Kings, bass, crappie, spring signs: Midwest Fishing Report, Chicago fishing
Subscribe for unlimited digital access.
Try one month for $1!
Subscribe for unlimited digital access. Try one month for $1!
Looks like everything is compacted as fish rush into various stages of spawning as the waters rapidly warm into more traditional ranges and that impact leads this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report on Chicago fishing.
Al Silcroft sent the photo above with this explanation:
Hello Dale. The Libertyville fishing club had an outing on lake Michigan yesterday. Ken Haney landed this 37″ 18 pound 4 oz. King caught in shallow water out of Waukegan.
Weather is now cooperating. Enjoy. Thx
Some nice kings being reported around southern Lake Michigan; and lots of bass; well, lots of fish in general.
The Midwest Fishing Report appears on the Sun-Times newspaper outdoors page on Wednesday. The sprawling raw-file report is posted here online on the Sun-Times outdoors page.
ILLINOIS PERCH REMINDER
Perch fishing on Lake Michigan is closed through June 15.
WISCONSIN GAMEFISH OPENER
It was a mixed bag, especially in northern Wisconsin, where some lakes were open enough for boats and some still iced in.
Just about everything is going as most lakes and ponds are already warmed into 60s.
Ken “Husker” O’Malley sent this update:
Hey Dale,Here is a recap of this week’s fishing.Area lakes- spring has finally sprung! Bass are up shallow staging for the spawn. Mostly males are being caught working a lipless crankbait along the inside and outside weed edges. Best bite has been mid afternoon hours.TTYL—Ken “Husker” O’Malley
Waterwerks fishing team
Pete Lamar sent this from the western suburbs, as well as some other outdoors-related observations, but here the fishing ones:
I’ve finally started getting out recently. It’s been pretty much the same for a couple of weeks: active bluegills and some crappies too. I’ve been using a soft hackle wet fly with some success (although I think most anything would work when it comes to bluegills willing to eat). In the soft hackle nomenclature, a pheasant-and-blue is what I’ve been catching them on. I have been seeing some big bass cruising the shallows near shore; I have not yet pursued them, but that will change presently.
AREA 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
Remember, Exelon’s Fishing for a Cure is Saturday.
Rob Abouchar sent this report:
Hi DaleI skipped the tournament action again at Braidwood to check out the Wisconsin opener in Merrill. The tournament action continued at Braidwood with the third Anglers Choice event. The team of Wokurka and Batta took 1st with 10.99 pounds (3fish limit). 2nd went to Miller and Wegner and 3rd to Sanders and Banach. The big Bass weighed 4.44lbs and was caught by the team of Zola and Zola. High School Anglers also catching good bass at Braidwood (see picture of young anglers).Tight linesRob
Braidwood is open daily 6 a.m.-sunset. Check with Jon’s Bait & Tackle Shop–(815) 237-2822–in South Wilmington.
BoRabb Williams sent this and the photo above:
Mixed bag today in the Calumet system… Lake and river is 63 degrees…… everything was bitting… but crappie… we couldn’t find any…… but caught Huge largemouth and smallies
He also added:
.catfish and bass are VERY Active.
Staff at Triangle Sports and Marine said water has warmed into the 60s and bass are starting to bed, bluegills are good and in the channels, while crappie are starting to move out of the channels; walleye are OK around current areas.
STRATTON LOCK AND DAM: Open daily 8 a.m.-midnight through Sept. 30. Click here for more info on the lock and dam.
FOX WATERWAY AGENCY: Go to Fox Waterway Agency or call (847) 587-8540.
CHICAGO RIVER/CHICAGO LAKEFRONT
Capt. Pat Harrison at Pat Harrison Outdoors sent this update:
Well we are finally seeing some warmer temps. Fish are still slow on the river some Crappie and Gills starting to move and a couple small Bass. Water temps are still down 48 to 52 surface temps. In past years once I saw surface temps from 56 to 59 fish started turning on. This coming week we should start seeing some movement.
Friday I spent some time inland on a few ponds catching Crappie and Gills. Sunday I spent the day on Bangs Lake at an IHSA event where there were 2 High School Bass Team members and one Veteran in each boat. We were short a few boats due to the sectionals starting Monday, so I had 2 Plainfield South Bass Team members and 2 Veterans Jim and Steve in my boat we had a Blast. It was interesting watching the Vets and anglers share ideas stories and thoughts.
