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Midwest Fishing Report: Chicago fishing/lakes

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The Wisconsin inland opener and the Daley Derby opening lead this Midwest Fishing Report.


I guess it would help to ID the fisherman, it's Dave Duwe, our guy for Delavan and Geneva, with a walleye from another season.

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 will the rivers section later.

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


Richard J. Daley Memorial Sport Fishing Derby opened Tuesday. In May, the species are perch, coho and chinook. Check fish in at Henry's Sports & Bait or Park Bait. It runs through September with cash prizes for the heaviest three fish from selected species caught around Chicago each month.


Inland season opens Saturday. I have more detailed reports for various sections of Wisconsin.

For northern areas, I thought Kurt Justice of Kurt's Island Sport Shop in Minocqua has some good general points for a very odd spring.

With the warm water, he said, ``Fish are really flocking to shallows afternoons. Everything is going to push up with the clouds and warm weather. Most fishing will occur in less than 8 feet.'' Lakes have more weed growth than usual. Perch and panfish are shallow. ``Start out with a couple dozen leeches,'' Justice said. `` We usually don't think of that until Memorial Day weekend.'' For walleyes, he suggested also throwing stickbaits shallow evenings. ``If you get a limit of walleye, turn attention to crappie,'' Justice said. ``Crappie have been fantastic.''

Here's the official word from the Wisconsin DNR:

The hook-and-line game fish season opens May 5 on inland waters for walleye, sauger, and northern pike statewide.

The largemouth and smallmouth bass southern zone opens May 5, while the northern bass zone opens for catch and release only from May 5 through June 15, with the harvest season opening June 16. Statewide, the harvest seasons for bass have a minimum length limit of 14 inches with a daily bag limit of five fish in total.

Musky season opens May 5 in the southern zone and May 26 in the northern zone. The northern zone is the area north of highways 77, 64 and 29, with Highway 10 as the dividing line. New this year is that the statewide minimum length limit for musky has increased to 40 inches from 34 in order to help boost natural reproduction. Research suggests muskellunge are more successful at producing young after their second or third year of maturity (up to 40 inches in length). The greater protection afforded by a higher length limit will allow more muskellunge to spawn more than once before they are vulnerable to harvest.

Also new this year, anglers must use a quick strike rig or a non-offset circle hook if they are fishing a minnow 8 inches or longer. When using a quick strike rig and a minnow 8 inches or longer for bait, anglers must immediately attempt to set the hook upon indication of a bite to avoid deep hooking the target fish.

The seasons for rock, yellow and white bass, panfish, bullheads and rough fish, catfish, cisco and whitefish are open all year. Check the "2012-2013 Guide to Wisconsin Hook and Line Fishing Regulations" for special regulations listed by county, for regulations on the Great Lakes and boundary waters, and for tributary streams to Green Bay and Lake Michigan. The complete guide is also available at DNR offices and license agents.


I expect this to be the best week since late March.

Jason Norris of sent this:

Getting some good reports, despite the funky weather. Busse produced 2 musky on 4/30/12 for different members of the site. Also reports of walleye and bass from Busse. Crankbaits and rattle baits seem to be producing best.

Beck has also produced a few nice bass.

New podcast on the site (if you have nothing else to listen to of course for 14 minutes)


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): Crappies, smallmouth bass, and walleyes hitting, with wild turkey
season going very well in, and amidst the lakes and the Wisconsin River in
Wisconsin┬╣s Marathon and Lincoln Counties (near Mosinee and Wausau).

The cooler water temperatures have been keeping the crappies staging just
outside their normal traditional spawning areas in the central Wisconsin
area. They are holding in about 10 to 14 feet of water, but can still be
caught on slip bobber rigs. We are running our baits about 4 to 7 feet down
on slip bobbers rigged up with small minnows on tiny bait hooks. To work
the area thoroughly we are drift fishing the area using the trolling motor
or for the most part the wind to help quietly slip us through the areas that
the crappies are holding in.

