Chicago Sun-Times
Stray Casts will intelligently report and observe, hopefully with a touch of wit, on daily occurrences, reports and releases related to Chicago-area outdoors from bucks to bass to birds to bugs

Midwest Fishing Report: Smelt, Heidecke, trout

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

This is always the biggest week for the Midwest Fishing Report with the smelt opener on the Chicago lakefront, Heidecke Lake reopening, spring trout season opening in Illinois and general spring fishing kicking in on rivers and lakes.


Not sure how many smelt will actually be netted Thursday to allow for the traditional biting off of the head. The photo above was shot quite a few years ago at Montrose.

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


Remember, new licenses are needed as of Thursday in the four Lake Michigan states: Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan.


Smelting on the Chicago lakefront opens Thursday. Nets may go in at 7 p.m. Netters must be out of the Chicago Park District parks by 1 a.m. Click here for a more extended look at smelting prospects.


Spring trout season opens Saturday. Anglers must have a fishing license and an inland trout stamp, unless they are under the age of 16, blind or disabled, or are an Illinois resident on leave from active duty in the Armed Forces. The daily bag is five.

Nearby sites include Axehead, Belleau and Sag Quarry East (Cook County), Grove, Pickerel and Silver (DuPage), Gebhard Woods State Park Pond (Grundy), Bird Park Quarry and Rock Creek (Kankakee), Big Lake at Silver Springs SP (Kendall), Sand Lake at Illinois Beach SP and Banana (Lake), Lake Atwood and Piscasaw Creek (McHenry) and Lake Milliken at Des Plaines Conservation Area.

Click here for the statewide info on spring trout season.


The former cooling lake near Morris reopens to fishing on Thursday; 6 a.m. for boaters, 6:30 a.m. for bank anglers. Click here for a look at details of the opener at Heidecke opener.


April 1 signifies a new year for fishing in Illinois, so that is when regulation changes are set to kick in. Click here for a look at fishing reg changes taking effect on Thursday in northeast Illinois.


The trout opener on Saturday is the big story. But crappie are close behind. Crappie action is picking up areawide. Henry's received better reports from Tampier and Saganashkee. I already had one 2-pound crappie beat out for FOTW by a 25-pound brown. It's crappie time. Other species and other lakes and ponds should all improve as waters warm this week.


For an overview of nearby river conditions, go to this NWS site. I included individual river reports. For once in the spring, all rivers are in relatively good shape.


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


Knowing the Chain, things will change rapidly over the next couple days. This could be a wonderful time to hit the Chain. As of Tuesday, Triangle Sports reported crappie are good in the channels; walleye are good around current and bridges; bass should toward shoreline and weeds with the warm-up, and bluegill are with the crappie.

For more reports, see

More Chain info at


LaSALLE: Lake opens at 6 a.m., and closes at sunset. In April, LaSalle Lake is open daily. Fishing has been steady from shore and boat. Guide Jay Angel found nice hybrids trolling again last week. BRAIDWOOD/MAZONIA: Braidwood remains very good for catfish action, keepers take sorting. The lake has cooled a bit. Mazonia lakes remain cool in the 40s. Close time is 7;30 p.m. HEIDECKE: See above.


Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle reported some crappie and bluegill in the Abby on Geneva and Lake Lawn on Delavan.


From Andrew Ragas, Counsellor of the Fish Parliament

The fishing remains steady, but Northern Pike highlight the activity from this past week.

Fish are being caught all over the river from Lake County, through Cook, and down into Will County.

Pike up to the mid-30 inch range are starting to come out and play and this signifies a post-spawn bite. Most are relating to shoreline cover such as fallen trees, stumps, entrances to creek mouths, and backwaters - ambushing baitfish. A lot of anglers whom we've spoken to and encountered are having a lot of success with live bait drifted beneath floats - creek chubs, and shiners. Some size of fish in the upper 20-inch range are being caught, but most on smaller side.

