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Midwest Fishing Report: Lakes around Chicago fishing

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Summer patterns dominate this lakes section of the Midwest Fishing Report, and for a change, there are even some reports for the cooling lakes.

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


As submissions for Fish of the Week show, largemouth continue to be one of the top bites this hot summer, especially early morning, late evening and even well into night. It is the usual, early and late on topwaters, worms or Senkos on weed lines other times. Bluegill are in weed pockets or outside weed lines. And find shade, for yourself, and the fish. . . . Catfish are being caught at Jackson Park, according to Henry's.


For guide Mike Norton's report, go to, then click on fishing, then lake report.


From licensed guide and trapper Phil Schweik and guide Glenn Moberg of Hooksetters Guide Service:

(Head):  Walleyes, smallmouth bass, crappies, bluegills and musky all
hitting, with bear baiting stations doing very well; all in and amidst the
lakes and the Wisconsin River in Wisconsin¹s Marathon and Lincoln Counties
(near Mosinee and Wausau).

Walleyes are biting on crawlers and leeches in the central Wisconsin area.
Fish 8 to 12 feet of water associated with wood and rocks.  Most of the
action is coming during low light periods and on cloudy days.

The smallmouth bass have been very active in the central Wisconsin area,
hitting tower baits as well as jigs tipped with plastics like tubes, and
beaver tails and twister tails in orange and green.  Most of the action is
coming off of rocky humps and rip-rap shorelines in 3 to 5 feet of water.

The bluegill bite is very good in the central Wisconsin area with nice
catches of bull gills being taken from submerged wood and weeds in 5 to 8
feet of water.  Most of the gills are being caught on tiny 1/16 ounce jigs
tipped with a piece of crawler or on a tiny plastic like a Mini-Mite in
white or red.

Crappie action has been good in the central Wisconsin area.  The warm
weather has pushed the crappies a little deeper in the water column and we
have had to lower our presentations to be successful.  We are now running
our presentations about 6 to 10feet down over 12 to 16 feet of water to
catch the schooling, suspended crappies.

The musky bite in the central Wisconsin area has been good all year long and
we have been having great action on spinner baits and bucktails.  Most of
our fish have been coming by casting to rocks and weeds in 6 to 10 feet of
water, but with warmer temperatures we have also picked up a couple of fish
while trolling large crankbaits down as deep as 14 feet.

The bear baiting stations in the central Wisconsin area are doing very well,
and we are seeing a lot of activity from multiple bears at them.  We are
also catching some real nice bruins on our trail cameras as they visit our
sites.  Trail cameras are a great way to find out exactly what you have
coming in to your stations.  Most of the activity we are seeing on our
cameras is right at dark, and then for about two hours after dark.  If you
are having the same kind of results don't be alarmed that the bears are not
coming to your baiting stations during daylight hours.  it has been very
warm the past few weeks which will keep the bears mostly nocturnal.  As fall
approaches, the days will shorten, the nights will get cooler, and the bears
will start coming in earlier and earlier.

Forgive me, but I love a bear report with my fish.


Staff at Triangle reported very warm (upper 80s) and low water. Best bites are catfish on stinkbait and crawlers; or white bass, try wind-blown shorelines. Bluegill are on the deeper weed lines. For bass, try either pier fishing or on weed lines. Walleye dispersed with the low water and little current.

For more reports, see

More Chain info at


LaSALLE: As the FOTW shows, there are some quality blue catfish being caught, hot water and all.

BRAIDWOOD/MAZONIA: Staff reported fishermen catching quality catfish on the north end of Braidwood, where water is 98 degrees. Site has gone to an 8 p.m. Close.


DELAVAN: Guide Dave Duwe sent this:

Delavan Lake 7/23/12 through 7/30/12
Fishing on Delavan Lake is slower than it's been in the past few years. I'm not sure if it's due to the warm summer or the massive amounts of fishing pressure. The water to me seems about 12-18 inches lower than normal. You need to watch the boat launch channel on the way through as the water at the tip of the jetty is only about 2 ft deep.
Bluegill fishing has been fantastic. The bluegills are in 15-18 ft of water. It hasn't been hard to catch a limit of nice fish. Just a single hook and a small split shot fished beneath the boat has been producing most of the fish. The best location has been by Browns Channel or by Del mar.
Largemouth bass remain schooled up off of main lake weed points. Most of the success has been coming off of the points, like the Village Supper Club, the concrete point or Willow Point. This time of year you want to find areas with hard bottom associated with the weeds. The bass will school up there and hold in large groups. The best approach is a split shot rigged nightcrawler or in low light conditions they are aggressively hitting top water lures. For the lures, try chrome/black or chrome/blue colors. For dock fisherman are having a lot of luck in sunny conditions. North shore piers are very productive. Try the area from the Yacht club to Willow Point. This section of the lake has deep water piers which seem to hold the bigger fish.
Northern Pike fishing has been horrible for me this year. I'm catching one or two per trip on medium suckers. I don't know if I'm in the wrong locations or if they just aren't biting well. I've been lindy rigging them in 15-18 ft of water. Most years, it's common to catch 6 or 7 in a trip, this year that's been closer to the best trip of the year. The best location I've heard of has been by the Yacht Club or the Village Supper Club.
Walleye fishing has slowed a bit with the heat. The best time to fish is right at dusk in 15-17 ft of water. Jumbo leaches fished on a lindy rig with a chartreuse painted hook are catching most of the fish. Look for the fish over by the point by Browns Channel or just west of Willow Point.
Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050

GENEVA: Arden Katz reported good bass fishing late night over the weekend (12 largemouth, 10 smallmouth) drop-shotting with 4-inch plastic worms on the sides of points. He sets up in 22 feet and casts in.

Duwe sent this:

Lake Geneva 7/23/12 through 7/30/12
Fishing on Lake Geneva continues to be excellent. The fish are in their mid-summer pattern. There are ample opportunities for both large fish and a good fish fry.
Lake Trout fishing continues to be excellent. The fish are in the main lake basin. I've been catching most of my fish 90 ft down in 110-120 ft of water. Nickel and blue or nickel and green spoons are producing most of the action. I find the fish most active in the early a.m. I go out at sunrise.
Walleye fishing has been good at night when there is wind. Large Rapalas trolled at approximately 2 mph have been producing most of the fish. The best colors are fire tiger or chrome and black. The best location has been by Abbey Springs or by Aurora college. I find the best fishing is when there is a slight chop on the water.
Bluegills are located in 16-18 ft of water. The best location is by Elgin Club or by Abbey Springs. They can be caught on a split shot rigged leaf worm about 6 inches off bottom. You need to move around a lot to find an active school, but once you find the school you will catch a bunch of them. The rock bass can also be caught inter mixed with the bluegills.
Smallmouth bass have been kind of slow. The fish I've been catching are on lindy rigs in 20-25 ft of water. The best location is by the Military Academy or by Linn Pier. Most of the fish are being caught on nightcrawlers or jumbo leaches.
Northern Pike action has been improving. The pike are in 30-32 ft of water on the thermocline. They are being caught on medium suckers fished on a lindy rig. The best location is on the north shore of the narrows or Fontana Beach. Due to the virus the fish have had the past few years, the numbers are still lower than they were in the past. A good trip is 6-8 fish in 4 hours.
Largemouth bass have two patterns going. The early morning / dusk pattern is top water lures over shallow weeds. You want to use a chrome/blue or chrome/black chug bug. The other pattern is the deep weedline bite. Carolina rigging green pumpkin lizards in 20-25 ft of water does the trick. The best locations are those with gravel under the weeds. Typically this time of year, the fish will school up making catching good numbers relatively easy.
Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050
Daily Reports
7/22/12 - p.m. Delavan Lake, partly cloudy, 82 degrees, SW winds at 10 mph.  Water temp 79 degrees.  Caught 6 largemouth and kept 18 bluegills.  The fishing was a bit slower than the a.m. and the boat traffic was intense.  All the fish were caught on split shot rigged nightcrawlers.  Fished mostly main lake points.
7/22/12 - a.m. Delavan Lake, sunny, 75 degrees, SW winds at 10 mph.  Water temp 79 degrees.  Caught 9 largemouth and a whole bunch of very large bluegills.  The bluegills were off the weedline in 16-18 ft of water.  The largemouth bass were on the weedline.  Moved around a lot, fishing was a bit slow, however, in the last hour, I caught a 7 lb bass which is the largest of the year.
7/21/12 - Lake Geneva, Sunny, 80 degrees SW winds at 10 mph.  Water temp 79 degrees.  Caught 4 Lake trout, all around 4 lbs., 3 smallmouth bass and 2 largemouth bass and a bunch of rock bass.  The lake trout were in 115 ft of water, 90 ft down.  Every spoon we put down caught a fish.  The bass and panfish were caught by the Military Academy on a split shot rigged nightcrawler.
7/20/12 - Lake Geneva, sunny, 90 degrees, Winds SW at 12 mph.  Water temp 79 degrees.  Caught 3 Lake Trout, each was 3-4 lbs.  Best depth was 90 ft down in 110 ft of water.  The best location was near Fontana.  Nickel and blue spoons caught all of the fish.


