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Opening water, LaSalle opener, coho: Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report

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Jeffrey Ayeski and Mike Berman with some good catches on Day 2 at LaSalle Lake in 2019.
Provided

Serious change comes for this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

Now both LaSalle and Braidwood cooling lakes are open for fishing daily. Ice fishing, unless you head north where there is more than enough left to last a while, is fading into memory.

Jeffrey Ayeski sent the photo above from Day 2 at LaSalle Lake on Saturday and noted:

More LaSalle lake today Jeff ayeski 19 inch hybrid stripes mike Berman 18 3/4 stripes Bert Saxon please verify our 19 inch fish

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.

LaSALLE OPENER

Click here for my Sunday column on opening day on Friday, which was so windy there was no boating and even shore fishing was a challenge, but there are plenty of big hybrid striped bass to fight and catch. As Ayeski showed, whether from shore or boat.

As Adrian Medina noted too when he messaged this note and photo below from Sunday:

First time ever going to Lasalle on opener week and first time ever getting hybrids

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Adrian Medina with his first hybrid striped bass.
Provided

Curt Pazdro had an absurdly good day from boat on Sunday and messaged a photo of some of the hybrids and these notes:

100 stripers…..30 bass……

Biggest largemouth 5lbs

Every cast on the stripers.. around 5 pounders

Larry Jennings messaged this message and the photo below:

Larry Jennings I got one!! 18 inches of fun😱🎣🐳Got a couple of nice Blue Cats to go with the Big guy

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Larry Jennings and another hybrid from LaSalle in the opening days.
Provided

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.

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Jeffrey Ayeski with a fine hybrid striper from LaSalle Lake, Day 2 in 2019.
Provided

LAKEFRONT COHO (AND TROUT)

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait said coho and some trout are being caught by both powerliners and casters on the Chicago lakefront.

Stracey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

Yes there’s been Coho and Browns
 Saturday was real good Sunday nothing in the morning but the wind changed around in the afternoon and they slammed them after 2 p.m. yesterday was slow this morning there was some fish so it’s been back and forth but not bad. Power lines as well as a few caught on rod and reel.

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

Coho on lake from cal park to new buffalo trolling good on thinfish j9 rapalas and flicker shad in a variety of colors fishing top 10 ft of water

Sunday was tough for most but still fish caught
Shore guys it’s skein on bottom crawlers squid and shrimp on bobbers few caught casting ko wobblers and lil Cleo’s again variety of colors
Michigan city for shore guys has been best but some being caught everywhere port of Indiana portage riverwalk east Chicago marina and Hammond marina

ILLINOIS’ EARLY CATCH-AND-RELEASE TROUT SEASON

Illinois’ early catch-and-release (keep in mind that is strictly enforced) season for trout opens Saturday, March 23, at nine early-stocked sites.

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

Except in some northern areas, open water is widespread.

As Ken “Husker” O’Malley noted in this report:

Last Saturday I was fishing hard water out south here. By Thursday, open water fishing. Go figure. Plan on hitting Braidwood Sunday. I’ll send you that report Sunday night. Hope to get to hit some local waters inbetween that.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley
Husker Outdoors
Waterwerks fishing team

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait said crappie bite is starting in the forest preserves.

AREA RIVERS

Good week to check this, especially with record flooding at spots on the Rock and flooding or high water on many other northern 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

When weather allows, good bass fishing keeps going, especially for boaters. Open 6 a.m.-sunset daily.

CALUMET SYSTEM

No update.

CHAIN O’LAKES/FOX RIVER BACKWATERS

Fox River and the Chain are closed to boating from the Algonquin dam to the Wisconsin line. 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,

  So this week was the first week in a long time that I had the whole week to get things done. The boat is clean prepped and ready (It’s For Sale) if anyone is looking for a Great Boat. With the G3 Certified Guide Program they want you to upgrade every two years so when this one sells I will be going into an Angler 21 same layout with 2 feet more floor space.

Talked to a few folks that have been out fishing open water where they can find it. As everyone saw over the weekend the Chicago River is open surface temperature is 34 degrees and water is slow moving. I was a follow boat for ROW Recovery On Water a group of woman recovering from Breast Cancer that use rowing as therapy. I follow them in case there are any issues. I really don’t fish the river until the surface temperature hits 38 to 42 degrees that’s when they start to turn on. Small baits fished slow near bottom work to start the season my go to is a white JIG AND twister tail tipped with a waxie or minnow.

   On the Lake side I have heard of some Trout and salmon being taken. This time of year if you want to get out a bit deeper and move you bait if there aren’t a lot of people out try a YellowBird planner board. You can get your bait out as far as you want by walking slow down the shore. Make sure you put a hair pin swivel on the eye on the lower rear of the board and hook around the line so your board doesn’t float away. This can add to your catch rate. We pull boards on my boat to cover more water you can do the same from shore.

If you get out to fish Please send me some pictures I want to start posting pictures of Chicago Fishing on my Website and Facebook page.  www.PatHarrisonOutdoors.com FB:Pat Harrison Outdoors – Fishing Adventures PatHarrisonOutdoors@gmail.com

Till next week ,

Thanks Capt.Pat

DELAVAN LAKE, WISCONSIN

No update.

DES PLAINES RIVER

Upper portions in particular are in or coming off flood.

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

At or near flood; closed from Algonquin dam upstream to the Wisconsin line.

FOX RIVER, WISCONSIN

No update.

GENEVA LAKE, WISCONSIN

No update.

