A multitude of transitions, most notably the shift from ice fishing to open-water fishing, leads this Midwest Fishing Report.
Speaking of open-water fishing, the welcome surprise has been how good the fishing has been at Braidwood Lake. As witness this major catfish caught by Mike Lynch.
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.
Braidwood, the cooling lake in southwest Will County, reopened on March 1. The shore and boat fishing for catfish has been good; with fair bluegills.
The surprise has been strong bass. Greg Aiello caught a 5.7-pound, 20-inch largemouth (I am having troubling uploading the photo or you would see it) on a white spinner bait opening day, when he and his partner caught more than 50 bass, most 14-16 inches. Last night, I posted about a YouTube video and report from Lynch and a report from Bill Anderson. Click here. On Thursday, Anderson and a friend caught a couple dozen quality bass. Lynch of binksboat.com reported OK bass fishing during low light; but outstanding action on catfish, including one monster, in 5-15 feet on live bait or crankbaits. Water ranges from the low 60s to low 70s. On Sunday, closing changes to 7 p.m.
For Braidwood info, click here. Hours are 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
It's a sign of the times. This week I take out the local ice fishing regs. Even though at least some of the northern and western lakes and ponds will hold safe, if sloppy ice into the weekend and maybe beyond. Southern lakes started going fast on Tuesday.
Trout season will open at the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County on Saturday, April 3 at 6 a.m. The District will stock three forest preserve lakes with rainbow trout to create better fishing opportunities for this popular game fish.
New to this year's trout program, Pickerel Lake at Pratt's Wayne Woods Forest Preserve in Wayne will be stocked with about 1,080 fish. It will replace Deep Quarry Lake at West Branch Forest Preserve in Bartlett, which will not be stocked because it is inhabited by the zebra mussel, an invasive aquatic species that can be transported to new waters in bait buckets and on fishing gear.
"The opening day of trout season is one of the busiest fishing days of the year, and many anglers fish at multiple lakes," notes Don LaBrose, the District's fisheries biologist. "Though Deep Quarry Lake will continue to offer opportunities for sport fishing, by choosing a new location for trout stocking, we hope to reduce the possibility of the invasive zebra mussel spreading to other bodies of water," LaBrose continues.
In addition to the fish stocked at Pickerel Lake, Grove Lake at Wood Dale Grove Forest Preserve in Wood Dale will receive about 550 fish. Silver Lake at Blackwell Forest Preserve in Warrenville will be stocked with about 3,780 fish in cooperation with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The three stocked lakes will be closed to all fishing from Monday, March 15 through Friday, April 2.
On opening day, Grove Lake will be the site of a free event designed to get kids interested in fishing by creating a relaxed environment on one of the most fun fishing days of the year. During "Kids Trout Fishing Day" from 6 a.m. to noon on April 3, fishing at the southern area of the lake will be reserved just for anglers 15 and under and their families. Staff and volunteers will be on hand to offer instruction, bait and loaner poles. At noon, the entire Grove Lake shoreline will open to all anglers. For more information or to volunteer for "Kids Trout Fishing Day," contact Don LaBrose, the Forest Preserve District's fisheries biologist, at 630-933-7668.
At all lakes, anglers ages 16 and older are required to have valid Illinois fishing licenses with Inland Trout Stamps in their possession. While the Forest Preserve District encourages catch-and-release fishing, the creel limit is five trout per day. The stocked fish will be an average of 1.25 pounds in weight and 13- to 14-inches long.
To enhance the DuPage angling experience, the District produces the free guide "Fishing in DuPage County." This publication offers information about fishing locations and regulations. To obtain a copy, call the District's Visitor Services weekdays at 630-933-7248.
With over 25,000 acres, 145 miles of trail and 60 preserves all right at your feet, there's a perfect way to enjoy DuPage County's forest preserves that's just waiting for you. For information, call 630-933-7200, or visit www.dupageforest.org.
For an overview of nearby river conditions, go to this NWS site. Individual river reports are below, including the Des Plaines report starting again. I would keep on eye on levels, the forecast sounds like a couple inches coming later 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
There's plenty of ice, and it should hold into next week. It's sloppy on top and shorelines will go first. Triangle reported good fishing for bluegill and crappie; Channel has been best. There's scattered pike and big walleye, Marie best for walleye. Deep should be one of the last lakes to lose safe ice with decent catches of pike and bluegill.
