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Midwest Fishing Report: Lakes around Chicago fishing

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Trying to put a fix on the weekend outlook for this lakes sections of the Midwest Fishing Report.

This is the extended online version of the MFR, which appears on the Sun-Times outdoors page on Wednesdays. Well, it is the lakes section. I posted the rivers section earlier.

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


It's here. I repeat advice from Steve Magdziarz from three years ago: ``Reel in with the rod tip underwater. . . . Minimizes the dam stuff!''


Best bet for holiday picnickers will be bluegill bedding or in the weed pockets. Lakes and lagoons with catfish should be going, too. I continue to get some very nice largemouth submissions Fish of the Week, but from others I hear the largemouth are just coming off the post-spawn funk. I suspect, from the looking at the forecast, that topwaters for largemouth will be going by the 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 fishing action across the board for bluegills, crappies,
walleyes and bass; in and amidst the lakes and the Wisconsin River in
Wisconsin¹s Marathon and Lincoln Counties (near Mosinee and Wausau).

With water temperatures in the mid to upper 60s, the bluegills are starting
to show up in traditional spawning areas in central Wisconsin.  This is a
great way to introduce kids to fishing.  When the gills show up at this time
of year, and in such abundance, the action can be non-stop for hours.  Most
of the gills are holding in shallow water, less than a foot deep, sometimes
as shallow as 6 inches of water.  Use clip-on pencil bobbers set 6 inches to
a foot above your hook (preferably a #8 Aberdeen hook) and bait it up with a
piece of crawler or tiny leaf worm.  Toss your bait into the schooled up
bluegills along the shoreline and wait for the bobber to go down (or in some
instances it may go sideways).  this is all you need to have a great day of

The crappie bite in the central Wisconsin area has been pretty consistent
this year, but the interesting thing is that unlike most of the reports
coming in we are finding that not all of the crappies have spawned yet.  We
are still finding a lot of pre-spawn fish out in deeper water that are
chock-full of eggs.  We have been catching a pile of fish in 10 to 16 feet
of water holding tight to the bottom.  Most of these fish are coming while
we are targeting walleyes with 1/8th ounce jigs using the larger fathead
minnows.  In addition to the abundance of fish in deeper water, we are also
finding a fair amount of nice crappies up shallow.  They are holding tight
to shallow cover like woods or reeds and can be caught just as easily as the
bluegills.  The only difference is instead of running worms on your hook,
use a small crappie minnow or a jig with a small crappie sized tube.

The walleyes have been very consistent in the central Wisconsin area and are
holding in about 10 to 16 feet of water.  We are catching most of them on
jigs tipped with fathead minnows throughout the day, but early mornings and
late in the evening we are catching a fair amount on crankbaits up in
shallower water.

For anglers looking to tangle with some great bass fishing in the central
Wisconsin area, now is the time to do it.  A lot of the fish are up very
shallow on traditional spawning grounds, and can be caught with a variety of
methods.  Try working shallow rocky shorelines in less than 3 feet of water
with jigs tipped with plastics or crankbaits, imitating crayfish or small


Staff at Triangle reported bluegill are shallow, should be the holiday bite; white bass are good; for walleye, try split-shot rigs with floaters (leeches or crawlers) or gold hooks, Lindy rigs or Frenzy crankbaits around bridges or main lake points; catfish are improving on stinkbait, crawlers or leeches; largemouth are shallow.

For more reports, see

More Chain info at


BRAIDWOOD/MAZONIA: The bluegill and redear bite at Mazonia should be one of the top holiday bites. Close goes to 8:30 p.m. on Sunday. If you're just looking for a place to take the kids for action, go to the south shore at Braidwood and you can catch all the small catfish you want.

HEIDECKE: Depending on the day, there's been some great crappie reports; but most will be targeting hybrids or walleye for the holiday.

LaSALLE: Jim Hartley reported good blues and hybrids. Should be open daily through May, then it may go to only five days.


DELAVAN: Guide Dave Duwe sent this:

Delavan Lake 5/20/12 through 5/27/12
With the warmer weather, fishing on Delavan has been improving every day. Most of the fish species have been very active.
Northern pike action remains fair. The fish are located in 6-7 ft of water. The best approach is fishing small or medium suckers beneath a Thill big fish slip bobber. You want to position the bait a foot or two above the weed growth. The best location has been in Viewcrest, Highland Bay or by Browns Channel.
Crappies are in two stages, some are spawning and some are preparing to spawn. The active fish are in 7-8 ft of water. The best presentation is small purple or pink plastics fished on a 1/32 oz jig. Look for the fish by Browns Channel or over by the old marina on the north shore. When it is calm out, the easiest way to locate active fish is watching for little boils they create on the surface as they are feeding on insects.
Largemouth bass like the crappies are in two different patterns. Some of the largemouth are still spawning while others are spawned out. The spawned out fish have moved out to the weedline in 12-13 ft of water. The spawners are still in less than 3 ft of water. The best locations have been by Lake Lawn Lodge or west of the Yacht Club.
Bluegills remain in the shallows in 4-5 ft of water. They can be caught by Lake Lawn Lodge or in Viewcrest Bay. The best approach is a small ice jig tipped with a red worm or wax worm. The fish I've been catching are still filled with eggs.
Walleye action has started to improve. The fish I've been catching are in 12-14 ft of water. My best luck has come while fishing nightcrawlers on a lindy rig. I use about an 18 inch snell with a painted hook. I either like a blood colored or chartreuse colored hook. Good locations are the Oriental boat house or by Assembly park. Walleye fishing should continue to get better in the next few weeks and then the fish will go deep.
Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050

GENEVA: Duwe sent this:

Lake Geneva 5/20/12 through 5/27/12
Fishing on Lake Geneva has been improving daily. The water temperature is starting to creep up and the fish are starting to become more active. The lake is covered with green slime on the bottom which makes bottom fishing tough. For the best success you want to fish 2-3 ft above bottom.
Rock bass are starting to be very active in 8-12 ft of water. They can be caught using fat head minnows, nightcrawlers and small hair jigs. Most of my success has been by Belvidere Park or by Elgin Club. A slow drift seems to be the best presentation.
Smallmouth bass have been improving. The water is still a bit cold for them to begin spawning but they are starting to prepare for it. The fish I've been catching have been on small hair jigs around the pods of bait fish. I've been fishing the main lake points, like Black Point and Conference Point. In the next week or so, we should see some of the best smallmouth fishing on Lake Geneva for the year.
Bluegills are active in the shallows. You want to fish 3-4 ft of water. The best success has been in Abbey Harbor or in Geneva Bay. Small slip bobbers tipped with an ice jig and a red worm seem to do the trick. You want to fish around the boat docks with scattered weeds.
Largemouth bass are in and around the boat docks in Geneva Bay. They can be caught on a swim jig or a nightcrawler fished on a split shot rig. The best docks are the ones with heavy weed growth on the north shore. With the cold water, the spawn is about 2 weeks away.
Perch still remain in the 6-7 ft depth range. Look for the fish by Cisco beach or Rainbow point. The best presentation is a fat head minnow fished on a bobber.
Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050
Daily Reports
5/20/12 - Delavan Lake, 83 degrees and sunny, SW wind at 10-20 mph.  Water temp 64 degrees.  Caught 5 walleyes, 6 smallmouth bass and 12 largemouth bass plus a few crappies. We caught the fish on the weedline in 13 ft of water.  The best approach was a split shot rigged nightcrawler.  The crappies were caught on small plastics.
5/19/12 - Delavan Lake, 80 degrees and sunny, SW wind at 15 mph.  Water temp 63 degrees.  Caught 1 northern pike, 5 largemouth bass and a few bluegills.  For whatever reason, fishing was very tough today.  The bass were caught on split shot rigged nightcrawlers.
5/18/12- Lake Geneva, 65 degrees and sunny, SW wind at 15 mph.  Water temp 57 degrees.  Caught 1 smallmouth, 6 largemouth and a bunch of rock bass.  The smallmouth bass was caught on a small white hair jig.  The largemouth and rock bass were caught on split shot rigged nightcrawlers.


SHELBYVILLE: Slightly below normal pool. Mike's Tackle World reported white bass and walleye pick up as crappie wind down.

REND: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers fishing report indicated bluegill are excellent and the top bite; largemouth are good, shallow bay near brush cover and bushes; crappie scattered and near the end of the spawn; catfish are good near rocks and the dam; white bass are good around bridges and along rocks.

