Near record cold put a damper on fishing early in the week, but the weekend looks better. Free fishing days and some surprises highlight this week's Midwest Fishing Report.
Surprises such as this 46-inch muskie caught by guide Thad Hinshaw. It's not surprising he caught a muskie like that. But where is. He e-mailed last week:
The muskies are fairly active down on Prairie Lake.
I was tired of fishing day after day after day without seeing many
muskies at all on Evergreen, so I took a drive down to Prairie.
Ended up catching this 46 inch fish, loosing a low 30 inch fish,
catching another muskie that was 20 something inch and getting follows
from 5 other fish.
Needless to say, I will be going back down when I get a chance.
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.
FREE FISHING DAYS
In Illinois, it is Friday through Monday and no licenses or stamps are required. All other regulations apply. Many park and forest preserve districts and municipalities have events. A fairly complete statewide listing is posted here.
In Wisconsin, free fishing weekend is Saturday and Sunday, and State Park Open House Day (free admission) is on Sunday. Indiana is the odd state where free fishing weekend on Saturday and Sunday applies only to Indiana residents. Michigan holds its free fishing days on June 13-14.
For an overview of nearby river conditions, go to this NWS site. Individual reports are posted below.
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 reports walleye are good, mainly around current areas such as the bridges and the mouth of the river on Pistakee, good bite should go north on the river. I intend to be sampling that this weekend.
Bass remain shallow. Bluegill are on the beds. Muskie are done spawning and have moved out. Lots of sheephead being caught in the current by walleye fishermen. Catfish should be done spawning.
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: Mazonia lakes should again be in that prime range. Braidwood warmed into the 90s on the hot side, the upper 70s and low 80s on the cool. Small bass and catfish are decent.
HEIDECKE: Walleye remain the best bite, particularly on live bait. I would put this as one of the top suggestions for the weekend, both for walleye and hybrids. The concessionaire has boat rentals again.
LaSALLE: Still a top choice for big blues and hybrids.
DELAVAN/GENEVA LAKES AREA, WISCONSIN
Bluegill are being caught around the piers on Delavan. The next week or so should be prime for big bluegills.
KID NOTE: Lake Geneva Fishing Club's 19th annual free kids fish outing, is at Big Foot Beach State Park in Lake Geneva on Sunday. Go to lakegenevafishingclub.com/kidsday.htm.
I&M CANAL: ``Bait Shop Bob'' Hennig at Riverview Marine reported good bluegill and catfish in Bureau.
PRAIRIE LAKE: As noted above, Hinshaw raised seven muskies one day last week and caught two, including a 46-incher. It is located at Jim Edgar Panther Creek SFWA west of Springfield. I have only fished it for bass and bluegill.
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: Saugeye and crappie are the main bites. Updated reports are posted here. ADDED: Mike Steffa sent a reminder that the launch and part of the lake will be closed from 6 p.m. Friday to noon Saturday for the triathlon. ADDED
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
Flathead reports are picking up. Catfish should be too. Ken Gortowski reported smallmouth chasing minnows on the surface on the main river. His more extensive account of smallmouth and drum fishing is posted here.
ILLINOIS RIVER: STARVED ROCK AREA
Hennig said white bass are improving by the Vermilion and around Peru's Water Street. Some small saugers being taken too. Catfish are picking up--it took 38 pounds (five fish) to win a tournament at Ottawa. The river is falling rapidly and clearing well.
Norm Minas sent this:
Walleye report: Taking walleye off main channel humps and bars on larger rattle baits. I was casting above them and dropping it to the backside. Good numbers and size.
Channel cats are hottest bite going right now, dips, liver, cutbait, leeches, minnows or crawlers on the bottom or under a float
Ed Mullady sent this:
In Indiana, catfishing good at Point, north of English Lake. Mike Schoof, Kankakee FWA
Site Mgr. informs us 10 mile road is now open.
LaSalle F&W Area - Croppie and largemouth bass fair to good in bayous.
*Momence Area: Walleye fair, catfish and rock bass good.
Diana at Kankakee River Trading Post, next to Kankakee River State Park reports walleye good in riffle areas *Catfish up to 8 lb. in size caught. Smallmouth Bass good*Rock bass good>
Cindy at Angelo's in Wilmington reports *good smallmouth bass, catfish, walleye when it is
overcast. Croppie good and some Stripers were caught.
Guide Matt Mullady and Ray Lovell caught good sized smallmouth bass on various artificials (all released)and Matt tied into a 13 lb. catfish caught on a small hook and night crawler.
For anyone interested in detailed Kankakee River fishing information, the Sportsman's Letter Kankakee River Atlas of large scale maps are available. There is 1 atlas for Indiana part of the Kankakee and another for the Illinois section.. Many sport stores, bait shops sell them, or mail order purchase information available by e-mail at SPORTSMANLETTER@aol.com
Check the latest at Harborside.
LAKE ERIE: PORT CLINTON
Rickard's report walleye south of Niagara reef by D Can and trollers taking limits of Starve Island and north of Kelleys. Perch are good southeast of Ballast and east of the airport on Kelleys.
For Ohio DNR report go to wildohio.com and or call (888) HOOKFISH.
Weather has been the limiting factor, but fishing is generally good when fishermen get out.
