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Coho, smelt, trout opener, derby: Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report

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Mark Corah caught his personal best hybrid striped bass Friday at LaSalle Lake.
Provided

The inland trout season in Illinois opens Saturday, one of many changes and opportunities coming this week and in this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

Mark Corah of the Oswegoland Fishing Fools caught his personal best hybrid, 24.5 inches long with a girth of 19 inches with a Shad Rap Friday at LaSalle Lake.

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.

INLAND TROUT OPENER

Regulations are the same for Illinois’ inland trout season opener on Saturday: A fishing license and inland trout stamp are needed, daily bag is five. Click here for the statewide release on inland trout. Here are the nearby waters:

Cook County (Axehad, Belleau, Green, Horsetail, Sag Quarry East and Wolf lakes); DuPage (Silver, Pickerel, Grove); Kankakee (Bird Park Quarry, Rock Creek); Kendall (Big Lake); Lake (Banana, Sand); McHenry (Lake Atwood, Piscasaw Creek); Will (Milliken).

HENRY’S COHO DERBY

Henry’s Sports and Bait holds its 15th annual spring coho derby at Navy Pier on Saturday.

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SMELT OPENER

Smelt netting on the Chicago lakefront opened Monday night. I saw two net pulls near the Shedd Aquarium produce 20, nothing anywhere else.

Regulations are the same as always.

* No open fires

* No enclosed tents

* No alcoholic beverages

* No parking or driving on the grass or sidewalks. Park only in designated areas. Violators will be ticketed and towed.

* Do not destroy fences, benches, trash receptacles, walkways, and grassy areas.

* Do not dump hot coals under trees, on concrete or on grassy areas. Dispose of all coals in the appropriate trash receptacles.

* Harbor Gates will close at 1 a.m. –start breaking down at 12:30 a.m. to be out by 1 a.m.

Carl Vizzone of the Chicago Park District texted this update about Montrose parking for smelters:

Boaters lot at Montrose will be open from 6:00 PM – 2:00 AM daily. This allows one hour for setup and an hour to pack up and get out. Fishing time for smelt is still the same, 7:00 PM – 1:00 AM. Nets can not be in the water until 7:00 PM.

LAKEFRONT COHO (AND TROUT)

Stracey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor said a couple coho and browns are around when the weather cooperates. A couple nice pike, too.

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

No boat action over weekend on lake for coho due to heavy winds

Some coho at port of Indiana and portage riverwalk fishing skein crawlers squid and shrimp nothing fast and furious but some being caught

Lori Ralph at The Salmon Stop in Waukegan texted:

They have not closed the government Pier yet for the fixing of it so guys are catching Cohoes off the government pier and the South rocks using spoons and spawn. Only a few boat reports Charters are just starting to go in the few reports I’ve had have been private guys there fishing shallows getting Cohoes

ILLINOIS’ EARLY CATCH-AND-RELEASE TROUT SEASON

Illinois’ early catch-and-release (keep in mind that is strictly enforced) season for trout is open at nine early-stocked sites. The regular spring trout season opens Saturday, April 6.

Here is the explanation from IDNR spokesman Ed Cross:

While it is not specified in the release, most early-stocked trout fishing sites are open to catch-and-release fishing, including fly fishing, for trout beginning March 23.   

IDNR Fisheries encourages early-season catch-and-release fishing for trout at these open sites, including fly fishing, as we try to provide more fishing opportunities for anglers, including fly fishing enthusiasts.

The early-stocked sites are mainly IDNR sites (same as last spring):

Apple River at Apple River Canyon State Park
Rock Creek at Kankakee River SP
Pine Creek at White Pines Forest SP
Siloam Springs SP
Gridley Lake at Jim Edgar Panther Creek SFWA
Horton Lake at Nauvoo SP
Morgan Lake at Nichols Park in Jacksonville
IDOT Lake in Springfield
Willow Lake at Peabody River King SFWA

And as an additional reminder – catch-and-release means just that; no trout may be kept (harvested) until the opening of the Spring Trout Fishing Season on April 6.

