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Midwest Fishing Report: Trout, smallmouth, crappie

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I sometimes forget the joy that the catchable trout seasons in Illinois bring.


A faithful reader send a handful of photos and a reminder of that joy. The trout were caught at Blackwell (Silver Lake) in DuPage County.

The spring-trout opener on Saturday, perch around Gary Light, smallmouth on the Chicago lakefront and crappie lead this Midwest Fishing Report.

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

Let's start with trout.


Spring trout season in Illinois opened 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.


Remember, new licenses were needed in the four Lake Michigan states--Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan--as of April 1.


Smelting on the Chicago lakefront opened Thursday with one of the all-time great weather nights. Smelting? A smattering. However, Park Bait reported an apocryphal tale about a guy challenging the storms Sunday night and catching a mess at Montrose.

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.


April 1 signified a new year for fishing in Illinois, so that is when regulation changes kick in. Click here for a look at fishing reg changes in northeast Illinois.


The trout opener on Saturday was the lead story. Otherwise, crappie, as the FOTW showed, are the other top story on area lakes.


For an overview of nearby river conditions, go to this NWS site. I included individual river reports, though flows will impact fishing.


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


Hand-wringing over the extreme low-water levels will end with the flood warnings posted Tuesday upstream on the Fox in Wisconsin. The low water had crappie fishermen like Arden Katz reporting ``places I fished the last 20 years there was no fish there.'' So he found the deeper channels loaded with crappie, and extremely tight to cover. Triangle Sports suggested with the incoming water walleye should go at the mouth of the river, around current areas and bridges.

I would suggest keeping an eye on any possible restrictions at the site for the Fox Waterway Agency for any possible restrictions.

For more reports, see


LaSALLE: Still top pick for all-around action for catfish, bass and hybrids, both from shore and boat. Winds have made for interesting boating. Lake opens at 6 a.m., and closes at sunset. LaSalle Lake is open daily again. BRAIDWOOD/MAZONIA: Braidwood remains a good choice for action on catfish. Weather will likely keep Mazonia lakes from warming to peak form for another couple weeks. HEIDECKE: The former cooling lake near Morris reopened to fishing on Thursday. God was it slow, and it hasn't picked up much since. Brutal winds haven't helped. Water was in the low 50s on Thursday. The lake is open daily: 6 a.m. for boats, 6:30 a.m. for bank anglers; and closes at sunset. Graybeard's at the launch, open daily, offers bait and other sundries. Click here for a look at prospects for Heidecke.


From Andrew Ragas, Counsellor of the Fish Parliament

April 05, 2010
The fishing was starting to get pretty good for me before all of this unneeded rain came. So now that we have high water again, it is time to revert back to old ways from last month. Here we go again. Stick to shore!

Water levels are on the rise and as of Tuesday evening the gauge in Riverside came in at 5.5. Unless it drops back down to a respectable 4.0, I wouldn't consider setting foot into the water. Also, the flow is at 2,500 CFS. In other words, forget about it.

For the important stuff, the fishing was getting good last week before the rainfall, especially for Pike. Fish up to 30-inches were being reported and caught by anglers throwing an assortment of baits. Then, the they were being found near main river channels and parallel to the drops. Now, they are holding close to shore, again in the backwaters, and in slackwater pools. At the moment everything seems to be working. If searching for size, concentrate on size-12 Rapala X-Raps, in-line spinners and bucktails with no. 4 and 5 blades, and 4 to 6 inch swimbaits. Meanwhile, if looking for guaranteed numbers of smaller fish, live bait (shiners) floated through slackwater pools will get the job done.

With water temperatures in the 55 to 60 degree range, the fish are very aggressive. Be sure to use wire or titanium leaders! And for safe release on your bigger fish, be sure to carry a set of jaw spreaders and long-nose pliers. You would be foolish to leave home without them.

In addition, some Walleyes and Sauger showing up too, on both the river and its creeks. Fish in the 15 to 20 inch range were being caught after dark from hard-bottomed pools with gravel and current, and caught on an assortment of jig/plastics, and small minnowbaits.

Lastly for all you Bass enthusiasts, plenty of 2-pound fish for boat anglers are being reported in the tri-river area south of Joliet. Lots of action with very little size - Afternoons and early evenings best. The creeks have also fared well for you light-line guys, especially Salt Creek for Largemouths, and Hickory creek for Smallmouths. With the high water unsuitable for wading the river, these creeks will be the most accessible.

I have not looked at the long-term forecast for additional rain, but for now, I would resort to shore fishing until the weekend. Beyond that is a crap-shoot.

A full report and photos are posted here.


SHELBYVILLE: Guide Ken Wilson--(217) 454-2672--out of Lithia Marina reported crappie are biting and starting to move shallow. Water warmed to 55 and is at normal winter pool. Bass fishing is fair, walleye are slow below the spillway. For more lake info from the Corps, call (217) 774-2020. EVERGREEN: Tuesday's report from site staff:

Evergreen Lake Fishing Report - 4/6/2010
Water Condition
Water Clarity: Fair
Water Level: Flowing
Water Temps: Upper 40's Low 50's
Crappie fishing has been the best bet in the last week. Still catching Crappie all over the place anywhere from 5-20 ft. of water. Saugeye and Bass fishing has been off to a slow start on Evergreen, with many smaller ones being caught. Evergreen Lake will open its bait shop and boat rental facility on Saturday, April 10. We will have minnows to offer along with other bait and tackle.

Any updated fishing report will be posted here. EMIQUON: Emiquon Preserve near Lewistown is open to fishing. Have not heard reports yet. 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--9 a.m.-4 p.m.--remain in effect through April. SPRING: Reports continue of decent muskie and bass action, though not as wild as earlier in the season for muskie.


