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Chicago Sun-Times

Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Summer makes its mark

Frank “Catdaddy” Smith with the biggest crappie of the spring by Team Krappie Inc. on the Calumet. (Provided by BoRabb Williams)

Summer arrived last week, even if only for a few days of record heat, and that impact leads this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

That record-setting heat also led to one of the most expansive weeks of fishing in a long time. If I had to pick a spot to focus on, it would probably be Heidecke Lake. But that top honor to go to numerous spots and the temperatures following back to abnormally cool will alter fishing again.

BoRabb Williams sent the photo above of a notable crappie, caught by Frank “Catdaddy” Smith, from the Calumet system. Details are in the Calumet report.


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, Park Bait at Montrose Harbor, and the Northerly Island Visitor Center.

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).


Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a local largemouth bass. (Provided)

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

Hey Dale, Here is a recap if this past weeks fishing. A week of mid July temps have everything in fast forward mode. Area lakes-some largemouth are on beds are many more are staging. Flipping shoreline cover with craw imitators will take fish.Crappie are spawning as well as they have their tuxedos on. Bluegill are up near shore as well wanting to start bedding. . . . TTYL — Ken Husker O’Malley Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team
Pete Lamar’s daughter with what appears to be a hybrid bluegill, caught with a Tenkara rod. (Provided)

Pete Lamar emailed the photo above and this:

Hi Dale, . . The only bass I caught this week were small, in spite of going out after sunset and throwing a popper-that usually results in some bigger fish. There were good numbers of bluegills around, including some large ones. The attached image is my daughter with something she caught on her tenkara rod today. It was a striking fish, with the yellow fins and abdomen. Some sort of hybrid sunfish if I had to guess. Pete
Matt Gill with a largemouth bass in the northwest suburbs. (Provided)

Matt Gill emailed the photo above and this:

Dale, Checking in from the northwest suburbs. Largemouth bass were caught using a bug type soft plastic. Red-winged black birds were active along the bank. - Matt

I find red-wings an interesting piece of the fishing experience, especially if you happen to venture close to a nest.

An outing by the Leyden fishing club with Rob Abouchar at Wood Dale Grove produced a nice largemouth bass, which student Reba wanted to hold. (Provided)

Rob Abouchar emailed the photo above and this:

Hi Dale The lilacs are blooming and the bass are on the beds. I am just not sure if it is still pre spawn or post spawn. Sunday on Island lake I was catching numbers of what appeared to be male fish. The fish were caught shallow around spawning beds in 1-4 feet of water. Some were on the beds but not locked on them. There were no females to be seen and there were no visible fry around the beds. I was catching them on 5 inch Senkos in black and blue, green pumpkin with purple and green flake as well as a black and blue Bitsy bug with a max scent creature trailer trimmed down to fit the bitsy bug. Could the females have spawned and moved on to the depths. I’m interested to get back on the lake to find out. Some real giant carp are swimming in the lake and ready for the June 10th Carp classic derby. At school we took the students to Woodale Grove for a nature hike, some fishing, and a picnic. The weather was spectacular and the wildflowers were blooming. I was happy to find the red Trillium growing well in the habitat restoration area. The water was stained and only a few spawning beds were visible. The bluegill action was very slow for this pond. We landed a very nice largemouth for Woodale grove and a favorite student Reba wanted to hold the bass. It was taken on a Watermelon senko that was cast to the middle of the lake and dead sticked. The school year is over this week and my sights are set on Big Millelacs Lake and giant smallmouth bass. It is that special place to me that I look forward to all year. On the music front I did some more re-recording of vocals for the original reggae music last night and the results are great. Hopefully one more session will get the 11 tracks ready for backing vocals and re-mixing. Also a date with Midnight Mile at Teddy O’Briens in Mundelein for some classic rock jams on June 3rd. The first show for the Conscious Rockers Reggae Band is Saturday June 25th at Tighthead Brewing in Mundelein. Tight Lines and Good Health Rob

My world is better with a music report.


District fisheries biologist Seth Love would like to hear from anglers on hybrid catches at Braidwood. You can email him at

Open daily 6 a.m.-sunset.


BoRabb Williams texted the photo at the top, and this last week:

That’s the BIGGEST CRAPPIE OF THE Calumet River... 16 inch 2.87lb Frank Catdaddy Smith Team Krappie Inc SLAB.... we HURT EM Powderhorn was on Fire too

He added the photo below:

Dwayne Armstrong was with us .... 2lb Crappie... Calumet River in Dolton
Dwayne Armstrong with good crappie from the Calumet system. (Provided)


Tucker Siminak at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said with the warmup that lots of catfish are being caught; in the oddity of the sudden warmup crappie, bluegill and bass are all on beds, “Some are pulling up, some pulling off, some not eating.” He added, “Definitely messed up this year.” That pretty much nails this spring. Some walleye in the weeds, moving toward the main lake. Water is relatively clear and levels good.

