Northern Illinois Fishing Report – May 31st, 2013
On the south end, it seems that the fish have moved out a bit, but there is still a respectable coho bite on. Your standard Thin-Fins as well as dodger/fly combos are doing well. The cohos are on fire right now on the north end near Waukegan and Northpoint. Use 00 orange dodgers with peanut flies in blue/silver and black/gold. 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, 35 feet of water seems to be one of the key depths right 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.
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 and smalls rock as well and you should find the fish willing to hit your offerings
The shore bite for cohos and browns has slowed down, but the powerliners are still finding them in the downtown area and the shore guys up north are picking away at them. Government Pier and Johnson’s Pier have produced some fish. Fish are being caught on spoons as well as alewives under floats.
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 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.
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.The walleyes are starting to turn on around the channels and the bridges. 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 this growth brings on 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. The bite changes from day to day so be prepared to move and change baits.
Catfish 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 baits like a jig and pig or by fishing the shallower areas bouncing a crankbait or spoonplug off of the rocks and bottom.
Heidecke Lake: The walleye bite is good, but their sizes are small. Trolling shadrap-style baits or spinner rigs with crawlers is 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.
The hybrid stripers have been taken by shore fishermen on chicken livers and by boaters trolling cranks or casting the riprap.
The lake has begun to slow down for both the boat and the shore angler. 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 blade baits. 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.
Crappies still deep, mostly. Many crappies between 9-11 inches are being found in deep brushpiles. Largemouth and walleye fishing is fair. Muskie bite is fair.