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Widespread ice fishing: Chicago fishing, update

NOTE: Updated Geneva ice.

Ice fishing has been building and holding much better than I expected in this El Nino winter; obviously, that leads this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

But we also get to hybrids at Powerton and whitefish on Green Bay.

The MFR appears in a condensed form Wednesdays on the Sun-Times outdoors page.

Larry Green tweeted this photo of Modesto Perez with a very nice largemouth bass over the weekend for the Forest Preserves of Cook County.


Ice fishing is virtually area-wide, even in many Downstate areas. NOTE: The LVVA Ice Fishing Derby is Saturday on Bangs Lake in Wauconda. Online entry deadline is Wednesday, there is day-of entry.


The weekend was mellow enough that swarms of people were out ice fishing. Ice fishing is here. Click here for the ice fishing regulations on area public sites.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley sent this:

Hey Dale,

The bite on area lakes for bass and crappie have been very good especially with this weekends warmup. Ice condition are averaging 6 inches. Stay away from areas of springs as those have thinner ice. The bite has been red hot the first 2 hours after sunrise. Tipups setup along the outside weedlines have produced one flag after another. Once the bite slows, jigging the deeper side of humps with a Northland buckshot rattle spoon continue to take bass. Big Crappie have been excellent all morning long jigging main lake basins with a Swedish pimple tipped with a fat head minnow.


Ken “Husker” O’Malley


Waterworks fishing team


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


Art Frisell at Triangle Sports & Marine said there is a good bite on bluegill in most back channels or main lake bays; tungsten jigs give an edge; walleye are best on Marie, but avoid the middle where the ice is sketchy or tricky; crappie bite, as usual, is best early or late; some nice pike, up to 38 inches, are being caught around the Chain, primarily on tip-ups; for catfish, try with red worms in 20-22 feet, but use caution in those kind of depths.

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


No update.


MAZONIA: Iec is underway, fair reports. Ice fishing is at your own risk. Monster Lake at Mazonia South is open year-round. Lakes are open daily 6 a.m.-sunset. HEIDECKE: Closed. BRAIDWOOD: Closed. LaSALLE: Closed.


UPDATED: Brian Gates at Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle said that Como “dynamite on pike,’’ while largemouth are on and off; shiners are taking perch in 22 feet on Geneva Bay, main lake of Geneva not safe [ADDED UPDATE] Michael Zielinski said there is 4 inches on the main Geneva lake, fair laker fishing [END OF UPDATE}; on Delavan, good bluegill, a few crappie and some pike.


Marcus Benesch sent this:

Hey Dale! Just saying what’s up?

Winter fishing has been slow. I dont think i need to tell you the rivers were running high all fall and winter. Finally the Des Plaines is at what I call fishable conditions.

They recently shuttered a couple of the coal powerplants down near Joliet. Used to catch a stack load of bass and cats this time of year near the warm water discharges. They’re no longer running. Now if they can just remove all the petcoke that is spilling in the river down there.

Anywho, been staying close to home and fishing ice free stretches for Pike. They’re still hitting lures, enough said.

Marcus Benesch

River Grove


POWERTON: Keith Vandermeir sent this on a Friday trip:

There was about 12 people at powerton all caching strippers on artificial bait spoons raddle traps tube jigs blades all fish good size

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

HENNEPIN-HOPPER: It is still undecided, but I tend to think unlikely, that there will be an ice fishing day or weekend this winter. If I hear either way, I will post or write. Otherwise, it will reopen to fishing in the spring with an expanded format.

NEWTON: If you are looking for open-water fishing, especially for largemouth, this is your lake from numerous reports. EMIQUON: Because of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s shutdown, fishing and boating permits will be done at the launch. Call (309) 547-2730. SHELBYVILLE: Check with Ken Wilson of Ken Wilson Guide Service. SOUTHERN ILLINOIS: Check with Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing McMASTER LAKE at SNAKEDEN HOLLOW: Closed to fishing until Feb. 1. EVERGREEN: Bait shop is closed.

Larry Dozard of also had these updates:

SANGCHRIS LAKE –* THE WEST and EAST ARMS OF LAKE and Small AREA NEAR DAM ARE CLOSED DURING WATERFOWL SEASON to boat traffic effective Oct. 14th (last day to boat fish will be Oct. 13th) through Jan. 31, 2016 (during this time fishing boat traffic is permitted in the center hot arm only).

BANNER MARSH – ** THIS AREA WILL CLOSE TO BOAT FISHING Oct. 14th (last day to boat fish will be Oct. 13th) –AND BANK FISHING ONLY ALLOWED AFTER 1PM but NO FISHING ALLOWED in EAST POINT ACCESS AREA, which is CLOSED TO ALL FISHING to provide a GOOSE REFUGE AREA during season till Feb. 1st – –

CLINTON LAKE – REMEMBER an easterly area of Clinton Lake between the DeWitt (CH14) and the 48 bridges is CLOSED FROM OCT. 10th through MARCH 31st to protect fish and wildlife…

NEWTON LAKE – As written in the fishing regs booklet : ** The cold arm of Newton Lake shall be Closed daily from one-half hour before sunrise until 1:00 pm to all fishing and boat traffic except for legal waterfowl hunters during waterfowl season commencing with regular duck season through the close of the Canada goose and regular duck season.

