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Midwest Fishing Report: Fall beyond the doldrums

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There's a bit of a fall doldrums with very low rivers around Chicago and a slower time on the lakefront, but there's some bright spots, including an update on parking at Belmont Harbor, in this Midwest Fishing Report.


This is the extended online version of the MFR, which appears on the Sun-Times outdoors page 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


The fee for entrance to the north parking lot at Belmont Harbor was halved to $5. A $10 fee was instituted in late September, one of the great insults in Chicago fishing. Take that for what it is worth.


Season opened Saturday. Considering how relatively nice the weather was, I suspect the fish were hit hard. Stocked area lakes around Chicago fishing include Axehead, Belleau and Horsetail (Cook County), Silver, Pickerel and Grove (DuPage); Bird Park Quarry (Kankakee); Big lake at Silver Springs SP (Kendall); and Sand Lake at Illinois Beach SP and Banana (Lake). Parking at Horsetail should be corrected by 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.


Open spots on the Illinois lakefront are the inner and outer harbors at Jackson Park, Lincoln Park Lagoon from the Fullerton Avenue Bridge to the southern end of the Lagoon, Winnetka power plant discharge area and Waukegan Harbor (in North Harbor basin only). No snagging is allowed at any time within 200 feet of a moored watercraft or as posted. Salmon snagging season ends Dec. 31.


The milder weather has extended decent panfish action on most farm ponds, forest preserve lakes and Chicago lagoons.


For an overview of nearby river conditions, click here.


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


From licensed guide and trapper Phil Schweik and guide Glenn Moberg of Hooksetters Guide Service:

(Head): Very good musky, walleye, crappie and perch action, and archery deer
season well under way in and amidst the lakes and the Wisconsin River of
Wisconsin's Marathon and Lincoln Counties (near Mosinee and Wausau).

(Lead): Water temps in the low to mid 50s in the central Wisconsin area, and
that means a big fish bite.

Musky anglers in the central Wisconsin area are seeing increased mid to late
day activity as fish are becoming more aggressive as water temperatures
increase throughout the day. Large crankbaits and jerkbaits have been
working well as have 10-12 inch suckers run under slip bobbers. Target
water depths 6 to 12 feet deep with the jerkbaits, and go deeper (up to 25
feet) with the crankbaits and sucker rigs.

Walleye in the central Wisconsin area are very aggressive and are holding
in 12 to 16 feet of water. Jigs tipped with 4 to 5 inch sucker minnows are
working the best right now.

Panfish activity in the central Wisconsin are has been very good, and we are
seeing some very nice catches of crappies along with some nice perch.
Deep, submerged wood in 14 to 20 feet of water has been holding some good
numbers of these fish. Use your electronics to find the hidden structure
and you will be into fish all day long. Jigs tipped with minnows are the
best method to target these fish.

Archery deer season is well under way in the central Wisconsin area, and
deer hunters are seeing quite a few nice deer. As the season progresses
look for activity to increase as the rut grows nearer. Start looking at
places in between deer bedding areas and feeding sites to find a suitable
location to set up.


Triangle Sports reported muskie are picking up throughout Chain, try something different (see Fish of the Week); crappie are in channel mouths early evening and morning; white bass are in 8-12 feet over deeper water, try Marie, Bluff and Petite; for walleye, look at main lake points, fish moving shallow toward evening; bluegill are fair, try shallow first, Channel is best.

For more reports, see

More Chain info at


Only Monster Lake at Mazonia South is open for fishing.


DELAVAN: Guide Dave Duwe sent this:

Delavan Lake 10/18/10 through 10/25/10
The end of my guiding year is drawing to a very harsh close. The warm weather has the fishing patterns a bit confusing. By this time last year, I was catching fish on jerk baits and shallow crank baits. As of Sunday, the fish seemed to want minnows instead of nightcrawlers. That is good news considering I'm almost out of nightcrawlers.
Bluegills are suspending off of the Village Point in 40-45 ft. You need to fish them when the wind is very light. On Saturday, when I was out, I saw people trying to anchor but it was too windy to control the boat and understand where the line was. I use a Tommy Harris ½ oz Agitator tied with a lindy fat boy ice jig. I tie 3-4 inches of fishing line underneath the agitator and then tie on the ice jig. The key to the rig is not having too long of a leader. I will tip the rig with a small leaf worm or wax worm.
Northern Pike are in 12-15 ft of water. The best approach to catch them is using Thill's big fish slip bobbers and medium suckers. Look for the fish on the west end by the island or by Browns Channel. The fish in the last couple of weeks have liked the suckers moving with quite a bit of action. I suggest drifting with the wind or position fishing with your trolling motor. The secondary bite has been casting white spinner baits and white and red ½ oz spinner baits in the 10-12 ft range. Make sure you put some pauses in your retrieve.
Walleyes have been biting on fat head minnows. The best approach is lindy rigging fat head minnows in 16-18 ft of water. Don't be afraid to go deeper, the fish have been as deep as 31 ft. The best location I've found is by Browns Channel or by the Yacht Club. I have tried trolling crank baits and crawler harnesses with some success. The only problem in the last few weeks was the excessive weeds on the surface of the water.
Largemouth bass have been rather slow. The best bite has been in 3-5 ft of water. Look for them from shore to the end of the boat docks. The inside weed line seems to be the best approach. Casting All Terrain swim jigs or a light split shot rigged nightcrawler has been producing a lot of action.
Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050
Daily Reports
10/16/10 - Delavan Lake - sunny, 60 degrees, water temp 59 degrees, winds SW at 20 mph. Caught 5 small walleyes, 1 northern pike, 5 smallmouth and 3 largemouth. Fishing again was tough, we fished for 6 hours for what we caught. Most of the action came on suckers or large fat head minnows. The only fish caught on a nightcrawlers was a small walleye. The best depth of water was 12-15 ft.
10/11/10 - Delavan lake - sunny, 70 degrees, water temp 61 degrees, winds were calm. Caught 3 walleyes, 2 smallmouth, 2 northern pike and 5 largemouth. Fishing was tough, caught most of the fish on suckers and nightcrawlers. The fish were on the weedline in 12-16 ft of water. The pike hit on lindy rigged suckers, the key was to make sure the suckers were moving. I didn't realize that until near the end of the trip.

GENEVA: Duwe sent this:

Lake Geneva 10/17/10 through 10/24/10

Unseasonably warm weather continues. This is the warmest fall that I can recall in 20 years of guiding. It's made fishing Lake Geneva a challenge as the fish aren't in their summer or fall patterns. All the techniques and trends from the past years have been thrown out the window, so it's a learning experience. The lake is just plain tough to fish right now.

Northern Pike are available in the shallow weed flats in 10-12 ft of water. They can be caught slip bobbering medium suckers or golden shiners. Look for the fish in Williams Bay or in Fontana Beach. With cooler water temperatures, this bite should improve.

Walleye fishing has been okay while fishing at night. The weed flats and weed lines are producing most of the fish. Abbey Springs and Williams Bay are the best places to try. You want to use large Rapalas or a Walleye Bandit crankbait. As always, I've been working a depth between 12 and 18 ft of water.

Largemouth bass fishing has been all right. Drifting the 8-12 foot flats is the best approach. Most of the fish are caught on night crawlers or split shotting plastic lizards or centipedes, watermelon seed or green pumpkin are the best colors. The best locations are Geneva Bay and off of Big Foot beach.

Panfishing continues to be excellent. The perch have again moved shallow. They are in the 8-10 ft. depth range located within the scattered weeds with hard sand bottoms. The best bait continues to be a small fat head minnow fished beneath a slip bobber. Some of the best locations are Belvedere Park and the Knollwood beach area. Some of the perch are in excess of 12 inches. The rock bass and bluegills are still associating with the shallow weeds and are in the 8-10 ft. depth range. Some of the best locations are the Military Academy and Cedar Point to Knollwood.

Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050


From Andrew Ragas, Counsellor of the Fish Parliament

River conditions have not changed much at all since last week, but the
fishing has been steadily improving. Despite the predictability of
fish and overall consistencies in weather and water levels, we could
actually use some more water in this system as it is running about
2-feet below normal.

Water temperatures are holding steady between 55-60 degrees, and the
gauge in Riverside is at 3.0 with a current flow of 203. Considering
that the DPR water is muddy and murky most of the time, water clarity
is excellent for DPR standards. All bets are safe for shoreline
fishing and mid-river wading. However, due to low water levels, use
caution if fishing by boat and navigating in mid-river areas. This low
water has exposed a lot of stumps, boulders, and other hazards.