AREA LAKES

Considering the forecast, this should be the best week of the year so far for fishing lakes and ponds.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley sent this:

Hey Dale,

Here’s a recap of this past week’s fishing.
Area lakes- water clarity became stained by recent rains as water levels rose some. Chatter baits with a swim bait trailer caught a few bass during early afternoon hours. The larger profile bait created reaction strikes. With nice weather on the way, fishing will only get better.
TTYL
Ken “Husker” O’Malley
Husker Outdoors
Waterwerks fishing team

AREA RIVERS

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

Open 6 a.m.-sunset daily.

Rob Abouchar sent the report and photo below:

Hi Dale

It was an enjoyable Spring break with a few trips to Braidwood Lake with Friends and students.  I was demonstrating shore crankbait tactics for the Leyden High School Bass Team and landed one of the nicer bass of the season so far from Braidwood.  It hit a sexy shad crankbait and had it deep down the gullet.  The bass are post spawn as the tail of the big fish indicated.  Water temps are going into upper 70s on the warm side and high 60s on the cool side.  Bass also hitting plastics in shoreline grassy areas.  Best color has been black with blue flake.  Bass tournaments will be starting again on Braidwood this week with the Happy Hookers Braidwood Open this weekend.
Tight Lines
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Largemouth bass at Braidwood.
Provided by Rob Abouchar

CALUMET SYSTEM

No update.

CHAIN O’LAKES

Arden Katz said crappie and perch are going in the channels along with a few bluegills, water temperature is in upper 30s to 40. He said to move, schools are packed tight. Most places don’t have the docks in yet.

Art Frisell at Triangle Sports and Marine said crappie are the No. 1 bite on ice jigs and small fatheads, most back channel areas are producing; spawning walleye are up shallow on jigs tipped with large fatheads; white bass are fair until warmer water and more sun comes; pike coming off spawn and should be feeding.

Check updates at Fox Waterway Agency or (847) 587-8540.

STRATTON LOCK AND DAM: The lock is closed through April 30. Click here for more info on the lock and dam.

CHICAGO RIVER

Capt. Pat Harrison at Pat Harrison Outdoors sent this:

Chicago River and Lake Michigan Report,

  Hope everyone is in good Spirits with the weather looking a bit more positive this week. Remember your fishing licenses need to be renewed for the 2019 Season starting April first.  I’m going to be doing some scouting of my spots to see if fish are moving as the water temps are  slowly going up surface temps are at 36/38 degrees I’m looking for 42 and its On.  Show season is over and I want to say Thank You to all that stopped at the shows to chat and those that booked trips.

This time of year I will be fishing the River for Bass and Pan fish and also getting out on the lake to cast, Jig and troll with planner boards for Trout and Salmon I won’t be guiding for about another week. I’m getting everything in order for a Great 2019 Season. I will be adding a couple other bodies of water also the Illinois River, Shabbona and Clinton Lake. This will add to the Species we can fish for.

 If there’s a body of water you would like to fish but you don’t have a boat contact me. I’m willing to travel with clients a bit to try some new waters. Have a Great season catch some fish.

Capt. Pat

DELAVAN LAKE, WISCONSIN

No update.

DES PLAINES RIVER

No update.

DOWNSTATE NOTES

POWERTON LAKE: Boat and shore fishing are open. Hours remain 8 a.m.-4 p.m. through April 30.

LAKE SHELBYVILLE:  Check with Ken Wilson of Ken Wilson Guide ServiceREND 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

BOATER NOTE: The river between the Stratton Lock and Dam and Algonquin Dam remains no-wake as of Tuesday noon. Check updates at the Fox Waterway agency by clicking here.

Violetta Talley sent this report:

The Fox River level has lowered quite a bit and the water has cleared up. Smallies are starting to stack up in the slack water and can easily be caught on smaller Jigs and Ned rigs. Water temp is hovering around 51 degrees and as high as 53 in some slack water areas. Also, musky are showing up more and more on the edges of slack water areas. So far I have heard reports of musky hitting spinnerbaits with white and chartreuse colors just below various dams like in Montgomery and South Elgin. Shore fishermen beware, the first hatch of bugs has already happened and swarms of these annoying insects litter the shorelines!

