Walleye bite picking up; crappie anglers waiting for spawn – Northern Illinois Fishing Report


This year we have seen a huge presence of a new forage in the Chain.  The shad have started to take over some areas and this has changed the feeding habits of the predators. With this new forage, it is time to match the hatch and start to work shad-colored baits in the areas that these baitfish are found. With the increase in baitfish there should be a good increase in the size of fish being caught.

The weeds are starting to come in and the fishing is starting to pick up. The bass are starting to get into their pre-spawn/spawn patterns and can be caught casting rattlebaits and lipless cranks on the breaklines and near the newly forming weeds. If you get into the back bays and near the boat docks, 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 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.


Bass fishing is good for both largemouth and smallmouth bass. Smallmouths are being taken off the dam face using jig and pigs, crankbaits and leeches. Largemouth bass are being taken off the dam face using soft plastics, crankbaits and leeches. Largemouths are also being taken off of the weedlines using soft plastics and spinnerbaits. They are also being caught at the bases of the standing timber using jig and pigs and drop shotting rigs. Catfishing is good right now with numbers of cats being caught during the low light periods of the day.


Good bass fishing at Mazonia lakes, but clear water can make for tough fishing. Catfish and bluegills biting fair on worms and nightcrawlers.


Largemouth bass in the 12- to 15-inch range are good along the banks and the bigger bass are holding deep with many small bass suspended in the discharge canal. The smallmouths are slow. Some catfish are being caught on crankbaits, with a few real nice blue catfish being landed.


The walleye bite has been really turning on with several keepers being caught. The fish are being caught trolling crawler harnesses and working the deeper water.  Some hybrids are being found mixed in as well as quite a few yellow bass.

The shore anglers are finding walleyes on a simple floating crawler on a bottom-bouncing sinker fished along the rip rap.  The white and yellow bass are also keeping these anglers busy.

Lake Michigan

The recent high winds and poor weather have really turned the lake into a muddy mess. The winds have been out of the north and have really beaten up the south end of the lake. The lakefront from the Wisconsin border all the way down into Indiana has been affected. Because of this, the fishing has really dropped off for the shore anglers.  The boaters have to travel much further out to find fish and with the cost of gas, it has been tough on a lot of people this early in the year.

Given the poor conditions, there are still fish to be caught. The trout action in downtown harbors has really started to slow down. The powerliners are doing good on both coho and brown trout but the bite is slow. Some of the other shore anglers are catching fish casting spoons and deeper running crankbaits.

The northern harbors like Waukegan have hit and miss from both Johnson’s pier and the Government pier. Browns and coho are being caught on bottom rigs.  Rigs tipped with spawn sacs and roaches have been doing well.
The action from the boats is starting to slow down for the cohos both down south and they are starting up north as well. The fish on the south end have moved out to deeper water and fishing has been tough with the changing weather fronts that we keep getting. Trolling small orange dodger and peanut flies log lining body baits like red and black Thin Fins has also been working well for the coho in these areas. Look for areas of warmer water with cold water near.

There have also been some really good reports of perch caught from the boats on the south end of the lake in the 40 to 50 feet of water range. Perch rigs with minnows have been the ticket for some great jumbos.
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.

The smelt have been starting to be caught, but not in any large numbers.  They are out there and there are some reports of small catches in the downtown harbors.

Categories: Illinois Fishing Reports, North (Central)

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