Midwest fishing report
Written by Chicago Sun-Times   
Wednesday, 04 May 2005 10:38
Wisconsin opener: Below are reports of expected conditions for the opening of Wisconsin's game-fish season on Saturday.

Walleye, sauger and northern pike open statewide in inland waters. Largemouth and smallmouth bass in the southern zone also opens, while the northern zone opens for catch-and-release-only bass from Saturday through June 17. For bass, the dividing line is Routes 77, 64 and 29. For muskie, the dividing line is Route 10. Muskie open in the southern zone on Saturday, in the north on May 28. Three ways to obtain a Wisconsin fishing license: buy through a dealer or WDNR service center, call (877) 945-4236 or go to dnr.wi.gov/org/caer/cs/licenses.htm. Wunderground.com predicts some of the best opening weather in years: 60s in the north and 70s in the south, and a chance of showers.

Chain O'Lakes area: Waiting: Water dropped to the 40s; but it should be back into the 50s with dramatically better fishing by the weekend. Until the water warms, crappie in the back channels, which warm quicker, are best bet. Muskie are fair; walleye tough.

Cooling Lakes/Strip Pits: Decent: In the cold fronts, the cooling lakes have been the most consistent. Braidwood/Mazonia: Hours remain 6 a.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Mazonia (north and south units) should warm through the 50s this weekend, and pick up. Braidwood continues best for catfish, decent for other species. LaSalle: It is open seven days a week, 6 a.m.-sunset. Fisheries staff reported 68 at the intake Tuesday afternoon. Heidecke: Reports continue of sporadic big muskies and pure stripers, including a 40-inch striper caught by Larry Mazurek on Friday. Hours: 6 a.m. opening for boats, 6:30 a.m. for shore anglers, close at dusk.

Delavan Lake, Wis.: Opening: Delavan Bait and Tackle reports good crappie despite the weather, some bigger ones (10-13 inches); best in front of Lake Lawn and in the bays. Bluegill have been hit-and-miss, but should be good for the opener. Perch are tough. Walleye look good with over 30 percent reported to be legal size (18 inches); incidental catches indicate they are in the weeds. Bass are cruising up shallow; that should continue with opener.

Fox River: Western Suburbs: Waiting: Warm-up should spark much by weekend. Riverside reports some smallmouth scattered throughout river, and crappie and white bass in first pool below the dams; primarily on live bait.

Illinois River: Starved Rock area: Fair: Guide Buster Culjan reports the higher the sun, the better the bite on white bass anywhere from 2-10 feet. Most of the fish seem to be males. Jig and minnow has been best, but spinners and bladebaits work in high sun. River is low, clean and down to 52. Sauger are also in varied depth. Sauger improved in cool water. Channel catfish started on the river. Some smallmouth up the Vermilion.

Kankakee River: Decent: Ed Mullady reports solid action on big largemouth to 4 pounds in both states. Even in the weather, guide Matt Mullady and clients have been using Mr. Twister-Minnow-Twister tail combos, spinners, Poc It Dads and streamers with success for smallmouth. Catfish should only improve (Lanny's weighed a 9-5 Saturday).

Lakefront: Waiting: Big question is whether the lake temperatures, which hit the upper 30s in some areas, will rebound by the weekend and kick off perch. Tuesday afternoon the Chicago water treatment plant reported 46 degrees at the crib, 48 on shore. Chicago: Henry's reports active rock bass in Monroe and DuSable. The weather looks good for the first big weekend for many Chicago charters. Capt. Mike Okoniewski reports powerliners at Montrose taking browns and coho on leeches, fatheads and cut-up smelt. Waukegan: The Salmon Stop reports sporadic brown on frozen shad, alewife or shiner off the bottom; best pier varies day to day. A few coho by those casting spoons. No perch. Trollers are taking a mixed bag, some working in 10-20 feet; others going as deep as 120 feet. Tinsel flies (black/purple or blue/green) and Dodgers are working best.

Madison Lakes, Wis.: Opening: Gene Dellinger of D&S Bait said normally the best walleye bite is at night. Work from the shore to 8 feet around inlets, outlets and points with crankbaits, Countdowns or Husky Jerks on Waubesa and Mendota. Crappie should be close to full-swing, try in 6-8 feet; Rockford Heights and Hog Island are good choices. Catfish had taken off in the hot weather, but totally shut down; should restart by the weekend in Cherokee Marsh and the north end of Mendota. On Monona, bluegill and crappie should continue good. Waubesa should have a bass bite.

Northern Wisconsin: Opening: Conditions should be the best in several years. Eagle River: George Langley of Eagle River Sports said to expect post-spawn walleye (most spawned in the April warm spell); the only possible spawning walleye may be on large clear lakes. Some females should be recovered and hitting; look at emergent weeds, old weeds or brush piles or offshore cover. One secret on the Eagle River chain may be to look for recovering females lazing in deeper holes. Jigs and fatheads will be the bait. Crappie should be moving up quickly with the warmer weather. Pike are cruising any weeds, old or new. Perch are dispersed. Minocqua: Guide Kurt Justice reports walleyes and perch have spawned out. He expects rapidly warming water by the weekend. Be cautious when launching, lack of April rain and little March snow cover mean most lakes are very low. The Minocqua Chain is down a foot and Squirrel is down 2-1/2 feet. Weeds, which sprouted during the April warmup and combined with above- average carryover from the winter, should be the focal point for the opener. Jig and minnow should be the best choice; if the water warms well into the 50s be prepared to move to leeches.

Northwest Indiana: Waiting: Mik-Lurch reports cleaner water, but water cooled to 47. A few browns at Hammond and stateline power plant; and a few perch at hole-in-the-wall. Best salmon fishing has been down 90 feet in 200 feet of water out of Michigan City, near Pig Pen area.

Wolf River, Wis.: Fremont: Fair: Guide Bill Stoeger reports water cooled to 44 by Monday, cooler than the end of March. Lots of white bass in the river, but it takes hunting to find active fish. The traditional peak for white bass of Mother's Day will likely be a week late; however, weekend weather looks near 70.

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