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Midwest Fishing Report: Lakes and rivers of Chicago fishing

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t's one of those waiting periods with hopes the weekend weather change sparks something for this Midwest Fishing Report.


This is the extended online version of the MFR, which appears on the Sun-Times outdoors page on Wednesdays. Beginning this week, I think I will combine the rivers and lakes sections again.

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


The best news continues to come out of the Indiana streams for steelhead. Though it is not as wild as it was awhile ago. Frankly the streams get the lead simply because I did not have much else to lead with. Mik-Lurch reported steelhead are up the creek, but are very line shy from the bump-snaggers; best on spinners, spawn or roe.


Cooler weather may spark the crappie fishermen by the weekend, whether it also sparks the crappie remains to be seen. Otherwise it has mostly been largemouth, especially on frogs toward, or bluegill in the weed pockets and weed edges.


For a general overview of nearby river conditions, click here.

To get to more specific gauges, even on creeks, in Illinois, click here. I don't think we will get enough rain to dramatically alter levels, though it may help clean out and cool the waters.


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


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

(Head):  Musky, walleye, bluegills, smallmouth bass and catfish all hitting,
with bear season open; all in and amidst the lakes and the Wisconsin River
in Wisconsin¹s Marathon and Lincoln Counties (near Mosinee and Wausau).

The musky bite has been very good this past week in the central Wisconsin
area, with some nice fish being caught on bucktails and jerkbaits.  With the
cooler evenings and nights that we have been getting the water temperatures
have dropped a bit, and contrary to popular belief that fish move deeper
when the water temperatures drop the fish have actually slid up into the
shallow weeds. Most of the fish we caught this past week have come from less
than 6 feet of water, with most of them in 1 to 3 feet of water.

Walleye activity in the central Wisconsin area has been pretty good with
some decent fish coming from 8 to 12 feet of water on jigs tipped with
minnows or crawlers.  Most of the fish are now concentrated on sharp break
lines as opposed to being scattered over the flats like they were earlier in
the year.

The bluegill bite has been fantastic the past few weeks  in the central
Wisconsin area with limits of huge bull sized gills really making a
presence.  Most of these giant gills are coming from deep water associated
with some sort of wood.  To catch these giant gills we are running small
1/32nd and 1/16th ounce jigs tipped with a piece of crawler or a tiny
Cortland Mini-Mite jig and tail.  One nice note is that when running the
Mini-Mite jig we have been picking up some nice crappies and a few really
nice perch as well.

Smallmouth bass action has been really good this past week with some nice
bronzebacks being caught along rocky shorelines in 1 to 5 feet of water.
Most of the fish are being caught on rattle traps and spinnerbaits but we
are still popping a few on top water baits.

For you catfish lovers, now is a great time to go out and have some great
arm wrenching action in the central Wisconsin area. We have been catching
quite a few nice cats in the 20 to 30 inch range by working the deeper pools
in the main river system. Most of our baits are set up running cut bait or
chicken livers set right on the bottom in the deepest part of the pool.
This is primarily a night-time bite so get out right before dark find your
location and get ready for some great action.

The 2012 Bear season is here and our stand locations have been picked!  All
of our bait stations are regularly being visited, and a couple of them by
some very nice bears.  Now with the ability to see what is coming in to each
station by using trail cameras we have decided on our starting location for
opening day. Along with the bears that are coming into our bait stations our
trail cameras have shown up a multitude of other animals that are visiting
our stations too. We have photos of wolves, bobcats, fishers and martins, to
deer and raccoons.  It has been a very interesting season seeing all of the
fur bearers (that are really out there) that you normally don't see while in
the woods.

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


Triangle reported catfish and white bass (try the river, around the bridges or drifting deeper on Maria main lake areas) are best. For bluegill, try shaded areas until the weather changes this weekend. Some nice muskies and flatheads being caught.

For more reports, see

More Chain info at


Marcus Benesch sent this:

The weekends rain filled up the river nicely in Cook County and more so in the south ,  most of the northern stretches in Lake County received little or no rain at all. 
    Rockdale- Channel Cats have been aggressive early in the afternoon till dusk.  Best baits have been minnows and night crawlers.  Large mouth bass and the occasional small mouth still chasing small cranks and spinners in deeper pools between and along current seams.   
     River Grove-  River crested late Sunday night/early Monday morning after Sundays rain.  Being as low as the river was, the rain did not cause any flooding along the river or on the trails.  Viaducts in Chicago, that's a whole other story.
   The Northern Pike have had more fight with cooler temps in the evenings as of late.  There is a pike or two in almost ever lay down in this section.  Seem to be having better luck with bright buck tails and three inch or larger cranks.


EVERGREEN: Mike Steffa sent this note on the bait shop/boat rental:

Fall Hours starting Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Bait Shop Hours:  8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. 7 Days/Week
Boat Rental Hours:  8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Friday-Sunday
Last Day of Operations for the year is Sunday, September 23, 2012

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

EMIQUON: One of my regrets is that the year is getting away from me and I have not fished it once. 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.


Ken Gortowski sent this:

Got out three times in the last week to three different stretches of the Fox River between Montgomery and Yorkville. The rain we got a week and a half ago did a good job of washing away a lot of the floating crap and cleared up the water pretty well. Would have been nice if the water had stayed at normal levels, but it's pretty low again.

Some real odd fishing results. Numbers weren't bad on the caught/missed scale with 24/19 on one day, 24/11 on the next and the worst day went 5/5. The largest smallie was probably a good 19 inches.

What was odd was that there was no pattern. Wrote about one of the outings and stuck it up on my blog if anyone wants to go read it.

At times fish were sitting right where you expected them to be, other times I have no idea why they were hitting. Shouldn't have even been there based on past experience.

Even odder was the amount of largemouth bass being caught. All small, but they put up a good fight. At normal water levels I can go months without catching one. From the totals above, just about 15 of them were largemouth. Does make sense, they were coming from the slowest most stagnant looking water. Just the type of water these hillbilly smallies like.

The rain we got over the weekend did nothing to the river. I'll bet it didn't even rain north of Aurora.

Did figure out a few things though.

It's always worth getting out fishing for the last 2-3 hours of the day whether it's sunny or cloudy out.

It's worth getting out fishing at sunrise if it's going to be an overcast day.

It's NOT worth getting out fishing at sunrise if it's going to be a cloudless day. The bite doesn't last long and you're better off in bed.

Virtually no rain in the forecast the next ten days so the drought continues. It's the time of year when the fish start going on feeding binges and it seems to be starting, but it's sporadic and inconsistent because of the low water. With all the clear skies predicted, I'd skip the mornings all together and go for the sunset cruise.

BTW, click here for Sam Bennett's ``Getting Started Guide'' for folks who are new to the Fox or river fishing in general.


Wisconsin DNR is redoing their web site and I could not find the updated fishing report.


Around Spring Valley, Time on the Water Outdoors reported best bite remains channel catfish on crawlers; white bass are picking up slightly and a few sauger were caught.


Ed Mullady sent this:

When fishing in either Indiana and/or Illinois parts of  the Kankakee River, check to be sure that fishing is or is not   allowed in some areas open to the public while hunting is taking place
     The Kankakee River in both Indiana and Illinois offers good smallmouth bass fishing. Try  brush,
in water logs, drifts. weedbeds with fast and slow currents! Some catches made in heat of day, as well as
early morning and late evening!Try *minnows *spinners *#2, #3 *weedless Doctor Spoon.
      Northern Pike from about 4 pm until just after darkness sets in. In Indiana, Include "Point" near to English Lake *Thayer area *any shoreline that is accessible to fishing. In Illinois, try east of Momence *Cobb Park, Kankakee*Below Kankakee Dam through Johnson's  Veteran's Fisherman's Park Good.* Wilmington Island Park.  Baits: 4-5"minnows * #5 Mepps Spinners *Weedless Doctor Spoons.
       Walleye fair. Best early in morning before light arrives or late in afternoon through darkness. Good
baits include jig and 3 to 4"minnow *jig and crawler *jointed minnow shaped plugs *yellow bucktail jigs.
        Rock Bass, Croppie, Bluegill all good on *redworms, 2-3"minnows, rubber band leg spiders.
        Catfish continues good throughout river, best at low light hours through the night on *4-5"minnows
*catfish cheese *chicken liver.
                             Best to you!
                             Ed Mullady

