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Spring fishing begins: Chicago fishing

I probably should put a smiley-face by that title. It has not felt like spring the last few days, but some guys are even river fishing already, such as James Wawrzaszek on the DuPage (above).

Open-water, except far north, is nearly universal for this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report, and lakefront spring coho fishing leads the way.

This is the sprawling raw-file version of the Midwest Fishing Report, which appears much condensed Wednesdays on the Sun-Times outdoors page.

LAKEFRONT COHO (and other fish)

CHICAGO: Staff at Henry’s Sports & Bait said Coho and a few browns were being caught at 63rd, behind the Planetarium and at Montrose (casters and powerliners). WAUKEGAN: Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop texted that pike were being caught off the rocks, otherwise browns and coho everywhere on spoons, fatheads or roaches. INDIANA: Ed McCain at Mik-Lurch said Gary Light was best for coho and some browns weather permitting; otherwise Hammond and East Chicago were good. He said a few were trying for whitefish. Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters (he is already in at East Chicago Marina) said coho and a few browns before ice blew back were scattered around Hole-in-Wall, Gary Light and Shipping Channel. Dodgers and flies better than crankbaits.

EARLY TROUT FLY FISHING

Illinois’ catch-and-release fly fishing-only early season is open. Northern sites are Rock Creek in Kankakee River State Park, Apple River in Apple River SP, Pine Creek in White Pines SP. Click here for statewide information. The regular spring trout season opens April 4.

AREA LAKES

With a few exceptions north, lakes opened up.

Remember with regular spring trout season starting April 4, many sites will be stocking and fishing will be closed until the opening of regular spring trout season.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley of Water Werks Fishing Team sent this:

Hey Dale,

Here’s the first open water report of 2015.

Area lakes are very slow. A good warm spell will definitely move things in the right direction.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley
Huskeroutdoors
Waterworks fishing team

AREA WATER LEVELS

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

CENTRAL WISCONSIN

Hooksetter’s Guide Service gave this:

(Head): Crappies, bluegills and perch hitting hard through the ice with a few anglers doing some open water walleye fishing beneath area dams; all in and amidst the lakes and the Wisconsin River in Wisconsin’s Marathon and Lincoln Counties (near Mosinee and Wausau).

This past week we have seen ice conditions deteriorate drastically. With the warm temperatures and recent rain shoreline areas are now breaking apart and mid lake areas, especially lakes with current are starting to open up. Recent reports have a truck or two going through the ice.

Despite the diminishing ice conditions (use caution first) fishing for panfish has been very good with limit catches of bluegills, crappies and perch. The crappies and bluegills have been holding in shallow weeds in anywhere from 3 to 8 feet of water, and are hitting a jig tipped with either spikes or waxies.

The perch bite has continued to be outstanding and we are catching some real jumbos. The fish have been holding on mid depth flats that we found using the GPS on our electronics. By using our pre-loading lake maps we were able to detect precise locations and target fish that are in their pre-spawn transition areas. Most of these perch have been in anywhere from 8 to 15 feet of water. The most productive method we have found so far for catching the perch is jigging rattle spoons that have been tipped with a minnow head or a few waxies.

A few anglers are also trying their luck on the open water already this year. Areas below dams have been good as well as downstream areas with decent access. Most anglers are targeting walleyes in 8 to 14 feet of water in non-current areas with jig and minnow combination

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Art Frisell at Triangle Sports & Marine said crappie and pike are being caught in back channels with open water. There might be some boat fishing this week.

For more reports, see http://www.foxlakefishing.com/

Check Chain updates from at the Fox Waterway Agency or by calling (847) 587-8540.

CHICAGO RIVER

No report this week.

COOLING LAKES/STRIP PITS

LaSALLE: Hatchery staff said water temperatures remain very low, as low as the upper 40s on the cold side. Probably the best multi-species fishing going right now. Quality hybrid and largemouth catchs in hot and cold sides. Some decent blues to one giant forwarded by Mike Lynch. Hours are 6 a.m. to sunset daily, even in March this year (the big change). There is a concessionaire with bait and food options. But it will probably not be fully operational until later this month. Until then, there are vending machines with food, drink and bait options. BRAIDWOOD:  Lake is open daily 6 a.m.-sunset daily. Henry’s reported lots of small catfish. Jon’s Bait and Tackle in South Wilmington reported some bass.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley of Water Werks Fishing Team sent this:

I hit up Braidwood with a buddy on Thursday. Water temps dropped about ten degrees, which made for a very slow bite . Pitching to wind blown shoreline points with either creature baits or craw imitators was the only consistent pattern. We had to work for every fish. Average was 12 inches with no fish being larger than that. It was still nice to wet a line in open water all the same. 

MAZONIA: Jon’s said all lakes are open, but very few reports so far. HEIDECKE: Reopens April 1.

DELAVAN/LAKE GENEVA AREA

In between.

DES PLAINES RIVER

No report this week.

