Chicago fishing: Wintry change alters outlook and brings hopes of perch coming in

Chicago
By Chicago 27 Min Read

A turn toward winter, no matter how brief, has changed the outlook on fishing around Chicago and people starting to get antsy for perch to come in around Cal Park lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

Jeffrey Williams messaged the photo above and this from Burnham Harbor:

My brother [Jesse Gonzalez] caught the 1st salmon of the season

Williams added:

This was [Saturday], big shout out 2 Quinn for basically teaching us new techniques for salmon

More on Quinn Wunar’s wrap-up of the fall salmon season in the Lakefront report.

BTW, I love the background of the photo of Gonzalez.

NAVY PIER FISHING

The north side of Navy Pier is open for anglers. The discounted parking for anglers is $9 daily, beginning at 5 a.m. and must be out by 10 a.m. for the discount. Click here to prepay for the discounted tickets.

LAKEFRONT PARKING

Chicago Park District’s parking passes ($20 for two months) for the anglers’ parking lots at DuSable and Burnham harbors are on sale at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor (cash only) and the Northerly Island Visitor Center (credit card only, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday through Friday), but call (312) 745-2910 first to make sure someone is there.

My column from Nov. 30, 2022, on parking the length of the Chicago lakefront is posted at https://chicago.suntimes.com/2022/11/30/23485385/chicago-lakefront-parking-fishing

AREA LAKES

Juan Macias with a good walleye from Busse. Provided photo

Juan Macias with a good walleye from Busse.

Provided

Juan Macias messaged the photo above and this:

Hi Dale, after good days fishing for rainbow trout decided hits this morning the busse woods lake and started early on crappies biting very nice next a beautiful walleye measuring 24 inches and after 20 minutes a beautiful pike contrasting with the fall colors measuring 28 inches absolutely those lakes still holding healthy populations of fish.

Dave Kranz of Dave’s Bait, Tackle and Taxidermy in Crystal Lake and with his You-Tube channel, Dave Kranz Living the wild outdoors, texted:

Panfish are definitely in the channels wax worms or fathead minnows will work well. Musky fishermen are getting some to trigger on 10-11 inch suckers up on the Chain O Lakes.

Walleyes are still in current areas, fish bridges and sea walls with current on them. Extra large fatheads on a jig head or Berkley Flicker minnow crank baits.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a fall bluegill. Provided photo

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a fall bluegill.

Provided

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

Hey Dale,

Here is a recap of this past weeks fishing.

Area lakes-

Prior to the cold front that came in this past Saturday, the winds continued to be from the southwest for a few days, so the focus was on the outside of wind blown bays. Water temps were holding at 60 with the above average temps. Bass were decent on jerkbaits and lipless cranks worked along the outside weedlines. The star of the show were the pannies. Bluegill were very active during the minor bite window of mid afternoon to early evening. The gills were holding in isolated weed clumps. A few crappie were taken as well. The hot bait today was a Wiggleyourworm_fishing custom ice jig tipped with a IJO Plastics lil’ chubby. A winning combination in open or hard water. That bite lasted a few day until the cold front hit.

TTYL

Ken Husker O’Malley

Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team

Rob Abouchar with a largemouth bass from Island Lake.  Provideed photo

Rob Abouchar with a largemouth bass from Island Lake.

Provided

Rob Abouchar emailed the photo above and this:

Good Halloween Tuesday Dale . Over the weekend people were out on island lake fishing from shore and in boats. Shore anglers getting gills and yellow bass on crawlers and waxies. Gulp minnows also working for bluegill and yellow bass. best times are mid day when temperatures top out and evening when baitfish are active. In the sunny conditions at mid day i caught a nice largie on a 1/2oz bill Lewis rattle trap in chrome with black back. The water has cleared and wayer temps in the 5os should have the minnow bite should pick up.

On the music front the midnite mile Halloween show at the Irish mill was a great success. Next up is jamming with the livestock at the Hempfest in Waucanda. The weather looks OK for Saturday afternoon should be an interesting gig for sure. The most intriguing gig will be next monday November 6th at the Chopin Theatre with the conscious rockers at the all souls jazz fest. It will be the last show with keyboardist Freddie Harris as he is moving to Georgia.

Tight lines and good health!

Rob

FALL TROUT: Season for rainbow trout is open, a few should be left. As usual, anglers 16 and older need an inland trout stamp and a fishing license. Daily bag is five.

Nearby sites include (Cook County): Axehead, Belleau, Busse Woods North, Green, Horsetail, Sag Quarry East, Wolf Lake at William Powers SRA; (DuPage): Silver, Pickerel, Grove; (Kankakee): Bird Park Quarry, Rock Creek at Kankakee River SP; (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 herefor the statewide announcement.

