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Summer of changes/oddities in Chicago fishing: Midwest Fishing Report

Sun-Times file photo

From flooded rivers to up-and-down temperatures, it’s been an odd and different summer so far in Chicago fishing and it shows in this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

Alan Anderson sent the photo above of the kayaker on the flooded Des Plaines River near Des Plaines on Saturday.

The MFR for Chicago fishing appears in a condensed form Wednesdays on the Sun-Times newspaper outdoors page. The sprawling raw-file report is posted here online on the Sun-Times outdoors page.

CHICAGO: Bobby Bergren sent the photo at the right of perch guru Mike Starcevich and messaged:

Mikie has been catching perch at cal park! I let the cat out of the bag!

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait said that more stable weather this week should help with the perch bite, especially considering that the water has been staying cooler than 70 degrees.

Corey Gecht at Park Bait said there are a “Ton of smaller perch,’’ but keepers take sorting at Montrose, all the same, there are some limits some mornings. A 19.5-ouncer leads Perchapalooza.

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

Perch fishing was decent good before Sunday and Monday’s north blow outside burns ditch and in front of dune state park 20 to 30ft

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN: Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said that perch are going to the south off “The Chalets” in 30-40 feet.

FROGGING IN ILLINOIS

Bullfrog season in Illinois is open. Daily bag is eight. Bullfrogs may be taken by hook and line, gig, pitchfork, spear, bow and arrow, hand, or landing net.

AREA LAKES

Catfish were stocked in city lagoons last week. Playing around with Norm Minas on Saturday, we found bluegill right where they should be in the middle of summer: stacked on the outside weed line or in the weed pockets.

As to bass, Ken “Husker” O’Malley sent this:

Hey Dale,

Here is a recap of last week’s fishing.

Area Lakes- bass are very good on crankbaits during evening hours. Work bandit 100 cranks over the tops of weeds. Key is working them slowly by keeping your rod tip up high and using 17 lbs mono to keep the bait just ticking the top of the weeds.TTYL—Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Husker Outdoors

Waterworks fishing team

AREA WATER LEVELS

Once again, considering the weather forecast, probably a good week to 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

Braidwood is open daily. Hours through Aug. 13, close is 8 p.m.; from Aug. 14-Sept. 10, close is 7:30 p.m.; from Sept. 11-24, close is 7 p.m.; from Sept. 25-Oct. 7, close is 6:30 p.m.

CALUMET SYSTEM

No update.

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

The entire system remained closed to boating as of Tuesday afternoon, with more rains forecast later in the week. For more info and lake updates, go to Fox Waterway Agency or call (847) 587-8540.

CHICAGO RIVER

Capt. Pat Harrison of Pat Harrison Outdoors sent this:

Chicago River Fishing Report

The week started with putting Monday’s trip off with Jim Kopjo “The Crappie Professor” due to weather. We did get out Tuesday and had a decent day with Crappie Gill’s White Bass Stripper Rock Bass and a few Lg. mouth. The fish were through out the water column due to current and high water. Jim was using his Crappie counter and had 35 by the end of the day and a good mix of the other species not on the counter, We had a good time sharing techniques and ideas. Next trip for him and I will be on his home Lake Shabbona to chase the Crappie there.

Thursday I had Chicago Cuds Assistant Coach Davey and guest out and some what had a repeat of Tuesday the river was up and had a lot of floating debris due to more rain and the storm drains being opened it always makes it tough to fish but we caught our share. We lost a nice Lg. Mouth at boat side out on the Lake fishing the break walls also had a big fish unhook pulling some crank baits behind the boat. Always a Great time having Davey in the boat he is a good stick.

Friday I had Ed and his wife out for the day we again got our share of pan fish with a couple smaller Small Mouth mixed jn and a couple decent Lg. Mouth. The water was high and moving pretty good that moves the fish from the normal structure and spots.

Saturday I had I had Mike Hartman and Ed out for the day. Mike and I grew up in Chicago together. By far the toughest day of the week we had to hunt fish down and keep moving. We raised a few nice smallmouth out by Navy Pier but no takers. The lake got heavy with Sail boats for the Mack Race so we went back on the river. We again managed to catch pan fish and did get some Bass the biggest with 14’. The traffic was heavy on the river Saturday afternoon and the water was high so there was some Rock and Roll going on.

All said and done the week was Fun with the folks I had out the fishing was oK for the conditions we had everyone enjoyed the time on the water Thanks for sharing the Decks of the G3 with me.

Fish were caught on white jig and twister tail as usual tilled with a waxie, small square bill crank baits and wacky worm setups. Till next week get out and enjoy the weather summer is going fast we are on the down hill side of July.