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

NOTE 2: The Stratton Lock and Dam has normal daily operating hours of 8 a.m. to midnight through Sept. 30.


Jesse Gonzalez with a rock bass from the Chicago River downtown. (Provided)

Jeffrey Williams messaged the photo above, one of several species caught him and his brother Jesse Gonzalez; and this last week:

fish wise chicago river is getting better

It’s that time of the year.


Braidwood, LaSalle and Heidecke are open daily 6 a.m.-sunset.


Capt. Dave Duwe emailed:

Delavan Lake 5/9/22 through 5/16/22 Opening Day has arrived. With the number of boats at the boat launch, all the other lakes in Walworth County must have seen very light boat traffic. Boat trailers were being parked all the way to South Shore drive. The best action continues to be the pan fish. The bluegills are biting in the shallow water about 3-4 feet. The best locations are the boat launch channel, the outlet near the dam, and near Lake Lawn Lodge. The best approach is a single hook with a bobber, fishing red worms or leaf worms. The bluegills are a few weeks away from spawning due to the cool spring. Crappie fishing has been sporadic, some days they are biting well and the next day you’ll get skunked. The best success has been in front of Lake Lawn or near Township Park. The fish are suspended in 8-10 ft. of water. Two presentations have been producing the most fish. The first is a small 1/32 oz. Jig fished with a small Twister tail, white and yellow seem to be the best colors. The second is slip bobber fishing for them with small minnows. Walleye fishing was kind of slow. Some nice fish were being caught on slip bobbers in 8-9 ft. of water. The fish are just ending their spawn and will start to move out onto the weedlines. The best bait for this week is large fat head minnows. Check locations such as Willow Point, the Yacht Club point and Browns Channel. Largemouth Bass can be readily found in a pre-spawn pattern. The best depth is 3-4 ft. There was a lot of fish activity in the outlet and in Lake Lawn Harbor. The fish could be seen cruising all over, however, they didn’t bite that well. Like the bluegills, the bass should be spawning in the next few weeks, so the sight fishermen should start having great success. Good Luck and I hope to see you on the water, for guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 262-728-8063.


Ken “Husker” O’Malley of Husker Outdoors emailed:

Hey Dale, Here is a recap if this past weeks fishing. . . . The DesPlaines River is slightly up with water temps in the lower 70’s. Many largemouth are spawning or staging. I variety of baits are taking fish. . . . TTYL — Ken Husker O’Malley Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team


HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Open through Sept. 5. Closed Mondays, except for Memorial Day and July 4. Check regulations at

POWERTON: Summer hours are 6 a.m.-8 p.m.

EMIQUON PRESERVE: Hours are sunrise to sunset. Access permits and liability waivers are 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.


Larry Narro with a good smallmouth bass from the DuPage River. (Provided)

Larry Narro messaged the photo above Monday from an outing on the DuPage River.


Ken “Husker” O’Malley of Husker Outdoors emailed:

Hey Dale, Here is a recap if this past weeks fishing. . . . Area rivers- The Fox River is in good shape. Smallmouth are on beds. A few larger females can be taken pitching twister tails to current breaks. . . . TTYL — Ken Husker O’Malley Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team


Zach Greenberg with a good walleye from Geneva Lake. (Provided by Dave Duwe)

Capt. Dave Duwe emailed the photo above and this:

Lake Geneva 5/16/22 through 5/23/22 Due to the cool spring, fishing on Geneva has remained relatively slow. Most of the action has been coming in shallow waters, 3-4 ft deep. Largemouth bass have been biting in Geneva Bay, Trinkes and Abbey Harbor. Most of the fish are coming in and around the boats. Use a split shot rig nightcrawler or an All Terrain Stik in Green pumpkin. Some consistently warm weather will turn on the fish and make them more active. Smallmouth bass have been spotty. They are suspending out with the pods of bait fish in 12-15 ft of water. The ones that are being caught are biting on a small hair jig or a Kalin’s grub fished on a darter head. The best color is smoke and black or avocado pepper. Look for the fish by Elgin Club or by Crawford’s bar. Crappies have been hit of miss. One day they are in by the boat docks thick and the next they’ve moved into deeper water. Look for the fish by the Geneva Inn or by the Williams Bay piers. Most of the fish are being caught on slip bobbers and small fat head minnows. Bluegills, like the bass, are searching for the warmest water. They can be caught in Trinkes Bay or in Abbey Harbor. The variable water temperatures have also made them spotty to catch. The best approach is a small leaf worm fished underneath a bobber. Northern Pike have been caught in the shallow weed flats. Look for the fish in 6-8 ft of water in Trinkes bay or Williams Bay. They can be caught on shallow diving crankbaits in perch pattern or slowly trolling large spinner baits in white. The best speed is about 1 ½ mph. Good luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050


Matthew Hauser from South Elgin going face to face with a Fox Lake largemouth bass in Wisconsin. (Provided by Mike Norris)

Guide Mike Norris texted the photo above and emailed this:

Fishing Report – 5/16/2022 Mike Norris Big Green Lake – Record heat late last week got the smallmouth bass moving on this deep, clear lake, though that will change with nighttime temperature falling into the mid-forties by the middle of this week. Lake trout remain my first choice on Big Green right now because they reside in deeper water and are less affected by fluctuating surface water temperatures. Locate them on your electronics in 60 to 100 feet of water and vertically jig Rapala Jigging Raps or VMC Hair jigs for them. Fox Lake – Surface water temperature rose to blistering 78 degrees late last week after having been no warmer than 50 degrees just ten days earlier. Largemouth bass are spawning in an area known as The Jug.Try casting dark colored Senko’s for them. Walleyes are active on the rock pile off the end of Keno Point. Try eighth-ounce jig and chartreuse twister tail combination. Also try drifting with crawler harness and spinners. Northern pike are also active in both the Government Area and The Jug. Cast Chatterbaits over developing weedbeds. To book a guide trip reach out to me via my Facebook page at mike.norris.7773 or email me through my website at


Click here for the Wisconsin DNR weekly report.

Lance LaVine at Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay emailed this on Thursday:

Hi fellas, Here is a quick report. Sorry for the delay. The Smallmouth Bass fishing has been very good in recent days up and down the Door County peninsula and it should just continue to stay good for quite some time as our fish currently are still in the pre-spawn stage. Look for relatively shallow water transition areas and fish those areas extremely slow with baits like Howie’s Shorty tubes, ned rigs, jerk baits, paddle tails and hair jigs. The Pike fishing has been out of control good as of late as there is a pile of fish around right now. Little Sturgeon, Riley’s Bay, Sawyer Harbor and the Sturgeon Bay ship canal are full of Pike right now. Jerk baits, Plastics, spinners, spoons and sucker minnows all good baits to have in the boat The Walleye fishing has been great both during the day and at night for both trollers and casters. From the Stone Quarry south to Chaudoirs has been very good. Hair jigs, suspending jerk baits, Flicker minnow just a few of the better baits to have in the boat Thanks; Lance LaVine Howie’s Tackle 1309 Green Bay Rd Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235 Ph: 920-746-9916


Jason “Special One” Le with a good bluegill from Heidecke Lake. (Provided)

Jason “Special One” Le texted the photo above and this:

They’re all over the place spawning

People know my love of bluegill, as also evidenced by Bob Johnson, who emailed the photo below, and this on Sunday;

Hi Dale - This is prime time right now for several species on Heidecke lake. Today (Sunday) overcast skies in the morning and water temp at 73 added to a really fun day of fishing. I changed gears a bit today and fished for Walleye ending up with 24 eyes ranging from 12 to 20. Walleye were taking twister tails and finesse jigs in 3 to 10’ Also fished for Bass catching 8 smallmouth along with a 3 lb largemouth. Caught Bass on Texas rigs in dark colors even witnessed some boats reeling in crappies vertical fishing or using bobbers and minnows. This lake is Prime time at the moment.
Bob Johnson with a good walleye from Heidecke Lake. (Provided)

I would emphasize Johnson’s phrase, “Prime time.”

Open 6 a.m. (6:30 bank fishing) to sunset.


Anthony “Tony Schaal with a good smallmouth bass from a tributary of the Kankakee River. (Provided)

Anthony “Tony” Schaal messaged the photo above, one of many, from a tributary of the Kankakee River on Monday.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley of Husker Outdoors emailed:

Hey Dale, Here is a recap if this past weeks fishing. . . . The Kankakee is slightly up but dirty. . . . TTYL — Ken Husker O’Malley Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team


Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.


Full moon was over the weekend and smallmouth appear to be doing what they do.

Laurance Reed with a good smallmouth bass from the Chicago lakefront. (Provided)

Laurance Reed emailed the photo above and this on Sunday:

So how goes the rehab Dale? . . . I finally got out today to a different harbor... same reel, same 20#braided hi-vis yellow line, and my favorite bass lure the 5 Senko. And presto!!! (attached) I couldn’t be happier! I unhooked it, received it good in the net, snapped a few pics and put it back in the water to spawn. Look at the belly on this thing! The light wasn’t as good for the pic as last time, but that probably had a lot to do with the success too. Meanwhile I hope you are well Dale, -Laurance

Rehab is going very well. My life advice is to follow the advice of doctors before you need rehab.

But I digress.

Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters said the basic regiment is with peanut flies, Yellow Birds and Dipsy Divers. Out of Chicago, there’s some coho in 50-100 feet with the lake trout also really good, up to 20 pounds; a few trying around Navy Pier and the shoreline.

Coho “spectacular” out of North Point, generally on the hill; also plenty of coho out in 200-250 feet some days.

Capt. Dan Leslie at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan said fishing has been hot, lots of limits from the boats, double 00 flashesr with flies inside of 40 feet; out of Winthrop Harbor, some kings in 90 feet on spoons, Blue Dolphin best; pier anglers getting coho on extra-large fatheads and spoons of all sizes.

Capt. Scott Wolfe of School of Fish Charters emailed:

Hi Dale In the Waukegan/Northpoint area dramatic changes took place this week. Anglers caught fish as shallow as 8 feet and as deep as 220 by Sunday afternoon. Early in the week less than 40 feet of water between the stacks North of Waukegan to Great Lakes Navy Base to the South was good for everyone for coho and a few brown trout. Over the weekend a strong current pumped in warm water and scattered the fish. The bulk of the coho were pushing out and some boats did very well in over 200 feet of water. The best rods were planer boards with Blue/Green, Blue/Green/Gold and Aqua pattern Jimmy Fly trolling flies. Second best were Warrior Flutter spoons in Blue, Blue/Yellow, and Blue/Green Dolphin patterns on shallow downriggers just 8 to 15 feet down. Capt. Scott Wolfes 630-341-0550

PERCH: Season is closed through June 15, on Illinois’ Lake Michigan.


Site is open daily 6 a.m.-sunset. As a perched lake, boating is closed when winds top or will top 14 mph. Check daily updates on boating at (815) 640-8099.


Click here for the update from D&S Bait, Tackle & Fly Shop .


Hours are 6 a.m. to sunset.


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

Well, that was nice! Didn’t have a spring, had a great summer last week (though kinda stormy) and back to fall by the weekend! Water temps on most lakes shot right through the 50’s into the low 60’s over the weekend. Shallows got active, fish utilizing the warmth of the shallows for egg development and to find food. That could change by the end of this week. Lows forecasted in the low 30’s with highs of upper 50’s to upper 40’s will slow the roll of this fast temp rise. Good sun should help with weed growth, and maybe the continuation of bug hatches. Crappie: Good-Very Good – Crappies moving up to warm up on north shores provided good action for anglers. Casting small, but heavy floats to get range, baiting small #10 aberdeen hooks with a tail-hooked minnow allowed to swim freely under 14-16 of line. Anglers also finding Crappies staging in 8-12’ cabbage hanging 2-4’ off bottom taking Kalin Crappie Scrubs and Mini Mites doing well. Northern Pike: Good – Spinner baits, stick baits and swim baits in warming cabbage flats of 4-8’ good for Pike. Relaxing with a float and 5-7 chub or sucker under a float good way to enjoy the nicer days. Largemouth Bass: Good – Dark bottom areas picking up sun and heat holding Largemouth in 3-7’ depth. Wacky Worming and working dark hair jigs tipped with 3 trailers also effective. Smallmouth Bass: Fair-Good – Season closed until June 18th, but nice, heavy Smallies being caught and released while targeting Walleyes in the shallows. Walleye: Fair – Hot bite slowed. Oddly, some of the best action is late morning through mid-day. Dace, large fats, muds and leeches worked through cabbage and grasses in 6-10’ of water best. Pattern may still hold with cold mornings forecasted. Yellow Perch: Fair – Not a lot of effort being put into Perch right now, but some nice, post spawn fish being caught in shallows using medium fatheads. The cool outlook for the following week will probably bring surfaces, temps back down into the 50’s where they should stay for a while. By bringing temps back in line, we should see patterns redevelop where they should be by next week’s end. That shot of warm weather should have Crappies thinking spawn and gamefish feeding up once shock of recent cold nights diffuse. Kurt Justice Kurt’s Island Sport Shop - Like us on Facebook


