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Midwest Fishing Report: Lakes section

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This is one of the odder, but best, lakes section of the Midwest Fishing Report I have ever done.


I keep expecting reality to return.

But for now the reality is there is a lot of good action on many species, including crappie like these caught by Shawn Lawry (left) of Indian Head Park and Tom Kamper of Palos Heights with Jim ``The Crappie Professor" Kopjo on Evergreen.

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

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


New licenses are required in the four Lake Michigan states as of Sunday.


Reopens Sunday and should be open daily. Launch opens 6 a.m.; bank fishing, 6:30 a.m. Close is sunset. District fisheries biologist Rob Miller expects a banner year for walleye, because of the high stocking in 2009; muskie, smallmouth and yellow bass (state record potential) are doing fine; crappie are coming on; hybrids are OK, bigger ones down; largemouth are OK; channel catfish are not.


Smelt netting runs the month of April in Chicago. Nets may be set at 7 p.m. Netters must be out of the parks by 1 a.m. Lake Michigan fisheries biologist Steve Robillard said to expect the same low numbers. Warm water near 50 to start the season won't help.


The craziness continues, when the weather allows access, especially for boaters in Indiana out of East Chicago Marina. Capt. Mike Florey of Shadow Perch Charters reported limit catches of perch last week. The only limiting factor has been the weather, but Mike Starcevich at Mik-Lurch said, `` What a perch bonanza. If we can get to them, we will get them. Where they lay, they will stay.'' In Indiana, there's

To combat hurting perch pulled up from the deep water, Starcevich had this advice for boaters: ``Beside reeling them up slow, keep them 3 feet under the water, let them wiggle for about 30 seconds, then you can release them and they will go down.''

From Chicago shore, there are perch being caught. Park Bait reported good action over the weekend, but the blow Tuesday slowed things. But other than blips caused by blow days, it looks like a very early perch run will keep going.


Henry's ninth annual Coho Derby was Saturday with some surprisingly good shoreline catches of coho and browns. Steve Palmisano sent these results:

Hi Dale here are the results from our 9th annual Coho Derby. 72 anglers enjoyed a pleasant morning of good salmon action.

Big Fish and 1st Place rod and reel category:
Lawrence Diffeny 7lb. 8oz brown trout
2nd Place rod and reel:
Chris Ranney 4lb. 14oz
3rd Place Rand Reel:
Samantha Rahn 3lb. 7oz

1st Place Nick Pelliken 9lb. 2oz
2nd Place Thomas Ng 5lb. 1oz
3rd Place John Shastal 1lb. 9oz


Water holds in the 50s on most lakes and ponds. Many species are being caught, more than most late Marches, but crappie seem the top overall inland bite.


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): Spring walleye bite off to a great start with smallmouth bass hitting strong; all in and amidst the lakes and the Wisconsin River of Wisconsin's Marathon and Lincoln Counties (near Mosinee and Wausau). Editor's Note: The season for walleye, bass and northern has closed on most waters in northern Wisconsin. Remember that the walleye and northern seasons on many waters of the central Wisconsin area DO NOT CLOSE, and you can fish for those species. Before you fish for walleye, bass and northern in central Wisconsin, check with the local DNR to make sure that the water you may want to fish in central Wisconsin remains open.

With the recent wave of warm temperatures the spring walleye bite has really taken off in the central Wisconsin area. We are finding good numbers of fish holding in the deeper pools in the main Wisconsin River channel but most of them are small males in the 13 to 16 inch range. We are however finding some larger fish in shallower water ranging from 3 to 7 feet deep and having good luck tossing 1/8th ounce jigs tipped with minnows and throwing 3 to 5 inch crankbaits right up against the shoreline. The best activity has been early and late in the day but we are also catching good numbers of fish throughout the mid day hours.

This past week has also been pretty good for smallmouth bass action in the central Wisconsin area Even though most people are not thinking about bass fishing this early in the season the water temperatures are high enough for the bass to become active. Most of the fish we have been catching have been incidental to our walleye fishing but we are seeing some really nice sized smallies. These fish have been in 3 to 6 feet of water and have been hitting our crankbaits and jig and minnow combinations.

For you turkey hunters season is right around the corner in the central Wisconsin area and with the warm temperatures I know a lot of you are already getting the bug to get out. With the early spring that we are having you are gong to see a lot of activity in many different areas as opposed to finding turkeys holed up on one or two main fields this early in the year. With that said you need to do your homework now more than ever if you are planning on being successful this spring. Pre-season scouting is crucial and finding a good location is going to make the difference between coming home empty handed or coming home with a big tom.

I admit, I love when the last graph of their report is on hunting bits.


Arden Katz reported good crappie in the channels over the weekend, but you have to find the channels with enough water to hold crappie. He said numbers were best on white Mini-Mites with spikes, while minnows caught the bigger ones. Water is up a little bit, but navigation is treacherous with low water. Triangle reported bass moved shallow. Catfish action is underway. Walleye remain good, still not spawned out, up on flats. For muskie, look shallow with small jerkbaits and small bucktails. Bluegill might be dropping back with recent cool weather. For white bass, try in 8-20 feet for suspended fish; use slip-bobber rigs to adjust depth.

For more reports, see

More Chain info at


BRAIDWOOD/MAZONIA:Mazonia has good bass and crappie; Braidwood has bass and hybrids, according to Angelo's. Close is 7:30 p.m. HEIDECKE: Reopens Sunday. See top for preview. LaSALLE: On Sunday, the cooling lake south of Seneca is scheduled to be open daily 6 a.m. to sunset. Best bite is catfish, though the quality of the channels is fair at best; blues are beautiful. Next best is hybrids, especially for shore fishermen from the south bank on chicken livers. Bluegill are excellent on the east bank.


DELAVAN: Guide Dave Duwe sent this:

Delavan Lake 3/25/12 through 4/1/12
Due to the warm weather, my fishing reports are starting early this year. Please be aware that the opening of fishing for most game fish in inland waters is the first Saturday in May. You are not even allowed to catch and release game fish so it's pan fish only for the time being.
Bluegill fishing has been pretty good in the 2-3 ft depth range. The fish have been in the outlet, Viewcrest and Highland Channel. The best bait is either red worms or wax worms depending on the day. I've been using a small lindy toad and a Thill slip bobber. I position the bait about 1 ft beneath the bobber. It seems that the fish bite better on cloudy days than on sunny ones. The bigger fish have been a bit hard to find, but if you move around you can find the active fish.
Crappies have been hit of miss. The best location has been in Viewcrest Bay or by Lake Lawn golf course. Fish them in 6-8 ft of water about 4 ft down. They can be caught on small purple plastic twister tails or on a slip bobber fat head minnow. You need to move around a bit to find the active fish. Due to the clear water, a long cast seems to be the most productive as the fish are a bit spooky this time of year.
Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050
Daily Reports
3/25/12 - Delavan Lake, 65 degrees, sunny, light winds out of the north, water temp 58 degrees. Caught about 20 bluegills, only kept one. Caught a few crappies today, one nice one about 14 inches. Fishing was rather slow today, most of the bluegills were caught by the outlet dam in 2 ft of water. The crappies were caught in front of Lake Lawn golf course in 5-8 ft of water. We also tried in Lake Lawn harbor without success and in the inlet channel.3
3/24/12 - Delavan Lake,60 degrees, cloudy and rainy, light winds out of the North, Water temp 58 degrees. Caught 100 bluegills, kept 25. Fished by the outlet dam and by Browns Channel. Best success came in 2 ft of water on wax worms fished on ice fishing jigs and Thill bobbers. There were some crappies being caught by Lake Lawn Golf Course in 5-8 ft of water, but we didn't try for them because the bluegill action was too good.

GENEVA: Duwe sent this:

Lake Geneva 3/25/12 through 4/1/12
It appears that summer has come early to Walworth County. Fishing is about 2 weeks ahead of schedule. I've been fishing pan fish the last few weeks due to the fact that opening day for game fish doesn't occur until the first Saturday in May.
Bluegill fishing has been pretty good in Trinkes harbor and in Abbey Harbor. You need to sort through a lot of fish to catch the ones suitable to keep. The best bait is wax worms fished on a small bobber. Due to the water clarity on Geneva, choose a bobber that's big enough to keep the bait off the bottom, but the smaller the bobber the better. The line choice is no bigger than 4 lb test. The thicker diameter line tends to yield less fish. As of today's date, the Abbey is still allowing people to fish off the piers, over the next few weeks when the boats start to come, they will ban the access.
Crappie fishing has been sporadic. The best location has been by the Geneva Inn and by Covenant Harbor. Look for the fish in 6-8 fish in the shallow weeds. The best approach is casting small white hair jigs or small fat head minnows. Lake Geneva, as a rule, is difficult to pattern the crappies so you need to keep moving to locate an active school.
Perch fishing has been very good. The fish have been by Knollwood and by Belvidere Park. The best depth is 6-8 ft of water. The best presentation is a Thill slip bobber tipped with a small fat head minnow about 1 ft above bottom. Overall, the fish are a bit small so plan to sort quite a bit to catch a meal, it is well worth the effort however.
Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050


EVERGREEN: Jim ``The Crappie Professor'' Kopjo sent this:

Hey Dale, Got down to Evergreen on Sunday. What a beautiful day to be on the water. We fished downed trees in the a.m. and caught about 50 fish....(7-8 feet down over 10-12 feet of water).slip bobber and minnows from Henrys (something about that special blue oxygenated water turns those slabs on!!) LOL ..later in the day we joined the "Armada"(15-18 boats) drifting the deeper water...west and south of the swim beach. (16-18 feet) keeping our baits above the bottom and close to the schools of shad worked to help us reach 100 fish caught....we cleaned around 50 nicer fish and split the fillets amongst the crew...we set our sights for 10" or better for keeper size and was pleased at what we saw ....males aren't completely black and the females eggs haven't turned the right color...need a little more time for the spawn...but we are close...60º-62º for a surface temp (for March this is insane) got my first sunburn..what a year

Any updated fishing report from site staff will be posted here.

POWERTON: Boat and shore fishing is open. Site is open daily 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

EMIQUON: The 2012 permits are available for fishing at Emiquon from Dickson Mounds Museum in Lewistown.

HENNEPIN-HOPPER LAKES: They will be closed again for 2012 as work on common carp removal continues.


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


For perch, see top. CHICAGO: Henry's derby caught browns and coho from shore Saturday. Park Bait reported browns around Montrose on Monday. Weather set things back a bit. Boaters continue to do extremely well for coho and some browns; there's been some surprising lake trout catches, too. WAUKEGAN: Capt. Augie Ralph at the Salmon Stop staff Johnson Motors and Government pier the best. Boaters are doing best slow trolling with small Dodgers and tinsel flies for coho, browns and some lakers. 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.


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

(Head): Legendary spring open water panfish bonanza is on in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area.

The legendary spring open water panfish bonanza has started in the Eagle River area, and lots of anglers are already out on the local waters catching fish.

It didn't take long for the smaller, shallower lakes and the rivers in the Eagle River area to open up. Not total ice-out, but these waters are eminently fishable. It's not difficult to get a great day of action right now. Fish on the Eagle River itself, or the Eagle River Chain of 28 lakes, the largest freshwater chain of lakes in the world. Look for muddy, shallow, back-bays or tucked in areas with some type of weed growth. The main catch will be perch, but crappies and bluegills are running shallow, too. The fish will generally be within a foot off the bottom. Use a slip bobber, tipped with a waxie, night crawler or crappie minnow. You'll get some fabulous action if you're in the right spot. This is an annual "rite of spring" in Eagle River, and lots and lots of anglers are enjoying it. The best part of this bonanza will last a week or so, but it will continue for another two to three weeks.. Get up to Eagle River now, to really get the best action possible.

(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. Willow Slough has unbelievable panfish action going for bluegill and crappie. Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters reported weather moved fish, but he is finding mostly coho with a few lakers (especially around the Gong) mixed in; best on Dodgers and small flies at Gary Light, Dean Mitchell and the Hole in the Wall.


Lakeside reported excellent crappie in the cribs, three bass over 18 inches in the past week, best on Baby 1-Minus; a few muskie caught, including a 43-incher last Wednesday.

You can check updates on Facebook.


Tyler Harmon messaged that not ``much of anything going on the piers. Panfish fishing in area lakes was good. On my last trip, limited out on Gills and hybrids casting plastics and live bait under floats.''



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Hi Dale, Do we need the parking pass to park at Montrose?
Is there anywhere other than Henry's selling them?
You say the "small" fisherman's lots.
Do the fisherman's lots fill up quickly and if so, where do I park then?
What a hassle, to go to the lakefront, for the couple of times per year that I do so.

Great report- that helps!

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on March 28, 2012 9:40 AM.

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