CHICAGO: There were limits of jumbos on Monday. Tuesday's weather slowed effort, but Park Bait still reported some good catches at Belmont and Montrose's south rocks. Capt. Bill Kelly reported boaters finding some perch at the R4; coho east of Diversey in 70-80 feet and the Car Ferry wreck in 70-80 feet (80 degrees out of Diversey); and mostly coho with a smattering of browns, lakers, kings and rainbows on top of R4 to 80 feet. Fish being taken from the surface to the bottom on 8-10 colored leads, Yellow Birds and Dipseys with change coming to big O Dodgers and bigger flies.
RICHARD J. DALEY MEMORIAL FISHING TOURNAMENT: In June, it blows open with carp, catfish, coho, chinook and steelhead eligible. Fish may be weighed at Henry's, Park Bait or Vet's.
CHICAGO FISHERMAN'S PARKING PASSES: Fisherman's $10 parking passes for the small lots at DuSable and Burnham harbors are available at Henry's .
NORTH POINT: Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters said they started finding some coho shallower on Sunday with bait showing up on the beach, but ``The Hill'' in 60-100 feet has been the best. Overall, it is big coho, while the kings and steelhead slowed. Dodgers and flies are best. All levels of presentations are working, however, the hot one has been a white Hotspot with blue pearl Howie fly on a downrigger for big kings and coho.
MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN
D&S Bait reported bluegill are coming shallow on Monona and Waubesa, and the crappie are on the outside weed lines. Smallmouth are spawning on Mendota and active on the bars. White bass are going on Mendota.
For D&S Bait, go to dsbait.com
MENOMINEE RIVER, WISCONSIN/MICHIGAN
Guide Mike Mladenik has reports at BigSmallmouthBass.com.
Guide Kurt Justice of Island Sports sent this:
The cold spring hasn't left. It just doesn't want to warm up. Water temps dropped back into the high 50's this weekend and by the looks of the steam coming off the lakes Monday morning, they are going to continue to drop. Things are very messed up, many crappies didn't get to spawn and now won't. Many smallies haven't started to bed, yet there are also a few Largemouth that have bedded --too early.
Crappies: Very good. Fish like you would pre-spawn. Crappies relating to 7-10' weeds, some drowned wood. One inch white twister tails, Gapen Freshwater shrimp, pinkie jigs worked through sparse weed growth. Don't be surprised to find dark yellow spawn, it's past time and fish will be reabsorbing eggs.
Walleyes: Good. Despite cold temps, switch to leeches working very well. Deeper weeds, where available, holding fish as cold temps keeping bait fish - hence walleyes out of the shallows. Similar results on flowages but switch weeds for wood. Redtails also producing - slow retrieves for light hitting fish.
Largemouth Bass: Good. Fish staging (a few found bedded). Tube jigs on 1/16oz heads twitched through 5-8' weeds finding their mark. Wacky style senko worms deadly for lethargic but willing fish.
Smallmouth bass: Good. A few bedders showing up. Four inch plastic lizards, Chomper skirted grubs fished texas style works well - tubes also good choice. Surface action to pick up when water warms.
Pike: Good. Good reports of nice fish taking large chubs/suckers under slip bobbers. X-raps also effective in 5-8' weeds.
Perch: Fair. Some fish moving into weeds. Warmer weather needed to improve bite. A few anglers scoring on small leeches below slip-floats in 4-8' weeds on the lee side of bays when the sun is out.
Bluegills: Fair. A few good reports with worms in shallow bays on warmer days.
Muskie: Fair. Slower moving twitch baits, 6 and 8" kicking minnows been best, mostly low to mid 30" fish being reported, though a few monsters being seen.
Mik-Lurch reported perch out of Portage in 32 front of the donut and the west wall of the Port. Coho are going from 55 to 105 feet, when weather allows. Willow Slough remains good for bluegill.
Jan Prose of TJ's Bait/Tackle & Canoe Rental in Oregon sent this:
Fishing has been pretty good this past week or so. The water level is coming down a little each day, so it's great for boats. A lot of catfish are hitting on minnow, worms, and cheese bait. Sonny's with blood choice dip bait! Some small mouth are coming in along the rocky river bank and along the bluffs on spinner baits. A few nice walleye yet at the dam. A 21" reported on a night crawler from the west side. And a few crappies in the corner of the west side of the dam. Striped bass more so on the east side. Finally things are picking up!
ST. JOSEPH AREA, MICHIGAN
BJ Sports reports lots of suckers, walleye and smallmouth in the river. On the big lake in 35-50 feet, coho and perch are being taken.
Guide Jay Angel sent and called with this:
65-72 degrees fluctuating. crappie are biting well, shallower brushpiles, numbers are good, still spawning on dam face with Mini-Mites. Bass are caught on dam face and shallower bays, a few are on beds, no real pattern. Some big largemouth to 5 pounds. Muskie reported as good.
For more reports, click here.
Walleye are going, including a 30-incher that will eventually be Fish of the Week. Mik-Lurch said leeches have been the hot bait.
CHICAGO AREA CHAT/REPORTS
CHICAGO AREA INFO
MICHIGAN DNR REPORT
WISCONSIN DNR REPORT
IOWA DNR REPORT
INDIANA DNR REPORT