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Midwest Fishing Report: Lakes around Chicago fishing

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Spring signs--Mazonia panfish, North Point salmon, Wisconsin's opening weekend report--and even a mention of shellcrackers lead this lakes section of the Midwest Fishing Report.


Bill Lanham sent this photo from Mazonia of John Scheffki of Homewood.

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 earlier.

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


In May, the species for the Richard J. Daley Memorial Sport Fishing Derby 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. Park Bait already weighed in some big kings, caught from the horseshoe, on Monday.


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): Walleyes, crappies, bass and northerns all hitting, with a great
wild turkey season continuing in, and amidst the lakes and the Wisconsin
River in Wisconsin┬╣s Marathon and Lincoln Counties (near Mosinee and

With water temperatures now reaching the upper 50s, and in some areas 60
degrees, the walleyes are finalizing their move to traditional late
spring/early summer haunts in the central Wisconsin area. We are finding a
lot of nice fish in the mid range depths from 6 to 10feet of water, with a
majority of fish holding in deeper water levels from 12 to 16 feet deep. We
are catching most of the walleyes on 1/8th and 1/4 ounce jigs that are
tipped with fathead minnows, but in some cases Berkley Power Baits and Gulp
minnows are working almost as well.

The shallow water crappie bite is going strong in the central Wisconsin
area, and for anglers looking to target some nice slabs now is when you can
find them, holding tight to shallow cover like wood, downed timber and
docks. To catch these slabs run slip bobbers or clip on bobbers rigged up
with a small jig set down about a foot to 18 inches. You can also use a
tiny #6 or #8 octopus hook. Bait the jig or hook with a small crappie sized
minnow hooked lightly through the lips and toss it close to the structure.
The key to being successful with shallow crappies is to be very quiet and
stealth-like as excessive boat noise or even hanging your lure up in the
branches and yanking it around above the crappies will spook them away.
Also try to keep your distance as moving in too close will for sure push
them out of the area or spook them enough that they won't bite at all.

For your bass anglers in the central Wisconsin area, the bite has been
pretty good this past week as we saw some very nice fish with a variety of
methods. First of all, a lot of the fish we caught were in very shallow
water and holding tight to the shoreline structure. Most of the fish were
related to rocky shorelines, but a few were holding tight to wood. Some of
the fish we caught were holding up in less than a foot of water. We are
running small crankbaits and spinnerbaits for the fish holding along the
rocky shorelines, but when we are working along the wood we are running tube
jigs and plastics like beaver tails and crawfish to really pick apart the

This past week has also been very good for northern in the central Wisconsin
area. We caught several nice fish on crankbaits and spinnerbaits along with
one giant that was 42 inches long. Most of the northerns we caught were in
shallow water associated with sand or gravel.

Turkey hunters in the central Wisconsin area have been having a great
season, and with a few weeks left to hunt it is time to start trying some
late season tactics, and really turn down the calling. Spot and stalk
methods will really come into play now as the birds have been hunted hard
for a couple of weeks, and are very "gun shy" around decoys and unnecessary
calling. Try locating early in the morning or late afternoon feeding areas,
and set up in an ambush area or set up in a way that you can close the
distance by silently stalking through and around cover. You have to be
cautious as turkeys have very keen eyesight, but with this method you may
very well have an opportunity at some of the largest, wariest birds in the
area. We have done this many times, and to us it is actually more rewiring
being successful stalking a turkey than it is to sit in blind hunting and
waiting for them to come to you.


Staff at Triangle reported bluegill picking up, look shallow. Walleye are good on leeches or crawlers; look for current areas, best lakes Marie and Bluff. Muskie are good on small bucktails or jerkbaits; Bluff is the pick. Pike are biting around creek areas with large spinners. Crappie, catfish and white bass are fair.

For more reports, see

More Chain info at


BRAIDWOOD/MAZONIA: Bill Lanham sent this for Mazonia:

Found my way onto a couple Mazonia lakes yesterday.
Went looking for a crappie bite with a redear and pumpkinseed back-up plan.
The poor crappie;
Will they ever drop eggs this season? Every time they get close to getting started, the weather gives em another wallop. They don't like lightning one bit and these storms of late have been full of electricity.
Bluegills are fanning beds. Shellcrackers are cruising the shallows in groups of several. Big female bass are all over the shorelines and ready to create new life.
Pumpkinseeds are ........... ummm.....
It's a fun time us fishermen.

I will simply say I will be out there in the next week as I expect this to be the bust out time at Mazonia, but be aware that some of the lakes with access to the Mazon River may be stained and/or high. The Mazon is coming off a major flood.

HEIDECKE: Ed McCain at Mik-Lurch said the water cooled into the 50s, slowing the crappie. When water warms, crappie bite should come back on the north side. Walleye are being taken on the north side humps. 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. Haven't heard much.


DELAVAN: Guide Dave Duwe sent this:

Delavan Lake 5/6/12 through 5/13/12
Fishing season is officially open! Now if we could tell the fish that we'd be all set. Fishing is fairly decent but it would have been nice to see a bit more action this past weekend.
We have these east wind that we can't seem to shake. Once we get a more steady wind direction, fishing should improve.

Largemouth bass are in the shallows in 3-4 ft of water. The best location has been in Viewcrest Bay or by Lake Lawn Lodge. The best presentation is casting green pumpkin All Terrain Stiks. My preferred method of hooking them in Texas rigged. With the warm March, the weed growth is a lot thicker than recent years. Although I wasn't fishing for bass on Sunday, I did see several nice fish caught. With warmer weather, fishing should improve.

Bluegill fishing is also in the shallows in 3-4 ft of water. The best approach is small ice jigs tipped with leaf worms or wax worms. The channels seem to be producing most of the action. One of the big problems is the overall size, it's hard to find an 8 inch bluegill this year. With the cool water, the spawn is probably 2-3 weeks away.

Northern Pike can be caught on slip bobbers tipped with suckers or large golden shiners. Work a depth of 6-7 ft of water. Most success is coming in Highlands Bay or over by the Oriental boat house. What I have been doing is anchoring the boat and casting the baits down wind from the boat. Position the bait about 1 ft above the weeds.

Crappie fishing this week was very slow. I fished almost 2 hours for them on Sunday in many different spots with not so much as a bite. I don't know if it was the east wind or the front that was moving through, but they didn't seem interested in what I was presenting. We tried minnows and small plastics with only bluegills coming on the line.

Walleyes are biting during low light conditions. They are biting on crankbaits, chrome/blue Husky Jerks or chrome/blue Smithwick Rogues. You want to fish in 6-8 ft of water. The best location is by the Oriental boathouse and by the Village Supper club.

Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050

Daily Reports
5/6/12 - Delavan Lake, water temp 53 degrees, cloudy with E winds at 15 mph. Air temp 60 degrees, chased off near the end of the trip due to T-Storms. Caught 2 northern pike and a handful of bluegills. Was on a quest for crappies, we moved around 8 or 9 times without success. We were fishing anywhere from 6 to 15 ft of water. The northern pike were caught anchor fishing and they weren't overly cooperative either, we did have one other fish on that got off.
5/5/12 - Lake Geneva, water temp 51 degrees, cloudy with E winds at 15 mph. Air temp 55 degrees. Caught 10 Largemouth, 5 were legal, the biggest was 4 lbs and a bunch of bluegills, a couple rock bass and a couple perch. Most of the success came in Abbey Harbor. The perch and rock bass were caught off of Black Point. The best bait was split shot rigged nightcrawlers. The perch bit on fat head minnows.

