Change leads the Midwest Fishing Report. Change in ice conditions, change in flooding of Chicago-area rivers. And LaSalle Lake reopens. I put that preview in a separate post. To read that preview, click here.
Last year, I shore fished the opener and caught this scene,
This is the extended online version of the MFR, which appears in the Sun-Times on Wednesdays. Normally, I post the online MFR by Wednesday morning.
If you have suggestions, post in the comments section or let me know at email@example.com.
Ice-out fishing, as indicated by FOTW, started late last week from about the city south and will come in other areas over the next few days. Steve Palmisano at Henry's suggested trying the usual spring crappie spots like Wolf Lake, Tampier, Centennial, Saganashkee Slough and Busse; and, when the water recedes, Skokie Lagoons.
Trout season will open at the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County one hour after sunrise on Saturday, April 4. The District, in partnership with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, will stock three forest preserve lakes with rainbow trout to create better fishing opportunities and maintain a healthy population of this popular game fish.
Silver Lake at Blackwell Forest Preserve in Warrenville will be stocked with about 2,600 fish, Deep Quarry Lake at West Branch Forest Preserve in Bartlett with about 2,200 fish and Grove Lake at Wood Dale Grove Forest Preserve in Wood Dale with about 550 fish. To allow the trout to acclimate, the three lakes will be closed to all fishing from Sunday, March 15 through Friday, April 3.
Grove Lake will be the site of a new free event designed to get kids interested in fishing by creating a relaxed learning environment on one of the most fun fishing days of the year. During "Kids Trout Fishing Day" from 6 a.m. to noon on April 4, fishing at the southern area of the lake will be reserved just for anglers 15 and under. Staff and volunteers will be on hand to offer instruction, bait and loaner poles. The entire Grove Lake shoreline will open to all anglers at noon. This year, to ensure that there are plenty of fish to go around, Grove Lake will be stocked with an additional 300 pounds of rainbow trout. For more information or to volunteer for "Kids Trout Fishing Day," contact Don LaBrose, the Forest Preserve District's fisheries biologist, at 630-933-7668.
At all lakes, anglers ages 16 and older are required to have valid Illinois fishing licenses with inland trout stamps in their possession. While the Forest Preserve District encourages catch-and-release fishing, the creel limit is five trout per day. The stocked fish will be an average of 1.5 pounds in weight and 13- to 14-inches long.
Trout stocking is part of the District's fisheries management program. The presence of this species in a freshwater lake provides more than just sporting opportunities. "Trout are very sensitive to pollutants in the water; when they are doing well, it is a good indication that the water quality is good, too," LaBrose explains.
For an overview of nearby river conditions, go to this NWS site.
All area rivers are in flood or near flood stage. The Illinois at LaSalle is forecast to be near record flood by Thursday. There will be some flooded shoreline fishing, but use caution with a cold snap likely to make icy banks.
IDNR NOTE ON CLOSINGS:
SPRINGFIELD - Due to rising water levels, swift currents and floating debris, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is restricting recreational boating access on the Illinois River in Grundy, LaSalle, Bureau and Putnam Counties. Likewise, IDNR has also restricted access to the Des Plaines and DuPage Rivers in Will County, as well as the Kankakee River in Will and Grundy and Kankakee Counties. IDNR has authorization to designate restricted boating areas when navigation is considered significantly hazardous. These restricted areas are off limits to all recreational watercraft until further notice. IDNR is monitoring the situation and will remove the restrictions when conditions improve. For more information about river restrictions, go to the IDNR website at www.dnr.state.il.us.
BIG GREEN LAKE, WISCONSIN
For guide Mike Norton's report, go to www.biggreenlakefishing.com, then click on fishing, then lake report.
CHAIN O'LAKES AREA
Greg Dickson at Triangle said he thinks it's time to ``put a fork in ice fishing,'' though people were still doing it on Monday. The focus by the weekend will likely be on ice-out fishing.
More Chain info at www.foxwaterway.state.il.us.
COOLING LAKES/STRIP PITS
LaSALLE: Reopens Sunday. Click here for preview.
MAZONIA/BRAIDWOOD: Spoonplugger Mike Lynch e-mailed:
``I only fished a little over 2 hours and landed 6 bass and 2 cats. The biggest bass of the day was close to five ponds, I biggest on the video was close to 3lbs. Seems like the extra stocking is starting to pay off. I shot the video for a presentation on spponplugging for the riverside fishing club this Thursday at 630.His site is binksboat.com.
Site staffer John Settle said fishing with spotty with water 62 degrees on the north and 68 on the south. Henry's reported fair bluegill and small catfish. Hours are 6 a.m.-7 p.m.
HEIDECKE: Set to reopen April 1.
DELAVAN/GENEVA LAKES AREA, WISCONSIN
Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle reported a few still tempting the ice on Geneva for lakers on Monday; otherwise some shore fishing has started for crappies on plastics and bluegills on red worms in the Abbey harbor. Shorelines require caution to access Delavan.
EVERGREEN: As of Tuesday, Mike Steffa said, ``A few bass and some crappie [were caught], especially around the boat rental, but that was a couple of days ago before we had all this rain. The lake is high and rising. The water is pretty murky now, as well.''
If there is a fishing report, it is posted here.
POWERTON: Winter hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Summer hours come May 1. Site super Stan Weimer said white bass and catfish have been steady.
SPRING:: Weimer said crappie were doing very well last week during the warm stretch, and good muskie were being taken on the north end.
Harborside reported a few steelhead being taken if open water is found among ice chunks. Ice fishing appears done in the small boat harbor.
LAKE ERIE: PORT CLINTON
Remember, until April 30, the daily walleye bag is four.
For Ohio DNR report go to wildohio.com and or call (888) HOOKFISH.
CHICAGO: Henry's reported good perch in the river around 92nd and 95th; there's spotty decent perch at Navy Pier. There's a few coho and trout at the usual spots: the south side of Montrose, the pipe by the north wall by the Planetarium, or the 31st Street and Casino piers. There's some trout and coho at the stateline, access only from the Illinois side.
WAUKEGAN: The Salmon Stop reported ice is out at the launch, but there was ice in the channel. Ice has been in and out around the piers, when it's out, there's some browns and steelhead being taken.
MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN
For D&S Bait, go to dsbait.com
Minocqua guide Kurt Justice sent this late last week:
``A nice warming trend along with a drop in the barometer brought in some great panfish action. After a couple of days of high skies and few bites, this new weather system seems to be to the fish's liking.
Crappies: Very good. Fish in 10-14' weeds taking minnows on tip-downs, waxies on Russian spoons and bright colored plastics on #8 rockers. Anglers fishin over deeper mud and sandgrass for suspended fish hanging crappie minnows, small rosies below tip-downs jigging #6-#8 moon glos tipped with waxies also productive. Fish to 14 1/2" from both areas.
Perch: Very good. Weed fish in 8-10' taking small-medium fatheads, couple of waxies pushed up on a Northland Forage minnow fry. Some nice fish to 12 1/2" larger fatheads discouraging smaller perch. Mud flats producing nicer average (9-10 1/2"). Wigglers on Gapen flicker jigs, #2 pimples, Hali jigs and forage spoons. Rosie reds on tip-downs over 20-30' mud flats also working. Flasher units very helpful with locating fish and determining their feeding mood.
Bluegills: Very good. Best action mid morning and again late afternoon. Moussees, waxies on #10 tear drops, moon glos in bright colors best. Plastic very effective on gills in 8-10' weeds also search out suspended gills along 12-16' weed edges and over sandgrass humps in 14-20' of water. These fish can be anywhere in the water column, but are usually aggressive enough to come to your bait.
After a brutally cold start to the week (20 below Monday) the change in weather has really sparked the fishing. Things usually only build from here. Depending on a weather change (cold snap) look for a good panfish season. Access on the lakes is excellent, a little water on top of the ice due to some light rain/melt. Ice thickness 30-32".
Mik-Lurch reported Gary Light has been best for boaters, who are taking coho and some browns. You can launch at East Chicago Marina, where staff said it has been doable, or Burns Ditch. Pike and crappie are being caught at Willow Slough. Both Henry's and Mik-Lurch mentioned Cedar Lake for crappie.
ST. JOSEPH AREA, MICHIGAN
BJ Sports said the piers are the best bet. Try one rod with a crawler on the bottom for browns, the other rod with spawn or casting spoons. Still some whitefish off the piers. Some decent reports of steelhead, coho and browns at New Buffalo. The river is very high.
For more reports, click here.
WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN:
Guide Bill Stoeger said the river is still locked in, and it will probably be next week at the earliest for boaters.
Mik-Lurch reported decent crappie and walleye in the corn channel.
CHICAGO AREA CHAT/REPORTS
CHICAGO AREA INFO
MICHIGAN DNR REPORT
WISCONSIN DNR REPORT
IOWA DNR REPORT
INDIANA DNR REPORT