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Midwest Fishing Report: Lakes around Chicago fishing

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Spring patterns settle in, once we get past today's little cold snap, for this lakes section of the Midwest Fishing Report.


Tony Klancnik of Bridgeport Bass showed that smallmouth are still being caugt in the Chicago harbors this week.

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


Click here for today's column with details on the impact of the NATO summit on Chicago lakefront fishing. The basic zone of concern is the Museum Campus to 39th.


Timing looks good for Lakeside's Crappie Open on Saturday. Lakeside reported crappie coming off the spawn. Families may combine their 10 heaviest crappie in one stringer. Top prize is a $100 Cabela's gift card. Check Fish Tails on or call (815) 824-2581.


From the big largemouth submitted for Fish of the Week, including today's, largemouth are good; as are bluegill which have pulled up or will on many local waters.


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 action for walleyes, crappies, bluegills and bass, along with
a great turkey season; in and amidst the lakes and the Wisconsin River in
Wisconsin¹s Marathon and Lincoln Counties (near Mosinee and Wausau).

This past week in the central Wisconsin area has been very good for limit
catches of crappies.  We have been catching most of our fish in 12-14 feet
of water on slip bobber rigs baited up with small minnows.  We have also
been seeing some fish in the shallow bays and are catching a fair amount of
nice crappies in 1 to 3 feet of water, as well.

The walleye bite in the central Wisconsin area is going strong with lots of
nice fish in the 15 to 20 inch range, along with a few real nice slot fish
as well.  Most of the fish have transitioned to their summer areas and can
be caught by jigging the main river channel edges and casting adept diving
crankbaits in 6 to 10 feet of water.

Bass activity in the central Wisconsin area has really heated up and so we
are catching a lot of nice fish in the 3 to 5 ;pound range.  Most of our
activity is coming on plastics, but we are also catching a few nice fish on
crankbaits in crawfish patterns and Firetiger patterns.

For everyone looking to catch a pile of fish in the central Wisconsin area,
the bluegills have started to move into the shallows and we are catching a
ton of them along shoreline areas in less than a foot of water.  Most of the
fish are being caught on a simple hook baited p with a worm or piece of
crawler suspended about 6 inches to a foot below a bobber.

It has been a great turkey season and hunters took quite a few nice birds.
Congratulation goes out to all the hunters, young and old, who were
successful this spring on bagging their bird.


Staff at Triangle reported bluegill moving up into the shallows (should be the best weekend bite); Bluff is best. Walleye are also good, try large fatheads or leeches, around current areas and bridges, or trolling crankbaits; Marie is best lake. White bass are good, try 8-12 feet on Marie. Catfish are good on crawlers, stinkbait or roaches.

For more reports, see

More Chain info at


BRAIDWOOD/MAZONIA: This should be the week for panfish at Mazonia. If the number of people playing the lakes, the fish are going. Remember Exelon's Fishing for a Cure is on Saturday.

HEIDECKE: I would expect this to be the top weekend for Heidecke, once we get through the cold snap today and tonight. 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 5/13/12 through 5/20/12
With the cool nights, the water temperature hasn't come up much. It is very typical for this time of year. The bluegills are shallow and the bass are cruising in 2-3 ft of water.
The best bluegill action is in 2-3 ft of water in the channels. They can be caught on slip bobbers with a small ice jig. The best location is Viewcrest and by the Highlands Channel. I have been catching a few in 6-7 ft of water, the only problem is that they aren't that big.
Largemouth bass are being caught on Texas rigged All Terrain stiks or Senkos in green pumpkin color. The best depth is 3-4 ft of water. The water is very cold so they are still about 2 weeks away from spawning. The best location is by the outlet channel or by the golf course in front of Lake Lawn Lodge.
The best bite on the lake is Northern Pike. All you need is some sort of meat, suckers or golden shiners fished beneath a Thill slip bobber. The best location is in Highlands Bay or by Browns Channel. You want to position the bait 2-3 ft above the weeds.
Crappie fishing is rather slow. The lake temperature is a bit cold for them and the water clarity is also an issue since the fish are a bit skittish. A few fish have been caught using small plastics in 6-7 ft of water. They are waiting for warmer water to spawn, still a few weeks out.
Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050
Daily Reports
5/13/12 - Happy Mothers Day!
5/12/12 - Lake Geneva, water temp 56 degrees, air temp 60 degrees, N wind at 10 mph.  Caught 10 largemouth bass, 20 pan fish and a bunch of rock bass.  Most of the fish were in 4-5 ft of water.  We were fishing mostly in Abbey Harbor in 3-4 ft of water.  The rock bass were in the main lake.  They were caught on fat head minnows and white hair jigs.  The best location was Belvidere Park.
5/11/12 - Delavan Lake, water temp 60 degrees, air temp 65 degrees, strong SE wind at 20 mph.  Caught 15 largemouth bass, 2 were legal, 1 smallmouth bass and 6 northern pike.  The bass were caught in 3-4 ft of water.  The northern pike were caught in 6-7 ft of water fished on Thill slip bobbers with a medium sucker.  The best location was by Browns channel.
5/9/12 - Whitewater Lake, water temp 63 degrees, air temp 70 degrees, light N winds at 5 mph.  Caught 10 largemouth bass.  All fish were caught on Senkos, green pumpkin was the best color.  We were fishing 2-3 ft of water around the bogs.