EVERGREEN: Any updated fishing report from site staff will be posted here.

POWERTON: Summer hours--6 a.m.-8 p.m.--are underway, but we heard from another biologist that it was hit with one of the harder fish kills around the cooling lakes.

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:

Green Bay Fishing Report: July 23, 2012
Brown Co.
Fox River: In the river fishing has been slow this week, but anglers are still catching catfish, sheepshead, drum and carp from boat and shore. There were also a lot of pleasure boaters out in the lower bay this past week.
Suamico/Geano's Beach: Fishermen were targeting walleye and catching them in about 15-35 feet of water. Crawler harnesses are still working the best with some fishermen putting a Gulp night crawler on the crawler harness with that being successful as well. Perch are starting to pick up at Geano's Beach. The numbers are still low, but they are making more of an appearance and are ranging in an average size of 7-8 inches with minnows being the main source of bait.
East Shore
Overall, fishing pressure was lower this week than past weeks. The water temperature at Bayshore Park was around 80 degrees while on Little Sturgeon Bay and in Sawyer Harbor, the water temperature was around 75 degrees.
Bayshore Park: At Bayshore Park, fishermen were targeting walleye with numbers of them being steady with past week's catches. They used night crawlers and crawler harnesses in about 20 feet of water, and the walleye ranged anywhere from 16 to 20 inches in length. Only a few people were looking for perch, and only a few perch were caught. White perch, white bass, catfish, sheepshead and gobies are all making appearances with a few white perch being kept.
Chaudoir's Dock: There were no fishermen at Chaudoir's Dock this Monday due to the storms that rolled through.
Sawyer Harbor: In Sawyer Harbor, fishermen were looking for perch, smallmouth bass, northern pike, and walleye. Perch numbers were low all week; only one northern pike was caught, and no walleye were caught. A few rock bass were also caught while targeting perch and smallmouth bass. Fishermen used night crawlers and minnows for perch and smallmouth bass while using Rapalas (green/purple in color) for northern pike. Some fishermen were using spinners and cranks for smallmouth bass (green pumpkin/green in color) as well.
Little Sturgeon Bay: On Little Sturgeon Bay, fishermen were targeting smallmouth bass using tubes (green pumpkin in color) for bait, and fish were caught in about 6-10 feet of water. Smallmouth bass numbers were lower this week than past weeks as well. Fishermen were also looking for perch, and a few people were targeting catfish and sheepshead. Perch numbers are still low, but there were many sheepshead and gobies around. The bait of choice for smallmouth bass were spinners and crank baits (white in color), but a few people were also using night crawlers. Minnows and night crawlers were used for perch. Lots of pleasure boaters were out on Saturday as well.
Oconto Co.
Last week's weather was hot and humid again, raising the water temperatures into the the low to mid 80's. Fishing pressure was moderate to heavy. Rafters and fishermen made good use of the Oconto River during last week's heat. Panfish and smallmouth were being caught from the Stiles Dam downstream using slip bobbers and live bait, and plastics and chug baits for smallies. Walleye fishermen did well this week from Oconto Park II to Pensaukee River trolling crawler/harness. The walleye are being caught in 18 to 30 feet of water. The perch bite on the Bay remains slow with some fish being caught in 9 to 15 feet of water using jigs and minnows.
Marinette Co.
Last week's weather was hot and humid again, raising the water temperatures into the the low to mid 80's. Fishing pressure was moderate to heavy. Fishermen floating the Peshtigo River are catching smallmouth, pike, and catfish along the entire length of the river. Top water baits have provided most of the action. Some walleye and freshwater drum are being caught in the Menominee River, with the larger walleye being caught below the Turn Basin to the mouth of the river. Salmon and trout fishing from Green Island to the Peshtigo Light has been very good with King Salmon in the 12 to 17 pound range common. Many browns and rainbows are also being caught.


For Ohio DNR report go to and or call (888) HOOKFISH.


Tuesday's blow kept most off the lake.

REMINDER: Those 15 and younger may catch and keep 10 perch daily during the hated July closure for perch fishing on the Illinois waters of Lake Michigan for those 16 and older.

CHICAGO: Very few perch reports, but Henry's reported crayfish taking some nice sheephead at Burnham and Mont rose. Capt. Bill Kelly of Leprechaun Charter reported summer fishing (fewer but bigger fish) in 90-150 feet, down 70 feet to the bottom, east of the R4 and Chicago harbors. Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters said most are fishing near the wreck, and reported morning is key for best results.