Meanwhile, for those throwing artificials, bigger fish are taking notice. Matt Coppolino was out for a wade over the weekend and managed to catch some nice fish in the mid 20-inch range, along with several misses, from deeper shoreline pools on jig and plastics, and the old reliable Rapala X-Rap. The highlight of his outing was when he sent me a message proclaiming, "One of the missed fish was a big Pike. I saw him hit my lure about 15 feet out from shore. I would estimate it to be at least 35″ if not more. I kept casting looking for him to hit again but no luck. I will be getting back out at this spot again soon." He then added, "And that pike was big. I saw him come up with his mouth open and when I felt him hit he shook his head and rolled at the surface. It was for sure the biggest pike I've seen out of the DPR."

In addition, Dan Cahill and James Flannery got out for a traditional weekend float trip and were reporting several short biters from shoreline areas and mid-river channels on spinnerbaits and jerkbaits. The fish are certainly active and chasing lures, but are just hard to bury the hooks into.

For all you artificial users, I would focus on throwing X-Raps or any similar jerkbaits, spinnerbaits of any color with double willow blades, and smaller bucktails.

Other than Pike, nothing much is happening in the Walleye and Sauger department from what we have all seen and experienced. Likewise, the Crappies remain a hit or a miss, and the Bass are few and far between. Same deal is happening on the creeks such as the Salt as the fish have yet to fully move into them. With warmer weather on the way and lasting through next week, things will be improving in a hurry.

At this writing, water temperatures are 47-degrees in the main channels, and 48-49 in the backwaters. By the weekend we should be in the low 50-degree range all over. In addition, water levels are optimal and near-perfect for wading. Flow is at 650/850 and gauge is registering at 3.6.

Click here for a fuller report.


Ken Gortowski of sent this from playing on the DuPage:

The main stem of the DuPage was in perfect condition, both clarity and wading levels. I may have to go play on this river more.
Picked up a 16 and 14 inch smallie in the barely 200 yards of it I covered.
Nice deep channel down the middle of the river and they were hanging out on the bottom.
When I was there it had yet reached 40 degrees out and the morning had started out at 30 degrees.
I would imagine this warm spell will turn things on considerably.


SHELBYVILLE: Guide Ken Wilson--(217) 454-2672--out of Lithia Marina reported good crappie on deep ledges (14-15 feet) off river channels with pearl jigs; a few white bass. Sauger and walleye are fair below the spillway. Water is warming toward 50, lake is slightly over winter pool. For info from the Corps, call (217) 774-2020. 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. SPRING: Muskie fishing has slowed slightly, but plenty are trying for bass and/or muskie, according to site staff. EVERGREEN: As of early today, there was not a new fishing report. If there is one, it will be posted here. POWERTON: Winter hours--8 a.m.-4 p.m.--remain in effect until May 1.


Gortowski sent this:

The clarity of the Fox was pretty good in spite of the high water.
Didn't feel like dealing with it so didn't concentrate on it long. Missed a couple and landed a fat 12 inch smallie.
Reliable reports from anglers fishing the spots I've been giving away indicate I should do what I say instead of exploring.
River is dropping and should be a little high but in excellent shape for this warm spell. Experience waders won't have a problem with the slightly high water.
Go anywhere is what I would say, and hit a few creeks if you can. That first quarter mile of a creek could be the best of the year.


As the MWC tournament showed, the river is in good shape and the sauger and walleye are in the throes of the spawn. That should hold through the holiday weekend, and the warm-up may even kick in white bass and more catfish. During the MWC prefishing, Roy Vivian landed about a 20-pound flathead.


Ed Mullady sent this:

In Indiana, largemouth bass hitting at the Point, n. of English Lake on *minnows *jig and
Twister tails *crankbaits. Pike hitting on bigger minnows *Dardevles *weedless Dr. Spoons at ditch and bayou mouths.
Illinois: smallmouth bass improving in *Momence area *Kankakee River State Park(esp. try
at Rock Creek mouth *Rex & Teri Islands)*Wilmington Island Park. Good baits are *minnows
*Wtd Kpr Hook & Twister tails *Mepps #3 spinners.
Walleye good esp East of Momence *Kankakee State Park *Wilmington Island Park on *jig
and minnow *Rattlin' Rogue *Johnson Silver spoon & pork rind.
Catfish hitting well throughout on *worms*minnows*cheesebaits.
River is at about normal stage and clearing of today!


From the Wisconsin DNR:

In Kenosha flows on the Pike River are low, and steelhead fishing has been rather slow. In the harbor anglers are catching a few steelhead and browns on white tube jigs or spawn sacs.

