How to Hold a Musky (and other info)

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Midwest fishing report

FISH OF THE WEEK: On a tough-bite Sunday, Axel Denk of the North Side caught a 16-inch yellow perch, unofficially weighed at 1 pound, 12 ounces. He caught it off the Montrose south rocks about 12:30 p.m. on a powerline. ... Alex Voog released a 22-inch largemouth with a 19-inch girth weighing 7 pounds, 10 ounces from a brush pile at Skokie Lagoons on Saturday. Jason Norris posted a photo at www.windycityfishing.com. E-mail fish of the week to outdoordb@sbcglobal.net.

WISCONSIN OPENER: Wisconsin's general fishing seasons open on Saturday for walleye, sauger and pike statewide. Muskie open in the southern zone (south of Highway 10) on Saturday, the northern zone opens May 26. Bass opens Saturday in the southern zone, while the northern zone (north of highways 77, 64 and 29) remains catch-and-release only through June 15. Weekend weather looks stable: nights in the 40s/50s; days in the 60s/70s. Outlooks below.

AREA RIVERS: Receding: Weekend levels should be better. FOX: River remains high and fast, but smallmouth are decent by shoreline pockets. Batavia Bait and Tackle reported a 40-inch-plus muskie caught and released around Batavia. ILLINOIS: Should drop below flood stage at LaSalle today and continue to fall rapidly through the weekend. KANKAKEE: The river should be fairly normal by the weekend in Illinois. Otherwise, catfishing has been steady throughout. With high fast water, smallmouth have been better at creek mouths and shoreline eddies.

BIG GREEN LAKE, WIS.: Opener: Third-generation guide Mike Norton expects an ordinary opener and suggested trolling or casting shorelines for a mixed bag of walleye, pike or brown trout. Panfish should be best in soft bottom areas that will warm quicker, such as Beyer's Cove. He has been having good success trolling for lakers with a flasher and minnow in 100 feet. Water is only about 40.

CHAIN O'LAKES AREA: Good: Bluegill are the best bite, according to Triangle. Arden Katz reported bluegill up to 8 inches are excellent in the channels, but you have to keep moving until you find the pockets. Small Rat Finkies (ice jigs are really important) with waxies or spikes under small floats were key. White bass are good in 10-15 feet with small minnows or spikes on slip bobber rigs to change depth efficiently. Big walleye are on the feed, leeches are probably the best choice on slip-bobber or Lindy rigs. As the PMTT tournament showed, muskie are fair shallow. Bass are coming shallow with warming water. Catfish are excellent on crawlers or leeches.

COOLING LAKES/STRIP PITS: LaSALLE: Water is warming rapidly: it was 83 at the intake Tuesday (which suggests the 90s in hot areas). HEIDECKE: Weekend walleye were good, said concessionaire Steve Anderson. Casters are using a 1/4-ounce or lighter jigs with small twistertails with a leech or crawler piece. Trollers are working too. Biggest reported so far was 29 inches. Biologists had their best sampling ever for muskie, the biggest topping 30 pounds. Catfish and hybrids improved; muskie slowed. BRAIDWOOD/MAZONIA: Especially on low light days, Mazonia lakes should be prime with water in the mid-60s. Braidwood is 72 on the north, 80 at the south launch. Closing is 8 p.m.

DELAVAN LAKE, WISCONSIN: Opener: Delavan Bait and Tackle expects an excellent walleye bite with cool water (low- and mid- 50s). Lots of bass being seen shallow, lot of northern in chasing the panfish. Panfish are sporadic with cool water; but crappie are decent in 6-8 feet. DBT will be open until 11 p.m. Friday and reopen at 4 a.m. Saturday.

DOWNSTATE: Crappie and largemouth are already shallow or coming up. EVERGREEN: Crappie improved, best north and west sides of Deer Island. Saugeye and muskie are tough. HENNEPIN-HOPPER: First public day is Friday. Site super Rick Seibert said a few largemouth are up. Annual memberships remain available at (815) 481-0778.

LAKEFRONT: Decent: Perch have been in and out (south or southwest winds are best) for Chicago shore anglers, but as Denk's catch indicated some have been quality jumbos. When weather allows, boaters continue to do well for quality perch from Waukegan to Lake Forest in 55 to 70 feet, Capt. Jeff Miltimore said. The most exciting bite for shore anglers and boaters has been catch-and-release smallmouth coming toward bedding areas; there has been action on faster presentations like crankbaits. Capt. Bob Poteshman said coho are showing up on the beach from Waukegan to North Point. Browns have been the most consistent bite for boaters.

MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN: Opener: Gene Dellinger at D&S Bait said fishermen should expect cooler water than last year, but a typical opener: a night bite for walleye on Waubesa, Monona and Mendota; decent crappie on Waubesa and Monona; pike around the inlets; sporadic muskie on Wingra and Waubesa and catfish are good at Cherokee Marsh and the north end of Mendota.

NORTHERN WISCONSIN: Opener: EAGLE RIVER: George Langley of Eagle River Sports said walleye are decidedly post spawn on small shallow lakes; while deeper lakes like North Twin are mid or late spawn. Perch are spawned out. Most lakes are in the mid-50s and low. HAYWARD: Pastika's reported walleye in post-spawn situation, probably see a lot of fish come shallower, with some females deeper. Crappie will be shallow, probably pre-spawn. Bluegills are shallow. Bass should be shallow, too. In most cases, most lakes are near normal or low. Water is in the 50s, higher in the bays. Pike will be around weeds in shallow bays. MINOCQUA: Guide Kurt Justice said some surfaces are already in the 60s. All walleye are well past spawning, even some muskie are spawned out. Crappie are staging in shallows. Bluegills are active in 6 feet or less as water warms. With reports of incidental catches suggesting aggressive feeding, Justice suspects artificials could ''come into play a bit more'' than most openers.

NORTHWEST INDIANA: Mik-Lurch report good smallmouth at Pastrick and Gary Light or near any rocky shorelines or breakwalls. Trollers are mainly taking browns, a few lakers and few coho. Perch are decent at Gary Light in 44 feet; reports of good jumbos out of Michigan City. Largemouth, including one to 7 pounds, at Wolf Lake; where crappie are much improved. Willow Slough has good bluegill.

SHABBONA LAKE: Decent: Lakeside reported largemouth continue strong with two more heavier than 6 pounds, on Rat-l-traps. Crappie are starting to move, numbers are good, size fair. Catfish, up to 11 pounds, are improving. Water is near 60, so bass should be coming in to spawn.

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN: Improving: A major school of white bass moved from Oshkosh to Winneconne and soon to Fremont. Guide Bill Stoeger said the first white bass should be spawning soon. With water in the mid-50s, the peak is probably more than a week away.

Dale Bowman

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