Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Summer, cottonwood, Chinook, lakers, largemouth bass, bluegillon May 26, 2021 at 12:32 am

Summer arrived over the weekend and there was a lot of fishing going on around Chicago and that is basically the lead to this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

Tom Riordan emailed the photo at the top and this:

Hi Dale,

I got this 18LB 10oz King a few miles out from Montrose in 90 FOW on a Moonshine Mag RV spoon down about 55′ on the downrigger.

I got into Lake Michigan trolling last summer and have learned all I know from the local forums like Chitown-Angler and reading Dan Keating books. This is the first big king we’ve boated so we are pretty stoked and hoping we’ll see more around Chicago this season.

Tight lines,


May there be lots of big Chinook or at least enough to keep things interesting.


Perch fishing in the Illinois waters of Lake Michigan is closed through June 15.


Muskie fishing in Wisconsin Northern Zone opens Saturday, May 29.


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 (now a mix of metered and 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).


Bryan Missey fishing for night bass. Provided photo
Bryan Missey fishing for night bass.

Bryan Missey emailed the photo above and this:

Hi Dale,

The warm weather is turning on the night bass bite. I caught 22 bass Saturday night from 9-11 at my favorite Chicago area lake. They ate a spinnerbait early then a chatterbait later. Keep up the good work.


Bryan Missey

Ken “Husker” O’Malley emailed:

Hey Dale,

Here is a recap of this past weeks fishing.

Area lakes- With the warmup bass are getting active again after the post spawn. Bluegill are starting to stage. Bass are not far behind.

Bass- best bite has been during evening hours as summer patters are starting to setup. Find the bluegill and you find the bass. Best bait has been a baby 1-minus worked slowly along the inside weedlines.

. . .


Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Husker Outdoors
Waterwerks fishing team

Pete Lamar emailed:

Hi Dale,

All still-water this past week-no stream fishing for smallmouths recently. The local ponds have warmed up quickly, right through the 70s to pushing 80 degrees. Spawning bluegills are obvious in some of the shallow water. Fishing was a mixed bag of big bluegills and largemouth bass. Not a single fish was taken subsurface: all fish came on poppers. Based on the frog activity of the past week, it’s about time to fish after dark with some large green foam or deer hair poppers.

Cottonwood seeds were everywhere over the weekend. More than once, they accumulated in the knots on my leader. The bluegills were almost as interested in them as in the flies I was throwing. Maybe it’s time to lash a few cottonwood seeds or some synthetic imitation to a small hook and fish it as an imitation of the seeds the bluegills seem to like so much.

Glad somebody else fought the good cottonwood fight, too.

Rico Cantu enjoys a good largemouth bass. Provided photo
Rico Cantu enjoys a good largemouth bass.

Rico Cantu emailed the photo above and this:

Hey Dale got a bass on a wacky worm, the weeds are terrible already lucky I had 20 lb braid on , be safe out there and enjoy your weekend.Rico Cantu

Mike Gruca messaged the photo below and this:

Pulled this out of Independence Grove off a swim jig. Haven’t been able to get out lately been working a lot.

Mike Gruca with a free-time largemouth bass. Provided photo
Mike Gruca with a free-time largemouth bass.


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


Art Frisell at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said catfish are unbelievable, try stinkbait or crawlers; bluegill are excellent on ice jigs tipped with waxies or spikes, use light line and small bobbers, shallow; walleye are great on leeches and fatheads on a split and hook; muskie are fair on topwaters or big bucktails, especially on Fox; look for white bass in 8-15 feet, try Cubby jigs tipped with small fatheads or spikes, no bobber, just cast out and let it sink.

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

NOTE 2: The Stratton Lock and Dam is open 8 a.m. to midnight through Sept. 30.


Lucas Wise Jr. with a PB smallmouth bass from DuSable Harbor. Provided photo
Lucas Wise Jr. with a PB smallmouth bass from DuSable Harbor.

Sgt. Lucas Wise emailed the photo above and this:


This is Sgt Lucas Wise from the Police Marine Unit. Hope youre enjoying the fishing season ramping up here in Chicago. My 12yo son Lucas Jr came by my office today and his PB smallmouth (6.5) on a 4 inch keitech with a 1/4 oz VMC mooneye jig. That bait has been deadly down there lately with these big fish moving in to spawn. Take care and be safe brother. Tight lines!


Lucas Wise

Jeffrey Williams with a largemouth bass from the Chicago River. Provided photo
Jeffrey Williams with a largemouth bass from the Chicago River.

