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Midwest Fishing Report: Lake section

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The spring trout opener on Saturday is the lead story for the lakes section of the Midwest Fishing Report; and so is the impact of the return to more normal spring.

fish04-04-12lakesMatt Weidensee.JPG

That's a typical bluegill from Lake Delavan, caught by Matt Weidensee on a trip with guide Dave Duwe.

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


Season opens Saturday. An inland trout stamp is needed for those 16 and older. Daily limit is five. Area waters include Axehead, Belleau and Sag Quarry East (Cook County); Silver (DuPage); Gebhard Woods State Park Pond (Grundy); Rock Creek at Kankakee River SP and Bird Park Quarry (Kankakee); Big Lake at Silver Springs SP (Kendall); Sand Lake at Illinois Beach SP and Banana Lake (Lake); Lake Atwood and Piscasaw Creek (McHenry) and Lake Milliken at Des Plaines Conservation Area (Will). Click here for the complete listing for Illinois.


A thunderstorm slowed the opening hour on Sunday for the longest line at the launch I ever saw. Walleye fishermen found some, including one 7-pounder off the center dike. Guide Pete Riedesel and I caught two muskies and lost two others off the center dike on Rat-l-traps. Overall, slower than expected, but some quality fish. Water was 55 degrees. The former cooling lake near Morris is open daily. Launch opens 6 a.m.; bank fishing, 6:30 a.m. Close is sunset.


Unfortunately, the great tradition of Chicago fishing opened with virtually nothing on Sunday night. 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. Some complaints of netters being hustled out of the park too early. Hopefully word gets around about the later close for smelters.


When weather allows the craziness continues for boaters in Indiana. especially out of East Chicago Marina. On Tuesday, Mik-Lurch reported the hot action in 50-51 feet off Gary Light. Unfortunately, the blow the next few days will likely shut it down again.

I am going to repeat the advice that southern Lake Michigan perch guru Mike Starcevich gave last week for handling deep-water perch: ``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.''


Water cools toward 50 on most lakes, and fishing has slowed from a couple weeks ago. Most interest is spring trout this weekend.


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): Great early season walleye bite along with a few smallies showing up, and spring turkey season is just around the corner; all in and amidst the lakes and the Wisconsin River of Wisconsin's Marathon and Lincoln Counties (near Mosinee and Wausau).

Even though we are just getting into April the walleye season has been off to a great start in the central Wisconsin area. With the warm temperatures in early and mid march we saw a drastic temperature spike causing the water temps to push well into the 50's. The higher than normal temps caused a surge in the walleye spawning season and fish moved to traditional early season location well before normal. Right now a few remaining walleyes are still spawning but most of them are already post spawn and can be found in a few significant areas. Look for shallow rocks in 3 to 5 feet of water and you will find remaining males and a few females that have not yet spawned. Work shoreline areas in 4 to 8 feet of water for post spawn females and the males that have started to head towards their summer locations. Jig and minnow combinations are working well as are casting crankbaits like Rapalas and Thundersticks in Firetiger and orange.

Smallmouth bass are starting to show up on traditional early season spawning grounds in the central Wisconsin area, and with the premature warm water temperatures this is a couple of weeks early. Shallow rocky areas are holding a few nice smallies and they can be caught on a variety of methods. When targeting spring smallies we like to toss jigs tipped with plastics like tubes, crayfish tails and twister tails even the gulp in the shad style will work. We also like to cast crankbaits like the Suicks, Cisco Kid and the Bomber Square "A" right up along shoreline structure and work the baits in and above the rocks. These pre-spawn fish are hungry and aggressive and when you find them hang on to your rod.

With all the attention being put on the early walleye season don't forget that the spring turkey season is right around the corner in the central Wisconsin area, and now is the time to be doing your pre-season scouting to be successful. With the early snow melt-off turkeys have been relocating to new areas for a couple of weeks now and locations that you may have had in mind for hunting may no longer be good choices. With the abundance of opportunities for food turkeys have no reason to stay in one location and there are a lot of places for them to feed and the savvy hunter will continually keep track of movements until their season approaches.

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


Arden Katz reported crappie remain good in the channels, key is finding the right channels. Triangle staff said crappie are the best bite, also look in the mouth of channels or shallow bays. For walleye (most are spawned out), try Marie or Petite. Pike have been extremely good, look near channel mouths in 8-12 feet. Bluegill fishing is beginning. For white bass, Triangle staff suggested trying in 6-20 feet for suspended fish.

For more reports, see

More Chain info at


BRAIDWOOD/MAZONIA: Cool down slowed fishing on Mazonia lakes. Undersized catfish, largemouth bass and small hybrids are best on Braidwood. Close is 7:30 p.m. HEIDECKE: See above. LaSALLE: The lake is back to daily operation from 6 a.m.-sunset. Unfortunately, fishing has been fair, though shore fishermen are picking up some hybrids.


DELAVAN: Guide Dave Duwe sent this:

Delavan Lake 4/1/12 through 4/8/12
The cold weather has put a damper on the boat traffic. There are still bluegills and crappies to be had. Most of the fish are in 2-3 ft of water. You need to keep moving to find the bigger fish.
Bluegill fishing is good in 2 ft of water. The best success is in the boat channels. Look for the fish in Viewcrest Channel, Browns Channel or the Highlands Channel. The fish are really aggressive if there is very little boat traffic. Sunday when I was fishing there were very few people out due to the temps and we caught a load of fish. The best presentation is the Thill slip bobber fished with a Genz bug. I tipped mine with a red worm it seemed to produce the bigger fish but the wax worms also worked fine.
Crappie fishing seemed to be slow this week due to the cooler temps. Most of the action was in Viewcrest Bay and Highlands Bay in 6-8 ft of water. Most people were catching them on purple plastic or on a slip bobber rigged minnow. Position the minnow about 1 ft above the weeds. You need to keep moving to find the aggressive fish. There are a lot of people anchoring. I use the trolling motor to find the fish and then I will anchor.
Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050
Daily Reports
4/1/12 - Delavan lake, 50 degrees, winds out of the East at 10 mph. Water temp 45 degrees. Caught a boat load of bluegills in the channels. Kept about 20, the best presentation was the Thill slip bobber fished with a Genz bug. It didn't matter whether you used wax worms or red worms, both were producing well. It was too cold to fish the main lake, speaking with others who had it was slower on the main lake than in the channels.
3/31/12 - Lake Geneva, 45 degrees, cloudy, winds NE at 15 mph. Water temp 43 degrees. Caught a few small bluegills, nothing major happening. Fished in Abbey Harbor in 3-4 ft of water. Fished waxworms on ice fishing jigs. The weather was cold and windy.

GENEVA: Duwe sent this:

Lake Geneva 4/1/12 through 4/8/12
It seems that summer came and left! The water temperature has dropped 10 degrees from last week. The fish seem to be very sluggish right now. Thanks to my friend, Brian Simon, there is a Walleyes for Tomorrow organization, where they are going to be harvesting eggs from the breeding stock of Lake Geneva and stocking the lake with its own walleyes. For further information you can email me and I will get you in touch with Brian. (
Bluegill fishing has been fairly decent in Trinkes harbor and in Abbey Harbor. You need to sort through a lot of fish to catch the keepers. The best bait is wax worms fished on a small bobber. Make sure you are only using a bobber as big as you need to keep the bait off bottom and remember to use a light line (4 lb test). The Abbey continues to allow 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 okay. The best location has been either by Covenant Harbor or by Rainbow Point. Look for the fish in 6-8 fish in the shallow weeds. The best approach has been casting small plastics in purple or chartreuse or the white & pink hair jigs. It can be difficult to pattern the crappies so you need to keep moving to locate an active school.

Perch fishing is still pretty 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. Size is still an issue with the perch, so plan on sorting a bit to catch a decent meal.
Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050


EVERGREEN: Site staff sent this:

APRIL 3, 2012

Water Condition
Water Level: Just under pool
Water Temps: Low 60's
Water Clarity: 2-4 ft.

Fishing has been good on Evergreen. Crappie have been scattered the last week, but have started to stage in some shallow water. Fish have been anywhere from 5-15 ft. Most fish in the last few days have been under 10 ft. Crappie are being caught mostly on minnows with many being caught on light colored jigs. Some Saugeye have been reported with most just under keeper size caught around the pump house. Bass have started to pick up more in the last week as the water warms back up. No reports of other fish lately as most people are targeting Crappie

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.

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


Blow will probably set fishing back the next few days. CHICAGO: Before the blows, smallmouth were in the harbors over the weekend. Park Bait reported a few small coho and some browns out on the Montrose horseshoe. WAUKEGAN: Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop reported boaters in 30-60 feet taking coho and browns on tinsel flies and Dodgers. Best pier for shore fisherman varies for browns on the bottom and some steelhead and coho. NORTH POINT: Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters reported very good coho in 80-120 feet on flies and Dodgers. 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): Legendary spring open water panfish bonanza continues in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area.

The good news is that things haven't changed much from last week in the
Eagle River area ? the BETTER NEWS is that means the annual ice-out perch bonanza is in full swing.

Lots of anglers are out in their boats on many Eagle River area lakes - -and the perch fishing is truly excellent. The best suggestion is to fish the Eagle River Chain of 28 lakes (the largest freshwater chain of lakes in the world). The Chain is providing the most consistently top-flight bite in the area.

Fish shallow, muddy bays, with scattered weds in six feet of water or less. The perch will be hovering on or near the bottom. Use a small minnow, chunk of crawler or waxie under a slip bobber or small jig. It's an all day bite, and a ton of fun for everyone.