POWERTON: 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.
No report.
East Shore
Bayshore Park and Chaudoir's Dock: It was very busy at Bayshore Park and Chaudoir's Dock at the end of the weekend. They were targeting walleye out of Bayshore Park mostly, but some were also going for perch, and the same for Chaudoir's Dock. Minnows and night crawlers were used to catch the perch and walleye. Lots of drum, some catfish and gobies were also caught. Sawyer Harbor: It was moderately busy in Sawyer Harbor at the end of the week. Fishermen were targeting smallmouth bass, and they were using rubber worms (green) for bait. Little Sturgeon Bay: On Little Sturgeon Bay, the fishing pressure was high with fishermen targeting smallmouth and catching good numbers of them. The bait of choice was plastics and spinners for the smallmouth bass; red/brown or purple in color were the most used. The water temperature was about 64 degrees, and the fish were caught in about 6 to 10 feet of water. The weekend was busy in Sawyer Harbor and on Little Sturgeon Bay. Smallmouth bass were still the main target, but some fishermen were starting to target bluegill and pumpkinseed. Some fishermen were also starting to catch rock bass as well. There were more pleasure boaters showing up on Little Sturgeon Bay too. Other locations: There was no fishing activity at Red River Park, Sugar Creek and Fish Haven.
Oconto Co.
With the warmer weather we saw an increase in fishing pressure, mainly on Green Bay for walleye. Water temperatures are in the the low 60's, and when the wind allows fishing has been good. The fishing in the Stiles Dam area remains good with panfish and smallmouth being the main attraction. Live bait has been working well, as have tube jigs and crank baits mainly for bass. The walleye bite from Pensaukee to Oconto Park II was good with fishermen catching limits of fish in the 17 to 24 inch range. Trolling with crawler/harness has worked well, fishing in the 6 to 12 foot range. Some of the bigger walleye are being caught using stick baits in 20 feet of water. Smallmouth bass are also plentiful in shallow water along the bay shore; tube jigs and crank baits are working well.
Marinette Co.
With the warmer weather we saw an increase in fishing pressure, mainly on Green Bay for walleye. Water temperatures are in the the low 60's, and when the wind allows fishing has been good. Peshtigo Harbor fishermen have been catching walleye trolling south from the mouth of the river in 6 to 12 feet of water. Smallmouth action has picked up along the shore line and in the Peshtigo River up by the Dam in Peshtigo. The fishing on the Menominee River has been slow due to low water. Fishermen are reporting some walleye being caught trolling below the Turn Basin.


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


CHICAGO: Smallmouth are around the harbors. Park Bait reported a few perch off the south rocks Tuesday and lots of sheephead off the Horseshoe. Capt. Bill Kelly of Leprechaun Charters reported laker limits east of Diversey and Montrose in 80-120 feet on big Dodgers (silver and smoke) and big green crinkle and Blue Boy flies, tapping the bottom. Nice kings down 50-65 feet on spoons in the same area, plenty of coho on the surface down to 30 feet on small Dodger and peanut flies. He reported nice kings, coho and lakers just east of the R4. Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters reported coho with some kings and lakers in 60-120. WAUKEGAN: Capt. Augie Ralph of the Salmon Stop reported mostly coho with a few kings in 80-110, best on Mardi Gras fly (purple, green, gold), bigger fish are best on Wonderfread Dodger and Little Boy Blue or blue aqua flies in the lower 20 feet. Some perch in 57-62. NORTH POINT: Poteshman reported plenty of coho on shore in 15-20, but most are fishing 100-200 for coho with some kings and lakers; he called it, ``Phenomenal.'' 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.


Gene Dellinger at D&S Bait
reported on Mendota smallmouth are active on the bars, some crappie on the weed lines; bluegills are near spawn on Waubesa and Monona; largemouth are cruising shallow.


EAGLE RIVER: Creative Brilliance sent this report for the Chamber of Commerce on Sunday:

(Head): Excellent action for northern, crappie and perch, with a good to
excellent bite for smallmouth bass (strictly catch-and-release), and walleye
hitting well, all in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area.

Water temps are in the low 50s in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area, and
fishing continues to be generally good to excellent across many species.

Northern are providing an excellent bite in the Eagle River area.  Fish 10
feet of waterer less in and around weeds.  Use a Husky Jerk (walleye or
minnow pattern), or  a #3 or #4 Mepps.  The bigger fish will usually be
deeper.  All day bite.

Crappies and perch are both hanging in 10 feet of water or less in and
around weeds.  The perch are tight to bottom, and the crappie are within a
few feet of the bottom.  Use a crappie minnow under a small jig or slip
bobber, or try a Mini Mite.  All day bite.  Excellent action.

Smallmouth bass are providing a good to excellent bite in the Eagle River
area.  Right now with the season closed, it's strictly catch and release.
Fish shallow rocks and gravel in 10 feet of water or less.  Use a 3 inch
tube, or a jig and leech or a jig and a minnow.  The bass will be tight to
bottom.  All day bite.

Walleye in the Eagle River area are hitting, but it's day dependent.  The
action will vary from good to even close to excellent.  fish 10 feet of
water or less, in the weeds, or on outside weed edges.  Use a 1/8th ounce,
or 1/16th ounce jig with a fathead minnow.  It's an all day bite, with
action going up and down.