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Arden Katz said bluegill are “on fire” on the north and south ends of Channel Lake, 1/64h-ounce jig with Jigabite tails and spikes, in 2-3 feet of water down 12-15 inches under a float; some perch mixed in, best on minnows.

Dave Kranz of Dave’s Bait, Tackle and Taxidermy in Crystal Lake and with his You-Tube channel, Dave Kranz Living the wild outdoors, texted:

Panfish are definitely in the channels wax worms or fathead minnows will work well. Musky fishermen are getting some to trigger on 10-11 inch suckers up on the Chain O Lakes.

Walleyes are still in current areas, fish bridges and sea walls with current on them. Extra large fatheads on a jig head or Berkley Flicker minnow crank baits.

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

NOTE 2: Stratton Lock and Dam is closed.

COOLING LAKES

Braidwood, Heidecke and LaSalle are closed.

DELAVAN LAKE, WISCONSIN

Capt. Dave Duwe emailed:

Delavan Lake 10/30/23 through 11/6/23

The fishing season for me has come to a close! The shorter days and unpredictable weather make consistently getting an opportunity to get out on the lake a bit too difficult. Once there is safe ice, I’ll try to provide an update on the ice fishing. After that, I’ll be back in May 2009 with weekly updates once again. If you’d like to speak with me this winter, look for me at almost any boat show or sport show in SE Wisconsin.

Currently, the walleye bite is very good. The fish are still very deep. They were in 20-32 ft of water. Jigging spoons has been the most productive method. Chrome and Red or Pearl are catching most of the fish. Look for the fish by the Old Village Supper Club or by Browns Channel.

Crappies are again shallow. They are in the 10-12 ft depth range right on the weedline. They can be easily caught with small plastics. Purple and Chartreuse are the best colors. They are putting the feed bag on for the long winter. Look for the fish by Willow Point or by the Yacht Club.

The largemouth bass have been caught on fat head minnows fished on a very light lindy rig, 1/8 oz sinker and 24 inch snell tipped with the fat head minnow. The key location has been the deep water rock bars coming out of 20 ft of water going up to about 12-13 ft. These locations can be found near Assembly Park or the Oriental boat house.

Bluegills are shallow. They can be readily caught in the 6-8 ft depth range. They are being caught on slip bobbers fished with ice jigs and a wax worm. Look for the fish by Willow point or by the Yacht Club. There is a secondary bite on the lake. They do suspend over the main lake basin approximately 10-15 ft down in 40 ft of water. If you see people fishing out in the middle of the lake, it’s a good bet that this is why. The suspended fish are usually the biggest.

Northern Pike are starting to bite on the large suckers which are 10-12 inches. What a typically do, is position the boat in 20 ft of water and cast crankbaits into the weedline. I like using Bandit 400 series bass crankbaits in fire tiger. This will draw the fish towards your suckers that are positioned beneath the boat. There is no way a northern pike can resist a feisty sucker. Make sure that you have your suckers on a Abu Garcia 6500 with bait clicker. It make sucker fishing possible.

Good luck and I’ll see you on the ice or open water come fishing season in May 2009. For 2009 guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 262-728-8063.

DOWNSTATE

Larry Jennings with the bounty of a fishing trip Downstate, including crappie, bluegill and catfish. Provided photo

Larry Jennings with the bounty of a fishing trip Downstate, including crappie, bluegill and catfish.

Provided

Larry Jennings with some of the bounty of a Downstate trip last week and messaged:

Downstate hat trick!! Gills, Crappie, Striper, and a Cat! What a Vacation Day

POWERTON:Closed. Bank fishing reopens Christmas.

EMIQUON PRESERVE: Running through the end of duck season, fishing is only allowed after noon. Access permits and liability waivers are available Tuesday to Saturday at Dickson Mounts Museum, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

HENNEPIN-HOPPER: closed.

SPRING LAKE:Boat fishing is closed. Through the end of duck season, bank fishing is allowed after 1 p.m.

SHELBYVILLE: Check with Ken Wilson of Lithia Guide Service.

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS: Check with Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing.

FOX RIVER

Vince Oppedisano holds a smallmouth bass from the Fox River. Provided photo

Vince Oppedisano holds a smallmouth bass from the Fox River.

Provided

Vince Oppedisano emailed:

Hey Dale,

Fished the Fox River over the weekend, mostly Kane County. Water levels had dropped a few inches in most locations from the week before. The autumn colors peaked in the last week or so. Still lots of reds & oranges on the horizon, but more trees seem to be dropping their leaves each day.

Saturday the water was significantly warmer than the air temps which were in the high 30’s at sunrise. Found 19 smallmouth over several hours. Best lures for me were squarebills & hair jigs. A cold Saturday night dropped the water temperature some on Sunday. I went out early and finally found one on a jerkbait in current after 3 hours. Picked up 5 more after that but nothing of great size.

Best I could do was this fat one in Elgin that seemed to be on a feeding frenzy under a bridge. I saw something chasing baitfish up against the shoreline, made the cast and the fish was on the instant it hit the water. I can’t find the walleye lately but every day catching something this time of year is a good one.

Dave Kranz of Dave’s Bait, Tackle and Taxidermy in Crystal Lake and with his You-Tube channel, Dave Kranz Living the wild outdoors, texted:

. . .

Walleyes are still in current areas, fish bridges and sea walls with current on them. Extra large fatheads on a jig head or Berkley Flicker minnow crank baits.

GENEVA LAKE, WISCONSIN

Capt. Dave Duwe emailed:

Lake Geneva 10/30/23 through 11/6/23

My fishing season is rapidly coming to a close. The late fall winds have arrived making it hard to plan any guide trips. The good news is that the fishing is still decent and you don’t have to deal with any boat traffic.

Northern Pike and Muskies are in the shallows in about 8-10 ft of water. They are being readily caught on white spinner baits. The best location has been Trinkes and Williams Bay. Another approach that is having some success is slip bobbering large golden shiners. I prefer casting that way you can cover more water.

Smallmouth bass are in the shallows. They are concentrating on the main lake points in 4-10 ft of water. Conference Point, Black Point and Cedar Point are great locations this time of year. The best approach is Carolina rigging Arkie Crawlin Grubs or casting darter heads with small smoke colored twister tails. With the water being so cold, slow retrieves are the best.

Perch are now schooled up in the 8-10 ft depth range. Look for the fish by Knollwood or by Rainbow Point. It is not very hard to catch a limit of fish but some sorting is required. The best approach is slip bobbering small fathead minnows or fishing ice jigs tipped with wax worms. Purple or chartreuse are my favorite colors.

Walleyes can be caught at night while trolling large stick baits. I like the Walleye Bandit or large Rapalas. Look for the fish in 12-15 ft of water by Trinkes or by Fontana.

Bluegills are again shallow. They are being caught on small leaf worms or on ice jigs tipped with wax worms. Good locations are Geneva Bay by the Riviera Pier or by Knollwood. I’ve been fishing them in 6-8 ft of water.

Good luck and stay warm out on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 262-728-806350

GREEN LAKE AREA, WISCONSIN

Randy Ramsey, of Chicago, caught this 3.5-pound smallmouth bass from Big Green Lake in Wisconsin. Provided by Mike Norris

Randy Ramsey, of Chicago, caught this 3.5-pound smallmouth bass from Big Green Lake in Wisconsin.

Provided by Mike Norris

Guide Mike Norris texted the photo above and emailed this:

Fishing Report – 10/30/2023

Mike Norris

Big Green Lake: We experienced warmer-than-average air temperatures last week, and the fishing remained good. With a water temperature of 58 degrees, smallmouth bass are grouping up and feeding heavily on panfish and minnows. Look for them on points that contain gravel and sand flats. Swim jigs, jerk baits, tubes, and umbrella rigs remain the top artificial lure choices. Live bait anglers are drifting with chubs and sucker minnows. Walleye anglers are trolling crankbaits over the top of deep weed beds in 15 feet of water after sunset. We are finding harvestable perch in and around scattered weed patches in Dartmouth Bay. Drop-shotting with red worms in 8 – 12 feet of water is my preferred way to catch them.

Beaver Dam Lake: Fishing from shore remains very good for crappies. Look for neckdown areas where county roads cross over and divide the lake. Cast a jig tipped with a minnow suspended from a float to current seams where flowing water travels through a culvert under the road. An inch of snow is expected early this week, but warmer weather will return by week’s end.

KANKAKEE RIVER

Bob Johnson with the mixed bounty of walleye and smallmouth bass from the Kankakee River. Provided photo

Bob Johnson with the mixed bounty of walleye and smallmouth bass from the Kankakee River.

Provided

Bob Johnson emailed the photo above and this:

Hi Dale – Walleye bite improved this weekend on the Kankakee River. Walleye were caught on deeper diving crainkbaits fished inside and out of mud lines. Recent rains made mud lines more defined, a good blend of stained and clean water in several areas along river. Smallmouth had been hitting Ned rigs, hair jigs up until today but that did slow down after recent weather change. Caught 4 keeper sized walleyes including this 23 3.5 lb. No time to filet them so released all fish for another day.

