Northern Illinois Fishing Report – March 18th, 2016
Lake Michigan: The lakefront has been showing some great signs of life for the shore fishing guys. The powerliners are doing well on both coho and brown trout. The preferred baits have been nightcrawlers as well as medium roaches. Fish are also hitting spoons and body baits. Baits such as deep diving x-raps in white or Berkley frenzy’s.
The weather has not been very conducive to getting out on the lake, but there can be some great action if the winds lay down. The browns and cohos are starting to get active on the lakefront from the boats. 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. Trolling small orange dodger and peanut flies log lining body baits like a Rapala Tail dancer has also been working well for the cohos in these areas. Look for areas of warmer water with cold water near. Work the breaks of where the cold and warmer water meet. Do the same with any dirty water you find. The dirty water will be warmer than the surrounding cleaner water, and the fish will be using the dirtier water as an ambush point. Check the weather and recent conditions prior to heading out.
There have been some good reports of perch limits being caught in the river by shore and by boat. The 95th Street launch is where most people have been launching and finding these golden delights.
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.
Perch are being caught in the canal from the 95th Street bridge. Fish are being caught around the barges on minnows and softshells on jigs or crappie rigs.
Chain: The lakes are clear, but the fishing is starting to pick up. The bass are starting to get into their pre-spawn patterns and can be caught casting rattle baits and lipless cranks on the break lines and near the newly forming weeds. If you get into the back bays and channels, 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 channels are open and fishable. 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.
Braidwood: This cooling lake offers anglers an opportunity to get out in the early spring when most other lakes are too cold and not producing fish. The lake is open, and 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. Spinnerbaits have also been doing well for the bass guys, but hang on as one of those giant catfish have a tendency to latch on and give you a great battle. 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: The lake is now open with reduced hours, but the fishing remains hot since the opening day. There are some good reports of big hybrids and blue cast caught by fishermen trolling shad raps and spoonplugs. The shore fishermen are doing well on livers fished on the bottom. There have been some good reports of bass being caught casting the rip rap with a weightless stick-style worm. The fish are holding at the transition between the mud bottom and the rock walls.