The Wisconsin regular season opener and the Daley Derby 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 email@example.com.
General outlook from the WDNR:
The 2010 regular inland season is opening on the first date possible - May 1 -- but the fish and the anglers are already waiting and eager.
"The fishing opener is a great opportunity to take kids fishing and start to build their appreciation of Wisconsin's great outdoors," said Department of Natural Resources Secretary Matt Frank. "We are working hard with our partners to deliver great angling opportunities for all, from first-timers to pros."
With most of the state experiencing an early spring, fisheries biologists say water temperatures are warmer than in the past few years.
"The ice is out statewide, and the fish will be at a later stage of spawning than normal," says Mike Staggs, director of DNR fisheries management. "Anglers may need to change their tactics to match the warmer conditions, but the fish should be feeding and we expect a good fishing opener and a great season."
The anglers are ready.
Season dates and regulations:
The hook-and-line game fish season opens May 1 on inland waters for walleye, sauger, and northern pike statewide.
The largemouth and smallmouth bass southern zone opens May 1, while the northern bass zone opens for catch and release only from May 1 through June 18. Anglers are reminded that artificial lures and barbless hooks must be used if fishing for bass during the catch-and-release bass fishing season in the northern zone and any other water body that has bass catch-and-release regulations. From June 19 to March 6, 2011, there's a minimum length limit of 14 inches with a daily bag limit of five fish in total.
Musky season opens May 1 in the southern zone and May 29 in the northern zone.
The northern zone is the area north of highways 77, 64 and 29, with Highway 10 as the dividing line.
Previews are below for Delavan, Eagle River, Geneva Lake, Madison Chain, Minocqua and Hayward.
The ninth annual Richard J. Daley Sportfishing Derby starts Saturday and runs through Sept. 30. In May, eligible species are perch and coho. Register fish at Henry's, Park Bait and Vet's. Go to henryssports.com.
As the FOTW shows, crappie are the main bite, but bass should be pulling shallow again with forecast of several warm days.
For an overview of nearby river conditions, go here. Individual reports are below.
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
Arden Katz reported good bluegills in the channels. In cold fronts, he keeps catching by downsizing to as small as No. 12 Rat Finkees and spikes. Triangle Sports seconded good bluegill shallow; and said pike are good on large roaches or big spoons around creek areas; white bass are fair in 10-15 feet; Marie or Petite best; crappie are good, look in channel mouths; and catfish are fair but should pick up quickly. Muskie are decent, witness the record-setting Challunge cq Saturday.
For more reports, see http://www.foxlakefishing.com/
More Chain info at www.foxwaterway.state.il.us.
COOLING LAKES/STRIP PITS
LaSALLE: Ed McCain reported good hybrids and some channel catfish and blues. HEIDECKE: Graybeard's reported fair action on Tuesday, but with water temperatures around 60; this should be a top spot by the weekend. BRAIDWOOD/MAZONIA: Considering a stable weather pattern is forecast, the Mazonia lakes should be a top destination for the weekend. Main bite at Braidwood remains bass.
DELAVAN/GENEVA LAKES AREA, WISCONSIN
DELAVAN: Guide Dave Duwe said fish movement is probably two weeks ahead of usual. Bluegill are in shallow, bass are in shallow and pike in 8-10 feet. For the pike, he would use Husky Jerks or white spinner baits. ``There are a lot more in shallow [than for] other opening days,'' he said. GENEVA: Duwe expects it to be tough, the lake remains cool. smallmouth will be suspended, down 8-9 in 15 feet. Look for schools of minnows. Crappie should be in the weeds in 6-8 feet. Largemouth will be spotty try Geneva Bay or Trinkes.
DES PLAINES RIVER
From Andrew Ragas, Counsellor of the Fish Parliament www.fishing-headquarters.com:
April 26, 2010
Northern Pike, lacking in size, headline this week's fishing along with some other surprises and encounters. Water temperatures are currently holding at, or near 60-degrees and flows are excellent for wading, holding steady at 650/720 with gauge height at 3.5.
Over the past few weeks, not a whole lot of excitement has been happening at the river. Anglers fishing for Pike have been catching plenty, but there has been absolutely zero size on any fish. Dan Sims has been the most active amongst my river fishing crew and he reports that plenty of 18 to 24 inch fish are actively chasing down Mepps spinners with #3 and #4 blades. Majority of the fish are relating to deeper pools, mid-river channels, emerging weedbeds, stumps and laydowns, and creekmouths and backwater entrances. He also writes that a lot of fry are swimming in the shallows and backwater areas, and that the Bass should be spawning soon.
Besides inlines and small bucktails, Pike are responding to spinnerbaits (white/gold), jerkbaits such as Rapala X-Raps, shallow running crankbaits, and live bait drifted beneath a float.
