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Midwest Fishing Report: Lakes/areas section

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The rush toward summer patterns last week crashed to a halt and retreated with the brutal May cold over the weekend, but it looks a more stable week of weather and a promising weekend for this Midwest Fishing Report; and there are promising notes like smallmouth on the rivers and Chicago lakefront, and coho out North Point.

This is the extended online version of the MFR, which appears on the Sun-Times outdoors page on Wednesdays. Well, it is the lakes and areas section. The rivers section was posted earlier.

If you have suggestions, post in the comments section or let me know at


Here are the details from Denny Sands on the Crappie Open on Saturday at Shabbona Lake.

Crappie Open May 21st
Mark your colanders, we should hit this one perfectly. With the delayed Spring weather, the Crappie spawn should be in full mode on May 21st.

Crappie Open - Saturday May 21st
2011 Shabbona Lake Crappie Open

Sponsored By Cabela's Outdoors

Cabela's Outdoors has generously agreed to sponsor the 2011 Shabbona Lakeside's Crappie Open on Saturday, May 21st, 6 AM - 7 PM. With the delayed Spring, Crappie should be up shallow and very plentiful.

Cabela's will be offering $100. for the heaviest Crappie Stringer caught on May 21st from Shabbona Lake. This is meant to be a family event and family's may combine their Crappie to form the 10 heaviest. Unrelated boat partners may not combine stringers.

We will have a Walleye stocking donation jar, set up at Lakeside Bait, Tackle & Boat Rental, for the event. If you donate $5.00 or more to the Walleye Fund, and you place 1st in the Crappie event, Cabela's will double your prize to $200.

Lakeside will award an additional $100., if you catch a new Lake Record Crappie. The current lake record of 2.8 pounds. (This could very easily happen! We have had several 2+ pound Crappie in the last couple of year and we want a 3 pounder!!!)

Remember!!! No entry fee and no pre-registration required. Just show up and fish!!! Weigh your fish in anytime during the Open!

Pokanoka's Cafe will also be offering its famous "Dollar Day Specials" on May 21st. This has become equally as popular as the Fishing Open!!!

Lakeside is now taking reservations for Bass Boat, Pontoon, Gary Special, Motor Boat or Row Boat!!! Go to NEW FOR 2011 - $5.00 off on all day boat reservation at Lakeside, if made in advance 24+ hours.

Lakeside is open 7 days a week, 6 AM - 7 PM.


Bass and bluegill pulled up last week, there is some dropping back. It's been a weird stretched since a week ago. But this should be a very promising weekend for bass and bluegill around local retention and farm ponds. Henry's reported good crappie at Saganashkee, Maple, Tampier, Busse and Monee.


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): Smallmouth bass on their beds, with crappies, bluegills and walleyes
hitting; and wild turkey hunters still getting birds as the season winds
down; all in and amidst the lakes and the Wisconsin River of Wisconsin's
Marathon and Lincoln Counties (near Mosinee and Wausau).

The smallmouth bass are on their beds, and the crappies are spawning right
now in the central Wisconsin area.

For anglers looking at getting into some fast action, or looking to get kids
introduced to fishing, now is the time to do it. The smallmouth bass are up
on their beds, and can be easily sight fished and taken with a variety of
methods from wacky rigging a worm to jig and pig (jig tipped with a hunk of
pork rind) combos, to small crankbaits or spinnerbaits that resemble

There is always the live bait presentation that works well too, with
crawlers or minnows rigged on a jig or suspended below a slipbobber. Look
for these spawners to be holding tight to shoreline cover in less than 3
feet of water, with either a combination of sand and wood, or rocks and
rubble, as these are prime locations for spawning bass. With the aerobatics
and strong fighting ability that these fish have, any first-time angler --
as well as seasoned veterans -- will have the time of their life when
hooking into one of these free-style acrobats.

Crappies are also up in the shallows in the central Wisconsin area, and are
holding tight to submerged wood and shoreline reeds in 1 to 3 feet of water.
The key to targeting these feisty slabs is to keep your bait very close to
the structure. Crappies can be finicky and at times will not move off of the
structure to approach your presentation. But if you drop it right in on
them, or just past them, and bring it right up to the structure, they can't
resist. Small crappie-sized minnows or the Cubby Mini Mites in pink and
white or pink and chartreuse suspended about one foot below a bobber will
haul these fish in all day long.