DOWNSTATE NOTES

SHELBYVILLE: Check with Ken Wilson of Ken Wilson Guide ServiceLAKE OF EGYPT & REND LAKE: Check with Jason Johns of Boneyard FishingSPRING: Lakes opened up. POWERTON: Reports have been fair. Both shore and boat fishing are open. Hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. daily. HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Lakes will reopen this year at an undecided date. EMIQUON: Call (309) 547-2730.

DuPAGE RIVER

James Wawrzaszek sent this on Saturday:

The fish are moving on the east branch of the Dupage. All caught on Rapala SR05 shad raps in the Helsinki shad pattern and all before 9 a.m. Wish I could’ve fished longer. 

FOX RIVER

No update this week.

GREEN BAY

Lance LaVine at Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay sent this update:

Good morning folks…here is the updated fish report for Monday, March 23rd.

There are still some brave souls heading out on the ice chasing some Whitefish, Walleye and Pike. With that said, the ice changing rapidly so use extreme caution.

Whitefish action can be classed as fair to good in the areas you can still get out on. The main area people have been fishing has been the Henderson’s point shoreline around the primary drop off. An assortment of jigs tipped with wax worms has been the best.

Pike fishing is going pretty good. Areas to try would be Little Sturgeon, Riley’s Bay and the Sawyer Harbor area. Large suckers and Golden shiners suspended under tip-ups and auto fishermen has been the best method.

Walleye fishing through the ice is heating up as those fish move into their spawning pattern. Areas to try are…the Henderson’s point shoreline, Riley’s Bay, Sand Bay and Sawyer Harbor. Odd’Ball jigs, Rapala jigs, Moonshine shiver minnows and Forage minnows tipped with minnows are all good options this time of year.

I don’t elaborate too much on the ice fishing this time of year because the ice conditions are truly day to day so really do your homework before heading out there.

As for the open water fishing…

The Brown Trout action has been going pretty well basically from Sturgeon Bay south to Algoma. The boat ramps in Algoma and Sturgeon Bay are now open, but do have some floating ice so be aware of the wind etc. when heading out. The best action has been coming in that 4 to 15 foot range and fishermen are looking for stained water or fishing in front of creek mouths. Rapalas, Thundersticks, Matzuo’s and Mauler spoons are all very good baits to have in the boat.

Pike fishing in the Sturgeon Bay ship canal will start to pick up now that the boat launch is open. Drifting with bottom bouncer rigs and sucker minnows, jigging with Odd’Ball jigs tipped with minnows and trolling large crank baits and spoons are all very good methods to catch a few big Pike.

And there have been some decent reports of Walleye being caught from shore right in downtown Sturgeon Bay. The best baits are…large plastic swim baits, Husky Jerks, Smithwick Rogues and jig and minnow combonations

Thanks;

Lance LaVine

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

The Wisconsin DNR posts a report, typically updated on Tuesdays at http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/lakemichigan/OutdoorReport.html

ILLINOIS RIVER

From the weekend tournaments and talking with hatchery staff, big prespawn female sauger were being caught over the weekend.  The Spring Valley Walleye Club holds its inaugural Illinois River Walleye Classic this weekend out of Barto Landing in Spring Valley. Bill Guerrini said spots remain for teams. Details are at www.spring-valley-walleye.org/irwc.html.

Illinois Valley Outdoors (in the former Time on the Water Outdoors buildings) at Spring Valley is now open with basics, including bait, crankbaits and plastics at 5 a.m.  The phone will remain (815) 663-1000.

INDIANA STREAMS

Access points for Trail Creek can be found on the Trail Creek Access Map.

KANKAKEE RIVER

Capt. Austin Adduci of Grab Your Fly Charters sent this:

Kankakee water temps 42-48 wonderful clarity of 2-3 feet. Defiantly a prespawn bite. Big fish with big bellies and a light bite. No real pattern on flies they all worked, bright, natural colors, rattles incorporated, they ate everything. The fish came from all types of water, seams, slow pockets, and wood.

Patrick Patel tweeted that he and buddy caught 15.5-inch smallmouth and 24-inch walleye in Rock Creek area over the weekend.

LAKE ERIE

The Ohio DNR has general Lake Erie info and a fishing report.

lakefrontgeneral

LAKEFRONT

See report at top.

MADISON CHAIN, WISCONSIN

Gene Dellinger at D&S Bait said there’s ice but no ice safe to walk.

MENOMINEE RIVER, WISCONSIN

Mike Mladenik of Mike Mladenik Guide Service sent this note worth noting for the coming weeks:

Open water will soon be here!

Walleye, pike & Smallmouth action will be excellent in May. It looks like ice out will be  ahead of schedule. The pre-spawn smallmouth bite should the best in several years.

