Reports and news

The weather is warming across the Midwest and with that more people are getting out to fish open water.   With that, more reports are coming in.  If you have a report and photos to share, send them to

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Here are the latest reports that came to Illinois Outdoors:

Get your 2015 Illinois Fishing License Now

It's time to get your new 2015 Illinois Fishing License. The 2014 licenses expired March 31st.

Illinois fishing licenses and stamps are available at DNR Direct license and permit locations, including many bait shops, sporting goods stores and other retail outlets.  For a location near you, check the IDNR website at this link:

Fishing licenses and stamps can also be purchased by using a credit card through DNR Direct online via the IDNR website at, or by calling DNR Direct toll-free at 1-888-6PERMIT (1-888-673-7648).

If you plan on enjoying Fishing AND Hunting in Illinois get a Sportsman's license which will cover both at a discount.  And if you're going to fish Lake Michigan for salmon or trout you'll need a 2015 salmon stamp.   If you're going to fish any of Illinois inland lakes for the trout that will be stocked soon, you will need an inland trout stamp.

Rend Lake Fishing Report from Randy Cordray, Rend Lake Corps of Engineers

LARGEMOUTH BASS Fair Worms, black and blue jigs, minnows, and spinner baits. Fish in shallow bays near brush cover and bushes. Fish around bridges and along the rocks. Reports of fish being caught around Jackie Branch, Sandusky Cove, and below the dam. 14” minimum length limit, 6 daily creel limit. 1 fish daily creel limit in PONDS 14” minimum length.
CRAPPIE Fair Jigs are working well. Quarter-Ounce pink and white tub jigs. Small & Medium Minnows. Meal worms. Lately, many fishermen have been fishing at Big Muddy bridge and Highway 154.  Fish the main lake drop off areas.  Try the Gun Creek Area. From shore fish near structures, hot spots are Jackie Branch, Sandusky,  Sailboat Harbor, Marcum coves, and Ina Boat Ramp. 25 fish daily creel limit with no more than 10 fish 10 inches or longer
BLUEGILL Fair Crickets, worms, wax worms, meal worms, small jigs. Fish in the back of necks and on flat shallow banks and on the rocks. Try fishing shallow with crickets, worms or small jigs. From shore try Sailboat Harbor. 10 fish daily creel limit in PONDS. 
CHANNELCATFISH Good Sonny’s stink bait, Hoss’s Hawg Bait, leeches, night crawlers, and large minnows. Try the Waltonville Dam, Turnip Patch, Jackie Branch, and North Sandusky Day Use Area. Set line 3-4’ from the shore over rocks. Try leeches in moving water.  Drift fish the flats. 6 fish daily creel limit in PONDS.Jugs must be attended at all times while fishing.
WHITE BASS Fair Jig and curly tail grubs, inline spinners. Fish in shallow bays near brush cover and bushes. Fish around along the rocks and dropoffs. Reports of fish being caught around  the 154 bridges. 20 fish creel limit.No more than 3 fish 17” or longer daily
Information as of:  03/30/2015LAKE LEVEL: 410.31        AVERAGE POOL FOR THIS DATE: 407.90     WATER TEMP:  47°F

Use of a minnow seine, cast net, or shad scoop for bait collecting within 1000 yards downstream of the Rend Lake dam and spillway is prohibited.

Maps of the Fish Attractor tree locations along with GPS readings are available at the Rend Lake Corps of Engineers Project Office.  Contact Randy Cordray for more information at (618) 724-2493.  In order to maintain a cleaner recreation area, anglers and bow fishermen fishing below the dam are asked to return dead rough fish to the water.

