Smelt fishing on the Chicago lakefront opens tonight. Heidecke Lake reopens to fishing this morning. And spring catchable trout season opens Saturday in Illinois. And the walleye are very good on the Wisconsin and Wolf rivers in Wisconsin.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let's start with the ritual of smelt fishing.
That's Tony Williams at 31st in 2001, back when at least a few smelt could be expected.
Season begins tonight. Netting may begin at 7 p.m., netters must be out of the parking lots by 1 p.m.
Smelt prospects are poor. A story will be posted here by Wednesday morning.
and an extended report will be on Stray Casts shortly.
The season opens Saturday, start times vary by site.
Area stocked waters include Axehead, Belleau and Sag Quarry East (Cook), Silver, Deep Quarry and Grove (DuPage), Gebhard Woods pond (Grundy), Bird Park Quarry and Rock Creek (Kankakee), Big Lake at Silver Springs State Park (Kendall), Sand Lake at Illinois Beach SP and Banana (Lake), Lake Atwood and Piscasaw Creek (McHenry) and Lake Milliken (Will).
Those 16 and older need a fishing license and $6.50 inland trout stamp. The daily bag is five.
Small worms, ice jigs with spikes or waxies, or a piece of PowerBait, corn or cheese on a small hook work on light spinning gear.
The former cooling lake near Morris reopens this morning.
The launch opens at 6 a.m. (weather allowing), shore fishing at 6:30 a.m. Close is sunset. It will be open every day.
Water levels are near normal.
Biologist Rob Miller said smallmouth remain strong, but largemouth struggle as the fishery shifts toward smallmouth. Walleye seem good, though not as crazy good as the surveys in 2007, and average around 16 inches. Walleye probably will remain the glamour fish, along with muskies, which average around 36 inches. Miller expects muskies to again reaching 30-plus pounds.
This hybrid came near dawn opening morning two years ago.
Guide Greg Heath, snagged at the Tinley Park Show, said since the lake is no longer a cooling lake, the key is finding new current breaks.
Graybeard's at the launch will offer bait and basic food (through separate doors), but boat rentals are a couple weeks away.
New licenses are needed as of today around the Lake Michigan states.
Weather hasn't helped fish or fishermen, but reports continue to come of good bass, such as Narro's FOTW. Otherwise, the big news is the opening of trout season (above) on Saturday.
For an overview of nearby river conditions, go to this NWS site. Despite the high water, I have included individual river reports.
BIG GREEN LAKE, WISCONSIN
For guide Mike Norton's report, go to
www.nortonsfishingandhuntingadventures.com, then click on fishing, then lake report.
CHAIN O'LAKES AREA
Triangle suggested fish have finally started to move shallower and into the channels. Crappie are improving, if not in channels, try channel mouths. Walleye are good on most lakes, look shallow with large fatheads or crankbaits. Bluegill are good on ice jigs and waxies, look shallow around pier areas.
COOLING LAKES/STRIP PITS
LaSALLE: Now, the lake should be open daily, 6 a.m. to dusk. Fishing remains outstanding. I would make it the top pick for multiple species (blue catfish, bass, yellow bass and hybrid stripers), but guide Mike Lynch said the fishing is a bit tougher because of how rapidly the lake has warmed up.
BRAIDWOOD/MAZONIA: ``Mac'' Sloan at Mac's said the blue Kryptonite worms are producing some big channels at Braidwood. Bass are fair to decent. Braidwood is in the 60s. Mazonia lakes cooled back to near 50. Hours are 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
DELAVAN/GENEVA LAKES AREA, WISCONSIN
Guide Dave Duwe said the piers are in at Williams Bay on Geneva, and weather has slowed Delavan.
SHELBYVILLE: For more, call (217) 774-2020.
EVERGREEN: Mike Steffa sent this:Crappies are still biting fairly decent, especially on the south end of the lake. Muskies are finally starting to get a little active. We had a report of a 40" caught late last week. Reports of some follows as well. Saugeyes and bass are still slow.
If there is a fishing report, it is posted here.
POWERTON: Winter hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
SPRING: Before the cool down, the bass fishing was as good as it gets in Illinois. Question is whether that window shut.
FOX RIVER: WESTERN SUBURBS
The Fox Waterway Agency still lists no-wake from Algonquin to the Stratton lock and dam.
With the high water, the key is shoreline fishing or working the cleaner and warmer feeders.
I could use a hard-core river fisherman for regular reports.
ILLINOIS RIVER: STARVED ROCK AREA
The river is projected to fall below flood stage at LaSalle by Friday. The sauger caught in the MWC tournament last weekend suggest they are right at the spawn, which means the next week or so should be peak. One better option might be fishing out of Ottawa.
River is high, but receding. Big walleye are the big news. Both Ed Mullady and Sloan reported good catfish at Wilmington by the island.
Here's Mullady's full report, including the big walleye reports:
The Kankakee River is still high, but receding. A good idea to call ahead to parks, bait shops, Fishing Areas in part you plan on going fishing at.