For more reports, see http://www.foxlakefishing.com/
More Chain info at www.foxwaterway.state.il.us.
COOLING LAKES/STRIP PITS
LaSALLE: Fishing reopens March 17. In March, the lake is open only Wednesday through Sunday. MAZONIA: Lakes are transitioning. HEIDECKE: Fishing reopens April 1.
DELAVAN/GENEVA LAKES AREA, WISCONSIN
Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle reported excellent bluegill on the west end of Delavan, crappie there and around the Assembly Grounds. On Geneva, lakers are slow; perch are fair (take sorting). There's plenty of ice, but shorelines will start to give way over the next week.
DES PLAINES RIVER
From Andrew Ragas, Counsellor of the Fish Parliament at www.fishing-headquarters.com,
Dale, I am back fishing for the year.
Here is the report for this week's installment.
Copy and Paste whatever valuable material that you want from this -
I picked this, but would suggest reading the full report:
There have been some confirmed reports of Pike up to 26″ inches being caught throughout the entire system with most catches taking place in northern Cook County and southern Lake County. Fish are beginning to stage for spawn and waiting for marsh areas and spawning sites to become clear of ice. This can happen at any day now, and probably will, as significant rain is expected to come within the next few days. S-L-O-W is the name of the game right now for these fish as they can be taken on live minnows (shiners & suckers) drifted through the slow current, suspending jerkbaits, swimbaits, slow-rolled spinnerbaits (extremely slow-rolled), and rattlebaits.
This early into the season in which water temperatures are only 40-degrees, I would concentrate my time often and hard around ANY and ALL shallow backwater areas that are devoid of ice. First, once the ice leaves, these areas will act as spawning sites for Pike, followed a month after by Panfish, and will immediately be a refuge area for warmth and food sources for most other fish. And if the sun is out, these areas will cook themselves up thus the fish will come in to seek warmth. The key here is to look for shallow sand and sunken timber as they act as heat absorbers. If such areas are located, there is a great chance for some fish to be either on top of them, or nearby.
In addition, other places to also try for while it is still cold out are main river channels with current for staging fish, especially for Walleye and Sauger, as well as creek mouths and small ditches for more Pike. The shallow zones and incoming water sources are generally good because there is a greater chance for the water temperatures in these areas to be a few degrees warmer than the main river.
Few anglers are trying for either Walleyes and Sauger, but some smaller fish are being caught on jig with minnow bounced along the bottom through deeper current and hard bottom areas.
Think of this period as spring training. It's still cold and early with temperatures only running at 40-degrees and not much being caught, but the fishing will turn on with a significant warmup or two.
SHELBYVILLE: I will start a more formal and regular report next Wednesday. Until then, call (217) 774-2020. SPRING: Launches are open and a few boats have been out. As of Tuesday, site super Stan Weimer said there was very limited open water, but that will change rapidly. POWERTON: Fishing has been fair. Winter hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. daily.
With warm-up and rain, the creeks are probably the best target areas, but Ken Gortowski has a more extensive preview of prospects for this time of year at www.wadauwant.com/wd_journal/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=625. I found it a fascinating read on many levels, including for basic knowledge of where to target fish on a large body of water like the Fox.
ILLINOIS RIVER: STARVED ROCK AREA
From guide Jay Angel:
Water temperatures rose from 38 on Saturday morning to 41 degrees on Sunday afternoon.
Most saugers were caught were in 14 - 19 feet of water. They were caught jigging with minnows.
I targeted the area called the Peru Flats. We began our jigging pass at the top of the Peru Flats by the barge terminal called Mertels and floated down to were the barges were tied up.
The largest fish we caught was 18.5 inches long and there were many "dinks". We had to sort through quite a few small ones to finally catch a legal. But there are a few lunkers showing up.
In a later conversation, he said that 18-foot range has been productive for other fisherman at other usual spots up and down the river.
Ed Mullady sent this:
Some more action on the Kankakee.CLASS NOTE:
Yesterday I suggested that Mike Lee at Frank's Bait in Momence, IL e mail you a photo of the 9 lb. 6 oz. walleye caught yesterday morning by Tom Kiger, Momence. You should have received it by now.
it was caught from the Kankakee River near Momence and was returned to the river.
