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Midwest Fishing Report: Cohos & browns; Braidwood opens

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Today's weather will tease fishermen, aptly enough as spring signs mount--coho and browns on southern Lake Michigan and Braidwood Lake reopening Thursday--for this Midwest Fishing Report.

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

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

I'll open with coho and browns. Click here for my Sun-Times column today on prospects for Braidwood opener tomorrow. I plan to be one of the first ones out.


CHICAGO: Powerliners continue to take some coho (2-3 pounds) at Montrose and a few coho, steelhead and browns at Belmont; according to Henry's. Casters are taking some at Jackson Park and Cal Park, too. WAUKEGAN: Lori Ralph of Salmon Stop reported some steelhead and browns off the South Rocks on spawn sacs, frozen shad or shiners, and large roaches. Boaters should be getting out. INDIANA: Capt. Ralph Steiger caught plenty of browns on Tuesday. Mike Starcevich at Mik-Lurch reported browns and coho (14-20 inches) ``all over the place.'' At East Chicago Marina, spawn on the bottom is working in the colder water. At Gary Light, with water warm as 44, anything is working. MICHIGAN: Tyler Harmon messaged, ``Coho and whitefish are still being caught with limited to good success along the entire Southwest Michigan lake shore.''


To the south, spring crappie fishing is underway. Ray Hinton and a buddy caught a mess of good ones at a place they would not tell much more about. It's that time. North and west are in the in-between stage.


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): Strong panfish action, especially perch, with northern aggressive and walleye putting on a consistent bite; all in and amidst the lakes and the Wisconsin River of Wisconsin's Marathon and Lincoln Counties (near Mosinee and Wausau). Editor's Note: Remember that the walleye, northern and bass seasons on many waters of the central Wisconsin area DO NOT CLOSE, and you can fish those species after the season closes in most of northern Wisconsin. Make sure you check with the local DNR about which waters you want to fish remain open.

This past week has been extremely good for panfish action especially perch in the central Wisconsin area. The fish are starting to move towards their traditional late winter locations and can be taken with a variety of methods. Most of our action for perch has been in 8 to 10 feet of water with sparse weed cover. We have been catching most of the perch on small ice jigs in red and purple when tipped with plastics or waxies and spikes. Most of the time you don't even need live bait! The bluegills are holding in shallow weeds ranging form 4 to 6 feet of water but we are still finding some larger ones out over 8 to 10 feet deep. Small ice jigs like the Gill Getter and the Bro Bug in fire tiger colors have been working the best and again tip them with waxies or spikes. The crappie bite has been very good especially for very big slabs. We have been finding them in 12 to 16 feet of water but the key to locating and catching the larger ones is to keep you presentation high in the water column. Remember this rule: The closer you fish to the bottom the smaller the crappies will be that you will catch the higher you fish the larger the fish will be. You may not catch as many but they will be larger.

The northern have been very active in the central Wisconsin area, and just last week we had another multiple big fish day. We are working sharp break lines associated with wood and weeds in 6 to 10 feet of water. Most of our action is coming on tip ups baited with large golden shiners but we are now seeing some very nice fish by jigging large Northland Buckshot Rattle spoons that have been tipped with a large minnow head. We area working them very aggressively and when a big northern strikes hang on... You are in for a battle!!!

Walleye action in the central Wisconsin area has been consistent early and late in the day. We have been targeting shallow backwater areas in 2 to 5 feet of water associated with wood and underwater structure. We are running tip ups baited with small sucker minnows or golden shiners set about a foot off the bottom.


Unsafe ice is expected to last through the weekend on the Chain. However, the river from Pistakee downstream is open and fishable, according to Triangle proprietor Greg Dickson said.

For more reports, see

More Chain info at


BRAIDWOOD/MAZONIA:Braidwood opener is tomorrow morning. It will be open daily, opening at 6 a.m. Until time changes, close is 5:30 p.m. My column on prospects is here. Remaining ice is disappearing at Mazonia lakes. HEIDECKE: Reopens April 1. LaSALLE: Tentatively reopens March 15, depending on summer help arriving.


Brian Gates at Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle--(262) 245-6150--thinks fishermen will be able to ice fish through the weekend on Delavan, but probably not enough ice for shanties. He said some nice perch are being taken by shore fisherman at Geneva. Remember, lake trout remain open on Geneva.