Dale Rehus with a good smallmouth bass from the Indiana waters of southern Lake Michigan. (Provided by James Baranski)

James Baranski messaged photos, including the one above, and this:

Hi Dale, smallmouth report from the big pond out of Indiana. Myself and Dale Rehus went out and Small mouth were tough. Seems they are transitioning to spawn mode or close to. We only hit 1 area that had active fish. Traveled the entire south end from Gary, East Chicago and Hammond. No takers but we hit about 25 in the active area. Most were small with the top 3 at 3.85lbs, 2.9 and 2.7 respectively. Upon leaving Big Bass had a tourney, was weighing in at the marina and the top weight was 13.3lbs with second being 11 pounds for top 3. A lot of sub 10 pound bags so our weight was inline compared to the tourney results and showed it was a little tough. Smallmouth fishing should certainly fire up in the next few weeks as they migrate in to spawn. Tight lines!
The bounty of salmon and trout in the Indiana waters of southern Lake Michigan. (Provided by Capt. Rich Sleziak of Triplecatch Charters)

Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station texted the photo above and this:

Coho action with few kings and steelhead mixed in from Gary light all the way to Michigan city in 45 to 55 ft of water dodgers snd Flys snd spoons fished 10 to 35 ft down best. Last few days decent perch bite for some fishing 50 to 55ft of water straight north of Gary light. Baby roachs and xl fatheads. Crappie and gills for boat fisherman on pine lake in Laporte. Minnows, red wigglers and beemoth best baits. All area lakes and ponds starting to give up fish as the water has warmed up. Slez’s Bait Shop is open 5am to 6pm daily. 35 yrs strong.

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

Hi, Dale! I hope you’ve been enjoying this beautiful weather. There’s been a definite upsurge in anglers going out & doing what they do best! With this warm weather the past week, fishing has really gotten good in a lot of areas. Lake Michigan remains excellent for Coho & Lake Trout, with a few Kings mixed in the catches. Small dodger & flies & small spoons are working best. The Walleye fishing is getting better by the day, with anglers using nightcrawlers & trolling crank baits in most rivers. Bluegill & Crappie are very steady on inland lakes using beemoths & redworms. Catfishing is in full swing with the nicer temperatures, both on the rivers & local lakes; stinkbait & shad are working well.


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


John Honiotes at Boondocks reported crappie hitting hard, especially in the no-motor zone and also by the deep trees; bass are good on the shoreline and the no-motor zone.

Summer hours—6 a.m.-10 p.m.—run through Oct. 31.

Bait Shop is open 6 a.m.-7 p.m. daily; restaurant, 11-8 daily.


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


Phil Schuman at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said boaters trolling in 100-200 feet are catching mostly coho, a few kings, a few steelhead and a few lakers; walleye are picking up in the river.

Paddle and Pole hosts the Berrien Springs Fish Ladder Camera.


George Peters with a good smallmouth bass from the Vermilion River. (Provided)

George Peters emailed the photos above and below, and this:

Hi Dale got back from Fl. This last week and brought the heat with me. Fished the Vermillion river near Peru and got some good Sm. In the 4 lb. range. Water down to normal after no rain for the week. Also some big rock bass 11. Spinners, minnow baits and craw jigs all working. G. Peters.
George Peters with a good Vermilion River rock bass. (Provided)

Good to have Peters, who normally sends reports from the Kankakee River, back. And nice to have a rare report from the Vermilion, one of the better semi-secrets in Illinois.


Roger Jackson emailed the photo below and this:

Dale, my son Paul Jackson got this Muskie, Saturday while we were fishing for Walleyes on Wisconsin river near the dells, 6 lb test, fish was released.

That’s impressive, at least I am impressed.


Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted on Monday:

Mother Nature dealt us a bad hand with the warm weather last week. The water temp jumped into the low 70’s, and the white bass spawn was fast and over. We’re still catching males in Fremont and down river near the Rat river. Some good walleye action , dragging 1/8 oz. jigs and 1/2 crawler in the deeper water
Gary Bloom with a good smallmouth bass from the Wolf River system around Winneconne, Wisconsin. (Provided)

Gary Bloom emailed the photo above from Winneconne and messaged this last week:

Warmer water means good fishing. Mixed bag this week. White Bass are here . Caught 30 this morning, with 4 Walleye. Flies of course. Trolled little with Salmon and we caught 2 more. Casted a shoreline, smallies we’re thick.