Chicago Sun-Times
Stray Casts will intelligently report and observe, hopefully with a touch of wit, on daily occurrences, reports and releases related to Chicago-area outdoors from bucks to bass to birds to bugs

Midwest Fishing Report: Lakes and rivers around Chicago fishing

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It's that time of year: a slight chance of some ice fishing in northern Wisconsin later this week, a hope that better weather rebuilds the southern Lake Michigan perch fishing for the weekend and some wackiness among river fishermen lead this Midwest Fishing Report.


Marcus Benesch sent this as a lead for his report on the Des Plaines River:

Rejoice! After a dozen or so outings for some DPR walleye I was finally rewarded with a few last week.  A couple 18 inchers and the attached 26in.  I hope it will add a little color to the blog.  All fish were safely released.

Yeah, his walleye adds a little wow factor, some color to Stray Casts.

And I loved Marcus' explanation for the photo:

*note tripod and camera were left at home due to lack of success, so settled for the cell phone snapshot.

It just made me smile.

And I think there must be something about river fishermen this time of the year. Norm Minas, the regular contributor for the Kankakee River report, sent this account:

I decided to challenge my self today to catch a bass out of three different types of water.
I started in the river, breaking thru ice along the shore to access the open water  I got two smallmouth on an unweighted fluke off the back side of a riffle. Next up was a suburban water retention pond that has produced for Zach and I in the past. I stuck to the fluke and got two largemouth out of a corner of the pond. The last place was a quarry downtown. I checked a lot of options there both location wise and presentation wise. I finally got a largemouth pulling a jig/spinner with a paddle tail grub up a ledge area off the end of the float. It wasn't as big as the other bass but it was a tad over 12 inches,. That was just enough to meet the self imposed terms of the challenge.

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.

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


Friday's blow dirtied and riled the waters, slowing action.

CHICAGO SHORE: Those going very early are doing better. Some small perch are being caught at Diversey and Navy Pier, keepers take sorting; fewer at Montrose. Arden Katz said for action Mini-Mites and spikes are best; though he said minnow fishermen are catching some bigger ones. Steve Palmisano at Henry's said a few started in the river at 92nd and 95th.

INDIANA BOAT: The blow shut it down after Thanksgiving, but the weather forecast for the weekend looks favorable for spots like Gary Light, Portage and possibly even the breakwall at Cal Harbor. Mik-Lurch reported some quality perch caught from shore at the Hole-in-the-Wall.


Muskie fishing ends Friday, but I suspect forming ice has already done that in. Whether the ice will thicken enough for ice fishing this week is iffy at best.

EAGLE RIVER: Creative Brilliance sent this update late Tuesday for the Chamber of Commerce:

Multiple sources from the Eagle River area have called me and
just told me (Tuesday evening, 27 Nov.) that open water fishing is OVER, and
the lakes are freezing over in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area.  There is
absolutely NO SAFE ICE, and anglers are advised just to get their ice
fishing gear in shape, and we'll let them know when it's OK to go to Eagle
River to ice fish.

(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:

Good Afternoon, The Fishing report from Kurt's Island Sports:
Gun deer season is over. (yawn!) Musky season ends Friday. (no live suckers left.)  While the pond froze up on the 24th and we have had some cold nights to form ice on our lakes, it is still going to be iffy as far as this weekend is concerned.
Wind has been a factor in keeping ice from forming. Just a small break in wind from one direction to another has been enough to get areas of the lakes skimmed over. If we don't get any more snow and the cold continues, watch out website for ice updates as they come in.
If there isn't enough ice to fish, join us this weekend (November 30th, December 1st & 2nd) for our 3rd Annual Ice Fishing Extravaganza. Meet reps and pro-staffers from Frabill, Normark- Strikemaster-Marcum, Vexilar and more. Get early season deals on lots of ice equipment and see the latest in tackle, electronics, augers and more.
Kurt Justice
Kurt's Island Sports


The hardy few who are fishing for crappie in this chill will be joined by a few more with the forecast for a relatively mild weekend.


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):  Bluegills, walleyes and muskies all providing action, with the
muzzleloader deer season starting; all in and amidst the lakes and the
Wisconsin River in Wisconsin¹s Marathon and Lincoln Counties (near Mosinee
and Wausau).

Warm weather has savvy anglers scoring BIG on open water in the central
Wisconsin area.

Anglers in the central Wisconsin area hoping for early ice have not seen it
yet.  With that said, we are finding that by targeting some of our
traditional early ice locations by boat or off shore, is that the fish are
already there and readily taking our presentations.  Just this past week
some of our local bluegill hotspots produced nice catches of bull nosed
gills in the 8 and 9 inch range.  Small jigs tipped with a chunk of crawler
or small plastic like a Wedge Tail have been working very good for us.

In addition to the good bluegill catches, we are taking a few nice walleyes
in the central Wisconsin area by targeting some of the deeper water in the
Wisconsin River system, as well as some of our traditional shallow water ice
fishing locations.  For the most part, the fish are deeper during the day in
10-14 feet of water, but as evening approaches we move up and target the
walleyes in as little as 1 to 3 feet of water.  During the daytime hours we
target the walleyes with lead-head jigs tipped with XL fathead minnows; but
in the evening we are tossing crankbaits right up tight to shoreline

With a week of musky fishing remaining in the central Wisconsin area, musky
hunters looking for that last fish of the season, or maybe the trophy of a
lifetime, now is a great time to go after it. Target deep water areas with
little no current on the main Wisconsin River system.  Run 12-156 inch
suckers on quick-set rigs anywhere from 5 to 10 feet down over 10-20 feet of
water.  You can also throw plastics like Bulldawgs and Big Joes, as well as
deep diving cranks like the Depth Raider and Cisco Kid in natural or
firetiger colors.


Staff at Triangle reported muskie are the main target, primarily on suckers; Catherine and Channel are the top lakes. Water is low, so use caution with boats. For crappie, try deeper channels and main lake points. For walleye, Marie and Bluff have been best with slip-bobber or Lindy rigs.

For more reports, see

More Chain info at


MAZONIA/BRAIDWOOD: Only Monster Lake at Mazonia South remains open year round.


Marcus Benesch of River Grove sent this:

DPR Report 11-25
     Water is crystal clear and still very low.  Healthy looking pike this time of year. However a lot more misses than actual catches going. Look to use a larger, deeper, and slower presentation.  Big minnow plugs still out performing the rest.
     Walleyes are finally biting in deep current.  Jointed raps and x-raps in white or firetiger bounced off the river bottom coaxed the bites.  One very nice walleye even being had in northern cook county.  A decade or so ago you probably would have the same chance to catch a walleye in that neck of the woods as you would to win that recent powerball drawing.  More proof of an ever improving ecosystem.


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

POWERTON LAKE: Shore fishing reopens Dec. 24. Boat fishing reopens Feb. 15.


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


Click here to check for an updated Wisconsin DNR Lake Michigan Fishing Report.


Some winter-run steelhead are in Trail and Salt, according to Mik-Lurch staff. The next week or two should bring a better run.


SPRING VALLEY: Time on the Water Outdoors reported some sauger and walleye, but they take much sorting for keepers, lately even some action by the boat club.


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


For perch see top. Some bluegill shallower at Diversey. Pier passes are available at Henry's.

CHICAGO PIER PASSES: The $6 pier passes for Chicago harbors, except 31st, are available at Henry's.

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.

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.


Click here for D&S Bait.


For perch, see top. Mik-Lurch reported a few winter steelhead in Trail and Salt. This should be the time for whitefish to begin in earnest on Lake Michigan.


Click here to check if there is an updated Root River Fishing Report from the Wisconsin DNR.


Lakeside is closed for the season. It will reopen mid-December, when there is ice fishing.

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


Andy Mikos emailed that he is catching a few browns at Kenosha, including a 13.5-pounder Sunday, on bodybaits (Shad Raps).

Click here to see if there is an updated Wisconsin DNR Lake Michigan report


Tyler Harmon messaged:

Steelhead fishing is slow but steady in the rivers. Whitefish action good on the piers.



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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on November 28, 2012 6:18 AM.

Illinois Hunting Report: Second deer season nears was the previous entry in this blog.

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