Walleyes Unlimited USA – April/May, 2015 Update by Bob Clark -Secretary and Media Director - Walleyes Unlimited

Upcoming Meetings and Event Dates

Visit our updated monthly speaker line-up our site at:

Wisconsin Meeting: American Legion Greendale Post 416 | 6351 W. Grange Ave. | Greendale, WI 53129
Date: Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Speaker: Capt. Mike Karempelis
Topic: Early Season Smallmouth Tactics

Captain Mike has been featured in magazines such as In-Fisherman Walleye Guide, Walleye Insider, Great Lakes Angler, and he also co-hosts the WDOR Door County Outdoors Radio Show, a weekly show which highlights the great fishing opportunities Door County and the Bay of Green Bay have to offer!

Captain Mike Karempelis fishes the waters of Door County and Green Bay, WI on a daily basis, which is a key factor in making sure he is able to stay in contact with the fish throughout the season. This experience on a large body of water like the Bay of Green Bay can prove invaluable when it comes to consistently producing fish despite changing conditions and seasonal movements.

Whether you’re after walleye, smallmouth bass, northern pike or any of the other great opportunities available, Captain Mike will know when and where the fish are biting, and will let you know in advance the best times of the year to target each species! Sounds like an exciting presentation you will not want to miss.

Illinois Meeting: Gurnee American Legion | 749 Milwaukee Ave. | Gurnee, IL 60031
Date: Wednesday, April 29, 2015
Speaker: Matt Porter of Jackpot Charters and Porters Hunt Club
Topic: Lake Michigan Coho to Salmon Transition

Captain Matt Porter is a U.S. Coast Guard Licensed Master Captain and was raised 4 blocks from the shores of Lake Michigan. He has been fishing the Illinois and Wisconsin areas of Lake Michigan for salmon and trout since they were first stocked in the 1960's. That's over 40 years of Lake Michigan fishing experience. As a full-time Lake Michigan salmon and trout fishing charter captain, working with a network of charter captains from 4 harbors, Matt is able to stay on top of the fish EVERY DAY. When Matt is not on the water, he is overseeing a big portion of the operation at Porters Hunt Club in McHenry, IL

Matt will be discussing the transition from the early season coho runs to when the larger schools of salmon become accessible on Lake Michigan. This promises to be real interesting presentation from an outdoorsman who has spent more than his share of time on the water and in the fields.

Illinois Meeting: Gurnee American Legion | 749 Milwaukee Ave. | Gurnee, IL 60031
Date: Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Speaker: John Trossen of The Pier, Lake Geneva, Wi
Topic: TBD

Monthly Meeting Information

Wisconsin Meetings - 2nd Wednesday of each month
Greendale American Legion
6351 W. Grange Avenue.
Greendale, WI 53129
The post is located close to downtown Greendale and the Southridge Shopping Mall

Illinois Meetings - Last Wednesday of each month
Gurnee American Legion | 749 Milwaukee Ave. | Gurnee, IL  60031
2 miles east of Gurnee Mills on Grand Ave. (Rt. 132)
Near the intersection of Milwaukee Ave. (Rt. 21)

Guests always welcome | Guest Fee is only $5.00 | Meetings begin at 7:00 PM sharp.  Visit our web site at:  Contact us if you have any questions at:

Trout Unlimited Chapter News by Jim Schmiedeskamp

The Oak Brook Chapter of Trout Unlimited is hosting a “Spring Fling” open house on Saturday, May 9 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the White Eagle Homeowners Clubhouse at 4265 White Eagle Drive in Naperville.

The Oak Brook Chapter is comprised of over 1,200 members primarily from Chicago’s western and south suburbs and is part of the national Trout Unlimited organization. The organization’s “Spring Fling” event is free to its members, member families, friends and general public.

“The mission of Trout Unlimited is to conserve, protect and restore North America’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds,” said Jim Schmiedeskamp, Oak Brook TU director and event organizer. “This program is an opportunity for both our members and the general public to learn more about our conservation volunteer activities, youth education programs and fly fishing basics—from fly casting to fly tying for beginners.

The event features information about Trout Unlimited conservation volunteer activities planned for the 2015 spring, summer and fall seasons as well as youth education programs including “Trout in the Classroom,” youth fly fishing Saturday classes this summer and fall, and a summer youth fly fishing camp in Michigan on the famous Au Sable River.

