Braidwood opener, ice going/gone open: Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report
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NOTE: A couple updates added on Calumet system and Clinton lake.
Prospects look decent (weather so-so) for the opening of Braidwood Lake on Thursday and that leads this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report, but there are still pockets of ice fishing nearby to the north and our rivers slowly recede.
We add a report, hopefully weekly, for Lake Onalaska area in Wisconsin from Scott Pirnstill at Cozy Corner Cottages.
The Midwest Fishing Report 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.
BRAIDWOOD LAKE OPENER
Braidwood, the cooling lake south of Joliet, reopens to fishing Thursday. It will be open daily 6 a.m. to sunset. There are no new regulations this year. For bait and tackle, check with Jon’s Bait & Tackle Shop–(815) 237-2822–in South Wilmington.
As to prospects, here are the highlights from a call with veteran fisheries biologist Rob Miller, who said, “It is as destination point in March.”
Got that right. Rain or no rain, and rain is forecast, I expect to be there for the opener.
Every other year, the lake is surveyed by the IDNR, last fall was another year for it. As to surveying, Miller said, “We did really well on largemouth bass, really pretty remarkable, especially with the amount of tournament fishing. . . . Reall good numbers of legal fish (15 inches) again.”
Numbers were good too, almost three times the average during electroshocking, “but the reality is a lot of those fish are 4 to 8 inches,” and it looks like a strong year-class coming. Bass were in good condition.
“Compass points up,” Miller said on largemouth.
One concern is that the gizzard shad population is off, numbers down and skewing old. But, on the other hand, threadfin shad “were everywhere.”
Last year, Miller held off on stocking more blue catfish and hybrid striped bass. Might be an option of stocking some hybrids this year from the Exelon hatchery by Quad Cities. Only a couple hybrids were found.
Blues numbers “were really good.” The biggest one they shocked was a 37-incher weighing 26 1/2 pounds.
“Channel catfish are what they are and go up and down,” Miller said.
Many years ago, flatheads had been stocked, it appears but he said there appears to be still natural reproduction occurring.
What bluegill they got averaged 5 inches, a few bigger ones to 8 inches.
Ice fishing is done. But the warm weather today brought people out to fish.
Ken “Husker” O’Malley put it well in his report.:
Hey Dale,Here is a recap of this past week’s fishing.Area lakes- it’s time to break out the long rods. Despite the stained and high water, bass can be caught fishing lipless crank baits along the outside weedlines. Focus on shallower bays with flowing inlets for the most active bass. Afternoon hours on sunny days have been best.TTYL—Ken “Husker” O’Malley
Waterworks fishing team
“Time to break out the long rods.”
And remember the pier passes for fishing Chicago harbors are available at Henry’s Sports and Bait. The passes allow for legal access to select piers on the Chicago lakefront. They cost $6 cash with one per valid fishing license.
AREA WATER LEVELS
Probably another good week to check water levels. 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
Reopens Thursday, March 1. See top for preview.
BoRabb Williams sent the photo below and this update:
Frank CatDaddy Smith caught this 3lb bass on the Calumet system Today… we got 6 … no crappie yet.
Staff at Triangle Sports and Marine said some are already fishing open-water on the river for white bass and walleye while a few others are finding early crappie in open-water back channels.
NOTE: All three zones of the Chain and the Fox River are at no-wake. For more info and lake updates, go to Fox Waterway Agency or call (847) 587-8540.
CHICAGO RIVER/CHICAGO LAKEFRONT
Capt. Pat Harrison at Pat Harrison Outdoors sent this:
Chicago River and Lake Front Report,
So I got out Sunday to run to my spots and see what kind of shape they were in. Surface temps from 41 to 43 degrees. A lot of wood floating water is stained all the way to the locks. I marked fish in a lot of spots didn’t fish much just wanted to see the shape of the river.Water was flowing pretty good and the winds were howling I had the half top up with the side curtains and it was like having a sail up but I was warm and out of the wind.I plan to start fishing the river this week some spots had a lot of fish on them. I’m hoping to get out on the lake this week too. Enjoy your week it’s time too fish.Thanks Capt. Pat
—www.patharrisonoutdoors.com Thanks Pat
DELAVAN LAKE, WISCONSIN
DES PLAINES RIVER
CLINTON: Thomas Jones sent a mixed bag report on his first catching outing of the year:
11 crappie 4 catfish 2 large mouth 3 white bass
POWERTON: Shore and boat fishing are open, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. daily. LAKE SHELBYVILLE: Check with Ken Wilson of Ken Wilson Guide Service. SOUTHERN ILLINOIS: Check with Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing EVERGREEN: Bait shop and boat rental are closed for the season. HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Closed for the season.