GENEVA: Duwe sent this:

Lake Geneva 5/6/12 through 5/13/12
The water on Geneva remains very cold for Opening Day. There isn't much action on the main lake. Rock bass and perch were the only species biting in the cold water of the main lake basin. We tried for smallmouth bass without success. My friends were out there on Saturday as well and no smallies were caught with 8 people trying for them.
Largemouth bass are biting in the shallows, 3-4 ft of water is the best bet. The best locations are Geneva Bay and near the Abbey. The fish are all pre-spawn and waiting for a few degrees of water temperature increase to begin. My success came on a split shot rigged nightcrawler, basically just casting it out and letting it do what it does. The problem with so few shallow areas on Lake Geneva, is the boat traffic on those key locations.
Perch remain in 3-5 ft of water. They can be caught by Knollwood, Black Point and by Fontana Beach. I found that the bigger the fathead minnow, the bigger the perch. The perch we caught on Saturday were nice keepers. The best rig was the slip bobber rig with a small single hook and a 3/0 weight.
Rock bass are biting in the main lake basin. They can be caught in anywhere from 12 to 15 ft of water. Small hair jigs or fat head minnows are producing most of the fish. The best action is by Elgin Club or by the Military Academy.
Smallmouth bass fishing is really tough. The water is just too cold for them yet. We need a few warm days for the fishing to improve. The lake bottom is covered in the green slimy weeds, so you need to fish the bass up in the water column. You can use a drop shot rig with a 4 inch Houdini worm or cast Arkie lures Shinee Hinee.
Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050


CARLYLE: Crappie are best bite on the lake; below, drifting for sauger is very good.

SHELBYVILLE: One of the best spring bites for crappie keeps going.

REND: Crappie and catfish are going. Guide Jason Johns said the bluegill are the surprise bite, especially for their hand-size.

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 on Monday:

Brown Co.
No report.
East Shore
It was chilly with scattered rain at the beginning of the week, and it was mostly quiet. The middle of the week brought scattered rain and thunderstorms, but it was warm. The weekend was very busy. Bayshore Park: Over at Bayshore Park, it was very busy. The anglers were targeting walleye, and a total of 76 of them were caught and 61 were kept. Chaudoir's Dock: At Chaudoir's Dock it was moderately busy; the fishermen were targeting walleye. One group caught 17 walleye and 1 brown trout, all were kept. The fish were caught in about 12 to 16 feet of water and artificial was the main bait. Sawyer Harbor: In Sawyer Harbor, there were about 17 trailers and the fishermen were mostly targeting smallmouth bass. A total of 56 smallmouth bass were caught, and 13 were kept. One fisherman alone caught 30 of them. The bait of choice was artificial, and the water temperature was 48 degrees. Little Sturgeon Bay: At Little Sturgeon Bay, it was very busy. Many fishermen were targeting smallmouth bass, and a total of 448 of them were caught throughout the day; only 5 were kept. The bait of choice was various tube jigs, and the fish were mainly caught in 4-6 feet of water. Some northern pike and walleye were caught as well. One angler caught a 20.5 inch, 6.5 lbs smallmouth bass, and released it. Other locations: There was no one at Red River, Sugar Creek, and Fish Haven. The pier is completed at Carmody's Landing.
Oconto Co.
Wind and rain again last week kept most fishermen home. Water temperatures on the Bay have risen to the mid 50's providing some very good fishing opportunities this past weekend. Panfish and smallmouth bass have been the mainstay of fishermen on the upper Oconto River, slip bobbers and live baits are working for the panfish, while the smallies have been responding well to plastics and crank baits. Smallmouth bass are being caught in the Pensaukee River using jigs and plastic or crank baits. Fishermen out of Oconto Breakwater Park to Oconto Park II had a great opening weekend for walleye with many boats coming in with limits of fish in the 17 to 23 inch range. Trolling crawler/harness and stick baits have been producing lots of nice fish.
Marinette Co.
Wind and rain again last week kept most fishermen home. Water temperatures on the Bay have risen to the mid 50's providing some very good fishing opportunities this past weekend. Boaters fishing out of the mouth of the Peshtigo River did well this weekend for walleye, smallmouth, and pike. Trolling in 5 to 7 feet of water with crawler/harness or stick baits have producing most of the fish. Pike anglers have had success casting spoons in shallow both on the Bay and in the River. Fishing had been slow on the Menominee River with some trout and walleye being caught by shore fishermen from Stephenson Island up to the Dam. Early mornings and evenings have been best with fishermen using plastics and Rapalas.