GENEVA: Duwe sent this:

Lake Geneva 5/13/12 through 5/20/12
Even though the spring has been exceptionally warm, the water temperature hasn't increased yet. Currently the lake is fishing exactly like it would in a normal year, where March wasn't 70-80 degrees.
Rock bass are pretty much everywhere in 6-7 ft of water. The best location is Belvidere Park and by Knollwood. The best approach is a split shot rigged fat head minnow slowly drifted or electric trolled. Due to the water temperature and the lack of ice, there's a lot of heavy green moss so you need to clean your bait frequently. Some of the fish I've caught were in excess of 15 inches last week.
Largemouth bass are in 3-4 ft of water in the shallow harbors. They are being caught on All Terrain Stiks or Senkos. Green pumpkin color has been producing the most action. Most of the action has been in the early a.m. before the boat traffic comes into play. The best locations are by Trinkes or Abbey Harbor.
Perch fishing has been one of the best bites on the lake. They are in 3-4 ft of water. The best location is by Black Point or by Knollwood. You must use minnows fished beneath a slip bobber. The bigger the minnow the bigger the perch is a pretty safe bet.
Bluegills and Sunfish are in the shallows in 3-4 ft of water. I've caught some of the biggest fish in Abbey Harbor. Some of the Sunfish have been in excess of 10 inches. I've been using a nightcrawler on a split shot rig however, if I had leaf worms on a slip bobber I'd be having even more success. This past Sunday, I caught several Pumpkin seeds in the 9-10 inch range.
Smallmouth bass have been very slow. Due to cool water, they are still very sporadic. I spoke with several people that caught them in 25 ft of water right on bottom which is unusual since they are typically in the top 5 ft of water chasing pods of bait fish. I'd recommend white hair jigs fished have way down in the water column. Look for the fish by Knollwood and by Belvidere Park.
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, white bass and crappie are good from shore, while drifting for sauger is very good.

SHELBYVILLE: One of the best spring bites for crappie nears the end, but white bass and walleye pick up.

REND: Crappie and catfish are going.

POWERTON: Lake reopens Thursday. Catfish are the best bite. Summer hours--6 a.m.-8 p.m.--are underway.

EMIQUON: 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.
Over at Geano's Beach, Suamico River and Fox City Metro, fishermen are catching their limits in Walleyes, while using crank baits and crawler harnesses for bait. In the River, good numbers of Sheephead, Drum and Channel Catfish are being caught as well as some Bass.
East Shore
Bayshore Park: Over at Bayshore Park it was very busy towards the end of the week with many trailers. The fishermen were targeting Walleye and starting to catch Channel Catfish and Sheepheads, only a handful of Walleye were kept. The weekend was very busy at Bayshore Park, boat trailers were coming and going in the afternoon and there were a few pier fishermen. The fishermen were catching large number of Walleyes with many keeping their limits. They were using Flicker shads for bait, in about 9-14 feet of water and the water temperature had risen a little to 61 degrees. More Sheepheads and Channel Catfish were present as well. Chaudoir's Dock: At Chaudoir's Dock it was moderately busy. The fishermen were targeting Walleye and hitting their limits. The main bait was rapalas, and they were caught in about 16-25 feet of water. The water temperature was about the same as up in Little Sturgeon Bay. Sheephead and Channel Catfish are starting to make more of an appearance at Chaudoir's Dock as well. Sawyer Harbor: Over in Sawyer Harbor, there were only a handful of trailers and a couple shore fishermen. The fishermen were targeting Smallmouth Bass, all were released and they were using artificial bait. Little Sturgeon Bay: The middle of the week was busy on Little Sturgeon Bay, lots of trailers at Carmody's landing and few shore and pier fishermen. The fishermen were targeting Smallmouth Bass, with high numbers being caught and released. The main bait was artificial, they were caught in about 6-7 feet of water and the water temperature was about 56 to 57 degrees. The end of the weekend in Little Sturgeon Bay was busy again and there were a few pier fishermen. Other locations: There was no one at Red River Park, Sugar Creek, Fish Haven and Idlewild all week and weekend.
Oconto Co.
Another windy week kept fishing pressure low with Friday and Saturday being the exception. Water temperatures are in the high 50's to low 60's. Catch rates varied from day to day. Fishing was slow at the Stiles Dam with a few panfish being caught with slip bobbers or free floating live bait. Walleye fishermen out of Pensaukee landing did well trolling crawler/harness in 6 to 8 feet of water. The orange and black or purple blades were the hot colors. Walleyes are ranging in size from 18 to 24 inches. Some pike, walleye, and bass were being caught from Oconto Breakwater to Oconto Park II, with crawler/harness and stick baits. The purple Flicker Shad worked well when the bite slowed down.
Marinette Co.
Another windy week kept fishing pressure low with Friday and Saturday being the exception. Water temperatures are in the high 50's to low 60's. Catch rates varied from day to day. Fishing the mouth of the Peshtigo River was slow with only a few walleye and smallmouth being reported. Most fishermen are using crawler/harness in 6 to 10 feet of water. Some very nice smallmouth are being caught below the dam in Peshtigo using green tube jigs floating in the current seams. Fishing pressure on the Menominee River was light with few fish to report. Jigging the Wisconsin shoreline below the Turn Basin produced some walleye along with a goodly number of drum.

