The Outdoor Connection

The end of February was probably warmer than we wanted for ice anglers, but we held a lot more ice in the northern areas than we did in the southern parts. Let’s talk about we can do in March to catch more fish and get rid of that cabin fever. Spring is coming soon and the ice will go from the remaining areas and we’ll all feel better.

Lake Michigan (Chicago/Indiana)
The ice is gone, and in mid- to late March anglers will start fishing off the piers in the harbors for perch and cast for trout outside of Montrose and Belmont harbors and on 87th Street. At Belmont Harbor, trout are a few feet under the surface while perch are on the bottom.

If you’re looking for a perch dinner the 87th Street Slip, early in the morning is your best bet with minnows on the bottom or a strip of squid followed by Navy Pier.

Wolf Lake
The Maizo Corn Channel should be yielding walleyes at night on slip floats dressed with roaches and with a few on

nightcrawlers. Let the bait do the work; just watch the bobber or the rod tip. Crappies should still be found close to shore as far up the channel as you can go. The water is warmer here and it will draw in all fish.

Lake Michigan (Winthrop Harbor)
Anglers fishing off the South Rocks and Johnson piers will start finding brown trout numbers increasing as the weather improves and ice clears. The cohos will start to bite as the water opens up. Boaters will be picking them up very close to shore and near the beach. Power liners off the rocks in Waukegan will take a few now, but more later in March. Lake shiners fished from 2 to 6 feet off the bottom with a stinger hook are taking the most browns. Some charter boats are in the water in mid- March and already are looking for early-season cohos.

Cook County Forest Preserves
Tampier Lake: When the ice melts and the water opens up, anglers will find good crappie fishing on the west end of the lake and off 131st Street on small minnows. Also, you can pickup some walleyes in that same area.

Saganashkee Slough: The open-water anglers find bluegills and yellow bass near the dam. Early-season catfish can be taken from the creek mouth in the northeast corner of the lake after a rain later in the month.

Busse Lake: Anglers are finding the most active fish with minnows below the main dam near the warm-water discharge. Skokie lagoons: Could be a hot spot this year. Cats, bass, ‘gills and walleyes will all be taken later in the month.

Chain O’ Lakes
Crappies will start to become more active in the protected bays, backwaters and creek mouths. Those creek mouths will be the best to try later in March as water warms. Small jigs and minnows under a skip float can entice a few strikes until more fish move into these areas looking for warmer water. Walleyes have been slow, but could improve with better weather. Muskie anglers are already looking for the big toothy fish, but find them spotty. Look to the north sides of creeks, bays, coves and lakes with dark bottoms. This action will be better later.

Kankakee River
I’m expecting the river to still be low and clear until we start getting more rain, then it will turn muddy. Walleye anglers in Illinois are trying east of Momence, below the Kankakee and Wilmington dams. Go with a minnow, Mr. Twister Keeper Hook and a twister tail. Northern pike seem to be hanging around the state line, Aroma Park and in backwaters on the north side of the river. A large minnow or spinner is still your best choice. Crappies normally are found at mouths of ditches and in bayous with a pinkie jig or minnow, even in the cold.

Fox River
The secret in fishing the Fox in late winter is to fish the warm water outflows from pipes. Small walleyes are hitting minnows on a single hook with split shot set 18 inches above the hook just outside of these current areas. The longer you keep your bait close to the edge of the current below the dams, the more action you should see.

Shabbona
Only minimal fishing pressure is seen in early March. With the weather improving, we may find later this month as a better time to fish the north shoreline and northeast cove.

Illinois River
Mid-March saugers are active with most being taken vertically jigging a minnow and making contact with the bottom. Below Starved Rock Dam, shore anglers and boaters took a few white bass and stripers.

Rock River
Water levels are fair to good and many walleyes are being drawn to and taken below the Oregon Dam on minnows and minnow imitators. But if we get weeks of rainy weather and above-average temperatures we might see the river rise quickly due to runoff. This will slow all action until it starts to drop again

INDIAN PROVERB
I leave you with this Native American Proverb from the Lumbee:
“Seek wisdom not knowledge. Knowledge is of the past, wisdom is of the future.”
Remember we don’t own the woods, the rain, the forest or the fish we catch. We are only borrowing them from our children’s children. Take care of the great outdoors. It’s the only one we have, and the only one they will have.