WAUKEGAN: Lori Ralph of the Salmon Stop said before the blow, most were fishing 80-120, down 65-70, for salmon/trout. She said kids have been catching some perch from shore on minnows on the bottom.

NORTH POINT: Poteshman said action for good kings is from the hill out to 200 feet with big Dodgers and Howie flies; early morning is best.

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 July, the species are carp, catfish, perch (15 and younger, coho, Chinook and steelhead for the Richard J. Daley Memorial Sport Fishing Derby are perch, coho and Chinook Check fish in at Henry's Sports & 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):  Good action for musky, walleye, northern, largemouth bass, and
panfish, with smallmouth bass fair to good; all in the Eagle River,
Wisconsin area.

Water temps in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area are in the low 80s.  Best
fishing action for all species can still be found on the Eagle River Chain
of 28 lakes (largest freshwater chain of lakes in the world), except for
smallmouth bass which are providing a better bite on the deeper, clearer
lakes in the Eagle River area.

Musky are providing a good bite in two different Eagle River areas.  Fish in
and around shallow weeds in 10 feet of water or less.  Use a medium sized
bucktail, topwater or crankbait.  Musky are also being found suspending in
open water, up and down the water column, relative to where bait fish are
locating.  Fish 10-40 feet of water and use a Bulldawg or some type of deep
diving crankbait. Regardless of where you fish, use a regular speed
retrieve, and don't forget to always do a 'figure 8" when your lure
approaches the boat.  All day bite, with peaks early and late.

There's good action for walleye in the Eagle River area.  Fish 10-25 feet of
water off of break edges, using a jig and a minnow.  The walleye will be
tight to bottom.  It's an all day bite, with peaks early and late.

Northern in the Eagle River area are putting on a good bite.  Fish 10 feet
of water or less in and around weeds.  Use a #4 or $5 Mepps, bass style
spinner bite, or a Husky Jerk in a minnow or walleye pattern.  All day

Largemouth bass are hitting in 8 feet of water or less in the Eagle River
area.  Fish shoreline structure, such as brush piles, lily pads, heavy
weeds, docks and downed wood.  Use a top running frog or rat, a Texas Rig
with a plastic worm, or a 4 inch tube.  Good bite.  All day action.

Panfish (crappies,bluegills and perch) are hanging in 12 feet of water or
less in or near weeds, in the Eagle River area.  The perch will be tight to
bottom, with the crappies and gills suspending up and down the water column.
Use a chunk of crawler or a crappie minnow under a slip bobber, or a small
jig. Good all day action.

Smallmouth bass action ranges from fair to good in the Eagle River area.
Fish break edges over hardbottom areas (rocks, sand, gravel) in 12-20 feet
of water.  The smallies are tight to bottom.  Use a plastic tube, crankbait,
or a jig and a leech.

(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:

Warm, yet stable weather has kept the fishing patterns fairly stable.  Daytime temps in the mid to upper 80's raising lake surface temps back into high 70's.  A few cool mornings and some east winds did make for slow morning bites last week, but overall fishing is good.
Largemouth Bass:  Very good-Excellent.  Lipless cranks (Rattling Raps, Rattle traps) and twitch baits (x-raps, Ratllin Rouges) good on inside weedline and over weed tops where there is room.  If weeds are high, work 1/8 Boonie Bait at weed top level during the day.  Toward dusk, go topwater with plastic frogs and mice.
Smallmouth:  Very good.  Big fish on deep humps, 18-21"ers on big leeches.  Creature lures (Chompers skirted grubs) on jig heads or Carolina rigs.  Also plastic craws. Drop-shotting also effective.
Bluegills:  Very good.  Try deep weed edges of 12-18' for the largest gills.  Large, deep lakes with clear water giving up nice gills of 8-9"+.  Medium leeches, 1/2 crawlers-even crappie minnows suspended below slip-floats.
Musky:  Good.  Best towards dusk on top-water (Tallywackers, Whopper Ploppers, Creepers and Top Raiders).  Fast moving bucktails also working.  Work offshore weed flats and on long reaching bars to deep water. 
Crappie:  Fair-improving.  Look to weed tops of 8-14'.  Twister tails 1-2"), tinsel jigs (Gapen Freshwater shrimp) and Charlie Bees.
Pike:  Fair.  Surprisingly slow.  Chatterbaits and Boonie baits over weed top scoring some fish, but live chubs and suckers best bet right now. 
Walleye:  Fair.  Best after dark and towards dusk.  Cool mornings and east wind slowed morning bite.  Whole crawlers, XL-Jumbo leeches best below slip-float (lighted at night) along 8-12' weed edges or on top of off shore humps. topping at 14-20'
Perch:  Fair.  Mostly due to lack of reports.  Some big perch over sandgrass flats in 16-24' of water using softshell crayfish (frozen), otherwise probe weeds of 6-10' with medium leeches or 1/2 crawlers.
Surface temps a little better than the week before, still use caution on handling fish.  Wild minnows (Chubs, muds, mix) tough to come by due to the heat.  Not a major concern as leeches and crawlers are the best choice right now, though walleyes and smallies being caught on chubs over deep humps.