I like that a DNR includes drum in its report.


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


CHICAGO: Perch are in and out. Smallmouth are in the harbors. Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters reported coho with some kings, steelhead and lakers mixed in by the Wreck. Capt. Bill Kelly of Leprechaun Charters reported ``an abundance'' of coho and nice kings (10-15 pounds) east of Diversey, Montrose, Evanston and a mile south of the R4 in 70-110 feet, surface to 65 down on white hotspot or yellow Dodgers and aqua flies; lakers are shallower, but deeper. WAUKEGAN: Capt. Bob JenkinsChallenger Fishing Charters reported coho with kings (8-16 pounds) mixed in in 55-100; perch are in 50-65 south of the harbor. NORTH POINT: Poteshman said fishing remains fantastic with nice kings and coho in 40-100 on big flies and big Dodgers deep for kings and smaller flies and small Dodgers higher 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. DALEY DERBY: 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. Some big kings and perch have been weighed in already.


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):  Very good to excellent panfish action, with a good bite for both
walleyes and northerns in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area.

Good fishing continues in the Eagle River area, with water temps remaining
in the low 50s.  All species are generally locating in and around weeds in
10 feet of water or less. Wherever the crappies and perch are locating  the
walleyes and northern are right there to feed on them.   Walleyes and perch
will be tight to bottom.  Crappies about a foot off the bottom, and northern
up and down the water column, with the bigger fish generally nearer the

Crappie and perch are putting on a very good to excellent bite in the Eagle
River area.  Fish 10 feet of water or less in and around weeds.  Perch will
be tight to the bottom, with crappies about a foot off.  Use a crappie
minnow or a small fathead on a 1/16th ounce jig, or a slip bobber.  All date
bite.  Very good  to excellent action.

Walleye in the Eagle River area are definitely relating to weeds, in 10 feet
of water or less.  The walleye are tight to bottom.  Use a 1/8th or 1/16th
ounce jig with a fathead minnow.  All date bite.  Good action.

Northern are in 10 feet of water or less, in and around weeds, in the Eagle
River area.  The northern are up and down the water column.  Use a Husky
Jerk in a minnow or walleye pattern, a bass style smaller spinner bait, or a
Mepps #3 or #4.  All day bite. Good action.

(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:

After an opening weekend of rough weather, the rest of the season has been very nice and stable.  Gradually warming temps have been great.  The warm water temps does seem to have messed up the spawning cycle of some fish though.  Just because the calendar says mid May, your next trip out you might see a few nesting bass and bluegills, a month early, but probably caught up in the crazy weather that has been going on this spring.
Crappies:  Very good-Excellent.  Crappie anglers have had a great week of activity as the lakes with surface temps in the low 60's already had fish spawning.  Staging fish in 6-8' of weeds have actively been taking small minnow, tiny tubes and twister tails.  Lots of nice 11-13" slabs with a few 14-15"ers reported.
Walleyes:  Very good.  The feed is on, though high pressure days have put the best bites after dark, early in the morning or at dusk.  Local anglers have found active big fish from 10pm to 2 am taking larger walleyes of 20-28" on lighted slip floats and large chubs.  Casting stick baits such as Rattlin Rouges and #11 and #13 Rapalas over weed tops in 6-8' of water have also scored well.  Daytime anglers best bet is to work early or late in the day or concentrate on dark water.  Dace, large fatheads and mud minnows on 1/16 oz jigs with weed guards best.  Redtailed chubs would work....if you can find any.
Pike:  Very good.  Jigging 4-6" chubs or suckers through 5-8' weed flats best.  Some nice fish to 34" on spoons and spinnerbaits.
Bluegills:  Very good.  Lots of gills very shallow, some surprisingly making beds in the warmest of bays.  Worms, Gulp Alive and even small minnows meant for crappies producing nice gills to 8 1/2".
Perch:  Good.  Not schooling very tight but putting weight back on.  Nice perch to 12 1/2" caught on 1/32 oz jigs with medium fatheads and also on small crankbaits fished close to shore and around drowned wood in 2-5' of water.
Largemouth Bass:  Good-Very good.  Lots of fish very shallow.  A few seen working beds (a month early).  Fish in 1-5' of water.  Tube jigs and 4" plastic worms working.  Remember it is catch and release only until June 16th.
Smallmouth Bass:  Good.  Not being caught as readily as Largemouth, but big heavy fish taking jig/minnow combos meant for walleyes.  Fish to 20+" and well over 5#s being caught.
The season looks closer to early/mid June than mid May with water temps of 64 degrees being recorded on smaller lakes.  Big lakes still in the low to mid 50's but all producing nice action.