The bluegills are not far behind the crappies, with their spring spawning in
the central Wisconsin area, as we have already started picking up some of
the early spawns in a number of area shallow bays. Most of these bull-nosed
gills have come on pieces of crawlers suspended below bobbers. Look for the
bluegills to be holding out in the same general areas as you would the
crappies, only tighter to shoreline structure and up in very shallow water.

The walleye bite in the central Wisconsin area remains constant, and we have
been catching lots of nice-sized fish in 8 to 12 feet of water, by working
the deeper submerged wood and along rocky shorelines. We are running
one-sixteenth and one-eighth ounce jigs tipped with minnows or crawlers, and
working them slowly in and out of the structure, and along the rocky

Turkey season is winding down in the central Wisconsin area, but lots of
hunters are still hitting the woods hard. Your best bet for tagging your
bird is to leave your decoys at home. The birds have been hunted hard for
over a month now and are very decoy shy. They have seen this scenario
before, and for the most part will not come into this type of set-up. Your
best chance at getting a Tom into range is to selectively and sparingly use
a variety of calls to try and lure him into range. Keep quiet and out of
sight, and you'll have a good chance of getting a shot.


Triangle reported bluegill are best. Fish shorelines around trees or piers. Crappie are good in channel mouths. For walleye, fish the current areas or bridges; Marie is best lake for larger walleye. Muskie are improved on large jerkbaits or bucktails. Pike are good on Mepps spoons or Johnson spoons around creek mouths. Catfish are fair on crawlers or stinkbait.

For more reports, see

More Chain info at


LaSALLE: Would still be one of my top multiple-species picks.

HEIDECKE: Peak should be this week and next, I repeat. Mik-Lurch reported some good crappie, something most people aren't targeting, along with good walleye and hybrids.

BRAIDWOOD/MAZONIA: Bill Lanham reported all species crashed into spawning mode at once late last week at Mazonia as water temperatures pushed into the 70s. At Braidwood, staff reported water in the upper 70s on both ends over the weekend. Henry's reported bluegill and catfish still the top bite at Braidwood.


DELAVAN: From guide Dave Duwe:

Delavan Lake 5/15/11 through 5/22/11
What a difference a week makes. With a little warm weather at the beginning of the week the fish became very active and fishing was outstanding. But by the end of the week, the strong winds and cold temps slowed things right back down. With some stable weather, fishing should be great.
Walleye Pike can be caught on shallow diving crank baits in 6-8 ft of water. The best time to catch the fish is in the night time hours. This is due to the clarity of the water, which is currently ultra clear. You want to cast chrome/blue or chrome/black husky jerks or Smithwick rogues.
Largemouth bass are preparing to spawn with the warming waters. As of Friday, May 13th I saw many fish in the shallows making beds. The best time to fish is when there is very little wind and stable warm temperatures. Most of the fish I've been catching are on All Terrain Sticks. Green Pumpkin or Root beer red flake are the best colors, fish them on a 3/0 worm hook. Lakeside, the new bait shop across from the launch, now carries All Terrain Stiks. The best location is anywhere there is sand bottom and scattered weeds, spots like the outlet and Viewcrest channel have been producing the best.
Crappie fishing has been very good. Crappies like the bass, are preparing to spawn. They are in 6-8 ft of water. The best locations have been by Willow Point and by Browns Channel. The best presentation has been a small fat head minnow fished on a Thill slip bobber. The fish are suspended so I've been fishing 4-5 ft down beneath the bobber.
Northern Pike fishing has been good in the shallow weedy bays. The best locations have been by Browns Channel, Viewcrest Bay and the Highlands Bay. I've been anchoring in 8-10 ft of water and slip bobber fishing large golden shiners. It's been pretty good action when you find active fish. Another approach is casting white or chartreuse spinner baits. I've seen a lot of fish caught in the boat launch channel and by Lake Lawn Lodge.
Bluegills are still loaded into the lakes channels and shallow water. One of the things that is going on now is that the weed growth is starting to push them deeper. The best action is in 3-4 ft of water. I've been using leaf worms fished on a small ice jig underneath a Thill spring bobber.
With stable weather, fishing should continue to improve.
Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050
Daily Reports
5/15/11 - Delavan Lake, 45 degrees, windy, windy, windy with some rain. Water temp 59 degrees. When people don't think the weather can get worse, it sure can. We struggled to catch 6 largemouth. All were caught on Senkos. We did fish for a few bluegills in the channels to get away from the wind. We kept about 20 nice 8 inch gills.
5/14/11 - Delavan Lake, 49 degrees, windy, cloudy, rainy, water temp 60 degrees. Caught 6 largemouth and some crappies. The weather was atrocious. The bass were caught on green pumpkin and root beer red flake Senkos. The bass were in 2-3 ft of water. The best location was by the outlet dam. The crappies were caught on small fat head minnows by Willow Point in 7-8 ft of water. The north wind was a huge factor.
5/10/11 - Rock River (Newville), 85 degrees and sunny, light winds, water temp 60 degrees. Caught 1 - 15" sauger, 3 walleyes, all around 16 inches, 2 northern pike and 1 white bass. Fished the mouth of the river with a 3/8 oz orange and chartreuse odd ball jigs. The best depth was 5-6 ft. Fished 1/2 nightcrawlers. The key was to have a stinger hook in the end of the nightcrawlers. It was a beautiful evening on the water.

