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Chicago fishing: Ice cometh back

Ice is rebuilding and I expect to be able to match the scene above from New Year’s Eve two years ago later this week, at least in some places around Chicago fishing.

This is the sprawling raw file of the Midwest Fishing Report, which appears in a much condensed form on the Sun-Times outdoors page. At least there is some hope on perch.


The slips on Chicago’s South Side are best, particularly at 87th Street. That is the subject of my column on the Sun-Times outdoors page on Wednesday. The traditional winter spots for perch on the North Side–such as Navy Pier, Diversey and Montrose–have been slower. It is a minnow bite, though some are also using shrimp or Mini-Mites and spikes.


Regulations for ice fishing local public waters just below. And there should be ice fishing at least in a few spots by New Year’s Day, much more by the weekend.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley of Water Werks Fishing Team sent this:

Hey Dale,

It was a slow weekend on the area lakes. Slowly

Dragging a 1/2 jig tipped with a Twin tail grub along

the bottom produced a few light taps.

Some skim ice formed over night. With the temps

the next two days, at least we are headed in the right

direction. Long way to go however.

One of my buddies did well on the fox river for walleye.

A jig tipped with a gulp minnow produced numerous

small walleye right after dark on Saturday.

ICE FISHING REGS: Here are the regulations for public waters in

and around Chicago. CHICAGO LAGOONS: No ice fishing. COOK

FP: Ice fish at your own risk: Arrowhead, Axehead, Beck, Belleau,

Big Bend, Bode South only, Bullfrog, Busse main and south

(no north pool), Flatfoot, Green, Horsetail, Ida, Maple, Papoose,

Powderhorn, Saganashkee, Sag Quarry east and west, Tampier,

Turtlehead and Wampum. DuPAGE FP: Ice fish at your own risk.

Spring Creek Reservoir is closed to ice fishing. Late-night fishing

is allowed at Deep Quarry, must be out by 11 p.m. KANE FP: Listed

sites for ice fishing, at your own risk, are Hampshire South FP, Lake

Patterson and the two ponds within Paul Wolff Campground.

LAKE FP: Ice fishing is permitted at Banana, Independence Grove

south bay and Sterling, when area is posted as safe for fishing.

MAZONIA SFWA: Monster Lake is open all year, other lakes open

after hunting seasons; ice fishing at your own risk. McHENRY CCD: Sites

listed for ice fishing when appropriate (4 inches of clear ice):

the Hollows (Lake Atwood and West Lake), Pleasant Valley and

Rush Creek pond. SILVER SPRINGS SFWA: Ice fish at your own

risk. Use east entrance. WILL FP: No ice fishing.


Go to to check area water levels and projection. To get to more specific gauges, even on creeks, in Illinois, go to


No report this week from Hooksetter’s Guide Service.


Greg Dickson at Triangle Sports & Marine expects some to be ice fishing again by Wednesday morning, much more universally by the weekend.

EARLY CHAIN/FOX ACCESS: For T-Channel, park at Famous Freddie’s–(847) 587-9677. Best is to come in and eat, otherwise, park in back and be out by 11:30 a.m. On Channel, Chopper’s Bar–(847) 838-1230–has relatively early access. Chopper’s takes the parking off if you order food. Granny’s–(847) 395-2328–at Spring Lake Marina has parking and takes the parking off if you order food. Be careful, early ice is tricky there. For Nielsen’s Channel off the Fox River at Port Barrington, it’s Hermann’s Lowlife Bar & Grill–(847) 639-9644–with parking, wax worms, food and drink.

For more reports, see

Check Chain updates from at the Fox Waterway Agency or by calling (847) 587-8540.


No update this week.


Closed except Monster Lake remains open year round at Mazonia South.


Brian Gates from Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle said that as of Tuesday, Delavan was 3/4 frozen, ice fishermen were on the west end and launch area; Como was almost completely frozen. By the weekend, ice should be more universal. But also know that boaters at night are catching big walleye and muskie on Geneva and the launches should stay open for a while at least.


No report this week.


POWERTON: Shore fishing is open 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Boat fishing reopens Feb. 15.

SHELBYVILLE: Check with Ken Wilson of Lithia Guide Service.

REND LAKE & LAKE OF EGYPT: Check with Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing.

EVERGREEN: The boat rental and bait shop are done for the season.

EMIQUON: Call (309) 547-2730. Duck season ended.