Thanks Captain Pat

www.patharrisonoutdoors.com Thanks Pat

DELAVAN/LAKE GENEVA AREA, WISCONSIN

GENEVA: Dave Duwe emailed this:

Lake Geneva Fishing Report 7/17/17 through 7/23/17

Lake Geneva is in its standard mid-summer patterns. All the rain last week slowed the fishing slightly, however the water clarity on the lake remains very good.

Largemouth bass are in the deep weedline. The best depth is 15-18 ft of water. This is slightly shallower than normal. The best approach has been drop shotting 4 inch Chomper worms. The best length from the hook to the sinker is almost exactly one foot. My best spots have been by Covenant Harbor or by the Yacht Club. Presently artificial drop shot rigs are outfishing nightcrawlers by about 3:1.

Musky action has been very good in the last week. The best success has come either trolling large crank baits in 12 ft of water by Trinkes or the narrows or by casting large buck tails over the shallow weeds. The best success has been coming at first light before the sun gets too high and the boat traffic increases. The success is coming about one fish every six hours of fishing time. The fish are ranging between 36 and 40 inches.

Smallmouth bass fishing has been rather slow. The bass have become more scattered and aren’t on any real firm pattern. I’ve been catching them here and there but nothing consistent. This is typical for this time of year as the fish are chasing pods of bait fish throughout the water column.

Bluegills have moved into their deep water summer haunts. The bigger bluegills are being found by Gage Marine and in between the Elgin Club and Knollwood. The best depth has been 20-21 ft of water. You want to fish for them straight beneath the boat using a split shot rigged leaf worm. It seems that the deeper the bluegills are the bigger the size when you find an active school.

Northern Pike action has been good. The fish are in 30 ft of water on the thermocline. The best approach is lindy rigging medium suckers. My best action has been in Fontana by the boat launch or in Williams Bay on the east shore. I’ve been back trolling between 25 and 35 ft of water.

Rock bass fishing has slowed which is probably good for most people as they tended to be disruptive when fishing for other species. They can still be found in 15-16 ft of water in and around the largemouth. The schools of them have dissipated so they are more hit or miss now.

Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties please call Dave Duwe at 262-728-8063

DELAVAN: The launches reopened and the no-wake has been lifted.

Dave Duwe sent this before the update above:

Delavan Lake Fishing report 7/17/17 through 7/23/17

As most people already know, Delavan Lake received a tremendous amount of rain over the past week and all public access to the lake has been closed. This really limited the fishing for all but shore anglers or those lucky enough to live on the lake. The water level is the highest I have seen in 25 years. This amount of rain exceeded the rains of 2008. As of 7/16 the launches are still closed and we continue to wait for lake level to decrease. I was told that it could open as early as 7/18 but that is completely dependent on the lake level and could change. With the heavy rains, the clarity of the water has decreased substantially. This will make the bait presentation difficult for the fish to see.

Before the rains, fishing was pretty good on the deep water weed points for largemouth and smallmouth bass. The success was coming out of 15-18 ft of water just west of Browns Channel or near the old Boy Scout Camp. The best approach has been either drop shotting or fishing nightcrawlers. Medium suckers lindy rigged on bottom were also a good choice prior to the rains.

Bluegills were in the deep water just outside the weed edge. My best locations have been east of Browns Channel or in front of Del Mar subdivision. The best approach was a small split shot rig with a red painted hook tipped with a leaf worm.

The northern pike bite has been spotty for me all year. I’ve only been catching 1 or 2 per trip but I haven’t been fishing for them exclusively either. Medium suckers are producing most of the success. I’ve been finding them in 17 ft of water.

Good luck and I hope to see you on the water (once we’re able to get back on!) For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 262-728-8063

DES PLAINES RIVER

No update, coming off a record flood, as indicated in the photo at the top.

DOWNSTATE NOTES

LAKE SHELBYVILLE: Ken Wilson of Ken Wilson Guide Service sent this on Sunday:

Ken says: The lake level stands at 603.94 as of todays report and is on the way down. Normal summer pool is 599.7 As it stands now we are a little over 4 feet over summer pool. The tail water flow is 1435 (cfs). Tail water fishing report has been fair to good on the crappie, white bass, catfish and Muskie. Evenings and first light our your best time. On the lake the crappie are good and still out In 8-12 feet of water so we have been trolling 200- 300 series Bandit crank baits and bottom bouncer with spinner rigs. We look for the shad schools on main lake and the mouth of coves on the depth finder and you can see the crappie and white bass underneath the shad schools. Use line counter reels so you know how much line you have out and run your speed at .08- 1.6 on gps . The learning curve on this technique is short so by midday you should have it down. White bass are slow to fair with some coming on two jig rigs on days you have wind on sand flats on what’s left of the flooded vegetation. If no wind it is a hit a miss so we been targeting the crappie which are more reliable and better table fair.. The large mouth bass should be on main lake points up in the day and shallow early in morning. Buzz bait early in morning will work here. Then when sun gets high in the sky go to black and blue brush hog or 10″ red shad worm on a heavy shaky head jig to get through the heavy cover. Heavy rod and line are a must to get these fish out of the cover. Walleye are slow now but can be caught from first light and evenings up feeding on sand flats and rocks and the outside of boat ramps rock. Also they can be caught trolling shad raps on main lake points up in the day. Be safe and watch for other boaters… Tight Lines

