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Midwest Fishing Report: Chicago fishing/lakes

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Regular spring patterns are the primary focus of this lakes section of the Midwest Fishinng Report.


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


Sectionals for the fourth IHSA bass fishing championship is Friday. Chicago-area sectionals are Friday at Braidwood (first), Busse, Chain O'Lakes (two), Heidecke, Shabbona, Skokie Lagoons and Wolf.


Lakeside is holding `` Going For The Illinois State Record Walleye'' Friday through Sunday at Shabbona Lake. It's free, and timing could be good; biologists said not all walleye are spawned out. If somebody happens to catch a state-record walleye (15.08 pounds), he or she would win ``a new 9.9 HP 4 stroke electric start long shaft Yamaha outboard engine valued at $2,800.'' Click here or call (815)824-2581. Some legal walleye have been caught on the rock piles of the road bed. . . . As to other fish, a pre-sectional tournament produced a 5.85-pound bass. Last weekend, the biggest of several muskies was 40 inches.


The up and down weather, and fronts, has pushed and pulled fish back and forth. Crappie remain the most consistent bite, now that the spring trout frenzy is virtually over.


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): Walleye bite still good, with bass, crappie and northern action
heating up, and wild turkey season in full swing; all in and amidst the
lakes and the Wisconsin River of Wisconsin's Marathon and Lincoln Counties
(near Mosinee and Wausau).

With the water temps staying in the upper 40's to low 50's the walleye bite
is remaining pretty good in the central Wisconsin area. We are still
seeing a lot of fish in their traditional spawning areas. Most of our action
is coming in 3 to 5 feet of water associated with rock's and good current.
We are catching most of the walleyes on 1/8 and 1/4 ounce jigs tipped with
minnows but we are also seeing a few fish on crankbaits like Rapalas and

The action for both largemouth and smallmouth bass is been very good this
past week in the central Wisconsin area. We caught quite a few nice fish in
the 3 to 5 pound range with a couple pushing that 6 pound mark! For the
largemouth bass we been targeting shallow wood and weeds in less than 3 feet
of water. To target these largies we are running plastics like tube tails
and creatures in greens and browns. Most of our smallmouth bass have been
caught working shallow rip rap areas in 1 to 4 feet of water. A lot of
these fish have been caught on crankbaits as well as a few of these fish
being caught on top water baits. But for the most consistent action on
smallmouth bass we been using jigs tipped with tube tails and when they are
really finicky we switch to a minnow or even a crawler.

We were starting to see the crappies slide up into their traditional spring
spawning areas in the central Wisconsin area, but now that the water
temperatures have dropped back down to the upper 40's those fish have moved
back to their pre-spawn staging areas and are now holding in anywhere from 8
to 14 feet of water. Even with the crappies moving out to deeper water we
have still been able to catch quite a few of them by working small jigs like
Mini-Mites and the Flu-flu jigs sometimes tipping them with a small minnows.
We are setting these jigs on slip bobbers set anywhere from 5 to 7 feet down
and letting them drift through the areas that we are targeting crappies.

In addition to the great action the been having on walleyes, crappies and
bass we have also been picking up a few nice northern in the central
Wisconsin area. Most of these fish of been associated with us casting for
walleyes and bass but the northerns that we have been catching have been
averaging 26 to 32 inches in length but we did see a couple in the upper 30
inch range pushing that 40 inch mark. These fish and been holding in
shallow water and you would be surprised at how much power and aggression
these cold water fish have when battling them on light line.

The 2012 Turkey season is here and it looks like it's going to be a good
one. With the early spring thaw we have seen a lot of birds on the move this
past week. For hunters heading into the woods in the early part of the
season subtle calling is key. Also the use of turkey decoys like the
B-mobile is invaluable. When setting up your decoys do a series of one
gobbler and two hens, placing the gobbler near one hen and then another hen
off in the distance. With this setup it draws the attention away from you at
on to the decoys. As a turkey moves in to check out the situation they're
not paying attention to you and you're given a very good opportunity to take
a clean shot.


Water levels are good after the rains. Staff at Triangle reported walleye picked up with increased current. Walleye are being caught on any method--crawlers, minnows, leeches or crankbaits--so go with your favorite. Bass are fair, some males moving in. Crappie and bluegill are in the channels. Catfish are fair. Look at the river for white and yellow bass.

