It's time. Although, my timing is way off as I was chasing Lake Michigan smallmouth today and am running late. Forgive me.
Weather is finally holding in more spring patterns and water temperatures around northern Illinois are nearing that prime range. Lilacs are blooming, generally a signal that river smallmouth are going, though water levels remain touchy this spring.
There's a good variety of fish being caught, including some varied big fish, such as this big blue catfish.
Paul Switzer of Tinley Park e-mailed:
Thought I'd send you a picture of a blue catfish I caught yesterday (5-2) at Braidwood while bass fishing. Caught it on a shakey head worm and 8 lb line. My buddy and I estimated it at somewhere around 25 lbs. Charles Bradley landed the fish since we did not have a net. If you are looking for a picture for your column, you have my permission to use 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 email@example.com.
Let's start with the traditional run of white bass on Mother's Day on the Wolf River.
WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN:
It looks like tradition will be served with the white bass run peaking around Fremont around Mother's Day. Guide Bill Stoeger said the water warmed to 57 degrees on Monday. He thought the peak of the white bass run should hit around Mother's Day and truly peak next week. Just about any method is working, it's that time of year. So if you are planning a run north for white bass, the next couple weekends are probably prime.
Crappie action is spottier at places like Saganashkee. But this should be the week and weekend when shoreline action picks up for largemouth and bluegill. Try your favorite local pond or lake.
For an overview of nearby river conditions, go to this NWS site. Individual reports are posted today.
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
The upper and lower river sections are closed to boating as of Wednesday, while the main Chain is no-wake. Check the Fox Waterway Agency or call (847) 587-8540.
But Triangle reported good shoreline fishing for crappie in most back channels. Shoreline catfish are good too on crawlers or stinkbait, but use caution with the high water. Walleye are good around the current areas (inside turns). Muskie are slowed by the spawn. Pike are improving on Johnson spoons or spinner baits around creek areas.
McHENRY LOCK: Because of funding issues, the IDNR will have the Stratton lock closed on Mondays and Tuesdays (with the exception of holidays). 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.
COOLING LAKES/STRIP PITS
BRAIDWOOD/MAZONIA: The Mazonia lakes are warming into the mid-60s. If I was playing this weekend, this would be it. Braidwood was 87 on the south end, 82 on the north with mainly small catfish and bluegill reported. Oh, and that big blue caught by Paul Switzer.
HEIDECKE: Bill Anderson sent this:
Water temp was 57 to 61 on Monday under bright and sunny skies. Fishing was slow.
I got 3 real good walleye and a drum. I saw a couple trollers catch a fish. The lot was 70% full at noon when I left too. Lots of guys vertical jigging.
``Catfish Dave'' Bradigan sent a report from North Sider ``Zee'' Drnovsek still landing limits of keeper walleye.
LaSALLE: Still a top multi-species choice.
DELAVAN/GENEVA LAKES AREA, WISCONSIN
On opening day, Arden Katz said bass were good on Delavan on Shaky Head jigs thrown around pier docks, others were catching bass with Rat-l-traps. Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle said Delavan had a decent crappie bite, night fishermen were casting crankbaits for walleyes (take sorting); and the opener on Geneva was slow, but by Tuesday crappie were improving off Williams Bay.
DES PLAINES RIVER
From Andrew Ragas, Counsellor of the Fish Parliament www.fishing-headquarters.com:
Recent rainfall has caused some flooding on the DesPlaines River and as a result there is nothing much in the way of fishing or catching to report on. None of my sources have been out trying either. However, its smaller feeder creeks and main tributaries, since they drain themselves faster, will offer the best fishing until river water levels recede.
Since the weekend, we have seen shorebound anglers catching fish at Salt Creek throughout the various Cook and DuPage co. preserves. Crappies have been active and are taking minnows under floats from shoreline eddies, flooded timber, and anywhere away from current. My accomplice, Tim Bixter, reports decent Crappie angling near dams, but the fish won't be congregating there or at any other locations for long as they will be searching for spawning grounds in the next week, or when water falls back to normal.
