Lake Michigan: According to fishing reporter Cory Yarmuth
(www.chitown-angler.com), things aren’t changing all that rapidly
on the “Big Lake.” Browns and cohos are active on the lakefront
from the boats as well as from shore. Shore fishermen are catching
cohos and browns casting little cleo spoons or floating live bait
under slip floats. Boaters are trolling body baits like a Rapala
Tail dancer or a J-9 or J-11 Jointed minnow. Orange 00 dodger with
a blue/silver or green/silver peanut fly has also been a good
producer. 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.
Kings are also showing up in the Waukegan areas. Trolling spoons
on riggers or with Dipseys in the 20-30 feet of water range. The
magnum spoons are producing a mixed bag of kings and browns. The
smallmouth bass have started to feed in the warmer water areas. The
best producers are larger profile shad color jigs worked slowly or
dropshot rigs with 4-inch minnow style plastics. Goby imitating
baits have also been starting to work well. Work areas near steel
walls, as they tend to warm quicker in the sun. Find good
transitions of large rock and small rocks as well, and you should
find the fish willing to hit your offerings.
Waukegan’s Government Pier or Johnson’s Pier have been starting
to show some signs of life. With a good few days of north,
northwest winds you will see some warm water pushed up against
Johnson’s pier, and the brown trout will start feeding heavily.
There can be a good brown trout bite fishing bottom rigs with dead
minnows or spawn. Also casting small spoons will produce some big
The downtown harbors, such as Montrose and Burnham, have begun
to come into full swing. The power liners seeing decent catches of
browns and cohos, with a few steelhead mixed in. Browns and cohos
are also being caught casting spoons and fishing live bait under a
Smelt season is upon us, and there have been some good reports
of smelt being netted. This is good news as in years past there
have not been any real reports of catches. The numbers are not
large, but catches are enough for a couple of good meals.
The perch bite has been great out of Waukegan in the 40-65 feet
of water range. 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
Chain: 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.
The main lake areas are starting to get a good green weed growth.
With this growth brings a good panfish bite. Small ice jigs under a
float tipped with live bait is the ticket here. 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.
With the warming water, the the largemouth are starting to feed
well prior to the pre-spawn period. Catches have been seen on
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
Braidwood: Shore fishermen are seeing quite a few small 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
largemouth 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 of the rocks and the bottom.
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
Heidecke Lake: This is one of the last of the cooling lakes to
open. Since the plant has been shut down the lake does not warm
like the others the water is going to be much cooler, however it
can really produce some nice catches. The hybrid stripers have been
taken by shore fisherman on chicken livers and by boaters trolling
cranks or casting the riprap. The walleye bite is slow, with
trolling spinner rigs with nightcrawlers on the north side being
the best option. White bass will also come while trolling the
spinner rigs. 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. There have also
been reports of the occasional muskie being caught.
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 strippers 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. Smallmouth and largemouth bass as well as the
occasional walleye can and are being caught on rattletraps and
blade baits. With the warming days, the fish will be 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.