LaSalle Lake, the 24th MWC on the Illinois River and Wolf River walleye highlight this week's Midwest Fishing Report.
That's opening morning at LaSalle Lake last Wednesday. God, I love that lake.
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.
BEST BET: LaSALLE LAKE
Early and late action has been best, as this report from Mike Lynch of binksboat.com (above with a 19-inch smallmouth) shows:
Be careful launching!! The DNR attempted to fix the North & South ramps but now they are both very shallow, lots of people hitting their props loading/unloading.
Water Temp: 60-90
Fishing has been below average for numbers but the quality of the fish seems to be better then it has been in 5 years or so.
Best bite has been on crank baits, Blade baits and carolina rigs fished along the points and rip rap with access to deep water. The fist and last two hours of the day the fish have been very active but the bite really slows down during the day so be patient.
Anthony Johnson caught this nice 12-pound blue on a golden roach on a slider rig. Guide Jay Angel reported some good hybrid action trolling Shad Raps in 6-15 feet.
The cooling lake south of Seneca opens at 6 a.m., and closes at sunset. In March, LaSalle Lake is open Wednesday through Sunday.
ILLINOIS RIVER: SPRING VALLEY MWC
The 24th annual Masters Walleye Circuit is at Spring Valley this weekend. Weighins begin about 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Spectators should park at Hall High School and take the shuttle. Click here for more info.
Conditions look nearly ideal. On Saturday, Bob Horvath and Mike Thomas won the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters tournament by polelining and handlining floating Rapalas downstream of Spring Valley. On Sunday, the Ladd father-and-son combo of Tom Giachetto Sr. and Tom Giachetto Jr. won the IWT by pulling live-bait rigs upstream of Spring Valley. IWT honcho Bob Kidd said the IDNR staff collecting milt and eggs said five females were already spawned out; and he said, ``They made the comment that they are real close to doing their major spawn for the year. The next couple weeks should be a real `Barn Burner' on the sauger fishing, barring any high or dirty water.''
Conditions vary widely across the area, some to the south are already have good weed growth; northern ones are much colder. Some action has been good, as O'Malley's FOTW showed. DuPAGE NOTE: Pickerel, Grove and Silver lakes will be closed to all fishing until spring trout season opens April 3. Pickerel replaces Deep Quarry, which will not be stocked because of zebra mussels. SPRING TROUT: Click here for the statewide info on spring trout season. Please note the DuPage County note above, which lists more sites.
For an overview of nearby river conditions, go to this NWS site. I included individual river reports this week.
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
Ice is off, and the transition period is well underway with conditions changing. But considering the winter, the water situation is relatively stable. Triangle Sports reported crappie doing well in back channels on hair jigs and spikes; some good walleye downriver around bridge pilings (Route 12, etc.) or try main lake flats.
For more reports, see http://www.foxlakefishing.com/
More Chain info at www.foxwaterway.state.il.us.
COOLING LAKES/STRIP PITS
LaSALLE: See BEST BET. BRAIDWOOD/MAZONIA: On Sunday, close time jumps to 7:30 p.m. Open-water fishing is underway on Mazonia lakes. Braidwood has warmed into the mid-70s on the north end, around 90 on the south; site staff said. HEIDECKE: Fishing reopens April 1.
DELAVAN/GENEVA LAKES AREA, WISCONSIN
DES PLAINES RIVER
From Andrew Ragas, Counsellor of the Fish Parliament www.fishing-headquarters.com:
At this writing, I have not been able to make it out to the river in over a week due to other commitments. But with high water and all, which I seldom have a desire fishing through, and having a large amount of friends such as Dan Cahill and his pond prowler fishing in the flooded woods filling me in with the news, the fishing has remained rather consistent and is surprisingly good for the most part.
Northern Pike, Crappies, and Channel Catfish . . . . Yes, the Channel Cats, highlight this week's fishing.
Northern Pike anglers have been concentrating almost all efforts along shoreline areas. Sections of river such as deeper pools, eddies, log-jams, entrances to creek mouths and ditches have all yielded steady rates of catches. Most fish are running in the 20-inch range, but a few larger fish of 28 to 30 inches are being reported, and nearly all appear to have spawned out thanks to these optimal shallow water conditions and their access to it. The best baits as of late remain live shiners and minnows drifted under a slip float through the current and eddies. Likewise, some fish are responding to jerkbaits and jig and plastic offerings.
In addition to Pike, Crappies are starting to get active around backwater areas and log jams. Average fish size is anywhere from 8 to 11 inches. Small minnows under a float and tube jigs picking up most fish with most action taking place during warm and sunny afternoons. Finding the wood and any large shoreline eddies equates to finding the fish.
