Change is coming. This looks like the best weekend of the year so far to fish. Until then, crappie have been the main story and head the Midwest Fishing Report.
Chris Clifford sent this photo:
Hey Dale thought you would appreciate this picture. I caught this crappie while jigging for walleye, Caught on a jig and minnow on Silver Lake in Oakwood Hills Illinois last week! Weighed almost 2 1/2 pounds and was a real fat one full of babies! Fish was caught and released for another day.
I do appreciate it.
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.
Change is coming. With the warm-up, focus on the north ends, which will warm the quickest. Maple Lake has been on a roll. Beside the big crappie for FOTW, there was also a monster bass reported, which I am trying to confirm.
It's spring, so there's some high water, but the rivers are fishable and individual river reports are below. 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.nortonsfishingandhuntingadventures.com, then click on fishing, then lake report.
CHAIN O'LAKES AREA
Arden Katz reported good bluegills hitting Rat Finkees and spikes in the channels Tuesday. With the warm-up, he expects everything from bass to bluegill to get better. I think he is absolutely right.
Triangle also suggested crappie in most channels or in channel mouths. Walleye, catfish, white bass and muskie are fair, but all that may change by the weekend.
CHAIN NOTE: The 14th Challunge on the Chain Muskie Tournament is Saturday. Go to www.frvmuskie.com.
MCHENRY DAM NOTE: As of May 1, lock hours will be reduced at the Stratton Lock and Dam. It will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays (with the exception of holidays) starting in May. Hours of operation on Wednesdays and Sundays will be from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The lock will be open from 10 a.m. to midnight on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Holiday hours will be from 10 a.m. to midnight.
More Chain info at www.foxwaterway.state.il.us.
COOLING LAKES/STRIP PITS
LaSALLE: Still would be my pick for multiple species--blues, hybrids and bass.
From Mike Lynch who posts his spoonplugging and other reports at www.binksboat.com:
Lasalle water temp 63-80
We spent a couple days on lasalle last week and the fishing has picked up big time for the blue cats and hybrids. The deep water in the first 2 shoots have been the best bite, fishing with deep diving cranks produced cats up to 37 inches hybrids to 30 inches and large mouth to 22 inches and too many little fish to count.
BRAIDWOOD/MAZONIA: With Mazonia lakes warming through the 50s, more fishermen are heading there. This might be the weekend to target them. Braidwood remains cool: 62 north, 68 south.
HEIDECKE: Concessionaire Steve Anderson said weather has limited people, but there were some nice hybrids and big walleye caught during the muskie tournament on Sunday. He said a few big catfish were going.
Heidecke water temp 51-53
Sunday fished a musky tournament on Heidecke. Out of 30 boats, one 32 inch fish won $600. Lots of big walleye were caught by a lot of guys throwing big plugs in the boat launch bay up to 10lbs.
Interested parties may request a permit and list of rules between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at the Dickson Mounds Museum in Lewistown. There is no fee. No gas powered motors are permitted, and bank fishing is not allowed. For more, call (309) 547-2730.
SHELBYVILLE: For more, call (217) 774-2020.
EVERGREEN: If there is a fishing report, it is posted here.
LAKE OF EGYPT: Guide Todd Gessner said, ``I have had a wonderful span on Lake of Egypt.'' He reported he and clients have caught eight crappie heavier than 2 pounds so far, one topped 3. ``You can't catch a bunch of fish, five or six, but boy are they big,'' he said.
REND: The lake was set to go for crappie, but the big rains knocked it back. Gessner thought it might be stable by the weekend.
FOX RIVER: WESTERN SUBURBS
Ken Gortowski sent this, which is posted here with other Fox reports:
In spite of the rain we got over the last few days, the Fox River didn't really jump up much. As of writing this on Tuesday afternoon, it has already leveled off at about 2600 cfs and is showing signs of heading down. Not sure how much it will come down since Wisconsin seems to have got a fair amount of rain and all that water has to come this way. The best bet is to check the river gauges on Friday and let that determine where to go on the rest of the weekend.
