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Midwest Fishing Report: Lakes around Chicago fishing

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Hints of perch fishing taking off on the Chicago lakefront and Free Fishing Days in Illinois 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. I posted the rivers section earlier.

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


Illinois' Free Fishing Days are Thursday through Monday. No licenses or stamps are needed, but other regulations apply. Many park districts and forest preserves host events and derbies. . . . Michigan's summer free fishing weekend is Saturday and Sunday.


In time for free fishing days, Lakeside hosts a bass open 6 a.m.-7 p.m. on Saturday at Shabbona Lake. Heaviest bass earns a $100 Cabela's card. Click here for more info and extended prizes.


Some up and down weather has shifted fish around, but I would expect full-blown summer patterns to set up by the weekend with bluegill on beds or in the weeds and largemouth taking topwaters early and late.


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): Explosive bass, crappie and bluegill action, with lots of nice
muskies caught,and walleyes active; in and amidst the lakes and the
Wisconsin River in Wisconsin¹s Marathon and Lincoln Counties (near Mosinee
and Wausau).

If you're looking for action and aerial explosions you can't go wrong with
smallmouth bass fishing in the central Wisconsin area.  We are having
consistent action by working shallow rocky areas with crankbaits and jigs
tipped with plastics.  The largemouth bass have been holding tight to wood
structure like downed trees and submerged wood.  To pull them out of the
wood you need heavier line and crawfish imitating lures like X-Factor 4 Busy
Beaver lures and the YUM Craw Papi in natural colors.

Crappie and bluegill action has never been better in the central Wisconsin
area.  Most of the crappies are done spawning and are holding in 10 to 14
feet of water.  We are catching a lot of fish by running baits set under
slip bobbers at different depths.  For bait we are using small jigs tipped
with plastics or minnows.  The bluegill bite has been outstanding, and we
have been catching some really nice bulls.  A lot of the fish are up shallow
and can easily be caught with a small hook and worm.  Most of the time we
are suspending our baits about 6 inches to a foot below a small bobber to
keep it in plain sight of the fish.

The 2012 musky season has arrived and it has started out with a bang in the
central Wisconsin area.  Lots of nice fish have been caught, along with a
few really nice ones in the mid to upper 40 inch range (we release EVERY
musky we catch).  Most of the action has come on bucktails and twitch baits
while working mid depth weeds in 6 to 8 feet of water.  We have also caught
a few nice fish by working shoreline wood along the main river channel.  A
new bait on the market, the Twisted Spoon lure has proven itself this past
week by producing for us on several occasions.

Walleyes in the central Wisconsin area have been active this past week.  We
are finding and catching a lot of nice fish in deeper water associated with
wood and rocks.  Jigs tipped with minnows have been working well, and we are
now starting to catch a few walleyes on crawlers.


Staff at Triangle reported bluegill (starting to bed) and walleye (Marie, bridges or current areas) are the top bites. Catfish are picking up, stinkbait is starting to take over. Largemouth are best jigging on shore. White bass are running in the river.

For more reports, see

More Chain info at


HEIDECKE: Capt. John ``Rocky'' Mannerino and others have messaged photos of some nice walleye. It is that time.

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.

LaSALLE: Lake is still open daily as of this morning. Have not heard yet on daily operation status for the rest of June.


DELAVAN: Guide Dave Duwe sent this:

Delavan Lake 6/4/12 through 6/10/12
Overall fishing has been very good. Most of the fish are in transition. They are anywhere from 8 ft of water to 17 ft of water. The cool weather last week made them a bit skittish.
Bluegills have been biting in 11-12 ft of water. The best location has been by Browns Channel. They are being caught on small leaf worms or small nightcrawlers. We've been fishing them with a small hook and a split shot rig. We caught several fish over 9 inches.
Northern Pike fishing has been excellent in the 8-10 ft depth range. You need to use medium suckers fished on a lindy big fish Thill bobber. Look for the fish by Willow Point or the Yacht Club. Most of the fish are small but the action is hot.
Largemouth bass can be caught on the weedline and in the first two feet of water off the bank. They can be caught on Senkos or split shot rigged nightcrawlers. The best location is by Browns Channel or by the Yacht Club. You want to keep the boat in 20 ft of water and cast in shallow. Most of the bass are post spawn however a few have not yet spawned and are waiting for the weather to warm.
Yellow Perch fishing has been good by the Yacht Club. You want to look for the fish in 10-12 ft of water. Try using a Thill slip bobber about 1 ft off the weeds. I've been using small fat head minnows. It's been better fishing when the boat traffic is lighter. You need some patience as you may need to wait for the fish to react to the bait.
Walleye fishing has been slow. The fish are off the weedline in 15 ft of water. The key to it is to make sure that your boat is positioned in 23 ft of water and that you are casting into 13 ft of water. Fish leeches or full nightcrawlers hooked in the head. The best location is just west of the Yacht Club or 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

