Northern Illinois Fishing Report- April 18th, 2014
Lake Michigan: The northern harbors like Waukegan have been hit and miss from Johnson’s and Government piers.
The downtown harbors have been producing fish very well this early season. The powerliners have been doing well on both the coho and the browns with a few steelhead mixed in. Nightcrawlers and fathead minnows are the baits of choice.
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 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 have been producing. Also Kastmasters or other jigging spoons will do well and may take the occasional trout.
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 rock as well and you should find fish willing to hit your offerings.
Braidwood: The lake is open and the shore fishermen are seeing quite a few 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. 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 dangerous.
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.
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 nice fish in the boats.
The channels are starting to get a good panfish bite going. 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 6-10 feet of water or less and the bluegills will be there, but look for deeper water for white bass and crappies.
The bass bite is starting to get good. Casting lipless crankbaits and working them on the edges of the new emerging weeds as well as any wood or rip-rap that you can find.
The muskies are starting to be caught as well. Downsize your baits and work the shallow areas that tend to warm up quicker this time of year.
Blackwell: With the inland trout season open, there have been many limits of trout caught. The trout are being taken on small spoons, small crankbaits, and Powerbait fished on the bottom. A bonus northern pike and some big bass have been caught while chasing the trout. With the colder water, throw a rattletrap to coax a strike out of some of the big largemouths that are in the area.
Heidecke: The walleye bite is slow, with trolling shadrap-style baits on the north side being the best option. Trolling spinner rigs with nightcrawlers has also been producing some fish as well. White 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.