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Midwest Fishing Report: Rivers & catfish

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Summer catfish, river fishing and near-shore salmon and trout lead this Midwest Fishing Report.


Catfish, as symbolized by this nice one from Shabbona Lake caught by Mitchell Vesta, 5, of Plainfield and held by guide Jay Angel, are one of the best bites now in Chicago fishing.

As to the rivers, the extended rain in late spring and early summer delayed wading for many of us. Well, it is here now. Even to the point where one of Andrew Ragas' peeps, Dan Sims, reported the Des Plaines as low as he has seen it.

Weather looks good for wading conditions to be good through the weekend. In fact, considering some of the forecast, wading into water almost seems like a necessity to maintain sanity in this extended heat.

The third key bite is salmon and trout near shore, as reports indicate, from Indiana to Racine, Wis.

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


This looks like the weekend most conducive in months for wading the rivers important to Chicago fishing. I wet-waded the Kankakee for the first time this year on Sunday. As reports below indicate, levels are good for wading in.


During July, perch fishing on Lake Michigan is closed for those 16 and older in Illinois; however, those 15 and younger may catch 10 daily. Those with valid Indiana licenses may fish the reciprocal waters, though Cal harbor has been slow. Despite the cool shoreline water, it's been slow around Chicago too. For Chicago kids (15 and younger), the Richard J. Daley Memorial Fishing Tournament has perch open in July. BJ Sports reported some perch in 30 feet off ``The Chalets'' in St. Joseph, Mich. Mik-Lurch reported some perch by the Burns Ditch and Black Ditch near Michigan City in Indiana.


Bullfrog season in Illinois is June 15 through Aug. 31. A sport fishing license is required. Bullfrogs may be taken by hand, pole and line fishing methods, pitchfork, landing net, bow and arrow or bow and arrow device, spear or gig. Daily bag is eight.


There's no secret, it's the dead of summer. Fish topwaters for bass, early and late; or work frogs in slop or Senkos or worms on weed lines. Or find the bluegills in weed pockets and the deeper weed lines. I have been hearing of many good bass being taken in the evening after work.


For an overview of nearby river conditions, click here.


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


Don Letrich reported slow fishing with the hot water (80s), except for catfish. Triangle Sports seconded good catfish throughout the Chain. Three's good walleye around the Grass Lake or Route 12 bridges, leeches are the top bait. Bluegill are good, mostly on piers. Crappie are fair, try for suspended ones in 8-12 feet with Maria or Bluff best; same is true for white bass. Muskie are best on the southern part of the Chain on big bucktails, jerkbaits or topwaters.

For more reports, see

More Chain info at


Jeff Nolan of Bridgeport Bass sent this:

Chicago river report ; north pier no fish, main branch, some small crappie near pilings under bridges ;south branch, slips are closed sanitary ship canal is cleaning the garbage they also have removed the fallen trees that held many fish I will report back soon to tell the effects but does look much cleaner thanks to Greg and crew.


With the heat, I do not recommend fishing LaSalle or Braidwood. I am a little surprised there has not been a major kill yet.

Mazonia lakes are a good option, especially with the forecast including at least some cloud cover. This is one of the best places to belly boat.


DELAVAN: On Tuesday, Arden Katz reported outstanding bluegill in 15 feet on trout worms on drop-shot rigs; good bass are in the same area.

Guide Dave Duwe sent this:

Delavan Lake 7/18/10 through 7/25/10
Fishing remains very good. Even the hot weather hasn't hurt the productivity or the size of the fish. The only factor continues to be the excessive boat traffic. Last Tuesday, there were more boats on the water than there were 4th of July weekend.
Bluegills remain on the deep weedline in 15-18 ft of water. They can be caught on leaf worms and nightcrawler pieces. Look for the fish by Assembly park point, Willow Point or by the Village Supper Club. They are still schooling by size so you continue to need to move if you are into the small fish.
Largemouth bass are located on the deep weedline with weeds and hard rock. Good locations have been by the Oriental boathouse, Browns Channel or the island. They can be drop shotted or split shot rigged with nightcrawlers or 4 inch finesse worms. Green pumpkin is the best color for the finesse worms. Most of my trips last week, were in excess of 15 bass for a 4 hour trip. Some bass are also being caught off of the north shore boat docks.
Northern Pike have been sporadic. If you find a school, you will catch a bunch. It hasn't been as good as the last two weeks. Again, the right size suckers has been the key, 6-7 inches has been the best size. Any bigger and the smaller fish will take them and run but will ultimately kill the bait. The best location has been by the Slow No Wake buoy, just west of Willow point or by Browns Channel. You need to keep moving as the legal fish can be had. I caught several last week over 32 inches.
Walleye fishing has been slower this week. The fish are still in the 20-24 ft depth range. They can be caught near the Yacht Club or by Browns Channel. The best approach has been lindy rigging leeches or nightcrawlers. As a rule, the first light and dusk have been producing most of the fish. Once you get on an active school, you can catch several of them so don't move too soon.
Perch are starting to show up in the shallower weeds in 12-14 ft of water. Already in July, I have caught 5 times as many as I caught all of last year. Most of them are small, however I did catch some in excess of 12 inches last week. The best bait has been hellgrammites. You want to fish them on a single hook or a Thill slip bobber rig. Most of my action has been coming in front of the old Boy Scout camp which is on the west end.
Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050
Daily Reports
7/18/10 - Lake Geneva - sunny, 90 degrees and humid, water temp 81 degrees. W winds at 10-15 mph. I will be fishing tomorrow top water for the first two hours of light and then switching to drop shotting nightcrawlers. I will be fishing by Trinkes and Linn Pier in 18-20 ft of water.
7/16/10 - Delavan Lake - p.m. - sunny, 90 degrees and humid, water temp 82 degrees, W winds at 25-30 mph. Fishing was tough due to the winds, fished by the Oriental boathouse and by Willow Point, ended up catching 9 largemouth - 3 were legal, 6 northern pike and about 20 bluegills. With the winds, I had to back troll with my 150 hp motor and that made things a bit difficult, there were also a ton of floating weeds right on the weedline in 18-20 ft.
7/15/10 - Delavan lake - sunny, 90 degrees, water temp 82 degrees, N winds at 15 mph. Caught 16 largemouth - 3 were legal, 6 northern pike and 20 bluegills. Fished the same program as previous days, Willow Point and the Oriental boathouse. The best depth seems to be 20-22 ft.
7/14/10 - Delavan Lake - sunny, 90 degrees, water temp 82 degrees, SW winds at 15 mph. Caught 1 smallmouth, 18 largemouth - 5 were legal, and 6 northern pike. Most of the fish were caught by the Oriental boathouse in 18-22 ft of water. Moved to Willow Point at the end of the trip and caught a lot of bluegills.
7/13/10 - p.m. - Delavan Lake - sunny, 90 degrees, water temp 81 degrees, SE winds at 10 mph. Caught 6 walleyes, 15 largemouth - 3 were legal, and 8 northern pike - 1 was legal. Caught most of the fish by Willow Point on nightcrawlers or lindy rigged suckers.
7/13/2010 - a.m. - Delavan Lake - sunny, 86 degrees, water temp 80 degrees, SE winds at 5 mph. Caught 23 largemouth - 8 were legal, 4 northern pike and 1 walleye. The fish were still on the deep weedline in 18-20 ft of water. The best location was by Belvidere Park or by Del Mar.
7/12/2010 - Delavan Lake - sunny, 85 degrees, water temp 79 degrees, SE wind at 5 mph. Caught 1 smallmouth - 19 1/2 inches, 12 largemouth bass - 8 were legal, and 11 pike - 2 were legal. The bass were caught on nightcrawlers fished on a split shot rig in 18 ft of water right off the weed edge. The best location was by the Oriental boathouse or Willow Point. The Pike were caught on lindy rigged suckers.

GENEVA: Duwe sent this:
Lake Geneva 7/18/10 through 7/25/10
Lake Geneva boat traffic has been pretty mellow due to the tremendous fishing on Delavan right now. You can get to the boat launch by 6 a.m. and still get a parking spot.
Lake Trout fishing has been good. They are being caught ½ hour before first light until 6:30 a.m. and again at dusk. They can be caught on nickel/silver or nickel/green spoons. Most of the fish are being caught between 75 and 80 ft of water in a total depth of 108-135 ft. With good electronics, you will be able to see the suspended fish and you will be able to adjust your down rigger presentation.
Smallmouth bass have moved off of the weedline. They are chasing the pods of minnows. They can be caught by the Elgin Club or by Linn Pier near pier 600. They are readily being caught while drop shotting live nightcrawlers or small 4 inch worms. With an active school of minnows, you can catch the fish while casting top waters or small pinfish. Chrome/blue and chrome/black are the best colors.
Largemouth bass are either being caught on top water or Carolina rigging. The best presentation for largemouth bass has been the Chug Bug or the Pop-r. The best location has been by Trinkes or Williams Bay. You want to work a depth of 8-10 water. For Carolina rigging, you want to concentrate on the deep weedline. Look for the fish in Trinkes Bay, the narrows or Knollwood. Look for the deep weeds with hard bottom. You either want to use a Arkie root beer Crawlin' Grub or a green pumpkin 6 inch lizard.
Bluegills are in the 16-20 ft depth range. The best location is by Elgin Club. They are being caught on either leaf worms or nightcrawler pieces straight beneath the boat. Due to the depth, you have to pick a day that is not too windy. Some of the bluegills are in excess of 9 inches.
Walleye Pike are biting at night on the nights where the wind is blowing. If the wind isn't blowing, fishing has been very slow. The weed flats have still been the key. You want to use large Rapalas or the Walleye Bandits. Chrome/blue and chrome/black have been my favorite colors. Look for the fish by Abbey Springs or by Fontana Beach.
Rock bass can be caught in the 10-12 ft depth range. They can be readily caught on nightcrawlers fished on a split shot rig. My best success has come by Linn Pier or by Elgin Club. They have been getting very soft, so if you want to keep them make sure you get them on ice.