No report this week.


Johnny “Sunshine” Pajak continues to pick up the occasional nice walleye afternoons, and O’Malley noted his friend did the same.

Ken Gortowski came out this year-ender, which I edited slightly:

It’s a link to a post about my year in review, but if you have nothing

else, why the hell not.

All my fishing trips but one were on the Fox or one of it’s creeks.

I may have to venture out more next year.

Or at least go find a few more creeks to fish.

Happy New Year.

Ken G


Lance LaVine at Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay sent this:

Good morning folks. Here is what I have for an ice fishing report

There are still only a few areas that fishermen are getting out on the ice in Door County because of the lack of cold weather in recent weeks. But, that looks to be changing as we are experiencing some sub-freezing temps now and the cold weather should be sticking around a bit longer.

There have been some decent catches of Perch being reported from the Little Sturgeon area, basically in the inner bay from 2 feet of water all the way out to 17 ft. Medium and large lake shiners and wax worms have been the best live baits. Some of the better jigs for the perch so far this early season have been Hali Jigs, Sweedish Pimples, Hexi Flies, Forage minnows and of course Rapala Jigs.

There has also been some really nice Pike taken from the Little Sturgeon area. The best method has been suspending large suckers under tip-ups or Auto fishermen throughout the inner bay of Little Sturgeon.

And once this cold weather decides to stick around there will be plenty of other areas to fish…

If you’re looking for Whitefish, areas to key in on are…the Henderson’s point area, Rileys Bay and the Larson Reef area. You can find schools of whitefish anywhere from 20 ft of water all the way out to 75 plus feet. An assortment of different jigs tipped with minnow heads, wax worms and Gulp will work excellent as it usually does.

Walleye fishermen generally hang around the reefs, shoals and rocky to mud transition areas. Oddball jigs, Rapala jigs, Moonshine shiver minnows, Puppet minnows and the new Hali minnow are all must have jigs while searching for those walleyes

The Wisconsin DNR posts a report, typically updated on Tuesdays at


No update this week. Time on the Water Outdoors closed.


Staff at Mik-Lurch said

Access points for Trail Creek can be found on the Trail Creek Access Map.


Norm Minas sent this update:

1/8 oz 4/0 weighted swimbait hook with paddle tail

fluke. one smallmouth from scumpile over water willow

remnants, one smallmouth from front face of woodjam,

one smallmouth on secondary point in eddy .

slow swim near bottom except the wood jam let the current

swing it into and under the wood

walleyes on suspending rogue at inflows, slow

steady retrieve




The Ohio DNR has general Lake Erie info and a fishing report.


For perch, see top. There’s also some steelhead, lakers and browns being caught by perch fishermen. PIER PASSES: The $6 passes from the Chicago Park District, allowing access to select docks in Chicago harbors, are available at Henry’s Sports & Bait.


Gene Dellinger at D&S Bait said there is still ice fishing on Turvilles and Monona bays, Mud Lake and Cherokee Marsh; should be much more by the weekend.


Mike Mladenik has updates at Mike Mladenik Guide Service.


MINOCQUA: Kurt Justice of Kurt’s Island Sport Shop sent this:

Minocqua Area Fishing Report

Early last week was snowy and mild, adding over a foot of

heavy wet snow to the Lakeland area. Conditions out on

the ice have become slushy, the moisture from the snow

plus the lack of ice thickness (still only a 10-12″ average)

equals wet footing under the snow. Thankfully (?)it has

gotten dry and cold (-14deg. 12/30) since. The cold dry air

has helped take moisture from snow and helped to some

extent, make travel a bit easier.

Walleye: Good-Fair. The bite has moved to early am. and from

4pm on. Usually by 8am. the morning bite is over. With the

high pressure system that has moved in for now, expect the

very early / late pattern to hold. Later in the week with the forecast

of a couple of mild fronts and some clouds, the bite could stretch

out a little. Tip-ups have been best the last couple of days.

Jigging action should improve by Friday / Saturday.

Northern Pike: Good-Fair. Slowed down as of late. Best on live bait

(chubs, suckers, and shiners). As the barometer lowers later in the

week, you can expect the bite to come back. A few nice pike this

past week in the low 30″ range enough to make keeping a few flags

out there worth it.