A lot of good reports have been coming in for Northern Pike and both
species of Bass. In addition, Walleye and Sauger are finally making
their first appearances of this fall season.

Northern Pike are running hot at the moment from most sections of the
river. Fish in the low 30-inch range are a possibility, but expect
most common catches to fall in the 20 to 30 inch range. 30 fish days
are a possibility right now as it was for Dan Cahill and James
on a float trip last Saturday. The best results are occurring
during afternoons with some wind, and low-light conditions. If you
locate schools of baitfish, that makes it all more interesting as
these fish are finally running fat! Most fish have been relating to
deeper pools near shoreline, log-jams and downed wood, weedbeds, and
mid-river channel edges. Everything seems to be working right now, but
more successful lures have been bucktails and in-line spinners with
#4, 5, and 6 blades (colors vary, just mix and match), spinnerbaits,
crankbaits, and rattlebaits. It seems that lures displaying the most
flash and vibration are catching majority of the fish.

Wade fishermen such as Dan Sims, advises, "It would be best to cover
water and fish on the move, by not spending too much time in one spot
for too long. It worked out great for us over the weekend as the fish
were everywhere. By throwing our number 4 and 5 Sims spinners with
casting set-ups, we lost count after 10. I had 3 fish landed in 4
quick casts with one breaking me off. It was nuts out there. A few big
girls came out as well."

Meanwhile, boaters like Dan Cahill have this to add. "The catching was
fast and furious for three hours on Saturday. The few bass we caught
all came on spinnerbaits tossed very shallow. Pike were hanging out in
3-4? of water, right outside backwater areas that were absolutely
stacked with baitfish. They were inhaling any rattletrap that had some
flash. We very conservatively netted over 30 fish. One definite
observation I will make is that the Pike caught were much fatter than
last fall. I do believe this river is slowly improving, especially
with the number of Smallmouth Bass our friends and other anglers have
been pulling out as of late. Another interesting tidbit of note is
that this was exactly one year to the date of my last fishing frenzy
day on the river. DPR anglers might want to make a mental bullet point
for the weekend of October 16/17 every year."

From the end of last week up until this past Sunday, I can name four
different anglers whom I personally know that caught Northern Pike up
to 32-inches. David Mannion, Dan Sims, James Flannery, and Dan Cahill are all deserving of credit and exposure for their success. It would
not surprise me if even bigger fish are caught by any angler during
the next few weeks.

In addition to Pike, both Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass are active.
If you run into fish, expect to catch them in groups from the same
areas - 3, 4, 5 fish at a time. Both Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass
have been running in the 12 to 16 inch range and can be found from
downed wood, drop-offs, deeper slackwater pools, and rip-rap
shorelines. Shad and even crayfish profiled baits are working
exceptionally well. In addition, spinnerbaits in yellow/gold and
white/gold, in-line spinners, crankbaits, and even lures meant for
Pike are catching them.

Lastly, Walleyes and Sauger are finally on the move on both the river
and its tributaries. Fish can be found on a consistent basis right
now, but they are not thick in number or highly concentrated as you
might expect. Walleye up to 20 inches and Sauger up to 18 inches have
been the norm. Both species are relating together in channel edges,
deeper hard-bottomed pools with current, and shallow rock flats.
Nighttime hours have offered the greatest opportunity at catching
fish, and most folks are doing it by casting 3 to 5 inch minnowbaits,
and jigging with plastics.


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. NOTE: When waterfowl hunting opens later this month, fishing hours will be limited some. Click here.

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

EVERGREEN: Any updated fishing report will be posted here.

POWERTON: Boat fishing ends Friday. Shore fishing ends Oct. 29.

SPRING: The last day for boat fishing is Friday in waterfowl hunting area. Shore fishing in the waterfowl area continues through 29th, then is limited to after 1 p.m. during waterfowl hunting.


Frank Macikas hasn't had much chance to get out, but sent this quick notes with hopes he gets out today:

The reports that I have seen doesn't look like much of a change; low clear water and fish stacked up in deeper water.


Click here for the fishing report and rumination from Ken Gortowski. It deserved a place of its own, and got it.