George Peters emailed the photo below and this:

Best smallmouth of the day Friday. Big cold front coming will slow things down for a few days. Fishing will pick up after all the leaves are finally down. G. Peters

George Peters with his best smallmouth bass Friday from the Kankakee River. Provided photo

George Peters with his best smallmouth bass Friday from the Kankakee River.

Provided

LAKE ERIE

Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.

LAKEFRONT

NOTE: Dan Edwards said the official grand opening for Bridgeport Bait and Tackle at 9 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 4. The shop, located at 3549 S. Halsted, is already selling bait.

Feels like shoreline Chinook are winding down, but some are still being caught.

Quinn Wunar messaged on X a video of his salmon season (unfortunately, I can’t figure out how to post it) and this:

Not nearly as many as last year but I think with this weird weather and warm water temps it was just a tough bite. Never caught a jack but bigger fish. Season went by way too fast as always.

Along the way, Wunar helped many others this fall, such as Jeffrey Williams and his brother Jesse Gonzalez (see the very top).

Peeylair Caffie with a Chinook caught at Burnham Harbor. Provided photo

Peeylair Caffie with a Chinook caught at Burnham Harbor.

Provided

Last week i mislaid an email from Peeylair Caffie, who emailed the photo above and this:

Peeylair caffie of forest park caught at burnham 10-18-23

No scale but my guess 15 pounds

Another sign of what is going on or went on this fall.

Jason “Special One” Le texted the YouTube video above, which indicates the change in focus on the lakefront.

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

Good morning Dale

Not too much to report on. Kings I think they are just about done other than a zombie here and there. A few nice Coho on larger roach minnows on a slip float around the harbors. Nice Steelhead in and around on various baits.

No Perch or Smallmouth reports.Nice Northerns around the areas.

Our hours now are 6 am to 5pm 7 days a week possibly close early if weather ws to be bad.

Have a great week!

Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan texted:

Good morning Dale,

Shop is on winter hours, so nit many reports. Sounds like some trout off the pier, browns I guess, bait on the bottom, shrimp, sacks, a few minnows. Not many guys fishing the pier cuz port blocked it off. Guys can’t fish by the club, or Johnson pier, so alot of folks are giving up on waukegan

I’m sure there are fish there

Guys can still fish the pier, but they ca no longer park by it at night

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).

MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN

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

MAZONIA

Closed, except Monster Lake is open all year.

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

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

Ending October with 3 of snow in Arbor Vitae. Yesterday’s (10/30) low at launch, 18 degrees. Surface temps averaging 47-48 on 10/30. Despite cold and wind, anglers still fishing for Musky, Walleye and to a lesser extent, Smallmouth and Crappies.

Musky: Fair – Bite seems off from most reports. Not a lot of opportunities and even fewer boated. While suckers have been best, working twitchbaits (Cranes, Grandma’s) and gliders (Smity Jerks and Phantoms) in water 8-14’ moving some fish. Hold boat out in 15-20’ and cast into shallower weeds

Walleye: Fair – Not many reports. But of those gathered nice fish in 27-37’ of water on chubs or suckers.

Smallmouth Bass: Fair – Taking the higher ground with Walleyes deeper. Fish gravel/rock in 18-28’ using similar baits as for Walleye.

Crappie: Fair – The few anglers targeting finding Crappies over cribs using medium fatheads in 12-16’

With forecast mostly showing lows in the 20’s, most highs in mid-30’s with a couple of days cracking the low 40’s (mostly this coming weekend, 11/3-11/5) expect surface temps to crawl down into low to mid-40’s. Live bait and slow retrieves the key. Rod guides and reels freezing up, bring extra reels! Warm clothes, gloves, hats and tall boots to access landings with no docks.

Kurt Justice

Kurt’s Island Sport Shop – Like us on Facebook

(He later emailed an update that water temperatures were as cool at 44.5 degrees.)

NORTHWEST INDIANA

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

Lots of groups waiting for the perch to invade the cal park area and get up in the river. Phone rings daily about it.

Loomis lake in valpo giving up gills and crappie wack em and stack em jigs tipped with beemoth or lil piece of redworms.

Crappie action on Lake George in Hobart around the bridges using minnows.

Got that right on waiting on perch fishing to take off.

ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN

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

SHABBONA LAKE

Through Jan. 31, winter site hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Boondocks is closed.

SOUTHEAST WISCONSIN LAKEFRONT

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

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:

No ice yet. The white bass have slowed down, but the walleye are moving into the river. Good bite from Orahula to Poygan, better from the Rat down. Most people are drifting, I’ve been doing better on rigs.

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