Largemouth Bass have also been active and are hanging out close to shore. Dabbling and dragging jig & plastics through shoreline eddies and any noticeable current breaks have yielded some fish - just not much size.
As for everything else (Carp, Cats, Pike, Walleyes), there is nothing to report on.
Still a short matter of time before everything at the rivers finally start coming around. If no rain for remainder of this week, next week should be the starting-point for some activity.
EMIQUON: Emiquon Preserve near Lewistown is open to fishing. 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: Tuesday's staff report:
Water Clarity:6" - 2'
Level:1" over capacity
Temps: upper 50's Low 60's
Fishing seems to be really turning on. We have had lots of reports of people doing well catching crappie. Most are reporting the sizes still on the small side 7 1/2"-8 1/2". Although we have had several reports of fish being caught in the 10"-13" range. Crappie are biting on about anything you toss at them, wax worms, small minnows, crawlers, and tube jigs all doing well. Crappie are in there pre-spawn stage and are being caught in about four feet of water in coves and around brush piles. While typing this report I had a gentleman bring in a 13" 1lb. 4 oz. crappie!!! Reports of several people catching Saugeye. Daily limits have been reported using jigs and crawlers at the pump house. Bass are being caught in the weeds and around wood structure. The only Muskie reported was a 36" brute caught on a spinner while Bass fishing. No one has been reporting much on bluegill and catfish so far.
Bowfishing - Carp are starting to move in to grassy shallow areas to spawn.
Good Luck, Brad
FYI The main boat launch and main recreation area from the visitor center to the beach including the campers dump station will be closed on Saturday June 6th from 6 a.m.-noon for the Tri-Shark Triathlon. Thank you all for your cooperation
HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Site is open to public fishing on Fridays and Saturdays.
POWERTON: Summer hours are 6 a.m.-8p.m.
FOX RIVER: WESTERN SUBURBS
As of Wednesday evening, the river remained closed to boating between McHenry and Algonquin. Check latest at Fox Waterway Agency
Ken Gortowski sent this:
For the month of May you'd be a fool to fish anything but creeks. In my humble opinion.
The fish finally moved up in spite of the high water.
I'll add more to it later, but that's it in a nutshell.
ILLINOIS RIVER: STARVED ROCK AREA
River is forecast to drop off flood stage at LaSalle by late Sunday, but the Spring Valley launch is open. The Fox Valley Area Anglers white bass tournament will go on Saturday, said ``Bait Shop Bob'' at Riverview Marine.
May be in the best shape of local rivers.
From Ed Mullady:
The Kankakee and its tributaries have gone down, but mid-week rains may change it again.
Indiana at the Point, north of English Lake good. Walleye fair to good on *jig and minnow or *jig and night crawler. Some good sized largemouth bass...on night crawlers. Catfish in the really good eating size, up to 4 pounds on crawlers.
Illinois side: Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass good. Rock Bass and catfish good from IN State Line through Momence to Teresa Island.
Kankakee River Trading Post at Kankakee River State Park reports fishing has improved with good numbers of smallmouth bass, rock bass and catfish being caught.
Wilmington Island :Pak Area fair to good on *walleye *smallmouth bass*catfish.
LAKE ERIE: PORT CLINTON
Rickard's reported some walleye jigging off the reefs in 12-16 feet; trollers are doing well north of Kelleys.
For Ohio DNR report go to wildohio.com and or call (888) HOOKFISH.
CHICAGO: Full moon is Saturday night and I expect the Illinois-record smallmouth to be caught in the next week off Chicago, and Henry's reported decent harbor action. I had a good trip Wednesday, but nothing anywhere near the state record, primarily fishing around Navy Pier.
Capt. Bill Kelly reported nice browns to 13 pounds west from Baldy's Point in 30-35 feet with a few coho. Park Bait said a few perch showed up on the outside at Montrose Tuesday. Henry's said shore salmon slowed.
