Illinois Outdoor News Fishing Report — March 24, 2017

Lake Michigan: The lakefront has been showing some great signs of life for the shore fishing guys. The powerliners are doing well on both coho and brown trout. The preferred baits have been nightcrawlers as well as medium roaches. Fish are also hitting spoons and body baits. Baits such as deep diving x-raps in white or Berkley frenzy’s.

The weather has not been very conducive to getting out on the lake, but there can be some great action. The browns and cohos are starting to get active on the lakefront from the boats. Fish the warm-water discharges with jigs and twisters tipped with a piece of squid or crankbaits like a J-9 in chart/white or orange/gold. Trolling small orange dodger and peanut flies log lining body baits like a Rapala Tail dancer has also been working well for the cohos in these areas. Look for areas of warmer water with cold water near. Work the breaks of where the cold and warmer water meet. Do the same with any dirty water you find. The dirty water will be warmer than the surrounding cleaner water, and the fish will be using the dirtier water as an ambush point. Check the weather and recent conditions prior to heading out.

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 as well as ice fishing jigs tipped with spikes have been producing. Also Kastmasters or other jigging spoons will do well and may take the occasional trout. Remember that the discounted parking for fishermen is only until 10 a.m.

Perch are being caught in the canal from the 95th Street bridge. Fish are being caught around the barges on minnows and softshells on jigs or crappie rigs.

Chain: The bass are starting to get into their pre-spawn patterns and can be caught casting rattlebaits and lipless cranks on the break lines and near the newly forming weeds. If you get into the back bays and channels, you will find some good panfish action. The fish are holding tight to any wood or steel structure as this warms up first in the sun. Small jigs under a float or a plain hook with a small hunk of nightcrawler have done well.

The channels are open and fishable.  The walleyes are really starting to turn on around the channels and the bridges. Bouncing jig-and-minnow combinations around the pilings has been putting some nice fish in the boats.

Braidwood: This cooling lake opened on March 1, and shore fishermen are seeing quite a few catfish and bluegills. Fish are being caught on 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. Spinnerbaits have also been doing well for the bass guys, but hang on as one of those giant catfish have a tendency to latch on and give you a great battle. Always keep an eye on the flags at the launch, as they will give you an indication if it is safe to be on the water and when you should take caution. Green is good, yellow is caution, and red is dangerous.

LaSalle: The lake opened March 15 with reduced hours. There are some good reports of big hybrids and blue cast caught by fishermen trolling shad raps and spoonplugs. The shore fishermen are doing well on livers fished on the bottom. There have been some good reports of bass being caught casting the rip rap with a weightless stick-style worm. The fish are holding at the transition and at the rock walls.

South

Devils’ Kitchen: Fishing to be slow, but bass are picking up on spinners and crankbaits in evening hours.

Crab Orchard Lake: Anglers are reporting that crappies are being found at depths ranging from about 6 to 10 feet. Most are in heavy cover near points. The best baits have been minnows and jigs. Bright colors seem to be working the best. Bluegills are being caught near rip-rap and around weed beds on the typical bluegill baits. Bass fishing has been slow.

Baldwin Lake: Largemouth bass have slowed. Bluegills are biting on worms in 6 to 8 feet of water. Crappie and catfish fishing has been fair.

Carlyle Lake: Crappies and catfish best. Catfish taking cut shad and shad guts off rocks by Keysport. Crappie biting on minnows, jigs, tube jigs by Hazlet State Park. Sauger hit and miss, if they can be found. White bass are said to be hungry for jigs. Bluegill fishing is fair on worms.

Pinckneyville Lake: Largemouth bass have slowed. Bluegills are biting on worms in 6 to 8 feet of water. Crappie and catfish fishing has been fair.

Kinkaid Lake: Crappies good in shallow coves near in flowing water. Muskie, bass and catfish also good in same areas. A couple of nice muskies landed in recent weeks, but the biting is tough. Some channel cats caught deep near Johnson Creek.

Lake of Egypt: Crappie action is slow but getting better. Bluegills have been slow. Bass action is expected to pick up as water temperatures rise. A few catfish being caught on worms.

Little Grassy: Crappies have been biting on minnows, mostly in cover in about 15 to 20 feet of water. Bass action has improved but remains slow. Plastic worms have worked best. Bluegills are running small and biting on late-season grasshoppers and worms.

Mermet Lake: Fishing has been slow on all fronts, though crappie action has improved in recent weeks. Crappies are being caught on jigs. Bass fishing has been slow.

Rend Lake: Crappie fishing has been good on minnows in rip rap along Route 154, pillars around bridges and creeks near main channels. Channel catfish fair on stinkbait and cut shad. The best fishing is reported to be near the main dam breakwater, areas near North and South Marcum, Jackie Branch, and Gun Creek. Bass fishing has been slow. The bluegill bite has been slow.

Central

Lake Taylorville: Crappie bite picking up on minnows. Bass slow. Water conditions are murky.

Newton Lake: Bass good, but flooding has changed situation. Water clarity very murky. Some white bass were also reported prior to the rains. Crappies a big question mark after a poor fall and few reports this year so far.

Spring Lake: Bass slow. Crappie biting on tube jigs at the south end bays. Channel cats also biting on shad at the big turn on the south end.

Lake Bloomington: Bluegills are biting on worms, but are slow and small. Crappies are being caught on minnows in 12 to 14 feet.

Lake Decatur: Fishing has been slow as water clarity has been poor. Crappies are being caught on minnows. Bluegill fishing has been slow, and a few being caught on worms. Catfish have been very slow on worms and stinkbaits.

Lake Shelbyville: Fishing below the spillway has been slow. Conditions better late in day for muskies and walleyes. On the main lake, fishing has been slow, but some crappies caught on sunny days.

Evergreen Lake: Several reports of crappies being scattered, with most coming from the warmer shallow coves and shore lines. Some nice fish have also been caught in 10-15 feet of water. Minnows, waxworms, or light-colored tube jigs slowly retrieved have worked best. Several reports of saugeyes being caught. Many small ones have been reported with a few keepers also being caught at the pump house and trolling deeper water. Bass fishing has been slow with some smaller ones being caught. Light-colored spinnerbaits and crankbaits working best for bass. Muskies have been reported as decent on deep diving baits in deep water. Some smaller ones have been reported in shallow water with the bigger ones still out deep.

Clinton Lake: Crappies, white bass and walleyes being caught below the spillway. Catfish taking shad around bridge. A few white bass and crappies being caught near bridges.

Coffeen Lake: Bass, catfish excellent all around the lake. Bass biting on spinners and waxworms. Catfish biting stinkbait and worms. Crappies spotty.

Lake Springfield: Crappie bite picking up on minnows. Bass slow. Channel cats being taken on shad. Crappies have been good on jigs fished in or near hot water area, with many small ones. White and yellow bass are good on jigs and bladebaits in or near warm water area.

Sangchris Lake: Crappie bite picking up on medium-size minnows. Bass being caught on crankbaits and plastics. Channel cat bite good on liver.

Rivers

Rock River (Oregon): Channel cats biting hard in the Erie area. Walleyes are hitting at the dams. Catfish are taking redworms and fresh-killed minnows. Walleyes are falling to jigs tipped with minnows.

Illinois River: The sauger bite is still on fire. There are several reports of limits being caught as well as double-digit fish days. Jigging the flats and pulling three-way rigs has started to work.

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