To support the organization’s fund raising, the Spring Fling event will feature a used gear sale and a “One of a Kind” silent auction featuring guided fishing trips to Wisconsin, Michigan, Montana, Idaho and Vermont as well as new fishing equipment and collectible artwork.

The event will conclude with a 2 p.m. presentation by Kyle Zempel, owner and lead guide of Black Earth Angling Co.—a Wisconsin guide service which offers trips in pursuit of trout, smallmouth bass and pike.  “Our Spring Fling  event has something for everyone and is timed to kick off the spring and summer fishing season after another long cold Chicago winter,” said Schmiedeskamp.

A free lunch featuring grilled bratwursts and hot dogs will be provided for attendees.

Chicagoland Muskie Hunters by Dean Rosset

We meet the second Tues. of the month at the Park Ridge VFW (Higgins and Canfield) at 7:30pm. Come join us——The Chicagoland Muskie Hunters (03) chapter of Muskies Inc. Meetings feature top speakers, fishing reports, favorite lake presentations by our members, muskie info sharing, door prizes and raffles. All are welcome!! Contact Dean—847-677-0017 Learn how to catch a muskie, or more muskies, or larger muskies, - join MI. All are welcome! The April 14- Home Cooking meeting- is a three part event— This is awards nite for all the 2014 contest winners. Members and winners will share their “secrets”-and FREE PIZZA!!!
 The Chicagoland Muskie Hunters full color Newsletter with color fish catch pictures, catch data, articles, info re meetings and outings is available to you. To receive this free Blue Ribbon column and to learn more about our chapter and Muskies Inc.--contact 

Lake Shelbyville Report by Steve Welch

The lake finally got to winter pool and is now coming back up since it is April. Go figure but that is the Corp. The water temps are running about 49 so we have gained a little. This week won't gain much with rain every day but it will be warm rain so bring it on.

The brush piles I have been using need afternoon sun for them to work especially since the Corp dropped the lake and this made them shallower. So every morning we are fishing out on the ends of down trees in 15-20 feet with my 1/4oz. Deep Ledge Jigs trying to bump into the end branches of the down tree. We have been using red,orange,chartreuse or white jigs with my new Brush Pile Jigs plastics in several colors depending on sunny or cloudy. Bright colors cloudy neutral or shad colors on sunny days.

Afternoons we are targeting the top of brush piles that top out about 12 feet under the lake. The fish rise up out of them to get that needed warmth. We switch rods and jigs for this. We now use longer 12ft. rods that are very light action to allow us to fish our 3/32oz. Deep Ledge Jigs. The lighter jig dances over the brush and the crappie eat it up. We need the heavy jig to locate the big branches on the down trees so we are using shorter much stiffer rods.

This same pattern will be in effect until I see water temps in the mid to upper fifties. Then we will switch over to pre-spawn tactics. Most likely three weeks.

Steve Welch

Lake Geneva Fishing Club – April - May 2015 Update by Bob Clark, Lake Geneva Fishing Club

The Fishing Club of Lake Geneva is dedicated to promoting sport fishing for all species on Lake Geneva. We also encourage kids to fish, and the club sponsors an annual Kids Free Fishing Day as described on our Kids Day page. The club has season long outings and contests on Geneva. At the monthly meetings, we have speakers that include member panels along with expert fishing and electronics professionals.
Wednesday, April 8th – Mark O’Neill | Structure –
Understanding Your Fishing Electronics - Learning to Catch More Fish on Lake Geneva

Mark O’Neill is a Marine Electronics and Fishing Educator who is also a licensed Wisconsin fishing guide. As such, Mark spends much of his time helping fellow anglers get a better understanding of what lies below the surface to help them catch more fish.  In addition to educating people, Mark also spends much of his time working with Lowrance, where he is both a pro staff and validation staff member. Validation staff responsibilities include the testing of all new products and software updates while under development.