Nick Doumel, vice president of Des Plaines River Anglers Association, sent this:

I hit the river this past Sunday in search of spawning pike. Unfortunately, it seems that they just aren't ready yet. Most of the backwater areas are still frozen and the river is still quite low. Provided we get a good heavy rain, and some warm weather, we have a chance of seeing the first pike moving into those grassy spawning grounds next weekend. Decent action can still be had on the main river by tossing suspending jerk baits and live bait. Spring is just around the corner and the DPR is about to heat up!


SPRING: Fishermen are catching some muskie. Lake is ice-free. POWERTON: Boat and shore fishing is open. Site is open daily 8 a.m.-4 p.m. EMIQUON: The 2012 permits are available at Dickson Mounds Museum in Lewistown. EVERGREEN: The 2012 permits are available here, too. Any updated fishing report from staff will be posted here.


The Illinois Walleye Trail posted on Facebook this from Sunday's tournament:

The winning team of Jay Walsh, Dave Gossar and Dick Shew weighed in 5 fish for 7.54 lbs.. The winners vertical jigged 3/8" oz. jigs and plastic in 21-23 f.o.w. to secure the win and they earned $1,150.00 Most of the fish are still staged in their wintering holes in depths from 20-26 feet... of water, just before they move to nearest flats to spawn. The majority of the anglers were pulling live bait on 3-way rigs and vertical jigging live bait and plastics to pull the fish from their wintering haunts.


The thunderstorms overnight put significant rain into the Kankakee basin, but I doubt that it will mess up fishing, might even help.

Norm Minas sent this from several days of rambling:

Have you ever walked up to another fisherman, asked how's it going and been told, you should have been here, yesterday. Today, I was here yesterday.

The flow rate is about 900 CFS under normal, about twice what it was yesterday. The water temps were up almost 2 degrees to 41.5 degrees today. I didn't get out until late morning account some family affairs and spending money[paying bills and buying gas for the cars]. With the beautiful weather today, I was ready to get at it, especially with the wind being minimal.

I encountered a couple different kinds of winged insects while brush busting and wading to the cold water smallmouth spot I intended to fish. I spooked a couple of deer, heard some turkeys, saw rabbits, squirrels, beavers and a fox. At times the amount of noise from the huge flocks of birds in the trees was deafening. The geese are getting a tad bitchy about territory. All the more reason to be pumped.

I had a husky jerk on as I intended to start with something on the aggressive side when I got the spot I intended to fish. It's a little deeper and slower current than the surrounding water and has been a dependable coldwater spot for many years. As I got close, I noticed some shad popping the surface in a small side channel twixt the shore and a smallish water willow island. There has been bass spawning activity there in the past if water levels were right. I unsnapped the husky jerk and went to the rattling spook. on the first cast, as soon as it hit the water, it was slurped. after a brief go around I had a nice smallmouth to release. A couple casts later saw another similar sized smallmouth released. I checked the area with a crank and a jig before I left, no more hits.

The fact that those fish were so close to shore got me thinking about how I should fish the rest of the area. I figured if they had pushed that far, it would be reasonable to think there might be some fish out on the cobblestone flats between the side channel and the wintering spot. I figured to go with a crankbait, a wigglewart, to cover as much water as efficiently as possible. I ended up with 5 more smallmouth and a decent channel cat on the crankbait off the flats. Three of the smallmouth had crawfish in their gullets when I landed them. After that bite subsided, i checked the area with the topwater, a rattlebait and jig/plastic, no more fish.

Next spot was a bridge to check, I decided to stick with the weighted keeper hook and Erie darter as a couple of the abutments has wood stuck up against the upstream end. Casting the jig upstream of the wood and letting it drift along side of it brought two more smallmouth. One was toward the head end of the wood, the other behind it. I checked the slack spots and seams behind those two abutments and got two more smallmouth off the seams about 10 feet or so downstream of the abutments. I checked as many of the other abutments that I could safely wade to but just got some exercise.

I moved to check some shoreline related slack water spots. I got two nice rock bass on the weighted keeper/ Erie darter at one of them, the other two didn't do anything. All three spots got checked with topwater, rattlebait and crankbait as well.

the last spot I checked had slower and deeper water, with more soft bottom than hard. I added a single spin to the rotation as I've got pike and gar there before. I got a couple bumps on the weighted keeper/ Erie darter but never had a successful hookset. Operator error , most likely.

It was the best day of the year so far for smallmouth. Who care about walleyes when smallmouth are taking topwaters?

