Coho are steadier (most days) in Illinois and Indiana while the reopened Braidwood Lake has been good and are the two main parts of this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.
Capt. Scott Wolfe sent his first report of the year and it was promising for coho.
Many sent notes on some good bass fishing on the opening few days at Braidwood, the cooling lake south of Joliet, which reopened Thursday. The photo above came from Rob Abouchar.
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.
The cooling lake south of Joliet reopened to fishing on Thursday and fishing reports, when weather permitted fishing, were generally good, especially for bass. Click here to read my column on prospects and the wet cold early hours of opening day.
Rob Abouchar sent this update:
Hi DaleI hope you were able to get one on topwater at the Braidwood opener. I Fished Braidwood Friday afternoon from noon till 5PM on the North Cemetary side. The conditions were as good as it gets for Braidwood with water temp at 63 degrees. Largemouth bass from 1 to 5 pounds were active and caught with running small squarebill crankbait sexy shad pattern in tight to the rocks and by grass edges. A dark colored Senko took some nice fish as well worked slowly on the bottom near riprap. Other anglers reported good action on a variety of moving baits. Fish seem to be in pre-spawn mode.Tight LinesRob
Braidwood is open daily 6 a.m.-sunset. Check with Jon’s Bait & Tackle Shop–(815) 237-2822–in South Wilmington.
Tom Platt at Henry’s Sports and Bait said, “They’re starting to pop crappie in the local holes.” It is that time of the year.
As to bass, Ken “Husker” O’Malley sent this:
Hey Dale,Here is a recap of this week’s fishing.Area lakes- bass continue to be good on sunny days during the peak of the afternoon heat. Focus on the outside weedlines with red eye shads and spots. Vary the retrieve until a pattern is developed. Let the fish tell you want they prefer.On another note, the Sandhills are on the move. Spring is close.TTYL—Ken “Husker” O’Malley
Waterworks fishing team
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
Art Frisell at Triangle Sports and Marine said open-water fishing is here. Crappie are moving into most of the channels; walleye are fair in current areas, bridges or main lake points. He said for bluegill, try deeper in say 8 feet. NOTE: Zone A, the upper river, remains no-wake. For more info and lake updates, go to Fox Waterway Agency or call (847) 587-8540.
CHICAGO RIVER/CHICAGO LAKEFRONT
No update from Capt. Pat Harrison at Pat Harrison Outdoors.
DELAVAN LAKE, WISCONSIN
DES PLAINES RIVER
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 falling off flood level at Montgomery. Farther north, Zone A, the upper river on the Chain, remains no-wake as of Tuesday. Check updates at 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.
Falling, but projected to remain in flood at LaSalle into next week and remain in moderate flood at Henry through the weekend. 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)
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 high, fast and stained, but projected to fall off flood stage at Momence today; it is already below flood at Wilmington. Check with Nick Carr at Kankakee River Trading Post in Altorf for fishing updates.
CHICAGO: Story is coho.
Tom Platt at Henry’s Sports and Bait said lots of coho are being caught, powerliners are doing best, but some casters are getting a few with bait; Montrose is the most packed, but some are also being caught at Burnham/Northerly Island, 39th and 63rd. Some are jigging with success for lakers and a few browns are also being caught.
Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station, Ind. texted:
Perch at 89th slip a lot of small ones moved back in and not as fast action but still fish being caught xl fatheads
Capt. Scott R. Wolfe of School of Fish Charters normally does Waukegan reports in season, but he sends in a report for Chicago to start the season.
Hi Dale – Although my boat is not yet in the water, our Chicago partner boat has run the first trips of 2018. Good numbers of coho are already in at Chicago. This is really great news because the last two years the coho were primarily holding out in deep water. The best area was South of the Chicago break wall/Chicago light area to East of Northerly Island. Based on where they found the coho trolling, I’d guess shore fishermen in the Northerly Island area did well this weekend. Slow trolling was the key with fish coming on Warrior Spoons Flutter spoons with blue in them. Blue Perch, Blue Dolphin and Modified Blue Dolphin were good. 00 Luhr-Jensen Dodgers with Blue Liz (Blue and Silver) Jimmy Flies and Stanley Stinger Flies. Jointed Rapalas in orange and gold took some as well. Laker trout and Browns should be hanging out along the crib line now and hitting Regular size Warrior spoons and Mo rigs -which are now being called “Laker Candy” around the lake. This is a spin n glo with a Jimmy Fly Laker skirt behind it.
Last – there is a great program happening Saturday, March 10 at Lake Michigan Angler in Winthrop Harbor, Illinois. There are free seminars from 9 am until the afternoon. I am giving a presentation on targeting fish from Chicago to the Waukegan/Northpoint area and fishing for monster Kings in Sturgeon Bay. My presentation begins at 1:00 pm. The store has several sales and specials and attendance is totally free. All speakers are Lake Michigan charter boat captains and tournament fishermen. I hope to see many of your readers and followers there. Have a great week.
