Northern Illinois Fishing Report- March 20th, 2015
Braidwood: This cooling lake offers anglers an opportunity to get out in the early spring when most other lakes are frozen or are just too cold and not producing fish. 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.
Boaters are finding good largemouths on spinnerbaits and swim jigs. There are some days that reaction strikes are the way to go so don’t be afraid to bounce a crankbait off the rocks to trigger a strike.
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: LaSalle is now open, but the fishing remains hot since the opening day. There are good reports of big hybrids and blue cast caught by fishermen trolling shad raps and spoon plugs.
Heidecke: Striper fishing has been slow at best and blue cat fishing is fair. Hybrids, walleyes and catfish will likely be the most sought-after fish. Smallmouth and largemouth bass will be tough again this year.
Lake Michigan: With the warmer weather, the ice in the south half has moved out a bit, but the harbors and launches still have some ice. If you can get out, now is the time to go. Find the discharges on the south end of the lake and you will find the browns and coho. Fish the warm water discharges with jigs and twisters tipped with a piece of squid or crankbaits like a J-9 in chart/white or orange/gold. Long lining body baits has also been working well for the coho in these areas.
There is also some shore fishing opportunities on the south half as well. Casting spoons or inline spinners as well as white jigs has been productive. However, mix it up a bit and use live bait like golden roaches or squid under a float.
Don’t be foolish and make sure you check the weather and recent conditions prior to heading out. The ice is still out in the lake, and with a day or two of north winds, it can get pushed back in and lock you out on the water.
Waukegan is starting to heat up. Government Pier and Johnson’s Pier are 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 fish.
The downtown harbors have not been producing fish as well as early season. Browns and rainbows are being taken in the open areas. Jigs tipped with minnows as well as dead sticking spawn sacks near the bottom will produce browns. Golden roaches or spawn sacks under a float have been taking rainbows. The perch in the harbor are small and there have been little reports of sizable fish or limits taken through the iced areas. Make sure that prior to venturing out on any ice, it is legal in the harbor you are going to and that the ice is safe. Also you may be required to purchase a Pier Pass in order to fish these harbors so check with the local bait shop.
Perch are biting hot and heavy at Navy Pier. 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 icefishing 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.
Chain: Panfish action is remaining consistent with good numbers of crappies, white bass and bluegills being taken through the ice. With warmer days coming, the fish are starting to move up to the shallows to take advantage of new weed growth as well as fresh water runoff. Horizontal style jigs with spikes and jigs and plastics seem to be producing.
Bangs Lake: Crappie and bluegill action has been sporadic. Crappies have been found suspended in 15 feet of water and then moving into the shallows in the mornings. Black jigs tipped with waxies as well as minnows on glow-style jigs are working well.