A wonderful opener for LaSalle Lake on Sunday tops the Midwest Fishing Report, well, the fishing and weather was wonderful, but it was marred by a late bizarre decision to close at 4 p.m. in March.
Austin Green, 14, of Berwyn, caught the biggest fish of his life early Sunday morning at LaSalle.
It was a day for hybrid stripers and white bass. And warm enough, well into the 50s, to just savor the day.
Chicagoans Freddy Castrejon (above) and his dad Peter limited on hybrids and white bass, and Peter added a 23.5-inch largemouth weighing 6.5 pounds he intends to mount.
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.
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Let's begin with LaSalle.
LaSalle reopened Sunday to lines that stretched 2 miles at one point.
In March, the lake is open only Wednesday through Sunday from 6 a.m.-4 p.m. Reaction and my thoughts on the late decision to close at 4 p.m. in March are here.
Hybrid stripers and white bass were outstanding, even for shore anglers with some limits coming on fresh chicken livers. The south bank was best for shore anglers. Otherwise, rattling lures were a top choice for the stripers.
As usual, there's all the small channel catfish you can want. The yellow bass I caught had good size, as did the one bluegill I caught on the east side.
Boaters did well on bass with some reports of big blues. Jay Angel reported 80s in the hot chute, 70s in Pool 3, 60s in Pool 2.
With ice off, virtually all lakes, crappie fishing is well underway. Henry's said the best crappie reports have been at Saganashkee Slough, but other typical crappie spots like Skokie Lagoons, Tampier and Busse should go strong too. There's been some good early spring walleye (see FOTW) and for largemouth (last week's FOTW).
DUPAGE NOTE: To protect trout stockings, all fishing at Silver, Deep Quarry and Grove is closed until the opening of trout season on April 4.
AREA RIVERS NOTE
As of Tuesday, the boating restrictions were lifted on the Des Plaines, DuPage, Kankakee and Mazon rivers, but not on sections of the Illinois. Here's the release from the IDNR:
SPRINGFIELD - The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) today announced that it will remove the recreational boating restrictions it authorized last week on the Des Plaines River, DuPage River, Kankakee River and the Mazon River. Rising water levels and swift currents led to the department restricting recreational boating on sections of these rivers last week. IDNR has been monitoring the situation and believes conditions have improved to the point of being able to safely reopen these rivers to recreational watercraft. However, the recreational boating restrictions are still in place on the Illinois River from mile marker 196 to mile marker 254.1 in Putnam, LaSalle and Bureau Counties. Recreational boating is still off limits in this area of the Illinois River until further notice. IDNR has authorization to designate restricted boating areas when navigation is deemed significantly hazardous. For more information about river restrictions, go to the IDNR website at www.dnr.state.il.us.
For an overview of nearby river conditions, go to this NWS site.
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
On Tuesday, Greg Dickson at Triangle said, ``It's on. After today, that should be the last of the skim ice. Send them to backwaters and shallows for crappie with minnows and hair jigs. And shallow, long-sloping points for walleye.'' The Chain is near normal, but the Fox Waterway Agency has a warning to watch debris.
COOLING LAKES/STRIP PITS
LaSALLE: See top.
BRAIDWOOD/MAZONIA: Henry's reported lots of catfish (takes sorting for keepers) on cut roaches, crawlers or stink baits, and good bluegill. On Sunday, spoonplugger Mike Lynch reported some good catfish and a few bass. Should be a time for big bass on Mazonia lakes.
HEIDECKE: Opens April 1.
DELAVAN/GENEVA LAKES AREA, WISCONSIN
Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle reported crappie and bluegill in the Abbey harbor on Geneva. Tuesday's winds should help open lakes of remaining ice. Como and Silver are already open.
SHELBYVILLE: The Army Corps reports the lake clearing with crappie action improving. For more, call (217) 774-2020.
EVERGREEN: If there is a fishing report, it is posted here
SPRING: Reports of good action for muskies. It will be interesting to see if it holds up for the IMTT this weekend.