Panfish at Willow Slough for boaters (shore is slower) is a top bite. Mik-Lurch reported ``smallmouth all over'' on Lake Michigan, salmon (lots of kings) in 55-80 feet north of the Ditch and east on Spin Doctors and flies or Magnum spoons like Blue Dolphin or Lemon Ice; perch are spotty. NOTE: Little Calumet River Fest at Carlson Oxbow Park in Hammond includes a free fishing derby 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.


See top for the Crappie Open on Saturday. Check reports at


From the Wisconsin DNR Lake Michigan Report on Monday:

Kenosha Co.
No report.
Racine Co.
Warmer weather and lighter winds have greatly improved fishing success in Racine. Those fishing from shore have had their best luck throwing spoons or soft plastics and soaking live bait on the bottom. Anglers were catching browns, coho, and a few Chinooks from the pier and in the harbor. Trollers have had some recent success with dipsey divers and flies along with trolling spoons. Anglers were catching good numbers of coho and a few Chinooks in 40 to 80 feet of water depending on the day.
Milwaukee Co.
North Shore: Light winds over the past few days have allowed trollers to get out consistently and in large numbers. Fishermen have been fishing for Chinooks with limits of Chinooks not being uncommon. Most trollers have been focusing in 80-130 feet of water with baits about 40-60 feet below the surface. The best baits have been spoons of various colors. In addition, due to very light winds nearly all size boats could fish the water depth of their choosing. Also, trolling flies has lead to catching a few coho as well. Fishermen on the pier have picked up a few brown trout, coho and Chinooks, mostly on live bait of shiners and alewives. Chinooks have been the most caught of the species. Throwing spoons have picked up an additional Chinook as well. The shoreline along Summerfest is producing small 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 success. Trollers have been catching a variety of species including: Coho and Chinook salmon along with rainbow and even a few lake trout. Spoons in a variety of colors were landing Chinooks, and flies were bringing in coho. Trollers were anywhere from 80-130 feet of water with baits running about 40-60 feet below the surface. 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 boats have been seen trolling at Bender Park.
Ozaukee Co.
Port Washington Ramps: Low recorded angler activity. Anglers harvesting limits of chinook salmon, coho salmon, rainbow trout and lake trout in 80-180 feet on dodger-flies, flasher-flies and spoons. Port Washington Harbor/Shore: Low recorded angler activity. Anglers having best success with alewives. Port Washington Pier: Low recorded angler activity. Anglers have low successful harvest of whitefish, chinook salmon, brown trout and rainbow trout on alewives.
Sheboygan Co.
Sheboygan Ramps: Low recorded angler activity. Anglers harvesting chinook salmon in 30-50 feet of water on spoons. Anglers also harvesting chinook salmon, rainbow trout, lake trout and coho salmon in 100-170 feet on bloody-nose spoons, spoons and dodger-flies. Sheboygan Piers/Shore: Low recorded angler activity. Sheboygan River: No recorded angler activity. Moderate water level with an average temperature of 59 degrees. Pigeon River: Low recorded angler activity. Moderate water level with an average temperature of 52 degrees. Weedens Creek: No recorded angler activity. Edgewater Power Plant: No recorded angler activity.


Tyler Harmon messaged this report:

Well lots of salmon being caught out in the Lake Michigan. Not Giants but good eating sized ones. Bass are about done spawning on the rivers. Some Gar and rock bass being caught with a few smaller bass, no walleyes. Bass and panfish action should be good on inland lakes.


Largemouth are good on both sides. Mik-Lurch reported nice walleye; boaters are drifting slowly with floating jigheads and leeches or trolling small Rapalas; shore fishermen are using slip-bobbers with leeches and light line to reach deeper holes.



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Nice fish Tony!

That is a mighty fine catch mate!

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on May 16, 2012 6:19 AM.

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