River is very low, use caution when launching. Thom Matejewski at Time on the Water Outdoors reported decent crappie around pilings and deadfalls; good sauger (keepers take sorting, best size by Henry) trolling three-ways; largemouth are good afternoons.


Ed Mullady sent this:

OCT 17 2010....SPORTSMAN'S LETTER - ON THE AIR with Ed Mullady, Editor, Kankakee River
POINT, north of English Lake: Try top water baits*#2,#3 spinners * imitation frogs* crankbaits *minnows on both smallmouth and largemouth bass. Catfish good on *minnows *worms *cheesebaits.

RT. 55 AREA: *pike on minnows *#5 Mepps spinner *weedless Doctor Spoons. Fish different depths.
Bluegill, Croppie around shorelines on *minnows *pinkie jigs *fly rod rubber spiders *streamers. Small silver spinners good.

Keep in mind with receding waters and some weedbeds breaking up, be sure to use a boat that will go through extremely low water. Check at Marinas, bait dealers, F&W Area offices.
MOMENCE: Fair. Some smallmouth and largemouth bass from Yellowbanks past Glorydale and at Momence. Good baits: live an imitation crawfish *weedless Mr.Twister wtd kpr hook and twister tails *crankbaits * streamer flies *live minnows.
KANKAKEE: Walleye fair from Kankakee Dam on downstream on *jig & minnow *jig and crawler *jointed plugs * yellow bucktails and minnow. Pike fair from Dam through Johnson's fisherman park on *big minnows *Dardevles *weedless Dr. spoons.
KANKAKEE RIVER STATE PARK: Smallmouth Bass good on *crankbaits *jig & twister tail *live minnows * imitation and live crawfish. Catfish good on *hamburger *cheesebait *minnows.
WILMINGTON AREA: Walleye fair on jig and minnow *jig and twister tails *jointed plugs. Catfish good on above baits.


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


Salmon and trout have become very spotty. Mik-Lurch reported variable smallmouth action, but when it is good, it is very good.

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


Guide Mike Mladenik of sent this:

The big smallmouth are on the feed big time. Fishing has been excellent and the next few weeks can only bring bigger fish. We are finding the big smallmouth in non-typical areas.


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

(Head): Musky action picking up, with a decent bite for northern, perch and
crappie, and walleye fair in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area.

(Lead): Water temps dropping back to the low 50s, which is improving
fishing action in the Eagle River area.

With another warm spell, and some secondary turnover, fishing in the Eagle
River slowed down, but water temps are dropping again, and the fishing is
picking up, with normal fall patterns reasserting themselves.

Musky in the Eagle River area are hanging in 8 feet of water or less, in and
around the leftover weeds. Suckers (use a 12-14 inch sucker) are a mixed
bag. They work one day, and then they don't for the next couple of days.
With the water temps dropping, sucker action should pick up. In the
meantime, artificial lures like Bulldawgs, or jerkbaits like a Suick are
catching most of the fish. Musky action right now is "find the window of
opportunity" thing. You'll work for whatever you get, but every couple of
hours, the action will pick up. Patience, tossing a lot of baits, and
moving around are the secrets. Musky hunters are catching fish.

Northern in the Eagle River area are hitting most any thing, particularly
Husky Jerks, sucker minnows under a bobber, or a flashy crankbait or
spinnerbait. Fish 15 feet of water or less in and around weeds. The
northerns are also hitting musky baits with some regularity.

Perch are hitting pretty well on the Eagle River Chain of 28 Lakes (largest
freshwater chain of lakes in the world) in the Eagle River area. Good
population of perch this year on the Chain. Fish shallower weed or brush
areas, where the perch will be just off the bottom. Use a crappie minnow or
small fathead.

Crappie in the Eagle River area are hitting off and on around cribs or weed
edges in 12-15 feet of water. They are suspending up and down the water
column. Use a small crappie minnow under a slip bobber or a Mini Mite.

Walleye in the Eagle River were fairly inactive, because of the recent warm
up. That is changing with the temps starting to drop again, and the walleye
are in transition moving back into deeper holes anywhere from 20-30 feet of
water depending on the lake you're on. Vertical jig a fathead at the
break edge to these deep holes. Anglers can expect walleye action to again
pick up nicely as the walleye settle into their normal fall pattern.

(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.