GENEVA: Duwe sent this:

Lake Geneva 6/4/12 through 6/10/12
Fishing is starting to improve. The smallmouth bass are starting to spawn. They are in 10-12 ft of water. The best location has been by Elgin Club and the old Military Academy.
Rock bass are pretty much everywhere on the lake. The best depth is 10-12 ft of water. Most of my fish are coming in the Fontana beach area. They are biting on nightcrawlers fished on a split shot rig. The best depth is 10-12 ft of water. Hair jigs are also catching a lot of fish. Use jigs with a pink head and a white tail for most of the action.
Smallmouth bass are spawning. They are in the 10-12 ft depth range. Look for the fish by Elgin Club or the Military Academy. They can be caught on smoke or chartreuse tube jigs. Due to the water clarity they are slightly deeper than they were last year. Most of the fish are tight to the nest so you need to throw the bait into the nest to make them bite.
Bluegills are in the shallows in 3-4 ft of water. They are being caught on small leaf worms. The best location has been by Geneva Bay or near the Williams Bay piers. The water temperature is perfect. In the next couple of weeks they will be moving deeper.
Largemouth bass are in the shallows in 5-7 ft of water. They are over by Trinkes and Geneva Bay. Split shot rigged nightcrawlers or Senkos have been producing most of the fish. A lot of the fish are also in and around the boat docks, Due to the cold spring, you want to fish shallower than normal since the fish are still trying to figure out whether they should be spawning or waiting in the deep for warmer water.
Yellow perch fishing has been good, the best location has been by Knollwood or Belvidere Park. You want to fish 6-8 ft of water. Try Thill slip bobbers about 1 ft off the weeds with small fat head minnows.
Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050
Daily Reports
6/3/12 - Delavan Lake, 70 degrees, water temp 62 degrees, W winds at 5 mph.  Caught 30 bluegills, 1 smallmouth and 6 largemouth bass.  We caught all of the fish by Browns Channel on nightcrawlers and leaf worms.  The best depth was 12 ft of water.  Any deeper and the fish didn't bite and any shallower and it was too weedy.
6/2/12 - Lake Geneva, 70 degrees and sunny, water temp 61 degrees.  Caught 8 smallmouth bass and about 100 rock bass.  Most of the success was in 12 ft of water.  We used split shot rigged nightcrawlers near Belvidere Park.
5/30/12 - Delavan Lake, 62 degrees water, 70 degrees air.  Wind NW at 10 mph.  Caught 10 largemouth bass and 10 bluegill and 15 perch.  Most of the fish were caught in 10-12 ft of water.  The best bait was nightcrawlers fished on a split shot rig.  The best location was near the yacht club.


REND: Army Corps of Engineers reported crappie (6-10 feet) and bluegill (bedding) are excellent; largemouth, channel catfish and white bass are good.

EVERGREEN: Time on the Water Outdoors reported crappie continue to be limit-good. Any updated fishing report from site staff will be posted here.

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.