The spring perch bite will start to taper off a bit in about a week, plus or minus, but there'll still be some very good action as we move on. Get up to Eagle River now. You'll be glad you did.

(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:

While a little cool weather, even one night of frost, returned to the Northwoods- things are still way out in front of where they should be at this time of year. Water temps that crested the 50 degree mark have settled back down into the low-mid 40's. While walleye spawning is trickling down on small to medium sized lakes, perch spawning is still underway with anglers finding nice perch to 12" full of spawn and milt taking crappie minnows and medium fatheads in areas of dark mud and sparse vegetation in 4-7' of water.

Bluegills that moved into collect the heat of the sun in as little as 1 foot of water during the warm spell have moved out to the 4-8' areas with the cool weather. Crappie anglers are doing well floating small minnows and gulp alive minnows below small floats in 8-10'.

With night time temps in the low 30's and day time temps in the low 50's - dramatic changes unlikely to occur. A slow gradual warm up from here on out this week should provide panfish anglers with some good opportunities.


For perch, see top. Willow Slough has had unbelievable bluegill action, question is how much the cool weather will knock it back. Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters reported coho along the walls with an occasional brown; lakers are good at the Gong; he's primarily using Dodgers and flies.


Lakeside reported crappie remain in the cribs, there's been some bass on the road bed. Water cooled to near 50.

You can check updates on Facebook.


Tyler Harmon messaged, ``Some coho action on the pier this last weekend. Crawlers and casting spoons produced fish for anglers. Panfish has become hit or miss, switching weather fronts has them moving around.''



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The good perch fishing is a fact off of Gary Light - matter of fact, it's as good as it's been in years. The problem is the greed and selfishness of fishermen out there throwing back 11-12 inch perch in order to try and catch a 14 incher. While the advice from Mik Lurch is well taken, fact is guys are still trying to throw back fish with stomachs blown and they aren't making it. Matter of fact, 2 weekends ago, the amounts of floating dead perch in the packs of boats was distrubing at best. And from experience, I'll say even if you do reel them up slow, it still doesn't always help the fish survive.

I'm not one to preach, because me and my crew are just as guilty since we're out there catching these spawning perch. The only difference is we keep all the fish we catch, even if they are 8-10 inchers. Also, these fish are so large that when you do hook a small one, you can usually set the rod in the rod holder and they will wiggle off. There's definitely a difference in the fight of a 14 incher vs. an 8 incher. I've personally also done my part to let the IN biologist know of the releasing tactics fo some fishermen that are out there, and they are considering alternatives for next year already (i.e. closed season), or at least that's what I was told. While closing the season is drastic, they could definitely institue a culling rule for the spring spawning season (i.e. you keep the first 15 perch you catch).

Don't be greedy guys: Keep what you catch. I remember the days when a 14 inch perch was 1 out of a cooler of 100 fish. Now we take them for granted.

It would only make sense that Illinois and Indiana have a closed season on Lake Michigan Perch fishing during the month of April. The freak of nature spring brought the Perch in for an early spawn, but in a normal spring and in many years past the spawning Perch school up heavy during the month of April and this when the majority of the spawning Perch are being caught. What is happening out there now is in no way even putting a dent on the Perch population in the 3-4 week time period those fish will be around. The Perch that don't survive after being released won't last long otherwise floating around, there will always be a seagull flying overhead looking for a free meal. Also the best thing the DNR did was to stop the comercial harvesting of the Lake Perch, that is where the most damage was done! Yes it has been a great year compared to last year and let's hope the weather cooperates this summer into the fall! Till then many Perch will be caught and put into the freezer!


Well said Poorboy. I'd like to take a step further and even consider if the fishery is that stable and strong and we aren't doing any damage harvesting all these spawning fish, then why not address the daily bag limit? Why not look at going from 15 to 25 or even keeping it a universal bag limit (i.e. IL, IN, MI) at 35 fish like MI has currently? If you ever fish South Haven, New Buffalo, or St. Joe, they definitely have the fishery to support the larger bag limits. Personally, I'd be happy with a 25 fish limit and a closure in April as you suggested. I'm not trying to sound greedy either: I'm just looking at it in comparison. If the population wasn't as strong as it reflects, you'd think the states would close the spawning season because of the need to protect those spawning fish? I guess that's a question more for the DNR, but the same argument can be made by IL closing their season in July instead of April? It makes no sense sometimes, but it is in fact the cards we've been dealt!

Dale, just an FYI-me and my kids saw a mature bald eagle flying over Dresden lake on Saturday morning. All three of us saw the white head and tail. We've seen plenty of eagles in WI but this was our first IL eagle so it was pretty exciting for us.

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on April 4, 2012 8:16 AM.

Stray Cast: Baseball, world-record muskie, Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame was the previous entry in this blog.

WWW Chicago outdoors: Morels, perch & spring trout (updated) is the next entry in this blog.

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