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


CHICAGO: While weather-impacted, depending on the day, harbor smallmouth are going. Park Bait reported two big kings (14 pounds) and a couple coho from the Montrose horseshoe on Monday. Capt. Bill Kelly of Leprechaun Charters reported lakers in 35-55 feet from the Wilson crib to northeast of the T marker on big Dodgers and big flies; very few salmon. WAUKEGAN: Lori Ralph of the Salmon Stop reported good perch straight out in 50-55 feet; and good salmon in 40-60, straight out and south, on tinsel flies and Dodgers (Mardi Gras patterns). NORTH POINT: Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters reported outstanding fishing: plenty of coho, with a ridiculous amount of kings (up to 18 pounds) mixed in, on the hill, inside the hill and deep. Summer patterns--spoons or big Dodgers and flies--are working for kings; spring stuff for coho. 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): Fishing opener in Eagle River, Wisconsin with great northern
action, and a good bite for walleyes, crappies and perch.

The Eagle River, Wisconsin area welcomed the Wisconsin fishing opener with
some really good action. Waters temps are in the low 50s, lake dependent.

Northern in the Eagle River area are putting on a great bite. Fish in and
around weeds in 10 feet of water or less. Rapala's and Mepps #3 or #4 are
working, along with northern size minnows under a bobber. Anglers are
having a ball catching these very aggressive fresh water alligators.

Walleyes in the Eagle River area are just outside the weeds in 10 feet of
water or less. As the weather warms throughout each day, and the sun heats
up the area, the walleyes are moving into the weeds themselves. Use a
1/16th ounce jig and a fathead minnow, which has been working best. If the
wind comes up switch to a 1/8th ounce jig. The walleyes are putting on a
good to very good bite.

Crappie and perch in the Eagle River are being caught in and among the
walleyes, just outside of weeds in 10 feet of water or less. Use a 1/16th
ounce jig and fathead minnow. Good, consistent action for both crappies and
perch, with the crappies holding a few feet off the bottom, and the perch
tight to bottom.

It looks like this is shaping up to be a great fishing season in Eagle
River. Come on up and find out for yourself - -especially during the
springtime. Everything's fresh and new. Everything's beautiful.
Everything's welcoming in one of Wisconsin's most renowned visitor areas.

(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:

wicked wind from the east put a damper on what had looked to be a possible great opener. The warming trend of the week leading up changed Friday night by a cold front and wind switch. Panfish anglers were reporting lots of gamefish activity prior to opening on Saturday. Cold, wind and some rain put a stop to the hot bites for just about everything. Sundays heavy wind and rain kept a lot of anglers off the water, though the ones who braved the weather reported better fishing as the temps warmed.

Crappies: Fair-Good. This bite will return quickly now that temps have moved up again. Minnows below floats best when windy. Calmer days needed to feel bites on jigs.

Walleyes: Fair. Disappointing action for the most part. Deeper than expected with better catches coming from larger lakes in 14-20' depths. Redtailed chubs, black chubs and walleye suckers on 1/8-1/4oz jigs and Lindy style rigs best. Due to the cold front, shallow fish negatively impacted for the most part with slight drop in surface temps. There were a few exceptions on bodies where populations of small males found hanging together.

Pike: Poor-Fair. Surprisingly few reports. Not a lot of anglers targeting pike yet.

Perch: Poor-Fair. Shallows holding spawned out fish. Light jigs/minnows or 1/2 crawlers under floats best.

Largemouth, Smallmouth, Bluegill: Largemouth and bluegills seen roaming shallows, but, few catches.

