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Midwest Fishing Report: Lakes and rivers around Chicago fishing

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Another opener, in LaSalle Lake, and more changes, in rivers and ice conditions, lead this Midwest Fishing Report.


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


The photo is from opening day last year, a smallmouth I caught just as the sun came up.

Click here for today's column about prospects for the LaSalle Lake opener on Friday. Overall, expect fishing to be about what it has been for largemouth, smallmouth and hybrids at the cooling lake south of Seneca. Expect some potentially huge blue catfish. Fisheries biologist Ken Clodfelter said good bluegill are on the east side and on the south side of the picnic point dike. Hours are 6 a.m.-sunset, Wednesday through Sunday in March. From I-80 west take the Seneca exit, go south through town and across the Illinois River on route 170, turn right at blinking light, go about 2 ½ miles.


John Farmer and his son Grant caught 23 largemouth early last week and one good hybrid. I know of several 5-pound range hybrids caught so far this year. That is amazing growth in a couple years.

Rudy Steffan emailed from a weekend outing:

I gave Lake Braidwood to try this afternoon. In about 20 minutes of fishing I was able to land 4 nice cats. Two of which hit a mepps spinner. There were two boats out and about 4 groups fishing. As I was packing up the group closest to the ramp had just landed a bass about 5lbs. I was surprised that the catfish that I caught were in the 2lb range. One was a fiddler. I am looking forward to bringing my kids out here this weekend, if the weather holds.

Another faithful reader tweeted that catfish were good on the south end.

REMINDER: Anchoring outside the restricted area on the north end, then casting in is illegal.


Areas south have opened up or are opening up; while areas to the north will hold fishable ice. Know your area. I am taking down the public regs on ice fishing as of today.

NOTE: In DuPage County, Pickerel, Grove and Silver are closed to fishing as of Friday because of trout stocking.


Most rivers are bank full or coming off of it. Even so, it is time.

I started some early reports on river fishing, guys are getting out.

For a general overview of nearby river conditions, click here. Probably a good idea to check this.

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.


Greg Dickson at Triangle Sports and Marine thinks there will be ice fishing through the weekend. Pike and bass on roaches are the top bite.

For more reports, see

More Chain info at

ACCESSING THE CHAIN: For at least another week, I will leave up these points for accessing the Chain.

For the T-Channel, best first-ice spot, park at Famous Freddie's and go in to eat or leave before the lunch crowd arrives.

For Spring Lake, Granny's Lakeside has parking for $5, but takes the $5 off your order. Most eating places with parking access offer similar deals.

For Channel Lake, there's Chopper's Bar or the Thirsty Turtle.

For Petite, Greg Dickson at Triangle said there is now a drop-box behind the old Kempf's resort.

Access Pistakee Lake from Oak Park Lounge ($4 per car, $8 with trailers).

For Ackerman's Channel, Dickson said the best access is from Captain's Quarters.

For Marie, the last to be safe in the middle, there's Barnacle Bob's ($5), McKinney's East Marina ($5) or the Sand Bar & Grill (park in back and patronize the place).


MAZONIA: The site is open for fishing. It is open water or headed there on most lakes. BRAIDWOOD: See top. LaSALLE: See top. HEIDECKE: Opens to fishing on April 1.


Brian Gates at Geneva Lake Bait and Tackle reported safe ice in Geneva Bay on Geneva with pumpkinseeds and bluegill, bluegill in front of Trinkes, lakers just west of ``The Narrows''; on Delavan, good bluegill and crappie (mainly later on tip-downs) on west end; decent perch in front of the Village Supper Club; north end of Elizabeth has good crappie.


We are getting close. Marcus Benesch will start reports shortly, probably when the river recedes some.


SPRING LAKE: Heard some outstanding reports for muskie action. It is the right time of year.

POWERTON LAKE: The cooling lake near Pekin will be closed to all fishing through April 7 for levee work.

EVERGREEN: The 2013 passes are available. Any updated fishing report from site staff will be posted here.


Access for ice fishing at Nielsen's Channel at Port Barrington is at Hermann's Lowlife Bar & Grill.