Jeffrey Williams messaged the photo above and this:

so slow carp day at the river, but i caught 24 bluegills(sum were 10 in) and a nice beautiful LMB, 1 pound 7 oz on a Cicada blade bait


Dave Duwe emailed:

Delavan Lake 5/24/21 through 5/31/21

Largemouth bass are still spawning or trying to spawn in 2-5 ft of water. The hard sand areas are producing most of the action. Look for the fish by Lake Lawn Lodge or by the outlet bridge. I’ve been catching most of my fish either with a nightcrawler on a single hook or a Texas Rigged Senko. The wind of last week made it really hard to fish weightless Senkos very effectively. When the winds calm, fishing will improve greatly.

Smallmouth bass are being caught on the outside of the weed lines. Some rather large fish are being caught by the Oriental boathouse or by Delavan Lake Marine. The best presentation is leeches fished on a small split shot or a small sucker. Most of the smallmouth that were caught last week were over 16 inches.

Crappie fishing has been inconsistent. The fish are either spawning or preparing to spawn. Some success is coming in the 8 ft depth range or on the weed break in 12-14 ft. of water. The only problem is that you really have to sort to get any kind of limit. I’ve been fishing for them on small plastics however, the larger fish have come off of slip bobbers fished with a small crappie minnow.

Last week, was the first time I tried for northerns this year. I found quite a few positioned outside the schools of crappie. I was catching most of my fish on lindy rigged suckers. Good electronics was the key to finding feeding Northern Pike. Most of my fish have come by Willow Point or by Browns Channel.

Walleyes are still very scarce. I’ve trolled 3-4 hours in the last few weeks without any success. That bite is either hit or miss. Troll perch colored Bandit Lures or 300 series Bandit bass crankbaits when trying for them for the best chance of success.

Good Luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050


POWERTON: Hours are 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Sept. 30.

EMIQUON: Access permits and liability waivers are again required. They are available Tuesday to Saturday at Dickson Mounts Museum, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Open through Sept. 6. Closed Mondays (except Labor Day). Check regulations at

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

CARLYLE: Boaters are doing well below the dam for sauger, some are limiting in short time trolling crankbaits. Shore anglers are catching a mixed bag, including some decent crappie, especially on plastics.


Dave Duwe emailed:

Lake Geneva 5/24/21 through 5/31/21

The smallmouth bass are a few days from really spawning hard on their flats. Look for the fish by the Military Academy, Elgin Club, Knollwood and Belvidere Park. The best presentation has either been drop shotting small green pumpkin finesse worms or dragging football head jigs with Chompers grubs. Most of my guide parties, I have been dragging either nightcrawlers or fathead minnows. The best depth has been 12-14 ft of water.

Largemouth bass have been in Geneva Bay, Trinkes and Abbey Harbor. The best depth is 3-5 ft. Most of the fish have been caught either with Rapala Husky Jerks or with split-shotting small green pumpkin lizards. Once the bass spawn they will be moving out to the weeds which will be the best time of the year to catch big numbers. Once that happens I like Williams Bay and Trinkes.

Rock bass, bluegill and perch are in the shallows with the spawning smallmouth bass. The best depth is 12-14 ft. I’ve caught most of my fish split shotting nightcrawlers. The best place I’ve seen is by Knollwood.

Northern Pike remain in the shallows chasing the other small fish. They can be caught on black and silver Husky Jerks or Smithwick Rattling Rogues. The best location is by the Fontana Beach or in Williams Bay. Some of the recent catches are between 25 and 30 inches.

Good Luck and I hope to see you on the water. For guide parties, please call Dave Duwe at 608-883-2050


Guide Mike Norris emailed:

Fishing Report 5/24/2021

Mike Norris

Little Green Lake – A few walleyes on the deeper weedline. Try drifting with leeches or trolling crawler harnesses. Muskies are active. 45 and 47-inchers caught in the last week.

Fox Lake – Largemouth bass are shallow and the fishing for them with chatterbaits and senkos is excellent right now. Northern pike are also active on chatterbaits and swim baits. Try both the “The Jug” and “Government” areas for both bass and pike. Bluegills are moving into the pier areas.

Big Green Lake – Water is finally warming up and the smallmouth bass are moving shallow to spawn. Try the area known as “Sliding Rock” for smallies. Largemouth bass can be found under piers. I am still getting reports of anglers catching lake trout in shallow water.

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

Art Costa messaged Tuesday:

Fishing Big Green Lake yesterday and today, yesterday a lot of rock bass a few small large mouths, then the winds came and haven’t laid down yet , very rough , caught about 5 rock bass and one small large mouth, home tomorrow


Click here for the Wisconsin DNR weekly report.