From Andrew Ragas, Counsellor of the Fish Parliament

Since my write-up from last week, things have made a turn for the
worse and the fishing has slowed down considerably.

Water temperatures are registering at over 80-degrees in most places,
and water levels are at the lowest they have been all year long.

Pike and other gamefish are few and far between, but can still be
found. Most Pike are on the small side, under 20 inches, and fishermen
seem to be doing best early mornings and evenings, although it's
marginal. In-line spinners and spinnerbaits are the standard fare. A
significant cool-down with the addition of rain is needed badly to get
these fish moving again.

Likewise for everything else, the fishing is poor.

My friend, Dan Sims, went out for an afternoon wade on 7/20 to test
his mid-summer theories in regard to Pike fishing on the Des Plaines,
and returned to me with this to say:

"Hot-hot-hot water! 80+ degrees in some places. I fished a stretch in
the Southwest suburbs. While wading, two fish were caught; One Carp,
and one Catfish. Zero Pike. Water levels were also lower than I had
ever fished at the DPR before!"

Coming from Dan, who knows this river far too well, this is major news.

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.

SHELBYVILLE: For info from the Corps, call (217) 774-2020.

EVERGREEN: Any updated fishing report will be posted here.

POWERTON: Summer hours--6 a.m.-8 p.m.--are in effect. The lake is closed July 26, 27 and 28 for levee maintenance and repairs. No public access will be allowed during this time. It will reopen at 6 a.m. July 29.


From Frank Macikas:

I had a terrific weekend of fishing this weekend. Saturday I did a 13hr float trip on my inflatable pontoon through and had an amazing day. Clarity is probably 10ft or better and levels are perfect. Eel grass is in thick but the biggest problem is the algae is getting pretty bad in some areas. There were so many fish caught that I lost count and I think I lost as many as I caught. I got on the water an hour later than expected at 6:30 and on my 3rd cast hooked into a really nice fish that I then lost right at my feet and this happened more times this weekend than I would like to admit. Fish caught were holding either very tight to cover in the shallows or in deep holes. I am very excited about the condition of the Dupage River after this trip. I saw literally dozens of fish over 16" on this trip and this is the best condition I have seen the river in year now. As in my last reports there are now some big largemouths coming from the river lately I picked one up around 17" and I did see one at the end of a deep stretch in around 7ft of water that was easily over 20". The bite was a little tough and had alot of fish follow but wouldnt commit. I threw everything I had but the best baits this weekend were my "go to" baits; jig and chigger craw, jig and hellagramite, and wacky rigged dingers. I had an interesting experience fishing a deeper stretch in about 10ft of water and vertically jigged a smallie on a chigger craw; that was definitely something new on the Dupage which I'm used to being around thigh deep. The river is in such good shape right now even if we get some moderate amounts of rain I don't see it being a complete blow out like it was for most of June.


Ken Gortowski sent this:

Experimented with fishing urban and non-urban areas of the Fox. Urban areas definitely producing better. Picked up 4 smallies in a short stretch of man made structure along Indian Trail Road. Missed more than that. Did a longer stretch in a more remote area where 10 to 20 smallies used to be the norm and didn't get a tap. That's been happening along here since that flood event we had in September 2008.

Ran into IDNR's Bob Rung over the weekend. He said they haven't done a smallie survey of the Fox since that flood, but there may be a chance that the high water pushed fish into other areas where I don't go, yet.