This coming week I am Headed up to Kenosha for some Planner board Learning with my Buddy Captain Jerry a Charter Boat Captain out of Kenosha and President of Kenosha Sportfishing and Conservation Association. Looking forward to learning to add to my arsenal for Trout and Salmon in the Chicago Area. Till next week enjoy the weather change get out and catch some fish and Please if you would share your Pictures on my face book page Pat Harrison Outdoors – Fishing Adventures.
Thanks Captain Pat
—www.patharrisonoutdoors.com Thanks Pat
DELAVAN/GENEVA LAKES AREA, WISCONSIN
Arden Katz said bluegill and crappie, both take sorting, are loaded in the channels of Delavan, best on 1 64th-ounce jigs with white tails; channels are warmed into the mid-60s, main lake in mid-50s.
Guide Dave Duwe sent this off opening weekend:
Happy Cinco De Mayo & Opening Day of Game fishing!!
5/5/18 Lauderdale Lake, sunny, no wind 75 degrees, water temp 49 degrees. Caught 6 largemouth and 6 walleyes. We caught the fish on split shot rigged nightcrawlers fished in 8 feet of water. We fished Green Lake mostly. A chartreuse hook and a number 2 round split shot worked the best.
5/6/18 Lake Geneva, Night fishing 1 a.m. – 4 a.m., N wind at 5 mph, 50 degrees, water temp 49 degrees. Fished the east end, near Buttons Bay and Cisco Beach. We caught one walleye trolling crankbaits in 12 ft of water. There were a few smallmouth bass being caught during the day in 12-14 ft of water using Carolina rigs with finesse worms or small grubs.
Duwe also sent this as a preview of early season:
2018 Opening Day & Cinco De Mayo Celebration!
By: Dave Duwe
It’s like Cinco De Mayo! Oh wait, it is the 5th of May and this year that’s cause for double celebration as it coincides with opening day of fishing season for inland lakes in SE Wisconsin. After a long winter it’s time to catch some game fish.
As is typically the case in Walworth County on opening day, lake selection is important. With Lake Geneva being the deepest lake in the state and other shallower lakes warming quicker (think Lake Como or Whitewater Lake), a case can be made for fishing some lakes a bit off the beaten path.
In early May, Lake Geneva has some disadvantages being so deep and big. The water tends to be really cold and the fish aren’t usually that active. Most of the smallmouth bass are being caught suspended, not associating with any structure. They can also be very active chasing bait fish pods near their spawning flats. I work the suspended fish in 12-15 feet of water. My preferred presentations are Kalin Grubs in Avocado color fished on a darter head or Arkie Jigs Shinee Hinnee (a small crappie hair jig that resembles a shiner). The spawning flats I focus on are the near the South Shore Club, Elgin Club or near Knollwood.
Largemouth bass will be the most active in the shallows, in such places as Trinkes, Abbey Harbor or in Geneva Bay. I like using baits such as a Yum Dingers or a Texas rigged plastic worm. Green pumpkin or watermelon are always my best colors.
The larger bluegills will be in the warmer shallow waters around the emerging weeds and shallow structure. The best presentation is Thill slip bobbers with Lindy’s Toad ice jigs. I prefer using wax worms or leaf worms. My favorite bluegill spots are Abbey Harbor, Geneva Bay near the library or by the South shore club.
Due to the cold spring, the walleye in Geneva are in 3-5 feet tight to hard bottom. They have just completed their spawn. Look for them near Cisco Beach or Buttons Bay. As always, the walleye bite on Geneva is best after dark, between midnight and 3 a.m.
Statewide, Delavan Lake is known as one of the best fishing lakes. Since it is so well known as an awesome fishery, it will also be one of the busiest lakes on opening day. The crappie fishing has already been pretty good for the first few weeks of April. The best depth is in the 8-12 foot depth range. I like mini-mites or small plastics in purple or yellow. For live bait fishermen, Thill slip bobber rigs tipped with small fat head minnows also produce a lot of fish. Look for the fish by Browns Channel or by the island on the west end of the lake.
Walleyes in early May are shallow. Delavan is very clear this time of year and that can make the walleyes a bit skittish. The fish are in the emerging weeds in 5 to 10 feet of water. Night or low light conditions produce the most fish. Trolling shallow diving crankbaits typically produces the most fish.