The smallmouth bass action has picked up this past week in the central
Wisconsin area, and we are seeing some nice fish in the 3 to 5 pound range
being caught. Most of the fish have been holding tight to shallow cover
(rocks or wood), but we have taken a few fish that are still holding in
deeper water while walleye fishing. We are catching our bass on jigs tipped
with minnows or plastics, but we are also getting a few of the bass on
crankbaits and spinnerbaits.

The walleye bite in the central Wisconsin area has been pretty good this
past week with a lot of nice fish in that 15 to 19 inch range being caught.
Most of our action is coming in 5 to 10 feet of water of water early and
late in the day, but we are seeing some mid day activity in the deeper
pools. We are running 1/8th and 1/4 ounce jigs tipped with fathead minnows
for the deeper water, but for the shallow water bite, we are tossing
Rapalas and Cisco Kid crankbaits in Firetiger and orange.

This turkey season has been very good in the central Wisconsin area, and
hunters have been taking quite a few nice toms. Now that the season has
been in full swing for a couple of weeks it is very important to be
strategic when calling and using decoys. As the season progresses, big wary
toms will become decoy shy and now is the time to start calling with the use
of a decoy. The next most important thing is not to over call. We cannot
MAKE! Once you have made that initial call sequence put the call away. The
birds know where you are and it is important for you to sit back and see what
happens. Time will tell, and after a while you will know when to call

That should do for the daily ration of fowl and fish.


Arden Katz reported good white bass in the deep holes in the river north on dropper shot rigs. Staff at Triangle reported walleye fishing is good around current areas--Marie is best lake--with split shot or Lindy rigs. Bluegill fair, but look for them to be more aggressive with warming water. Look for crappie in 8-12 feet, shallower toward evening.

For more reports, see

More Chain info at


BRAIDWOOD/MAZONIA: I would expect this to be the bust out week at Mazonia. Close goes is 8 p.m. HEIDECKE: Walleye and muskie are the steadiest bite. This should be a prime week. The former cooling lake near Morris is open daily. Launch opens 6 a.m.; bank fishing, 6:30 a.m. Close is sunset. LaSALLE: Open daily now.


DELAVAN: Guide Dave Duwe sent this:

Delavan Lake 4/29/12 through 5/6/12
Opening Day is this coming Saturday, May 5th. The water is still pretty cool, it is supposed to be warming up a bit this week so that should help. The fish should be biting pretty well by next week.
Northern Pike will be in 6-7 ft of water in the weed flats. The best approach will be fishing Thill slip bobbers with golden shiners. This is the only time of year I like to anchor. I will cast out 6-8 poles to see where the pike are hiding. Some of my best spots are the Highlands and Viewcrest Bays.
Largemouth bass will not be spawning yet, they should be in pre-spawn mode in 3-4 ft of water. I will be casting Senkos and Yum Dingers in green pumpkin color. The best location is by Lake Lawn Lodge or way back in Viewcrest Bay. The warm March has made the weed growth pretty thick for this time of year so the normal spots are going to be harder to fish.
Walleye action will be in the 6-8 ft depth range. The best presentation will be slip bobbers and shiner minnows. Look for the fish by Browns Channel or by Belvidere Park. The best time to fish them is low light conditions. Pre-dawn or Sunset in particular.
Pan fish will remain in the shallow waters. The bluegills will be in 3-4 ft of water. Bobbers with small ice jigs tipped with wax or red worms will be the best bet. The best locations will be by Lake Lawn Lodge and the channels. Crappies have been in 6-8 ft of water. They are aggressively hitting purple plastics fished about 2-3 ft beneath the bobber. My best location has been in Viewcrest Bay.
Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050
Daily Reports
4/29/12 - Rock River, 53 degrees, partly cloudy, winds E at 15 mph. Caught 10 white bass and 2 walleye. The fish were caught on a jig and minnow. The best depth was 5-7 ft of water. We only fished a few hours. The wind made boat control difficult. The best colored jig was orange.
4/24/12 - Delavan Lake, 60 degrees, little to no wind, water temp 53 degrees. Caught 25 crappies and about 40 bluegills, kept about 30 fish total. The crappies were caught in Viewcrest Bay, they were in 7-8 ft of water. They were caught on small plastics fishing them about 3 ft beneath the bobber. A nice slow retrieve was the best. The bluegills were in 3 ft of water, they were caught on an ice jig with a small red worm. The best location was in Lake Lawn Lodge.

GENEVA: Duwe sent this:

Lake Geneva 4/29/12 through 5/6/12
With the cool nights, the lake temperature remains pretty cold. We need some warm weather to make the fish active. The best bite for opening day on Saturday May 5th will be in water 4-5 ft deep. In early spring I however like to target smallmouth bass that are suspending around pods of bait fish. Catching them though can be very tough!
Smallmouth bass will be suspended in 12-15 ft of water. Use small hair jigs fished on 6 lb test. You want to swim the hair jigs back to the boat. It mimics the mirror shiners that are in the lake. The best location is by Elgin Club and by Belvidere Park.
Largemouth bass will be in the shallows in 3-4 ft of water. Look for the fish in Abbey Harbor and Trinkes. They can be caught on a Texas rigged Yum Dinger or a nightcrawler fished on a split shot rig. The fish are going to be pretty lethargic due to the water temperature. The spawn is about 1 month away.
Northern Pike will be scattered in the weed flats in 6-7 ft of water. They can be caught on Rapala Husky jerks in chrome/blue or chrome/black. The best location is by Trinkes or in Williams Bay. The secondary approach is anchoring and slip bobber rigging with golden shiners.
The perch bite remains in 4-5 ft of water. The best location has been by the beach near Fontana or in Knollwood. They are being caught on bobbers and small fat head minnows. It seems that the bigger minnows catch the bigger fish. Due to the water clarity they seem to bite better in low light conditions or when there is cloud cover.
Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050


POWERTON:Summer hours--6 a.m.-8 p.m.--are underway. Blues, flatheads and channel catfish have been the primary bite.

EMIQUON: I need to get down, but haven't 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.

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


From the Wisconsin DNR report:

Brown Co.
No report. East Shore
Bayshore Park: Beginning of the week was quiet at Chaudoir's Dock and Bayshore Park. By the middle of the week, there was a little fishing activity at Bayshore Park. There were three boat trailers, and one group caught two Walleye (both released). They used crank baits and caught them in about 13 to 14 feet of water. The surface temperature was about 49 degrees. On the weekend at Bayshore Park, there were several boat trailers and 3 pier fishermen. One angler caught a walleye using Flicker Shads for bait, and it was caught in about 17 feet of water. The walleye measured at 20.5 inches and weighed 3.2 lbs. Chaudoir's Dock: Beginning of the week was quiet at Chaudoir's Dock and Bayshore Park. On the weekend, Chaudoir's dock was picking up on fishing activity, there were several boats going out in the morning. Sawyer Harbor: It was quiet at Sawyer Harbor all week and weekend. Little Sturgeon Bay: At the end of the week, it was sunny and getting warmer. There was good fishing activity on Little Sturgeon Bay, 3 anglers caught and kept three northern pike. They ranged from 25 1/2 inches to 30 3/4 inches and weighed 4.2 lbs to 6.5 lbs. Artificial bait was the bait of choice, and the surface temperature ranged from 48 degrees to 53 degrees. The northern were caught in water depths from 3 feet to 10 feet. Another angler was out and caught 11 Walleye, all released. On the weekend, it was busy on Little Sturgeon Bay. There were boat trailers coming and going all morning. Two walleye and one northern pike were caught and kept. The walleye measured at 23 3/8 inches and 5.5 lbs and 25 1/2 inches and 7.5 lbs. The northern measured 26 1/2 inches and weighed 4.2 lbs. Crank baits were the most popular bait, and the fish were caught in about 8 feet of water. Other locations: It was quiet at Sugar Creek, Fish Haven, and Red River all week and weekend. Oconto Co.
Cool weather and windy days kept many fishermen off the water. Fishing pressure was light this week with water temperatures in the upper 40's to low 50's. Oconto Park II is being dredged and will be ready for opening day. Bluegill and crappie are still being caught at the Stiles Dam using garden tackle and slip bobbers. Some smallmouth are also showing up and responding well to plastics. Pike and bass make up the brunt of fish being caught on the Pensaukee River with stick baits and jigs working well. The walleye bite out of Oconto Breakwater Park and Oconto Park II has picked up in the last week, with one boat reporting more than 20 walleye being caught fishing in 8 to 10 feet of water trolling crawler/harness and stick baits.
Marinette Co.
Cool weather and windy days kept many fishermen off the water. Fishing pressure was light this week with water temperatures in the upper 40's to low 50's. Pike, smallmouth, and some walleye are being caught at the mouth of the Peshtigo River, both trolling crawler/harness and using stick baits and plastics fishing from shore. Menominee River anglers are catching a few walleye mostly during periods of low light jigging the Turn Basin with minnows or trolling with crawler/harness and stick baits. Hattie Street fishermen are catching a few walleye early mornings and evenings from the fishermen's walkway to Stephenson Island.


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


CHICAGO: Shore fishermen are finding smallmouth in the harbors (full moon is Saturday night). Henry's reported a few small browns in the harbors. Capt. Bill Kelly of Leprechaun Charters reported good lakers in 35-50 feet along the crib lines to Evanston; good coho in 150 and deeper. Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters said nice kings are with the lakers off the cribs. WAUKEGAN: Capt. Bob Jenkins of Challenger Charters reported perch showed up in 55-65 south of the harbor, best was 15 inches Tuesday. NORTH POINT: Poteshman said there's perch off Zion in 40-50; good coho with some lakers and kings in 30-80 from the state line south. 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.


Gene Dellinger at D&S Bait thought largemouth should be decent on the Mendota bays in 2-6 feet; some smallmouth on crankbaits in 10-15; walleye will probably be a night bite; muskie fishermen should be looking on Wingra. Bluegill have been active on tops of weeds on Monona.


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

(Head): Crappies and perch continue to put on a fair bite in the Eagle
River, Wisconsin area.

Water temps in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area are hovering in the low 50s.

Crappies in the Eagle River area, are locating in 12 feet of water or less
around weeds right off of break edges. The crappies will be a couple of
feet off the bottom. Use a crappie minnow under a slip bobber, or a small
tube jig. All day bite. Action is fair.

Perch in the Eagle River area are locating in 10 feet of water or less in
and areund weeds. The perch are tight to bottom. Use a crappie minnow or
chunk of crawler under a slip bobber, or hooked up to a small jig. All day
bite. Action is fair.

Best chance for fishing success right now remains the Eagle River Chain of
28 lakes (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:

With the weather forecast calling for warming temps plus clouds - maybe some rain - things look very good for the gamefish opener this weekend. Slowly rising water temps are bringing panfish and bass into the shallows to warm up. Insect hatches, signs of minnows and small perch are pulling walleyes, pike and muskies in also. The warmth and the cloud cover should keep fish fairly shallow (8' and less) and provide for a very good opener.

Crappies: Very good - Excellent. Pattern of deeper water(10-12') during cold mornings and shallow water (2-6') during warming afternoons has continued. For deeper fish - crappie minnows below slip-floats has worked very well. Small 1/32 oz jig heads with an imitation minnow (Gulp or Impulse) very effective. In the shallows keep split shot off line and let minnow swim free below thin stick floats. Nice fish over 13" this week. Lots of 10-12" fish.

Bluegills: Good-Very good. The warm afternoons have put gills up in the shallows. Waxies, small worms, even crappie minnows and artificials meant for crappies are catching nice gills in 2-5' of water.

Perch: Good. Most of what is being caught are males (some still carrying milt) that haven't had a chance to spawn (and won't) in shallows of 4-6' with some weed cover. Anglers are finding insects such as dragonfly larvae and also small leeches in the bellies of these perch - a good indication of how the warming water is bringing these food sources out into the shallows.

