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The fish are not going to wait around, so get the fishing gear cleaned, line re-spooled and hooks sharpened if they are not already. The fishing action has begun in area lakes, and some of it has been pretty good. Before running out the door make sure of the new fishing license – the old one expires today. It can be bought online at and printed in minutes. 

Sterling Lake at the state line is still pretty cold, but small crappies are being caught, and some of the guys are chasing the northerns and muskies in the cold water. The Chain-O-Lakes are warmer at 56 degree water; Pistakee Lake fishermen are seeing a lot of activity in the shallow water areas, but the bite is slow.  The further north the cooler the water – some of the lakes still have some ice.

The rivers are a much better bet this spring for really active fish. The Illinois River has been outstanding with really good limits of walleye and sauger being taken. The walleye/sauger are in the middle of their spawn so be gentle with the big females, as they are the future of the fishery.

The area around Plum Island and the area outside the locks would be good choices. Be aware of the river level with recent rain and melt off causing rapid rises in the river. In the Mississippi River up north around Lacrosse (Pool 5+6) the current and debris in the river make it pretty dangerous to be out there in a boat unless one is really familiar with the area.

Better bets would be the Des Plaines River, where the pike are biting, and reports are that they are small but feisty. South of the McHenry Dam the anglers are picking up walleyes on artificial baits.

The early season is starting off with some pretty nice fishing; let’s enjoy what looks like an outstanding year. Let me know if you find a hot spot; I’m always looking for someplace new to stretch a line. Until next time, keep a tight line.

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