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
The change in weather this week, with cooler temperatures and wind, has kept the fishing pressure low. The water temperature fell to about 58 degrees in most areas. The weekend was warm and sunny bringing more fishing activity and an increasing water temperature to the mid 60s. Bayshore Park: At Bayshore Park, fishermen were targeting Walleye using artificial bait (cranks, crawler harnesses, and flicker shads) with purple being the most successful. Sheepshead are numerous. The weeds were very thick at the landing. Chaudoir's Dock: At Chaudoir's Dock, fishermen were targeting walleye using both live (night crawlers, minnows) and artificial bait. Artificial included jigs, crank baits, flicker shads, rapalas with purple and perch colors being the most successful. Sheepshead are still numerous, and the walleye were ranging from about 15 inches to 26 inches and 1/2 pound to about 5.8 pounds. Sawyer Harbor: In Sawyer Harbor, fishermen were targeting smallmouth bass mainly using live and artificial bait. Crank baits and Rapalas were the most successful with purple and green being the colors most used. Rock bass were being caught as well while targeting smallmouth bass. Little Sturgeon Bay: On Little Sturgeon Bay, fishermen were targeting mainly smallmouth bass and some perch. A small amount of fishermen are looking for musky and largemouth bass. They were using mostly live bait for the perch and smallmouth bass (night crawlers, minnows, grubs), and some were using artificial. More sheepshead were coming in as well. On Little Sturgeon Bay the weeds were very thick at the landings. Other locations: There was no fishing activity at Red River Park, Sugar Creek, and Fish Haven.
Oconto Co.
Shore fishing below the Dam at Stiles has slowed a bit, as has the smallmouth bite. Some panfish are being caught with slip bobbers and red worms. The walleye bite from Pensaukee Landing to Oconto Park II has been good with many boats reporting limits of fish. Most of the action is taking place in 8 to 12 feet of water trolling crawler/harness. Bigger walleye are being caught in 20+ feet of water trolling Rapala's and deep divers.
Marinette Co.
Fishermen at the mouth of the Peshtigo River are reporting some nice catches of channel cats trolling in 8 to 10 feet of water with stick baits and crawler/harness. Smallmouth are still biting in the Peshtigo from the Dam to the mouth with tube jigs and crank baits working well. Some walleye are being caught on the Menominee River drifting crawlers around the 41 Bridge. Shore fishermen on the Menominee are reporting many freshwater drum being caught fishing on bottom. Some catfish are also being caught around the launch areas. Fishermen have been catching brown trout and Chinook salmon in a variety of locations from the mouth of the Menominee river to Green Island. Brown trout fishing has been good for the last few months and occasionally Chinook salmon have been creeled. Most anglers are having success with small spoons of various colors and in shallow water from 30-50 ft.


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


CHICAGO: Park Bait reported some good perch fishing (including one near 17 inches), especially on the horseshoe and and the outside of Montrose; occasionally some inside. Henry's said it is swinging more toward a soft shell bite, but minnows working, too. Mik-Lurch reported some at Diversey, Northerly island and 31st, too. Capt. Bill Kelly of Leprechaun Charters reported great coho fishing east of the Car Ferry and southeast of the R4 in 90-120 feet on boards with 3/4-1 ounce weights with Dodgers and small flies and 5-7 colors of lead; riggers down to 60; lakers on the bottom. Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters reported ``unbelievable'' 100 feet straight out of Montrose, try 80-120 for lots of coho, a few kings and steelhead, too.

WAUKEGAN: Salmon Stop reported a few browns, steelhead and coho off the piers. Perch are in 50-60 straight out or south; may be moving shallower, so check your graph. Coho take hunting, but when you find them they are biting; some kings, steelhead and lakers mixed in.

NORTH POINT: Poteshman reported good fishing--coho, a few kings, steelhead--on the hill Tuesday, both sides of the state line; and also some good lakers in 160-180.

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.


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

(Head):  Great fishing just about across the board in Eagle River:  Musky,
northern, walleye,panfish, putting on great bites with smallmouth bass
(strictly catch-and-release) fair; all in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area.

Water temps in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area are in the low 60s, but the
fishing action is "hot" -- and that is no exaggeration.  Outside of the
smallmouth bass, all species are locating in one general area:  In and
around weeds in 10 feet of water or less.  The Eagle River Chain of 28 lakes
(largest freshwater chain of lakes in the world) is providing particularly
excellent, consistent action

Musky are putting on a very good bite in the Eagle River area.  Fish are
locating up and down the water column.  Use about a 6 inch sized bait -
-minnow baits, smaller bucktails, topwaters.  All date bite.  Musky hunters
are having a great time right now.

Walleye action is very good to excellent in the Eagle River area.  The
walleyes are holding tight to bottom.  use a 1/16th ounce jig with a fathead
minnow.  All day bite.

Northern action, as one of our guides sources told us is beyond excellent in
the Eagle River area.  Fantastic all day bite.  Almost anything you toss
will garner action. Use a Husky Jerk (minnow or walleye pattern), little
spinners,or bass style spinner baits.  All are working.

Panfish (crappies, bluegills and perch) in the Eagle River area are putting
on an excellent all day bite.  The perch will be tight to bottom, with the
crappies and gills holding generally near or just over the top of the weeds.
Use a small jig and a crappie minnow or chunk of crawler, or the same bait
under a slip bobber.

Smallmouth bass (strictly catch-and-release right now) in the Eagle River
area are done spawning and have moved into 8-15 feet of water off of break
edges over hardbottom areas (gravel, rocks and sand).  use a 3 or 4 inch
plastic, like a crawfish pattern, or tube jig. A jig and a leech is also
working. Fair action for the smallmouth right now.