Along with Pike, Largemouth Bass and the rare Smallmouth Bass are making appearances on angler hooks as well. Largemouths up to 18? are being reported from wooded shorelines and weedbeds, but are difficult to find on a consistent basis. However, most fish are running anywhere from 10 to 14-inches and are providing plenty of action on spinnerbaits and crankbaits.
Lastly, Channel Cats in the range of 4 to 8-pounds are being taken from shore anglers fishing deeper pools with a mixture of rock and wood with current. Cut baits and live baits are catching most fish with late afternoons and evenings best.
Very little to report on the creeks and tributaries. Salt Creek is currently infested with green Chladaphora algae which makes fishing and wading close to impossible (unless you want to pull 2-feet of algae off your line after every-other cast), while nobody seems to be fishing and giving Hickory Creek a try.
With the creeks in a funky mood, fishing remains to be best on the river. With optimal wading conditions, now would be a GREAT time to explore.
For more and photos, click here.
EVERGREEN: From site staff on Tuesday:
EVERGREEN LAKE FISHING REPORT - 4/27/2010
Level - Slightly Above Normal Pool
Clarity - 6" - 1.5 Feet
Temps. - Upper 50's - Low 60's
Main Word Right Now Is CRAPPIE! Lots and Lots of Crappies being caught! Most are smaller in the 8.5" to 9.5" range, but lots of them. They are caught mostly on plain hook and minnow or a tube jig and minnow, although we've had reports of them being caught on small worms as well. Most are in close to shoreline around any type of structure. The Saugeye are doing fairly well, too. Again, most are small in the 2 lb. class and under. A jig and (bigger) minnow or a jig and crawler working best in the early mornings and evenings. Around Swimming Beach and Boat Rental doing good, as well as the mouths of coves and around the Big Flats area. Bass are doing fair to good. A lot of small ones being caught, but we did have a report of a 5 lber and an 8 lber being caught. Coves are your best bet right now using minnow baits and plastics. The muskie are slow to fair. Some reports trickling in. Over the last week a 24", two in the low 30's, and a 42" was reported. The ones reported were all caught in close to the shoreline on a spinnerbait or bucktail. The catfish are still very slow right now.
Take Care & Good Fishin'
For any updated reports, click here. EMIQUON: Emiquon Preserve near Lewistown is open to fishing. Haven't heard much. 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. SHELBYVILLE: For info from the Corps, call (217) 774-2020. POWERTON: Summer hours--6 a.m.-8 p.m.--begin tomorrow.
FOX RIVER: WESTERN SUBURBS
Ken Gortowski sent a condensed version:
In a nutshell, the Fox is in excellent shape since the rain never amounted to much. Up a little, but coming down fast. Could be a good week. Doesn't seem to matter where on the river you go. I've been catching smallies in every stretch I try. Some better than others, but always something to catch. Haven't bothered looking for other species. But then, I never really have. Everything else is caught by mistake.
Couple of good reports up on Windy City Fishing. They're fishing further north than I go. I'll have to check with them to see how they feel about getting summarized and their info passed on. One guy was doing pretty good on small pike. You know they're further north if those are being caught.
And the long free form:
Got out on Thursday after work and hit the stretch below Orchard Road. The weather gods were calling for the possibility of weekend deluges that would promise to raise the river and turn it to mud. I wanted to be there before that happened. The river was in excellent condition, just low enough to make it across to the north shore without getting pushed too hard by the current. Within 15 minutes I had landed two smallies and a nice sized channel cat that thought it was a smallie. With over an hour to go and a quarter mile of excellent shore line the potential for an outstanding outing was high.
Then reality sank in. At the end of the hike only one more hit was had and that smallie decided to release itself about 20 feet from me. Not a single other hit the whole time.
The bug hatch was still going full force. They hung over the river like a thick undulating fog. Predominantly caddis, but I picked 3 other winged bugs out of the air to see what they looked like. My brain is too full of other useless information and bug identification will just have to go on the back burner.
Back at the car I had to scrape the caddis off my waders and sweatshirt. Shook a handful out from under my shirt. Scrubbed my scalp to get a few out of my hair and even had to scrap a few out of the folds of my ears.
Saturday end of day found me with another hour and a half to kill. Decided to hit a creek that years ago always allowed me to catch at least a dozen smallies this time of year. For the past 2 or 3 years though the creek has been eerily devoid of these bass. A few can be caught, but nothing like the numbers of years past. Even though it had rained a bit overnight, the creek looked untouched by the new water. It was up a little, but crystal clear.
Not a single hit from a single fish in over a half mile of wading perfect water. The shallow pools and even shallower riffles were full of suckers making their way up river. I attributed the lack of a bite to this spawning migration. I've seen it before. Everything seems to get out of the way of this spawning run and reappears after the suckers disappear back to the river. I'll know in a couple of weeks after I give the creeks a break and return some time in May.