Lastly, good numbers of Channel Catfish are being found from muddy backwater areas and near shorelines with heavy cover. Nice fish up to 6 and 8-pounds are being reported. I find this to be surprising given the colder water temperatures. Majority of the catches seem to be at the result of fishing for other species with live bait. In other words, accidental catches.
Few Walleye and Sauger reports, but they will be picking up shortly with the spawn happening any day right now. A 25-inch class Walleye was caught and released from the western suburbs late last week on a roach drifted through eddies. Because of this, I would put forth focus on hard bottomed areas with current and rock/gravel.
As of Sunday, water temperatures in the main channel were 44-degrees, and 45-degrees in the shallow backwaters. Flow rates are improving and falling at 1,600CFS, and water levels are near a 4.5 on the gauge. River should be wadeable in some places by the weekend, but for the most part I would work close to shore.
SHELBYVILLE: Guide Ken Wilson--(217) 454-2672--out of Lithia Marina reported crappie are in deeper water in main lake ledges (14 feet). Lake is at winter pool with good clarity and temperatures in the upper 40s. Below the spillway has slowed for walleye and muskie. For info from the Corps, call (217) 774-2020. SPRING: PrairieStateOutdoors.com reported the usual good early spring bite on muskies. EMIQUON: Emiquon Preserve near Lewistown has had open water. 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. POWERTON: Winter hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. EVERGREEN: Operations supervisor Brad Wood sent this report: There have been several people out mainly fishing from the docks and bank fishing. Crappie seem to be doing ok, with most being caught around structure with jigs and minnows. There have been a few reports of guys trolling for saugeye with little success. The lake water is still cold with temps in the low to mid 40's, water clarity is poor, and the water is flowing over the spillway.
If there is an updated staff report, it will be here.
FOX RIVER: WESTERN SUBURBS
Of the area rivers, it is the highest and fastest, but relatively clear. Ken Gortowski sent this:
Got out with my daughter over the weekend for some exploring.
The river is high and fast, but surprisingly clear. It's at 4150 cfs right now and I think it's going to be a long slow drop. Only experienced waders that know the river should be walking around in that. And that's pushing it even for me.
We checked out a half dozen creeks from Oswego through Millbrook. All were back to normal and clear.
Perfect conditions for high water fishing on the Fox, very slow presentations tight to shore, cover and structure. The more those were sitting in the sun the better. As I've said, Geneva and St. Charles were always my best spots, but any area where the current is broken up by anything along the shore will work.
For the creeks it's worth working from the mouths inward. Temperatures look like they are going to hover around 50 or better for the next 10 days at least. Virtually no rain in the forecast. Perfect set up to start bringing a few fish in.
If the conditions stay like this for awhile, the post I sent you a couple of weeks ago will hold true for the next few weeks, getting better with each passing week.
For now the water is still a little cold so patience will be a virtue. And a bucket of minnows to increase your odds wouldn't hurt.
GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN
From the Wisconsin DNR:
Boats dominate the waterscape at Voyageur Park. Shore fishermen are casting for walleye with twister tails and Rapalas. Boaters are vertical jigging with lead staying within a foot of the bottom; hooks are tipped with gulp or minnows.
The Menominee River from Stephenson Island to the Hattie Street Dam is seeing moderate to heavy pressure. Early mornings and evenings are seeing some walleye being caught using twister tails and Raps. Brown trout are being caught in significant numbers close to the dam casting spoons. Silver/green, silver/orange, and silver/blue in 3/4 oz is working well. The occasional rainbow has also been showing up. All these fish are being caught in open water.
ILLINOIS RIVER: STARVED ROCK AREA
See ILLINOIS RIVER: SPRING VALLEY MWC at the top:
River is receding and clearing nicely and, as Ed Mullady noted, the weekend looks very promising. Here's his report:
Kankakee F&W Area: Laramore Ditch Area to Rt. 39 & 8: Pike good on *minnows *spoons.
Point, north of English Lake: Greenwood Bait reports Rt. 8 and 39 giving up pike on larger roach minnows and nightcrawlers. At the Point, small walleye on jig and minnow. Black suckers on redworms.
Grand Kankakee Marsh Park: Walleye fair in creek and ditch mouths on *jig and minnow *jig and crawler *Rattlin' Rogue *Jig & double twister.
Momence Area: Walleye good on Crankbaits *jig and minnow *Rapala *jig and crawler. TOM KIGER, Momence, continues catching walleye with a 7 pounder weighed in by Mike Lee at Frank's Bait, Momence on Monday morning. Tom caught it on a crankbait.
*KANKAKEE RIVER STATE PARK: Walleye active! On that "wind from the northeast" on Saturday, River Guide Matt Mullady caught a 5 ½ lb. Walleye from a quiet pool in a short time of fishing.
*WILMINGTON DAM, ISLAND PARK: Angelo's reported walleye and catfish hitting good in this area.