FOX RIVER: WESTERN SUBURBS
River is holding near flood stage at Montgomery. NOTE: Upstream around the Chain O’Lakes, all three zones of the Chain and the Fox River are at no-wake. For more info and lake updates, go to Fox Waterway Agency or call (847) 587-8540.
FOX RIVER: WISCONSIN
GENEVA LAKE, WISCONSIN
GREEN BAY/STURGEON BAY
No updates this week from Lance LaVine at Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay.
Reopens April 1.
River is projected to remain in flood into next week at LaSalle.
Check fishing status at B & B Live Bait–(815) 433-0432–in Ottawa, where hours are now in the morning.
INDIANA STREAMS (LAKE MICHIGAN TRIBUTARIES)
Creeks are starting to settle down. Ben Dickinson, Indiana’s assistant Lake Michigan fisheries biologist, even posted this today on Facebook about Trail Creek:
After a bunch of maintenance following the flood, the lamprey barrier is up and running. 61 steelhead passed upstream this morning
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.
River is projected to fall below flood stage at Wilmington later this week; while the Iroquois at Chebanse is expected fall below flood by mid-week.
In other words, river remains, fast and stained. Check with Nick Carr at Kankakee River Trading Post in Altorf for fishing updates.
Boaters are reporting some big whitefish off Chicago. Powerliners started catching the first few coho along with a few browns and lakers. Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station, Ind. texted: “89th over weekend gave up nice perch on xl fatheads best batch size wise over there in months” NOTE: Park Bait at Montrose may open next week.
LAKE ONALASKA AREA, WISCONSIN
Blackdeer slough had been good this last weekend. The ice is very sketchy, so I would enter from the Brice Prairie walk in area, just north along County Road ZB of Cozy Corner Cottages if ice is good. It is noted on Google maps on our map from our Lake Link site. I have not checked the ice today at the boat landing. This report is from Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from guests at Cozy Corner Cottages.
Bluegill and Crappie have been biting with jig and worm/spike/waxie just under the ice. Decent sized fish, but nothing huge. Small Northland spoons also working. Hole hopping seems to work the best as the fish are moving. Some Northern pike action, but nothing huge. Lots of fishing action and you may need to sort through the smaller fish. Not many perch according to reports from guests.
The report from Lake Onalaska is much the same from the same guests, but more difficult to locate active fish due to the size of the lake.
I saw prior reports with unknown ice from the Blackdeer landing. Please use caution and common sense.
Reopens to fishing on March 15. It will be open daily.
MADISON CHAIN, WISCONSIN
Both Mazonia South and North are open for fishing. Check with Jon Meder at Jon’s Bait Shop–(815) 237-2822–in South Wilmington.
MENOMINEE RIVER, WISCONSIN
Check with Mike Mladeik at Mike Mladenik Guide Service sent this:
Gamefish season ends Sunday.
MINOCQUA: Kurt Justice of Kurt’s Island Sport Shop in Minocqua sent this:
With just one weekend of gamefish angling left to the season, it’s time to pull out the stops if you’re planning on one last fresh meal of Walleye, Pike or Largemouth Bass to tide you over ‘til May!
Recent heavy snows are making travel tricky as only trucks, snowmobiles or quads with tracks are making it across the lakes right now. 12-14” of new snow may get rendered down this week with highs in the low forty’s forecasted, but then it will be slush anglers will have to deal with!
Bluegill: Good – Windows of activity, usually in the afternoons, have anglers doing well using #3 Fiskas tipped with red, motor oil or purple J&S Ice Mites. Using a tungsten jig to get down past the smaller Gills is necessary at times. When the bite is “on”, the larger Gills are rising to brighter jig/plastic combos of white, yellow or chartreuse. Waxies and moussees also working. Most Gills found in 7-10’ but some anglers finding larger Gills mixed with Perch in 18-28’ mud taking Flash Champs tipped with red spikes.