Norm Minas sent this, well, this is the one he sent Monday:

Monday, the river is dropping but still a tad over normal flow. Muggy to muggier as the day went on.
 I had planned to go upriver and fish a stretch that isn't as plagued with floating weeds and algae but didn't. Temporary insanity was going to be the plea but my wife sas there is nothing temporary with that condition in me when it comes to fishing. Channel areas and related flats produced for me. Riffles were a dead zone for me, saw a long rod guy get a couple small bass out of one.
 I started out with a single spin tipped with a 5 inch twister retrieved just fast enough to keep it in the upper portion of the water column over a weedy flat. It was steady action for about an hour and then it ended. I switched to flukes and then swimming jigs to no avail. I moved up river a ways to a deeper flat above an island. I had a channel on either side of the flat there, figured that would improve my chances of finding some fish. There was some surface activity but I never found the right cadence with the topwaters, not even a blowup by the lure.
 I switched to the Pikie Minnow, quarter cast upstream along the channel edges. I gave it a couple cranks and let it drift downstream with an occasional twitch. That got the ball rolling with a bunch of nice fish coming from each channel edge. After that stopped I worked it slowly over the flat. The fish liked that as well. I kept that up alternating from channel edge to flat to the other channel edge for quite a while. Then the gar got active and the smallmouth quit. I hooked a lot more gar than I landed but that was okay. I like the fight but get a bit nervous around all those teeth when it's time for hook removal.
Mid afternoon and getting muggier, home to spend time with the family.
 By the way, there were a couple of turkey buzzards kept flying over head, thought I heard one say, nah, too tall to be Dale.

That's the stuff I put up with in life: Buzzards and short jokes.


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


Waiting on shoreline salmon.

CHICAGO: Fair fishing when weather allows. Capt. Bill Kelly of Leprechaun Charter reported deeper water still best bet, but some 4-year-old kings by the R4.

some fish at the R4, mostly lakers in 70-90; there's a spotty mixed bag in 120-150 on the humps, east of the R4. With cooler water mixing in, both Kelly and fish can be just about anywhere in the water column, and try all presentations.

WAUKEGAN: Lori Ralph of the Salmon Stop reported a few perch from shore; otherwise blows limited the boaters over the weekend.

NORTH POINT: Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters reported good fishing in 100-200 feet outside of the hill, mostly salmon with good lakers some days.

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 September, the species are Chinook and perch for the Richard J. Daley Memorial Sport Fishing Derby. 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.


There is access at Morris Wetlands at the mouth.


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

(Head): Good to excellent northern bite, with good action for musky,
walleye, largemouth and smallmouth bass, as well as panfish.  All in the
Eagle River, Wisconsin area.

Water temps in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area hovering right around 70.
Consistent action for most all species on the Eagle River Chain of 28 lakes
(largest freshwater chain of lakes int he world, with the exception of
smallmouth bass, who are hitting on the clearer, deeper area lakes.

Northern in the Eagle River area are in 10 feet of water or less in and
around weeds. Use a small bucktail, bass style spinner bait, Husky Jerk in a
minnow or walleye pattern, or a northern sucker under a slip bobber.  All
date bite with good to excellent action. The larger northerns will usually
be deeper, albeit providing less action.

Musky are in 10 feet of water or less in and around weeds, in the Eagle
River area.  Use a medium sized bucktail, spinner bait or topwater.
Standard retrieve, with a "figure 8" as the lure nears your boat.  Good
action, with peaks at sunset.

Walleye in the Eagle River area are in 10-20 feet of water off of break
edges, and tight to bottom.  Use a jig and a minnow.  All day bite, with
peaks in the evening.  Good action.

Largemouth bass in the Eagle River area are in 10 feet of water or less
holding tight to structure (weeds, brush piles, lily pads, docks and drowned
trees).  Use a topwater like a frog or rat, Rapala, jig and a minnow, or a
plastic worm rigged Texas style.  Good action.  All day bite.

Smallmouth bass are hitting in the deeper, clearer lakes in the Eagle River
area.  Fish 10-25 feet of water off of break edges, over hardbottom areas
(rocks, sand, gravel).  Use a jig and a leech or minnow, 3 inch tube,
plastic crawfish, or worm rigged wacky style. All day bite. Good action.

