The fishing and hunting report is compiled using reports from conservation officers, hunting guides and fishing guides.
Lake Michigan: The northern harbors like Waukegan have been hit and miss from Johnson’s and Government piers. The downtown harbors have been producing fish very well this early season. The powerliners have been doing well on both the coho and browns with a few steelhead mixed in. Nightcrawlers and fathead minnows are the baits of choice. Casting crankbaits or spoons have also been putting fish on the stringers.
The perch in the harbor are small, and there have been little reports of sizable fish or limits. Perch are biting at Navy Pier. It is some work, but it can pay off with some jumbo perch. Reports have shown that a lot of smaller ones are being caught, and getting limits of larger fish require a lot of sorting. Live minnows and cooked shrimp on drop shot rigs have been producing. Also Kastmasters or other jigging spoons will do well and may take the occasional trout.
Braidwood: The lake is open and the shore fishermen are seeing quite a few catfish and bluegills. Fish are being caught on ice jigs under a float or on bottom rigs tipped with crawlers or other cut bait. The largemouths can be caught fishing the secondary drop-offs with large profile bait like a jig and pig or by fishing the shallower areas bouncing a crankbait or spoonplug off the rocks and the bottom.
LaSalle Lake: The lake has been very productive for both the boat and the shore angler thus far. Shore anglers have been bringing in good catches of hybrid stripers on chicken livers. Blue cats are also being caught on live bait or crankbaits. The boaters have been doing well on all species trolling crankbaits near the rip-rap as well as working some of the deeper structure that is in the lake.
Chain: According to angler Terry Grom, the fish are all deep right now. There are very few fish in the shallows. “My sons and I fish Lake Marie at least 50 days per year, so we know that lake very well,” said Grom, who added that fish are hunkered down in 18-23 feet of water because the surface temps are still too cold. Big stripers, crappies, sheephead and a few walleyes are being caught using 1⁄32-ounce or 1⁄16-ounce mini-mite with a bright colored plastic tail, usually tipped with a minnow.
Crab Orchard: Crappie action has improved. Many fish have moved shallow and some nice fish have been caught. Minnows are the primary bait. Bluegill anglers are reporting good success around the rip rap and boat docks. Wax worms are the best bet. Bass action has been good. Catfish have slowed.
Lake of Egypt: Bass good on spinners and crankbaits. Some in the 4-pound range pulled out of the lake in early April. Crappies good on minnows and jigs near structure. Bluegills slow but being caught in the early morning on worms. Catfish are biting in evening on stinkbaits and nightcrawlers.
Carlyle Lake: Crappies are rated very good in the lake. However, with fluctuating water levels, anglers will have to experiment with depth. Minnows and tube jigs have both been effective. Bluegills are rated fair around boat docks. Anglers are fishing just off the bottom in coves and branches off the main lake. Catfish are fair on nightcrawlers and cut bait. Some white bass are being caught, but action is spotty. In the spillway, catfish are very good on shad gut, cut bait and nightcrawlers. Sauger are also rated very good. Anglers are vertical jigging curlytails tipped with a minnow, leech or nightcrawler. The best sauger action has been on overcast days. White bass are fair at the river on jigs and rooster tails. Some crappies are being caught near the river on tube jigs or curlytails.
Kinkaid Lake: Big crappies are being taken. Fish are still scattered, and in some cases, suspended. Minnows are working better for anglers working deep water structure while jigs are effective in shallow areas. Bass anglers are reporting good catches, primarily on light-colored spinnerbaits. Muskies are slow as are bluegills.
Rend Lake: Catfish are the best bet with anglers catching fish around the mouths of creeks and shallow necks on cut shad and worms. Crappies are fair to slow on minnows and jigs. Recent rains turned the lake muddy, and fishing has slowed. Some bass anglers are reporting fair success on plastic worms, crankbaits, Rat-L-Traps and jigs around rip rap, weed beds and drop-offs. Bluegills are being caught in the west Gun Creek area on worms and crickets. White bass are being caught under the bridges on curlytails, and Vibrax spinners.
Little Grassy Lake: Fishing good with anglers catching bass, catfish and bluegills. Bass hitting plastic worms and crankbaits. Catfish biting good on worms, large minnows or shrimp.
Sangchris Lake: Bass excellent on spinnerbaits and chatterbaits. Catfish good on worms. Crappies are fair on jigs fairly shallow along rocks near dam.
Lake Bloomington: Crappies good near and around brush on minnows and jigs. Bass and bluegills are slow.
Clinton Lake: Bass are good on spinners, plastics and crankbaits in coves and at points in shallow water. Bluegills fair on crickets and worms. Catfish biting on cut shad, crawlers and shrimp. Crappies picking up on jigs and minnows. Walleyes have gone deeper but still being caught on jigs. White bass are good on minnows, roadrunners, spinners and twisters. Hybrid stripers are fair on bladebaits.
Newton Lake: The lake is producing good numbers in early spring. Bass are fair on plastics. Bluegills are fair along rocks on waxworms. Catfish are fair along the roadway on crawlers. Crappies are slow on jig and minnows.
Evergreen Lake: Crappie fishing has been the best bet. Anglers still are catching crappies all over the place anywhere from 5-20 feet of water. Saugeye and bass fishing has been off to a slow start, with many smaller ones being caught.
Lake Springfield: Bass good on plastics and spinners, mostly in shallows. White bass good on spinners, mostly on the south end of the lake. Crappies hitting minnows. Some nice catfish being caught on cut bait and shad.
Lake Shelbyville: The stained and dirty water has crappies suspending high in the water column. Fish being caught in 3-10 feet over deeper brush and heavy trunks of down trees. Water depth doesn’t mean as much as a branch in the 3-10 foot range.
Remember this time of the year fish are seeking warmth and heavy trunks of down trees provides more so brush might only have small fish in it. Best colors have been either orange, black or chartreuse.