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Midwest Fishing Report: Chicago perch explosion

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The wildly successfully reopening of perch season in the Illinois waters of Lake Michigan on Saturday headlines the Midwest Fishing Report. It is so good the hyperbole is building and we're searching for a historical perspective.


You can see why Mike Starcevich (third from left), guru of southern Lake Michigan perch fishing, said after an outing off Navy Pier on Monday, ``Nowhere in the country is there perch fishing like this.''

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


CHICAGO: ``I think this is the best perch fishing in August in five years,'' North Side shore fisherman Arden Katz said. Yeah, it is that good, good enough to crack open memories and fishing history.

Arden may be right, but I think he may be forgetting 2006 was also an outstanding first week for perch in August. The only reason I remember that is it included a rare visit by my dad and we went perch fishing at Burnham with Tom Grose and I have some photos of a very happy dad with perch against the downtown skyline from August of 2006.

On Saturday, perch fishing in the Illinois waters of Lake Michigan reopened to all with a daily bag of 15. Both minnow or soft shells are working. West winds brought in much cooler water, as cool at the upper 50s and lower 60s downtown by Monday. That's similar to 2006 when a couple days had pockets of water as cool as 56 degrees, if I remember talking with my friend and old radio partner Mike Norris right.

At Montrose, Katz said the best bite is 5:30-6:30 a.m. Park Bait reported limit catches both inside and outside at Montrose. Steve Palmisano at Henry's reported perch around Northerly Island/McCormick Place for shore fishermen, in the weeds at Monroe harbor and off the breakwalls.

Starcevich of Mik-Lurch had an unbelievable trip Monday out of Burnham and fishing off Navy Pier and around Olive Park with four of them taking limits that included 25 topping 14 inches. He favored spinners and soft shells.

WAUKEGAN: ``Perch are all over,'' Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop said. ``I have had more pier reports than boat reports.'' Both government pier and the south rocks are producing for shore fishermen. Large fatheads, baby roach minnows and soft shells are working.


Largemouth early and late remain the top bite, although I didn't have the rash of outstanding catches like last week. Bluegill in weed pockets or around shade areas is the other good bite.


For an overview of nearby river conditions, go to this NWS site. Individual reports are below. For the first time this year, I actually discussed whether some of the rivers are getting so low it will begin to impact fishing.


For guide Mike Norton's report, go to, then click on fishing, then lake report.


Bullfrog season runs through Aug. 31. Here's the details from the IDNR regs:

A sport fishing license is required to take bullfrogs. Bullfrogs may be taken by hand, pole and line fishing methods, pitchfork, landing net, bow and arrow or bow and arrow device, spear or gig. Firearms, air guns, gas guns or commercial fishing devices such as dip nets, hoop nets, traps or seines are not allowed in the taking of bullfrogs. Bullfrogs may be taken from June 15 to August 31 (both days inclusive). The daily limit is 8 bullfrogs with 16 bullfrogs being the possession limit.


Triangle reported white bass are the top bite on spikes, leaf worms or small minnows on Pinkie jigs or Yummies; start in 8 feet on most lakes or play the wind. Muskie fishing is No. 2, some very nice fish (40-inch class) on bucktails and topwaters fished near main lake points. Catfishing is next best, look for fish shallow on stinkbait or crawlers; some 10-pounders being caught throughout. Bluegill are good, fished around overhanging trees. Walleye are fair, try to find current; leeches are the top bait, then crawlers. Some nice perch around, especially on Marie and Catherine.

For more reports, see

More Chain info at

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.


BRAIDWOOD/MAZONIA: Both ``Bluegill Bill'' Young and Ed McCain report good bluegill at the Mazonia lakes. Staff reported 86 degrees at Braidwood's north end, 92 south. Close is 8 p.m.

HEIDECKE: Concessionaire said fishing slowed, there's bass and hybrids with a few catfish.


