Every year I issue a list of guides that I can recommend. There is no better way to learn a body of water. Once you learn it, you can go back again and again to catch more fish. My list of guides covers waters within a reasonable drive.
Spence Petros – www.spencepetros.com – 815-455-7770 – McHenry’s Hall of Fame angler books weekday trips on Lake Geneva and Delavan in May and June. He always fills up early.
Captain Bob Jenkins – www.challengerfishingcharters.com - 888-427-8262 – Captain Bob runs out of Waukegan and is a double threat. He takes his big boat out for salmon and trout and also runs a nifty center-console craft that is absolutely perfect for perch. Captain Bob is the only charter on the big pond that can get you a limit of tasty golden perch while fishing in a comfy boat designed for what you are doing.
Steve Everetts – Finseeker’s Guide Service - 847-707-1827 - Steve is a licensed captain and my go-to-guy for Lake Delavan fishing information. He is the best on that body of water, hands down. We have caught way more than our fair share of big pike and big bass.
Captain Bob Rossa – www.migratorfishhunt.com - 815-575-4665 – Captain Bob is back at North Point Marina as his base of operations. He is a consummate professional and almost always sends his clients home with a cooler of tasty salmon fillets. Captain Bob’s stories are outstanding.
Eric Haataja – wibigfish.com – 414-546-4627 – He fishes all over the state of Wisconsin and catches fish on every lake and river he hits. I have never met anyone who was so well versed on as many bodies of water as Eric is. He is respected by the top pros and is often seen on television with John Gillespie and Babe Winkelman.
Jim Tostrud – www.wildlifevisions.com – This is a guide who is great with children. Part guide/part fish artist, the incredibly talented Tostrud has a good handle on what’s hot on Geneva. In my opinion, he’s the best at going after Geneva’s huge bluegills and mammoth crappies. Jim is the perfect guy for a dad and a kid or two.
Carl Kaufmann – Carl Kaufmann Guide Service - 815-338-2475 – Carl defines the word gentleman. Kaufmann is superb at finding big bass and pike on both Lake Geneva and Lake Delavan. If one is off, the other is usually on, so Carl’s knowledge of both of them gives him a big edge. Carl is great with kids and first-timers.
Pat Harrison – www.patharrisonoutdoors.com, 847-980-4640: A good friend, who now possesses a Captain’s license, one of the few guys having one on the Chain. He knows the Fox Chain as well as anyone and is very reasonable. He offers a combination fishing/camping weekend outing that will have you fishing during virtually every daylight hour.
Chris Taurisano, 630-330-9090: This young gun’s “T-Bone Guide Service” specializes in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin waters. He fishes for everything from panfish to bass and walleye to muskies. He is recommended by Petros, who let Chris teach about the Fox Chain at Spence’s fishing classes.
“Cat” Matt Jones – www.catfishacademy.com - 815-537-5506 – If it is those whiskered beasts that are what you desire, Matt Jones is your man. He chases big cats on the Rock River twelve months a year. He hunts 10-pound channel cats and 50-pound-plus flatheads with regular success. He is energetic and personable.
Northern Illinois: Dave Kranz from Dave’s Bait, Tackle and Taxidermy in Crystal Lake reports: “The largemouth bass are spawning in most ponds and small lakes. Be sure to get them back in the water as fast as you can so that the bluegills do not eat all the bass fry or eggs. I would use Senkos, drop shot rigs or top water lures on a calm day. I like Bagley Bang-O-Lures. The bass on Lake Geneva are hitting stick baits, Rapala Husky Jerks and Smithwick Rouges. On a windy day, use a 1/2 or ¾-ounce Defender jig with a craw trailer. The bluegills can be caught on an ice jig or small hook with a wax worm or red worm in 1 to 4-feet of water.” Call 815-455-2040 for an updated report.
As of May 13, the Upper and Lower Fox River and the Fox Chain all were deemed to be open for boating by the Fox Waterway Agency. With the crazy rains we are having you should get up-to-the-minute water conditions on the Fox Chain and Fox River at www.foxwaterway.state.il.us or call 847-587-8540.
Lake Michigan: ”Fishing on Lake Michigan was nothing short of spectacular this past weekend. Limits of Coho salmon and steelhead were taken by just about everyone. The Cohoes were in 10 to 40-feet of water, while most of the steelhead were in deeper than 30- feet of water. Most fish were taken in the top 10-feet of the water column. Small OO orange dodgers with peanut flies tied to the hook, 16-inches behind took most of the fish.” The Lake Michigan Fishing Report is provided by Captain Bob Rossa of Migrator Charters based out of Northpoint Marina. Contact Captain Bob at www.ALakeMichiganCharter.com.
Turkey hunting: Through four seasons, spring turkey hunters have harvested 6,064 birds in the North Zone, compared to 6,065 during the same period in 2013. An additional 409 birds were harvested during the Youth Season, compared to 529 last year. Selected Northern Illinois counties include: McHenry – 2013 – 38, 2014 – 52; Winnebago – 2013 – 129, 2014 – 119; Boone – 2013 -56, 2014 – 54.
Muskie tournament: The 19th annual Fox River Valley Chapter of Muskies, Inc.’s Challunge on the Chain tournament is just around the corner on May 17. It is the oldest and largest muskie tourney in Illinois. Find advance registration information at www.frvmuskie.com or register on the day of the event from 5 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. at Musky Tails (the old Mentone’s) on Channel Lake next to the channel going into Lake Marie. The fishing starts at 7 a.m. and concludes at 4 p.m.
Safety check: On May 16, Illinois Conservation Police will be at locations throughout the state performing courtesy boat inspections to help prepare boat owners for the 2014 season. CPOs will not write tickets during the free safety checks on that day, but will go through a safety checklist that will include working life jackets, fire extinguishers, navigation lights and battery covers. Officers will also be available to answer any questions about boat registrations and titles or water usage stamps. National Safe Boating Week runs May 17-23. Northern Illinois locations for the courtesy boat inspections on May 16 from 3-7 p.m. include: Chicago – Lake Michigan – 31st Street Harbor; Winthrop Harbor – Lake Michigan - North Point Marina Boat Ramp; Spring Grove - Chain O' Lakes – Chain O’ Lakes State Park Boat Ramp.
Walleyes Unlimited, with around 450 members, is one of the Midwest’s most popular fishing clubs. They run two meetings a month. In Wisconsin, they meet on the second Wednesday of each month at the Root River Lanes at 7220 W. Rawson in Franklin, three miles west of I-94 on County BB. In Illinois, they meet on the last Wednesday of the month at the Gurnee American Legion Hall at 749 Milwaukee Ave. in Gurnee, two miles east of I-94 off of Grand Ave. On Wednesday, May 24, Captain Mel Christensen who owns and operates Christensen's Guide Service and guides on Lake Delavan and Geneva will be the featured speaker. Both meetings begin promptly at 7:00 pm. Please check www.walleyesunlimitedusa.org for more information or send an e-mail to club president Keith Hahn at email@example.com.