Mark’s presentation will focus on using electronics as a tool to help catch more fish on Lake Geneva. He will also discuss the basics of the technology that is available to help anglers get a better understanding of Lake Geneva’s structure and ultimately, catch more fish.

Many anglers engage Mark for his unique On the Water Training program that enables them to take greater advantage of their Lowrance Electronics. See for information on Lowrance University classes at both Cabela’s, Hoffman Estates, IL and at Witch Bay on Lake of the Woods near Kenora, Ontario.

Wednesday, May 13th – Jim Tostrud | Wildlife
Tips & Techniques on Targeting Geneva Slab Crappies

Jim Tostrud is an accomplished Hunter, Fisherman, Wildlife Artist and Video Producer. He grew up fishing Lake Geneva for most species that swim in the lake.  Jim provides fishing guide services on Southeast Wisconsin's finest fisheries, specializing on Lake Geneva.  He grew up fishing on Lake Geneva and has over 30 years’ experience finding the big ones

Jim's’ favorite species are the large pan fish, ie; bluegill, crappies, perch or pumpkin seed sunfish. He relishes seeing his clients experience a great time on the water. While he enjoys sharing time on the water with people of all ages Jim really loves family trips and turning the kids on to our great sport of fishing.  Jim is also a nationally recognized wildlife artist and the Host of WILDLIFE VISIONS OUTDOORS TV SHOW. Learn more about Wildlife Visions at

Kids Day | Sunday, June 7, 2015 | Bigfoot Beach State Park | Lake Geneva, WI

Hours: 9am-2pm
The park is located on East Lake Shore Drive (Old WI 120) just north of The Geneva Inn and across the street from Geneva Lake. Snacks and lunch will be served to Kids.

Prizes for all kids entered (free registration), no fees to use the state parks and no license required to fish in Wisconsin on that weekend. Club members and volunteers will be on hand to loan rods and reels, fishing tackle, and bait. They will help if you need to know how to fish.

Thank you to those that contribute to help make this a great event for KIDS!

Monthly Meetings are held the  2nd Wednesday of each month, arch through November.  Meetings are at Cabela’s, 5225 Prairie Stone Pkwy., Hoffman Estates, IL 60192, (847) 645-0400.

Guests are always welcomed at our meetings - Guest Fee is only $5.00 - Meetings begin at 6:30 PM.  Contact us if you have any questions at:

Niagara New York area Fishing Report by Bill Hilts, Jr.