FOX RIVER: WESTERN SUBURBS
This is a good time for focusing on feeder creeks and ditches or doing shoreline dabbling while the river drops. Levels vary. At Montgomery, it fell below flood stage while the river is no wake from Algonquin to the Stratton lock and dam. Check no-wake status at Fox Waterway Agency site.
Ken Gortowski has an eclectic report posted here.
I could use a hard-core Fox fishermen to help with weekly reports.
ILLINOIS RIVER: STARVED ROCK AREA
The river at LaSalle is forecast to remain into flood stage until next week, even so the Bill Guerrini said he expects the MWC tournament to go the last weekend in March. The river is closed to boating from mile marker 196 to mile marker 254.1 in Putnam, LaSalle and Bureau Counties.
The Illinois side has dropped below flood stage, Indiana remains in flood. But Ed Mullady points out many creeks are down to normal levels and even in the high water, some walleye are being caught around Momence, Kankakee, Bradley and Bourbonnais areas and catfish are being taken in the state park.
Harborside reported open-water fishing for rainbows and a few browns on crawlers, spawn or small spoons. Ice was out as of Tuesday.
LAKE ERIE: PORT CLINTON
For Ohio DNR report go to wildohio.com and or call (888) HOOKFISH.
CHICAGO: Steve Palmisano at Henry's said the No. 1 perch bite is at 95th and 92nd in the river and around the slips with Navy Pier the next best choice. Ed McCain at Mik-Lurchput it stronger, ``I have fathers, sons and grandsons coming in. That is the best bet for the week. They are just killing them at 92nd and 95th, good eaters.''
Coho and salmon have been spotty, best has been Casino Pier (63rd); 31st and Montrose would be other options for powerliners.
Park Bait reopened on Saturday, and staff said the ice is about half out of Montrose again. They reported Navy Pier and Belmont as best for perch.
WAUKEGAN: Salmon Stop reported some browns and steelhead on cut bait or roaches on the bottom at government and Johnson piers, and the south rocks. A few perch off the end of government pier. A few boaters were able to get out for browns.
MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN
For D&S Bait, go to dsbait.com
Minocqua guide Kurt Justice sent this:
Ice conditions are good, though a few lakes with steep south facing banks have a little iffy ice to get on to lakes. Once on we are still getting reports of about 28" average. Colder temps at weeks end (high in mid 30's) should preserve ice. Still a lot of truck travel, but atvs will be preferred in a week or two.
Crappies: Very good. A good mix of minnow action (meaning aggressive fish) and finessing plastics, waxies or chena. Bite concentrated at times to 1 to 1 1/2 hour windows, but by putting time in anglers ending up with nice catches.
Perch: Very good. Good mud bite with anglers catching bulk of perch on wigglers over 18-25' mud. Swedish pimples, forage minnows, Gapen Flickers. Takes some spikes once action heats up. Minnows on tip-downs also productive.
Bluegills: Very good. Nice gills in the 7-8" range taking moussees, waxies and plastics on #10 teardrops, #12 gill pills. Most reports of weed fish in 8-12', but some suspended out away from weeds over sandgrass in 14-22'.
Mik-Lurch reported rattle baits are important for coho and browns in the dirty water on the big lake.
Cedar has good crappie and ``stripers.'' Creeks remain high. Willow Slough has decent reports of pike, fair for panfish.
ST. JOSEPH AREA, MICHIGAN
BJ Sports report some browns, coho and a few steelhead from the piers. Boats are back on the river at Berrien Dam, where steelhead are going up the ladder.
Ice is off the lake. Traditionally, this is a prime time for muskie and crappie.
For more reports, click here.
River's Edge reports very good walleye action with lots of slot fish, and it takes sorting through small ones too. River is 37 degrees, and near normal. Jig and minnow are good, but the hot bait is Reservoir Rigs (a Lindy rig with a fly).
Mik-Lurch reported good crappie in the corn channel.
CHICAGO AREA CHAT/REPORTS
CHICAGO AREA INFO
MICHIGAN DNR REPORT
WISCONSIN DNR REPORT
IOWA DNR REPORT
INDIANA DNR REPORT