HENNEPIN-HOPPER: The lakes are open through Labor Day, Sept. 4. Fishing is closed on Mondays other than Labor Day. Click here for complete list of regs and details. EVERGREEN LAKE: Larry Dozard of larrysfishinghole.com sent this:

Evergreen Lake BAIT SHOP and BOAT RENTAL Hours: 6:00 am to 6:00 pm Daily

NOTE – During the weekdays staff is not present, please press buzzer on the front of the building

for assistance or call the Visitor Center at (309) 434-6770.

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS: Check with Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing. POWERTON: Boat and shore fishing is open. Hours are 6 a.m.-8 p.m. 

FOX RIVER: WESTERN SUBURBS

Ken Gortowski sent this:

Here you go Dale.

The Fox is flowing along at just above 7800 cfs. I’ve wandered the 2 blocks down to the river and it is high and fast, but I keep hearing about how it’s at record highs.

So I went down to Oswego. The last time we had a major flood, can’t remember the year, I remember where the water stopped in Oswego. The river would have to come up another 2 feet to hit that spot. That being said, you’d have to be pretty stupid to go in or on the Fox when it’s cranking along like this.

Speaking of stupid, on Friday, 2 kayakers were pulled out of the river in St. Charles and on Saturday, 4 kayakers were pulled out of the river downstream of Oswego. What brain cells tell you that the river looks good enough to go floating on? I’m trying to feel sorry for these people, but I just don’t. They’re lucky to be alive and stunts like this puts the lives of those that have to go get them at risk.

Checked out the creek in Oswego since I was down there. Up from the mouth, not that far really, the creek was in excellent shape. Perfect depth and crystal clear. Past experiences tell me that all of the creeks downstream from Oswego will also be in excellent shape. So, like I mentioned a few weeks ago, smart anglers would go inland on creeks, scale down their gear and be open to catching anything that bites. I did that last weekend and wound up with 3 smallies in a short period of time. Not bad for somebody that quit fishing…

To which Luis Gonzalez replied and said he attempted to find fishable water:

I was able to find some nice slack water that was fishable and was luck enough to find a couple smaller flathead (one has spawn rash). I fished the current break for the most part, but I did try to stick one to the bottom with a 9oz weight just for the heck of it. There was chance of that even happening, current was very strong and fast.

FOX RIVER: WISCONSIN

No update.

GREEN BAY/STURGEON BAY

Lance LaVine at Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay sent this:

Hi guys. Here is the updated fishing report for July 17th

Salmon fishing out on Lake Michigan has been excellent in recent weeks with some very big fish getting caught. Many in the mid 20’s to low 30 pound range already weighed in so far early in the season. 100 to 150 feet of water has been the best depth and pretty much fishing the whole water column with an array of flasher and Howie Fly combinations along with some spoons like Maulers, Moonshine’s and Stinger spoons just to name a few

Walleye fishing has been good around the southern end of the bay…basically from Chaudoir’s Dock south to the lower bay and across the bay over on the west shore. Flicker shads and minnows along with some crawler harnesses have been working well. And to the north, basically from Hendeson’s Point north to Sister Bay, there have been a few Walleye’s getting caught, but the key word if FEW. We anticipate the fishing to just get better and better as we move deeper into July and into August as it usually does.

Perch fishing has been excellent from the Sturgeon Bay area and south past Little Sturgeon and even out in some of that deeper water mud from Little Sturgeon down to the Chaudoir’s dock area. Fathead minnows, crawlers and leaf worms have been the best live baits for the Perch

Wisconsin DNR report is usually posted Tuesdays and includes reports from both the bay and lake sides.

HEIDECKE LAKE

Lake is open daily 6 a.m. (6:30 shore side) to sunset.

ILLINOIS RIVER

B & B Live Bait–(815) 433-0432–in Ottawa is open.

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

Of area rivers, this is by far the one in the best shape in regard to water levels and clarity.

Larry Green tweeted this report and photo from Sunday:

A few bass, big cat, smallmouths, and this beast. Kankakee!

The day before I was out with Norm Minas and we had a tough enough go that we switched to an inland pond.

But Minas went out again Sunday and “caught some smallmouth on rattlebaits out in the faster water on the river.”

LAKE ERIE

Click here for the Ohio DNR’s annual fishing prospects. The Ohio DNR has general Lake Erie info and a fishing report.

LAKEFRONT

See perch reports at top.