Got out on Monday after work to the same stretch below Orchard Road. The weather gods were wrong about the deluge and the river had barely come up at all. It had already started dropping like a rock. I didn't feel like dealing with the current and fished almost a half mile of the south shore. With the slightly higher water this shore has enough depth and shoreline structure to create some nice current breaks.
Seven smallies were caught in this short time. Two 16 inch and two 14 inch with the rest being hard fighting dinks. I've been telling guys for years that when the carp are feeding in the slack water always cast into the middle of them. Carp stir things up, bait fish come in to feed on what is floating around and the smallies chase the bait fish. I would cast into a pod of carp scattering them when the lure hit the water. Each time I thought I had snagged a carp and each time I was wrong. Had one hard hit and hard pull that made the fight of the 16 inchers seem like child's play. Got to see a big smallie roll then run out into the faster water. The jig shot back like a bullet and stung me in the neck. I briefly had this vision of having a hook stuck in my neck just a little too close to a jugular. Luckily it was just a sting.
There was still a bug hatch but not quite as big as the last few days. The birds had finally shown up for the feast and a flock of around 30 of them darted high above the river following the swarms down the river in the wind. Fewer caddis this time, but there was a fine mist of small bugs swarming over all the slack areas. I wondered how many I had ingested in the 3 trips I made along here in the past week.
We're back to the rainy weekend pattern I had predicted at the beginning of March. This could continue through May. The next few days should make for some excellent fishing pretty much anywhere along the Fox.
Here's the links to posts in order. More pictures than words. Haven't felt like expanding on things. I seem to go in cycles.
ILLINOIS RIVER: STARVED ROCK AREA
Sauger are outstanding, but take sorting for keepers. Joe McCartin and I caught 20 but only one keeper in a few hours trolling with Leadcore from Hennepin to Peru last Wednesday. Guide Jay Angel caught them just as well jigging the Peru flats. White bass should improve.
Ed Mullady sent this:
River is up some but should be going down in a day of no rain.
Fishing continues fair to good. In Indiana, walleye continue to be caught at the Point, north of English Lake, Grand Kankakee County Marsh Park and LaSalle F&W Area. Try along quieter shorelines, ditch mouths, bridge piers. Good baits are: *jig and minnow*jig and crawler*jointed plugs. Croppie, catfish also good.
In Illinois, walleye in Momence Area, Kankakee & Wilmington Dam areas. Rock Bass good in these locations, as well as Kankakee River State Park.
Smallmouth Bass hitting, but in Illinois, until after June 15, have to be released immediately.
LAKE ERIE: PORT CLINTON
For Ohio DNR report go to wildohio.com and or call (888) HOOKFISH.
Weather has limited effort and roiled the waters. That should change dramatically beginning today. This should be the week for smallmouth along the shoreline. Powerliners are picking up a few coho and trout. SMELT: Season ends Friday. 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
Gene Dellinger at D&S Bait, said like other areas fish are a couple weeks ahead of most opening weekends. Here are his general recommendations for the opener:
Walleye action traditionally is best at night. Usually the water is clear this time of year & the Walleyes feed more actively after dark. Some areas historically produce are on Lake Mendota; off of Gov. Island, Maple Bluff, Stoney Point, Second Point, & Univ. Bay. Also occasionally out in front of Tenney Park. Typical tactics are trolling stick baits in 7-14' of water, or casting Countdown Rapalas or Husky Jerks in 5-10' of water. Shore fishermen typically have some success in the Yahara River from Tenney Park locks down to the mouth of the river on Lake Monona. Lake Waubesa is also an opening weekend favorite for night time Walleye action. Use similar tactics as on Lake Mendota. Look for fish around Babcock Park, Bible Camp, out in front of Christies, also up on the north end near the railroad tressel. During the day look for Walleyes to be in 15-25' of water. Try trolling crawler harnesses behind bottom bouncers. Musky fishermen will typically out in force on Lakes Wingra, Monona, and Waubesa. Try throwing smaller baits this time of year. On Lake Monona start fishing in 5-12' of water out from John Nolen Dr., Olin Park, Turville Point, Squaw Bay, out in front of the warm water discharge, and Olbrich Park. On Lake Wingra, pretty much fish the whole lake! Lake Waubesa try by the railroad tressel on the north end, Lake Farm Park/Hog Island area, Babcock Park, Goodland Park, and along the south shore. Largemouth Bass fishermen typically find some action in the quiet, dark water areas like around upper Mud Lake, in and around the channels in Squaw Bay, also look for some action in Turville Bay and along the rocky shorelines of John Nolen Dr. On Lake Mendota, look for action in Univ. Bay and Warner Bay, and up around Six Mile Creek, and Pheasant Branch Creek.