MINOCQUA: Guide Kurt Justice of Island Sports sent this:

High skies and on some days a lack of wind have made for some tough conditions for musky anglers. The same conditions made for good boat control for deep water walleye fishermen. Water temps are slowly starting to fall again, but remain in the low 50's.

Musky: Good. Could be better with a little less sun, but the days with wind helped make up for the lack of clouds. Suckers on a quick set rig accounting for little over half the fish reported this week. As for artificials: cranes, warlocks and Sebile jointed baits have all produced over weeds adjacent to deep water. Afternoons (from 2-4) have been by far best time to be on the water.

Walleye: Good. Deep water best during daylight. Vertical jigging or drifting Lindy rigs at depths of 20-40'. Redtail chubs, large fatheads and 1/2 crawlers. After dark some anglers reporting success on lighted slip-bobbers and minnows and casting Rattlin Rouges over 6-10' weed beds. Nice fish in the 15-20" eating range but also big fish being caught and released (21-29").

Smallmouth: Fair-Good. Big smallies being caught on redtails, 4" suckers rigged on Lindy rigs in 24-36' depths. These are big fish but be careful. Set hooks then retrieve SLOWLY so as not to hurt these fish before releasing.

Crappies: Fair-Good. On warm, flat sunny days find crappies in 6-10' weeds feeding on young of the year bluegills. Tiny jigs of hair, mylar or twister tails. When forage retreats - work weed bases in 14-20'. Work 1/8 oz jigs and medium fatheads here to catch 10-12" crappies.

For anglers fishing musky, suckers still have been difficult to get. Weather this week continues to look stable. Little clouds, lows in 30's highs in low 50's. Almost all piers have been pulled from the state's public landings. Bring some knee boots for launching and loading


Mik-Lurch reported spotty perch in 60-62 feet on Lake Michigan; smallmouth are variable (very good on the good days). Creeks are holding a mix of coho, steelhead and kings, taking spawn or spinners.


OREGON: Jan Prose at TJ's Bait/Tackle & Canoe Rental sent this:

Recent high pressure, and river level dropping has probably slowed down the bite. A few nice walleyes have been caught on jig and a minnow. Catfish are still biting fair on liver and dip baits. Haven't heard much else.


Lakeside reported lots of perch (size is fair), crappie are decent, try 4-inch suckers on a floating jighead for fall bass.

For more reports, click here.


From the Wisconsin DNR Lake Michigan Report:

Southern Lake Michigan Fishing Report: October 18, 2010
Kenosha Co.

Shore anglers in Kenosha continue to catch occasional chinooks and browns in the harbor near the Best Western, and fresh skein, white tube jigs, and silver crank baits have taken the most fish. The majority of fishing pressure in Kenosha has been concentrated around the hotel, but a few anglers have been fishing near the mouth of the Pike River also. Water levels on the Pike remain low, and fish have not been able to move very far upstream.
Racine Co.
On the Root River in Racine the water is low and fairly clear with temperatures hovering around 57 degrees. Anglers fishing below the weir in Lincoln Park have been catching chinooks and some brown trout on wet flies and spawn sacs. At Island Park fishing has been hit or miss, and angler pressure has been concentrated on the eastern side of the park. Anglers fishing around Washington Park have had the most consistent success. Slightly higher water levels and deeper holes near the storm water discharge pipes have been holding Chinooks and a few browns and steelhead. Fish were processed at the Root River Steelhead Facility on October 9 and 13. So far this season, a total of 254 chinooks, 10 coho, 7 browns, and 5 rainbows have been passed upstream. Due to the extremely low water in the river, the facility has been shut down for now, although the stop logs remain in place.
Milwaukee Co.
In Milwaukee shore fishing has been relatively slow along the lakefront. Chinooks and browns can be seen surfacing in McKinley marina, but getting them to bite has been difficult. Salmon fishing on the Milwaukee River has been most productive on the south side of Estabrook Park and up to Kletzsch Park. Egg sucking leeches and yarn have been effective for fly anglers. The Menomonee River and Oak Creek remain very low, and fishing has been slow.


Guide Bill Stoeger reported walleye are very good (Little Wolf area) drifting with crawlers or minnows; it's a matter of staying on top of the schools. Crappie and white bass are tough.


Mik-Lurch reported good crappie in the corn channel and improving walleye otherwise.



Fishing Headquarters



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






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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on October 20, 2010 6:06 AM.

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