If we get a decent week end, fishing on the Kankakee, should be overall good.
LAKE ERIE: PORT CLINTON
For Ohio DNR report go to wildohio.com and or call (888) HOOKFISH.
Weather and water conditions has been the limiting factor, if things settle down there are some promising signs.
CHICAGO: Henry's reported very good trout in Burnham harbor. Browns may be the most interesting bite, including a 27-incher taken over the weekend. Powerliners are taking a smattering of coho up and down the lakefront. There's still perch around, but most are focusing on trout and coho. Trollers are getting out at 95th. Mik-Lurch reported perch (takes sorting for keepers) remain good in the river around 95th and 92nd. 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.
MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN
Transitioning. For D&S Bait, go to dsbait.com
The ice is holding on, but conditions are at the changing stage, as the added note at the end of the regular report from guide Kurt Justice of Island Sports shows. Here is his regular report:
So I was wrong again... Ice Fishing continues.. Sort of.
Night time cold moved back into the area starting last Friday and temps hit a low of 11 degrees to put an end to the fast melt. Anglers pursuing crappies and bluegills on Minocqua and Big Arbor Vitae Lakes are having mixed results. There have been windows of opportunity during the daytime (usually late afternoon) when the crappies will decide to feed. Otherwise the best bite by far (and almost no one is staying on the ice for it) is after dark with tip-downs and minnows. Plastics on rockers has been best for crappies and bluegills during the day. Little Cecils tipped with spikes or waxies and purple or black moon glo's tipped with moussees are also working for crappies and gills respectively.
Ice out in front of the Four Seasons on Big Arb is still holding in the 14-16" range (one angler measured 20 1/2" Saturday) but Minocqua Zentners (new Schoolhouse) Bay has only about 8-9" some areas 6-7". Minocqua could be done in a day or two - but Big Arb should have safe ice through this coming weekend still. Few other reports are in. Brandys landing looks ok, but ice on North end not good. Carrol still getting a little action.
Then he sent this add, later Tuesday:
A local angler broke through on Schoolhouse (Zentners) Bay last night (3/22) at 6:30 pm. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO FISH THERE. He got out, but if you must fish - stick to Big Arb and the South Side.
Mik-Lurch said Salt and Trail creeks continue to do well for steelhead. Lake Michigan is completely ice free, but water is dirty. Coho are being taken by trollers at the Cal harbor gap, lots of browns in the shipping channel; hot bait has been the firetiger jointed Wally-Diver. There's a few coho at Michigan City; those few able to reach Gary Light are taking a few browns, coho and steelhead. As weather allows, the hunt for the deep school of perch will begin.
OREGON: Jan Prose at TJ's Bait/Tackle & Canoe Rental sent this:
The river is down about a foot from last week. It's been pretty slow, with wind, snow and colder temps. There was a couple of good days mid week where some nice walleyes were caught 18-22", and several smaller ones. Let's hope spring is back, and we get some warmer temps. Sounds like the carp and drum are active!
ST. JOSEPH AREA, MICHIGAN
There's some steelhead up to Berrien Springs, a smattering of browns, whitefish and a few coho off the piers when weather allows.
Lake opened up. Check reports by clicking here. NOTE: Lakeside plans to open April 1. In April, the IDNR has agreed to open the lake from 6 a.m.-8 p.m.
SOUTHEAST WISCONSIN LAKEFRONT
From the Wisconsin DNR:
In Kenosha flows on the Pike River are good, but steelhead fishing has been rather slow. In the harbor anglers are catching a few steelhead and browns on white tube jigs or spawn sacs.
In Racine water levels and clarity on the Root River are good. Fair numbers of steelhead and browns have been found throughout the river, and most have been taken on spawn sacs or small tube jigs. Fly anglers have had the most success with woolley buggers and egg imitations. The Root River Steelhead Facility is running, and the first fish processing day will most likely be on Thursday, March 25. Fishing in the Racine harbor has been slow.
In Milwaukee anglers fishing the Milwaukee River along the wall under the Hoan bridge have been catching a few browns and rainbows. Spawn and small shiners have produced the most fish. Flows are good on the Menomonee River and Oak Creek, and some steelhead have been taken from both. In the Milwaukee River anglers have been catching fair numbers of steelhead on yarn flies at Kletzsch Park. Boaters jigging the gaps in Milwaukee continue to catch lake trout.
WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN:
Guide Bill Stoeger reported very good walleye action the past several days throughout the river, best in 4-7 feet on jig and minnows.
Both Mik-Lurch and Henry's reported crappie at the corn channel on the Indiana side.
CHICAGO AREA CHAT/REPORTS
CHICAGO AREA INFO
MICHIGAN DNR REPORT
WISCONSIN DNR REPORT
IOWA DNR REPORT
INDIANA DNR REPORT