DELAVAN: Guide Dave Duwe sent this:

Guide Dave Duwe Delavan Lake 8/2/09 through 8/9/09
This week other than the every afternoon rain storms, fishing was very good. With the spotty weather, the pleasure boat and fishing pressure was reduced.
Largemouth bass are starting to school up on the weedlines. You need to keep moving to find the active pods of fish. The best depth is right on the weedline in 12-15 ft of water. Most anglers are getting them drop shotting 4 inch finesse worms or catching them on nightcrawlers fished on a split shot rig. Good locations to try are Belvidere Park and down by the island. Just a note, this week I caught some of my biggest largemouth while fishing medium suckers straight lined beneath the boat.
Walleyes are very active. They are in the medium depth weeds in 12-14 ft of water. The best bait is leeches fished on a slip bobber or using a small split shot rig to avoid getting hung up in the weeds. The best location is by the point by Assembly Park or by Browns Channel.
Northern Pike are not biting well. I'm catching one here and there. I haven't had a trip in the last 2 weeks where I've caught more than 3. The cooler water is letting the fish go into the shallower waters than where I've been fishing. Usually this time of year, most of the fish are in the deep water. I'm catching them on medium suckers fished on a lindy rig. The best spot is by the gray condos.
Bluegills are still active in 18 ft of water. Most of the bigger bluegills are being caught on leaf worms. You need to anchor and fish beneath the boat. Look for the fish by Delavan Marina or by Willow Point.
Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050

GENEVA: Duwe sent this:
Lake Geneva 8/2/09 through 8/9/09
Fishing on Lake Geneva has been very slow. It's been so bad that I haven't been fishing there if given a choice. The water is at a funky temperature, 67 degrees, typically this time of year the water should be 75-80 degrees. The fish just don't know what to do.
Northern Pike has been scattered. A good trip out would be catching 2-3 fish. The fish are anywhere between 35-40 ft down. You need to troll a lot of shoreline with a lindy rigged sucker to get bit. Some of the better spots have been by Fontana Beach or by Linn Pier. There is a weak thermocline at 30 ft.
Largemouth bass are anywhere between 12-18 ft of water. They have still not gone down to their deep summer pattern. The best bite is on top water lures. Look for the fish by the Military Academy or in Trinkes. I use Chug bugs or small pinfish, black/chrome has been the best colors.
Bluegills are sporadically being caught in 18 ft of water. The best presentation is leaf worms fished underneath the boat. The best location is Elgin Club or in Geneva Bay. Bluegill fishing has also been very slow compared to what it should be.
My good friend tried Lake Trout fishing Sunday, he however didn't catch any. They were on the screen but he couldn't get them to bite. I think we need a few warm days to get the fish active again. It's been way too cold for the summer patterns that are normal this time of year.
Smallmouth bass are suspended throughout the water column and have been hard to pattern. They can be caught anywhere from 10-25 ft down. As a rule, this time of year they maintain a depth of 20-25 ft of water are easy to catch. Again, we need some warm weather to get the fish biting again

From Andrew Ragas, Counsellor of the Fish Parliament

The quality of fishing on the DesPlaines River and its tributaries is anywhere from poor to good depending on location and the type of water being fished. Water temperatures are running in the 75 degree range, and levels are exceptionally safe for wading.

Best areas for most species of fish are deeper pools with current, weedbeds, and log jams. This has mostly held true for Pike and Largemouth Bass.

Northern Pike have been by far the most active for both wading and shorebound anglers from stretches throughout much of Lake, Cook, and Will counties. Plenty of fish are being caught with smaller bucktails, in-lines (Mepps), jerkbaits in the Rapala X-Rap variation, spinnerbaits, and buzzbaits. Early mornings and evenings best. Most fish running on the smaller side in the 15 to 25 inch range, while larger ones (30-inch or bigger) are harder to come by. Some rainfall should get these larger fish moving again. Just received word that my associate, Dan Sims, concluded an evening of wading with a total of 11 Pike, 3 chunky Channels, and a few Bass on Mepps inlines, caught from deeper pools with current and mid-river weedbeds. It's all in the timing and location, folks.

Largemouth Bass are also being found alongside with Pike, often caught either by accident, or by anglers targeting similar areas Pike are being found. Not much size, as most are coming in between 10 to 14 inches. The occasional Smallmouth Bass are also being found in the southern stretches of river in Will co.