GENEVA: From Duwe;

Lake Geneva 5/15/11 through 5/22/11
Though we had some warm weather last week, Lake Geneva is a huge body of water. Fishing hasn't been very consistent and it will likely take a consistent warm up in our weather to warm up the lake. The best bites remain in the shallow harbors and bays.
Smallmouth bass are sporadically being caught on the breaks near the spawning flats, such as the Elgin Club and the old Military Academy and Maytag Point. Most of the fish are being caught on hair jigs or on crayfish imitating plastics. The best depth has been 8-12 ft of water.
Largemouth bass are being caught in Abbey harbor. Senkos or small 4 inch worms in green pumpkin or root beer color are producing most of the action. The Abbey does have the warmest water in the lake and is usually the best bite until the rest of the lake catches up. Some good catches have also been reported on a split shot rigged nightcrawler.
Bluegills are being caught in Geneva Bay by the Library beach or by the beach in Williams Bay. The best presentation is a leaf worm on an ice jig in 4-6 ft of water. The fish a pretty sporadic so you need to move around to find some active fish. The average size of the fish are nice eaters, 8-9 inches.
Northern Pike are still relating to the emerging weeds. The best bets are the weed flats throughout the lake. Look for the fish in Williams Bay and the Fontana Beach area. The best approach is slip bobbering large golden shiners about 2 ft above the weeds. The only way to fish a lot of poles is to anchor your boat. This presentation is a lot like tip up fishing so you have to be patient for the bite.
Rock bass are starting to move into the shallow waters with the warmer weather. They are in 10-12 ft of water. With the overall water temp still cool, the best bait is fat head minnows fished on a split shot rig. I do a lot of drifting or without wind, back trolling with the electric motor.
Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050


EMIQUON: The best spot for largemouth in Illinois. Make the trip. Emiquon Preserve near Lewistown is open to fishing. Interested parties may request a permit (remember you need the new one for 2011) 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: Ken Wilson of Lithia Guide Service said best is walleye on wind-blown flats on Bandit crankbaits; white bass are mixed in. Crappie spawn is winding down. Lake cooled from 77 to 62 degrees.

EVERGREEN: Time on the Water Outdoors reported crappie as the hot bite, but saugeye and muskie also drawing effort. Any updated fishing report will be posted here.


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


CHICAGO: Harbors are bit cleaner than outside water, so a few smallmouth being caught at Burnham and Belmont. Weather has been the limiting factor, but Capt. Bill Kelly of Leprechaun Charters reported coho by the corner of Chicago light and on the wall by Baldy's Point (north end of outside wall) and in 20-30 feet from Diversey to the north end of the Montrose horseshoe.

WAUKEGAN: Salmon Stop reported a few coho and perch caught by hardier shore fishermen. As weather settles, boaters will return.

NORTH POINT: Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters reported outstanding coho with a few kings and an occasional steelhead on little Dodgers (red or clown) and small flies (Stanley Stingers or Howie nuggets) in aqua, blue/green, gold, teal on the hill on both sides of the state line.

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.