A crappie double on Heidecke Lake. Provided by Bob Johnson
A crappie double on Heidecke Lake.
Provided by Bob Johnson

Bob Johnson emailed the photo above and this:

Hi Dale –

Got out for a few hours in the evening this week and we boated a mixed bag of quality fish. Joel Wilson caught the biggest Bass at 3lb. Most fish were caught on hard baits and Walleye ( 26.5″ 6.25 lb) caught on soft bait fishing for Bass. We also boated several Crappie while casting. Water temp is in range of 70 to 72 so lake in very good shape.

Some pics are dark so use what you can. We will be getting out again soon. Thanks Bob

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a Heidecke bass.

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

Hey Dale,

Here is a recap of this past weeks fishing.

. . .

Heidecke-water temps are 68-70. Water clarity is clear and the shad hatch has not occurred yet. Smallmouth have been very good. During morning hours works sub-surface baits along the riprap. Best bait has been the x-rap. As the morning progresses, move out to the mud lines and mid-lake humps using a drop shot technique.

. . .


Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Husker Outdoors
Waterwerks fishing team

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


George Peters with a nice Kankakee River smallmouth bass. Provided photo
George Peters with a nice Kankakee River smallmouth bass.

On Monday, George Peters emailed the photo above and this:

Hey Dale, just got this 18 1/4″ kkk water warm and clearing. G. Peters


Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.


As the top photo shows, there’s a few big kings around.

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait texted:

Hi Dale, not much info lately w perch closed. Smallmouth must be done spawning. Less fish, moving deeper. I’m told guys are Seeing big puke swimming around w no luck hooking one. Sounds like salmon and trout are 70-100 feet mostly on Dodgers and flies. We need rain!!!! Rivers are drying up and so is my garden. Take care and have a nice holiday weekend

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

Good morningNot much on fishing we’re kind of at that transition going from Spring to Summer. There are still a few trout here and there nice brown trout was caught in the harbor over the weekend. Sheephead been pretty good on the Horseshoe on soft shells. Lots of carp starting to roll around. Haven’t heard how the Smallmouth are hitting.

For right now I think the meters are going to stay from the shop around the turn around and back.

Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters said coho are showing up in Chicago again, lakers are really good in the mornings in 60-120 feet straight off Chicago. Out of North Point, coho are good again from the hill to 120 with lots of alewives around; fishing is good.

Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan texted:

About the same as last week, fish on boats still scattered from 70 to 130 feet and deeper.Nice spring cohos.All ponds doing well for cats and panfish

Capt. Scott Wolfe emailed:

Hi Dale

Waukegan and Northpoint fishing was fair at best this week. The fish were scattered and so was the bait. Alewives were all over the harbor and the beach and we also found them out to over 230 feet of water. The water temperature was also nearly even everywhere. ThIs has the coho scattered. To the extent there was any pattern, 60 to 110 feet early and late in the day was best. In the mid-day 120 to 150 was best. For coho, planner board presentations using 00 red and stubby dodgers with standard coho candy size flies in Blue Liz and Green Liz Jimmy Fly have been best. At times Black and June Bug patterns were better.

As the week moved on the laker trout seemed to almost disappear, with boaters moving from getting laker limits to only getting a few. Coho dominated the catch over the past weekend with an occasional chinook and steelhead. Good presentations for multi-specials were spoons on leadcore and short copper lines. Our best was the Magnum size Warrior Lures with Green Menace being a standout.

I did not see many people fishing the harbor, but I saw bass and pike moving around, with lots of activity at sunset. A dedicated carp fisherman in the harbor landed several huge carp over the weekend. There are some great opportunities right in the harbor for shore guys.

The very good news was that as the week progressed there were more and more salmon in the area, a very good thing because the lake trout sort of disappeared. I expect that salmon fishing will improve this week.

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 fishing.


Matthew Schoeck  found success on a class trip on Mille Lacs. Provided photo
Matthew Schoeck found success on a class trip on Mille Lacs.

Justin Lederer from McQuoids Inn in Isle, Minn. emailed the photo above and this:

Justin Lederer checking in from McQuoids Inn Iake Mille Lacs. Walleye have moved in to deeper water 20-33 foot range bobber and a leach are producing the best. Smallmouth are starting to bed in some areas seeing them in four to six feet. Better bite has been the ones that haven’t started yet. 10 to 15 feet has been producing well live bait bite has been good also slow presentations with artificials.


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

A warm and rainy week helped those anglers not afraid of getting a little wet while angling for their favorite fish. Lots of good reports across the board. A bit of a cool down on Sunday seemed to affect fishing by late morning, but things picked back up by Sunday evening.

Walleye: Very Good-Good – Back in the spotlight as the cloud cover and warming water brought Eyes into the shallower water on many lakes to feed. Leeches were hot for most bites with dace, fats and smaller chubs not far behind. Wind blown weedy shallows where small Perch, Bluegills and Crappies congregated were tops! Reports from Bass and Pike anglers catching Walleyes over shallow weedy flats were not uncommon over the weekend.

Crappies: Very Good-Good – Reports vary as some anglers finding Crappies still on beds while others moved out to nearby weeds to feed. Don’t expect to find bedding fish for much longer, but Crappie populations seem to be strong and still very good catches being reported. Small jigs (Gapen Freshwater Shrimp and Mini Mites) under small floats as well as the good ol’ bobber & minnow rig working best.

Smallmouth Bass: Very Good – Big Smallies in the 3-5# range being reported every day as fish are up shallow and on beds! Top-water action on Chug Bugs, Pop-R’s, Zara Puppy’s have been a blast! Ned Worms, Wacky Worms and tubes not being turned away. Remember, season is catch & release only, get ’em back in the water quickly to ensure great Smallie fishing to come.

Largemouth Bass: Very Good – Not in spawn mode like the Smallies, but cruising and hungry. Spinner baits and chatter baits scoring well as Bass active. Swim baits and shallow cranks also producing over weed tops. Lots of #’s with some nice LMB in the 18-20″ range reported.

Northern Pike: Very Good – Take your pick! Actively pursue with a spinner bait, chatter bait or Mepps, or kick back with a bobber and chub or sucker, Pike have been willing participants.

Bluegills: Good – Anglers targeting other species for the most part, but doing well with shallow water action. Like Largemouth, Gills are not bedding, but enjoying a smorgasbord of bugs and small invertebrates. Tiny jigs or just a plain Aberdeen hook with some worms, small leeches or thunder bugs all producing well.

Yellow Perch: Good – Like Gills, not heavily targeted, but decent catches in and around drowned wood and cabbage flats of 4-8′.

Looks to be a good, yet cool weekend weather wise. Cold mornings may lead to better late morning bites and better evening fishing.

Musky opens on Saturday, May 29th. A lot of sightings of paired (and tripled) Musky in shallows as they are spawning, many fish showing signs of “rough” Love! Could be finished on small to mid-sized lakes by week’s end.

Kurt Justice

Kurt’s Island Sport Shop

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Catch on Tuesday morning aboard the Triplecatch Charters out of Indiana. Provided by Capt. Rich Sleziak
Catch on Tuesday morning aboard the Triplecatch Charters out of Indiana.
Provided by Capt. Rich Sleziak

Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station texted the photo above and this:

Steelhead coho and lakers this morning Dale nice mix bag

Fishing out of burns ditch in 65 to 75 ft of water has been good dodgers and Flys spoons and dodgers and spin n glows best

Gills and red ears going good at most lakes and ponds jumbo reds and beemoth and crickets best

Catfish at portage river walk in the evening using cut bait and triple s stink bait

Open 5 am to 7 pm daily now as yes same hours on Memorial Day

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

Whew! How are you liking this heat, Dale? Long overdue & great for fishing, but it caught me off guard, must say; enjoy, & stay well…

The warm weather has really done great for the fishing. Thermoclines have started to set up on Lake Michigan, so now the fish are not as scattered. They’re far more concentrated into certain areas or “hotspots”. A nice number of both Kings & Coho are still being caught. Charter Captains out of Hammond Marina & the Port of St. Joseph are catching fish on spoons, paddles, & flies while fishing in depths from 80-140 FOW, with the Northwest & Southeast being their best trolling directions. Inland lakes are warming up fast, pushing the fish into the shallower waters. Lots of limit catches of Bluegills are being reported. The local rivers are producing some nice Walleye & plenty of Catfish.


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


Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said walleye are good in the river; coho steelhead and a few kings 180-230 and lake trout are everywhere.

Paddle and Pole hosts the Berrien Springs Fish Ladder Camera.


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

Concessions are closed and for sale.


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


Northern pike caught by Edward Evans at Wolf Lake. Provided by Stan's Bait & Tackle Center
Northern pike caught by Edward Evans at Wolf Lake.
Provided by Stan’s Bait & Tackle Center

Christina Petrites at Stan’s Bait & Tackle Center in Hammond emailed the photo above and this:

Northern Pike caught by Edward Evans at Wolf Lake on 5/23/21


Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:

Haven’t seen a female white bass in 7 days. Today we’re near Partridge Lake and two out of 3 are females. Water temp is 69 degrees. Numbers are down, averaging 50-60

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