(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:

Despite some intense little storms that blew thru on sunday afternoon, the past week has been good if not a little windy. This strange spring continues to have its effect. Looks like in a lot of cases, crappies did not get to spawn. They seem to have missed their window of opportunity. Female crappies being caught now have soft, gooey eggs that they will be reabosorbing through the summer. Bluegills and large mouth are very shallow-and so on some lakes-a week to two early-bug hatches are also early.

Northern Pike: Very good. Lots of numbers being caught by jig fishermen targeting walleyes in weeds and around downed wood (flowages). 1/16oz wide gap jig on a wire leader baited with chub (if you can get them) or sucker best.

Yellow Perch: Very good. Putting on the feed bag! Thunderbugs, worms, medium fatheads, and imitation bug/craw gulp baits all working well. Wood and shallow weeds of 4-8 feet. Lots of anglers finding dragon fly larvae (thunderbugs) and small crayfish in bellys of very nice perch. Lots of 10 inch+ including fish of 12inch+ to 13 1/2inch this week.

Walleyes: Good. Action a little more spotty on some bodies, but picking up on others. Work green weeds of 8-14 foot for best action, casting diving cranks (shad raps, ect) along sparse outside weed edges of 12-14 foot accounting for nice 22-25 inch fish. Live bait (crawlers, leeches, and minnows) on jigs making for most of catches.

Bluegills: Good. Weather a little windy, but gills hunkering in tight to shore making easy targets. Small leeches, thunderbugs, northland impulse baits tops.

Largemouth Bass: Good. Very shallow, a few on beds. Downed trees holding fish, but a lot are being seen just cruising shallows. Large leeches, 4" plastic worms, craws best. Still catch and release only till June 16th.

Smallmouth Bass: Good. Big smallies of 18-20inches this week. Hitting jig/crawler combos for walleye. Some starting to bed. Treat 'em nice. Catch and release until June 16th.

Crappies: Fair. What happened?!?!?!? Crappies never seemed to nest up this season on most lakes. Back out in deeper weeds now. Slip-floats and live minnows best.

Water temps ranging from 58 degrees to 65 degrees depending on size and water type. While spring is ahead of schedule, anglers coming up this week should find good action as shallows are relatively warm (for time of year) and full of life.


Mik-Lurch reported excellent bluegill at Willow Slough, and most other ponds/lakes; smallmouth are near to bedding on Lake Michigan; salmon are in 65-120 feet; just a few perch reports. My great hope would be that perch rebound with the weekend heat wave.


Check reports at


From the Wisconsin DNR Lake Michigan Report on Monday:

Kenosha Co.
No report.
Racine Co.
Pleasant weather has had fisherman out in large numbers. Those fishing from shore have had their best luck casting spoons or soft plastics while soaking live bait on the bottom at low light conditions. Anglers were catching browns, coho, and a few Chinooks from the pier and in the harbor. Trollers have had success with dipsey divers and flies along with trolling spoons in anywhere from 50 to 90 feet of water depending on the day. Anglers were catching lots of coho and Chinooks, with additional rainbows and lake trout as well.
Milwaukee Co.
North Shore: Large numbers of trollers have been out on the lake recently. Fishermen have been fishing for Chinooks and cohos with limits of Chinooks not uncommon; a few lake trout have been picked up as well. Most trollers have been focusing in 80-115 feet of water with baits about 40-60 feet below the surface. The best baits have been spoons of various colors and flies. 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 cohos as well. Fishing action on McKinley pier has slowed down in recent days, but the coho and Chinooks caught taken on alewives. Casting spoons has picked up an additional Chinook as well. The shoreline along Summerfest is producing small browns with the most successful presentations focusing on minnows and 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 75-115 feet of water with baits running on 5-7 color lead core or down riggers set about 40-60 feet below the surface. Fishing under the Hoan Bridge has been slow. A few boats have been seen trolling at Bender Park. The Bender Park boat ramps will be under construction for the next three to four weeks, however one launch lane will be open daily.
Ozaukee Co.
Port Washington Ramps: Moderate recorded angler activity. Anglers harvesting chinook salmon, coho salmon, lake trout, rainbow trout and whitefish in 65-180 feet on flies and spoons. Port Washington Harbor/Shore: Low recorded angler activity. Anglers harvesting brown trout and a few coho salmon on alewives. Port Washington Pier: Low recorded angler activity. Anglers have low successful harvest of brown trout and coho salmon on alewives.
Sheboygan Co.
Sheboygan Ramps: Moderate recorded angler activity. Anglers harvesting chinook salmon in 65-105 feet of water on spoons and flies. Sheboygan Piers/Shore: Moderate recorded angler activity. Anglers are having successful harvest of chinook salmon, brown trout, whitefish, rainbow trout and coho salmon on castmasters, spinners, glow-in-the-dark cleos, alewives, spoons.



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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on May 23, 2012 8:54 AM.

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