Ed Mullady sent this:

Kankakee River in good fishing condition.
Walleye continue good in Indiana(especially around "Point" north of English Lake, Rt. 55 to IL state Line. Also good in area near IL-IN State Line through Momence *Aroma Park *Kankakee Dam through LeVasseur Park *Kankakee River State Park *Wilmington Dam. Good on *minnows *weedless Doctor Spoons *Jointed minnow shaped lures.
Northern Pike...some good sized ones at mouths of all ditches, creeks, quieter shorelines in both IN and IL on *4-6"minnows *Silver spoons & Pork Rind *Doctor Spoons *Mepps #5 spinners.
Smallmouth Bass continue to hit on *live minnows *artificial minnow shaped baits *jig and twister tails.


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


For coho and browns, see top. Arden Katz reported lots of perch at Diversey (but it takes sorting about one out of 15); few at Navy Pier. Reports, varying day to day, remain decent in the river around 95th. CHICAGO PIER PASSES: With little ice in the harbors, remember the $6 pier passes for select piers in the Chicago harbors are available at Henry's Sports & Bait. CHICAGO FISHERMAN'S PARKING: The fisherman's parking pass--$10 for two months and available at Henry's Sports & Bait--is needed to park south of the main building at Northerly Island. . . . That's the same pass good for the small fishermen's lots at Burnham and DuSable harbors.


D&S Bait reported ice OK, fishing fair with a few perch on Mendota, some bluegill (take sorting) on Waubesa and Monona.


EAGLE RIVER: Creative Brilliance sent this report for the Chamber of Commerce on Sunday, so keep that timing in mind:

(Head): Good northern and panfish action, with walleye fair, in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area.

Ice thickness on Eagle River area lakes is from about 12-17 inches. There's snow cover. Travel is tough ? regardless of the method. Trucks, snowmobiles and ATV's are having difficulty, especially if going into lightly fished/traveled areas. Foot travel is REAL trough!

Northern are putting on a good all day bite in the Eagle River area. Fish 15 feet of water or less targeting the weed edges. Use a medium to large shiner under a tip up. Set the minnow about 4 feet down.

Panfish in the Eagle River area are in 15-35 feet of water over mudflats, with crappies and bluegills concentrating over small "holes" or depressions in the mud flats about 1 to 2 feet deep. The crappies and bluegills are also suspending up and down the water column. Perch are tight to bottom. Use a crappie minnow under a tip down or jig, or tip a small jig with a waxie or spike. Good all day action.

Walleye action is fair in the Eagle River area. Fish mud flats, in 15-35 feet of water. The walleye will be locating within a foot of the bottom. Use a small shiner or sucker minnow under a tip up, or try a jigging spoon tipped with a fathead minnow. All day bite, with peak around sunset.

(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: Kurt Justice of Kurt's Island Sport Shop sent this:

The next to last weekend of the gamefish season went off pretty well. Fish actively picked up as anglers reported good catches from around the lakeland area.

Perch: Very good. Mild temps helped out as anglers using tip-downs and rosie reds as well as Gapen flicker jigs tipped with wigglers or red spikes. While the 15-16' range has been best for action and eaters of 9-10 1/2", those searching bigger perch (11-13") should probe the 26-33' depths.

Walleye: Very good. Action shot up this past week. Even some good late afternoon bites on tip-downs and minnows set for crappies. Otherwise the dusk and after bite has picked up on tip-ups rigged with suckers. Some very nice walleyes have been caught this week including a huge 31 1/2". Lots of 20-24" and some good 15-18" eaters also.

Pike: Good. Tip-ups, large shiners. Action along 4-8' weeds. Ride the bite high--18-24" from bottom.

Bluegills: Good. Moussees and waxies in 8-12'. Still some good deep water gills, especially around dusk.

Crappies: Fair to Good. Improving. Plastics and Chena in bays of 10-14'. Nice crappies to 14" coming on tip-downs and rosies. Best the last 2 hours before dark. During day fish tight to the bottom.

Gamefish season ends March 4th at midnight. Ice averages 19-22" reported across the Lakeland area.

Access good, though blowing snow Sunday filled some tracks with light snow to make driving difficult. Watch for actual snowfall to curb access IF it comes our way mid-week.


For salmon/trout, see top. There's also lots of whitefish being taken at East Chicago Marina by those fishing the bottom.


Tyler Harmon messaged:

The ice continues to disappear from inland lakes, some are free of ice some are not. Most that still have some ice should be clear by the weekend or close to it. Coho and whitefish are still being caught with limited to good success along the entire Southwest Michigan lake shore. Steelhead, suckers, and walleye are being caught in the rivers of the area, but the bite is slow.


Lake is partially ice covered. Lakeside expects to open next weekend.

You can check updates on Facebook.



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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on February 29, 2012 9:56 AM.

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