You may already have something on the 9 lb. 4oz. walleye that was caught on a cold, blustery night at around 9:30 pm. It was caught by Claude Eddie Keller, of Kankakee, who caught the fish last Tuesday night. It was weighed in at Kankakee River Trading Post, next to the Kankakee State Park, at 9 lb. 4 oz. and was 30 1/4" long. The walleye hit the bait about 7'
from shore. Mr. Keller used a jig with a baby bass color from Berkley PowerBait tipped with a minnow.
Monday(Mar.30), Mike Lee, Frank's Bait shop in Momence, weighed in a Kankakee River walleye that weighed in at 8lbs. and caught by Mark Duffield, of Momence, on an X Rap. Mike also weighed in a 7lb. 3 oz. walleye today
Catfish and walleye also being caught in Wilmington, IL area., .
In Indiana: Catfish fair to good around Kingsbury F&W Area.
At the Point, north of English Lake, some nice smallmouth bass and catfish being taken as well as some croppie and bluegill. The panfish are also being caught at the Horseshoe Bend Area, according to Penny at Greenwood Bait Shop.
Fishing definitely picking up, with most fishing being done from shore.
The hope is the run-off and melting snow will finally touch off the steelhead run by the weekend.
LAKE ERIE: PORT CLINTON
Rickard's said walleye are being taken on the reefs, if the water is clean; otherwise, try deeper water north of the reefs.
For Ohio DNR report go to wildohio.com and or call (888) HOOKFISH.
The weekend blow dirtied water and slowed fishing. Henry's reported the powerliners did far better than casters at Saturday's coho derby. Park Bait reported about nine coho from Belmont the past couple days, otherwise there's a few browns and perch around Montrose.
There's good perch (takes sorting) at 95th and 92nd.
Mac's said the most interesting bite has been lakers at 63rd (along with perch, coho and big browns), where the hot bait is white crankbaits.
Salmon Stop reported boaters when they can get out catching perch (take sorting) in 70-75 feet with fatheads on crappie rigs on the bottom. A few browns off the south rocks, despite the weather, and a few coho.
MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN
For D&S Bait, go to dsbait.com
There was a mixed bag of weather Tuesday, but Guide Kurt Justice of Island Sports sent this on Monday:
Weather forecasters scared most of the crowds away with threats of snow/rain storms -- didn't happen! Anglers reported fair to good results overall and nowhere near the crowds of the previous weekend.
Crappies: Fair to Good. As stated last week, be sure to work from just under the ice to the bottom. Tip-downs and minnows (both regular and rosies) working, even after dark. Finesse dropping Chena, plastics taking reluctant biters in 8-12' cabbage. Try deep breaks to 20' along mud edges if weed fish aren't cooperative. Good fish to 15" this weekend.
Perch: Fair to Good. Bigger perch showing up in catches. Mud bite still strong. Wigglers on pimples, halis and forage jigs in 18-23'. Also nice plump 8-10" with a few 11-12" taking minnows on tip-downs meant fro crappies held within 1 foot of the bottom. Perch are getting plump and filling up heavy on wigglers as their own spawn matures.
Bluegills: Fair to Good. Probably the best action of the three species, but not as sought after. Nice gills by the weekend using #12 - #10 teardrop and moon glo jigs tipped with waxies, Chena or plastic. Deeper weeds on the larger lakes of 8-12', some still suspending over sandgrass out to 20'. On smaller lakes check out 6-8' weeds, especially near in flux of new water (feeder creeks).
We didn't lose any ice with cold temps in the low teens at night and only 4-5 hours a day of above freezing. While we continue to advise against driving cars or trucks on the ice, the larger lakes continue to hold 24-26" of ice. It's the landing you must be careful of as well as the quality of the ice out on the lake. It's many places it's rather porous. Walking and ATV travel are excellent, but as with any late ice, be cautious.
Weather prevented fishermen from getting back to the big perch at Gary Light. Cedar and Wolf have despite crappie. A few steelhead and coho at Michigan City, according to Mik-Lurch.
ST. JOSEPH AREA, MICHIGAN
BJ Sports reported decent steelhead and browns at Berrien Springs and a few browns, steelhead, coho, suckers and whitefish off the piers.
Lakeside plans to open today for the season.
For more reports, click here.
On walleye, Botch Leonhardt at River's Edge said, ``This is the week. There's all kinds of fish in the slot and over the slot.'' Jig and minnow to Rapalas are working. River is up slightly, but very fishable.
WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN:
Guide Bill Stoeger said, ``Everybody is catching fish. There's a lot of fish in system, from the Rat [River] to New London.'' Easiest is anchoring in 4.5-6 feet, then jigging with an 1/8-ounce jig tipped with a minnow.
There's decent crappie in the corn channel. Shallow running crankbaits like the Baby Minus-One are producing good bass on the Illinois side. Such as Marcus Hudson caught in Simeon's bass fishing team's first outing Saturday.
CHICAGO AREA CHAT/REPORTS
CHICAGO AREA INFO
MICHIGAN DNR REPORT
WISCONSIN DNR REPORT
IOWA DNR REPORT
INDIANA DNR REPORT