Midwest fishing report – Highlight I: Lake Michigan yellow perch: In time for Thanksgiving, perch are coming in with authority. Chicago: Park Bait reported a “slaughter” on perch at Montrose on Monday and “plenty” at Navy Pier, too. Midwest Fishing Report regular Arden Katz said, “Find the weeds, you’ll find perch. There had to be 20 guys by the hot dog stand [at Montrose] on Sunday.” For shore anglers, minnows seem to top spikes for bigger perch. Henry’s reports some perch going at Burnham harbor too. For Navy Pier fishermen, parking is $5 if you leave before 10 a.m. and show your fishing license. Illinois/Indiana line: JJ’s said south suburban boaters limited out on perch with fatheads in Cal harbor on Sunday. Other boaters reported limits on Tuesday, but it took sorting through smaller fish. There’s some shoreline perch at Cal harbor. Capt. Chuck Weis found lots of good perch (up to 12-1/2 inches) all over the Indiana shoals on Sunday, best area remains in 38-42 feet. “I had fish stacked up,” he said. “There was at least 40 boats out Sunday, and everybody caught fish.” Glow beads seemed to make the best fishing; depending on the day, fatheads or shiners work best. Mike Starcevich of Mik-Lurch says there are “billions” of little perch in the Cal river and in the slips, so he recommended not fishing there. For quality perch (12 to 14 inches), he suggested from the point at Cal Park to the red cans.
Highlight II: Northern Wisconsin: Ice fishing is on the edge. Some areas had scattered safe ice on Friday, then it disappeared and has been reforming since. Forecasts on Wunderground.com through the weekend indicate 20s or 30s in the day, down to 10 or the teens at night, so ice building should continue. But on big water, muskie fishermen may have a chance to continue muskie fishing right up until the close of the season next Wednesday. The few muskie fishing are generally dragging suckers. Eagle River: George Langley at Eagle River Sports said, “We are developing ice as we speak.” Large lakes might remain open for muskie fishermen, especially those willing to bust ice at launches, but smaller lakes will be freezing up. “Boy, use extreme caution,” Langley said. “Spud your way, be really careful.” Hayward: Staff at Pastika’s said some of the smaller lakes and bays had ice fishing last Friday. Then some ice disappeared. But it is coming back and “The way the weather looks, there should be more ice fishing by the weekend.” Any snow could seriously hurt ice formation. Minocqua: Guide Kurt Justice said there was ice fishing last week on “small shallow lakes such as Pier and Willow [Lake not flowage] and others, but it got just warm enough to make that ice unsafe.” Some walleye being taken on weed edges and rock piles with large fatheads or redtails.
Area lakes: In between: The few getting out are focusing on crappie and panfish.
Chain O’Lakes area: Edgy: Triangle reports it is getting close to icing up, but muskie fishing continues good with fish in the 40-inch class. Big suckers are the No. 1 bait. Some launches are icing up, so bring bags of sand when launching in the morning. Otherwise, crappie, white bass and yellow bass continue strong; start looking for suspended fish in 10-15 feet. This is the usual time to call your favorite bait shop for updated conditions.
Fox River: Western Suburbs: Fair: Few trying. Ken Gortowski of WATERDOG ink recommended trying for walleye. He suggested concentrating on the slack water from Yorkville to Blackberry Creek; or fishing the warm-water discharges (Batavia, St. Charles, Montgomery and Yorkville).
Kankakee River: Fair: Ed Mullady reports a few but big smallmouth for those trying. His son, the guide Matt Mullady, caught a 4-pound smallmouth on Sunday. He suggested shoreline pools. Otherwise, focus below the dams for most species.
Lakefront: Decent: For perch, see Highlight I. All harbors from Waukegan to Chicago have scattered browns in and out. Park Bait reports dark kings and occasional browns and steelhead at Belmont on tinsel flies tipped with maggots a few feet under a float. Henry’s reports sporadic trout and salmon at Burnham.
Northwest Indiana: Decent: For perch, see Highlight I. Mike Starcevich of Mik-Lurch called lakers superb on the reef and just off it outside of the Port. Trolling with silver Dodgers and green/silver Spin-N-Glo’s is doing best, but with colder water the crankbaiters and jiggers should do well too. Browns are scattered through the discharges and harbors. There’s some steelhead in the creeks, but they’re low and clear.
St. Joseph area, Mich.: BJ’s reported whitefish are starting to hit “real good.” Fish a single sugar-cured salmon egg or wax worm off the bottom on a slip-rig. Occasionally, the steelhead are going off the piers. There’s still some steelhead and an occasional laker in the river, but it remains extremely low.
Wisconsin River, Wis.: Dells: Fair: River’s Edge reports some walleye, a few in the slot. Crappies and white bass are OK too. River is near normal.
Wolf Lake: Decent: Starcevich reported walleye (13 to 19 inches) doing well at night in the corn channel on the Indiana side. You need an Indiana license.
Deer: It appeared to be in the middle of the rut in the south, nearer the tail end in the north for the first firearm season. We hope to have the preliminary report numbers in Sunday’s Sun-Times. But it appears there was a record harvest. Waterfowl (north/central): It’s about the peak of waterfowl, and the forecast front should help too. Monday’s aerial survey showed 157,565 ducks on the Illinois River, still below the 10-year average of 253,009. The aerial survey showed 91,475 ducks on the Mississippi River, 34,185 of the canvasbacks. Canvasback season ends Sunday in the north zone. Waterfowl (south): Duck season opens Thursday. Monday’s aerial survey showed 137,600 ducks in the south, 66,800 of them on Carlyle Lake. Canvasback season in the south also begins Thursday. The first Canada goose season in the south is Thursday through Sunday. Monday’s aerial survey showed 6,700 Canada geese, slightly above the 5-year average. Upland game: Forecast for nippy weather should make for good conditions for those doing the traditional Thanksgiving hunt. Other: Woodcock ends Monday. There was a push of woodcock in the last week.