Also hit a couple of creeks. Nothing hot and heavy, but a real mixed bag of smallmouth, largemouth, gills, the usual chubs and 9 miles up from the mouth of one of the creeks I caught a 24 inch channel cat. That's only the 3rd cat I've caught out of a Fox creek in 12 years of fishing 9 or more different ones. It was beautifully clean and I forgot my stringer. I was trying to figure out how I was going to get it home for dinner when it figured out a way to get out of my grasp. Lucky fish.

The called for rains keep drying up and all the flowing water of the Fox and everything that feeds into it are in excellent shape. It's been so long since the river has come down this low that it's making it difficult to decide where to go. Time to try a new stretch if it stays this way.


Time on the Water Outdoors reported catfishing is good in the deeper holes; sauger (take sorting) are good throughout and white bass are showing up at creek mouths.


River is in wonderful shape for wading, even heading toward being low.

Ed Mullady sent this:

The Kankakee is slightly under normal level and with more clarity.
Smallmouth Bass good in both Indiana and Illinois on Mr. Twister Wtd Keeper Hooks & Twister tails *minnows #2,3 Spinners. In Indiana, fish in the Point area north of English Lake * In Illinois: good in Momence Area *Nature Island *Gordon Island in Kankakee State Park. Wilmington Island Park through Des Plaines Conservation area.
Good time for pike in Indiana Kankakee F&W Area *shorelines of LaSalle F&W on big minnows *spoons.
In Illinois, pike around IN state line through Glorydale east of Momence.

``Catfish Dave'' Bradigan sent this:
Dale went out Thursday July 15th caught four weighing 3-5 pounds nice Cats. Friday, My neighbor and I went out at 7:00 pm and fished till 9:00 pm again we caught four fish two were five pounds plus with the other two checking in at 3 lbs. Also managed to hook up with one big soft shell turtle that we cut the line on once we took a good look at him. Saturday we were on the water at 8:30 and fished until 1:00 pm. When it was all said and done we had 19 fish weighing from four pounds up to nine pounds. We also released five small spotted Cats back into the river. So we ended up with a total of 24 four fish. Most of the fish were caught between 10:00 & 12:00. The river is in great shape. The rain is keeping the river at a great wading depth. We stopped at Franks bait shop in Momence for a photo shoot. To sum it up the river is producing some nice Cats and the bite is strong.


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


For perch, see top.

CHICAGO: Few are fishing the harbors. Capt. Bill Kelly reported good lakers in 90-105 feet east of the Wilson crib with some kings and browns. There's some kings by the R2 in 32 feet; R4 is slow. Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters reported plenty of fish in 35-55 generally.

WAUKEGAN: Salmon Stop reported good panfish in the harbors; some steelhead off end of government pier and the south rocks on spoons or bait, and even a few coho. Boaters are working the 30-60 range.

NORTH POINT: Poteshman reported good kings in the early dark on the hill; but mainly there are lots of fish scattered shallow (25-40). He said there is nice steelhead deeper (130-150) from the nuke plant to Kenosha, Wis.

RICHARD J. DALEY MEMORIAL FISHING TOURNAMENT: Fish may be weighed at Henry's , Park Bait or Vet's. In July, eligible fish are carp, catfish, coho, chinook, steelhead and perch (for those 15 and younger).

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


Water is generally in the 70s with summer patterns settling in.

EAGLE RIVER: Creative Brilliance sent this report for the Chamber of Commerce:

(Head): Good action for musky (some trophies going over 50 inches), walleye,
northern, bass and panfish in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area.

(Lead): Water temps in the Eagle River area in the mid 70s.

While they're not quite "jumping in the boat," there's pretty good fishing
action across the board in the Eagle River area.

Musky in the Eagle River area are locating in 15 feet of water or less (try
different depths), near weeds. Small bucktails, top waters and crankbaits
are all working at various times. It's an all day bite, with peak action
coming late afternoon into evening. Some very nice trophies have been
caught (and released!), going 50 inches or more.

Walleye are holding on the weed edges or just outside the weeds in 10-20
feet of water in the Eagle River area. Use a jig and a fathead, crawler or
leech. All day bite, with peaks early morning or later afternoon into

Northern in the Eagle River area are holding in and around the weeds in 10
feet of water or less. Use a bass style spinner bait, small Mepps, or a
walleye sucker under a slip bobber. Don't forget, that while the action
will be less, the bigger northerns will generally be deeper.

Smallmouth bass are locating in 10-20 feet of water on break edges, in the
Eagle River area. Use a small tube jig, plastic crawfish or a jig and a

Largemouth bass in the Eagle River area are in 10 feet of water or less,
holding near structure, like brush piles, downed trees, stumps and docks.
Use a plastic lizard, frog or a Bass Rap (floating mouse). A Texas Rig
with a plastic worm will also produce.