If you want to fish Catfish, try Northshore Bay on Lake Mendota using cutbait or frozen shrimp. Once the water warms up you can switch over to stink bait. Crappie action should be starting pick up on Lakes Monona and Waubesa. Look for fish in 5-10' of water out from Squaw or Turville Bay on Monona, or out from Lake Farm Park and Christies, or down by the marsh on the south end on Lake Waubesa. There should be some Bluegill action in these same areas.
For D&S Bait, click here.
Water levels are down and just about everything is a couple weeks ahead. And remember to check the revised walleye bags for the ceded lakes. Click here.
EAGLE RIVER: Todd at Eagle Sports Center reported
Walleyes will be post-spawn, look for early summer patterns in the wood and emergent weeds. Weather is supposed to be half decent. Crappie are very good, some will be spawning on darker shallower lakers. Never had to talk about that for the opener. Probably see some bass beds already on smaller lakes. Northern should be real good, chasing panfish shallow.
HAYWARD: Al Rosenquist at Pastika's said,
Water temperatures are warmed up good, some bays are already 61. Nice weather has people antsy. Crappie will be close to spawning. Two or three weeks ahead on water temperatures, especially compared to last year. It wouldn't surprise me if some of the deeper clear lakes will be pretty good too, usually you try shallower lakes. Some lakes and flowages are down some, but should be able to fish most lakes.
MINOCQUA: Guide Kurt Justice of Island Sports sent this:
With the opener just days away lots of calls about what to expect. It will be a far different opener than in years past.
We missed out on the pre-spawn bites. Water temps are holding in the low 50to high 50 degree marks (rising during the day only to drop again due to cold nights). Our weather has been relatively stable and with such short ice season (coupled with not a lot of snow cover on the ice) our weeds are in very good shape. Think late May. Lots of forage in the form of young of year perch, minnows as well as lots of early bug hatches. Leeches will come into play more so than during any opener past. With so much green weeds in the water, pin pointing populations of Walleye won't be as easy as a typical early post spawn. Try casting small, shallow running crankbaits or jig and twister combos until fish can be found. Set up with jig, minnow or leeches, under slip-floats once Walleyes are located.
Crappie fishing has slowed a little due to North winds. Still afternoons are prime to target Crappies in protected bays in 4-6' of water.
Lots of Large Mouth Bass have moved into shallows, like the Crappies they are probably absorbing the suns warmth to help with egg production and to feed.
Just about all species have been seeking the shallows to warm up and feed. Weeds and wood.. Might as well put away thoughts of sand and gravel for now on most lakes.
Be sure to pick up the latest ceded territory bag limits from the DNR (pink pamphlets) at most bait dealers.
Lakes are low. Not much rain.
Weather limited big lake access, so more will be known today when winds switch. Capt. Chuck Weis of Ace Charters said weather limited perch fishing, though he has scratched out some when he got out. Mik-Lurch
reported bluegill going with a few crappie at Willow Slough.
OREGON: Jan Prose at TJ's Bait/Tackle & Canoe Rental sent this:
Walleye are starting to pick up on night crawler or minnow with twister tail. Small mouth bass are doing well at Carnation Park and east shoreline at the dam. Catfish are biting on liver, worms and dip baits. River is a good level. Also crappie hitting at the wall, and brush piles.
ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN
From the WDNR Root River Report:
Water and flow conditions
Sundays rains have the root river slowly rising, although by the end of the day it had not risen significantly as of yet. Clarity, however, was already considerably worse.
The rising river could bring in a late group of steelhead, but as of Sunday, steelhead were few. Good news is that the suckers have cleared out of the river in the past week. Rising river should bring any new fish that come upriver straight to the Horlick dam. With the poor clarity, large black or bright flies should be productive for active spawners and spawn sacs drifted through the deep holes should be effective for any other fish.
ST. JOSEPH AREA, MICHIGAN
BJ Sports reported lake is forecast to settle later this week, so pier fishing should take off again. St. Joe has had spotty steelhead; Paw Paw has some coho.
High schoolers had a decent day, including a 5.75-pounder, on Friday. Angel reported he and Jim Kopjo had fair crappie action, including a few longer than 10 inches in 12-17 feet. With water likely to hit the 60s, the lake should take off. For more reports, click here.
WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN:
Guide Bill Stoeger said white bass are starting, if the water warms, they will really kick in. The main run should be close to the usual time around Mother's Day. River rigs are best. Still some walleye around.
CHICAGO AREA CHAT/REPORTS
CHICAGO AREA INFO
MICHIGAN DNR REPORT
WISCONSIN DNR REPORT
IOWA DNR REPORT
INDIANA DNR REPORT