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Midwest Fishing Report: Lakes around Chicago fishing

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Lakefront salmon, Shabbona walleye and free fishing weekends lead this lakes section 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


Wisconsin has its free fishing weekend Saturday and Sunday. . . . Indiana also has its free fishing weekend then, but it only applies to its residents.


Not sure what what the cool down will do to the start of good topwater fishing for largemouth, but the weather is supposed to moderate again by the weekend. I still think bluegill are the best overall option.


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, catfish and bass with musky season open; in and amidst the lakes
and the Wisconsin River in Wisconsin¹s Marathon and Lincoln Counties (near
Mosinee and Wausau).

This past week has been very good for anglers looking for action in the
central Wisconsin area.

The bass have been very aggressive and have been striking a variety of lures
form tubes to crankbaits.  Most of the fish have been in shallow water
associated with rocks, but have found a few holding in the wood.

Anglers look for walleyes should target the main Wisconsin River channel in 8
to 12 feet of water.  We have been having consistent action from walleyes
while trolling crankbaits along channel edges and by working 1/8th and 1/4
ounce jigs on the bottom.

For you panfishing addicts, this past week has been outstanding for crappies
and bluegills in the central Wisconsin area.  We have had very good success
on crappies suspended out in deeper water by drift fishing with slip bobbers
set at various depths and baited up with small minnows.  We have been
catching a lot of gills up very shallow on tiny hooks baited up with a piece
of crawler or a small red worm. Most of the gills have been holding tight to
shoreline but a carefully presented bait will catch them every time.

The catfish bite in the central Wisconsin area has been very consistent and
we have been hooking into a lot of nice fish while targeting other species.
Most of the cats have come while jigging the Wisconsin River channel for
walleyes, but we have caught quite a few this past week on crankbaits at a
variety of depths. It doesn't really matter where you fish for catfish -
-they are everywhere.  But for consistent action target the deepest pool in
the Wisconsin River system or some of the deepest water in the lakes and

For you musky anglers, the season is finally here in the central Wisconsin
area.  Now that it has arrived and water temp;erasures are up in the 70
degree range, normal early season tactics may have to be refined.  We have
been seeing a few fish up shallow, but for the most part, anglers looking at
tackling a musky this week should concentrate on deeper weed edges and wood
in 6 to 8 feet of water.  Don't completely rule out the shallow bite, but we
would strongly suggest targeting water a little deeper.  Try running medium
sized bucktails and twitch baits in orange or firetiger along the deeper
break lines and run top water its right up into and through the weeds and


Staff at Triangle reported shallow bluegill are the top bite; try waxies rigged on ice jigs under small floats; catfish are improving (3-8 pound range) on stinkbait, crawlers or roaches; white bass are shallow, but likely be move back to 8-10 feet; pike are fair around creeks. Walleye should improve as current picks up from upstream rains.

For more reports, see

More Chain info at


BRAIDWOOD/MAZONIA: Mazonia would still rank as one of my top picks for this week. Close is 8:30 p.m. 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 with some bluegill mixed in.

HEIDECKE: Should have walleye weather through the end of the week.

LaSALLE: Have not heard yet on daily operation status for June.


DELAVAN: Guide Dave Duwe sent this:

Delavan Lake 5/27/12 through 6/3/12
Happy Memorial Day! While Memorial Day kicks off summer, it also kicks off the pleasure boat traffic on Delavan. Be prepared to fish early and have some patience at the boat ramps. The Sunday of Memorial Day weekend was the busiest I've seen the lake ever and that's in 20 years of guiding.
Fishing has been outstanding. Due to the rain event on Saturday, it seemed to push the largemouth bass right on shore. We were catching most of our largemouth bass in 4-5 ft of water on the inside of the weedline. The best success came off of split shot rigged nightcrawlers. The best location was by Browns Channel and west of Willow Point. Most of the bass I caught appeared to be spawned out. Within the next couple weeks almost all of the fish will be on the weedline.
Bluegills haven't spawned yet. They are in 2-4 ft of water in and around the boat docks. The most consistent bite has been by Lake Lawn or just west of Willow Point. I've been using bobbers and small ice jigs with leaf worms. The bluegills will be spawning in the next week or so and then moving to the deep weedline.
Walleyes are situated on the deep weedline in 15-20 ft of water. They can be caught lindy rigging or a split shot with a single hook and a leech or nightcrawlers. The best time to catch them is in low light conditions with a slight breeze. The flat calm days do not seem very productive for me. Look for the fish by Delmar or by the Belvidere condos.
The smallmouth bass have been really active. I've been catching 3 to 6 every time out. They seem to be in the 12 ft depth range. I'm catching quite a few in the 12-15 inch size class. My success has been coming off of nightcrawlers on a lindy rig. I've been using a 24 inch leader with an 1/8 oz sinker and a painted hook. The best location I've found has been by Delmar.
Northern pike have moved out of the shallows and are on the weedlines in 16-18 ft of water. Lindy rigging medium suckers close to bottom is the best bet. The best locations have been by Browns Channel and Belvidere condos. My lindy rig consists of a 1/0 hook and a ¾ oz lindy sinker with a 20 inch leader. I only use monofilament in 20 lb test. Once the fish bites, you want to position the boat straight over the top of the fish so you don't drag your line over its teeth.
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 5/27/12 through 6/3/12
Happy Memorial Day weekend. The official start of summer is here! Fishing has been very good. The water temperatures have been consistently rising. We've gained 4 to 7 degrees in surface temperature in the last week.
The smallmouth bass are starting to spawn. They are on their spawning flats. The best location is by Elgin Club, the Military Academy and Belvidere Park. The fish that are spawning are in 8-10 ft of water. They like the sand bottoms with scattered weeds. Most of my success is coming while casting hair jigs, pink head with white hair are the best. I work the bait, swimming it back to the boat. There are people who are catching them on the beds while sight fishing. Calm water is the best aid to success for that method. White or chartreuse tubes are catching a lot of fish. For novice anglers a Kahlin grub slowly retrieved back to the boat is also very effective and easy to fish. I like avocado pepper or smoke on an 1/8 oz darter head jig.
Largemouth bass are in and around the boat docks. The best location has been in Geneva Bay or by Trinkes. The best depth is 3-4 ft of water. You basically want to be inside the docks casting almost to shore. The best presentation has been a nightcrawler with a split shot. Some of the bass I caught last week were over 20 inches.
Rock bass seem to be everywhere. The most constant bite is in the 8-10 ft depth range. My best success has been coming by Belvidere Park. The fish seem to be biting hair jigs and nightcrawlers equally. With the warmer water, I have stopped taking fat head minnows along. Some of the rock bass I caught last week were over 12 inches.
Lake Trout has been spotty. The fish that are being caught are within a couple feet of bottom. Nickel and green or nickel and blue spoons in 120-130 ft of water seems to be the ticket. As always the morning bite seems to be the best.
Bluegills are preparing to spawn. They are in tight to shore in 3-4 ft of water. The best location is by Trinkes or in Geneva Bay. Some good action is coming off the piers in Williams Bay for shore anglers. Leaf worms fished on a bobber seem to be producing most of the action.
Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050
Daily Reports
5/27/12 - Delavan Lake, sunny and 80 degrees, light winds, Water temp 64 degrees.  Caught 11 largemouth, 4 were legal,and  3 smallmouth.  Spent a lot of time trying to locate bluegills.  Most of the gills were in 3-4 ft of water and ended up catching about 14 of them.  Nightcrawlers and leaf worms seemed to catch the most.  Tried to fish crappies but only caught 2.  The crappies are on the weedline in 12-15 ft of water.  I found that out after I got off the lake, I was fishing in 6-8 ft of water.
5/26/12 - Lake Geneva, Thunderstorms and rain, temperature about 70 degrees, Winds out of the East at 15 mph.  Water temp 63 degrees.  Caught 6 largemouth, 2 were legal and about 20 bluegills.  We were fishing a depth of 3-4 ft of water.  All fish were caught in about 2 hours as the rain and thunderstorms chased us off the lake.
5/25/12 - Lake Geneva, sunny and 75 degrees, winds W at 10 mph.  Water temp 61 degrees.  Caught 5 smallmouth, none were legal and about 60 rock bass.  We were using white hair jigs and split shot rigged nightcrawlers.  Fished by the Military Academy, Belvidere Park and Colemans Point.
5/23/12 - Delavan Lake, 75 degrees, winds SW at 10 mph.  Water temp 64 degrees.  Caught 13 largemouth, 3 smallmouth, 1 walleye and 15 crappies.  The crappies were caught on small fat head minnows fished beneath a slip bobber in 6-8 ft of water.  The best location was by Willow Point.  The game fish were caught on nightcrawlers on the weed line in 12-15 ft of water.  We caught 2 that were over 20 inches.
5/22/12 - Lake Geneva, 72 degrees, wind NE at 10 mph.  Water temp 64 degrees.  Caught 4 legal smallmouth and 40 rock bass.  Fished white hair jigs and split shot rigged nightcrawlers.  The best location was by Belvidere Park and by Colemans Point.  Worked a depth of 6-10 ft of water.