Largemouth bass will be cruising the shallows in pre-spawn. The best approach is Yum Dingers fished Texas rigged in 3-5 feet of water near the outlet and by Lake Lawn Lodge.
While Delavan and Geneva are both great for fishing, personally I prefer some of Walworth Counties shallower lakes for early season. The lakes tend to have a much higher water temperature and that helps keep the fish more active. The smaller lakes also receive a lot less fishing pressure and can be very productive. My favorite lake choices are Whitewater, Como and Lauderdale lakes. Work the shallow emerging weeds in 3 to 5 ft of water for largemouth bass. My lure choices are a Booyah white spinnerbait in ¼ oz or a Texas rigged Yum Dinger in Green pumpkin. Being such shallow lakes, the weed growth can be tremendous, so early May can be the best fishing of the year on these bodies of water.
Shore anglers in Walworth County can have good action as well on opening day throughout the county. Turtle creek has a decent smallmouth and pan fish bite along with the requisite suckers and carp. Shore anglers are welcome to fish in the Town of Delavan’s community park for a small fee. The Kettle Moraine State forest also has some great shore opportunities on and near Whitewater lake.
The opportunities are abundant here is Walworth County. Come and enjoy fishing for game fish, the season is open. For guide parties contact Dave Duwe of Dave Duwe’s Guide Service at 262-728-8063.
DES PLAINES RIVER
From what I saw covering the IHSA sectional yesterday, some largemouth are already finished up spawning, but there are still big girls up on beds in protected back areas, such as harbors.
HENNEPIN-HOPPER NOTE: Fishing reopens Tuesday, May 15. Click here for regulations and other information.
EVERGREEN: Here are the bait shop and boat rental hours through Memorial Day weekend:
The hours will be as follows: Bait Shop: 8 a.m.- 4 p.m. 7 days/week.
Boat Rental: 8 a.m.- 4 p.m. Friday, Sat. & Sun.
SPRING LAKE NOTE: Both the north and south lakes have two regulation changes. Largemouth and smallmouth bass now have a protected slot of 12-18 inches; the daily bag is three bass either under 12 inches or over 18 or some combination of three over or under. Also, the daily limit of 25 crappie may include no more than 10 crappie 10 inches or longer.
FOX RIVER: WESTERN SUBURBS
Pete Lamar, following the advice of Ken Gortowski, sent this Tuesday morning:
I went to Mill Creek in Kane County last night and struck out. I could see the Fox from where I was fishing, so I was not far upstream. Either the fish have moved up beyond where I was or they did not care for the streamer I was throwing. Water was unusually low and clear for this time of year. I know that it’s not a rare occurrence anymore, but for someone old enough to remember when they were in deep trouble, it’s still a thrill to see one: a bald eagle flew right over me at treetop level, carrying a fish from the Fox in his talons (could not identify the fish).
I still find the sight of a bald eagle worth noting. But I also remember not too many years, I would do stories on bald eagle sighting.
FOX RIVER, WISCONSIN
GREEN BAY/STURGEON BAY
Art Costa sent the photo above and this note:
Some nice walleye in Sturgeon Bay
No update from Lance LaVine at Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay.
Click here to see the Wisconsin DNR’s Lake Michigan Fishing Report/
Hours are 6 a.m. to sunset daily.
For Ottawa area, check 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.
Kyle Lund messaged:
Kankakee River report. Smallies on the main river are still holding in the washouts down stream from shallow faster water. They are being caught drifting minnows into the washouts or bouncing plastics along the bottom during the day. Night fishing has also been very good for smallies in the same areas but closer to shore as they are moving in to feast on crayfish. I expect the majority of the main river smallies to move up and spawn this week and through the weekend. The creeks I checked all had beds with fish protecting them. Remember all smallies are catch and release through June 15th. Please use extreme caution in the coming weeks if you will be wading through shallow rocky parts of the river and or creeks to avoid beds. A few bonus walleye have also been caught out of the same areas the smallies are staging in. Catfishing has continued to improve. They are being taken on cut bait on the inside bends in the river and some are coming from the down stream side of downed timber. I expect the smallie bite to slow considerably as the week goes on and be almost non existent by the end of the week. Plenty of other fish are on the chew to keep those lines tight as the smallies do their thing. Few side notes. Take the time to take a kid fishing. It’s one of the most rewarding feelings in the world as an avid outdoorsman to see the smile on a kids face when they hook and land a fish. Lastly take a minute to check out helping veterans go fishing on Facebook. They have a great program and their event is coming up on June 10th in Oak Lawn. Lots of awesome giveaways at the event free fishing gear for veterans and a great speaker, Jim Crowley, will be there to give a seminar at event.