Knowledgeable waders will be able to start making tentative forays out into the river, I think. As always with high water, fish the edges and look for well defined current breaks. What species you're fishing for won't really matter. They'll all be in relatively the same spots throughout any given day. They are all becoming active and they really don't have any place else to go.
As for locations, Geneva from the dam down to the railroad tracks would be good. In Batavia, the east shore from Glenwood Forest Preserve as far south as you feel like walking might be worth while. There is one area around the former archery range between the shore and a large island that should be wadeable no matter what the water level is.
North Aurora is always worth it this time of year. The more adventurous may want to try the winding channels along the meat packing plant as you head for I-88.
Indian Trail would be worth some time spent. This is a hard one to describe short of book length, which I've been working on for years. If you know it, you know where to go. If you don't, be careful.
The stretch between Montgomery and Oswego can really get you in trouble if you're not careful. Some odd pockets of deeper water, but that is also what makes them worth fishing. I've always found that the west side of the river in this stretch is the best, but it's also the harder side to access since there is more private property.
Orchard Road. Upstream on the south end to the end of the island. Downstream all the way to Saw wee kee Park. There are a few spots downstream out in the middle you have to watch for, but this is overall a pretty shallow stretch of the river. The shore lines, especially on the south can be pretty good. If you're feeling daring, when you come to the islands, the best fishing is in that north channel. Some spots with the water at this level push hard and get a little deep, but it's not impossible. The highest the water has been in this area and I've survived is 2200 cfs. There was one part I did not like at all, but I was being stupid. Which I guess goes without saying if you're wading across rivers when they're flowing at 2200 cfs.
Below Yorkville down through Millbrook I wouldn't eve attempt right now. I'm still exploring this stretch and it's been one surprise after another.
As for creeks, I would hit Somonauk above Lake Holiday. Something has to be moving in there by now. Below the lake too should be good. Above and below Shabbona Lake in Indian Creek would be worth the effort for anyone willing to go that far out.
As for me, I've been hitting creeks just about every weekend for over a month. It's been uneventful so far, but I'm doing my own little research that isn't worth anything to anyone but me. I want to see how soon and how far up I catch my first smallie of the year out of certain creeks. This weekend should be bringing a few of them up. I'm going to try to do two creeks on Sunday afternoon, but one of them is somewhat of a death march and the other is too beautiful to walk away from in order to torture myself on a death march.
Once upon a time I had all the time in the world and debating on where to go wasn't an issue. Now, like many, my time is much more limited. Makes the decision process much more difficult.
One of the best things you can do is look through old posts on my site for the same time periods in years past. You'll be surprised at how things don't really change much from year-to-year.
ILLINOIS RIVER: STARVED ROCK AREA
The river is forecast to be in flood until the weekend, but it is clean and fishable. Cajun's said the launches at Ottawa, Starved Rock, Spring Valley and Hennepin are open; Peru is not. White bass have been going throughout.
As reports from weekend tournaments from Bob Kidd show, there are sauger being caught.
The Illinois Walleye Trail conducted its Third Tournament of the 2009 season in Spring Valley Illinois.
The teams found blue bird skies and 70 degree temps on Saturday prefishing but by Tournament Day the weather went sour with rain all day. That never bothered the Saugers as they were already all wet. The team of Dave Klezyk [of Brockton] and Dave Zurawski [of Justice] won the tournament with a six fish limit weighing 12.80 earning them $2100.00. They also had the big fish of the tournament, 3.68 pounds worth an additional $390.00.
The team fished the St Bede flats all day. They started out trolling with three ways and crank baits. Dave Klezyk said they caught their first keeper fish early, and then had a run of short fish. They decided to try a jig and minnow and found no success. Based on this they went back to three ways and cranks. Dave said the key was increased speed and that triggered the bigger fish.
And from Saturday:
On April 18, 2009, the Chicago Regional Council Of carpenters held their 5th annual Walleye and sauger Tournament at Spring Valley, Illinois.
The teams found the river a little above flood stage at LaSalle. Water clarity was good with 10 to 12 inches. Teams reported back in that the surface water temperature was 52 degrees and they managed to catch a lot of saugers but most were running below 14 inch legal limit.
