Midwest fishing report – Rock bass derby: In celebration of rock bass in Chicago harbors, the first “Rockin’ the Rock Bass” Fishin’ Derby is at three lakefront locations from 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday. Register at the blue tents by the Jackson Park harbor master’s station, by the visitor’s center at Northerly Island or by Montrose Harbor’s handicapped pier. It’s free. Usual regulations apply. Awards for adults are $100, $75 and $50. Awards for kids are tackle box with lures and a rod and reel combo, a rod and reel combo or a tackle box with lures. Anyone breaking the Illinois record (26 ounces) will win an extra $150. Winners will be awarded at the R.J. Daley 2005 Fishing Tournament Awards Ceremony at Northerly Island Nature Center on Sept. 17. Call at (312) 225-3852.
Worth a drive: Madison Lakes, Wis.: Two hours north, D&S Bait reports an excellent panfish bite on Waubesa and Monona; and good for bigger bluegill on Kegonsa. It’s mostly bluegills with a few crappie mixed in, suspended over deep water. Drifting with spikes or wax worms on small jigs is the best approach. “I have people who don’t even fish, who limited out [25 panfish] in two hours,” guide Gene Dellinger said. Call (608) 241-4225. Largemouth are decent on the deeper weed lines of Waubesa and Monona.
Area lagoons/lakes: Fair: With the drought, scattered reports of stressed fish are beginning. In these conditions, Mike Sparacio told the Midwest Fishing Report he is doing decent for largemouth in the western suburbs working the offshore holes or through open water areas. Especially by concentrating on wind-blown areas with jigs and twister tails, rubber worms, small spinners such as a Mepps Aglia, smaller crankbaits and rattletraps. MFR friend Bill Anderson continues to do OK at Monee Reservoir in Will County for largemouth with plastics or buzzbaits, if fishing the early couple hours (good advice for the heat wave). In Cook, Lake Glen (catch-and-release only) remains the steadiest bet, reports guide “Jimmy T.” Templin of Ed Shirley Sports. Kolar Bait reports a couple nice walleye at Mallard; some decent night fishing at Deep Quarry (open until 11 p.m.), especially big bluegill and crappie in 15-20 feet.
Chain O’Lakes area: Decent: Triangle reports catfish are excellent on stinkbait or crawlers, especially on Fox or Grass. Bluegill are excellent shallow (8 feet or less); trees or piers are other hot spots. Crappie are a little slow, try small jigs tipped with spikes. Walleye are slow, if rain comes the bite will improve; otherwise try leeches or crawlers on Lindy Rigs on line as light as 4-pound morning or evening on wind-blown shorelines.
Cooling Lakes/Strip Pits: Hot: Heidecke (Wednesday through Sunday) and the Mazonia lakes (seven days) are well into the 80s, but both sites are decent options early and late, or on overcast days. With the forecast extended heat wave, Braidwood and LaSalle are not recommended and likely will have stressed fish.
Fox River: Western Suburbs: Low: Riverside reports fish are stacked in holes with enough water and oxygen. So use common sense if fishing a hole. Catfish are good on crawlers, minnows and stinkbait. Topwaters or Mepps are working for smallmouth. Above the dams around deadfalls, there’s good bluegill. Early or late is best for fish and fishermen.
Geneva Lake, Wis.: Decent: Jimmy T. reports bass continue decent in 20 feet on Geneva with drop-shot rigs or plastic worms.
Illinois River: Starved Rock area: Low: Guide Buster Culjan reports catfish are good on shad for boaters. Drum are best morning and late evening on crawlers. If searched for, white bass are good from 5:30-9:30 a.m. on blade baits. Vermilion is producing smallmouth and flatheads.
Kankakee River: Low: Rains over the eastern watershed muddied the water more than anything, low water levels continue to cause comparisons to 1988. Robert Grygiel said it best, “Water is ridiculously low and fish are holding in the deeper pools.” He told MFR he had decent success early on smallmouth with white muddlers. Early or late, Ed Mullady agreed is the key for smallmouth; otherwise catfish are the best bite throughout.
Lakefront: Good: Best is chinook out deep, north of North Point and the R4 off Chicago are the hot spots. Chicago: Rock bass and largemouth are decent in the harbors. Perch (open to those 15 and younger) are scarce. Best bet for boaters is a good batch of mostly kings from due east of Diversey in 40-90 feet, all the way to north of the R-4, mainly on spoons like Dream-weavers and/or North Port Nailers. Waukegan: Salmon Stop reports decent action in 70-120 feet between Waukegan and Great Lakes; Leadcore with glow spoons has been good for nice browns, otherwise big white flies and silver Dodgers are producing kings. Some decent panfish and perch (15 and younger only) from shore. North Point: Capt. Bob Poteshman reported excellent action from the nuke plant north to Kenosha, Wis., maybe the hot spot on the lake. Early bite is the hottest. Fish — mostly kings, a few coho, browns and steelhead — are in 50-100 feet. Unlike Chicago, the bite is 50/50 on spoons vs. big Dodgers and big Howie flies. Wire Dipsy Diver (the deeper Magnum) is a good presentation. Both big and little spoons are working. Mix it up. For those in the know, 300 feet of copper wire instead of Leadcore with 30 feet of fluorocarbon leader with a Mongoose Stinger spoon is the hot ticket.
Northern Wisconsin: Decent: Hot weather last week had water temperatures into the mid-80s; cooler weather should help both fishermen and fishing. Minocqua: Guide Kurt Justice reports smallmouth have been the steadiest with excellent action over sandgrass flats in 10-16 feet. Largemouth are good at dusk in the slop. Muskie are good for smaller fish, bigger ones are working cisco schools in open water. Crappie are decent in cabbage beds; others are suspending.
Northwest Indiana: Decent: Mik-Lurch reports some perch on the Indiana shoals in 35 feet on baby roaches; some around Gary Light in the same depth. Salmon are hot in 80-100 feet, running “meat rigs” (herring behind a rotating Dodger) is a must; some on spoons. There are some walleye at night on leeches at Wolf Lake. There are some steelhead in the creeks, but spooky.
St. Joseph area, Mich.: Fair: BJ’s Sports reports warmer water (78 on Tuesday) slowed pier action, but kings are good for boaters in 90-110 feet with skamania scattered. Perch slowed, but there’s some in 35-40 feet. Smallmouth and catfish are decent in the river, which is normal again after heavy rains to the east.
Shabbona Lake: Fair: Lakeside reports water about 84 degrees and lots of weeds, so fish in the weeds on high, hot days, especially for largemouth. Catfish continue good in the bays on stinkbait or crawlers, especially from shore. Otherwise, there are some crappie deep (12 feet) in the trees on minnows, a few smallmouth on the dam front.
Wisconsin lakefront: Starting: The Wisconsin DNR reports some kings and steelhead off the Sheboygan piers, and there are second-hand reports of a few kings off Milwaukee’s shore.
Doves: Phone-ins and non-resident applications run today through Aug. 10 for select state sites. Upland game: If you previously applied, an application should have arrived. These are one of the neatest and toughest permits to obtain. The application period is Aug. 1-31.