Ken Gortowski sent an earlier report about fishing picking up across the board, then came the first major round of water Tuesday and he sent this follow-up and I think it is short and sweet, but right on:

Right now the Fox is flowing at 2550 cfs with more rain on the way. Looks like high water techniques later in the week, or creeks.


As of this morning, the river was projected to reach flood stage at LaSalle on Friday. Might want to check that because it might be downgraded. Before the rains from other weekend, guide Jay Angel sent this report before the rains:

Saugers are being caught in great numbers up at Starved Rock State Park by Lovers Leap in 7 - 10 feet of water by anglers jigging with jig and minnow combinations.

White bass are beginning to show up in the Vermilion River. Use Big Dude blade baits for best results.


As far as I can tell, the Kankakee watershed may be escaping the worst of the rainfall, but all the same, Ed Mullady sent some good high-water notes in this report:

Grand Kankakee Marsh Park: Bluegill, croppie in quieter waters on *redworms*sponge spiders *pinkie jigs. Catfish good along *shorelines *in water logs on *chicken liver *minnows.
Pike, mouths of ditches, along banks of river.
LaSalle F& W Area: Try river shorelines for walleye *pike at bayou mouths.
Momence Area: Walleye on *crankbaits *jig and minnow *jig and crawler. *Rock bass good along shorelines on *redworms *smaller minnows *#1 Mepps spinners *Streamer flies.
Kankakee Dam to LeVasseur Park: *walleye good on *Kpr Hook, Twister tail and live minnow combo *jointed crankbaits. jig and minnow.
Catfishing good even on flooded shorelines with *live minnow *nightcrawlers *cheesebaits.
If rain causes river to overflow banks, try fluorescent colored lures, bright spoons, live bait for all types of fish.


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


CHICAGO: Park Bait reported perch all over on Monday at Montrose, they take sorting; there's been spotty browns and coho on the lakefront. Henry's reported a smattering of trout and coho at the Shedd and Adler, the pipe at Burnham, 31st and 63rd, too. Perch slowed around 92nd and 95th and slowed at Navy Pier. Smallmouth are starting downtown, click here WAUKEGAN: The Salmon Stop reported some boaters taking perch in 45-55 feet with variable success and it takes hunting, mainly fatheads on the bottom with crappie rigs. A few perch from shore off the end of government pier. Some browns off South Rocks and government pier on frozen shad or spawn sacs. 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.


D&S Bait reported fishing is spotty. Chain is low, so some traditional early spots aren't holding fish. Catfish are starting on north end of Mendota. For D&S Bait, go to click here.


Guide Kurt Justice of Island Sports sent this:

Lakes are open.. Perch are up shallow in vegetation. Crappies still hang "out" in 8-10' weeds taking minnows, small tubes.

Walleyes have been reported milking on the flowages - spawning occurring on other lakes due to incredibly warm weather (highs to mid 70's) jumping shallow temps.

Cooler temps forecasted for later in the week, but still going to see warmer then average lake temps.


The perch have been found. Capt. Chuck Weis of Ace Charters reported good action around Gary Light since Saturday, including jumbos in 42-55 feet. Ed McCain at Mik-Lurch reported, ``This weekend looks phenomenal. The bigger the minnow, the bigger the perch.'' He suggested medium golden roaches or large fatheads, and said perch flies make a difference and an orange or chartreuse bead produces more bites. McCain figured the hot bite should go another three weeks. There's some coho and browns at Gary Light, best on Dodgers and flies, or Rattlin ThinFins or jointed Shad Raps. Smallmouth are starting.


The river is coming up. Jan Prose at TJ's Bait/Tackle & Canoe Rental in Oregon sent this:

In a word, No! High wind over the weekend, really curtailed fishing the river. It was opening Trout season, and that went pretty well at the White Pines State Forest where they stock Pine Creek. With the recent rains/storms, the river has muddied up and is expected to rise several feet. It's spring.....


BJ Sports reported off and on action, depending on the weather. Coho at times are going off the piers. St. Joe is full of steelhead, catching is variable. The Paw Paw might be worth checking for coho. Panfish are starting on inland lakes.


Lakeside reported a smattering of crappie. Weekend weather looks promising. Water is still in the upper 40s, so limited bass and walleye. For more reports, click here.


I would check water flows, as flows on both the Pike and Root were spiking. This report from the Wisconsin DNR came before the major rains:

Kenosha Co.
In Kenosha steelhead fishing on the Pike River has been rather slow. In the harbor anglers are catching a few steelhead and browns on white tube jigs or spawn sacs.
Racine Co.
In Racine the Root River is holding good numbers of steelhead. Upstream of the Root River Steelhead Facility, most fish have been concentrated below the Horlick dam, but fair numbers can also be found in Colonial Park. Downstream of the Steelhead Facility most fish have been taken in Lincoln Park. Flies in egg patterns have been productive, as well as woolly buggers and small black stoneflies. Suckers are abundant in the river. Fish were processed at the Root River Steelhead Facility on Monday, April 5. Both Chambers Creek and Ganaraska eggs were taken, and 148 more steelhead were passed upstream, for a total of 331 this season. The next processing day will be Monday, April 12.


Guide Bill Stoeger reported slow action for walleye, and only a few white.



Fishing Headquarters



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






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1 Comment

For those that need to know this, the Fox topped 3000 cfs over night. More rain on the way, snow showers? Definitely shore walking river level. As long as days stay warm, the bite on all species can be good. Move around, go try areas you normally wouldn't think of trying.

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on April 7, 2010 5:36 AM.

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