Open-water options are opening and ice-fishing ones are closing in this Midwest Fishing Report.
On Friday, Capt. Ralph Steiger had his first trip and Tom Hamilton of the south suburbs did quite well with 22-pound laker from the shipping channel near the Illinois/Indiana line. But since, it has been tougher to get out.
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.
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Guys are ready. More than a dozen boats were lined up by 5 p.m. Tuesday. The LaSalle County cooling south of Seneca reopens to fishing at 6 Wednesday morning. Close is sunset. In March, LaSalle Lake is open Wednesday through Sunday.
Biologist Ken Clodfelter expects largemouth and smallmouth to be good, especially on the east side; the same for bluegill. The biggest blues are pushing 50 pounds. He expects the hybrid stripers to also do well. Expect the usual on smaller catfish and yellow bass.
Henry's Sixth Annual Spring Coho Derby is Saturday on the north side of Solidarity Drive east of the Shedd. Registration begins at 6:30 a.m. Call (312) 225-8538 or go to henryssports.com.
Transitioning was done in southern waters last week and should wrap up in northern and western waters over the next day or so. 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.
For an overview of nearby river conditions, go to this NWS site. I included individual river reports, expecting that most will be at fishable levels by the weekend.
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
Change is coming. Triangle reported open-water areas, such as Route 12 and Grass lake bridges, are being fished. More areas will open as the week progresses. Ice fishing is not recommended.
For more reports, see http://www.foxlakefishing.com/
More Chain info at www.foxwaterway.state.il.us.
COOLING LAKES/STRIP PITS
LaSALLE: See above. BRAIDWOOD/MAZONIA: Catfishing (shore and boat) remains the best bet; but it takes sorting. John Farmer and his son Grant had a good day Friday at Braidwood with 24 bass, all on crankbaits and soft plastics. Four topped 15 inches; the biggest, caught by Grant, was a 4-1 largemouth. Close is 7 p.m. The Mazonia lakes opened up, but water remains cold. HEIDECKE: Fishing reopens April 1.
DELAVAN/GENEVA LAKES AREA, WISCONSIN
Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle reported open-water crappie in Abby harbor. Otherwise, the transition is underway between ice and open water.
SHELBYVILLE: Water is a foot over winter pool, about 48 degrees. Guide Ken Wilson--(217) 454-2672--out of Lithia Marina reported decent crappie in 4-8 feet around stick-ups or brush near creek channels. There's some nice walleye and muskie below the spillway. SPRING: Muskie fishermen are plying the open water with decent success. EMIQUON: Emiquon Preserve near Lewistown is open to fishing, and it is open water again. 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.
FOX RIVER: WESTERN SUBURBS
Montgomery and Algonquin areas are forecast to be near flood stage through the weekend, so the better options will be up the creeks or dabbling shorelines. Ken Gortowski said, ``Both are doable, but reiterate to move verrrrry sloooowwwly and get real tight to anything breaking the current. Geneva and St. Charles always were my best high-water spots.''
ILLINOIS RIVER: STARVED ROCK AREA
Expected to fall below flood stage at LaSalle by the weekend. Weekend tournaments at Spring Valley are expected to go.
Ed Mullady sent this:
As you know, the rivers(Kankakee and Iroquois are up, but in most places has peaked and has started dropping. In Indiana, Kankakee F&W Area's Laramore Ditch pike fishing is fair on good sized minnows or bright spoons. Catfishing fair throughout Point, north of English Lake.
In Illinois, Catfishing good on *cheesebaits*minnows*nightcrawlers.
Creeks and creek mouths will clear the quickest and smallmouth bass should be good even up in creeks on live minnows *Mepps #2 silver spoon spinners *fluorescent colored lures.
Fishing should improve in a few days as river recedes and clears considerably.
Check the latest at Harborside.
LAKE ERIE: PORT CLINTON
For Ohio DNR report go to wildohio.com and or call (888) HOOKFISH.
Henry's reported a smattering of browns (I saw some big ones Monday at Montrose), steelhead and a couple coho at Montrose, 31st and Casino Pier; powerliners are doing best with minnows; not much on lures yet. Arden Katz reported good perch at Navy Pier. He fishes Mini-Mites and spikes, but others are using minnows or shrimp. Mik-Lurch reported great perch (take sorting) in the river with bigger ones being caught between 102nd and 106th; orange flies are key. Park Bait plans to open officially Thursday. WAUKEGAN: The Salmon Stop some steelhead and a few browns off the south rocks and, on the right wind days, off Johnson pier. 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
D&S Bait reported Wednesday might be the last day for ice fishing. For D&S Bait, go to click here
Guide Kurt Justice of Island Sports sent this:
The wicked witch of the East blew for five straight days, making what should have been a great late ice fishing bite, not so great. With daytime temps hitting the 40's - 50's (and even some 60's the past two days) ice conditions are deteriorating quickly. Driving cars and trucks is not only unadvisable, but just plain stupid. ATV's and foot traffic only. Many shore lines are deteriorating, look for South access point and areas NOT near current of any kind.
Yellow Perch: Poor - Fair. The warm weather seems to have dispersed the deep water Perch. There are still some hanging out over 17-24' mud flats, taking wigglers on pimples, flickers and hali jigs, but with the warm temps anglers are finding some nice Perch moving into 12-14' weeds taking minnows on tip downs or forage minnows with waxies.
Crappies: Poor. Mostly due to the East wind. Best bite still at dusk, last hour. Minnows and tip-downs. A few early risers catching fish at first light. Daytime anglers slow dropping rocker jigs tipped with plastics or little cecils tipped with waxies.
Bluegills: Poor. Fish are in bays of 6-8' weeds, just didn't want to bite. Small #14-#16 gill pills tipped with single red spike or moussee best, light line (1-2# test) a must.
We are in a new moon period which usually bodes well for day time angling. The East wind is gone, but the sun is shinning very bright (wear your sun screen). Ice depths of 14-20" this weekend on most larger lakes. A few smaller have only 12-15". While night time temps have dropped below freezing to help firm things up in the mornings, daytime temps of 60 degrees forecasted through Thursday, with lots of sun, could really eat up ice. This weekend could be the last ice fishing weekend, stay tuned for further reports.
Mik-Lurch reported steelhead should continue strong when the creeks recede more. Ice floes and wind are hindering lake access; though Steiger (click here for his guide service) had a good outing in the shipping canal Friday with his group, which included Hamilton (photo above), who reported nice browns and lakers, including a 22-pounder.
ST. JOSEPH AREA, MICHIGAN
BJ Sports reported high water at the Berrien Springs, but some steelhead and a few browns are being taken. Walleye are closed. Whitefish, suckers, browns and an occasional coho are being taken off the piers; spawn is working best.
Lake is transitioning. Lakeside expects to open around April 1. For more reports, click here.
Mik-Lurch reported nice crappie and scattered largemouth in the corn channel on the Indiana side; crappie and bluegill on the K channel on the Illinois side.
CHICAGO AREA CHAT/REPORTS
CHICAGO AREA INFO
MICHIGAN DNR REPORT
WISCONSIN DNR REPORT
IOWA DNR REPORT
INDIANA DNR REPORT