Sauger and Walleye are poor to fair. Some action is coming during the nighttime on jerkbaits and minnowbaits from those with patience. Sauger up to 18" are being reported, and Walleyes up to 20", respectively. Nearly all fish relating to hard bottom (3 to 5ft) with current.

Channel Catfish are still around in deeper areas with current, and in mid-river and shoreline eddies. If you find a good school, expect to have a field day with fish running in the two to five pound bracket. Stink bait and live bait working best either on bottom rigs, or under a float. Some Cats are still being caught on accident by Pike anglers.

As for the creeks such as the Salt and other places, the fishing has been spotty, anywhere from poor to fair. Some Largemouth Bass are being found around the upper stretches towards Busse, while the occasional Pike up to 25 inches, and Crappie are being found in the lower parts. Smaller crankbaits and in-line spinners ripped through deeper pools with wood and current are yielding best results. Carp in the 5 to 10lb range are active everywhere. I wish I was into bowfishing, as conditions are near-perfect for these rough fish.


EMIQUON: My friend Pete Riedesel and others continue to do extremely well for catching bass here. I meant to do a trip down much earlier. Hopefully, I can get down before school reopens.

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: The latest staff fishing report is posted here.

HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Site is open to public fishing on Fridays and Saturdays.

POWERTON: Summer hours are 6 a.m.-8p.m.


River is low, and in good wading shape. Once again, catfishing is the top pursuit.

As to smallmouth, Ken Gortowski sent this from Tuesday night:

Got out tonight for an hour and a half and hit a three quarter mile stretch down stream from the Saw-Wee-Kee canoe launch on the outskirts of Oswego. I haven't done that stretch in around 6 years. Picked up about a dozen smallies and missed quite a few more.

I think I may I have been along with him on one of his last stretches fishing there.

A fuller report is posted here.


Guide Buster Culjan reported a decent early bite on white bass (with largemouth and smallmouth mixed in) on bladebaits (pink and white has been hot). River is low, barge traffic has made clarity about 10 inches. Nick Pezdek reported some sauger out of Hennepin on Monday.

VERMILION: Catfish and smallmouth are good in the low and clean river. My quote of the day Tuesday came from Culjan: ``It's perfect for a guy who wants to jump in with Levis and wade hole to hole.''


Like most rivers, catfishing is good. River is low and clear, perfect for those who want to take a break from Bears training camp and wet wade.

Ed Mullady sent this:

Fishing improving recently.
In Indiana, LaSalle F&W Area, Area Mgr. Ken Bisacchi reported catching some bass here.
Bayou areas have been producing some croppie here on *minnows*pinkie jigs.
In Illinois, east of Momence producing largemouth and smallmouth bass, croppie,, rock bass, a few walleye. Good baits include *minnows *crawlers*spinners*crank baits.
River Guide Matt Mullady and his clients have been catching some good sized smallmouth bass along with walleye in various parts of the river.
Other good areas in Illinois are Kankakee Dam through Sawmill Creek *Kankakee River State Park *Wilmington Dam through DesPlaines Conservation Area.
Catfish continuing good.


Check the latest at Harborside.


For Ohio DNR report go to and or call (888) HOOKFISH.


For perch, see top.

CHICAGO: Capt. Bill Kelly reported a mixed bag east of Burnham in 50-70 feet, a mixed bag from the Wreck east to 110 feet, big coho at the R3 and coho, kings and lakers by the R4. And see FOTW for a nice coho tale on Capt. Al Skalecke's charter out of Burnham.

RICHARD J. DALEY MEMORIAL FISHING TOURNAMENT: In August, the privately funded derby is open for carp, catfish, panfish, coho, chinook. Fish may be weighed at Henry's, Park Bait or Vet's.

CHICAGO'S FISHERMAN'S PARKING: The $10 parking passes for the small fishermen's lots at Burnham and DuSable harbors are available at Henry's.

WAUKEGAN: Salmon Stop reported a mixed bag in 40-65 feet south of the harbor on spoons.

NORTH POINT: Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters said the bite improved on the hill, in 40-90 feet, especially off the nuke plant, mostly on spoons. Leadcore has been important, and mornings has been good, afternoon bite spottier. Which led to the second best quote of the day from Poteshman, ``It is like marlin fishing, we are looking for the trophies.''