REND: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers fishing report indicated bedding bluegill as outstanding; largemouth good around bridges and along the rocks; crappie are scattered; channel catfish are good along the dam and rocks and white bass are good in shallow bays near cover

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 Tuesday:

Brown Co.
No report.
East Shore
This week brought some cooler temperatures and lots of wind which also slowed down the fishing pressure a little bit across Bayshore Park, Chaudoir's Dock, Sawyer Harbor, and Little Sturgeon Bay. Memorial Day Weekend was very busy for Chaudoir's Dock and Bayshore Park. A storm rolled through causing fishermen to retreat for only a little while, but fishermen continued to come and go and they were targeting Walleye for the most part. Bayshore Park: At Bayshore Park, fishermen were targeting walleye, and some are starting to target perch. Perch numbers remain low for this week, but walleye anglers have been successful. Fishermen are not catching their limits as many of them have come across lots of fish being undersized. Crawler harnesses and flicker shads were the most popular for bait, with purple being most successful. Chaudoir's Dock: At Chaudoir's Dock the fishermen were still mainly targeting walleye ranging in sizes of about 15 to 19 inches and about 1 1/2 pounds to 4 1/2 pounds. Perch are also being targeted, but numbers were very low this week. Crawler harnesses, crank baits, and flicker shads were the main baits of choice with purple being the most successful. The walleye were caught in about 12 to 15 feet of water and the water temperature was about 63.5 degrees. Sheepshead and catfish continue to be caught as well. Sawyer Harbor: At Sawyer Harbor, smallmouth bass were being targeted with a few fishermen looking for walleye and perch. Lots of fishermen are catching rock bass, a few largemouth bass, and sheepshead as well. The smallmouth bass were caught in about 5 feet of water, and the bait of choice was crank baits and jigs with purple being most successful. Some live bait was also used, mainly night crawlers. The water temperature was about 60 to 67 degrees. Little Sturgeon Bay: On Little Sturgeon Bay, fishermen were targeting smallmouth bass and a few walleye. Sheepshead were still being caught with a few burbot being caught as well. Smallmouth bass were being caught with live bait (night crawlers) and with artificial (mainly rubber worms, green in color). Water temperature was in the low to mid 60s as well. Other locations: No fishermen were seen at Red River Park, Sugar Creek, and Fish Haven.
Oconto Co.
High winds and rain again this past week kept fishing pressure low. Water temperatures at the landings are in the mid to upper 60's. Fishing for smallmouth from the Dam at Stiles down to the J Bridge has been good, with tube jigs and crank baits working well. Susie's Rapids is also producing some nice smallmouth along with the occasional walleye. Weather permitting the walleye bite on the Bay from Pensaukee to Oconto Park II has been very productive. Good numbers of 17 to 23 inch fish are being caught in 6 to 10 feet of water trolling crawler/harness. Reports of 25 inch plus walleye are being caught in 16 to 20 feet of water trolling Rapala's.
Marinette Co.
High winds and rain again this past week kept fishing pressure low. Water temperatures at the landings are in the mid to upper 60's. Both shore fishermen and boaters at the Peshtigo Harbor have been catching smallmouth bass using tube jigs and twister tails. The catfish bite is picking up on the Peshtigo River from Klingsborn's landing to the river mouth; crawlers fished on bottom works well. Bow fishing for carp in the Johnson's Bridge area has been providing some fast action. Drum, catfish, and walleye are being caught by shore fishermen at the Mystery Ship Landing; crawlers fished on bottom have been working well. Menominee River boaters have been having limited success trolling for walleye during periods of low light, from the Turn Basin down river to the mouth.