Check the latest at Harborside.


Click here for a look at 2010 prospects. For Ohio DNR report go to and or call (888) HOOKFISH.


CHICAGO: Henry's reported perch being caught in the river around 92nd and 95th (takes sorting) and some at Navy Pier; and trout and coho at the Shedd, the pipe at Burnham, 31st and 63rd. Park Bait reported some nice browns at Diversey, coho at Montrose and browns and coho at Belmont on Tuesday. Boaters are just starting to get out by Chicago Light for browns and lakers. WAUKEGAN: Salmon Stop reported browns off the south rocks, government and Johnson piers on frozen shad or shiner; smattering of coho on spoons. (Expect the perch boats to be out this week.) 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.


For D&S Bait, go to


It is the big transition: Guide Kurt Justice of Island Sports sent this:

This should be it! There were nine (9) anglers on Big Arb this morning (3/29), it was cold enough Sunday through Monday to actually build ice on the pond. This past Friday when temps dropped to single digits Big Arb was MAKING ice.. Booming loud enough so anglers couldn't hear themselves talk. It through the bite off, but picked up pretty well come Saturday.

If Tuesday isn't the last day of safe ice, Wednesday will be.

No reports of smelt or suckers running yet.


Much will change over the next few days as more explore for both coho and the school of jumbo perch. Mik-Lurch reported steelhead remain good in the creeks, and smallmouth are starting to go along the shorelines. Trollers are taking some browns and coho at the hole-in-wall and shipping channel.


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

Last weekend wasn't too bad for fishing. Several 4 and 5 pound walleye were caught, still a lot of small ones. A 40" musky was caught at the dam. Twister tail, shad bodies, chartreuse, hot pink, pearl are good colors. Catfish are more active and biting on worms or dip bait. Carp are also biting, like it or not!
River is coming down slowly, good for shore fishing or boats.


From the Wisconsin DNR Root River report:

Water and flow conditions
Water levels have fallen considerably in the past week, and clarity is excellent. As much as the river has dropped, levels are still good for fishing and posing no hindrance to fish migration. Warming water has moved many fish into spawning mode and fish are now in all stages of spawn.
Fishing Report
Fishing above the weir
With large crowds this weekend the most pressured area was at the Horlick dam, especially early. The dam its self all the way down to the first bend has been holding good numbers of steelhead as well as the occasional brown. Fish the faster gravel with small egg patterns or natural looking flies like the whooley bugger and be patient to locate the fish. The golf course between the quarry and colonial park has been consistently good, both in the faster water as well as the deeper holes. Fish the faster water with natural looking flies and drift the deeper sections with small tubes or spawn sacs. Colonial park has been holding fish, although numbers have been dropping as fish continue upriver. The best areas have been deeper areas with good current. Flies and spawn have been effective.
Fishing below the weir
Lincoln park was crowded all weekend from dawn until dusk, yet fish continued to be caught (mostly steel, but a few browns as well), with early and late being best by far. Both the faster gravel and the deeper pools have been giving up their share of fish. Both flies and spawn have been effective for the fish holding in the faster water. The deeper pools have been best fished with spawn as well, but spinners and spoons also took several fish, especially in the evenings. Island park has had sporadic numbers of anglers fishing during the week, often only a handful of anglers, yet the fishing was quite good. Spawn drifted in the front and back ends of the fast water caught several fish as well as egg pattern and natural flies.


BJ Sports reported a charter taking limits of coho near the hot water by the Cook plant (stay away from the protected zone). The pier and Berrien Springs slowed, that could change with the weather.


Lakeside is open. Water is warming through the 40s; by the weekend action should be going if the magic 50 is hit. For more reports, click here.


River's Edge reported more keeper walleye and scattered smallmouth and crappie; mostly by the dam. Water is 41.


Guide Bill Stoeger reported walleye are in spawning and action has slowed. The next week should improve.


Mik-Lurch reported decent crappie in the corn channel on the Indiana side.



Fishing Headquarters



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






No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL:

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on March 30, 2010 10:20 PM.

Wednesday Stray Cast: Baseball updates was the previous entry in this blog.

Ramble with Storm: Smell of memory is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.