Click here to see the Wisconsin DNR’s Lake Michigan Fishing Report. It generally comes out Tuesday.
Capt. Bob Poteshman at Confusion Charters emailed the photo above with this explanation:
Caught aboard the Confusion C4 from Montrose by the Wilson Crib on Saturday. 22lbs on a dodger/spin n glow. Angler-Alex Pasteris from Joliet
Poteshman said this afternoon that coho are going good from the beach to 30-40 feet out of North Point, but they are moving up and down the shoreline. He said some bait started to show, which might help the bite for coho, otherwise, the good bite is lakers in 45-65 feet.
Cory Gecht at Park Bait reported that some trout are around, the good news is that alewives are starting to show up.
Capt. Scott R. Wolfe of School of Fish Charters sent this:
Hi Dale –
Fishing in Waukegan really picked up this week for salmon. Our trips had a nice combination of both quality and quantity. The coho are moving in and we had kings and lake trout every trip for nice mixed species bags. We had kings 14 to 20 pounds and lakers 8 to 18 pounds. Earlier in the week the salmon seemed spread out with boats hunting for small schools of fish all the way from just off the beach in 10 feet of water to past 250 feet. By Saturday they seemed to concentrate in 25 to 45 feet near Waukegan Harbor. Hot rigs were Jimmy Fly Lime Ricky fly behind a 00 Luhr-Jensen red dodger; Warrior Lures Steelhead Candy and Warrior Lures UV Blue Dolphin. Faster trolling speeds definitely outperformed slower. Those 3 took about 90% of the fish this week. One trip the Jimmy Fly Lime Ricky had 20 of the 23. On others they seemed to want the Warrior Spoons. Ironically the “Steelhead Candy” pattern took kings, coho and lakers, but no steelhead. That spoon has been a must have for 3-4 years in a row now.
Out of Chicago the news was not as good. Excellent lake trout fishing in 40 – 60 feet pretty much anywhere from the city to up near Wilmette. Other species were scarce unfortunately. A coho and big king (up to 22 pounds this weekend) are occasionally taken, but few off Chicago.
For anyone looking to get out we have open charter slots May 13 and 26 and 5 weekend slots open in June (many weekday). For people who can’t put together a full boat, we begin running individual spot “split trip” charters Memorial Day weekend. The schedule for those is on our website and Facebook page.
Your readers and followers are always welcome to email, text, IM, or call if they have any questions. Have a great week.
Capt. Scott R. Wolfe
Manipulator/ School of Fish Charters
LAKE ONALASKA AREA, WISCONSIN
Open daily 6 a.m.-sunset.
MADISON CHAIN, WISCONSIN
Normally this is the week where I do my Mazonia visit, but not this year. With this warmup, I think that especially the smaller lakes and water holes might be worth hitting. Check with Jon Meder at Jon’s Bait Shop–(815) 237-2822–in South Wilmington.
MENOMINEE RIVER, WISCONSIN
Mike Mladeik at Mike Mladenik Guide Service sent this:
Smallmouth are both staging and cruising the shallows. I had the day off from guiding and I pounded the smallmouth with Case Lil Magic Swims. The rest of May will be great fishing.
Click here to see the Wisconsin DNR’s Lake Michigan Fishing Report. It is geneally out Tuesdays.
MINOCQUA: Kurt Justice of Kurt’s Island Sport Shop sent this:
The Opener has happened. Sorta snuck up on us. Wasn’t available everywhere, but where it was, Walleye anglers had some great fishing.
While some lakes are still ice covered (Trout, Fence, etc.), many favorite Walleye lakes opened enough to allow anglers to launch, thanks to the warm temps of last week.
Surprisingly, on some smaller lakes that had been ice free for a while, anglers were finding spawned out Walleyes in lakes that saw surface temps in the low 50’s already!