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

Kurt Justice of Kurt’s Island Sport Shop in Minocqua sent this:

Minocqua Area Fishing Report:

Though We lost some ice last week due to the warm weather, since Saturday (3/21) cold temps have held the ice we have in check. This is leaving the anglers with 16-24″ of ice on average to keep fishing on. While trucks are being driven on the south end of Big Arbor Vitae, it’s not really a good idea. It’s best to use ATV’s, snowmobiles or foot traffic from here on out. Shoreline access has been relatively good, probably due to the lack of snow for run off. Overnight temps in the low 20′s firming things up nicely now. A threat of snow for Tuesday/ Wednesday (3/24-3/25) could complicate matters, but lows of 10-13 deg. for the next couple of nights after should help conserve the ice we have through the weekend. Forecast for highs of 60 deg. for April 1st. will remove any snow and start the ice melting procedure again.

Bluegills: Good-Fair. Oddly… fishing for all three panfish species got tougher as the weekend wore on. Lots of reports of anglers marking fish, but not able to get bites. Diamond Jigs (in black) tipped with a red spikes or dark colored plastic have helped a couple of local anglers to nice catches of gills towards dusk. Ants (in black) have also been working. On tough bites, dark colors seem to be best. The best depths in 8-12′ of water.

Yellow Perch: Good- Fair. Several anglers gave similar reports of marking- and moving perch, but reluctance to bite. Mud flats still holding perch, use heavy spoons / jigs to get down quickly- tip with wigglers – red spikes. Tip-downs with minnows also working, but action slowed. Weed areas for perch producing nice plump fish of 8-11″ using VMC waxie jigs tipped with wax worms. Depth of 8-12′ best for weed bites.

Crappies: Good-Fair. Disappointing… as this should be great crappie fishing.

While many anglers using tip-downs complained of very little action, it was the slow droppers, fluttering #8 & #10 rockers dressed with chartreuse, yellow or white plastics as well as light colored Purist Jigs that worked up decent catches. Some fish found just under the ice to 12′ down over weeds. Deep mud flat fish are best on tip-downs / minnows. Night fishing using glow jigs or glow hooks also working.

The hot bite will return- a few anglers actually did very well fishing away from the popular areas. Creepers have been a must, snow on ice will help- but won’t last.

Kurt,

Island Sportshop
Minocqua, WI

EAGLE RIVER: This report came the Eagle River Chamber of Commerce, based on Creative Brilliance interviews with Eagle River guides “Muskie Matt” of Wild Eagle Lodge, “Ranger Rick” Krueger of Guide¹s Choice Pro Shop, Mat Hegy; and Eagle River hunting enthusiast, Dan Anderson:

(Head): Crappies, bluegills and perch putting on a good to excellent bite ; all in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area.

There’s good ice and thickness in Eagle River, Wisconsin but with the warm weather and sunny days, there is increasing deterioration of shoreline, current and structure areas. Local guides predict that some Eagle River areas lakes won’t be able to support ice fishing in a week or so, due to the increasing melt. There’s little snow on Eagle River area lakes, so snowmobiling is not much of a travel option any longer. Foot travel is best, with some taking out motor vehicles (one of our guide sources say that this is very dangerous, and he wouldn’t recommend any type of motor vehicle travel – -trucks, cars etc.).

PANFISH: Crappies, bluegills and perch are in two locations in the Eagle River area. Fish main lake basins in 30 feet of water or less. Look for contour or depth changes- – brush piles, cribs, depressions or elevations; or try weed or break edges in 12 feet of water or less. Use a crappie minnow, spike, wiggler, waxie or small plastic on a jig or under a slip bobber. The perch are tight to bottom, with the crappies and gills suspending up and down the water column. Usually at this time of the year, the crappies and gills are moving upward towards the surface, but right now, they are in no particular depth. Start at the bottom and work your way up. There is all day action and the bite is good to excellent.

NORTHWEST INDIANA

Lakefront coho report at the top.

ROCK RIVER, WISCONSIN

Brian Gates from Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle said walleye, mostly small, are being caught in open water (more areas opening soon) around Jefferson and Fort Atkinson; better at night.

ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN

The Wisconsin DNR Root River Report is generally posted on Tuesday.

ST. JOSEPH, MICHIGANice03-21-15Michigan

Capt. Eric Condor of Big Bird Charters at Tackle Haven said steelhead were being caught in “intermittent catches’’ and as were a few browns at Berrien Springs. Otherwise in the river, suckers and catfish are starting. As to the piers, coho picked up, but ice still makes getting around on the piers treacherous and the lakeside is iced (as the photo I took on Saturday just south of St. Joseph shows). There are also some whitefish and browns are also being caught off piers.

ST. JOSEPH RIVER, INDIANA

Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR.

SHABBONA LAKE

Lake is half open. Clint Sands said Lakeside would reopen when lake opens, maybe by the weekend.

For information and reports from Lakeside, go to shabbonalake.com or call (815) 824-2581.

SOUTHEAST WISCONSIN

The Wisconsin DNR report is at http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/lakemichigan/OutdoorReport.html. They are generally posted by Tuesday afternoon. Stream flow info is at http://waterdata.usgs.gov/wi/nwis/current?type=flow.

WOLF LAKE

No update.

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

No update.