Panfish in the Eagle River area are generally holding together in the same
spots. Fish 10 feet of water or less, in or adjacent to weeds. Use a chunk
of crawler or a crappie minnow under a slip bobber. The crappies and
bluegills will be suspending at varying depths, with the perch near the

(Report for the Eagle River Chamber of Commerce based on Creative Brilliance
interviews with Eagle River guides "Muskie Matt" of Wild Eagle Lodge,
"Ranger Rick" Krueger of Guide's Choice Pro Shop, and Mat Hegy).
Contact info for Eagle River:
* Eagle River Chamber of Commerce; 800-359-6315; 715-479-6400; e-mail:; web:
* "Muskie Matt", 715-891-5980; e-mail:
* Mat Hegy, 715-571-7544, e:-mail:
* Guide's Choice Pro Shop, guide/owner "Ranger Rick" Krueger 715-477-2248
* George Langley, Eagle River Fishing Guides Association, 715-479-8804.


For perch, see top. Mik-Lurch reported good salmon in that magic depth of 45-65 feet in front of Gary Light; good steelhead in front of Burns Ditch.


As noted at the top, there's some perch in 30 feet off ``The Chalets.'' BJ Sports reported otherwise slow fishing with the river low.


Lakeside reported water about 80 degrees with the few trying catching some good catfish, bluegill and big largemouth.

Guide Jay Angel sent this:

Shabbona Lake:

Walleye fishing is good with large numbers of 14 - 17 inch long walleyes being caught over the rock piles and on the flats of the east bay by anglers dragging leeches. This is the best multi species bite of the year with catfish, largemouth bass, perch and bluegills also being caught in the same place also using leeches.

For more reports, click here.


Ed Schmitt, a blogger for Just thought I would drop you a line to give you a heads up on some great fishing going on just above "the cheddar curtain". Ken Gortowski seems to think my writing has some substance and has urged me to forward this to you.

His writing does have substance and click here to read the last entry.

From the Wisconsin DNR Lake Michigan Report:

Kenosha Co.
In Kenosha the trolling bite remains consistent, with good catches coming from 20 to 60 feet of water. Nearly all methods have produced fish at times. Fishing in the Kenosha harbor has been spotty, with some chinooks taken off the south pier either before dawn or after dark. Silver & green spoons as well as glow in the dark have been catching fish. Perch anglers have occasionally been catching fair numbers off of the south pier and in Southport Marina, and the boats continue to catch some at the bubbler. Both crab tails and minnows have produced.
Racine Co.
In Racine trollers have been catching good numbers of chinooks and a few browns, coho and rainbows. Fish have been near shore, with the best action in 25 to 50 feet of water. Spoons, flies, and J-plugs have all taken fish, and green and silver have been the most productive colors. A 41.5 pound brown trout was taken north of Racine last Friday. Congratulations to the angler and his crew on this fish of a lifetime! Shore fishing in Racine has also been good, with fair numbers of chinooks taken off the piers in the early morning hours. Both spoons and alewives have taken fish. Perch anglers fishing from shore have had the most success near Gateway, and boats have taken a few limits near the DeKoven Center.
Milwaukee Co.
In Milwaukee trollers have been catching mostly chinooks, along with a few coho and rainbows. Fish have been caught in 40 to 60 feet of water, and spoons have taken the majority of fish. Some boats have also taken chinooks while jigging at Milwaukee's north gap. For shore anglers, the most consistent spot continues to be McKinley pier. Chinooks have been caught off the pier after dark and before dawn, and most have been taken on alewives. Perch anglers have had some limited success at Cupertino pier and the Lake Express Ferry dock. Small shiners have produced the most when fished early in the morning.


Largemouth are in summer patterns. Mik-Lurch reported leeches taking some walleye on the Indiana side.



Fishing Headquarters



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






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1 Comment

Kankakee - Indiana

Good bass are still being taken in the backwaters, feeder ditches and bayous...topwater action is still HOT and during coldfronts a swimming jig seems to be the best ticket.

Pike are taking large wake baits, I took a 12 pound northern recently on a Bettencourt Baits Rodent, working it just barely below the surface. Large Johnson Silver Minnows with bright colored trailers are also working well.

For those that are more patient, large gills are being taken in most of the bayous.

When fishing the backwaters of the Kankakee, remember to bring your 100% DEET and a net for your head if you have one...and, the ticks are bad this year so do a thorough body check when you return home.

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on July 21, 2010 5:24 AM.

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