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Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Coho, crappie, early trout, yo-yoing conditions, walleye, MWC
Coho on southern Lake Michigan, improving crappie, early catch-and-release trout in Illinois, yo-yoing spring conditions, walleye and the Masters Walleye Circuit tournament lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021
Chicago Sun-Times
by Dale Bowman

Coho on southern Lake Michigan, an improving crappie bite, early catch-and-release trout in Illinois, yo-yoing spring conditions, walleye and the Masters Walleye Circuit tournament lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

Timothy Doron emailed the photo at the top and this:

151/4” crappie caught out of a private lake in Lake County

Look at the mouth on that thing.

 

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a spring largemouth bass. Provided photo

 

 

ILLINOIS’ EARLY CATCH-AND-RELEASE SPRING TROUT SEASON

Nearby early catch-and-release sites (need trout stamp, fish must be released) are Rock Creek at Kankakee River State Park, Pine Creek at White Pines Forest State Park and Apple River at Apple River Canyon State Park. The early season opened March 20. Click here for general information on Illinois’ spring trout season.

ILLINOIS’ SPRING TROUT SEASON

Opening day is April 3, except at the five Forest Preserves of Cook County sites, which open April 7. Click here for general information on Illinois’ spring trout season. Click here for details on the delayed start of FPCC.

LAKEFRONT PARKING

Chicago Park District’s parking passes for the fisherman’s parking lots at DuSable and Burnham harbors are on sale at Henry’s Sports and Bait in Bridgeport and Park Bait at Montrose Harbor.

 

Readers suggest SpotHero app downtown. Otherwise, here are some basics: Foster (free street parking or pay lot); Montrose (free street parking); Belmont (pay lots on north and south sides); Diversey (pay lot or street parking); DuSable Harbor (pay lot or fisherman’s lot); Northerly Island/Burnham Harbor (meters, pay lot or fisherman’s lot); 31st/Burnham (meter parking between McCormick Place and 31st Street Harbor); Oakwood/39th (meters); 63rd Street/Casino Pier (pay lot); Steelworkers Park (free street parking at east end of 87th); Cal Park (free parking).

AREA LAKES

Dicky’s Bait Shop in Montgomery reported local ponds are picking up, Phillips Park has produced some quality fish; Big Rock Quarry has good crappie and bass.

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait texted:

Licenses up and running. . . . and crappie interest is better. Wolf lake, tam pier, maybe try saganashkee. . . . Take care

 

Ken “Husker” O’Malley emailed:

Hey Dale,

Here is a recap of this past weeks fishing.

Area lakes-the cold front slowed things down some with the drop in water temps until the warmup over the weekend. Typical March weather.

Bass have been very good on lipless cranks midday on sunny days. Pay attention to the winds each day as wind blow north shorelines have been best.

Crappie are starting to bite on shallower lakes as they are moving up along the inside weed lines on sunny days. Best bait has been small minnow baits like the Diawa dr minnow. Work the bait slowly to trigger a reaction bite after a long pause.

Here is the nature pic of the week [below]. Is there any better way to start a day?

TTYL

Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Husker Outdoors
Waterwerks fishing team

Nature photo for the week. Credit: Ken “Husker” O’Malley
Nature photo for the week.
Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Pete Lamar emailed:

Hi Dale,

Things didn’t improve all that much this week in spite of three consecutive days near 60 degrees. Even in the small ponds, water temps hadn’t reached 50 degrees yet. Small bluegills were moving around, but not really commiting. Small flies, presented low and slow, resulted in a few fish. I’d expect even less activity on the larger ponds and lakes.

Pete

BRAIDWOOD LAKE

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait texted:

Licenses up and running. . . . Braidwood still good especially w cat and Gill. Take care

Open daily 6 a.m. to sunset. Click here for the preview.

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Arden Katz said on sunny warm days even the bluegills have pulled up with the crappie into the channels, on jigs.

Kyle at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said crappie are being caught in any deeper channel; big walleye are just starting to move up; bluegill (try leeches for bigger ones) are also going; channel catfish and flatheads are going in the river; carp starting to move up on the outside of channels.

NOTE: Check updates on water conditions at foxwaterway.com or (847) 587-8540.

CHICAGO RIVER

Nice Chicago River carp. Provided by Jeffrey Williams
Nice Chicago River carp.
Provided by Jeffrey Williams

Jeffrey Williams messaged the fish above Tuesday and this:

15 pounds 28 inches

DOWNSTATE

POWERTON: Shore and boat fishing is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

SPRING: Open for fishing.

EMIQUON: Basically, go to the launch. General information at http://experienceemiquon.com/sites/default/files/LakeAccessRules.pdf.

HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Closed for the season.

SHELBYVILLE: Check with Ken Wilson of Lithia Guide Service. SOUTHERN ILLINOIS: Check with Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing.

FOX RIVER

Fox River catfish. Provided by Dicky’s Bait Shop
Fox River catfish.
Provided by Dicky’s Bait Shop

Dicky’s Bait Shop in Montgomery reported water temperature is 46.5 degrees, catfish are starting to go (see photo above); smallmouth are picking up in the shallows.

GREEN LAKE AREA, WISCONSIN

Guide Mike Norris emailed:

Fishing Report 3/22/2021

Mike Norris

Big Green and Fox Lakes - Ice fishing has ground to a halt on areas lakes here in south-central Wisconsin. And fishing out of a boat on area lakes is still iffy with wind-blown ice chunks blocking off boat ramps. With the ice chunks moving around you may get out in a boat but may not be able to get back in. Shore anglers are smiling though. Crappies are staging in open water neckdown areas of Big Green and Fox Lake and are reachable from shore casting with a jig and minnow hung beneath a bobber. Bluegills can be found in backwater channels.

Fox and Wisconsin Rivers - Both boat and shore anglers are doing good for walleye on the Fox River downstream from the dam in DePere. Anglers casting jig and minnow combinations seem to be outdoing anglers who are vertical jigging. Same goes for anglers fishing downstream from the Nekoosa Dam on the Wisconsin River. Casting jig and minnow combinations into eddies and current breaks are accounting for most catches. One caveat, the Wisconsin River is down about two and a half feet below normal pool and navigating through rocky areas can be a problem.

I am now taking reservations for the 2021 guide season. For information on guide trips reach out to me via my Facebook page at mike.norris.7773 or email me through my website at www.comecatchsmallmouth.com

Mike Norris

GREEN/STURGEON BAYS, WISCONSIN

Click here for the Wisconsin DNR weekly report.

HEIDECKE LAKE

Reopens April 1.

ILLINOIS RIVER

For an inkling of what is going on with the sauger/walleye: With 10 fish weighing 25 pounds, 7 ounces, Tyler Johnson of Grand Ridge and Cade Ploch of Tonica won the Masters Walleye Circuit tournament Saturday on the Illinois River out of Spring Valley by one ounce.

KANKAKEE RIVER

Kankakee River smallmouth bass. Provided by Bob Johnson
Kankakee River smallmouth bass.
Provided by Bob Johnson

Bob Johnson emailed the photo above and this last week:

3 hours of bass fishing the Kankakee River 53* caught around 15 with s few decent largest 3lb 18”. Caught fish on finese presentation during late afternoon We are 1week away

Victor Blackful emailed the photo below and this:

Ok if you enjoy fishing for Largemouth Bass the backwaters of the kankakee are Bass O Rama! Mr twisters, rattle traps, or of you want to have some real fun get a bucket of large minnows. You will go through schools of 6 and 8 inchers but the 20 inchers will find you and if your lucky a few crappie as well. Stay alert cause there is a good chance when your bobber ducks under it could be a Pike or a Catfish. I had a guy next to me land a 12lb channel cat. 2pm to 5pm was prime time.

Victor Blackful with a Kankakee River largemouth bass. Provided photo
Victor Blackful with a Kankakee River largemouth bass.
Provided

LAKE ERIE, OHIO

Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.

LAKEFRONT

See parking options at top.

Coho, especially by powerliners, is the peak interest and effort. There are some bonus brown trout and laker, even a few whitefish.

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait texted:

Licences up and running. Coho continue to hit well . . .

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

Hi DaleCoho have been getting better day by day. The last couple days have been really good lots of limits. Also quite a few Northerns have been caught already this spring. Weighed one Sunday 12lbs. Other fish such as a few big Brown Trout, Lakers even a white fish here and there.As far as I know Perch still being caught south.Our new hours this week are 5am to 6pm and starting April 1st it will be 5am to 8pm.

Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan texted:

Yea, browns off the pier and south rocks , mainly live roaches, worms and spawn.

Yes, the license system is finally up and running, what a pain!

LaSALLE LAKE

Open daily 6 a.m. to sunset. Click here for the preview of prospects.

MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN

Click here for the update from D&S Bait.

MAZONIA

Both units are open for fishing. There are some big largemouth bass being caught from both units.

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

Kurt Justice at Kurt’s Island Sport Shop in Minocqua emailed:

What a difference one week makes...

Very few ice anglers venturing out due to ice conditions. Shorelines are breaking up fast and ice is looking honeycombed. It won’t be long before it’s all gone. Rain predicted all night and warm temps to follow will eat up more ice fast.

Very few reports, but the few we’re hearing say it’s been good for Crappies and Gills.

The pond behind the shop is about to open up any day now it looks, normally Minocqua is only a week after to break open.

Not much more else to say but get the boat ready, we’ll have open water very soon I believe.

Kurt Justice

Kurt’s Island Sport Shop
Like us on FaceBook

The year winds down.

NORTHWEST INDIANA

Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station texted:

Coho fishing on shore and in boats has been spotty since last report fish are scattered

Willow slough for boat fisherman has been good for gills and crappie beemoth, red wigglers and minnows best baits

Crappie time in the pine crest harbor in cedar lake white plastic or hair jigs tipped with beemoth

Christina Petrites at Stan’s Bait & Tackle Center in Hammond emailed:

Hi, Dale! I hope you’re enjoying the recent absolutely gorgeous weather. Here’s what we have going on at the moment:

Fishing Report:

~Boats are trolling on Lake Michigan & further East out of Saint Joseph (& South of the harbor); most are doing very well. Trollers are getting many limit catches of Coho & an occasional Brown Trout, using Brad’s Thinfish & small spoons. Pier anglers are catching Coho on spawn sacs, skein, & nightcrawlers.

~Inland lakes’ anglers are catching Crappie on minnows & red worms.

From the Hammond Marina Harbormaster: There were plenty guys launching and shore fishing, especially with the weather warm-up. As soon as I hear something specific, I’ll let you know. Our launch ramp is open & seeing good action.

ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN

Click here for the Wisconsin DNR’s report, usually on Tuesday or Wednesday.

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN

Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said coho slowed up; not much off the piers recently; steelhead are going up the river, catching is fair to poor.

Paddle and Pole hosts the Berrien Springs Fish Ladder Camera.

Christina Petrites at Stan’s Bait & Tackle Center in Hammond emailed:

Hi, Dale! I hope you’re enjoying the recent absolutely gorgeous weather. Here’s what we have going on at the moment:

Fishing Report:

~Boats are trolling on Lake Michigan & further East out of Saint Joseph (& South of the harbor); most are doing very well. Trollers are getting many limit catches of Coho & an occasional Brown Trout, using Brad’s Thinfish & small spoons. Pier anglers are catching Coho on spawn sacs, skein, & nightcrawlers.

. . .

SHABBONA LAKE

March site hours are 8 a.m. to p.m.

Plans are for Lakeside to reopen in April.

SOUTHEAST WISCONSIN LAKEFRONT

Click here for the southern Lake Michigan reports from the Wisconsin DNR.

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:

Fishing is excellent. Water temp is 45.4. Plenty of walleye being taken, and perch action is good as they’re starting to spawn



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