Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Walleye, Chinook, smallmouth, largemouth, browns, bowfin, crappieDale Bowmanon April 21, 2021 at 1:16 am

Scott Oglanian caught an absurdly big largemouth bass at night. Provided photo
Scott Oglanian caught an absurdly big largemouth bass at night. | Provided

The range of fish around Chicago—walleye, Chinook, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, brown trout, coho, bowfin, crappie—are going for this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

Across the board species are going around Chicago fishing for this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report; well, that was ahead of the cold front. On Lake Michigan, that included brown trout, coho, lake trout and even some early Chinook as well as a surprise walleye; inland, largemouth bass and crappie are most active on lakes while while smallmouth bass are going on the rivers.

Scott Oglanian messaged the photo at the top and this:

I was slow rolling an i-jack at midnight when this fish engulfed it. Caught exactly when the moon set behind the treeline

I think that bass is worth a full view.

Scott Oglanian caught an absurdly big largemouth bass at night. Provided photo
Scott Oglanian caught an absurdly big largemouth bass at night.


Season runs through April 30 in Chicago. Chicago Park District regulations: nets may go in at 7 p.m., must be out of the parks by 1 a.m., no open fires, no closed tents, no parking on grass or sidewalks, dispose of coals in appropriate trash receptacles. Click here for the preview of smelt prospects.


Chicago Park District’s parking passes for the fisherman’s parking lots at DuSable and Burnham harbors are on sale at Henry’s Sports and Bait in Bridgeport and Park Bait at Montrose Harbor.

Readers suggest SpotHero app downtown. Otherwise, here are some basics: Foster (free street parking or pay lot); Montrose (free street parking); Belmont (pay lots on north and south sides); Diversey (pay lot or street parking); DuSable Harbor (pay lot or fisherman’s lot); Northerly Island/Burnham Harbor (meters, pay lot or fisherman’s lot); 31st/Burnham (meter parking between McCormick Place and 31st Street Harbor); Oakwood/39th (meters); 63rd Street/Casino Pier (pay lot); Steelworkers Park (free street parking at east end of 87th); Cal Park (free parking).


Jason “Special” Le caught a suburban bowfin (dogfish). Provided photo
Jason “Special” Le caught a suburban bowfin (dogfish).

Jason “Special” Le texted the photo above of bowfin (dogfish) caught in the suburbs.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley emailed the photo below and this:

Hey Dale,

Here is a recap of this past weeks fishing.

Area lakes-last weekends cold front combined with the past weeks cold overnight temps have dropped water temps. Most fish have moved back out.

Crappie have slowed but still remain decent. A few females can be caught on a variety of plastics under a slip float. Let the fish dictate color.

Bass have moved to the outside weed lines and are decent on lipless crankbaits . Slowly work the bait to tick the top of the weeds to get reaction strikes.

. . .


Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Husker Outdoors
Waterwerks fishing team

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with another species heard from on a suburban lake. Provided photo
Ken “Husker” O’Malley with another species heard from on a suburban lake.

Dicky’s Bait Shop in Montgomery reported some are still catching some largemouth bass starting out of the weed clumps starting to grow in local ponds and lakes.

Rob Abouchar emailed:

Hi Dale

On break from remote teaching and conferences this afternoon I wanted to take a minute for an update. On Sunday after some morning yard work I hit Twin Lakes in Palatine for a couple of hours to try and get my lines stretched. The weather turned cool upon my arrival and the water was gin clear and still cold to the touch.. I could see beds clearly in the shallows but no fish could be seen. I tried several baits, Max scent General, Lipless crank, in line spinners, and Jerk bait all went untouched. A couple other anglers were reporting similar action. The concession was open and I pondered the idea of renting a paddle boat but decided to pull up and head back to the yard work. After a beverage on the back porch, I looked at my backyard grass from above…i can not help think my lawn is taking the shape of some kind of fish. The snow is flying now and the cool nights predicted will keep the bite cool. Just a little more time to spool up the new reels that showed up on the porch yesterday. Next Saturday is practice at Busse South Pool with Sectionals on May 6th. Hopefully there will not be any may snow. But for now as Prince sang; “Sometimes it snows in April”.

Tight Lines and good health


His lawn is taking the shape of a fish, but I am saving that photo.


Open daily 6 a.m. to sunset. Click here for the preview.


Art Frisell at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said pike are finished spawning, try large roaches, Johnson spoons or Mepps spinners; walleye are done, too, look for feeding fish mornings and evenings, try trolling crankbaits or drifting with slip-bobber rigs with large fatheads or medium roaches; muskie are fair, water temperature around 50; crappie pulled out some, best mornings on small fatheads on Pinkie jigs on slip bobbers; catfish are good on crawlers, stinkbait or large roaches.

NOTE: Check updates on water conditions at or (847) 587-8540.

NOTE 2: Stratton Lock and Dam reopens May 1.


Chicago River carp. Provided by Jeffrey Williams
Provided by Jeffrey Williams
Chicago River carp.

Jeffrey Williams messaged the photo above and this afternoon:

caught this guy on sunday, got bored so i headed down to the good ol riverwalk. 12 lbs 28 in started off slow but picked up in the afternoon


POWERTON: Shore and boat fishing is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

SPRING: Open for fishing.

EMIQUON: Basically, go to the launch. General information at

HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Closed for the season.

SHELBYVILLE: Check with Ken Wilson of Lithia Guide Service. SOUTHERN ILLINOIS: Check with Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing.


Dicky’s Bait Shop in Montgomery reported smallmouth bass are picking up on the river while catfish have slowed (perhaps because of the lowered water levels); water was 57 degrees on Sunday.


Green Lake smallmouth bass caught on a Damiki Rig by Nick Schneidewent. Provided by Mike Norris
Provided by Mike Norris
Green Lake smallmouth bass caught on a Damiki Rig by Nick Schneidewent.

Guide Mike Norris emailed:

Fishing Report 4/19/2021

Mike Norris

Big Green Lake – The smallmouth bass bite is on, but I am only catching males. The water temp is still in the low 40’s, and I expect the bite and size to improve with warmer weather forecast for this coming weekend. Try Damiki rigs in 24 ft of water for smallies. Lake trout up to 36 inches active in 180 ft of water trolling with spoons and crankbaits.

Lake Puckaway – Walleyes are done spawning and cooler water temps have slowed the fishing. Wisconsin Elite Series Walleye Tournament last weekend was only 9.51 pounds.

Fox Lake (Dodge Co) Northern pike are active in shallow water, but the largemouth bass bite has slowed with water temps dropping back into the 50’s. Look for walleyes in the Government area and try trolling with spinners and crawlers.

To book me for a guide trip reach out to me via my Facebook page at mike.norris.7773 or email me through my website at


Click here for the Wisconsin DNR weekly report.

Lance LaVine at Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay emailed this:

Good morning all….here is a quick update on the fishing

The Brown Trout fishing is still going fair up until this point. Concentrate your efforts in the relatively shallow waters on both the bayside and lakeside of the Door Peninsula looking for warmer water pockets and clean to dirty water transitions. Floating Rapalas, Thundersticks and Mauler spoons are just a few of the top baits for the Browns. One quick note…the winner of the 2021 Baileys Harbor Brown Trout tournament was Andrew Sharpe. He weighed in a 29.05 pound giant

The Walleye fishing has really kicked into high gear here in the county as a bunch of those fish have moved into their post spawn feeding frenzy. With that said, there are a number of pre-spawn trophies still around, so your chance at really big trophy is still very good. Sherwood point, Hendersons point, the Potawatomi Park shoreline, downtown Sturgeon Bay along with the vast shoreline north of Sturgeon Bay all good options right now. Both trolling and casting at night and during the day have been productive. And this time of year you don’t necessarily need a boat to get on some really good action. The shore fishing has been superb in all of the community spots in Sturgeon Bay have been good. Suspending crank baits, plastics, hair jigs, blades along with live bait rigging with sucker minnows are all very effective methods

Pike fishing is also really heating up. Sturgeon Bay, Sawyer Harbor and Little Sturgeon all very good spots this time of year as those fish are also moving into their post spawn feeding spree. Spoons, soft plastics, jerk baits and sucker minnows all good options on the Pike

And there are still a bunch of Rainbows in the Lake Michigan tributaries, but with the lack of rain and run-off, I would consider the fishing a bit more difficult this year compared to the past few. Spawn sacs and small spinners the ticket there

And the catch and release Bass season is also off to a very strong start with some very, very big fish getting caught already. Look for the warmest water in whatever area you decide to fish and fish those areas painfully slow with Howie Tubes, paddle tails, ned rigs and jerk baits. The better areas have been from the Sturgeon Bay flats south to Little Sturgeon as those waters warm up the quickest earlier in the year


Lance LaVine

Howie’s Tackle
1309 Green Bay Rd
Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235
Ph: 920-746-9916


Bob Johnson with a good smallmouth bass from Heidecke Lake. Provided photo
Bob Johnson with a good smallmouth bass from Heidecke Lake.

Bob Johnson emailed the photo above and this:

Dale –

Heidecke Lake Sunday morning was a mixed bag for some I heard. I was after Bass and did get a few on finesse worm. “Catch and Release”

Larry Jennings messaged the photo below and this:

Heiddecke Smallmouth but slow fishing

Larry Jennings with a smallmouth bass from Heidecke Lake. Provided photo
Larry Jennings with a smallmouth bass from Heidecke Lake.

Open 6 a.m. (6:30 bank fishing) to sunset. Click here for the promising preview.


Ken “Husker” O’Malley emailed the photo below and this:

Hey Dale,

Here is a recap of this past weeks fishing.

. . .

Kankakee River- river is in good shape for wading with water temps in the upper 50’s and slightly stained. Smallmouth are decent but slow for Kankakee standards on lipless and square bill crankbaits. Water temps need to rise into the 60’s to get them going.

Here is the nature pic of the week. You never know what you’ll find when exploring the river. Below is a fully intact deer carcass.


Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Husker Outdoors
Waterwerks fishing team

Deer carcass in the Kankakee River. Provided by Ken “Husker” O’Malley
Provided by Ken “Husker” O’Malley
Deer carcass in the Kankakee River.


Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.


Lakefront smallmouth bass. Tweeted by Edweirdo
Provided (tweeted) by Edweirdo
Lakefront smallmouth bass.

Edweirdo tweeted the photo above and “feisty 5-pounder.”

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

Fishing report for coho and trout has been mostly slow. Still a few caught here or there. We’ll see what this bad weather produces. Glad that you got to do the story on that sturgeon. You just never know what you’re going to catch out of this lake anymore. Couple small perch have been reported caught here and there around the harbor also but not much to speak of yet. Have a great week

Got that right about never knowing any more what will be caught from the lake.

Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters started back last week and found only a few scattered coho, even around Navy Pier, but did find good lake trout in 40 feet and deeper off Chicago. Meanwhile, he said the North Point area is having one of its better early times for coho, there seems to be a band from Great Lakes Naval to Racine, Wis.

Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan texted:

Nice cohos and steelies in shallow water using tinsel flies,, cohos and browns off the pier with a perch here and there.Hope all is well with you

I am doing well.

Capt. Scott Wolfe emailed:

Hi Dale

FIshing this weekend from Lake Forest up all the way to Racine was hot for coho with some Lakers and brown trout mixed in. Very shallow depths of 10 to 20 feet saw the most action. Big lakers were still making their way in to feed on spawning alewife. A king or two was also taken. Body baits including Lake Michigan Angler custom painted flicker shads, Rapalas and Thinfin were working. Luhr-Jensen 00 dodgers and stubby dodgers in red/orange with blue/green combo Jimmy Flies flies were hot. The lakers, browns and the few kings taken were on spoons on 2 and 3 color leads. Warrior Psycho Perch and other bright green and blue green patterns were good. As is typical for fishing very shallow water, downriggers and divers were not productive, with most fish coming off the boards.

Unfortunately mid-day Sunday the bite shut off and Monday’s fishing was also tough. It seems the coho may have slid North, with better catches from the state line into Wisconsin for coho. Waukegan charters had to make the change to laker fishing Monday.

Out of Chicago and up to Wilmette the coho were scarce with lakers dominating the catch. Again the Warrior spoons in bright blue/green combos on leadcores 2 to 10 colors dominated.

This pattern is not unusual for early season. A large school or schools of coho will move up with alewife, stay for a few days and move. The bulk of the coho have yet to show.

Capt. Scott Wolfe


Open daily 6 a.m. to sunset. Click here for the preview of prospects.


Click here for the update from D&S Bait.


Both units are open for open-water fishing or ice fishing.


Kurt Justice at Kurt’s Island Sport Shop in Minocqua emailed:

Twelve days, from the time of this writing, until our inland lakes Walleye opener on May 1st.

Cold weather came back, hard to believe we had 80 degree temps 1st week of April and have mid 20 degree nights now!

Warmer temps look to be moving in by the end of the week. The cold has delayed some of the Walleye spawn, but for the most part, it’s over. Be prepared to target post-spawn, recovering Walleyes for the opener. Soft bottom bays with newly emerging green plant growth. Watch your temperature gauge as a 1-2 degree difference in water temp can mean a lot to location and activity.

Til then, panfish has been good, but erratic. Temps moving up and down has put locations at times from very shallow on warm days (as panfish seek to warm themselves-Crappies and Gills for egg production, Perch to recover and feed up from spawn). The cold nights have pushed these fish back into deeper waters of 8-10’ where the temperature doesn’t fluctuate as quickly, but they will still bite in these areas.

Bass anglers (it is catch and release this year in April), casting jerk baits (Husky Jerks, X-Raps) in shallow, dark bottom bays has been productive for Largemouth Bass.

Water temps varying, but holding in the 40’s (low-high). Next week we should see temps climbing fast into 50’s (again).

Remember to key on the post spawn.

Kurt Justice

Kurt’s Island Sport Shop
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Bruce Caruso with a big walleye from southern Lake Michigan. Provided photo
Bruce Caruso with a big walleye from southern Lake Michigan.

Bruce Caruso texted the photo above and this on Sunday:

Hey Dale caught this 24” Walleye by Gary Light while fishing for Smallies. What’s this world coming to. Sturgeon and walleyes out of the southern basin of Lake Michigan. Was a beautiful fish. Of course she lives to fight another day

Capt. Rich Sleziak emailed that “dandy kings have showed up outside of Burns Ditch.”  Provided photo
Capt. Rich Sleziak emailed that “dandy kings have showed up outside of Burns Ditch.”

Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station texted:

Nice mix bag of salmon and trout in 35 to 50ft of water out of burns ditch all last week

Spoons, dodgers and Flys, brads thinfish all taking fish

Lakers still going good at the gong mag spoons and dodgers and spin n glows best baits

Willow slough good for boat fisherman moving around bluegill’s, red ears and crappie best baits beemoth and redworms

Crappie bite on lake George in Hobart around the bridges and below the dam on crappie minnows

A good haul on Lake Michigan out of Indiana. Provided by Capt. Rich Sleziak
Provided by Capt. Rich Sleziak
A good haul on Lake Michigan out of Indiana.

Christina Petrites at Stan’s Bait & Tackle Center in Hammond emailed:

Hi, Dale! Hope you’re staying toasty & doing well. Here’s what we have for this week:

Fishing picked up really good this past weekend with lots of limit catches of Coho from the Illinois side of the Lakefron to Michigan City & Saint Joseph. Trollers did very well fishing in 30-45 FOW using small spoons and Brad’s Thinfish. The Mixed Veggies spoon was the spoon of choice 15-25 foot down.

Inland lakes are starting to heat up with some nice catches of bluegill and crappie. Catfish are biting on the local rivers on nightcrawlers and stinkbait.

. . .

She added:

One more reminder: The Hoosier Coho Club Tournament Pro-Am is this weekend; Classic is next weekend.

Click here for Hoosier Coho Club information.


The Wisconsin DNR sent this update:

The spring steelhead migration is winding down.

Click here for the full Wisconsin DNR’s report, which usually comes out on Tuesday or Wednesday.


Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said salmon/trout many have moved out as deep as 140 feet; weather limited effort on Tuesday; catfish were good on the St. Joseph south pier on Sonny’s dipbait.

Paddle and Pole hosts the Berrien Springs Fish Ladder Camera.

Christina Petrites at Stan’s Bait & Tackle Center in Hammond emailed:

In Michigan, this Saturday, April 24th is the opening weekend of walleye and trout streams.


Site hours through Oct. 31 are 6 a.m.-10 p.m. daily

The reopening of the concessions is on hold, pending a sale.


Click here for the southern Lake Michigan reports from the Wisconsin DNR.


Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:

Water temp dropped back into the upper 40’s, and with water levels still going up, the catch has been challenging. That being said, there’s still walleye coming down, and white bass are in deep water. Warming trend starting Thursday, should change things for the better

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