Capt. Scott R. Wolfe
School of Fish Charters
Nice to have a boating report already in early March.
NOTE: Park Bait at Montrose is open again.
WAUKEGAN: Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop texted this:
Good morning Dale, yes they are seeing some Browns and kohos off the pier. Guys are power lining and casting spoons
LAKE ONALASKA AREA, WISCONSIN
Dale here are the area reports from Cozy Corner Cottages. I have one from Lake Onalaska and one from Genoa at the head of Pool 9.
The ice is breaking up on the river, big lake, and side sloughs with current. There is no more ice in Black Deer Slough and only a small patch left near the boat landing at Black Deer. There is still some ice on the main lake East of Rosebud Island with fisherman still out catching fish. The ice is changing everyday so you will need to use extreme caution when heading out. There is water at the launch near Schaefers. There was one vehicle out, and some ATV’s that found their way onto the ice Sunday. Strong winds currently may cause ice to shift. The weekend fishing reports were consistant with a similar mix of perch, crappie, and bluegills. Minnows with tip downs have been hot. The bass and nothern action near the airport landing lights on the north end of French Island has also been consistant.
Genoa Lock and Dam
This report is from the La Crosse Area Walley Club. Walleye and Sauger fishing was very good in Genoa early last week. The water began to rise on thursday causing low visibility and higher current. The best quality fish were caught in 12-23′ of water. Jig and minnow, hair jigs, and jigs and plastics were the hot baits. Northern Pike have been showing up in the tail waters as well. More pools should continue to open up over the next few weeks.
Hope to see you at Spring Valley in a few weeks at the MWC!
Cozy Corner Cottages
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 is closed.
MINOCQUA: Kurt Justice of Kurt’s Island Sport Shop sent this:
With the amount of snow on the ice (and more coming down as this is being written), our ice coverage here in the Northwoods is in NO danger of leaving us any too soon.
The amount of snow on the ice has made travel tougher on many bodies of water. Snowmobiles and full sized pick-ups, as well as quads with tracks, have been the best ways to get around (and the trucks are sometimes a maybe – bring a shovel…do as I say, not as I do…). Slush from last week’s warm up and a crust separating layers of snow has only added to the difficulty traveling, but will add weeks to our ice season!
Yellow Perch: Good – Luckily with this species, if you can find a school you don’t have to move much. Still feeding heavily on wigglers and blood worms in the mud, though some anglers finding perch in mud as shallow as 13-18’ while others still in 20-28’. Venom Core, Pimples, Halis and Flash Champs baited with wigglers or red spikes. Glow colors popular.
Bluegill: Good – Moving about the hardest part, but Gills biting. Look for standing weeds in 6-10’. Small #3 Fiskas, #10 tear drops and Jig Flys tipped with waxies, moussees or dark plastics. The tungsten jigs let you get down closer to the bottom quicker, where the larger Gills seem to be holding.
Crappie: Fair – Action split between tip-downs with rosies and jigging small, flashy spoons (rockers, slender spoons) tipped with silver, clear or white wedgees. On some lakes, fish high, above Bluegill bite using #10 white rockers tipped with white or pink wedgees to find Crappies – sometimes 2’ under ice.
Game fish season on our lakes is over. With 26-30” of ice below 12-16” of snow, no warm spells in forecast, we should see safe ice for panfish into April.
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 continues to increase the action in surrounding lakes. It also means that ice can be slightly thinning, so be sure to take all necessary steps when setting up. 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: Heads up that the date for permanent ice shack removal from MI boundary waters is March 15th and the area inland waters is March 31st. Wisconsin’s removal is to be done by March 18th.
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:
Coho action solid on lake around Gary light and lake street break wall trolling brads thinfish and j9 rapalas some action around the mouth of port of Indiana on same baits fishing top 10ft of waterOnce water clears up a little more bite will pick up big time for shore guys at portage river walk and Michigan city pier and river basinA few fish have been takin inside port of Indiana on squid and nightcrawlers under a float few casting a variety of crankbaits and spoonsPerch at 89th slip a lot of small ones moved back in and not as fast action but still fish being caught xl fatheadsLots of 15 to 20 fish catches on boats over weekend coho a brown here and there too
ROCK RIVER, WISCONSIN
ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN
ST. JOSEPH, MICHIGAN
Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor, Mich. said not much going, coho have not reached there yet.
ST. JOSEPH RIVER, INDIANA
Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR.
Clint Sands at Lakeside said lake is 100 percent open water and a few guys were out over the weekend. Uncertain whether it will remain completely open for the weekend. Lakeside–(815) 824-2581–is officially closed, but Sands is usaully around mornings and boat rentals are by appointment. Probably best to call Lakeside first–(815) 824-2581–to check conditions later this week.
Park hours are 8 a.m.-8 p.m.
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
Check with River’s Edge.
WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN