Illinois Outdoor News Fishing Report – May 18, 2018

The fishing and hunting report is compiled using reports from conservation officers, hunting guides and fishing guides.

North

Lake Michigan: On the south end it seems that the fish have moved out a bit, and there are some kings as well as good steelhead action on spoons and dodgers and flies.

The coho have slowed down on the north end near Waukegan and Northpoint. Reports are that 00 orange dodgers with peanut flies in blue/silver and black/gold are star producers.

The kings are out there and are hitting magnum spoons on the riggers. Bloody nose, Hey Babe, Kevorkian, and Blue dolphin are a few of the hot ones lately. Start your trolls shallow and work your way out to deeper water. About 35 feet of water seems to be one of the key depths now.

Make sure you run your spread to cover the entire water column. Cover the water column with spoons down low in the alewife or bloody nose pattern and dodger/flasher and fly in a white or aqua pattern. Switch up to bright orange spoons up near the surface to entice a nice steelhead. Double orange crush is a good spoon to use up high. Don’t be foolish and make sure you check the weather and recent conditions prior to heading out. The lake can get pretty rough in a hurry.

The smallmouth bass have started to feed in the warmer water areas. The best producers are goby imitating jigs worked slowly on the bottom or dropshot rigs with 4-inch minnow style plastics. Work areas near steel walls, as they tend to warm quicker in the sun. Find good transitions of large rock and small rock as well and you should find the fish willing to hit your offerings.

There have been some reports of perch showing up for the shore anglers on Navy Pier as well as some of the downtown harbors. The boats on the south end are getting good limits in 40 feet of water fishing fly rigs or crappie rigs with large fathead minnows or jigging spoons worked near the bottom have been bringing in limits of 11- to 15-inch fish. Long lining the crappie rigs has been working better than a true vertical approach. The fish are holding tight to the bottom. A lot of moving is key to staying with the schools.

Chain: Small jigs under a float tipped with live bait or plastics are taking panfish. The shallow portions of the bays seem to be producing quite well also. Find the newer weeds in 8 feet of water or less and the gills will be there, but look for deeper water for the white bass and crappies. The bite changes from day to day so be prepared to move and change baits. The walleyes are slow as of late. Trolling or casting have both been about equal in effectiveness. Bouncing jig and minnow combinations around the pilings has been putting nice fish in the boats. The main lake areas are starting to get a good green weed growth. 

With the warming water, the largemouths are getting active and hitting Rattletraps fished in the shallower areas as well as slow rolled spinnerbaits near the bottom. Look for the inside edges of weedbeds that are good transition points between cover and their spawning areas.

Shabbona: The crappies are over predictable spots such as shallow brushpiles and fish cribs. Best presentations are minnows under small bobbers. Bass fishing is beginning to heat up with anglers catching them on the dam face wacky rigging. 

Braidwood: Catfish are being caught under a float or on bottom rigs tipped with crawlers or other cut bait. 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: Shore anglers have been catching the occasional hybrid strippers on chicken livers. Blue cats are also being caught on live bait or crankbaits. The boaters have been catching multiple species trolling crankbaits near the rip-rap as well as working some of the deeper structure that is in the lake. Smallmouth and largemouth bass as well as the occasional walleye can and are being caught on rattletraps and bladebaits. The fish are pushing down to the sections near the dikes where the rock meets the mud bottom. Carolina rigging smaller sized plastics as well as drop-shotting can be very productive. Wacky rigged senkos have been putting a number of bass in the boats as well. 

Heidecke: The walleye bite is good, but their sizes are small. Trolling shadrap-style baits or spinner rigs with crawlers are your best option. White bass and yellow bass will also come while trolling the crankbaits. Don’t be afraid to cast the riprap with crankbaits like a Rattletrap or other tight wobble baits. These will often produce a reaction strike that can help put more fish in the boat.

South

Devils’ Kitchen: Bluegills are still on beds and can be caught on crickets, wax worms and red wigglers. Bass are good on spinners and crankbaits. Most are hanging in structures.

Crab Orchard Lake: Catfish action has improved markedly on stinkbaits, leeches and cut shad. Bass are still holding in shallow areas and can be caught on a variety of baits. Crappie action is still good, but the larger fish have moved into deeper cover, 6 to 8 feet deep. Minnows and jigs are both effective. Bluegills are still holding in shallow areas and can be caught on crickets and wax worms. 

Kinkaid Lake: Crappie action is spotty. Some crappies are still holding eggs, but most fish moved to cover 6-10 feet deep. Minnows and jigs are both effective. Bluegill action is still good, but most fish are running small. Wax worms, crickets and red wigglers are all effective. Anglers are still catching some catfish in shallows on worms and minnows. Bass action is fair. Muskie and walleye action is slow.

Lake of Egypt: Bluegills are still on the beds and can be caught on a variety of baits. Crappies have also moved into deep cover. Minnows and jigs are both effective. Bass action has been good. The larger fish have moved deep, 14-22 feet. Soft plastics and jigs are the best bets. Some anglers fishing early in the morning are picking up fish on spinnerbaits and crankbaits. 

Little Grassy: Crappies have moved off the banks and are holding in 15-20 feet of water. Minnows are the primary bait. Catfish are in shallow areas and are being caught in good numbers on red wigglers and nightcrawlers. Bass are still holding in shallow areas. Anglers are taking fish on soft plastics and twitch baits.

Rend Lake: Reports of largemouth bass being caught around Jackie Branch, Sandusky Cove, and below the dam. Fish in shallow bays near brush cover and bushes. Fish around bridges and along the rocks. Crappies being caught from shore, fish near structures, hot spots are Jackie Branch, Sandusky, Sailboat Harbor, Marcum coves, Ina Boat Ramp and along Mine 21 Road. Set your hook about half of water depth. Fish the main lake drop off areas. For channel cats, try leeches in moving water. Drift fish the flats. Set line 3 to 4 foot from the shore over rocks. Try the Waltonville Dam, Turnip Patch, and North Sandusky day-use area. 

Central

Lake Taylorville: A few catfish have been taken on dough baits. Bluegills excellent on worms. Crappies good to excellent on minnows. Bass have been hitting plastic worms.

Coffeen Lake: Bass are good on topwater baits, crankbaits and plastics. Bluegills are fair on wax worms and fairly shallow catfish are good on dip baits, crawlers and cut bait, with some big flatheads being landed. Stripers are fair on deep running crankbaits.

Lake Springfield: Bass being caught on plastic worms near shore and boat docks. Channel cats good. Crappies fair on jigs and minnows. 

Sangchris Lake: Bass were fair to slow around timber cover on plastics. Catfish were fair on cut baits and shad. Flatheads are good to fair on live baits. 

Rivers

Illinois River:  The sauger and walleye bite has been really good with recent weather patterns. Fish are being caught vertical jigging jigs with minnows or using a floater jig and lindy rigging minnows have been doing well. Pulling three-way rigs has also started to put some fish in the boats. The white bass can be found on rocky shoreline areas.

Rock River (Milan): An angler reported catching a stringer of channel cats that weighed in at 20 pounds recently. Fish are biting on liver, nightcrawlers, minnows, leeches and stinkbait below the Sears Dam.

Rock River (Byron): Good-sized channel catfish are being taken from the creeks with cheesebait, chicken liver, minnows and cut bait (crushed minnows). A few using nightcrawlers were also reported.

Mississippi River (Grafton): Crappies good. Minnows are still popular and several using jigs; look for clear, quiet, warmer water places to fish. Look for fish in both deep and shallow levels; sometimes moving up when the sun shines.

Mississippi River (Savanna): A few walleyes were being caught with walleye minnows; walleyes seem to enjoy the recent chilly temperatures.

Mississippi River (Belleville): White bass are hitting. Look for fish along the rip rap with a twister tail or cut bluegill.

Ohio River (Golconda): Nice- sized crappies have been taken from area ponds, and the warmer clear creeks with a jig or minnow.

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