It's early May and all sorts of fishing is taking off. But crappie are taking the forefront in this Midwest Fishing Report.
This time of the year, I like to hit Mazonia (above).
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
SHABBONA LAKE CRAPPIE OPEN
This is a family event on Saturday. There's no fee and up to the 10 heaviest crappie may be weighed. The heaviest stringer of 10 wins $100. Go to shabbonalake.com or call (815) 824-2581.
BEST BET 1: MAZONIA LAKES
With a stretch of several overcast days forecast and water temperatures in the 60s, this is prime time for the strip pits. I spent Monday afternoon wandering around and catching a good mix of bluegill, largemouth and crappie. This is both a good shore (if you're willing to bushwhack) or small-boat option.
BEST BET II: HEIDECKE LAKE
Water temperatures are jumping around, but a more stable pattern should make this a top weekend option. Ed McCain of Mik-Lurch continued to do well for walleye. He caught a 27.5-incher on Monday. He is finding them in deeper holes by drifting with Lindy weights with a 30-inch lead and black jigheads with white eyes and a jumbo leech. For hybrids, he suggests bouncing a No. 4 Gamakatsu hook with a golden roach.
Again, depending on the lake or pond, bass are prespawn, bedding or post-spawn. Bluegill are improving on most waters. With water temperatures jumping around the upper 50s to low 60s, fishing has been variable. A more stable pattern should make for a good weekend.
For an overview of nearby river conditions, click here. I included individual reports, though there are some question marks with the weather.
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
Triangle Sports reported bluegill moving in, try docks, shorelines or rock shorelines (weather has made it a little tougher). Walleye are good with the current, try north on the river, or Grass lake or Route 12 bridges. Muskie should be moving deeper. Crappie are moving out toward deeper water.
For more reports, see http://www.foxlakefishing.com/
More Chain info at www.foxwaterway.state.il.us.
COOLING LAKES/STRIP PITS
LaSALLE: McCain reported there's still some decent hybrid action. BRAIDWOOD/MAZONIA: For Mazonia, see above. Close is 8 p.m. HEIDECKE: See above.
DELAVAN/GENEVA LAKES AREA, WISCONSIN
DELAVAN: Guide Dave Duwe sent this:
Delavan Lake 5/9/10 through 5/17/10GENEVA: Duwe sent this:
This past week, our nice spring weather came to an abrupt halt. The only days that were decent for fishing were Thursday and Sunday. The rest of the time it was just cold temperatures and high winds. Due to that fact, fishing was not too impressive this week.
Bluegills were the most consistent bite all week. They remained in the 3-4 ft range. The best location was in Viewcrest Channel or in the Highlands. A slip bobber fished with a small ice jig tipped with a wax or leaf worm is the best presentation. This year the biggest problem is that the fish have been pretty small and you need to do quite a bit of sorting to get a decent limit.
Largemouth bass were spawning pretty good last week. Due to the high winds and cold weather, I didn't see any bass on beds this week when I was out on the lake. The few bass I did catch last week were caught on green All Terrain Stiks in 3-4 ft of water. The best location was by Lake Lawn or by Viewcrest.
Crappie fishing was also a bit slow this week. The fish are still in the 5-6 ft depth range. Plastics seem to be the best option with a slow retrieve. Use a 1/32 oz Arkie jig with either purple or chartreuse twister tail. If plastics aren't working, slip bobbers with a small fathead minnow has also been producing some action. Look for the fish by the Yacht Club or by the Village.
Northern Pike have been slow due to the weather also. Some fish are being caught in the 6-8 ft range on the weed flats. The Viewcrest bay or Highlands bay have been producing some of the best fishing.
Walleye fishing has been really slow. A few fish have been showing up by Browns Channel. A jig and a minnow or a Lindy rig is producing the fish. The best depth is off the weedline in 12-15 ft of water.
Good Luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050
5/9/2010 - Whitewater Lake, water temp 59 degrees, light winds out of the west. Air temp 55 degrees. Caught 7 largemouth bass, 5 were legal. The fish were caught in 6-7 ft of water. Nightcrawlers fished on a split shot rig or Texas rigged All Terrain Sticks produced most of the action.
5/8/2010 - Delavan Lake, water temp 52 degrees, winds NW at 15-20 mph. Air temp 40 degrees. It was cloudy and misty and cold. Caught 1 fish. It was the mighty and scrappy pumpkin seed. Should have stayed in bed. It was just too miserable out to fish and it seems like they thought so too.