CHICAGO: Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait said pond craws are taking good drum; cast out deep on open-water lake side. Corey Gecht at Park Bait said there are good drum, including “some huge ones,’’ on the Montrose horseshoe.

WAUKEGAN: Ted Boska emailed:

Hello and good morning Dale from lake Michigan water. Yes I am fishing today. We jumped from harbor strighgt to 240 feet and pay off for us.First 7 fish today all king’s ,wow.All fish are deep in the water column 85 and deeper .King’s are deeper than lakers.3 lakers comes only 65 feet down,strange patterns this year. Thanks Ted

Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop texted that the floods have kept fishermen numbers down.

LaSALLE LAKE

The cooling lake south of Seneca is open daily, 6 a.m. to sunset. Also, boaters should be aware that there will be no launching if wind is 14 mph or higher.

MADISON CHAIN, WISCONSIN

Check the latest from D & S Bait on Facebook.

MAZONIA

Check with Jon Meder at Jon’s Bait Shop–(815) 237-2822–in South Wilmington. Close is now 8 p.m.

MENOMINEE RIVER, WISCONSIN

Check with Mike Mladeik at Mike Mladenik Guide Service sent this:

MILWAUKEE HARBOR

Check the Wisconsin DNR Lake Michigan Report, which generally comes out Tuesdays for updates.

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

MINOCQUA: No update this week from Kurt Justice of Kurt’s Island Sport Shop in Minocqua, Wis.

EAGLE RIVER: B+L, from reports from Colin Crawford of Colin Crawford Guide Service sent this for the Eagle River Chamber of Commerce:

Fishing Report

Panfish: There are still perch in the weeds and you can find some moving into the rock piles using a slip bobber tipped with minnows or tossing a 1/8th oz. jig with a small minnow seems to be doing the job. Crappies are in the deeper weeds and around structure. Slip bobber rigs with a hook and minnow or a jig and plastic should do the trick. Bluegills are up in the shallows on the warmer lakes; slip bobber rigs baited with red worms or waxies will catch these. Remember we do have panfish regulations on a few of our lakes in the area.

Bass: Largemouth can be found in the shallow weeds and around docks; and they will be caught using top water and spinnerbaits. Smallies are in and around the rocks and can be caught by using small crankbaits and jerkbaits.

Northern: These fish will be found in and around weeds, so pitching jig and minnows or small spinnerbaits and spoons will get their attention.

Walleye: We are casting 1/8th and 1/4 oz. jigs tipped with live bait. Depending on the depth that you are fishing is when you might need to go heavier with your jig.

Muskies: Bucktails and jerkbaits are working, along with top water. These are your go to baits for a while now.

NORTHWEST INDIANA

Perch report at top.

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

Steelhead action for trollers at burns ditch was good also before blow 25 to 45 ft of water mag spoons and j13 rapalas best baits Area ponds giving up panfish beemoth and jumbo reds best baits Offshore 80 to 100 decent for mix bag fishing 35 ft to the bottom spoons spindoctors and flys and dodger spin n glows doing best

Remember he is at summer hours (5 a.m.-8 p.m.) until Labor Day.

LAKER REMINDER: Indiana now has a daily bag of three lake trout on Lake Michigan, to match Michigan. Illinois’ daily bag remains at two.

ROCK RIVER, WISCONSIN

No update.

ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN

The Wisconsin DNR Lake Michigan Report is generally posted on Tuesday and includes a Root river section. Click here for the stream flow update, which can be really important for how good the fishing is.

ST. JOSEPH, MICHIGAN

Perch report at the top.

Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said that salmon/trout are best in 80-115 feet; some steelhead are going at Berrien Springs; walleye slowed in the river.

ST. JOSEPH RIVER, INDIANA

Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR.

SHABBONA LAKE

Staff at Lakeside said that bass are best in weed beds or on dam face; walleye going on the road bed and drop-offs; some good catfish are being caught; muskie were active over weekend; bluegill and crappie (cribs mainly) are decent, some from shore; note that the thermocline sets up around 15 ft.

Lake hours are 6 a.m.-10 p.m.

Here are the hours for Lakeside for the next few months:

Shabbona Lakeside is now OPEN for the SEASON

Lakeside will be open everyday, 7 days a week,

April 11th to September 5th 6 AM to 7 PM

September 6th to September 30th 6 AM to 6:30 PM

October 1st to October 10th 6:30 AM to 6 PM

October 11th to October 31st 7 AM to 5PM

For more information and reports from Lakeside, go to shabbonalake.com or call (815) 824-2581.

SOUTHEAST WISCONSIN LAKEFRONT

The Wisconsin DNR posts a report during open water at http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/lakemichigan/OutdoorReport.html. It is usually posted by Tuesday afternoon. Streadsm flow info is at http://waterdata.usgs.gov/wi/nwis/current?type=flow.

WOLF LAKE

No update.

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

No update.

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