Then added the photo of the smallmouth below, caught this morning, and this note:

Not big but they’re really starting to hit now on the fox in the slack water areas

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Fox River smallmouth bass caught on April 2, 2019.
Provided by Violetta Talley

FOX RIVER, WISCONSIN

No update.

GENEVA LAKE, WISCONSIN

No update.

GREEN BAY/STURGEON BAY

No update from Lance LaVine at Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay, Wis.

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

HEIDECKE LAKE

Winds limited effort on opening day Monday. Hours are 6 a.m.-sunset, shore opens at 6:30 a.m.

Regional fisheries administrator Rob Miller shad were plentiful last fall in the every-other-year survey, notable because weather was awful during the survey days. Also largemouth were up, “We saw quite a few 8 to 12 inches, that was kind of reassuring,” he said. Considering the conditions, he was OK with collecting 79 walleye. “We still get good population structure on the walleye,” Miller said. “The numbers of fish, 22 inches and longer have been increasing since 2012.” They didn’t get many crappie, but that was probably due to the conditions because for smart anglers, crappie have sort of become the star species at Heidecke. They also didn’t survey many hybrids, but what they caught averaged 20-21 inches, about what it has been for years. In the spring muskie survey last spring, two fish that topped 30 pounds.

ILLINOIS RIVER

Check with B&B Live Bait at (815) 433-0432.

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

No update.

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, and smelt report.

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 winter perch fishing. Information on parking passes and pier passes is below under separate headings. 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. . . . 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

Wind and weather limited effort, but that should change; otherwise it is blues and hybrids (see photo at top). Note the FOTW tomorrow.

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

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 is closed.

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

Last week Thursday and Friday fishing started to get really good.  Crappies turned on and anglers were doing very well.  The weekends weather pattern with high winds and cold, though, slowed fishing down a bit.  Though the forecast this week looks to get warmer and warmer which will turn the pan fishing on again.  Ice conditions remain good.  Bring your cleats though for some spots.

Bluegill:  Very Good – Small tungsten jigs with plastics tipped with a spike have been taking the bigger Gils as of late.  Fish were found in the weedy areas from 6–12’

Crappies:  Good-Very Good – Anglers were finding fish in the 6-12’ mark with weeds. Tip downs tipped with small fatheads or rosies produced well.  Jigging small spoons like Lethal Cecils or Flash Champs tipped with a grub, minnow or minnow head all produced well.

Yellow Perch:  Good-Very Good – Larger fish were coming off of deep mud flats. Wigglers seemed to produce the best for live bait, though grubs and minnows also produced a lot of fish.  Remember to pound your jig in the mud to stir up the bottom to attract fish.

Get out while you still can, rains forecasted the end of the week and temps pushing the 60 degree mark.  We’ll keep everyone posted if ice conditions change, but as of now they are really good.

Kurt Justice
Kurt’s Island Sport Shop
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NORTHWEST INDIANA

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

No boat action over weekend on lake for coho due to heavy winds

Some coho at port of Indiana and portage riverwalk fishing skein crawlers squid and shrimp nothing fast and furious but some being caught
Crappie still going ok in lake George in Hobart below dam and around bridges best on crappie minnows
Trout ok at lake county fairgrounds on redworms beemoth and colored powerbait some caught casting small spinners and spoons they wer stocked early last week

ROCK RIVER, ILLINOIS

Coming off floods.

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

Walleye and pike season is closed. Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said coho are going from St. Joe south, including a few limits; pier is day to day; still some steelhead at Berrien Springs.

ST. JOSEPH RIVER, INDIANA

Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR.

SHABBONA LAKE

Clint Sands at Lakeside said some crappie are being caught and one walleye, water is 47 degrees, normal level and about 1 foot of clarity.

Hours at Lakeside are 6 a.m.-6 p.m. daily; restaurant is 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

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

Guide Bill Stoeger said, “It is going nuts up here.” One afternoon they had 15 walleye in less than two hours; best anchored and using plain-hook river rigs, but some are drifting and jigging.