Northern Illinois Fishing Reports – October 18th, 2013
Chain: With the cooler days the bite has moved to a midday time frame. There have been some reports of stained water in most of the lower lakes. Water clarity is poor, and this is affecting the fishing. The water temps have dropped into the 60s, and the fish are starting to put the fall feed on.
The bass will begin to feed with the dropping water temps. The fish are relating to the green weeds, and search baits like spinnerbaits and swim jigs are doing quite well at finding the aggressive fish. Also pitch the weeds with heavy jigs and work the weed edges from shallow into the deeper water. The bass will be cruising these weedlines looking for an easy meal. Fish have been reported to be most active in the upper lakes. The boat docks have been holding some good fish, but bigger fish have been found in the weeds and around the channels.
The panfish bite is good as usual and the boat docks are offering some good structure and shade to the fish. Wax worms on a single hook or your favorite ice jig under a slip float have done really well. Work the areas in the seven to eight feet of water near the weeds. The crappies are suspended over deeper water, as are some of the larger bluegills. Watch your graph on the breaklines, and you will find the suspended fish. Minnows or jigs under a float or small jigging spoons worked around the suspended fish have been top producers.
In the evening hours watch for birds and surface splashing, and you will find the white bass. The whites have been schooling the minnows and busting the schools at the surface. Cast inline spinners or small crankbaits into the action, and it will be non-stop fish while the school is around.
The walleye bite is starting to pick up with the cooler water temps. You will find fish mostly in the early morning hours and the evening. However, overcast days are really turning those fish on and they are hitting all day. Bouncing jig and minnow combinations near bridge pilings, in channels, and even on the weed edges are all proven to be good areas. You will want to catch the fish as they move up from the deeper water into the weedy areas. Twitch baits like X-raps and the standard jig and minnow combinations have been catching fish. Concentrate on deep water near current areas. The upper portion of the Fox has been producing some walleyes. Troll Shad Raps on long lines and change your speeds to trigger a strike.
The muskie fishing has been really starting to pick up nicely. There have been reports of some big fish being caught as well as higher numbers of fish. Fishing live suckers while casting has been the most productive pattern. Fishermen are getting a lot of follows that are not committing; however, they are taking the live bait. Look for the breaklines associated with decent weed growth. Troll or cast these edges working parallel to them with glide baits or cranks. Bucktails with large blades can really be productive at this time as well. Trolling will allow you to cover a lot of water and increase your chances of hooking up with a nice trophy.
Shabbona: This lake gets a lot of fishing pressure during the year, which can make it tough to fish at times. Good catches of catfish are being taken near the wood pilings on live bait like leeches and crawlers. Also there have been reports of cats being caught near the earth dam on leaches suspended below a float. The bass are feeding up for the fall and are being found on the outside edges of the weeds as well as in the wood areas in the “no-motor-zone.” Crankbaits pulled on the edges work well in the morning and switch over to soft plastics fished low and slow in the afternoon. The “no-motor-zone” can really produce some great muskie action during the morning hours and into the afternoon. Bang minnow baits off the wood and pause. This will often produce a reaction strike and get your heart pumping. There have been few reports on muskie fishing as of late. Trolling crankbaits along the roadbed or near the deeper timber can produce some monsters.
Lake Michigan: The chinook salmon are in the harbors strong, and it seems like it is the tail end of the run. The spawn bite has really picked up with fish being taken on spawn floated three to five feet under a slip float during the daylight hours. Fish are still being caught casting crankbaits. It is key to fish these baits very slowly so that they offer a target that stays in front of the fish longer.
Waukegan has reported sporadic good catches of cohos and kings with the downtown harbors reporting really good catches of fish. There have been some really good reports of fish being caught north of the border in Wisconsin. With the end of the king run, this means that the steelhead and browns will be soon to follow.
Trolling has picked up a bit with some limits of fish being caught off of Waukegan. The fish have moved out to the deep water – depths starting at the 110-foot mark all the way out to 200 feet. The best bite is early mornings or dusk to a few hours after sunset. Trolling glow spoons or glow flasher/dodger and fly combinations have been doing well. The fish are moving around quite a bit so some searching must be done. Downriggers set down 100-110 feet with Brad’s cut plugs and magnum spoons have been productive. Large flasher/fly combos on dipsey divers are producing a mixed bag of kings and steelhead. Also J-Plugs are starting to produce some sizable fish. Vary your speeds up to trigger the fish. The best speeds have been around 2.8 mph. Some popular combinations for the kings and coho have been: Smoke dodger and green fly. Fishlander “Hey-Baby” Spoon, NBK flasher and green/black fly and just about anything green.
This season, there seems to be a good amount of large northern pike being caught in the harbors. Fish over 30 inches have not been uncommon.
The perch fishing has been on and off from the shore and from the boats in the north. Spinners tipped with softshells as well as jigging spoons have been working well.
There have been some really good reports from the city harbors of good-sized smallmouths being caught. The smallmouths are being caught all the way down into the Portage area of Indiana. Goby-style baits on jigs as well as “drop-shot” rigs are putting some good fish in the boat. With the cooling water, these fish are really starting to feed up for the winter.