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Coho, trout, crappie, winter yoyoing: Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report

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Russell Pienta caught this big largemouth bass from a Plainfield pond.
Provided

When the weather cooperates, fishing for crappie and bass has been outstanding around Chicago fishing and that shows in this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report. At least one the Chicago lakefront, the bad weather tends to be the best for coho fishing.

But overall, it is like Clint Sands at Lakeside at Shabbona Lake put it Tuesday afternoon, “Seems like we’re turning the corner, finally.

Russell Pienta sent the photo above and this note:

Caught this Bass in the pond across from my house in Plainfield last Sunday(April 7th) casting a chartreuse chatterbait. Unfortunately I didn’t have my scale to weigh it(wanted to get back in the water quick) but I have a five and a half pounder mounted from years ago and this one made that look small. Caught about 14 that day but this was the best

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 COHO (AND TROUT)

Stracey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor said that on Sunday, in the wicked weather, coho were being caught. “You know how those coho in the bad weather,” she said. It was OK on Monday. A couple nice browns.

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

Boat fishing for coho was really good sat then sun it was shit weather

Shore fishing for coho has slowed to about nothing

Lori Ralph at The Salmon Stop in Waukegan texted:

A few cohos and browns, but the weather the past 4 days has made people stay hime

Capt. Scott Wolfe of School of Fish Charters emailed:

Hi Dale
I’m shocked to be typing this looking out at a snowstorm but here we are. Due to the crazy weather there were very few trips run this week and none by our boats.
Out of Chicago charters that ran trips on Saturday did very well on coho. The coho look to be in Chicago waters in big numbers now. Fishing around Navy Pier, Chicago Light and along the Northerly Island East wall was excellent. 00 red Luhr-Jensen dodgers with Jimmy Fly peanut flies, body baits like flicker shads and Warrior flutter spoons behind 5/8 Oz. weights and yellowbirds all took fish. Based on where boats were catching them, shore fishermen should be able to get them now – assuming this weather doesn’t mess it up.
Waukegan was completely different.  The very few boats that got out Saturday couldn’t find any silver fish. The coho there seemed to move.  There were still plenty of lake trout to catch with baits near the bottom taking most. Traditional lake trout lake trout rigs of Yakima Spin-n-Glos in front of skirts with the UV skirts producing best.
Let’s hope the weather calms soon.
Capt. Scott Wolfe
630-341-0552

SMELT

Click here for a recount of some smelt netted Saturday night by Jef Walczak. As a counter-balance, click here for my column off opening night. Bottom line is basically what it has been, if you get some (or any), be happy.

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.

AREA LAKES

Weather slowed things down a bit, but crappie and bass fishing is going. Trout season is already winding down or about done in most places.

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

Hey Dale,

Let’s hope this is the last time we see old man winter for awhile!
Here is a recap of this past week’s fishing.
Area lakes- bass remain good on chatterbaits and lipless crankbaits. Best bite has been in the early afternoon hours on sunny days. Blue/black     and raybourne red have been the best colors for each bait.
TTYL
I meant to ask you last week and I noticed it again this week. No column on Sundays anymore?
Ken “Husker” O’Malley
Husker Outdoors
Waterwerks fishing team

Glad O’Malley asked. My weekend outdoors column in the Sun-Times is now part of an expanded two pages of outdoors as part of Sports Saturday, the big wrapper section on Saturdays.

INLAND TROUT: Regulations are the same for Illinois’ inland trout season. 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).

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.

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A successful day at Braidwood Lake.
Provided by Jim Hartley

Jim Hartley sent the photo above and this report on a trip changed from LaSalle to Braidwood:

Hi Dale,
. . .
Other news to report. Turned a bad day, to a good day driving to Braidwood. I launched on the south ramp, and was surprised to see at least 20 boat trailers in the parking lot. It was similar winds there too.
Dale , I am embarrassed to tell you this, but I have only fished Braidwood lake two times. Once last year , and second time on Saturday. But I am excited to inform
I limited on stripers both times I fished this water. Last year with three stripes over 20″, and last Saturday I caught ten 14-15″ in only a couple hours of fishing! — see pic. Its gonna break my heart to leave La Salle Lake, but I am definitely going to spend more time on Braidwood to learn this lake. Going to be extra cautious as if like fishing in Canada, because I have banged big boulders on both trips in areas I would not believe that shallow. The bottom is very irregular, as you probably know already.
Did boat a couple short 14″ largemouths, one 17″blue, and Two dink channels.—– To me, it was an outstanding day!
Hope things, are well for you. I am taking my friend Wayne to fish Braidwood on Good Friday, and maybe my other partner Tom too , if he can make it.
Happy Easter brother.
Jim
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Braidwood Lake scene from the shore.
Provided by Rob Abouchar