5/6/2010 - Delavan Lake, water temp 52 degrees, sunny, light winds out of the west at 5-10 mph. Air temp 62 degrees. Fished in the afternoon, caught 15 largemouth, 1 legal. Again we caught a lot of 13-14 inch fish. Fished green pumpkin All Terrain sticks in 3-4 ft of water. The best location was in Viewcrest Bay.
Lake Geneva 5/9/10 through 5/17/10
Lake Geneva remains very cold. Due to the chilly weather and the strong winds last week fishing was almost impossible.
Bluegill fishing has been all right. Most of the fish are being caught in the bays around the marina piers. Look for the fish in Geneva Bay and Williams Bay. Most of the fish are being caught on slip bobbered red worms or leaf worms. The best depth is 4-5 ft.
Rock bass are starting to show up in the shallows. They are in the 5-6 ft depth range. Fat head minnows or nightcrawler pieces are producing most of the fish. The way to fish for them is a split shot rig, single hook with a 3/0 split shot. With the wind being such that it has, I would drift fish for them.
Perch are also in the shallows, in a 5-6 ft depth range. Look for the fish by Knollwood or Rainbow Point. The fish are being caught on slip bobbered small minnows. Most of the fish have been rather small, you will need to sort quite a few to get a decent amount to keep. Unlike the Rock bass, I would be anchoring near the scattered weeds with sand bottom.
Smallmouth bass fishing has been very slow. The fish that are being caught have been on slow rolling spider grubs on or near bottom. Some locations where you see active bait fish can be decent if you use hair jigs swimming them back to the boat. The best locations has been by Geneva Inn and Maytag Point.
Largemouth bass fishing has been sporadic. The only active fish that are being caught are in Abbey Harbor or Geneva Bay. This year Trinkes bay was dredged out and the water clarity is very low. The shallow fish I've been catching have been on split shot rigged nightcrawlers in 4-5 ft of water. The key to the largemouth at this point, is finding the warmest water on the lake.
DES PLAINES RIVER
From Andrew Ragas, Counsellor of the Fish Parliament www.fishing-headquarters.com:
It's been a very slow week of fishing. We can thank the weather for that one.
Whatever looked promising at the end of last week recently took a dump thanks to the cold fronts and weekend rain that shot up the river a bit. The gauge in Riverside is showing a 3.5 with flows at 600CFS, and water temperatures are between 62-67 degrees. Water is brown and stained.
Not too many anglers have been out fishing, and I can't blame them. I myself had to cancel a few recent trips. However, some Pike are being found along with the occasional Largemouth Bass, and Channel Catfish.
Here's a hint: Find the baitfish first before finding the fish themselves.
The Pike are still very active but aren't showing a lot of aggression. Rather, they are just nipping baits instead of smashing them. Lots of small 10 to 18 inch fish are around, with a few larger 20-25 inch fish. Best baits are Mepps inlines with #3-4-5 blades, jerkbaits, small swimbaits, shallow running crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and live bait drifted beneath a float. Anglers such as Dan Cahill are reporting that a lot of small fish are hanging out in the backwater areas and creek mouths while the larger fish are already utilizing current and mid-river channels. He also didn't mention any emerging weedbeds, but I would look for them too. Best action, but limited, is in the West and Southwest Suburbs.
Few Bass are being caught, but most are running on the small side, 10 to 14 inches. Spinnerbaits, crankbaits, jig and plastic worm, and even live bait are producing.
Last week I included a side note that the creeks have been totally inactive. This past week it has been a slightly different story. Some Smallmouth Bass up to 18? being found in Hickory Creek (on beds, spawning), while the occasional Walleye, Pike, and Largemouth Bass are being caught on Salt Creek and it's very murky waters.
With the forecast showing a wet week ahead, I would turn to these creeks before heading to the river as far as I'm concerned. Especially if everything floods, the creeks will be first to recover and more fish will be on the move. If anything, give it a try at the start of next week before the next report (if there is one, or is something worth writing about).
SHELBYVILLE: Guide Ken Wilson--(217) 454-2672--out of Lithia Marina said crappie continue good (shallow around brush), walleye are improving (trolling crankbaits or crawlers on a quarter-ounce jig) and white bass are good (on the flats on windy days and out deep trolling with crankbaits). For info from the Corps, call (217) 774-2020. EVERGREEN: Site staff reported:
The crappie continue to be the best bet with many smaller ones still being reported with occasional bigger ones being caught. Small minnows tipped on a tube jig still best in shallow around structure. Some Saugeye reports are still trickling in. Most are small but some keepers being reported. Jig and crawler or jig and minnow combos still working best. A lot of bass being caught, but again, most are small. Most of the small ones are being caught while crappie fishing. A few big ones being reported being caught in the backs of coves on plastics or minnow baits. Muskie are still fairly slow. We only had a couple of reports of some small fish reported this past week. The catfish are still slow as well. Just a reminder our bait shop is open 7 days a week. 8-4 Mon.-Thur. and 6-4 Fr.-Sun. We carry minnows, leeches, wax worms, night crawlers, and various tackle.Any updated fishing report will be posted here.EMIQUON: We should be hitting the prime zone at Emiquon Preserve near Lewistown. 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: Summer hours--6 a.m.-8 p.m.--are in effect.
FOX RIVER: WESTERN SUBURBS
Not sure how encouraging this is, but Ken Gortowski sent this:
Got out to a couple of creeks last week that were in perfect condition.
Got out Saturday to the Fox below Oswego. Conditions again were perfect.
One quick release dink smallie.
Moved to a stretch below Montgomery.
One nose hooked carp.
Either I suck at what I'm doing or the spawn funk is on.
Rain has made all the rivers and creeks around here shoot straight up over night. Not too high, just enough to be annoying. Good news is this coming weekend is going to be beautiful weather. Just have to watch the river levels and hope the fish get over their funk..
GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN
From the Wisconsin DNR:
Green Bay Fishing Report: May 5, 2010
Temperatures at the landings are in the mid 60's with good water clarity. Fishing pressure has been light to moderate due to wind day after day.
Brown trout are still being caught at Stiles using small spinners, natural baits, and bead headed nymphs. A few bluegill are being caught by the Stiles Dam using slip bobbers and garden tackle. Pensaukee has been a hot spot for walleye trolling in 4 to 8 feet of water using just about anything. Nice limits of walleye in the 20 to 24 inch range are being caught on crawler/harness, stick baits, and plastics; color and size seems to be a non-issue to the fish. Some walleye are also being caught out of Oconto Breakwater and Oconto Park II, fishermen are having a little harder time of it, so Pensaukee wins the spot of the week. Some sunfish, bluegill and bullheads are being caught in the slip at Oconto Park II.
Peshtigo Harbor area is still producing some walleye drifting using jig and minnow, also some nice catch-and-release smallmouth have been observed in the last few days. A second run of sturgeon can be observed in the fish refuge at the Peshtigo Dam; take the family and have a look. The Menominee River walleye bite continues to be good both in the river and the bay. Small flat fish trolled in the river between the Interstate bridge and the turn basin has worked well. For you shore fishermen, both the Government pier and the Lighthouse pier have been producing nice walleye during the periods of low light. One bait of choice has been the plastic goby attached to a 3/4 oz jig head casted and retrieved very slowly off the end of the lighthouse pier.
ILLINOIS RIVER: STARVED ROCK AREA
River is projected to high, but under flood stage at LaSalle.
River appears to be holding in good shape. Ed Mullady sent this:
If we are blasted with rain conditions here will change(needless to say!)
Largemouth Bass showing up good in Kankakee Grand Marsh Park(Indiana) and east of Momence(IL) on *plastic worms *minnows *Chug Bugs *Spinnerbaits*crankbaits.
Smallmouth Bass good throughout river on *Jig & Twister tails *Crankbaits*minnows *#3 Mepps Spinners.
Catfishing good throughout on *minnows *cheesebaits *crawlers.
Rock Bass are exceptionally good on *#1,#2 spinners*minnows*crawlers *fly rod rubber spiders.
LAKE ERIE: PORT CLINTON
For Ohio DNR report go to wildohio.com and or call (888) HOOKFISH.
Weekend weather looks much more stable, so conditions and fishing should improve dramatically. CHICAGO: Smallmouth continue to be the primary shoreline story. This has been a year for many good fish, especially for those willing to fish plastics slow. For trollers, Capt. Bill Kelly reported the south end of Chicago Light inside has coho and a few kings, while between Montrose and the Wilson crib is producing mainly coho, browns and a few kings, and there was some coho in 8-25 feet off ``The Apartments'' of Wilmette. WAUKEGAN/NORTH POINT: Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters said a good deep-water bite (past 120 feet) with many coho with some lakers, kings, rainbows and browns mixed in. Basic patterns: Dodgers and flies or spoons are taking fish from the surface to the bottom. Perch are tougher. Salmon Stop reported, when weather allowed, some coho off government pier. RICHARD J. DALEY MEMORIAL FISHING TOURNAMENT: Fish may be weighed at Henry's, Park Bait or Vet's. In May, the eligible species are coho and perch. CHICAGO'S FISHERMAN'S PARKING: The $10 parking passes for the small fishermen's lots at Burnham and DuSable harbors should be available at Henry's.
MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN
For D&S Bait, go to dsbait.com
Guide Kurt Justice of Island Sports sent this:
Well, I figured we would be paying for such a nice April. How's 4-5" of wet snow (2" laying) grab ya? Water temps have dropped 4-5 degrees on average thanks to the snow and cold. Fishing has dropped off along with the temps.
Crappie: Good. Fish are either staging (on larger lakes) or if reports I'm getting are correct, have finished on some smaller lakes. In either case fish 6-8' weeds or cribs. Minnows have been best, but scented plastics (Gulp Alive, ect.) also good under small floats.
Pike: Good. Liking cool weather. Jig and chubs best, by afternoons hitting spoons (Daredevils). Weeds of 5-8' best.
Largemouth Bass: Good. Staging up in soft bottomed bays. Afternoons best due to cool nights. It's all catch and release and they seem to understand with fish to 21" taking jig and chub combos meant for walleyes and pike. Slow retrieved pre-rigged worms also producing.
Walleye: Fair. First wind, then cold have slowed the bite. Be patient and use medium fatheads or smaller chubs and slow drag to pick up light biters.
Smallmouth Bass: Fair. Off first breaks cast tubes to fish staging outside spawning areas. Go light on jig heads (1/16 to 1/8) for slow drop due to cool temps.
Bluegills: Fair. Best on live bait (leaf worms, thunderbugs). Cold finished off top water bite. Nice fish, but need the sun to warm things up.
Rain was scheduled for Tue/Wed this week (not here yet) then looks like a gradual warm up stating Friday. Hopefully back to May weather.
McCain reported shoreline ``smallmouth are on fire;'' best are Poor Boys, though 4-inch Kalin grubs are working too. Perch are tough and scattered and weather limited. Salmon are best in 65-75 feet north of the Gong. Willow Slough remains good for crappie and bluegill.
OREGON: Jan Prose at TJ's Bait/Tackle & Canoe Rental sent this:
Pretty slow. We've had high wind several days. Some nice channel cats are being caught on liver and stink bait. Walleye have been caught down river from the dam by boat.
ST. JOSEPH AREA, MICHIGAN
BJ Sports reported browns in 120 feet, down 55 feet. Panfish are starting to hit in inland lakes. A few fish are being taken off the piers, warm weather should improve things by the weekend.
Lakeside said the crappie are in good. Should be good for the crappie open on Saturday (above). Bass are doing well, some are bedding. Bluegill are just starting to move. Water is in the upper 50s. For more reports, click here.
SOUTEAST WISCONSIN LAKEFRONT
In Kenosha trollers continue to catch good numbers of coho from 20-60 feet of water just south of the harbor. Orange dodgers and small flies, crankbaits, and spoons fished high in the water column are all taking fish, and a few kings have also been mixed in. Early mornings have been best as the bite usually shuts down an hour or two after sunrise. Shore fishing in Kenosha remains somewhat slow.
In Racine the steelhead run on the Root River is just about done, as fish have become quite scarce. Trollers fishing nearshore in Racine have been catching a few coho in water less than 20 feet deep. Those venturing out to 150 to 250 feet of water have been taking decent numbers of coho near the surface and chinooks 60 to 100 feet down. The coho have been hitting orange dodgers and flies, and the chinooks have been taking white flashers with blue flies. Racine shore anglers have been catching a few coho off the north pier, and both alewives and spoons have been productive at times.
In Milwaukee trollers found a few browns and lake trout off of the filtration plant before the high winds and storms moved in. Trollers working 40-70 feet of water had some action on spoons and crankbaits fished off of either downriggers or planer boards. Overall, Milwaukee shore fishing remains slow.
WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN:
Weather is tough, but guide Bill Stoeger said fishing is good, though cool water (52 degrees) has pushed white bass out to 8-14 feet, river rigs (flies or fly/minnows) are a must.
Mik-Lurch reported drifting with black floating jigs and a jumbo leech is producing some walleye on the Indiana side of Wolf lake.
CHICAGO AREA CHAT/REPORTS
CHICAGO AREA INFO
MICHIGAN DNR REPORT
WISCONSIN DNR REPORT
IOWA DNR REPORT
INDIANA DNR REPORT