muddy thing, Geneva was lways the best for it. Why becomes self evident once you get there.Ken G

FOX RIVER, WISCONSIN

No update.

GENEVA LAKE, WISCONSIN

No update.

GREEN BAY/STURGEON BAY

Lance LaVine at Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. emailed this last week:

Good morning fellas. Sorry for the delay, been a bit busy

Brown Trout fishing has been going quite well on the bay side of the peninsula along with the lakeside now starting to fire up. Trolling and casting the shallow water, generally less than 20 feet of water. Fishermen generally look for warmer water pockets and clean to stained water areas. Trolling with floating Rapalas, Thundersticks and flutter style spoons like Mauler spoons and Stingers. Fishermen that choose to cast via shore or by boat are using casting spoons like Cleo’s and Krokodile’s along with stick baits like Rapala Shadow raps, Rip Stops and Rogue’s.

Stream fishermen are still finding good success in Door County’s Lake Michigan tributaries. Drifting with spawn sacs along with pitching spinners and small spoons in the larger pools

Pike fishing is starting to ramp up a bit more now that it seems like the post spawn bite is starting to get rolling. Drifting with large sucker minnows is an option along with casting and trolling large stick baits, spoons and plastics

The Walleye fishing is starting to get rolling with a pretty good night bite going on right now for both big pre-spawn fish and a few post spawn fish now getting caught. Same old story year in and year out….trolling the primary and secondary drop-offs along the rocky shorelines throughout the county from as far south as Chaudoirs Dock all the way up the peninsula to Sister Bay all good options for some big Walleyes. As of right now the limit in our area is 1 fish over 15 inches, then on May 4th the limit goes back up to 5 fish. For the trollers, the best baits are suspending baits like Husky Jerks, Smithwick Rogues, Lucky Crafts, Megabass along with Flicker Shads and Minnows. And for folks that want to cast….Rippin Raps, Blade baits, hair jigs along with bigger paddle tails like Keitech baits

And on May 4th also marks the opener of our Bass fishing opener which is crazy around here! Hundreds, even thousands of fishermen will be searching for those schools of giant pre-spawn bass. Most likely we will see lots of fish in that 5 to 6 plus pound range along with plenty of 7 pound fish and even a few 8 plus pounders just like we saw last year. Early in the season with the cold water, most fishermen will search for warm water pockets in bottom transition areas like those rock to sand areas we always talk about. Slow presentation is the key! Shorty Tubes, Ned Rigs, Hair and marabou jigs, Keitech paddle tails along with deadsticking suspending jerk baits like Megabass, Lucky Crafts, Shadow Raps, Ripstops and Smithwick Rogues all good options

Thanks;

Lance LaVine

Howie’s Tackle

1309 Green Bay Rd

Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235

Ph: 920-746-9916

I think he is right with the possibility of thousands trying for smallmouth bass.

Click here to see the Wisconsin DNR’s Lake Michigan Fishing Report.

HEIDECKE LAKE

Hours are 6 a.m.-sunset, shore opens at 6:30 a.m.

An IHSA bass-fishing sectional is scheduled for Thursday.

ILLINOIS RIVER

River is in flood. On Tuesday, the IDNR tweeted:

Due to flooding on the Illinois River, the main parking lot and riverside lower area including the boat launches at Starved Rock State Park are closed. Other park facilities including the Starved Rock Lodge are open; parking is available in the lodge lot and overflow lot.

INDIANA STREAMS (LAKE MICHIGAN TRIBUTARIES)

Access points for Trail Creek can be found on the Trail Creek Access Map. Access points for Little Cal and Salt Creek, which are closer to Chicago than Trail Creek, may be found at littlecal_saltcreek_access.

KANKAKEE RIVER

Projected to be near flood in Illinois and in flood in Indiana.

KENOSHA, WISCONSIN

Click here to see the Wisconsin DNR’s Lake Michigan Fishing Report. It generally comes out Tuesday.

LAKE ERIE

The Ohio DNR has general Lake Erie info and a fishing report.

LAKEFRONT

See top for lakefront coho and trout report. But there is more than that going. Smallmouth reports have been getting better around the lakefront, though weather has limited effort.

PARKING PASSES: Passes ($10 for two months) for parking at the two small fishermen’s lots at DuSable and Burnham harbors are available at Henry’s Sports and Bait, Park Bait and Northerly Island (credit card only and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday).

ACCESS/PARKING OPTIONS: Here are some parking and access notes for the Chicago lakefront. Several guys have said the parking app, Spot Hero, has been working well for them while trying to park downtown for fishing; otherwise find street parking or small lots. . . . Montrose Harbor has plenty of free parking within easy walking. . . . At Navy Pier, check in at the parking office in the east lot, then be out by 10 a.m. sharp for the reduced parking rate. . . . For DuSable Harbor, use the small fisherman’s lot, but be aware there is lots of construction going in that area. . . . At Burnham/Northerly Island, use the Burnham fishermen’s lot or meter parking north of the old terminal (on days with no events at Soldier Field or the music pavilion). . . . Only legal fishing at the slip north of 87th is on the east end at Steelworkers Park. Plenty of free street parking. The slip at 89th is private property.