John and Chris Perez, Local 185, were able to capture first place with 6.41 pounds. The Perez brothers were trolling three ways with crank baits and pink being the best color. Placing second was the team of Cliff Banks, Spring Valley, IL and Ron Urkinis, Granville, IL, both from Local 195. They not only got second place but received big fish honors with a 2.41 sauger. Third Place honors went to the team of Jeff Lund, Lombard, IL, Local 558 and Chris Nowak, Local 58 from Gary, IL, with 2.31 pounds.
It is taking awhile, especially on the Indiana side, but the river is receding.
Ed Mullady sent this with some nice catches in it:
The Kankakee is slowly going down.
In Indiana: *Areas around the :Point, north of English Lake Catfishing is good. Some bass and croppie fair. Best mostly on *minnows. Some area roads still covered with water. Black Oak Bayou fair for largemouth bass.
Illinois: Momence Area: Frank's Bait reported walleye up to 5 lb in size. Joshua Dhom caught a 10 lb. catfish in this area. Minnows working good.
Kankakee River State Park: Catfish hitting good! Bill Ramsey had 6 up to 7 and 9 lb. 15 oz. Some smallmouth bass at Timothy Island Area.
Wilmington Island park Area includes catfish, smallmouth bass and walleye.
Harborside thought the rains would bring some rainbows into the creeks. A few rainbows in the harbor, when water is clear there's a few perch off the rocks.
LAKE ERIE: PORT CLINTON
For Ohio DNR report go to wildohio.com and or call (888) HOOKFISH.
CHICAGO: Park Bait reported decent coho (including one topping 8 pounds) on Tuesday by casters and powerliners at Montrose. Shoreline perch are slow.
Capt. Bill Kelly reported boaters taking good lakers, some kings and browns outside of Chicago Light at ``Baldy Point'' (named for the late Capt. Gary Zilian) with assorted spoons on Dipsy Divers.
WAUKEGAN: Capt. Bob Jenkins said simply ``the perch run is in full swing off Waukegan.'' But it varies day to day. Boaters have reported some browns south of the harbor.
NORTH POINT: Capt. Bob Poteshman, who is setting up this week, said there were reports of some coho and browns starting from the harbor to the nuclear plant.
CHICAGO SMELT: With the expected warm-up, this may be the end to one of the better runs of smelt in years. The account of 2009 smelting from 90-year-old Carl Walton is posted here.
MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN
For D&S Bait, go to dsbait.com
MENOMINEE RIVER, WISCONSIN/MICHIGAN
From Mike Mladenik, who guides up north:
Fished from shore this morning below a couple of dams on the Menominee River and caught lots of walleye. No need to fight the huge crowds in Marinette, the upper river has plenty of good walleye fishing.
I am booking walleye (on the Menominee River) trips for the last week of April. This is also a good time for perch and crappie.
The river is low for this time of year and due to the low water, the water temp should warm up quickly. I had a few cancellations in early May and the smallmouth fishing should be excellent!! Low water means great early season fishing. 6 pound smallmouth conditions.
Early May is also great for early season pike on the Menominee.
Capt. Chuck Weis reported good prespawn perch in 42-52 feet off Gary Light when weather allows. Poteshman reported nice coho in front of U.S. Steel, some right in front of the East Chicago harbor.
ST. JOSEPH AREA, MICHIGAN
BJ Sports reported coho moved out as deep as 120 feet. Walleye season opens Saturday. The bulk of the steelhead run is farther up the river.
No legal walleye reported at the weekend walleye open, but plenty of crappie are being caught. And in general fishing should really take off by the weekend.
For more reports, click here.
WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN:
Guide Bill Stoeger said the biggest walleye were in Poygan or down to Winneconne, but plenty of males were still coming through. White bass action is a couple weeks away.
I would expect this like many other lakes to really take off by the weekend.
CHICAGO AREA CHAT/REPORTS
CHICAGO AREA INFO
MICHIGAN DNR REPORT
WISCONSIN DNR REPORT
IOWA DNR REPORT
INDIANA DNR REPORT