  1. Lake Ontario and tributaries – The Great Lakes fishing action for trout and salmon does NOT kick off on April 1 like the local media has been stating for the Empire State – these waters are open year-round. That said, the new month did have some welcome weather changes that saw a fair number of people hitting the streams, the piers and the lake to take advantage of some increased activity of fish. At Burt Dam, some steelhead have started spawning but a good brown trout bite was being reported. The flow was good with a tea color stain according to Wes Walker at The Slippery Sinker in Olcott. Egg sacs were at the top of the list, but jigs tipped with a wax worm and fished under a float was not far behind. Egg imitations, too. Pier casters are still using spoons or spinners, but the top bait was a minnow fished under a float. Activity in Olcott Harbor has shut the fishing down a bit as they prepare for the coming boating season. No report on perch fishing there and Wilson Harbor still has a little more ice to get rid of in that harbor. Speaking of Wilson, the Bullhead Derby sponsored by the Wilson Conservation Club is April 10-12 starting at 5 pm on the 10th. Best two fish. Sign up at CMC Auto in Wilson or The Slippery Sinker in Olcott. For more info call 638-4158 or 751-0505. Shoreline trollers are starting to pick up a few more trout and even a Coho hit a stickbait offering this past week. Warm rain could trigger more fish to hit. Tributaries like Keg, Hopkins, 12 Mile and 4 Mile all have fish in them and the smaller creeks are low and clear. That will change after the rain. The Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Assn. will be putting their pens together and into the water on Saturday, April 11 starting at 9 am at the Town of Newfane marina. Check out for more details. LOTSA also has its next meeting on April 9 and guest speaker will be Capt. Carl Bish with Salmo Charters talking spring brown trout. The meeting starts at 7 pm at Cornell Cooperative Extension Niagara, Lockport.
  2. Lower Niagara River – With the influx of additional water in the Niagara River with the April 1 water flow changes, trout fishing really turned on according to Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island. He was reporting good catches for customers in Devil’s Hole and along Artpark on pink egg sacs. Minnows have also been working for three-way drifters from boats. They boated 8 steelhead in four drifts on Wednesday morning and caught a few more along Artpark – one for cameraperson Jaclyn Asztalos from Channel 7 who was filming a segment on fishing in Niagara USA. Timing is everything. Shore fishermen have also been doing well, too. With the start of some trout spawning, egg sacs are a good bet. Egg imitations, spoons and spinners will all catch fish, too. Not rule out the mouth of the river off Fort Niagara for a little shoreline trolling action. Capt. Matt Yablonsky says that the temperatures are slowly increasing and he’s started to see more fish becoming active. The NYPA fishing platform should be opening up on Monday, but it will be weather-permitting. For information on the fishing pier, call 716-796-0135, extension 45.Tip of the week comes from Capt. Ernie Calandrelli of Lewiston. Make sure your riders are secured properly before motoring up river in a boat. It also poses a most interesting question: If a customer falls into the river along with four fishing rods, what do you save first? Some of those rods and reels can be pretty expensive!
  3. Upper Niagara River – Locals are anticipating some trout stockings from the state in places like Oppenheim Park Pond, Hyde Park Lake and Gill Creek. According to the Caledonia hatchery where these fish would be coming from, it will probably be the week of April 13, but no exact date has been given yet. In the meantime, casting the shoreline in the upper rapids area could produce a few trout with an egg sac, spoon or spinner.

Bill Hilts, Jr. - Director, Outdoor Promotions

Lake of the Woods MN Fishing Report by Rachel Krohn
Ice fishing still continues for a handful of resorts, others have pulled houses.  Rely and work through resorts. In addition, here is an ice road report.  Conditions can change daily.
Adrians...  Road closed, sending anglers to Graceton Beach, checking daily
Cyrus...  Road Closed
Morris Point...Road Closed
Zippel Bay Resort...Road closed
Babbler's Road... ATV's only.
Long Point Resort...ATV's and collapsibles only, no vehicles.
Arnesen's Rocky Point...Moved houses closer, checking daily
Young's Bay Resort (NW Angle)... Ice road closed to vehicles.  ATV's only.  Snowmobile trail stakes on lake removed.
Resorts monitoring ice daily.  Safety first.  Lake ice in decent shape where resorts are fishing.  Check with your resort if questions.
Fishing has improved this week.  Graceton area heading west reports continued pike action as well as decent walleye bite in 24-27'.  Morning / evening bite in 14 - 18' or 24'.  Arnesen's and Long Point reporting better walleye fishing this week as well.  Some pike being caught, not in big numbers.
On the Rainy River... Frontier and The Nelson Park Landing in Birchdale is open and ice free.  Some shore ice at Vidas Landing. Open water predicted to hit Clementson by this week with warm temps  Bite has been hit and miss with about 20 - 25 walleyes per day, but improving.  Fish up to 25 inches so far.  Water temp about 34 degrees.  Better bite and larger fish as temp warms.  Best bite has been shallow with jig and minnow. Main catch has been walleye and sturgeon but others have popped up occasionally. Safety first, both on water and roadways.
Up at the NW Angle, walleye action continues with mixed in jumbo perch.  Resorts ice fishing mornings and evenings in 20-26' on south end of Oak Island.  Picking away at fish during day.  Crappie action on the Ontario side continues.  Use resort outfitters for safety.  Daily updates on Facebook at Lake of the Woods Tourism.  Lodging and river info at Krohn | Assistant Director | Lake of the Woods Tourism |

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