(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:

Cold night time temps, lots of wind and surprisingly early mayfly hatch (hex's) made for very tough fishing last week. With frost warnings some nights, surface water temps dropped a couple of degrees-but it obviously didn't have an effect on the mayflys that are showing up 2-3 weeks early. In fact, im not sure i've ever seen Hex's emerge in may (except those little march browns).
BLUEGILLS: Very good-excellent. Only downfall has been wind. Gills bedding up!! Poppers, sponge spiders, small leeches, and thunderbugs (almost done already) tearing up the gilllies. Try small tube jigs and twisters tails-fish 1-3 feet water.
MUSKIE: Fair-good. Cruisin' shallow!! Weed beds where gills are staging/spawning attracting attention. Twich baits-especially drop-belly style (crane 104's-105's) have been hot ripped over weed beds. Smaller bucktails, #5 mepps, 500 series Buchertails, as well as 1/4-1/2oz spinnerbaits also effective. Start/stop retrieves getting attention.
LARGE MOUTH BASS: Good-very good. Mornings not so hot. But mid-day to dusk. Green bass hitting plastic worms, twitch baits over shallow weeds. Some bedding still taking place.
YELLOW PERCH: Fair. Wind has been the biggest deterrent to fishing perch of late. Best on the slip-floats and medium leeches/fatheads in 4-8 foot weeds/edges.
SMALL MOUTH BASS: Fair. Best on tubes along 8-12 foot breaks.
NORTHERN PIKE: Fair-poor. Surprisingly few chasers on artificials this weekend. Best on jig/chub combos in 6-12 foot weeds with slow retrieves-or under floats.
WALLEYE: Fair-poor. Mayfly hatch probably had a lot to do with lack of catches-though a few anglers have reported fish on deep bars taking redtails towards dusk.
Lots of things are way in advance of usual by 2-3 weeks. Bass, gills bedding early, mayfly hatches early-the good thing is when mayfly hatches end, walleye fishing should really improve as the hatch take one major food source off the table. Warming water should help everything also!!


Still some good smallmouth being caught, primarily on Poor Boys or PowerBait twistertails. Mik-Lurch reported coho in 55-75 northeast of The Gong, especially on spoons; a few kings mixed in. Steelhead started at Michigan City piers, trollers are also taking some. Water temperature is just right for steelhead. A few perch off Mount Baldy, maybe by the weekend. Willow Slough slowed, keep moving around to find active fish.


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 80 to 120 feet of water depending on the day. Anglers were focusing mainly on coho and have picked Chinooks as well. Also, a few rainbows and lake trout were caught on similar presentations.
Milwaukee Co.
North Shore: Trollers have been fishing for Chinooks and coho; a few lake trout and rainbows have been picked up with the salmon. Most trollers have been focusing in 80-130 feet of water with baits about 50-80 feet below the surface. The best baits have been spoons of various colors and dipsey divers with flashers and flies. Flashers and flies of white and blue have produced the best. Fishing on McKinley pier has been very slow in recent days with a few coho and Chinooks and an occasional rainbow caught alewives during low light times of the day. Throwing spoons off the pier has had little to no success. The shoreline along Summerfest is producing a few small browns with the most successful presentations focusing on minnows, with a few additional fish being caught on spoons. South Shore: Trollers have been catching a variety of species including: coho and Chinook salmon along with rainbow and lake trout. Spoons in a variety of colors were landing Chinooks, and flies were bringing in coho. Trollers were anywhere from 75-125 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. A few small browns have been caught off of Grant Park and along the Oak Creek power plant fishing pier. The Bender Park boat ramps will be under construction for the next couple weeks, however one launch lane will be open daily.
Ozaukee Co.
Port Washington Ramps: Low-moderate recorded angler activity. Anglers harvesting chinook salmon, lake trout and rainbow trout in 80-130 feet of water on flies and spoons. Port Washington Harbor/Shore: Low recorded angler activity. Port Washington Pier: Low recorded angler activity.
Sheboygan Co.
Sheboygan Ramps: Low recorded angler activity. Anglers harvesting chinook salmon, rainbow trout and lake trout in 80-120 feet of water on spoons and flies. Sheboygan Piers/Shore: Low recorded angler activity. Amsterdam Rd. Ramp: Low recorded angler activity. Anglers harvesting rainbow trout and chinook salmon on flasher-flies in 120 feet of water.


Tyler Harmon messaged that some perch are being caught on Lake Michigan; there's some steelhead around in the rivers for those who work at it; panfish and bass are going on inland lakes.


Mik-Lurch reported that walleye are being taken with leeches as the top bait with trolling with crawler harnesses or Shad Raps as next best.



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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on June 6, 2012 6:47 AM.

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