LaSALLE LAKE

Blues and hybrids continue to be the primary focus and catches.

As biologist David Wyffels noted, it is a blue catfish and hybrid striped bass lake now. I would also throw in bluegill, with hopes that largemouth and smallmouth rebound.

Open daily 6 a.m. to sunset.

MADISON CHAIN, WISCONSIN

Gene Dellinger at D & S Bait said for opening day there should be a good walleye night bite on Mendota, which has been undergoing good stocking last four years, and this should be a good year, Waubesa is usually good on opening weekend, try inlets and outlets; bluegill are decent on Waubesa out from Lake Farm, and the bays on Monona. Some smallmouth on Mendota on crankbaits on points; water is a little cool, still in the 40s.

D & S Bait can be followed on Facebook.

MAZONIA

Both units are open daily 6 a.m.-sunset.

MILWAUKEE HARBOR

Click here to see the Wisconsin DNR’s Lake Michigan Fishing Report. It is generally out Tuesdays.

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

Gamefish season reopens Saturday.

Kurt Justice of Kurt’s Island Sport Shop in Minocqua, Wis. emailed this:

Opener is days away (May 4th) and anglers are chomping at the bit to get out on some soft water to fish Walleyes, Pike and Largemouth Bass. Can they, is still a question. Many lakes in the Northwoods still have ice but its pulling away and melting, just not fast enough to make us all comfortable.

Lakes that are smaller, darker and have some sort of current are open completely. Larger bodies, and lakes with clear water are holding to its ice.

Temps aren’t forecasted to warm up till Fri/Sat, but rain on Wed (5/1) will also help.

There will be fishable lakes, even portions of the Flowages will be fishable. Anglers can expect to find pre-spawn, spawn and even some post-spawn action depending on the water they are on.

Wild bait will be near impossible to find, but pond raised fatheads and suckers will work on jigs, as well as, casting shallow running stickbaits such as Rattlin Rouges and #9 Floating Rapalas.

Keep and eye on our FaceBook page for further ice out developments.

Kurt Justice

Kurt’s Island Sport Shop

Like us on FaceBook

Andrew Ragas at Northwoods Bass Fishing Adventures had this overview in an extended preview for the opener:

If you’re thinking about traveling north this weekend for the season opener, travel with the expectations you will be able to fish everywhere except the biggest, coldest lakes. This time of year, remember that boat fishing won’t be necessary at some places – shore fish, wade, or float any of the area rivers if water levels allow – but steer clear of spawning refuges. If seeking walleyes, you don’t have to keep every one. Please observe slot limits, release all big females, and important to note the Minocqua chain remains closed to walleye angling and harvest.

NORTHWEST INDIANA

Lakefront report at the top.

Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station, Ind. texted:

Weather has the panfish off and on crazy weather fronts

If u could post I have huge shipment of triple s stinkbait in formerly known as Sonny’s stinkbait small jars and tubs

I guess it should be close to catfish time, though it doesn’t feel like it.

ROCK RIVER, ILLINOIS

No update.

ROCK RIVER, WISCONSIN

No update.

ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN

The Wisconsin DNR’s Root River Report is usually out Tuesday or Wednesday. Click here to see it.

ST. JOSEPH, MICHIGAN

Inland walleye and pike season reopened Saturday, April 27. Check with staff at Tackle Haven. With the weather, I did not get them called.

ST. JOSEPH RIVER, INDIANA

Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR.

SHABBONA LAKE

Clint Sands at Lakeside said before the rains came, fishing had been good. Virtually nobody has been out recently. Water is up around a foot.

An IHSA bass-fishing sectional is scheduled for Thursday.

Hours at Lakeside are now 6 a.m.-7 p.m. daily; restaurant is 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday until Memorial Day weekend.

Park hours through Oct. 31 are 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

SOUTHEAST WISCONSIN LAKEFRONT

For the Wisconsin DNR’s Lake Michigan Fishing Report, click here to see it. Streams flow info is at http://waterdata.usgs.gov/wi/nwis/current?type=flow.

WINNEBAGO SYSTEM, WISCONSIN

No update.

WISCONSIN DELLS

Check with River’s Edge.

WISCONSIN RIVER

No update.

WOLF LAKE

No update.

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

I did not check in with guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont.

Gary Bloom messaged on Thursday that friends caught 65 white bass at Winneconne, but that was before the weather shifted.

The Wisconsin DNR said the sturgeon spawning run is about over yesterday.