Updated: July 7, 2012 8:49AM
FREE FISHING DAYS: Weather looks nearly perfect for Illinois’ Free Fishing Days (Thursday through Monday). No licenses or stamps are needed, but other regulations apply. Many park districts and forest preserves host events and derbies. Michigan’s free fishing weekend is Saturday and Sunday.
SHABBONA LAKE BASS OPEN: I n time for free fishing days, Lakeside hosts a bass open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday at Shabbona Lake. Heaviest bass earns a $100 Cabela’s card. Check shabbonalake.com.
CHAIN O’LAKES AREA: Triangle reported bluegills (starting to bed) and walleye (Marie, bridges or current areas) are the top bites. Catfish are picking up; stinkbait is starting to take over as top bait. Largemouth are best taken by jigging on shore. White bass are running in the river.
CHICAGO RIVER: Jeff Nolan of Bridgeport Bass reported surface lures are taking largemouth and small crankbaits are taking big bluegills on the South Branch.
COOLING LAKES/STRIP PITS: HEIDECKE: Capt. John Rocky Mannerino messaged a photo of a nice weekend walleye. It’s that time.
DELAVAN/GENEVA LAKES, WIS.: DELAVAN: Guide Dave Duwe reported excellent pike in 8 to 10 feet, bluegills in 11 to 12 feet and largemouth on the weed line or in the first two feet off the bank. GENEVA: Duwe reported fishing improving. Rock bass are everywhere, smallmouth are spawning, bluegills are shallow and largemouth are in 5 to 7 feet.
DOWNSTATE: REND: Army Corps of Engineers reported crappie (6 to 10 feet) and bluegills (bedding) are excellent and largemouth, channel catfish and white bass are good. EVERGREEN: Time on the Water Outdoors reported crappie remain very good.
FOX RIVER: WESTERN SUBURBS: Sam Bennett is doing well in the popular spots of dams and tailwater, especially around deeper water, for smallmouth on crankbaits, jigs, spinners or topwaters. He keeps expecting flatheading to take off. Alex Kiscellus has been having outstanding action in ‘‘Happy Hour,’’ near dusk. He had success working moderate current that sits below a large riffle with jerkbaits or slash baits ripped fast. Wading guide Ken Gortowski said river is in perfect wading condition and should be through the weekend.
ILLINOIS RIVER: STARVED ROCK AREA: Time on the Water Outdoors reported catfish on chubs or herring. White bass are fair on bladebaits or jigs and minnows. Sauger are slow.
KANKAKEE RIVER: Ed Mullady reported catfsihing is good in both states and rock bass, crappie and bluegills are good in quieter shorelines. Norm Minas was finding smallmouth shallow, hitting topwaters or rattle baits.
LAKEFRONT: CHICAGO: Park Bait reported some good perch fishing (including one near 17 inches), especially on the horseshoe and and the outside of Montrose. Henry’s said it is swinging more toward a soft-shell bite, but minnows are working, too. Mik-Lurch reported some at Diversey, Northerly island and 31st, too. Capt. Bill Kelly of Leprechaun Charters reported great coho fishing east of the Car Ferry and southeast of the R4 in 90 to 120 feet on boards with three-quarter-ounce weights with Dodgers and small flies; riggers down to 60 feet; and lakers on the bottom. Capt. Bob Poteshman of Confusion Charters reported ‘‘unbelievable’’ salmon/trout in 100 feet straight out of Montrose. Lots of coho and a few kings and steelhead, too. WAUKEGAN: Salmon Stop reported a few browns, steelhead and coho off the piers. Perch are in 50 to 60 feet straight out or south; might be moving shallower, so check your graph. Coho take hunting, but they are biting when you find them. Some kings, steelhead and lakers mixed in. NORTH POINT: Poteshman reported good fishing — coho, a few kings, steelhead — on the hill Tuesday on both sides of the state line. There are also some good lakers in 160 to 180 feet.
NORTHERN WISCONSIN: EAGLE RIVER: Chamber of Commerce reported pike action as unbelievable and muskies, walleye and panfish as good. Smallmouth are slow. MINOCQUA: Guide Kurt Justice of Kurt’s Island Sport Shop reported bedding bluegills as the best bite. Largemouth are good, muskies are decent and cruising shallow, smallmouth and pike are fair.
NORTHWEST INDIANA: Mik-Lurch reported coho in 55 to 75 feet northeast of the Gong, especially on spoons. Steelhead started off the Michigan City piers; trollers also are taking some. Perch reports are scarce; maybe by the weekend. Willow Slough slowed, so keep moving to find panfish. Walleye are being caught at Wolf Lake; try leeches first, then try trolling with crawler harnesses or Shad Raps.