Crappie: Fair. 10-12′ weed bite has been very spotty, sometimes only

a 45 minute to 1 hour window of activity followed by hours of trying

to pry a bite out of a few fish. Work deeper at times like this,

transition edges of 14-22′ using small minnows or glow jigs tipped

with waxies.

Bluegill: Fair. The action has been fair but anglers are struggling to

find keepers of late. In times like this, downsize to 1-2# test,

tiny #14 jig and a single spike, mousee or sliver of Chena.

Work within 6-8″ of bottom for tight lipped gills.

Largemouth Bass: Fair. Action has slowed with the cold. Medium

shiners are the best bet on tip-ups. With this species, usually

its when temps are above 20 deg. that the action picks up

(look towards Sat. 1/3).

Yellow Perch: Fair. Anglers that are finding perch are sorting to find

enough for small meals. Deep is best right now, work heavy spoons

to drop wigglers into mud bottoms of 18-30′. The new tungsten spoon

by Northland has been popular for getting bait back down to fish quickly.

While the cold doesn’t feel so good, we do need some more ice build

up so we can get better access with trucks on our lakes. While some

lakes do see truck travel, we still can’t promote this form of transportation

till we see a good 14-16″ of ice. Snowmobile travel is preferred.

On heavy use areas, ATV’s still getting around, yet snow too deep on

many lakes for most ATV’s. By this weekend forecast of highs in the low

20’s and some clouds, possible light snow should improve the bite.



Island Sport Shop

Minocqua, Wi 54548

EAGLE RIVER: This came from the Eagle River Chamber of Commerce, based on Creative Brilliance interviews with Eagle River guides “Muskie Matt” of Wild Eagle Lodge, “Ranger Rick” Krueger of Guide¹s Choice Pro Shop, Mat Hegy; and Eagle River hunting enthusiast, Dan Anderson.

(Head): Northern and panfish putting on a good to excellent bite

through the ice, with walleye good and some largemouth bass

being caught, as well ; all in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area.

Ice conditions in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area remain good–

but “iffy” in spots. Caution is certainly advised. Ice thickness varies

from 5-12 inches. Preferred methods of getting out are foot travel,

ATV’s and snowmobiles. One of our guide sources was emphatic

when he said that while some are using trucks or cars, he would not

recommend doing so at this time. Come and enjoy the wonders

of Eagle River, and be safe doing so – -we still

recommend your hiring one of Eagle River’s excellent and

knowledgeable guides, who will insure that you have a lot of fun,

catch fish, and not have to worry about safety.

NORTHERN: In the Eagle River area fish 10 feet of water or less in

and around remaining weeds. Use medium to large shiners or

northern suckers under a tip-up. All day action and the bite

is good to excellent.

PANFISH: Crappies, bluegills and perch are in two locations

in the Eagle River area. Fish main lake mud flats in 12 feet of

water or more; or try break edges and adjacent weed edges in

12 feet of water or less. Perch are tight to bottom. Crappies and

gills are suspending mainly in the lower half of the water column.

Use crappie minnows, waxies, spikes or wigglers on a small jig

or under a slip bobber. All day action and the bite is good to


WALLEYE: In the Eagle River area fish 10-25 feet of water off of

break edges and on adjacent mud flats. The walleye are tight to bottom.

Use a small or medium shiner or walleye sucker under a tip-up.

Ice anglers are also having success using a jigging spoon tipped

with a minnow head. All day action with peaks in the evening,

and the bite is good.

LARGEMOUTH BASS: Ice anglers in the Eagle River area are

getting some accidental catches of largemouth bass while going

for walleye or northern. Mixed bag on sizes.


Staff at Mik-Lurch said browns and coho are being caught in shipping channel; coho from shore at Portage; browns, steelhead and coho at Michigan City from shore and in the turning basin.


No report this week.


The Wisconsin DNR Root River Report is generally posted on Tuesday.


Phil Schuman at Tackle Haven said some steelhead are being caught off the pier, not many whitefish; and some steelhead in the river and some walleyes at Berrien Springs.


Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR.


Clint Sands said the lake was 3/4 open on Tuesday. He figures ice fishing is a week away. Lakeside is closed until ice fishing begins. Next week.

For information and reports from Lakeside, go to or call (815) 824-2581.


Arden Katz reported many browns being taken at Milwaukee on twistertails.

The Wisconsin DNR report is at They are generally posted by Tuesday afternoon. Stream flow info is at


No update.