WAUKEGAN: The Salmon Stop reported decent perch in 40-65 feet, spotty reports on coho on small flies and Dodgers. Shore fishermen are taking a few perch off the end of government pier; a few browns and steelhead off the South Rocks, just a few coho.
RICHARD J. DALEY MEMORIAL FISHING TOURNAMENT: In May, perch and coho may be entered at Henry's, Park Bait or Vet's.
MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN
D&S Bait said there's been some walleye and crappie caught on Waubesa; decent crappie and evening walleye on Monona Bay, and, on Mendota, some catfish on the north end and a few smaller male walleye along shorelines.
For D&S Bait, go to dsbait.com
MENOMINEE RIVER, WISCONSIN/MICHIGAN
Guide Mike Mladenik of BigSmallmouthBass.com sent this Monday:
Today the smallmouth action was fantastic on the Menominee River.
With the water temp 53 degrees and rising, smallmouth are on the move. Caught lots of fish with a Yo-Zuri SH-60 crankbait early in the day. Smallmouth were staging off the beds. By late morning they moved shallow and the bait of choice was a soft plastic jerkbait rigged wacky style.
Lots of fish in the 17-19 inch range.
The action can only get better.
Guide Kurt Justice of Island Sports sent this:
Opener came and went as what would be considered a typical opener. Cold nights, a little too much wind, most lakes spawned out but enough males looking for love to make for some shallow water action. Wind shifts Saturday afternoon led to some turn ons, the after dark bite was good and should remain so for another 4-5 days as the weather isn't warming up any to quick.
Most reports from daytime anglers were either shallow 4-6' depths jigging large fatheads or dace off the first deep breaks in 12-20' on medium chubs. A few very good reports from anglers jigging 3" Gulp Alive minnows in scattered 6' cabbage beds. Night action best on Rattlin Rouges, Husky Jerks and floating Rapalas along gravel banks. Good walleyes to 29 1/2" reported with good numbers of 22-26"ers being caught by both boat anglers and waders.
Pike action good, chubs on jigs or under floats best.
Crappies fair (high wind made for tough bite) and some good perch bites in 5-8' weeds.
Most surface temps averaging 42-45 degrees. Gradual warm up would be good for spawn survival and nice for us anglers.
Weather pushed smallmouth back, but the full moon is Saturday. Capt. Chuck Weis continues to work good jumbo perch deep. Mik-Lurch reported good perch in 51-60 feet and another week or two until spawn; orange or chartreuse fly rigs are best. There's good coho from the Port to Michigan City, and near the Hole-in-the-Wall. But all of this varies day to day.
ST. JOSEPH AREA, MICHIGAN
BJ Sports reported salmon in 50-80 on the big lake, herring rigs are hot. Steelhead are slow below Berrien Springs. Smallmouth are decent in the river.
From guide Jay Angel:
Spring is finally here! Get ready for the fun!
Water temperatures are in the high '50's.
Crappie fishing to explode! This week's warm weather have already heated things up and the crappies are staging in the deep water structure adjacent to their spawning areas in the no motor zone and the shallower standing timber. Look for crappies over the campground cribs and around the deeper timber in the no motor zone. It is my prediction that they are going to invade the shallow water sometime during the week of the 11th. You will find them in the shallow water for about 2 weeks.
Bass will also begin moving shallower in the next week. You should begin seeing a few big females cruising the shallows in search of suitable spawning habitat any time now!
For more reports, click here.
RESCUE: The annual muskie rescue is Thursday, said Duane Landmeier. Meet the parking lot by Indian Creek on Shabbona Grove Road by 5 p.m.
Henry's reported some decent crappie on the Illinois side. But overall this should be the weekend when bass and bluegill start to take off too.
CHICAGO AREA CHAT/REPORTS
CHICAGO AREA INFO
MICHIGAN DNR REPORT
WISCONSIN DNR REPORT
IOWA DNR REPORT
INDIANA DNR REPORT