Illinois Outdoor News Fishing Report — March 10, 2017

The fishing and hunting report is compiled using reports from conservation officers, hunting guides and fishing guides.

North

Lake Michigan: There have been reports of keeper perch being caught. There is a lot of sorting being done, but if you stick at it you will find the jumbos. Larger baits are taking the larger fish.

The trout bite is great and big fish are being caught on spawn sacs or live minnows fished near the bottom.

Navy Pier has been quiet, but there are fish around if you can get out. It is producing some catches of perch. Crappie rigs with fathead minnows seem to be producing the best. Also artificial plastics such as small minnow-style plastics rigged on double rigs.

At 95th Street, fish are getting some heavy pressure; however, there are perch there to be caught. Some sorting is required as there are several small fish around. Fishing small jigging spoons tipped with spikes as well as smaller jigs with plastics have been producing very well. The reports on the perch have shown a lot of small fish, but if you keep at it there are some keepers to be had.

Some people are getting out into the river and catching their limits of perch on minnows and plastics. If you can get out from the launch, the warm-water discharges are pumping good and the browns and steelhead have moved in to feed on the baitfish in these areas. White jigs tipped with squid are doing well.

Brown trout will start feeding heavily soon, if not already. There can be a good brown trout bite fishing bottom rigs with dead minnows or spawn. Also casting small spoons will produce some big fish.

Chain: Channel Lake is producing some good bluegills on the south end weedbed. The north end of the lake has been slow but some decent crappies and bluegills are being caught.

Pistakee Bay has been showing good signs of life with many crappies being caught. There are also reports of big bluegills being found in the shallow weed areas on the south end as well as other weed flats that are easy to locate.

Fox Lake and Pistakee have also been producing some good walleye action.

Most reports are showing that there is a decent crappie bite on all lakes in the 14 to 20 feet of water range during the dawn and pre-dawn hours, as well as at sunset and after. The fish are suspending about 8 to 10 feet down and are looking for waxworms. It seems that the larger presentations have been doing well as of late.

The white bass are holding closer to the bottom and are hitting on aggressively jigged presentations.

Find areas with some green weeds and fish the openings or edges. Smaller jigs like a Slug-Bug are putting nice keeper fish on the lake.

Braidwood: This cooling lake opened March 1 and offers anglers an opportunity to get out in the early spring when most other lakes are cold and not producing fish. Fish are typically caught this time of the year on jigs under a float or on bottom rigs tipped with crawlers or other cut bait. Largemouths can be caught fishing the secondary drop-offs with a large profile bait, like a jig and pig, or by fishing the shallower areas bouncing a crankbait or spoonplug off the rocks and the bottom.

South

Lake of Egypt: Crappies are biting in shallows on minnows and tipped jigs. Bass biting good on spinnerbaits and jigs or soft rubbers. A few catfish are taking nightcrawlers and dough bait.

Crab Orchard Lake: Catfish and bass have started biting. Cats being caught on worms. Bass hitting crankbaits and  jigs. Crappie fishing is fair on minnows. Bluegills are being caught on worms.

Baldwin Lake: Larger catfish being caught on worms and stinkbaits. Anglers are tossing crankbaits around rip-rap and catching bass. Bluegills are slow but will hit on meal worms or wax worms occasionally.

Carlyle Lake: Reports of heavy sauger action in the spillway between the dam and the suspension bridge. Best baits have been jigs tipped with minnows. Flatheads are being caught on cut shad and cheese bait. White bass action has been active along rocks. Crappies are fair on tube jigs and minnows in 8 to 10 feet of water.

Kinkaid Lake: Bass anglers are reporting good success on spinnerbaits. Muskies fair on shallow running baits. Catfish and bluegill action picking up.

Rend Lake: Bass slow. Crappies biting in 5-10 feet of water on jigs. Channel catfish being caught on nightcrawlers. 

Central

Sangchris Lake: Crappies have been biting good near the dam. Bass picking up, with a report of several being caught on spinners and crankbaits.

Lake Bloomington: Crappies were fair around shallow brush on jigs and minnows. Water running over the spillway, causing hectic fishing action below.

Clinton Lake: There is a decent crappie and walleye bite. White bass biting good on twister tails, spinners or Mepps. Catfish also biting on shad guts or shad. Bass fishing is slow, but expected to pick up near points.

Spring Lake: Crappies are biting on the north end on minnows. Bass fishing has slowed. Catfish are biting on crawlers and cut baits.

Evergreen Lake: Southern half of the lake is producing crappies and some bass. Crappies and bluegills are being caught in about 8 feet of water. For the best crappie fishing, use minnows.

Lake Shelbyville: Crappies have been biting fair in the northern river portions of the lake, with a few shore anglers catching fish.

Newton Lake: Bass are fair but mostly smaller fish on spinners or crankbaits on main lake ledges. Catfish have been slow to fair in warmer water areas. Crappies slow.

Lake Springfield: Crappies good and located deep in the main lake suspended just a few feet off the bottom. Jigging with tungsten jigs tipped with either plastic tail, spikes or waxies will get you bit. Bite has been fair during the daylight hours. Bluegills good using small ice jigs tipped with plastics, spikes or waxies in shallow weed of 4 to 8 feet of water. Largemouths got into the action with warm temps. Most on tip-ups baited with medium golden shiners. Lots of incidental catches by pan fishermen with jigs and waxies. But spinners working, too. Channel cats being caught on worms and stinkbaits near shore and structure.

Rivers

Rock River (Oregon): Walleyes are good. Minnows are best, and the top jig colors have been chartreuse, white and hot pink. Catfish are biting on chicken livers and nightcrawlers.

Illinois River: This time of year the sauger bite can really turn on in the deeper holes.

Fox River: For smallmouths, now is the time to look for warm-water discharges found along the river. Fish using live minnows with a small hook and a few split shot about 12 inches above the hook. Cast into eddies. Also bouncing jigs with white or crawfish-colored twister tails can produce some respectable fish.

Kankakee River: Smallmouth bass being caught on modified Carolina rig on flats off the channel. Mostly midsized fish with a fair amount of big fish. Walleyes on X rap shad raps, suspending rogues and husky jerks on flats off channels, on jig-spinner/weighted keeper/ribbed swimbait at points and riffles.

Mississippi River: Winter is getting long for some people but others are enjoying the great fishing conditions that exist when the temperatures dip low. Pools and back lakes are hot with bluegills and crappies. Some veteran ice anglers are skunked one day and smoking them the next. Lately the fishing is on the slow side.

Des Plaines: Some surprising walleyes caught by setting up along the deepest weed edges during the day and in the evening look to rock humps that have deeper water around them using tip-ups tipped with golden shiners set 1 to 2 feet above the bottom. The bite has just been fair.

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