Northern Pike: Good – Large shiners, suckers or frozen smelt set on wire leader rigs in 5-12’ doing well below tip-ups. On some shallow, weedy lakes check minnows 15-20 minutes after set-up. If minnows dead, raise bait 12-16” higher. Continue with this adjustment ‘til minnows survive. A few of these type lakes are suffering low dissolved oxygen levels, but as the oxygen levels get lower, higher levels are found higher in the water column, fish will move higher to survive.
Yellow Perch: Good – Best out over mud. Heavy, quick sinking jigs and spoons (Sliver Spoons, Hali, Kastmaster, #5 Fiskas) tipped with wigglers, red spikes best. With mild temps, tip-downs with small minnows working.
Crappie: Fair-Good – Deep still best! On some lakes, 35’. Reports of movements up into bays at times. Minnows on tip-downs good, glow jigs tipped with waxies also producing. Some reports from anglers using plastics (black unusually HOT!) doing well.
Walleye: Fair – Anglers moving and jigging scoring some nice fish in the low-mid 20” range, but with new snow, mobility may be an issue. Stick to tip-ups with suckers to score a few last of the season Walleyes.
Largemouth Bass: Fair – With warm up action on medium shiners and slender spoons should improve.
Take a shovel if you’re traveling by truck, or follow existing trails best you can. Ten day forecast has nights below freezing but days of mid 30’s to mid 40’s. Comfortable temps, but could get messy.
ICE FISHING REPORT
Ice fishing season is in full swing. For a full report on fishing trends and ice conditions, be sure to visithttp://eagleriver.org/fish/. View the complete fishing report below.
Warmer weather means that the weeds will be seeing more action. Remember that some of the area lakes are also marked with barrels for snowmobiles. Be sure to punch your holes away from the trail areas.
Reminder: Gamefish season in Wisconsin closes March 4th and boundary water lakes closes March 1st (such as Lac Vieux Desert and some of the Cisco Chain).
Northern Pike: We are finding fish on the weed edges and in the deeper weeds. On the edges, the set up should be tip ups set a foot or so off the bottom. When fishing the deep weeds, set your tip ups so that your bait is just above the tops of the weeds.
Walleye: These fish are being caught in and around weeds. Setting tip ups on the weed edges baited with walleye suckers or medium golden shiners in low light conditions seem to be best. Also, jigging in the same areas with baits (like the buckshot rattle spoon) are producing fish. The other good option is on the tops of rock humps for good spots in the early evening.
Panfish: Bluegills are being found in the weeds using small jigs tipped with waxies, spikes or tipped with plastic. Perch are being caught on the deep weed edge where the mud meets. Crappies are being caught in the weeds mixed in with some gills and are still out suspended over the deeper holes and mudflats.
Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station, Ind. texted:
Warm weather a lot of people out a few browns and coho being caught at port of Indiana squid and golden roach minnows under float or on bottom few being caught casting a variety of luresAs of today they are cleaning up long jam on the ditch that was blocking everything up under rt 12 bridgeHad a good bunch going to willow slough last few days water is high there but some gills and bass being hadThis weekend should be good for crappie again under 249 bridge along old docks with jigs tipped with waxworms or minnow on gold hook under float89th over weekend gave up nice perch on xl fatheads best batch size wise over there in months
ROCK RIVER, WISCONSIN
ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN
ST. JOSEPH, MICHIGAN
No update, didn’t get a call in to Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor, Mich. said
ST. JOSEPH RIVER, INDIANA
Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR.
Clint Sands at Lakeside said on Tuesday that the lake is 85 percent frozen, but that could change significantly by tomorrow. Lakeside–(815) 824-2581–is closed until real open-water, but if you see someone around bait will be sold. Probably best to call Lakeside first–(815) 824-2581–to check conditions later this week.
Park hours go to 8 a.m.-8 p.m. on Thursday.
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. Streads flow info is at http://waterdata.usgs.gov/wi/nwis/current?type=flow.
WINNEBAGO SYSTEM, WISCONSIN
Sturgeon spearing ended Sunday.
Check with River’s Edge.
WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN