Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Shoreline salmon, nice blues, waiting on fall feed, trout opener

By Dale Bowman
Radious Nalls caught a 25-pound blue catfish from the Mississippi River on a crawler, | Provided

Shoreline Chinook again lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report, though that is going to change; but there’s also a couple nice blue catfish, the waiting on the fall feeding frenzy to truly kick in, and Illinois’ fall trout season opening Saturday.

TROUT SEASON

Regular fall trout season opens Saturday, Oct. 16. Daily bag is five; those 16 and older need a fishing license and an inland trout stamp. Nearby sites include in Cook County (Axehead, Belleau, Busse North, Green, Horsetail, Sag Quarry East, Wolf), DuPage (Grove, Pickerel, Silver); Kankakee (Bird Park Quarry, Rock Creek); Kendall (Big Lake at Silver Springs SFWA); Lake (Sand Lake at Illinois Beach SP); McHenry (Spring Grove Hatchery Pond); Will (Lake Strini, Van Horn Woods).

Click here for the statewide release.

Early catch-and-release season for trout is open at a few select spots, closet are Rock Creek at Kankakee River State Park, White Pine Forest SP or Apple River Canyon SP.

SHORELINE/TRIBUTARY SALMON/TROUT

CHICAGO: Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

. . . over the weekend before the storms came through there was salmon still being caught casting and a few starting on bait. A few trout have shown up as well mostly rainbows not sure if there’s been any Browns yet but they have been hitting larger minnows and spawn. I also think there’s been a few coho in the mix.

Brian Caunter at Henry’s Sports and Bait said more kings at South Side harbors, including some good ones are being caught, last week.

WAUKEGAN: Capt. Dan Leslie at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan said

Spoons and spawn sacs working for primarily kings with a few coho.

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

Few kings and coho and a steelhead here and there being caught in all nwi tributaries.

ILLINOIS FROG SEASON

Illinois’ bullfrog (only) season ends Friday, Oct. 15.

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 (now a mix of metered and 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

I think the cooler weather should start to kick in the crappie bite by the weekend.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a fall largemouth bass from an area lake.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley emailed the photo above and this:

Hey Dale,

Here is a recap of this past weeks fishing.

Area lakes-weather continue to inhibit fall patterns to develop as water temps remain abnormally high for this time of year.

Bass are good during evening hours on topwater baits and twitching minnow baits over the top of weeds. A few crappie and bluegill can be caught as well with this presentation.

. . .

Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Husker Outdoors
Waterwerks fishing team

BRAIDWOOD LAKE

Open daily 6 a.m. to sunset. Tuesday, Oct. 19 is the final day of fishing.

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Arden Katz said they had to vertical jig because boat traffic was so heavy that he could not troll (with cooler weather the traffic should reduce) with minnows or Mini-Mites for schooled white bass, yellow bass and crappie, with a bonus freshwater drum on Lake Marie.

Kyle at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said that muskie are good in 15-16 feet on bucktails, suckers and big plastics; the bigger crappie are in 15-20 suspended; big pike are shallow; as are channel catfish; perch are “everywhere;” walleye are variable in both numbers caught and depth where caught.

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

NOTE 2: The Stratton Lock and Dam is open 8 a.m.-8 p.m. through Oct. 31.

CHICAGO RIVER

Jeffrey Williams with a couple largemouth bass caught from the Chicago River.

Jeffrey Williams (who last week again caught some good perch downtown) messaged on the Monday the photo above and this:

caught a total of 16 bass, went through 4 dozen minnows in 3.5 hours. These 2 were 10 and 13 in

And this:

Also caught something thats not a fish

The surprise of a snake on the Chicago River.

DELAVAN LAKE, WISCONSIN

Dave Duwe emailed:

Delavan Lake 10/11/21 through 10/18/21

Delavan continues to be in a transition period between summer and fall. Due to that fact, some days the fishing is really good and others it is quite slow.

Earlier in the week, walleye fishing was good on lindy rigged nightcrawlers in 20-21 ft of water. However, by the weekend, that bite was slow. The average catch has been about 10-12 fish an outing, with one or two being legal. The crank bait fishing is starting to heat up. I’ve been casting Wally divers along the weedlines in 16-20 ft of water. Chrome/Blue or Chrome/Black have been the best colors.

Northern pike fishing has been kind of sporadic. Most of the bigger fish are being caught suspended in 20-27 ft of water approximately 2 ft off bottom. Most of the success is still coming off of lindy rigged suckers. Some of the fish that have been caught are starting the fall feed bag and are very chunky. Look for the fish by the Village Supper Club, Willow Point or the south shore by Browns Channel.

The Crappies are starting to suspend over the deep water. When you can find an active school you can fill up a bucket in a matter of a few minutes. Most of the success I’ve been having is coming off of small plastics or a small fathead minnow. I slowly troll around looking at my locator until I find the active schools. The main lake points are the best places to start.

Bluegills have again moved shallow. Most of the success is coming near the Island on the west end. Most of the fish are coming on red worms or leaf worms. Work a depth of 14-16 ft of water. Anchored slip bobber fishermen are having most of the success.

Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050

DOWNSTATE

POWERTON: Winter hours—8 a.m.-4 p.m.—are back. Last day for boat fishing is Oct. 24. Bank fishing runs through Oct. 29.

SPRING LAKE: Oct. 22 is the last day for boaters on the main lake; boat fshing is allowed from the Sky Ranch Road ramp to Maple Island buoy during waterfowl seasons. Bank fishing along South Lake Road is not allowed until after 1 p.m. during waterfowl season.

EMIQUON: Access permits and liability waivers are again required. They are available Tuesday to Saturday at Dickson Mounts Museum, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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

HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Closed for the season. Check regulations at http://www.wetlands-initiative.org/dixon-paddling-fishing.

FOX RIVER

Dicky’s Bait Shop in Montgomery reported that the Batavia dam was “on fire” for smallmouth; a 28-pound flathead caught and a 40-incher in North Aurora; rains helped the levels.

Pete Lamar emailed:

Hi Dale,

Things finally changed this week: the Fox and its tributaries came up a bit, at least in places, last weekend. That’s even more true now after all the rain yesterday. At last, there is some current and depth. I caught fish in a couple of outings, but not in big numbers. All fish were on the smaller side. I’m hopeful the larger smallmouths will begin to move to their normal Fall haunts now with the higher water. It’s also about time to start looking for crappies in some of the deeper and slower pools.

. . .

Pete

GENEVA LAKE, WISCONSIN

Dave Duwe emailed:

Lake Geneva 10/11/21 thru 10/18/21

The lake still remains awesome for fishing. The lake hasn’t turned over yet. It will probably take another 3-4 weeks.

Smallmouth bass are still in the 20-25 ft depth range. With the warmer water temperatures, nightcrawlers continue to be a safe bet. For the artificial fishermen, Berkley Gulp Finesse worms in the 4 inch length are catching quite a few fish. Green pumpkin is producing most of the fish. The best location is by the Military Academy and both Cedar and Conference Points.

Northern Pike are active in the shallows. The best approach is trolling large spinner baits. Chartreuse or White are the most successful colors or trolling Bandit Shallow diving Walleye crankbaits in the perch pattern. Look for the fish in 10-12 ft of water. The best location is in Williams Bay or in Fontana Beach.

Yellow Perch have moved into their fall pattern and can be readily caught in the 10-12 ft range. The best baits are small fathead minnows or wax worms. I prefer fishing them on slip bobbers. Some of the fish are also being caught on small twister tails fished on a small Arkie lead head jig. The best location is by Knollwood and Rainbow Point.

Largemouth bass have moved shallow. They can be caught in the 10-14 ft depth range. Spinner baits or Rattle Traps have been producing most of the action. Look for the fish in Geneva Bay or by Trinkes. Some of the fish can also be caught dragging nightcrawlers with a split shot rig in the same depth range.

Bluegill fishing has been very good. Most of the bigger bluegills are in 20 ft of water. You can catch a boat load of 5-6 inch fish in the 10-12 ft range. The best bait is small leaf worms fished on a split shot rig. For the bigger fish and the deep water bite, try lindy rigs fished with a small leaf worm.

Good Luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050

GREEN LAKE AREA, WISCONSIN

Chicagoan Marty Schechtel with a largemouth bass from Fox Lake in Wisconsin.

Guide Mike Norris emailed:

Fishing Report – 10/11/2021

Mike Norris

Big Green Lake – Smallmouth bass are scattered, and I am just picking up one here and there. But they are good ones when I do. Weed edges and rock-strewn points are still getting most of my attention with swim jigs and tubes the lures of my choice. Surface temp on Big Green remains in the upper 60’s, but the cooler weather forecast for later this week should start cooling the lake down. I checked my records and found Big Green Lake is currently ten degrees warmer right now than this time in past years, a result of global warming? The incoming cooler weather should start grouping the smallmouth bass and the bite will improve.

Fox Lake - I guided Joe and Marty Shechtel from Chicago on Fox Lake last Saturday. We caught largemouth bass and northern pike in two feet of water with both Senko’s and Chatterbaits. The bass here were also scattered and we could not locate them in groups. Other anglers are reporting catches of walleye in shallow water also. Muskie fishing is slow, but the crappie bite is picking up along outside weed edges.

To book a guide trip reach out to me via my Facebook page at mike.norris.7773 or email me through my website at www.comecatchsmallmouth.com

GREEN/STURGEON BAYS, WISCONSIN

Click here for the Wisconsin DNR weekly report.

HEIDECKE LAKE

Lake closed for the season today, but Bob Johnson sent a wrap-up with several key points and the photo below from last week:

Dale - The chances of catching a trophy Muskie on Heidecke have gone up in this boat! We witnessed another boat and this one lucky (unlucky) fisherman hook into and fight a giant only to lose the fish at the boat attempting to net it. Wow! Joel and I had a sub par day only hooking a handful of Smallmouth and one Walleye to end this year on the lake. Water temp at 71 in October is proof global warming is here. The landscape of the lake is changing too. Exposed rocks everywhere on the south end due to low water levels. This area could handle big snow this off season.

Bob Johnson with an end-of-season walleye from Heidecke Lake.

LAKE ERIE

Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.

LAKEFRONT

Brian Caunter at Henry’s Sports and Bait said more kings at South Side harbors, including some good ones are being caught, last week. He also said some nice northern pike are being caught at some harbors.

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

Good morning Dale I’m not in the shop for a couple days this week but over the weekend before the storms came through there was salmon still being caught casting and a few starting on bait. A few trout have shown up as well mostly rainbows not sure if there’s been any Browns yet but they have been hitting larger minnows and spawn. I also think there’s been a few coho in the mix. Couple nice Northern also. Have a great week.

Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters said there have so many different winds that the lake hasn’t really had time to settle, that said, the focus is on lake trout around the reefs, out of North Point and Chicago; a few kings mixed in with the lakers. “Not on any one reef any more, so they are relating to underwater structures, deep-water reefs in 130-200-plus, relating to the bottom.

Capt. Dan Leslie at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan said

Spoons and spawn sacs working for primarily kings with a few coho.

SALMON SNAGGING: Here are the details from the IDNR:

4) Snagging for chinook and coho salmon only is permitted from the following Lake Michigan shoreline areas from October 1 through December 31; however, no snagging is allowed at any time within 200 feet of a moored watercraft or as posted: A) Lincoln Park Lagoon from the Fullerton Avenue Bridge to the southern end of the Lagoon. B) Waukegan Harbor (in North Harbor basin only). C) Winnetka Power Plant discharge area. D) Jackson Harbor (Inner and Outer Harbors).

d) Disposition of Snagged Salmon and Paddlefish. All snagged salmon and paddlefish must be removed from the area from which they are taken and disposed of properly, in accordance with Article 5, Section 5-5 of the Fish and Aquatic Life Code.

LaSALLE LAKE

Daryl Turner with one of his classic big blue catfish from LaSalle Lake.

Daryl Turner, whom I haven’t heard as much from this year, sent an end-of-the-season shot of one of his big blues (above) from LaSalle.

Open daily 6 a.m. to sunset. Friday, Oct. 15 is the final day of fishing.

MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN

Click here for the update from D&S Bait.

MAZONIA

Hours are 6 a.m. to sunset. Tuesday, Oct. 19 is the final day of fishing; but Monster stays open all year.

MINNESOTA

Amber Peterson with a Mille Lacs smallmouth bass.

Justin Lederer emailed the photo above and this from McQuoid’s Inn in Isle, Minn.:

Justin Lederer checking in from McQuoids Inn Lake Mille Lacs. The smallmouth are still biting on suckers right now they are in 8-14 feet around the reefs temperatures are starting to drop soon they will be stacked up on boulders in the deeper water. Walleye are still sporadic should start feeding more as the water temperature drops. It’s almost giant Muskie time late October into November they really start to put on the feed bag. Have a great week everyone.

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a fall northern pike from northern Wisconsin.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley emailed the photo above and below, and this:

Hey Dale,

Here is a recap of this past weeks fishing.

. . .

Northern Wisconsin-abnormally warm October temperatures have fish in a holding pattern. Water temps are holding in the mid sixties. Not a bad thing when checking out the fall colors with the wife.

Smallmouth can be caught on shaky head jigs with max scent hit worms fishing rock piles.

Northern pike are decent on Mepps spinners fishing weedlines as there are plenty of green weeds remaining.

Here is the nature pic of the week [below]. A picture perfect fall day in Northern Wisconsin. Photo courtesy of Vickie O’Malley.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Husker Outdoors
Waterwerks fishing team

A fall scene in northern Wisconsin.

That sets the mood.

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

Feels like we’ve been in a “forever September” with afternoon temps in the 70’s holding lake surface temps running 63-67+ degrees. Beautiful weather, most days with almost no wind, lots of sun, but not what us anglers are looking for this time of year.

Fish continue to seem as perplexed as anglers for the most part. Mostly just us anglers, not finding the fish where we expect them or in the quantity.

Musky: Good – Following a poor rating last week, went out and had a 3 fish day, all on suckers. Fish have been moving and action should only improve once weather cools. Smity Jerks, Mantas and 7” twitch baits moving fish best, but bucktails still moving fish also.

Crappies: Fair-Good – While wood fish remain scattered, anglers finding good action working 10-13’ of weeds, keeping minnows at weed top levels, 3-4’ off bottom, working best as are mini-mites and small hair jigs. A little surprised to find crappies in this location at this time of year but with water temps running above average and 10-12 degrees warmer than this time last year, nothing should be surprising.

Yellow Perch: Good -Fair – Some good catches of 9-12’ perch being caught using 1/16 oz weedless jigs tipped with medium fatheads in 8-9’ weed edges and pockets.

Northern Pike: Good-Fair – Some good action on nice eaters in shallows with weeds and signs of small 1-2” yellow perch. Jig and minnow, #3 Mepps spinners, and ¼ oz spinnerbaits producing.

Walleye: Good-Fair – Picking fish up in small groups from gravel/mud transition areas. Large fatheads, suckers, and black chubs on 1/8 – 1/4 oz jigs. Drowned wood holding eyes in 10-14’ of water, slip-floats holding crawlers just above logs best.

Smallmouth Bass: Good-Fair – Best off shore humps and hanging around sandgrass flats. Drop-shotting best approach, yet live bait meant for walleyes also providing action.

Bluegill: Fair – Few reports, but some larger gills taking small minnows meant for crappies over weed tops in 10-13’.

Largemouth Bass: Fair-Poor – Not sure why, but finding largemouth not easy over the weekend. Could be musky relating to shallower weeds putting a damper on largemouth bite.

These reports are from info I gather from my own trips, customers, and people I meet at landings. Thikngs change, sometimes quickly. For example – last week I gave musky a poor report then went out and had 3 boated in one trip. Cant’ catch ‘em if you don’t try.

If forecast holds true (sounds of eyes rolling) we could see some cooler weather by the weekend, the musky, walleye, and crappie bites should spike up. Watch for surface temps to dip into upper 50’s to get things going.

Kurt Justice

Kurt’s Island Sport Shop
Like us on Facebook

NORTHWEST INDIANA

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

Few kings and coho and a steelhead here and there being caught in all nwi tributaries.

Bluegills on stone lake in Laporte for boat fisherman jumbo redworms fishing weed edges has been solid.

Crappie at dusk on crappie minnows on lake George in Hobart. Fishing around the bridges.

ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN

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

SHABBONA LAKE

Josh Oman at Boondocks reported some walleye in 7-8 feet over the weekend; trollers catching some catfish.

Concessions are going. Site hours through Oct. 31 are 6 a.m.-10 p.m. daily

SOUTHEAST WISCONSIN LAKEFRONT

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

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN

Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said it’s been slow; charters are taking a few steelhead in the river; a few walleye are being caught in the river.

Paddle and Pole hosts the Berrien Springs Fish Ladder Camera.

WISCONSIN RIVER

Joe Schatz with his muskie from the Wisconsin River and Rob Abouchar (right).

Rob Abouchar emailed the photo above and this:

Hi Dale

With an extra day to fish over the weekend I headed back to Merrill to fish The Wisconsin River and The Alexander flowage. There was a rainbow on Friday on the way up so I wished for some good fall fishing. The bite continued hot for big smallmouth bass. Saturday in foggy cloudy clearing conditions the bass were hitting green pumpkin senkos on a wacky rig. Some fish of all sizes were caught in 2-6 feet of water around rock, wood and eel grass. A few pike also were hitting the senko but no Muskie. Sunday I was joined again By Joe Schatz of the Schatzee lure company. I continued my quest to catch a muskie on a wacky rigged senko but it was Joe who hit the target species. He landed a nice 30 inch Muskie on one of his own Schatzee chatterbait lures in the ghost minnow pattern.. We also had some nice action for pike and smallmouth bass on Senkos and chatterbaits. The big dogs are walking late as the season heads into cooler nights as predicted for the northwoods this week. We witnessed an eagle grab a fish out of the water, fly to a nearby tree where another eagle flew to join it. Then a Red Tail Hawk joined in. It was quite a scene as we had just launched the boat. The rainbow leads to big fall fish for a few more weeks at least.

Tight Lines and good health

Rob

“Big Dogs walking late.”

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:

White bass still good on the sand bars, crappie action is slow, and more walleye are

I plan to fish with him later this week.


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