While the water temps weeks ago had hit the mid 50's around here, cooler temps lowered most lakes to the high 40 degree mark. We are now seeing temps creep back up into the low 50 degree mark. That is a great early spring temp. At the low to mid 50 degree mark, walleyes seem very eager to feed up following the spawn. If clouds and warmth continue, expect a good active opener.


Mik-Lurch reported coho in 70-90 from Michigan City to St. Joseph, Mich., which bodes well for the 38th annual Hoosier Coho Club Classic ( Saturday and Sunday in Michigan City. Perch have disappeared.


Check reports at Lakeside. I expect conditions to change dramatically this week, between the rain and the heat.


From the Wisconsin DNR Lake Michigan Report:

Southern Lake Michigan Fishing Report: April 30, 2012
Kenosha Co.
No report.
Racine Co.
Strong east winds have limited the number of successful fishing trips over recent days. Those fishing from shore have had their best luck casting chartreuse spoons in the harbor, but their success rate has been low. No trollers have been seen fishing due to strong east winds that have brought high wave action and kept the clarity of the water very low. On the Root River Recent rainfalls have the water at a moderate to dirty water clarity along with water temperatures hovering between 52-54 degrees. Upstream of the Root River Steelhead Facility about half a dozen anglers were seen fishing for steelhead with a few fish being landed, but success is still low. A few smallmouth bass were being reported caught in some of the deeper holes in the river as well.
Milwaukee Co.
North Shore: When winds are light browns are being caught in the harbor, between the gaps and outside the breakwater on various colors of spoons including blue and green. A few coho are also being picked up with similar presentations. Fishermen on McKinley pier have picked up a few brown trout while throwing spoons or fishing with minnows. The shoreline along Summerfest is producing a few 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 an only a few on minnows on the bottom. South Shore: With changing winds the past few days, very few fishermen have been out. Trolling flicker shads in bright colors and flies have brought about the greatest success for catching browns. Fishing under the Hoan Bridge has been slow. A few browns have been caught on the Grant Park pier. Ozaukee Co.
Port Washington Ramps: Low recorded angler activity. Anglers returning to the ramp reported successful harvest of coho salmon, chinook salmon, brown trout and rainbow trout in 120-180 feet of water using flies and dodgers. Port Washington Harbor/Shore: Low angler activity. Port Washington Pier: Low recorded angler activity. Anglers successfully harvesting brown trout, coho salmon, chinook salmon, whitefish and burbot using alewives. Port Washington Power Plant: Low angler activity. Sauk Creek: High water with an average temperature of 44 degrees.
Sheboygan Co.
Sheboygan Ramps: Anglers launching from Deland Ramp have reported successful harvest of chinook salmon, coho salmon, brown trout and lake trout in about 25-35 feet of water using spoons of assorted colors. Sheboygan Piers/Shore: Rain and wind deterred a high percent of anglers, and those that where out weren't having any luck. Sunny weather on Sunday (29th) increased angler activity but catch was still very low. Sheboygan River: High water with an average temperature of 45 degrees. Pigeon River: High water with an average temperature of 46 degrees.


Walleye, pike, stream trout and catch-and-immediate-release bass seasons opened Saturday in the lower peninsula. Tyler Harmon messaged this report,

Well while the trout opener was slow for some, we found some active fish. I landed a large 22" stream brown that went over 4 pounds. Bass fishing for the catch and release had an alright start and some fish were caught. No word on the walleyes, my best guess was the rivesr were about dead for them as the lake run walleyes have all left leaving only the small resident walleyes behind. Lake fishing for walleyes should remain good, crawler harnesses and crankbaits. Pike should be starting to scatter away from spring post spawn areas. Got a few hot days this week that may produce some good fishing so long as the wind and storms do not get out of hand.


Mik-Lurch reported walleye on Indiana side are the best bite on a jig and minnow, leeches or trolling with Shad Raps. I would expect bluegill, bass and pike to all take off on the Illinois side with the warm-up.



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1 Comment

Would like to congratulate Dave on his great catch and Dale for this wonderful fishing report.

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on May 2, 2012 7:32 AM.

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