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


CHICAGO: Capt. Bill Kelly of Leprechaun Charters reported limits of coho a mile around the R4, east of the Car Ferry in 75-110 feet, east of Montrose, Diversey and the Carter Harrison in 80-120 and east of Burnham in 60-100 with some lakers, rainbows and kings mixed in. The coho are coming on small Dodgers and flies. Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters reported in 75-125 there is ``a helluva band of fish'' with coho, lakers and a few kings; Dodgers and flies best, surface on down. Perch are around, especially on the outside at Montrose, according to Park Bait, but it's spotty. Henry's also reported some starting at Burnham/Northerly Island, 39th and 63rd. Park Bait also reported some sheephead off Montrose. Bite is minnows or soft shells. Smallmouth are around the harbors, and full moon is Monday.

WAUKEGAN: Lori Ralph of the Salmon Stop reported boaters working 70-120 straight out and south with Yellow Birds and Dodgers and flies or spoons for coho and some kings; in 120-170, there's big kings and lakers (some coho nearer the surface) on big white Dodgers and white flies. Perch are in 60-65 for boaters; a few are being caught by shore fishermen.

NORTH POINT: Poteshman reported good coho with some kings in 120-160; but there's also some fish shallow on the beach.

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 June, the species are carp, catfish, perch, coho and Chinook 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. Derby runs through September with cash prizes for the heaviest three fish from selected species caught around Chicago each month.


Click here for D&S Bait.


Muskie season opened with fair to decent results.

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

(Head):  Good to excellent fishing across the board, including musky,
walleye, smallmouth bass (strictly catch-and-release), northern and panfish,
all in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area.

Water temps in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area continue to climb, now
hovering the upper 50s, and rising.  Please note that most all of the fish
species are hanging in one general type of area:  10 feet of water or less,
in and around weeds - -except that smallmouth bass will be over
gravel/rock/sand bottom.

Musky season is now open in the Eagle River area, and the action is good.
The muskies will be in anywhere from two to 10 feet of water.  use a large
Husky Jerk, a number 4 or 5 Mepps, or a jig and Reaper (leech type plastic).
All day bite.  Lots of follows, with some aggressive bites.  On balance the
action is good and will get better.

Walleye are providing good to excellent action in the Eagle River area.  The
walleye are tight to bottom.  Use a 1/16th ounce jig with a fathead.  All
day bite.

Northern is just plain excellent in the Eagle River area.  Continuous all
day action.  Use a Husky Jerk, or a number 4 or 5 Mepps (just like for the
musky).  Remember the larger northern will generally be deeper.

Smallmouth bass action in the Eagle River area ranges from good to
excellent. Remember until the harvest season opens, it's strictly
catch-and-release for bass in the Eagle River area.  The bass are ending
their spawn, but can still be located over gravel, rock and sand bottom,
pretty tight to bottom.  Use a three inch tube, a plastic tipped jig, or a
fathead on a jig.  All day bite.

Crappies, bluegills and perch are all hitting in the Eagle River area.
Crappies and bluegills will be suspending up-and-down the water column, with
perch tight to bottom.  The warmer water temps have finally brought
bluegills into the mix of panfish that are hitting.  Use a crappie minnow or
chunk of crawler on a slip bobber  or small jig.  Good to excellent all day

(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:

Lots of anglers talk has been about the spring we've had. Water temps are in advance of usual for this time of year on the up and down of temps has thrown a lot of pre-spawn fish for a loop. anglers are catching walleyes, northern pike and crappies still with spawn. No one is seeing bedding crappies, but many are being caught shallow.

Crappies: Good. Anglers finding fish in shallow (2') to 7-10' weeds. tiny tubes, hair jigs and plastic twitched on light line. Many still with spawn but little hope of dropping eggs.

Musky: Good. Not a great opener, but fish active. Fish of 34-44" caught over weekend on bucktails , boonie bait spinnerbaits and 7" twitch baits. Most fish fairly shallow in 4-10' weeds.

Pike: Good. Chubs and suckers under floats and on jigs accounting for most fish. Spoons, chatterbaits and spinnerbaits also effective over weed flats of 4-8'.