Tuesday's blow kept most off the lake. Mik-Lurch reported before Tuesday's blow 80-110 was the zone for salmon/trout. Willow Slough still has some good bluegill going evenings. Pine Lake has good bluegill in 50 feet, down 25.


Lakeside reported good catfish as the top bite; a 5-pound bass was caught Monday, and a couple muskie and hybrid stripers were caught in the past week. For bluegill, fish weed pockets.

Click here for info and reports.


From the Wisconsin DNR Lake Michigan Report on Monday:

Southern Lake Michigan Fishing Report: July 23, 2012
Kenosha Co.
No report.
Racine Co.
Shore anglers were primarily targeting browns from the pier and in the harbor, though virtually no fish were reported being caught. Trollers have had success with dipsey divers and flies along with trolling spoons in anywhere from 60-100 feet down in 105-175 feet of water depending on the day. Anglers were focusing mainly on Chinooks though the fish have seemed to be spread out. A few rainbows were picked up as well. Perch fishing is extremely slow from shore with the best rigs being minnows under a slip bobber. Those jigging for perch down at the rock wall by Meyers ramp have had only a slight amount of success with minnows under slip bobbers and throwing small crank baits, although after an hour and a half after sunrise fishing slows to near nothing.
Milwaukee Co.
North Shore: Trolling for Chinooks along with a few lake trout and rainbows has been successful once fish are found. Most trollers have been focusing in 105-175 feet of water with baits about 60-100 feet below the surface. The best baits have been spoons of various colors and dipsey divers with flasher flies. Flasher flies of white, blue, and watermelon have produced the best. Fishing on McKinley pier remains slow with high near shore water temperatures. The shoreline along Summerfest is producing a few browns with the most successful presentations focusing on minnows with a few additional fish being caught on spoons. Perch fishing has been slow off of McKinley pier. The few perch that were caught were taken on minnows and small jigs off the rocks and pier.
South Shore: With strong northeast winds over the past week fish have been pushed out into deeper water. Trollers have been catching Chinooks along with Rainbow and Lake trout. Spoons in a variety of colors were landing Chinooks. Trollers were anywhere from 105-175 feet of water with baits set about 60-100 feet below the surface. Fishing under the Hoan Bridge has produced a few brown trout reported caught on spoons and alewives on the bottom. A few small browns have been caught off of Grant Park and along the Oak Creek power plant fishing pier along with a few perch at the pier as well. Perch fishing at the boils and off of Oak Creek has yielded only a few fish. Perch fishing off of the south shore pier has yielded only a few perch at dawn on minnows.
Ozaukee Co.
Port Washington Ramp: The ramp was closed on Saturday the 21st due to Fish Day. Low recorded angler activity. Anglers harvesting Chinook salmon on spoons and flies in 120 feet of water.
Port Washington Harbor/Shore: Low recorded angler activity.
Port Washington Pier: Low recorded angler activity.
Sheboygan Co.
Sheboygan Ramps: Low to moderate recorded angler activity. Anglers harvesting lake trout, brown trout, coho salmon, rainbow trout, and Chinook salmon using flies, j-plugs and spoons. Fish were harvested in 75-150 feet of water. The 8th Street Ramp is closed to the public due to dredging operations in the Sheboygan River.
Sheboygan Piers/Shore: Low recorded angler activity on both piers.


Tyler Harmon messaged,

No news for either [perch or steelhead], we had cold water near shore on Lake Michigan last week but it only lasted a day. Bass fishing has been good on inland waters. Crankbaits have been on as bass move offshore to escape the hot shoreline temperatures. Dock fishing is also good this time of year.


Mik-Lurch reported good bass fishing at night on the Indiana side.



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Brown trout occasionally being caught in southern WI harbors but are basically unreleasable. Upper layer of water is too hot. Even if they successfully swim away you'll probably just find them floating the next day.

If you fish there right now you should be fishing for food. Bring plenty of ice.

Great report here Dale!

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on July 25, 2012 5:08 AM.

Midwest Fishing Report: Rivers around Chicago fishing was the previous entry in this blog.

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