GREEN BAY/STURGEON BAY

No update this week 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

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An opening day scene at Heidecke Lake in 2013.
Credit: Dale Bowman

Scheduled to reopen April 1.

ILLINOIS RIVER

Projected to be dropping off flood stage within the next couple days at Starved Rock and LaSalle.

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:

Steelhead action good in trail creek lately on voodoo jigs tipped with beemoth and spawn saks all under floats few fish had on inline spinners

KANKAKEE RIVER

Kyle Lund sent this:

Walleye are the talk of the river again this week. Water is finally falling and clearing. Its been holding above 40° at night and getting up around 44° during the day. There is some rain that will be coming in tomorrow. All we can do is hope that its light. Any substantial rain and we will be back to fishing high water. Im still confident that some fish will start spawing this weekdend so look for a very stong bite the next 3 days especially with the full moon tomorrow night. Some walleye have been caught from what im hearing. All males and no big feamles reported yet. Fish are coming on or very near slack water areas or current seams. Jig and twister tail or paddle tail swimbait have outfished live bait. If the flow continues to slow fish will start moving and seeking out food and the live bait bite should heat up. Also seeing some smallies and catfish being caught by guys targeting walleye. Saw the fish crawdad of the year 3 days ago. Positive sign of things to come. If you are new to walleye fishing in small rivers i did a class and it was recored and posted on the Kankakee River Rats Facebook page. We had around 35 or so people come check it out. Made some new friends and shared some good informantion.

“Sharing the fun of fishing turns strangers into friends in a few hours” -Eugene Clark

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

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait said that coho and some trout are beginning on the Chicago lakefront, both by powerliners and casters.

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

 Yes there’s been Coho and Browns
 Saturday was real good Sunday nothing in the morning but the wind changed around in the afternoon and they slammed them after 2 p.m. yesterday was slow this morning there was some fish so it’s been back and forth but not bad. Power lines as well as a few caught on rod and reel.

PASSES: PIER: Selected piers in the Chicago harbors–Montrose, Belmont, Diversey, DuSable, Burnham, Jackson–are open to fishermen with a pier pass. The $6 passes are available at Henry’s Sports and Bait and Northerly Island (credit card only and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday). PARKING: 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 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

Opening report at the top. 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:

Finally, first decent ice fishing opportunity in weeks!  Last weeks warm up knocked snow cover down to a level that made access doable.  The cold nights since firmed up the top of the snow to a crust solid enough to walk on.  Snowmobile, tracked ATV/UTV’s, walking, and even in some areas untracked UTV’s, are making it out there.  Ice thickness ranging from 24-28” on average with some areas as low as 20” while others over 30”.

Bluegill:  Very Good – With better accessibility and more anglers out, catch rates have improved.  Standard teardrops, VMC Waxy jigs, Demons and Spitzfires tipped with wax worms, beaver tail or plastics (red, maroon, purple) best.  Depth of 8-10’ best.

Crappies:  Good – While most of the best bites are deeper (12-20’), where getting there is the battle, some migration up into 12-14’ standing weeds.  Come dusk and early AM for bonus bites for Gill anglers.  Slow dropping Lethal Cecils, Rockers tipped with white, yellow and pink plastics as well as strips of beavertail very good.  Don’t be shy about fishing 3-4’ off bottom.  Tip-downs using Crappie minnows or rosies good and only going to get better.  As Crappies get more active with warm up small slender spoons, Vinglas and Z-vibes will also work tipped with a waxie or minnow head for flavor.

Yellow Perch:  Good – Same as Crappies, best fishing still relatively deep, but migration should pull fish in as weather warms.  Best in 16-24’ using wigglers for bait.  Hang a lively one on a Hali, Flash Champ, pimple (#2) or Kastmaster.  Bang the bottom a few times to stir up the mud, then raise 2-3’ off bottom.  Aggressive Perch will rise, sometimes 4-6’ off bottom to eat.

Forecast looks nice, should give us two weeks of great pan fishing weather.  Warm days to take snow down, cool to cold nights to firm things back up.

Despite 2’ of ice, in some areas that ice is not great.  Good for now, but as snow melt seeps through it will become porous (honeycombed), by the end of next week, start checking ahead for travel conditions.  As of now fair, but getting better.

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:

Coho on lake from cal park to new buffalo trolling good on thinfish j9 rapalas and flicker shad in a variety of colors fishing top 10 ft of water

Sunday was tough for most but still fish caught
Shore guys it’s skein on bottom crawlers squid and shrimp on bobbers few caught casting ko wobblers and lil Cleo’s again variety of colors
Michigan city for shore guys has been best but some being caught everywhere port of Indiana portage riverwalk east Chicago marina and Hammond marina
Crappie starting good at cedar lake at the marinas along the docks  Rufas jr jigs tipped with beemoth and white tube jigs fished under bobber
Steelhead action good in trail creek lately on voodoo jigs tipped with beemoth and spawn saks all under floats few fish had on inline spinners
Lots of stuff going on will be better by end of week with steady weather we are having

Yes, lots of stuff going on.

ROCK RIVER, ILLINOIS

Coming off or in record or near-record 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 a few coho and browns are starting off the pier. I hope to find out for myself this weekend.

ST. JOSEPH RIVER, INDIANA

Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR.

SHABBONA LAKE

Staff at Lakeside–(815) 824-2581–said ice fishing is done, but there is still some ice on the lake. Hours at Lakesideremain 8 a.m.-2 p.m. for now. Park hours in March are 8 a.m.-8 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

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait said the crappie bite has continued from ice fishing to open water.

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

No update.