Daytime fishing on these lakes produces best when anglers worked depths of 10-15’ using 1/8-1/4 oz jigs tipped with large fathead minnows.
On Flowages, where fish are being found pre, post and in the act of spawning, mud minnows and large fatheads on 1/16 oz weedless jigs proved best in 3-7’.
Casting Thundersticks, Rattlin Rouges and Floating Rapalas also producing nice catches.
Northern Pike (open) and Smallmouth Bass (closed) provided anglers with bonus action while pitching for Walleyes.
A few reports of Crappies and Musky cruising the warm shallows of smaller lakes.
Water temps vary from mid 30’s on large lakes to mid 40’s to low 50’s elsewhere.
Remember, on lakes with protected slot sizes (20-24”) those are meant to protect those egg bearing females. If you catch some smaller, egg laden girls, let those go too, they are carrying our future fishery.
Ready, set, fish!
Opening fishing weekend finds open water (with more to come) in Eagle River
Opening weekend saw beautiful weather in Eagle River. Although some area lakes still have ice on the surface, much of the Chain is open water as melting continues. Bass is catch and release fromMay 5 – June 15, with the season opener being June 16. Panfish are becoming more active as the waters begin to warm. Perch are almost ready to spawn, as well.
Make sure you are up to date with all openers. Musky and northern seasons do not open until May 26.
Walleye: On open water lakes, these fish were still in pre-spawn sitting in the holes. Males are still small and it seemed that they were on the sharpest breaks going down the holes. Using a jig and minnow combo was the ticket for these fish.
Perch are being caught in the old weeds using a slip bobber combo tipped with a small crappie minnow. A few anglers caught some with a piece of worm.
Crappies are being caught in the holes mixed in with some walleyes and they are starting to stage up on the deep edge close to shallow water.
Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station, Ind. texted:
Some king action outside mouth of port of Indiana in 40 to 50 ft of water fishing 25 to 35 down spoons and j plugs many big ones tooLake trout in 80 to 100 ft fishing near bottom dodgers and spin n glows few coho on surface thinfish and dodger flysWillow slough fair on gills must move around redworms beemoth cricketPine lake laporate giving up a lot of crappie in shallow water with minnows or jigs tipped with waxwormsNice weather equals lots of people out super bizy
I think we all need this nice weather.
ROCK RIVER, ILLINOIS
ROCK RIVER, WISCONSIN
ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN
The Wisconsin DNR’s Root River Report restarted. It is usually out Tuesday or Wednesday. Click here to see it.
ST. JOSEPH, MICHIGAN
Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said they are “smoking” kings and coho in 90-130 feet; there’s walleye, smallmouth and catfish going in the river; the piers are slow.
ST. JOSEPH RIVER, INDIANA
Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR.
Clint Sands at Lakeside said crappie are really good, down about three feet over the cribs with minnows; water has warmed well into the 60s, so everything is going, bass are coming in and catfish are being caught; walleye are slow until the weeds come on better.
Lakeside–(815) 824-2581–is open 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Park hours 6 a.m.- 10 p.m.
SOUTHEAST WISCONSIN LAKEFRONT
The Wisconsin DNR’s Lake Michigan Fishing Report restarted. Click here to see it. Streams flow info is at http://waterdata.usgs.gov/wi/nwis/current?type=flow.
WINNEBAGO SYSTEM, WISCONSIN
Check with River’s Edge.
Rob Abouchar sent this report:
Hi DaleI skipped the tournament action again at Braidwood to check out the Wisconsin opener in Merrill... .The Wisconsin opener in Merrill on the Alexander Flowage/Wisconsin River was outstanding but north of Tomahawk ice was still an issue. I spoke with a conservation officer who said the ice came off Alexander 3 days before the weekend. The water temps went from 38-41 degrees I caught some very nice Smallmouth Bass up into 3lbs and a pike I caught all my fish on a Rapala Shadow Rap in 1-2 feet of water. The bird and waterfowl watching was incredible. Groups of eagles, and ducks i have never seen. Witnessed an eagle dive into the river catch a fish and return to the nest. Great to be back in the Northwoods.Tight linesRob
WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN: WINNECONNE
Gary Bloom messaged this and also noted that it is the highest it has been in 30 years.
Walleye really biting well. So far we released 6 fish 22-26 inches. Lots of 15- 17 inchers. Few wh bass, mostly small males.