D&S Bait reported decent bluegill on Monona in 12-30 feet, nice bluegill on Waubesa in the same range, some muskies trolling on Monona, and some walleye and small perch on Mendota.

For D&S Bait, go to


Guide Kurt Justice of Island Sports sent this:

Just when the weather was finally creeping back to normal...another cold front...launched at 45 degrees...brr.

Fishing overall has stabilized if not slightly improving, some heavy rain and wind did curtail some action, but overall not bad.

Musky: Good. Fish active and looking very good (cool water helping them keep weight on). Bucktails best over weed tops, along weed edges. Fast moving twitch baits also producing. Few reports from open water anglers throwing plastics in deep. Cool weather has top water bite down. 50" best of the week. Lot of low 40" fish seen, boated.

Pike: Good. Boonie baits (spinnerbaits), chatter baits over weed tops best. Plenty of low to mid 20" fish with fish of 28-30" reported.

Largemouth Bass: Good. Cooler temps have brought plastic bite back. Senkos, Yum dingers pitched into weed pockets. Also jig and pig combos, Carolina rigging, Chomper skirted grubs very effective this week. Some surface action on warmer days.

Smallmouth: Fair to Good. Bite not what it should be, but action returning to normal locations. Live bait best, but tube jig anglers scoring over sandgrass flats.

Perch: Good. For anglers serious about perch. Cast small 1" twister tails till fish located, then toss out slip-floats baited with small leeches. Soft shell crayfish tails (must be dead/frozen) hot on 1/16 oz jigs.

Walleye: Fair. Bite not hot, but enough fish available for anglers willing to move. One fish here, one fish there. Sandgrass flats during day, cabbage beds at dusk and dawn. Leeches, crawlers best.

Bluegill: Fair to good. Fish deep weed edges. Also try suspending bait 2-6' down over 17-25' depths.

Crappie: Fair. A few anglers finding some deep schools along 18-25' coontail edges holding tight to bottom. Crappie minnows best. Up in cabbage flats (curly leaf cabbage) jig tiny tubes, twister tails.

Looks like we are going backwards this week. More cool weather, possible scattered rain (we could use it, the lakes are low). Doesn't look good for summer bite, hopefully fall will be good.


Mik-Lurch reported some good perch catches out of the Ditch. Trail is muddy, but there's plenty of skamania to be taken on spinners or shrimp. On the big lake, there's decent kings in 52 feet. Those working with cane poles are taking bluegill at Willow Slough.


OREGON: Jan Prose at TJ's Bait/Tackle & Canoe Rental sent this:

Catfish are doing pretty good right now. Just about anything you throw at them is working. Flathead are coming in on blue gil and suckers. Some nice walleye have been caught on leeches and Rapalas.
Carp are abundant on corn and worms. I took a picture of a 14 pound 3 oz., he called it a 'smoker carp'! Another caught yesterday was at least 10 pounds.


BJ Sports reported they started to catch a few scattered kings off the piers in the past week. Berrien Springs slowed for skamania, but picked up around Niles. On the big, trolling in 75 to 125 is producing kings, steelhead and browns.


Lakeside reported good crappie (down 15-20 feet around deep trees) and bluegill (outside weed lines)--``Anybody can catch them.'' Catfish are spotty, but some good ones.

For more reports, click here.


It's summer, like other area lakes, the bass and bluegill fishing is solid. Mik-Lurch continues to report a solid walleye bite.



Fishing Headquarters



MICHIGAN DNR REPORT,1607,7-153-10364-34956--,00.html






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Gentleman; Great reports and information! Thank you for all the link's at the bottom; Great job!...........Mike

Thanks for putting together all these fishing reports!

It's especially good to see the amazing picture of all those Perch! You must have had quite a fish-fry.

Great List of quality fishing site links too, by the way.

Thanks for all the information

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on August 5, 2009 6:26 AM.

Illinois Hunting Report: Controlled pheasant hunting was the previous entry in this blog.

Near-record smallmouth: And a river of thoughts is the next entry in this blog.

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