For more reports, see

More Chain info at


Wind and weather limited effort. BRAIDWOOD/MAZONIA: Braidwood cooled to 75 on the south end, 71 on the north. Cool-down slowed effort at Mazonia, too. Close is 7:30 p.m. HEIDECKE: Walleye reports remain the most promising part of fishing here. The former cooling lake near Morris is open daily. Launch opens 6 a.m.; bank fishing, 6:30 a.m. Close is sunset. LaSALLE: Hatchery staff reported 70 at the intake (cool side) on Tuesday. The lake is back to daily operation from 6 a.m.-sunset. Reports have been fair.


DELAVAN: Guide Dave Duwe sent this:

Delavan Lake 4/16/12 through 4/22/12
Overall the action on panfish has been a bit slow. There have been quite a few fish caught but the average size has been a bit on the small side. The water temperature has remained very constant at right around 50 degrees.
The crappies remain in the shallow weed flats in 5-6 ft of water. The best location is by Lake Lawn, Viewcrest Bay or in the channel by the boat launch. Most of the success has come on purple plastics fished beneath a float. The water is still very clear so long casts are a necessity. Last week, I caught a whole bunch of fish but the average size was only about 6 inches. The bigger fish tend to show up a little later in spring when they move to the weed line instead of the weed flats.
Bluegill fishing has been very good except for the average size of the fish. The average has been only about 6 inches. I prefer keeping fish when they are 7-8 inches. Most of the fish are being caught on ice jigs tipped with wax worms. The fish are located in 3-4 ft of water. I've been catching more fish in the channels than anywhere else. The bite by the outlet dam has slowed due to the heavy weed growth. Good success has also come in the channel by the boat launch.
Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050

GENEVA: Duwe sent this:

Lake Geneva 4/16/12 through 4/22/12
The normal spring temperatures have arrived. Fishing remains okay overall. The most consistent bite has been for bluegills in Abbey Harbor, Perch by Fontana Beach and Lake Trout around the main lake points.
Bluegills are being caught in 3-4 ft of water. They are being caught on Thill bobbers fished with lindy toads. I tip the ice jig with wax worms or leaf worms. Boat fishing is the best way to have access to the Abbey. The boats have started to arrive and I don't think they are allowing people to fish off the piers any longer. The bluegills seem to be in the slightly deeper water where the outboard motors have washed away the sediment.
Perch are being caught in the shallows in 3-4 ft of water. The best location is by Rainbow Point and in Fontana. The best bait has been large fat head minnows fished beneath a bobber. It seems this week the bigger the minnow the bigger the perch. The water is ultra clear so make sure you go into a spot in stealth mode.
Lake Trout fishing is open right now. They are being caught on slip bobbers and shiner minnows or vertically fished right off bottom. The easiest way to catch them is when they are in 10-12 ft of water off the main lake points. A few last week were also caught in over 100 ft of water right tight to bottom. The best locations are by Black Point, Fontana Beach and Conference Point.
Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050
Daily Reports
4/14/12 - Delavan Lake, 65 degrees, winds were light out of the SW. Water temp 51 degrees. Caught 30-40 crappies, kept only 5, also caught about 40 small bluegills and kept 8. There was some really good action, however the size was a problem. The best success was coming in 3-4 ft of water. I fished in Viewcrest Bay and the inlet channel. Crappies were caught on small purple plastic and the bluegills were caught on leaf worms.
4/13/12 - Lake Geneva, 60 degrees, winds SW at 20 mph. Water temp 48 degrees. Caught a whole bunch of perch, 10 were kept over 10 inches. The fish were in 3-4 ft of water in Fontana. It seemed the bigger the minnow, the bigger the perch. I used large fat head minnows for the best success.


EMIQUON: As usual, there have been days with unbelievable fishing reports. I haven't made it there yet this year. The 2012 permits are available for fishing at Emiquon from Dickson Mounds Museum in Lewistown.

EVERGREEN: 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.

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


From the Wisconsin DNR report:

Green Bay Fishing Report: April 16, 2012
Brown Co.
No report.
East Shore
The beginning of the week was slow at Bayshore park and Chaudoir's dock, as it was still very windy. By the middle of the week, the fishing activity was starting to pick up a little. The bay was calm, and it was starting to warm up. There were several boats at Bayshore park and one angler caught 1 walleye measuring at 24 inches and weighing 6 pounds using artificial bait. The end of the week brought rain and warm temperatures, which were favorable for some anglers. There were 2 pier anglers and one boat at Bayshore Park. Over at Chaudoir's Dock, there were several boats and 2 anglers caught 4 walleye and kept 2 using artificial bait. One walleye measured at 19 inches and weighed 3 pounds, the other walleye measured at 21 inches and weighed 3 1/2 pounds. Sugar Creek, Fish Haven, and Red River park had no fishing activity all week. It was slow in the beginning of the week in Sawyer Harbor, but one group of anglers were successful at catching walleye in Little Sturgeon Bay. They caught 9 walleye and 2 pike (all were released) using mostly artificial jigs for bait. By the end of the week it was getting warmer, and there was more activity. In Sawyer Harbor there were 3 boats, and over in Little Sturgeon Bay there were 6 boats.
Oconto Co.
Fish pressure was low to moderate this past week due in part to strong winds. Water temperatures in the Bay are in the mid to upper 40's. Fishermen at the Stiles Dam have been catching some panfish, mostly crappie, using slip bobbers and minnows and fishing in and around the pilings below the Dam. Catch and release smallmouth has started in both the Pensaukee and Oconto Rivers with jigs and stick baits working well. A few walleye and brown trout are being caught from Oconto Breakwater Park to Oconto Park II trolling crawler/harness in 7 to 10 feet of water. Catch rates are low.
Marinette Co.
Fish pressure was low to moderate this past week due in part to strong winds. Water temperatures in the Bay are in the mid to upper 40's. A few walleye are being caught at the mouth of the Peshtigo River and in the Bay proper; trolling on the Bay with crawlers is the preferred method, while jigging with plastic or minnows in the river has been producing a few nice fish. Sheepshead, smallmouth, walleye, and carp are reported being caught in the Menominee River by fishermen trolling with stick baits and jigging the Turn Basin and river mouth. Action has been slow.


Click here for the Lake Erie prospects, a fun and informative read. For Ohio DNR report go to and or call (888) HOOKFISH.


Again a blow limited effort early in the week. CHICAGO: Smallmouth are being caught in the harbors. Capt. Bill Kelly of Leprechaun Charters said plenty of lakers in 30-50 feet east of the cribs and plenty of browns caught by small boaters along the walls by Chicago Light. Perch slowed. WAUKEGAN/NORTH POINT: No perch. Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters reported some browns and salmon near shore by the ComEd plant, but lakers and a mixed bag are OK from 100-200 feet. SMELT: Virtually none for the great tradition of Chicago fishing. 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. 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.


Click here for D&S Bait.


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

(Head): Cooler weather has slowed panfishing action in the Eagle River,
Wisconsin area.

With water temps continuing to hold in the low 40s, panfishing action has
slowed somewhat in the Eagle River area.

For perch and crappies in the Eagle River area, fish 10 feet of water or
less over mud bottom, bays and backwaters, with some weeds. The perch will
be tight to bottom. The crappies will be hovering a couple feet off the
bottom. Use a crappie minnow or chunk of crawler under a slip bobber or
small jig. All day bite, but the action is not quite what it has been. As
soon as some warmer weather comes in, the fishing action will improve
considerably. Best lakes to fish are still the Eagle River Chain of 28
lakes (the largest freshwater chain of lakes in the world).

(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:

Weather that is more consistent with April slowed the fishing down in the mid to high 20's, rising to the high 40's- low 50's by afternoon put most of the bite in the later part of the day. Over the weekend, cloud cover held the heat in and water temps stabilized.

Crappies: Fair-Improving. Live bait (minnows) best during the colder mid-week, plastics (tubes), hair jigs picking up with warmer temps.

Bluegills: Fair. Afternoons best when sun shining in shallows. Waxies, gulp grubs on small jigs.

Perch: Fair. Mostly finished spawning (very prolonged spawn this spring). Medium fatheads over dark bottomed mud flats of 4-7'.

End of the week looks to return to last weeks pattern (cold mornings of 20's followed by mild afternoons in the 40's). Expect fishing to suit.


Poteshman said some browns, a few kings and coho are by the Inland wall; good lakers by the Gong. Mik-Lurch reported some action by the Donut and Michigan City in 45-52. Perch disappeared. Panfish are doing well at Willow Slough and Pine (LaPorte).


From the Wisconsin DNR Lake Michigan Report:

Southern Lake Michigan Fishing Report: April 16, 2012
Kenosha Co.
No report.
Racine Co.
Browns and a few coho were being caught on the east side of the Racine harbor on spoons of various colors, with blue being the most productive. Minnows on a slip bobber could also pick up fish throughout the day. On the Root River steelhead fishing pressure has been minimal, even on the weekends. DNR crews finished spawning steelhead at the Root River Steelhead Facility on April 2. A total of 233 fish were processed this spring, including one Chinook salmon. Both Chambers Creek and Ganaraska strains of steelhead were spawned, and our egg collection goals have been met. The facility will reopen in the fall for the salmon run.
Milwaukee Co.
North Shore: Winds have dictated fishing success, when winds are light browns are being caught in the harbor, between the gaps and outside the breakwater on various dark colors of spoons including blue and green. A few coho and lake trout are also being picked up with similar presentations. Anglers on McKinley pier have picked up a few brown trout while throwing spoons or fishing with minnows. The shoreline along Summerfest is producing some browns with the most successful presentations focusing on minnows and spawn sacs, with a few additional fish being caught on spoons. Those anglers trying for perch have a picked up only a few on minnows on the bottom. South Shore: With changing winds the past few days, few fisherman have been out. Those that have braved the wind have reported browns and lake trout caught out of both Bender and South Shore Park. Trolling flies and flicker shads in bright colors have brought about the greatest success. Fishing under the Hoan Bridge has been successful depending on the day. Using minnows under floats and throwing spoons could result in catching a limit of browns or not catching any depending on the time and day itself. Very few rainbows have been caught up Oak Creek recently, but a few browns have been caught on the Grant Park pier. Milwaukee River: Low water was on the rise with the rainfall over the weekend. With the increase in flow has come a sharp decrease in water clarity. Very few anglers were fishing for steelhead anymore. Smallmouth bass have been caught near Estabrook Park on tube jigs and crank baits. Water temperatures readings were rising to approximately 59-62 in the shallows with rain water moving into the streams. Menomonee River: No anglers were present fishing for steelhead on the river. The remaining anglers had switched the concentration to fishing for walleyes in the deep holes. Anglers reporting success right at daybreak and again at dusk while using leeches on the bottom or below a bobber. Water temperatures readings were approximately 59-62 in the shallows. Like the Milwaukee, the Menomonee was rising and becoming dirty with rain water washing debris into the river.
Ozaukee Co.
Port Washington Ramps: Low recorded angler activity. Brown trout, rainbow trout and chinook being harvest at 90 to 100 feet or around 35 feet using spoons (blue was the favored) and rapalas (orange was the favored). Anglers had very little luck catching anything off the bottom. Fish cleaning station at the marina is open for season. Port Washington Harbor/Shore: Low recorded angler activity. Port Washington Pier: Low recorded angler activity. Whitefish schooling on the side of the pier, but anglers not having luck catching them or trout. Some anglers smelting at the base of the pier. Port Washington Power Plant: Low recorded angler activity. Sauk Creek: Fish cleaning station open for season. High water after recent rains.
Sheboygan Co.
Sheboygan Ramps: Low recorded angler activity. Browns, lake trout and chinook being caught in 20 to 35 feet of water on spoons and crankbaits. The lake trout were more around 35 feet, the browns in around 20 to 25 feet, and the chinook were in the middle. Fish cleaning station and restrooms at the Deland Ramp are open for the season. Sheboygan Piers/Shore: Low recorded angler activity. Some anglers successful at catching brown trout on minnows. Anglers not having luck casting. Fish cleaning station and restrooms on the south pier are open for the season. Sheboygan River: Low recorded angler activity. High water after recent rains. Pigeon River: Low recorded angler activity. High water after recent rains. Weedens Creek: Very low recorded angler activity. Edgewater Power Plant: Low recorded angler activity.


Tyler Harmon messaged,

These passing fronts really have the fishing all messed up. Its hot then it cools off. The winds been blowing hard the past few days as well. Going to need a few days to settle. After it does I would expect panfish action to start to pick up. Sucker fishing on the river has been about shot. Only picked up a few here and there.


Mik-Lurch mentioned that smaller walleye are being caught in the corn channel on the Indiana side, some bigger ones caught at night.

Of more interest is this report from Ray Hinton on the Illinois side:

Wolf Lake has been feeding me going on 46yrs and still with all the fishing pressure, I catch fish at will. I've fished Canada to Florida, California to Virginia and when I come home there's no place like the Wolf. The (Northern Pike ) are out of control and none should be thrown back for years to come .They are devouring everything in there path, I recently caught a 34inch Pike with a 15inch (walleye) in its belly.....We pay to stock Walleye's and we are really feeding the Northern Pike. Today 4/14/12 I was catching slab crappies and a Northern Pike at least 15lbs came up to the boat and just took it from me. I had to say something about this adventure, and will write the Dept. of Conversation about the limit on Northern Pike here at the great Wolf Lake.....In the mean time these pictures will tell you why.....Slab Crappies baby..



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1 Comment

Someone obviously puts a lot of effort into compiling these reports. Thank you for your hard work and for all of the information.

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on April 18, 2012 8:35 AM.

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