Bluegills: Good. Though wind has been an issue, anglers finding gills close to shore (pre-spawn) and very aggressive on poppers, tiny plastics, waxies and thunderbugs. With surface temps in mid 60's, gills should start bedding if temps rise again.

Perch: Fair-Good. Wind is an issue. Action best in calmer, warmer water if any on medium leeches, medium fats. Nice eaters of 8-9", not many Jumbos as of last week.

Walleye: Fair-Good. Very scattered. some in as shallow as 5', others in 25-30'. Most consistent action is after dark on x-raps (#10) cast around deep weed edges, pilings, piers and bridges. One 30 1/2" caught Monday on a boonie bait while casting for pike in 6' weeds. A 28 1/2" on a redtail on a 35' hump also caught. Inconsistent action for the most part, though deep lakes providing the best bite.

Largemouth Bass: Very good. shallow and active. Stick baits (Husky Jerks, X-raps, Rattlin Rouges) very effective on the inside weedlines, especially early and late. Tubes, creatures and even some topwater action on the lee side of the lakes.

Smallmouth Bass: Good. Lots of action from smaller fish (13-15") males still guarding nest. Big girls mostly deeper. Tubes, leeches best.

Lots of lakes registering temps in mid 60 degree range. Some drop lately with cooler temps. Wind persists to make some areas difficult.


Smallmouth are good on Poor Boys or PowerBait twistertails; full moon is Monday. Mik-Lurch reported steelhead being caught off the Michigan City piers over the weekend; boaters are catching steelhead and kings in 90-200 and lots of coho in 65.


Clint Sands at Lakeside said, ``I have never seen so many walleye caught as the last few weeks.'' Best has been a crawler or leech; most are fishing the east bay. Bass have been consistent, starting to hit topwaters. Crappie are done spawning, moving back to cribs. Bluegill are up spawning. Water is 74 degrees.

Check reports at


From the Wisconsin DNR Lake Michigan Report on Monday:

Kenosha Co.
No report.
Racine Co.
Those fishing from shore have had their best luck throwing spoons while soaking live bait on the bottom at low light conditions, but success was very limited. Anglers were catching browns, coho, and a few Chinooks from the pier and in the harbor. Trollers have had great success with dipsey divers and flies along with trolling spoons in anywhere from 60 to 110 feet of water depending on the day. Anglers were catching lots of coho and Chinooks, with additional rainbows and lake trout not uncommon.
Milwaukee Co.
North Shore: Trollers have been fishing for Chinooks and coho; a few lake trout have also been picked up with the salmon. 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 dipsey divers with flashers and flies. Fishing on McKinley pier has been very slow in recent days with a few coho and Chinooks and an occasional rainbow caught on live bait rigs of alewives during low light times of day. Casting spoons off the pier have picked up a few Chinook as well. The shoreline along Summerfest is producing some small browns. Most have been caught on minnows and a few have been taken on spoons. South Shore: 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 several weeks, however one launch lane will be open daily.
Ozaukee Co.
In Port Washington trollers have been catching decent numbers of Chinooks, along with coho, rainbows and lake trout in 65 to 180 feet of water. Spoons as well as dodger and fly or flasher and fly combinations have been productive. Port Washington anglers fishing off the pier and in the harbor have been catching a few browns and coho, and the most fish have been taken on alewives.
Sheboygan Co.
Trollers in Sheboygan have been catching good numbers of Chinooks in 65 to 105 feet of water. Spoons and dodger and fly combinations have both been effective. Anglers fishing off the Sheboygan piers have been catching a mixed bag of Chinooks, browns, rainbows and coho. Fish have been taken on glow-in-the-dark spoons, spinner baits, and alewives.


Tyler Harmon messaged:

I would expect to see a few Summer steelhead poking around all over the South end of Lake Michigan, but no big numbers. Hear boats on the big lake are starting to catch a few perch but have not heard any specifics, Salmon trolling has slowed down from everyone Ive talked to. Catching some Bass and nice gills out of most Inland lakes at this time. Catfish, small bass and small walleyes can be caught on all Southwest Michigan rivers as well as a stray Summer Run Steelhead if you put some serious time in.


Mik-Lurch reported trollers with Rapalas are doing best for walleye; for shore guys, try leeches under a bobber.



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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on May 30, 2012 9:48 AM.

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