Northern Illinois Fishing Report – May 17th, 2013

Lake Michigan

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 also have 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 rock as well and you should find the fish willing to hit your offerings.
The shore bite for cohos in Waukegan is starting to heat up. Government Pier or Johnson’s Pier have produced several limits of fish. Fish are being caught on spoons as well as alewives under floats.  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 has be a good brown trout bite on Johnson’s Pier fishing bottom rigs with dead minnows or spawn. Also casting spoons has been producing some big fish. There have been several reports of limits being taken.
The kings and cohos are starting to get active on the lakefront from the boats. Boaters: Orange 00 dodger with a blue/silver or green/silver peanut fly has been a good producer. Dodger fly combos appear to be taking quite a few fish. Run the dodger fly combos with an inline weight and run on a board or run them on a wire or braid dipsy. 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.
Kings and cohos are showing up in good numbers in the Waukegan areas. Trolling spoons on riggers or with Dipsies in the 80-113 feet of water range. The magnum spoons are producing a mixed bag of kings and lakers. The coho are hitting well on orange 00 dodgers with blue/green peanut flies trolled with inline weights on boards.
The downtown harbors have been producing fish well this early season. The powerliners have been doing well on both the coho and the browns with a few steelhead mixed in. Golden roaches or spawn sacks under a float have been taking rainbows. Casting crankbaits or spoons have also been putting some 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 hot and heavy 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 requires a lot of sorting. Live minnows and cooked shrimp on drop shot rigs as well as icefishing jigs tipped with spikes have been producing. Also Kastmasters or other jigging spoons will do well and may take the occasional trout.


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 largemouths 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 areas.
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 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.

Heidecke Lake

The hybrid stripers have been taken by shore fishermen on chicken livers and by boaters trolling cranks or casting the riprap. The walleye bite is slow. White bass will also come while trolling the spinner rigs. Cast the riprap with crankbaits like a Rattletrap or other tight wobble baits. These often will 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

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. 

Categories: Illinois Fishing Reports, New York Fishing Reports, North (Central)

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