Rob Abouchar sent the report and photo below:

Hi Dale

With the impending doom of an April snowstorm and a new wind regulation at Braidwood the Anglers Choice Opening tournament was cancelled on Sunday.  Obviously it was a good call.  The new regulation of closing the lake to boaters if winds are 15 miles per hour or greater is in effect.  Many will argue this, but I know firsthand how dangerous these cooling lakes can be in bad winds. Even a 15 mile per hour wind makes Braidwood tough to fish depending on your location.  Another tournament circuit; The Anglers Dream Club of Hammond Indiana is holding the 1st qualifying event at Braidwood on April 21st at the North ramp.  I skipped shore fishing with taxes looming,  the April snow and boat maintenance.  Looking forward to Friday off to hit the water somewhere.  Possibly a trip to Wisconsin River to check conditions there.
Tight lines

CALUMET SYSTEM

No update.

CHAIN O’LAKES

Arden Katz said that “crappie are suicidal in the channels” (water has come up a few inches) with minnows the better bait, the are averaging 9-11 inches; for bluegills, he said, “As many as you want,” on 1/64th-ounce jigs and spikes; channels are already warmed to 50 already Tuesday afternoon.

Brad Irving at Triangle Sports and Marine said for the panfish in the channels, best are the smallest fatheads possible or 1-inch Gulp! Alive!; some white bass on Petite, Bluff and Pistakee; a few bass on small Rat-L-Traps, catfish are starting to move shallow from the deep holes; a few casting for muskies.

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 Front Report,

  As I write this it’s snowing Sunday April 14th where did Spring go? I got a few reports from friends about fish being caught on the Lake. A guy said he got a couple Browns at Montrose Saturday. My Buddy Buster does Busters Smelt Fest on Opening Day every year shared a message that the turnout was low but they did manage some smelt in the nets. He mentioned how years back it would be 5 gallon buckets full but not anymore. My thought on that is we have more and  larger predator fish in much clearer and cleaner water now.

95th Street and Burns Ditch seem to be producing some fish not sure if the snow and cold weather is going to affect that. Water temps are going to be slow climbing with this type of weather.  Some inland bodies of water are producing some fish a couple guys fished the discharge at Busse Saturday said they caught 3 Bass and a couple Walleye along with a lot of dinks.

 I planned April to be a slower month this year so I could get out and fish some new areas. Some of the spots I have fished previous years are starting to see boat traffic and others fishing them. I have some new and different ideas that I want to try a bit before I have others try them. That’s half the fun of guiding figuring out new and different patterns that produce fish.

Till next week Enjoy your fishing.

  Thanks 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

Ken Gortowski sent this:

If I were to head out fishing this month, which is likely based on a blog post I put up on kengortowski.com back in February, I would head
for any one of the many creeks that feed the Fox River. I’m partial to the ones starting in Batavia and going as far downstream on the Fox that you care to drive.
This week I would start at the mouth of any of the creeks and focus on the first half mile inland.
The following week I would increase that by another half mile.
The week after that, add another half mile.
That would bring us to the first week of May. At that point, you can go as far inland as you want and catch smallies. First week of May I already know I’ll be going to a spot 9 miles inland on one creek and 12 miles inland on another.
I don’t expect to be disappointed anywhere I decide to go. It’s never failed me in the past to follow what I outlined above, why would it now.
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. sent this on Thursday:

Morning fellas, sorry for the delay

The ice is finally dwindling away and most fishermen are gearing up for the open water season.  There are some open water opportunities going on right now….this is what I’ve got

Pike fishing has been fair for fishermen drifting with suckers, jigging with large fatheads along with casting and trolling in the canal.  The bite will really ramp up in about a week or so once those Pike put on their feed bag after the spawn.  By then, most of Sturgeon Bay along with some of the bays on Green Bay should be open

Brown Trout action has been ok for the fishermen trolling the Lake Michigan shorelines along with the inner bay of Sturgeon Bay.  That too should get better and better as we move through April and the water temps start to warm.  Trolling with floating Rapalas and Thundersticks along with an assortment of spoons like Maulers and Stingers.  Best depths are generally less than 20 feet around structure, warm water pockets and dirty to clean water transitions.  The casting bite for the boat fishermen is also becoming quite popular just like it is for the shore fishermen.  Best baits for that application is….stick baits like, Rapala shadow raps, Rippin Raps, Rip Stops along with a variety of casting spoons like Cleo’s and Krokodiles along with soaking fresh spawn

And the Rainbow Trout action has been good in the Lake Michigan tributaries throughout the county as more fish have been pouring in as we get some more rain and runoff.  Drifting with spawn sacs, yarn eggs and casting spinners all will work well in the streams

Thanks;

Lance LaVine

Howie’s Tackle
1309 Green Bay Rd
Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235
Ph: 920-746-9916

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.