Surface temps as of Saturday ranged from low of 51 degrees to highs of 59 degrees. While the rest of the week looks overcast and chance of rain, return of west winds should improve bite along with more stable temps in upper 60's. Crappie anglers should keep eyes open for early spawn, some crappies up shallow and males very dark already.


Mik-Lurch reported good walleye and crappie at the Lake of the Woods near Bremen; quality and numbers of good panfish at Willow Slough. On Lake Michigan, smallmouth are hot near rocks, warmer marina waters and Lake Street on Poor Boys or 4-inch PowerBait twistertails in darker colors on a 1/4-ounce jig. Jeff McGovern on King's Ransom won the amateur side of the Coho Club Classic with magnum spoons or Spin Doctors with Blue Bubble flies. The best band of salmon/lakers is in 50-100, the Ditch east to Michigan City.


Lakeside said crappie are the top bite. Check reports at Lakeside.


From the Wisconsin DNR Lake Michigan Report on Monday:

Kenosha Co.
No report.
Racine Co.
Trollers in Racine have been catching good numbers of Chinooks nearshore, and coho have been found further out, around 200 feet of water. Those fishing from shore in Racine have had their best luck throwing chartreuse color spoons in the harbor, but their success rate has been low. Recent rainfalls have the Root River running high and dirty with water temperatures hovering between 52-54 degrees.
Milwaukee Co.
North Shore: Light winds over the past few days have allowed trollers to get out consistently. Fishermen have switched from targeting browns to Chinooks, with limits of Chinooks not uncommon. Most trollers have been focusing in 40 to 60 feet of water with spoons of various colors. Downriggers or 3 to 5 colors of lead core have been the most productive for catching Chinooks. Fishermen on McKinley pier have picked up a few brown trout and even an occasional Chinook salmon while throwing spoons with blue or green & silver being the most productive colors. Fishing shiners and alewives under a bobber has produced fish as well. The shoreline along Summerfest is producing a few browns with the most successful presentations focusing on minnows with a few additional fish being caught on spoons. South Shore: With light winds, trollers have been out of South Shore with some success. Fishing under the Hoan Bridge has been slow. Using minnows under floats and throwing spoons would lead to the best chance for catching browns. A few fishermen were out on Oak Creek fishing for rainbows, but success was very limited. A few boats have been seen trolling at Bender Park. Milwaukee River: With heavy rains over the past few days the water flow has picked up dramatically and water clarity is extremely low. No anglers were spotted fishing for steelhead. Anglers attempting to fish for smallmouth bass did not much have much results. Most anglers were trying small crank baits. Water temperatures readings were around 56 degrees in the shallows. Menomonee River: A few anglers were seen catching catfish in the deep holes. Water temperatures readings were approximately 57 degrees in the shallows. The river was dirty with a high flow rate which will probably rise in the upcoming days as more rainwater moves downstream.
Ozaukee Co.
In Port Washington trollers have been successful catching coho and Chinooks, along with a few browns and rainbows in 120 to 180 feet of water. Dodgers and flies have been most effective. Anglers fishing off the pier in Port have been catching a mix of browns, coho, and Chinooks, and the most fish have been taken on alewives. Sauk Creek is high and muddy after this weekend's rain.
Sheboygan Co.
Trollers in Sheboygan have been catching a mixed bag of Chinooks, coho, browns, and lake trout in 25 to 35 feet of water using spoons of various colors. Fishing off the Sheboygan piers has been slow. The Sheboygan and Pigeon Rivers have relatively high flows and temperatures in the mid to upper-40s. There has been minimal fishing effort on both rivers.


Tyler Harmon messaged this report:

Catching a few small walleyes, and bass. On inland lakes and the rivers. Crankbaits, and jigs and plastics have been working good. Good day and night bites going on. Catching panfish really good in the inland lakes.


Mik-Lurch reported good walleye on the Indiana side on leeches under floats.



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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on May 9, 2012 6:12 AM.

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