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Midwest Fishing Report: Rivers and lakes around Chicago fishing

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I would expect muskie and crappie to be the prime targets by the weekend with the forecast cold snap, that and the first week of fall trout season in Illinois lead this Midwest Fishing Report.


Jim ``The Crappie Professor'' Kopjo emailed Monday,

``Thought I would drop you a little note letting you know the fall bite is starting to roll....maybe we can get you out there soon .... This is a friend of mine... Chris Brewer [above] from Brookfield...with part of the limit from are showing some shoulders...slip bobbers and minnows,near the deeper cribs.....good eating while watching the Bears on Monday night football...LOL''

Works for me.

This is the extended online version of the MFR, which appears on the Sun-Times outdoors page on Wednesdays. I think until next spring I will go back to combining the rivers and lakes sections again.

Normally, I post Wednesday mornings. I am getting it out early so I can go hunting tomorrow.

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


Illinois' fall trout season opened Saturday. There should still be some around. Those anglers 16 and older need a license and an inland trout stamp. Daily bag is five.

Nearby lakes are Axehead, Belleau and Horsetail (Cook County; Pickerel, Grove and Silver (DuPage); Bird Park Quarry (Kankakee); Big Lake at Silver Springs State Fish and Wildlife Area (Kendall); and Sand Lake at Illinois Beach State Park and Banana Lake (Lake).

The basics are light spinning gear and use ice jigs, pieces of PowerBait, small minnows, cheese or tiny spinners.

Click here for more Downstate options.


By this weekend, the primary effort will be for fall crappie, especially with the forecast cold snap.


Most river basins, especially the Kankakee, received good shots of rain that should help with the low flows

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

To get to more specific gauges, even on creeks, in Illinois, click here.


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):  Solid musky, walleye and crappie bite, with buck activity heating
up; all in and amidst the lakes and the Wisconsin River in Wisconsin¹s
Marathon and Lincoln Counties (near Mosinee and Wausau).

It's that time of year when most anglers are concentrating on musky fishing
in the central Wisconsin area. The water temps are in the mid 40° range and
the fall bite for big fish has started.  We are catching some very nice
muskies by throwing deep diving crank baits like Bucher Depth Raiders and
large plastics like Bulldawgs.  We also are having very good action running
live suckers rigged up and set under slip bobbers.  While running suckers we
are using quick-set rigs to ensure a quick hookup and virtually no chance of
hooking a musky deep or in the gills.

There is some very good fall walleye fishing taking place right now in the
central Wisconsin area; and for anglers looking at getting some nice eating
fish, this is one of the best times of the year.  Walleyes are staged right
in water depths of 10-16 feet, and can be targeted by simply using  1/8th or
1/4 ounce lead-head jigs that has been tipped with a fathead minnow. For the
best results try vertically jigs as you drift through the deeper holes in
the main Wisconsin River system, or by working the sharp breaking contours
in main lake basins.

While most of the focus is on musky and walleye in the central Wisconsin
area, anglers looking to get in some great crappie fishing, are finding it
is a good time to do so.  Right now crappies are staged over deeper water,
12-15 feet deep, and are  holding 4-7 feet down.  They can be targeted by
simply drifting through the area, running tiny crappie sized jigs that are
set under slip bobbers at the appropriate depth.  Use a small crappie minnow
or a chunk of crawler.


Arden Katz reported doing well for crappie, with white bass and a few walleye mixed in, in 12-15 feet on Bluff and Marie on minnows on a drop-shot. Bluegill are shallow on Channel. NOTE: Fox River chapter of Muskies, Inc. holds its fall Challunge on the Chain 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday from Famous Freddies on Fox.

For more reports, see

More Chain info at


MAZONIA/BRAIDWOOD: Monster Lake at Mazonia South remains open year round. Other Mazonia lakes and Braidwood are now closed to fishing.


DELAVAN: Guide Dave Duwe emailed:

Delavan Lake 10/22/12 through 10/30/12
Finally the lake has stabilized with the cooler weather. Fishing has been improving daily. If you can catch a good day with no wind, you should have great success. Due to the time of year, you need to take a lot of different baits and tactics for optimal success.
Northern Pike are everywhere in the 10-14 ft depth range. They are aggressively hitting rattle baits on a slow retrieve. The best location is Browns Channel or in front of Lake Lawn Lodge. Most of the fish are small however, you can get some really big numbers. Once you find the fish, you want to anchor, you can catch them slip bobbering medium suckers or large golden shiners.
The walleye fishing has been great at dusk and dawn. The fish are in about 16-18 ft of water off of main lake points. Look for the fish by the Yacht Club, Willow Point or by Browns Channel. With the cooler water temperatures, the fish are almost exclusively hitting on extra large fat head minnows or a deep diving crank bait. The best color for the crank baits are pearl or chrome/blue or chrome/black. For the best success you want to fish 1 hour before sunrise and/or right at dusk.
Largemouth bass have moved into the shallow weed flats in 10-12 ft of water. They can be caught on crank baits. The best color is perch or chrome/blue. You want to find the greenest weeds in the lake which are by the Yacht Club or in front of Lake Lawn Lodge. Last week, I did catch a few largemouth bass in 3-4 ft of water while casting a split shot rigged nightcrawler by the Oriental boat house.
With the cooler water temperatures, the smallmouth bass have become active. The best depth for them is 16-20 ft of water. The best location is by 3 flags or Belvidere Park. The smallmouth are positioned like the walleyes so the best approach is lindy rigs with a 24 inch leader and an extra large fat head minnow. On Delavan, smallmouth bass don't school up like Geneva so you need to keep moving for optimum success. A good trip is between 5-6 fish. Fall is the best time to catch large fish so plan your day accordingly and fish when it's nice.
Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050

GENEVA: Duwe emailed:

Lake Geneva 10/22/12 through 10/30/12
Fishing has been very good. We are in the late fall pattern. I don't believe the lake has turned over yet, that should happen if the weather remains cold within the next week or so.
Smallmouth bass have been very aggressive in the 20-25 ft depth range. There are large numbers of fish schooled up off the deep lake points. The best approach has been lindy rigging extra large fathead minnows. I've been using a ¼ oz walking sinker, 24 inch leader and a single hook. Look for the fish by the Military Academy, Gage Marine or by Holiday Camp. Most of the fish are in the 12-13 inch range but if you stay after it, there are quite a few big fish in the schools.
Perch fishing has been fantastic. The only problem is that you have to catch 125 fish to keep 20. It involves a lot of sorting. Make sure you stop by Geneva Bait and Tackle. They have the cheapest crappie minnows in Walworth County. Look for the fish by Knollwood, Rainbow point and Belvidere Park. You want to fish in 5-9 ft of water for best success.
Northern Pike have been spotty. With the thermocline gone, the fish are in the weed flats in 12-15 ft of water. Look for the fish in Trinkes Bay or Williams Bay. The best approach is fishing Thill slip bobbers with large golden roaches. Anchoring is the only method that will produce a decent amount of fish.
Rock bass have been spotty. I've been fishing over 20 ft of water so I haven't been catching that many. The best place to find them is in 12-13 ft of water. Look for the fish by the Military Academy or Elgin Club. With the cooler water temperatures use fat head minnows fished on a split shot rig.
Walleye pike have been biting after dark. The best approach is trolling large stick baits such as Rapala's and Smithwick Rogues. Look for the fish by Abbey Springs or in front of Yerkes Observatory. You want to keep the boat in 15-16 ft of water
Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050
Daily Reports
10/21/12 Lake Geneva, sunny, 60 degrees, winds S at 15 mph.  Water temp 52 degrees.  Caught 29 smallmouth, 8-10 were legal.  All the fish were caught lindy rigging extra large minnows.  We fished by the Yacht Club, Holiday Camp and by the Military academy.
10/20/12 Delavan Lake, partly cloudy, 45 degrees, winds light out of the west.  Water temp 53 degrees.  Caught 9 walleyes -2 were legal, 2 smallmouth bass, 3 northerns, and 2 largemouth bass, both were legal.  The walleyes were caught on lindy rigged fat head minnows off of main lake points in 20-22 ft of water.  The bass and northern pike were caught off the weed flats in 12-13 ft of water.  The bass and pike were caught on excalibur rattle baits.
10/18/12 Delavan Lake, cloudy, rainy, 42 degrees, winds W at 20-30 mph.  Water temp 53 degrees.  Caught 1 northern pike and had a few bass on.  With the cold and rain, the lake was almost un-fishable.  We fished about 2 1/2 hours.  The best bite this day was by a friend of mine, who was fishing 12 ft of water with medium diving crank baits in front of Lake Lawn.  Once the winds picked up, we couldn't fish that location.


Marcus Benesch sent this:

The rise in river level came and went almost as fast as last winters ice fishing season.  Pike still very active and even the little ones have good size bellies this fall.  Still being found in seams and dead current.  Rock bass, crappie, and blue gill in northern sections poor.  Lots of carp being had mostly on sweet corn near river bends and deep lay downs.  Few sauger and walleye reports starting surface in areas downstream of Salt Creek.


EVERGREEN: Bait shop/boat rental is over for the year. Any updated fishing report from site staff will be posted here.

POWERTON LAKE: Boat fishing is over until it reopens Feb. 15. Larry Dozard of reported the last day of shore fishing is Friday. Shore fishing reopens Dec. 24. Winter hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

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.


Water levels have been fluctuating.

Ken Gortowski sent this short one:

Didn't plan on any Fox River fishing the last few days, but wound up getting out Saturday and Sunday mornings and Tuesday, since I'm off work at the moment. The further north you go the better it gets with Tuesday's venture to North Aurora being the best. Mouth of Big Rock Creek Tuesday resulted in one fish. Went 32/23 on my catch/self release scale for those three days. I'll take that for the end of October. Also got a note from fly fisherman Nat Lawrence. He was out fishing in the rain last week with a friend and between the two of them landed 16 smallies with two of them over 16 inches. Best I can say is even further north.

BTW, Sam Bennett has a getting started guide for the Fox posted here.


Check the Wisconsin DNR fishing report for any updates. There was none the last I checked.


At Spring Valley, Time on the Water Outdoors reported crappie biting around pilings or wood; white bass are either on or completely off around creek mouths or rip-rap; sauger are being caught, but they take sorting.


The river basin received another good shot of rain Tuesday morning, so levels should be improving.

Ed Mullady sent this:

It has been nice to see some rainfall. hit the area. 
    Dave Zack, of Momence  IL Kankakee River Conservancy mentioned the Indiana part of river is up at
least a few more inches, and also from the IL-IN State Line into Momence.   Croppie catching  in that area has been very  good . Dave also mentioned catfish, smallmouth bass, some pike and a few walleye.
     Rock Bass and largemouth bass are also caught through here.
     Other good places include: *Aroma Park Area to Cobb Park,Kankakee. *Kankakee Dam through
Johnson's Veterans Fisherman's Park * Kankakee River State Park *Wilmington Dam thru Island Park.
      In Indiana, good fishing wherever ditches, creeks, rivers, bayous run into the main Kankakee. All
river areas have their share of river fish. 
                                                                Best Regards,
                                                                Ed Mullady

Norm Minas set this:

Well, I had the cataract fixed and ha to stay out of the water for a while as it healed to avoid possible infection. I had planned to spend most of the morning and afternoon chasing fish but the thunderstorm changed that plan. I'm not real fond of being the highest point in the middle of a river when the juice is flowing in the sky.
 After the storm passed, I had some time to fish before I had to make a pickup at the college. What better place to start than an inflow, with it's mixture of current patterns to choose from. On the first cast behind a bridge piling that was being tickled by part of the outer edges of the creek's flow, I got a smallmouth on a crankbait. I'm kinda iffy about the first cast curse but I figured that changing lures and how i was fishing the current patterns might alleviate any possible effects of the curse. I started using a hard jerkbait in the slower/slacker water and fr a while it looked like the curse was working. I noticed some minnows skittering up real shallow and fired a quick cast and got a nice rock bass. I continued with the jerk and saw some more minnows skittering in the washout hole. I got two small pike from that pattern. I finally went back to fishing the seams with a crankbait and picked up some more smallmouth. I switched to a rattlebait out where the current from the creek joined with the main channel. I ended up with a walleye before it was time to split.
 Four species on three different lures made for a satisfying day even if most of the fish were on the smaller side.


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


Lakers are showing for shore fishermen on Chicago's South Side. Ray Hinton caught several on a white crankbait or a blue-and-white Cleo. Mik-Lurch reported one laker of 15 pounds from Burnham. Some kings still around.

SNAGGING: Snagging season is open for Chinook and coho. The only open areas on the lakefront are the inner and outer harbors at Jackson Park, Lincoln Park Lagoon from the Fullerton Avenue Bridge to the southern end of the Lagoon, Winnetka power plant discharge area and Waukegan Harbor (in North Harbor basin only). No snagging is allowed at any time within 200 feet of a moored watercraft or as posted. Salmon snagging season ends Dec. 31.

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.


Click here for D&S Bait.


Fishing at Morris Wetlands is closed for the season.


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

(Head):  Good to excellent action for walleye, northern and panfish, with
musky putting on a fair to good bite. More rutting action being observed by
deer bowhunters; excellent woodcock hunting; grouse hunting good; and duck
hunters seeing migrating diving ducks increase. All in the Eagle River,
Wisconsin area. 

Water temps in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area hovering in the mid to upper

Walleye in the Eagle River area are off of break edges adjacent to mudflats
in 12-25 feet of water.  Use a jig and a minnow.  All day bite.  Action is
good to excellent.

Northern in the Eagle River area are in 10 feet of water or less in and
around weeds.  Use a Husky Jerk (minnow or walleye pattern), floating
Rapala, or a northern sucker under a slip bobber.  All day bite.  Action is
good to excellent.

Panfish (crappies, bluegills and perch) in the Eagle River area are really
starting to scatter.  fish 8-25 feet of water off of weed edges or break
edges adjacent to mudflats.  Perch are tight to bottom, with crappies and
gills suspending up and down the water column.  Use a crappie minnow or
chunk of crawler under a jig or a slip bobber.  All day bite, with action
good to excellent.

Musky in the Eagle River area are locating in 10 feet of water or less in
and around green weeds. Use a medium size (6-10 inches) jerkbaits,
glidebait, topwater (not a misprint!), or 12-14 inch sucker.  Use a standard
retrieve and do a "figure 8" as your bait nears the boat.  All day bite with
short feeding windows.  Action is fair to good.

(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:

Definitely a late October feed.  Water temps actually rose though thanks to some daytime highs into the upper 50's - low 60's.  Most lake temps between 44-48 degrees this past week.
Musky:  Very good.  The bite has been at it's best on suckers.  Nearly all fish caught this past week (as reported by our guides) have been on meat!  Jerk baits (Smity, Suick, Bobbies) and Gliders (Warlock, Mantas) and twitch baits (Cranes, Big Game) are moving fish and anglers reporting some hook-ups.  Best use right now seems to be decoying fish to boat, then muskies end up taking suckers.
Walleye:  Fair-Good.  Deep water action best on large lakes.  Chubs, suckers fished at hump bases of 30-50' deep.  Some weed activity where green cabbage on wind blown shorelines in 7-10' found. 
Perch:  Fair.  Best around drowned wood of 8-14'.  Half of night crawler, medium fatheads best.
Crappie:  Fair.  Anglers searching deep coontail edges finding suspended 2-3' off bottom.  Deep pockets of 18-25' also holding crappies.  Any deeper wood/cribs worth checking out.
While lake temps have slowly risen and may continue to do so through Thursday (10/25), cold temps with highs in the mid 30's Friday and Saturday should see lakes cooling off and may spark another feed fest for musky.
Dress warm and bring knee boots as most piers are gone.  It is worth fishing though, as lots of multi-musky days for anglers dragging suckers continue.


Ed McCain at Mik-Lurch reported lakers being caught, jigging and trolling, on the Port of Indiana reef, some inside Lake Street, too. With the rains, more steelhead are moving in the streams, fresh spawn has been best.


From the Root River Report:

Root River Fishing Report for October 22, 2012 The current river level is much higher than it has been in previous weeks. Water is coming over the stops logs at the facility and has been decent water for migrating salmon and trout. More rain is in the forecast which should bring higher waters and more fish upstream. Water temperatures were measured between 48-50 degrees in the deeper pools in the middle of the day. For up to date river conditions, check out the USGS web site of stream flow conditions in Wisconsin. Fishing Information Upstream of the facility: We have now processed over 1,000 Chinook salmon through the facility since last Thursday which should provide fish for anglers upstream of the weir. However, it is relatively low water upstream of the dam which will limit angling opportunities. Downstream of the facility: Most of the angling pressure has been below the Steelhead Facility throughout the Lincoln Park and Island Park segments of the river. The water level is higher than it has been but still slightly below normal for this time of year. However, the rain from last week brought in a substantial amount of Chinook salmon and Coho salmon. If we continue to get rain on Monday and the early part of the week, more fish should enter the river on their spawning run making it good conditions for fishing.


As the photo of Chris Brewer at the top showed, he dominated Lakeside's first crappie/bluegill open on Saturday with big crappie. Denny Sands at Lakeside said big bluegill were caught, too. Muskie, mainly smaller, are active. There have been stripers to 24 inches caught.

For more on Lakeside, fishing reports and the lake, go to


Check the Wisconsin DNR Lake Michigan report for any updated report. It was not updated last I checked.


Tyler Harmon messaged:

Its been a messed up fall thats for sure. Perch fishing on the big lake has been done for quite some time. What kings are left are busy spawning. Coho are still moving but are dark in color and should be starting to spawn any day. The steelhead run has been off to a slow trickling start. Walleye fishing has been hit or miss conditions are not stable for reliable fishing, one day its good, the next you cant buy a hit.


Ed McCain at Mik-Lurch said some nice walleye are being taken and crappie are going in the corn channel, boaters are taking some on the far side.



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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on October 23, 2012 9:27 PM.

Ramble with Storm: Kjelgaard, Faulkner, Hemingway, Donne, from a stormy toll was the previous entry in this blog.

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