Some smaller walleye being caught around Kankakee River State Park mostly on jig and minnow *jig and crawler.
Pike fishing good around Point in Indiana, and Laramore Ditch..on spoons, large minnows, #5 Spinners.
Smallmouth Bass being caught from Warner Bridge(Kankakee River State Park, IL)area to Timothy Island.
Wilmington area small walleye being caught, some catfish as well.
The Sportsman's Letter's 173rd Kankakee River Fishing Class will be at the Mokena Park District from 1-4 p.m. Saturday. Check at the park district or call Mullady at (815) 932-7285.
Check the latest at Harborside.
LAKE ERIE: PORT CLINTON
For Ohio DNR report go to wildohio.com and or call (888) HOOKFISH.
CHICAGO: Best bite has been perch at Navy Pier, though keepers take sorting, depending on the day. Arden Katz reported doing well on spikes or belly meat, though he said others are being successful with shrimp. Harbor ice will become tricky very quickly. Mik-Lurch reported a few browns, spotty coho and a laker at the stateline. SPRING COHO DERBY: The sixth annual coho derby will be March 20 near the Shedd. Henry's will pay for parking. WAUKEGAN: The Salmon Stop reported browns off the south rocks and Johnson pier on frozen shad, shiners or smelt. 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 expects ice to hold through the weekend and beyond. Best bluegill are at Monona and Squaw bays and on Waubesa. For D&S Bait, go to dsbait.com
Guide Kurt Justice of Island Sports said the best bite has been at dusk for crappie on slow dropping plastics, the same applies around dawn. Better perch have been on the deep mud flats, some moving into shallower weeds. More bluegill being caught on bright colors. There's a good 18 inches of ice, though with the snow cover gone, the rain and warmer days, conditions are going down. Justice advised planning ice fishing trips for March, there may not be ice fishing in April this year.
Guys are antsy and the first searching missions are underway for the jumbo perch off Gary Light. Mik-Lurch reported 92nd is loaded with perch, but they take major sorting. The mouth of the Ditch has been the steadiest with cohos and browns. There's a few browns, spotty coho and a laker at the stateline. As of Tuesday, conditions were deteriorating rapidly at Willow Slough; site staff was uncertain whether there would be enough open water for boaters by the weekend.
ROCK RIVER: OREGON:
Jan Prose at TJ's Bait/Tackle & Canoe Rental sent this:
It's just getting started! Some nice walleye have been caught both from shore and boats at the dam. There's a lot of small walleye being caught, but I've seen pix of a few in the 5-10 pound range. There's still ice/snow on the shoreline on the east side, but the west side is accessible. Fathead minnows and jighead, some are using twister tails with a minnow, chartreuse is a good color. Channel cats are hitting on red worms, and crawlers. And a few smallmouth bass have been caught with a minnow.ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN
The Wisconsin DNR report at http://dnr.wi.gov/fish/lakemich/rootriverreport.htm is worth noting. Here is the gist:
Water and flow conditions
Water levels are low, but rising slowly due to melting snow during the daylight hours. Water clarity remains good. The entire river above and including island park are open and fishable.
For up to date river conditions, check out the USGS web site of stream flow conditions [exit DNR] in Wisconsin. Just click on the river that you want to see.
Fishing has been fairly good on the Root River, with both browns and steelhead in decent numbers (slightly more steel). Most fish have been holding in the deeper areas of the river, although despite the cold water, a few fish have already been spotted spawning on deeper redds. With the water low and most fish holding in the deeper areas, fishing has been better for those drifting spawn sacs or small white tubes than for those fly fishing. Fly fishermen should concentrate on the areas of fast water that are deep enough to hide the fish and stick with natural patterns (whooley bugger/worm) and colors (like black, olive, brown or even white). Those drifting spawn or tubes should have no trouble contacting a few fish as long as they move around and cover as many of the deeper sections of the river as possible
ST. JOSEPH RIVER, MICHIGAN
BJ Sports reported some whitefish starting off the piers, along with browns and coho. The river is holding walleye, but the season ends Monday; there's coho at Berrien Springs.
In this transition period, check more reports, by clicking here.
CHICAGO AREA CHAT/REPORTS
CHICAGO AREA INFO
MICHIGAN DNR REPORT
WISCONSIN DNR REPORT
IOWA DNR REPORT
INDIANA DNR REPORT