Panfish (crappies, bluegills and perch) are in 15 feet of water or less in
around weeds, in the Eagle River area.  Use a chunk or crawler or crappie
minnow under a jig or slip bobber.  The perch are tight to bottom, with the
crappies and gills suspending up and down the water column.  All day bite.
Good action.

(Report for the Eagle River Chamber of Commerce based on Creative Brilliance
interviews with Eagle River guides "Muskie Matt" of Wild Eagle Lodge,
"Ranger Rick" Krueger of Guide's Choice Pro Shop, and Mat Hegy).
Contact info for Eagle River:
* Eagle River Chamber of Commerce; 800-359-6315; 715-479-6400; e-mail:; web:
* "Muskie Matt", 715-891-5980; e-mail:
* Mat Hegy, 715-571-7544, e-mail:
* Guide's Choice Pro Shop, guide/owner "Ranger Rick" Krueger 715-477-2248
* George Langley, Eagle River Fishing Guides Association, 715-479-8804.

MINOCQUA: Kurt Justice of Kurt's Island Sport Shop sent this:

An incredibly gorgeous Labor Day Weekend put lot of people on the lakes.  Anglers, while enjoying the nice weather did have to put up with some tight lipped fish often associated with high skies.  It wasn't all bad, though, water temps crept upward, fish were being caught and signs of a good September bite started to show up by weekends end.
Largemouth Bass:  Good.  Action returned to the weeds as the bass started chasing, especially towards evening.  Anglers casting 1/8-1/4 oz Boonie Baits and Chatterbaits reported good catches over weeds of 5-8'.  Closer to dusk top water lures such as plastic frogs, Jitterbugs and Hula Poppers produced around emergent weeds where a lot of small frogs are seen.  Some very nice Largemouth bass to 20+" this week.
Bluegills:  Good.  Nice gills this week to 9 1/2".  Bigger gills on deep weed edges and around deep wood.  1/2 crawlers on light jigs as well as medium leeches under slip-floats.
Smallmouth Bass:  Good.  Returning to rocks...somewhat.  Marking a lot of fish, but, bites slow in coming.  Live bait (big leeches or crawlers) best. Mud minnows have also been effective.  Best depth for active fish is 10-15'. 
Walleyes:  Fair-Good.  Some nice catches with crawlers/leeches on jigs.  Fishing drowned wood, rocks of 7-10'.  Deep lakes starting to see some action on gravel, not enough to get excited about as we need cooler temps.
Pike:  Fair-Good.  Live bait (chubs) work best, but a few anglers reported some good mid-morning action on Boonie Baits and #4 Mepps in 6-9'.
Crappies:  Fair.  Fickle.  A few anglers reporting a lot of smaller fish over weed tops.  Some anglers finding deep suspended fish, 3-5' off of 22-26' mud bottoms.  A few big slabs this week.
Perch:  Fair.  Starting to improve.  Half crawlers on light jigs with minnows or leeches below floats.  Weeds and wood of 8-15'.
Musky:  Fair.  After what looked like a strong showing last week, things have slowed (most likely due to the heat).  Best action on big spinnerbaits over weeds of 8-12'.  Mostly smaller fish were caught this week (26-36") with a few in the 40's.  Sucker bite very slow due to heat.
The warm spell threw a wrench in the fishing pattern for now.  Surface temps on the flowages and smaller lakes hit 75-76 degrees while mid to large lakes had surface temps of 72-73 degrees.


Waiting on shoreline salmon. Mik-Lurch reported a troller picked up some kings outside of The Ditch on Sunday, so maybe there is hope for shoreline salmon.


Denny Sands sent this link for some great shots of Shabbona Lake fishing.

Click here for info and reports.


The Wisconsin DNR is redoing its web site and I did not find an updated fishing report.


Tyler Harmon was out of town, so I have no update this week.



Water Dog Journal
Fishing Headquarters


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1 Comment

Ok , I forgot tp mention, the buzzards also said i was too old and gnarly to eat .CRS you know.

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on September 5, 2012 6:24 AM.

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