Midwest fishing report Free fishing weekend: For moms or dads who aren’t regular fisherman, here is the chance to be a hero. The 2005 Illinois Free Fishing Days are Friday through Monday. Anyone may fish without a sport fishing license, inland trout stamp or salmon stamp. Other fishing regulations apply. Many park districts and municipalities have special kids events. For Illinois fishing information, go to www.ifishillinois.org. My advice for novice parents? Buy a silly spincast rod and reel combos (Mickey Mouse, Barbie, etc.) for under $20, then for another $5 or so, a bag of split shot, a few snelled No. 8 or 10 gold bait hooks and a container of wax worms, red worms or meal worms. Spikes are even better, but kids and parents sometimes have trouble putting them on the hook. Tie a hook a foot above the end of the line, then attach the split shot to the bottom. Add more split shot if your child is having trouble casting; take some off it becomes snagged too often. At lakefront harbors, rock bass will hit about any small bait or jig thrown into the water. Cast into weed pockets or weed edges, otherwise jig tight to cement harbor walls. On area ponds, bluegills will be the best choice. They will be hiding in the weeds or next to docks or in-water logs or brush. Try to cast next to the hiding places. … Indiana’s Free Fishing Weekend is Friday and Saturday, but applies only to Indiana residents. … Michigan’s Free Fishing Weekend is Saturday and Sunday. All fishing license fees are waived for residents and non-residents. Other regulations apply.
Lakefront perch: They’re in, but variable. Many fishermen continue to report gobies in the guts of perch when the fish are cleaned. That could be interesting the next few years if the perch diet alters drastically toward gobies. Catching is very much a minnow bite. Large fatheads have been best. But if the heat hangs around and the lake warms, expect soft shells to take off also. Two Midwest Fishing Report friends stumbled into a mess of perch while fishing in view of Buckingham Fountain at Monroe harbor Monday. The best remains early at Montrose, Belmont and Navy Pier. Boaters are taking them at Chicago Light and Cal harbor. The Salmon Stop reports boaters off Waukegan were catching perch as shallow as 25 feet on Friday and Saturday, but the bite moved out deeper. For Waukegan boaters, the biggest perch are coming on Kastmaster spoons jigged. The bite finally took off in Indiana too. Mik-Lurch in Hammond, Ind., reports that as of Monday, they are in from shore (Pastrick, Cal harbor) and boat (hole-in-the-wall, the Indiana shoals, Cal harbor, the shipping channel).
Area lagoons/lakes: Decent: Bluegill are going all over. Bass are off the spawn and putting on the feedbag. Chicago lagoons: Channel catfish should be going in within the next week. Cook: A MFR regular reports Skokie Lagoons remains the strongest bet for multispecies action, especially for bass and walleye. DuPage: Kolar’s reports good bass at Mallard and Deep Quarry; decent at Bass Lake.
Chain O’Lakes area: An MFR faithful, Neal Ehlers, reported finding white bass stacked shallow, especially on Marie, while muskie fishing with a white/nickel blade bucktail. So he and friends caught hundreds of white bass last week throwing orange/gold blade Rooster Tails. Whether it will hold into this week is the question. Otherwise, the best bite is for bluegill just about anywhere with shade and structure; or catfish on lakes like Grass and Fox (stink bait is improving as the bait of choice).
Cooling Lakes/Strip Pits: Mixed: Braidwood/ Mazonia: On cloudy days, Mazonia’s lakes offer the area’s best multispecies action. That should continue for the next couple of weeks. Days are Wednesday through Sunday; hours are 6 a.m.-8:30 p.m. LaSalle: Hatchery staff report 82 at the intake. Few anglers out; mainly catfish as the focus. It’s open seven days a week, 6 a.m. to sunset. Heidecke: The lake was still red hot for fishing last week for MFR friend Bill Anderson, but as the water warms through the 70s fishing will get tougher. Cloudy or low light is better than a high sky. Days are Wednesday through Sunday; opens at 6 a.m. for boaters and 6:30 a.m. for bank anglers; closes at sunset.
Fox River: Western Suburbs: Fair: River is very low (so low an early bloom is starting), wading conditions are good. Smallmouth and white bass are decent. Catfish remains strong, stink bait is picking up. The first big flatheads, report of one to 32 pounds, are being caught at night.
Illinois River: Starved Rock area: Decent: Catfish are going, just in time for the Russell J. Modesitt Sr. Memorial Catfish Tournament on Sunday: call (815) 434-1554 or (815) 431-0290. White bass are slowing and more scattered; best if you can find the shiners. A few walleye mixed in around Ottawa. The Vermilion is extremely low.
Kankakee River: Decent: Sunday’s storms in Indiana and central Illinois muddied the Iroquois River and the upper reaches of the Kankakee, though MFR friend Robert Grygiel reported clear conditions on Monday at Wilmington. Ed Mullady reports fishing remains good, despite the murky spots in creeks and ditches, especially for catfish. Murkier water may make the smallmouth tougher; walleye continue steady below the dams and in the state park.
Lakefront: For perch, see top. The west winds brought cooler water to the shoreline and made salmon/trout fishing tougher. Try all presentations. Chicago: Capt. Mike Okoniewski reports big kings and coho northeast of the T marker (40 degrees out of Diversey) in 60 feet on spoons or white Hal flies down 25-40 feet and some nice browns by Chicago Light. The harbors are loaded with rock bass. Waukegan: Salmon Stop reports best a mixed bag in 130-150 feet, down 40-120. North Point: Capt. Bob Poteshman reports best action in 40-70 feet. There are fish out deeper, but they are more scattered.
Mississippi River: Good: Miller’s in Lanark reports doing very well for panfish and largemouth are hitting spinner baits. Smallmouth are hitting crankbaits on the wing dams.
Northern Wisconsin: Wicked weekend weather limited fishing, but this weekend looks tamer. Smallmouth are finishing the spawn as lakes warm through the 60s. Minocqua: Guide Kurt Justice reports largemouth on the beds on mid to large lakes. Minnows remain the best choice for walleye, through leeches are taking better fish. Crappie are found in cabbage beds (6-8 feet). Some good pike on weed edges with chubs. Good bluegill action should return. Muskie were better last weekend, than opening weekend: surface baits, small twitchbaits, gliders or bucktails best.
Shabbona Lake: Decent: Greg Tamborello of Lombard had a day last Wednesday, catching three muskies of more than 40 inches — 40, 44, 41 — in 1-1/2 hours. All came on a firetiger crankbait. The much smaller but more plentiful bluegill have been coming on strong. Heat (72 by Tuesday morning) might drive some fish deeper by the weekend, but as of now bluegill and crappie are shallow. Bluegill are starting spawning, crappie and bass are done. Leeches or crawlers deep (10 feet or deeper) should pick up bass and walleye.
Doves: The deadline to submit an application for permit dove hunting at select state sites is Tuesday. Go to http://dnr.state.il.us/admin/systems/index.htm