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.

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

Lots of steelhead in creeks spinners and spawn saks best

KANKAKEE RIVER

Nick Carr at the Kankakee River Trading Post in Altorf said that the snow dropped water temperatures and slowed the bite, water is also coming up; the hope is the warming temperatures on Tuesday will snap back the bite.

Kyle Lund messaged:

Good afternoon Dale. Small update on the Kankakee. The river and weather continue to play games with us. Nice and warm forcast and the river is high and muddy. When it was falling and getting about right the temps are low and we had rain snow and ice. Extended forecast (not that it will stay the same) looks to have things leveling out temperature wise but we are expecting more rain and possible severe weather Thursday. Smallies started to feed in pre spawn areas but bailed out to find cover from rising waters. If you are venturing out to test your luck. Wear a PFD even when shore fishing. The water will be swift and is still chilly. One slip on a muddy bank and you could be in for a very bad experience. Fish should be tight to shore and in or behind cover out of heavy current. Chatter bait, rattle bait, something for them to key on should produce fish. You can also slow way down and fish a jig and plastic in the thicker cover. Walleye have really slowed and will remain so for the next couple weeks. No quote this week just another reminder NO FISH IS WORTH YOUR LIFE! WEAR A PFD!

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.

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Really nice smallmouth bass caught on the lakefront April 12, 2019.
Provided

But there is more variety than just that on the lakefront. On Saturday, Edweirdo tweeted:

solid mixed bag on the lakefront

And he sent the photo of the really nice smallmouth bass above and a largemouth bass and a trout.

LAUNCHING NOTE: Burnham Harbor launch is closed through May 1. Click here for more details.

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

Jim Hartley, who had to change plans when lake was not opened by the ranger because of wind levels, sent a expanded note (partially listed here) to remember to check updates on wind levels and lake being open or closed before driving there. I need to do a follow-up on this. It happens, too often.

Hi Dale,
Wanted to send this to you to inform fellow anglers.
. . .
Regardless ; I would inform all Boating anglers to phone call the ranger station in advance every time they plan to fish
La Salle Lake.  (815-357-1608)
Something has definitely changed on this lake.
. . .
Happy Easter brother.
Jim

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

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:

Ice is still here (4/15)!  Following last week’s storm (another 5” of snow), the melt down has slowed.

Anglers still drilling 17-22” of ice.  Crusty snow from the storm will be gone in a few days and the sun (or rain) can start working on what’s below.  Meanwhile…the warming waters from below plus trapped water in the ice is making for soft, porous “punky” ice.  Use caution at landings and old holes.

Crappies:  Very Good-Good – Bite not hot all the time, but when it is minnows on tip-downs have been aces.  At other times, finessing with #8 rockers tipped with white, pink, yellow plastics helping anglers with some fine catches of 11-13” fish.  8-12’ standing weeds best.

Yellow Perch:  Very Good-Good – Working their way into shallows, fat, pre-spawn Perch, setting up amongst weeds in 6-9’, have been feeding well on whatever anglers are offering (minnows, waxies, etc.).  Use larger baits to target larger fish, be ready to sort.

Bluegill:  Good – Winds kept most Gill anglers from hole hopping, so participation was down.  Nice catches using small dark jigs tipped with spikes or dark colored plastics.

Forecast for 50’s mid-week followed by rain (1-3”?) means ice will deteriorate quickly.  Nice weather for Saturday and Sunday may be the last chance for safe ice as the following week’s forecast is loaded with rain!

Keep eye out for our ice updates on our Facebook page.                                        

Kurt Justice
Kurt’s Island Sport Shop
Like us on FaceBook

NORTHWEST INDIANA

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

Boat fishing for coho was really good sat then sun it was shit weather

Shore fishing for coho has slowed to about nothing

Lots of steelhead in creeks spinners and spawn saks best

Crappie still decent in Hobart in lake George crappie minnows best fishing below dam and around Wisconsin st bridge

Pine lake in Laporte fishing for crappie has been good fishing shallow bays crappie minnows best

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 reopens April 27.

Staff at Tackle Haven said fishing has been spotty from the storms, but at least a king and some coho caught Tuesday; not much for pier fishing.

ST. JOSEPH RIVER, INDIANA

Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR.

SHABBONA LAKE

Clint Sands at Lakeside said quite a few fishing Tuesday with the weather change and crappie were being caught; muskie anglers were out and reported some bass catches, including one to 4 pounds. “Seems like we’re turning the corner, finally,” Sands said. I hope so.

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

No update.