RICHARD J. DALEY SPORTFISHING DERBY: Runs through Sept. 30. In May, the species are coho and perch. Register fish at Henry's Sports & Bait, Park Bait or Vet's Bait. Go to or call (312) 225-8538.


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

(Head): Northerns hitting well, with walleyes, smallmouth bass (catch and
release only), crappies and perch providing good action in the Eagle River,
Wisconsin area.

Surface temps are in the low to mid 50s in the Eagle River area.

Northern in the Eagle River area are in 10 feet of water or less, around new
emergent weeds or dead weeds. Live bait is the key right now. Use a jig
and a minnow or shiner under a slip bobber. Aggressive bite.

Smallmouth bass have been hitting crankbaits very well on waters south of
Eagle River. Surprisingly, larger crankbaits are working better. Look for
warmer water along shallow/sandy shorelines in 2 to 5 feet of water.
Remember, bass are strictly catch and release at this time of the season.

Walleyes, crappies, and perch are locating in the same two general areas in
the Eagle River area. For all of these species, either fish shallow -- 7
feet or less -- in and around any new, emergent weeds, or last year's dead
weeds; or, fish deep water ? 18 to 21 feet on the edges of the deeper holes.

All the species will be pretty much tight to the bottom.

For the walleyes use a one-sixteenth or one-eighth ounce jig and a minnow.
It's an all day bite, with pretty good action ? mainly from males.

For the crappies, fish with a crappie minnow under a slipbobber or small
jig. Good action.

For the perch, use a jig and a minnow or a crappie minnow under a
slipbobber. Nice bite.

(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: wide variety of weather this past week has had anglers doing a lot of searching. A super low pressure with no wind - yet warm temps slowed angling one day only to have the fish turned on the next as the barometer and wind rose, with temps falling. Lows to freezing hit the Lakeland area this weekend, still anglers caught fish by being versatile. Warmer, consistent weather is need now to get things cranking. Water temps dropped from highs in the 50's to mid 40's.

Walleye: Fair-Good. On warm days, walleyes moved in shallow to feed on young perch, gills, crappies and minnows. Jig and minnow combos in 3-8' best. Casting stick baits (Rattlin Rouges, Thundersticks, Rapalas) after dark in shallows also scoring. Anglers reporting releases of nice 21-26" spawned out females, keeping 15-18" males as "eaters." On Willow/Rainbow cold pushed "eyes" to channels by weekend where trollers using Shad Raps scored nice walleyes to 26".

Pike: Fair-Good. Lots of little ones in shallow new weed growth. Cast 1/8oz jig head with twister tail grub (3"), snap retrieve best. Slow rolling spinnerbaits through weeds picking up nice fish plus bonus walleyes. Cold weather has anglers SLOW dragging big chubs for larger (30+") pike.

Crappie, bluegill, perch: Poor. Cold has slowed bite. When shallows return to low 50's watch for fishing to pick up.


Mik-Lurch reported best has been bass or crappie on ponds and smaller lakes. Willow Slough has the best bluegill in the back by the bulrushes; the site no longer rents boats. Before the blow, salmon were in 42-52 feet. Staff thought perch probably spawned during the blow days, so will probably be looking at post-spawn fishing when boaters may get out again.


See top for details on the Crappie Open on Saturday. The crappie should still be in the spawn. Bass should be going good around the weeds by the sounds of the weekend forecast.

For more reports as the lake changes into spring and summer, click here.



Fishing Headquarters



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






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can you send me your mailing address? I have some incredible pictures to send and don't know how to do on computer.

E-mail is best. But if you can't e-mail photos, at least notifiy me you are sending mail because I only poke my head into the office about once a month.

Mailing address is

Sun-Times Sports
attn: Dale Bowman
350 N. Orleans
Chicago, IL 60654

Hi Dale
I'm not much of a birder but there has been a different kind of birdsong in my backyard here in southwest Woodridge. I finally tracked him down flitting around in our Poplar tree. I'm pretty sure it's a Baltimore Oriole( not of the Ripken type) is this possible? is this part of their normal range?

yes, it is quite possible and a nice find.

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on May 18, 2011 8:26 AM.

Midwest Fishing Report: Rivers section was the previous entry in this blog.

Wild & Wet: Chicago River & Leinenkugel's is the next entry in this blog.

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