On the other side of fishing this time of the year, Sam Bennett sent this spring hello and sign of things to come:

I listened to your show with Norm this morning. Good stuff. Makes me want to get down to the K3.

I don't have much to report for myself on the Fox, but I did read reports of guy pulling white bass and crappie from creek mouths prior to the big wash-out last weekend.

The water hasn't hit 40 degrees yet and it needs to get to 45 before the smallmouth wake up.

I will be getting out this weekend for a little shallow river trolling to see if the pattern holds up that Marty and I found before the ice.

We'll be trolling the slowest sections of the main channel where it's 3-4' deep. That was the key.

Thanks to Sam for bringing that up, all Outside shows--Mondays 4:p.m., rebroadcast Saturdays 8:30 a.m., WKCC-FM (91.1)--are available on podcasts. Norm's, which is well worth a listen for reasons beyond just spring fishing tips, may be found by clicking here and going to ``the woolly one is back.''

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


The Wisconsin DNR report had this report:

Green Bay Fishing Report: March 10, 2013
Brown Co.
Rain, wind, and fog made for less than ideal conditions this past weekend. Travel on the ice has become more difficult as the landings start deteriorating. Open water fishing for perch and walleye is the only method of fishing at Voyageur Park with jigs tipped with minnows or floating Rapala's being employed. Perch fishermen were still numerous south of Long Tail; many small fish being caught. There were fewer fishermen out of Sunset Beach and Geano Beach due in part to conditions at the landings.
East Shore
Overall fishing activity was higher towards the end of the week and into the weekend. Weather conditions were favorable with warmer temperatures throughout the week. The weekend brought rain creating lots of slush on the ice, some fishermen were reporting about 6-8 inches of it in some places. Ice conditions continue to be good with about 20+ inches of ice by the Lower East shore of the Bay up to about 24+ inches of ice towards the Shipping Canal. More fishermen are taking/moving their shanties off of the ice or closer to shore.
Sawyer Harbor: In the Shipping Canal and Sawyer Harbor area, fishing activity was very low with a few fishermen favoring Pot Park.
Lower East Shore: The lower east shore of the bay had moderate fishing activity for the week. Fishermen were targeting Whitefish and Perch with not having good numbers for each species. The main baits that were used were wax worms, rosy red minnows, with an occasional Swedish pimple. Fishing depths varied at different locations, but it was anywhere from about 5 feet at Volk's landing up to 38 feet out at Rites Cove. Lots of shanties have been moved from the ice.
Sand Bay & Rileys Bay: In Riley's Bay and Sand Bay, fishing activity was higher over the weekend than during the week. Fishermen were targeting Whitefish and Perch. Whitefish numbers were doing okay, but Perch numbers were low. The main source of bait was gulps and wax worms from about 20-42 feet in Riley's Bay up to 70 feet of water at Sand Bay. There are still a handful of vehicles out on the ice at Sand Bay, but fishermen are reporting lots of water on the ice and that it is hard to travel by vehicle.
Little Sturgeon Bay: On Little Sturgeon Bay, fishing activity was consistent at some places during the week and even higher over the weekend. Fishermen were targeting Whitefish and Perch. Perch numbers are low and Whitefish numbers for the week. Some fishermen were catching their limits of Whitefish. The mains baits used were wax worms and minnows in about 20 feet of water at Lime Kiln Rd and up to 30 feet at Big Rock Place. ***Be careful at Lime Kiln Rd. The access point is in rough conditions for a vehicle. Several trucks were getting stuck, so most fishermen were either using ATV's or snowmobiles.***
Oconto Co.
Rain, wind, and fog made for less than ideal conditions this past weekend. Travel on the ice has become more difficult as the landings start deteriorating. Whitefish are still being caught at the mouth of the Oconto River jigging with minnows. Pike fishing from Pensaukee landing to Oconto Park II has been slow with a few nice fish being caught. Large shiners or smelt in the round are what fishermen are using.
Marinette Co.
Rain, wind, and fog made for less than ideal conditions this past weekend. Travel on the ice has become more difficult as the landings start deteriorating. A few steelhead are starting to show up below the Dam in Peshtigo with small Raps and Cleos being productive. Ice fishermen north of the Peshtigo River mouth found pike fishing to be slow, and most people opted to remove permanent shacks. Fishermen are still running out of the landing at Little River to catch whitefish on the Trout Bar, however after this rain conditions are less than ideal. No fishermen were observed on the Menominee River.


River crested at LaSalle, and is projected to come off flood stage by the weekend.


It's high and dirty, but when it cleans up action should be spiking for steelhead.

Click here for the Indiana DNR's map of Trail Creek access.


It's just good to have a river report from Norm Minas. He sent this Tuesday evening:

The river was dropping today down to just over 14,000 CFS from close to 16,000 CFS yesterday. As expected even the creeks look like chocolate milk and there is a lot of debris in the water. The water temps were in the upper 30's, wading was restricted to some slack water areas that I know very well. You had to be real careful about where you got in and out with all the mud and wet clay.

While it looked nice with the sun shining, the wind made it a little less than pleasant. It wasn't chemical hand warmers in the gloves cold but I felt it in my creaky old joints.

I started out fishing some flooded timber with a 1/2 oz single spin with a size 7 magnum willow blade. I tipped it with an altered 5 inch grub. I put a bunch of 5 inch grubs in a ziploc bag and let them cook in the sun in the back window of the car over the summer. The end result was most of the salt came out and the twister swelled in both length and width. It added more bulk to the lure so that it pushed more water and altered the drop rate a little. I started out targeting the most complex trees[the kind where the trunk splits into multiple parts] and the largest trees I could find without the split of the trunk. After hitting about 15 of those I had two channel cats about 18 or 19 inches and two smallmouth about 16 or 17 inches. I went back thru the same set of trees with a jig/pig and one fish on briefly that got off due to operator error. It felt more like a cat than a bass while it lasted. I went back to the spinnerbait and checked a dozen of the smaller trees, never got a tap. If the lure wasn't pretty much bumbing bark at least every so often on the drop, it never got hit no matter the size or complexity of the tree. 

Next up on the menu was a couple of inflows. At one of them the way the current was flowing just wasn't conducive to making an effective presentation from the downstream side. I drove around to the access for the upstream side, fished it with singlespins, jerkbaits and jig/plastic. I might as well have just went to the next crick for all the good that did me. When I got to the next crick mouth it just looked like it was perfect for a jointed floating Rapala, so I broke out the J-9, gold/black if you're interested in that sort of stuff. I got a couple small walleyes in the 13 to 14 inch range on the J-9's. I switched to a rattlebait and jig/plastic looking for smallmouth. I'm still looking.

I figured to hit a few eddies to see what could be done in them. At one eddy I got a 15 walleye on the J-9. Jig/plastics, jig/pig and singlespins were ignored. At two other eddies I got a smallmouth in each on a jig/plastic at the head of the eddy. Nothing else produced anywhere else in those eddies. I hit one more eddy and didn't get a tap.

I decided to make a run to a nearby retention pond to see if I could get some action there. I was use a shallow running crankbait on of the guys who fishes the river made and got a 13 inch largemouth in a corner the wind was pounding. I checked another corner with less wind with the same lure, nothing doing.

It was a good day to be out, saw an eagle looking for shad in the river, a bunch of hawks looking for whatever rodents they could find. Tons of geese, a lot more than the usual resident geese and saw a bunch of ducks. At one spot about a dozen black/white ducky blurs noisily blasted off the surface, no doubt it wasn't complimentary. Bits of green starting to surface here and there with a few flying insects buzzing about.


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


Henry's reported good perch at Montrose and Belmont, off-and-on perch in the river at 92nd and 95th; browns at the tip of Northerly Island.

CHICAGO PIER PASSES: Good time to remember the $6 pier passes for Chicago harbors, except 31st, are available at Henry's Sports & Bait.

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.


D&S Bait reported ice remains good, perch are decent on Mendota, some bluegill on Squaw Bay.


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

Good Afternoon, The local fishing report from Kurt's Island Sports,
Rain this past weekend followed by 7 inches of snow overnight (3/10/12) will make lake travel difficult on lakes with the slush that has worsened with last week's warm weather and the weekend rain. Snowmobile highly recommended. Over the weekend bites have been slowing down and fish reports quite due to the incoming weather. Some die-hards fishing through Saturday's rain.
Crappie:  Good.  Deep water crappies are still being found suspended over 10-24'' mud flats and some on deeper weed beds producing catches of 10"-12". Some reports of crappies being caught right beneath the ice in shallow water of 6' yielding smaller fish. Rosie reds and crappie minnows on tip-downs, some anglers starting to use more plastics. Rockers and moon glow gigs tipped with waxies and spikes.  
Perch:  Good-Very good.  Deeper mud flats producing catches mostly feeding on wigglers and bloodworms that are producing larger fish. Tip downs with rosie reds and crappie minnows were producing fish with the warm weather.  Number 2 Pimples,  Slender spoons, Buckshot spoons and Hali jigs tipped with wigglers, waxie and spikes.  Shallower waters of 5-12' along weed edges fish are present but smaller in size.
Bluegills:  Good and Improving.  Still catching fish on smaller jigs such as gill pills and small tungsten using spikes, waxies and chena. Small plastics also working. Fish are being found in 5-10' along weed beds, anglers starting to find some larger fish .
Overall fishing expected to pick up later in this week due to rising temperatures, slush to be expected
Kurt Justice
Kurt's Island Sports

EAGLE RIVER: On Sunday, Creative Brilliance sent this update for the Chamber of Commerce:

(Head): Crappies, bluegills and perch providing good to excellent action in
the Eagle River, Wisconsin area.

Ice thickness in the Eagle River ranges from about  22 to 24 inches.  As the
weather warms, the ice will begin a faster thinning pace, especially around
any structure or current areas.  Caution is strongly advised.  The ice may
look good, but it can very dangerous.  Travel conditions are marginal with
slush and snow cover. Stick to worn paths. Unfished areas can result in
getting stuck, as well as unknown ice conditions.  ATV's, four-wheelers,
snowmobiles and motor vehicles are all being used.

Crappies, bluegills and perch are providing good to excellent action with an
all date bite, in the Eagle River area.  There are two areas to fish.
First- - deeper water: 12-30 feet off of break edges and on adjacent
mudflats.  Second - -a shallow water bite:  12 feet of water or less along
old weed edges.  The perch will be tight to bottom, with the crappies and
gills suspending up and down the water column, location being day dependent.
Use your electronics to locate the depth of the fish on any given day.  As
the weather warms and we move towards spring, the crappies and bluegills
will be migrating higher up in the water column, where the thinning/melting
ice, and sun provide more oxygenated and warmer water.  As this time, the
crappies and gills are just starting to move a bit higher.  Later on in the
season you will be able to find these fish right under the ice at the
surface.  Still a little early for that, 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.


Mik-Lurch reported boats could get out at East Chicago and Portage as of Tuesday, but winds could change that.


Click here to check if there is an updated Root River Fishing Report from the Wisconsin DNR. It might be coming soon, they expect the high water to bring in fresh steelhead.


Clint Sands at Lakeside said ice fishing is about done for the season.

Check updates at


Here is the Lake Michigan Fishing Report:

Southern Lake Michigan Fishing Report: March 11, 2013
Southeast Wisconsin received an inch or more of rain over the weekend. This, coupled with rapid snowmelt, has led to all Lake Michigan tributaries in the area being quite high and muddy. Look for fresh steelhead in the rivers after the water levels recede. Fly fishing and floating spawn sacs under a bobber are both effective methods for catching steelhead in the rivers.
The Root River Steelhead Facility is not yet running for the spring season. We expect to be in operation when the stream flow subsides. Check back soon for updates.


Tyler Harmon messaged:

Steelhead action remains slow but consistent on the rivers. Tons of people flooded to the piers over the weekend but very little was caught. A few whitefish, coho and browns. Ice fishing is officially over and many lakes will begin to open up for anglers wanted to get out on the open water after panfish.



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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on March 13, 2013 6:00 AM.

Illinois Fisheries Management Fund: Update/Alert was the previous entry in this blog.

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