* For here – Regular South Waterfowl Season: Nov. 14 – Jan. 31


No update.


Pete Lamar sent this update:

Hi Dale,

A brief update, with limited information regarding the Fox for your weekly report: I fished a couple of filtration plant discharges yesterday (casting seemed like a better option than chopping holes in the ice on some local ponds). The water was a little higher than usual for this time of year and very clear. Some ice around the edges. The only fish caught were small smallmouths. I did hook and quickly lose a nice walleye. I was a little disappointed at the low numbers of game fish. Plenty of suckers and carp around the slow water if anyone is interested in chasing them.



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

Good morning Fella’s…here’s what I have as far as ice fishing is concerned

Whitefish action continues to stay strong and improve as fishermen are starting to venture out to some of the deeper water “Hot Spots” if you will. With that said, the ice conditions still vary in many spots and keep in mind that some ice breaking was going on quite recently which mean the shipping channel was open allowing the ice to move quite a bit. It is imperative to fish with a buddy and use extreme caution especially this year! Areas that have been some go-to spots are…the Henderson’s point area, out in front of Little Sturgeon, Riley’s Point along with Riley’s Bay out in some deeper water, the Sand Bay area along with a few spots to the north of the Old Stone Quarry up to Egg Harbor. Again use caution while walking out

Even though fishermen havn’t been able to get out to some of those deep water spots to the south of Henderson’s Point and Chaudoir’s Dock, there have been some nice catches of Perch reported. A few spots to try are…Little Sturgeon, Riley’s Bay along with some areas in Sturgeon Bay and Sawyer Harbor. A variety of jigs tipped with minnows, minnow heads and wax worms have been working along with medium and large lake shiners and rosy reds suspended under tip ups.

Pike fishing has been going quite well as of late. The better areas have been the Little Sturgeon area, some action in Riley’s Bay and the Sturgeon Bay area including the Potawatomi Park shoreline. The best method has been suspending Large Golden shiners and Large Sucker minnows under tip-ups and auto fishermen. There are a bunch of smaller fish around which is quite nice to see, but there have been a handful of upper 30’s even a few 40 plus fish caught

Walleye action continues to stay fairly consistent. Again some of the northern Door County spots along with some spots around the Larson’s Reef area are just very difficult to get to because of the shoved up ice and rough ice, but some of the shoreline drops are still producing some good fish. Odd’ball jigs, Rapala Jigs and Moonshine shiver minnow are still the top jigs. Tipping your jigs with full minnows and minnow heads


Lance LaVine

Howie’s Tackle

1309 Green Bay Rd

Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235

Ph: 920-746-9916

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


Illinois Valley Outdoors is open in Spring Valley. The phone is (815) 663-1000.


Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station said only a few steelhead being caught, but ones caught are quality. Access points for Trail Creek can be found on the Trail Creek Access Map.


Ice jams come and go, especially in the stretch between Momence and Aroma Park, otherwise, Norm Minas sent this Monday night:

Back out today , slushy crap mostly gone otherwise river about the same . It was supposed to be warmer but that damp wind cut right thru me . I guess all those years of heart meds are catching up with me .

I started out in a larger cobblestone bottomed slower flow area off the main channel . It also has some of the deeper water thereabouts . I was using square bill cranks designed to run 8-10 ft deep in 3-4 fow . I retrieved as slow as possible , ended up with 3 decent smallmouth . All of them hit when the lure deflected off bigger rocks or humps . I tried a variety of other lures there with no fish to show.

I fished some current seams and eddies in a few other places with a variety of lures . No fish , called it a day, got some hot food in me




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


No update.


Staff at Henry’s Sports and Bait said ice fishing is going in harbors; obviously use extreme caution, the perch are running small; the one oddity is some reports of powerlining already starting for coho at Montrose in open water outside. PIER PASSES: The $6 pier passes, which allow legal access to selected piers in selected Chicago harbors, are available at Henry’s Sports and Bait.


I did not get an update this week from Gene Dellinger at D&S Bait.


Check with Mike Mladeik at Mike Mladenik Guide Service.


No update.


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

Following two consecutive very cold weekends, this past weekend was a nice change weather wise. Unfortunately the fishing wasn’t as great as the weather for a lot of anglers. Initial reports were slow, though as the weekend progressed into Monday, better reports came in from anglers who didn’t give up.

Crappies: Fair-Good. Action slowed from a good bite on Thursday. As the bite got tougher, anglers did the best with plastics. Scent seems to help when crappies are tight lipped. Try a small pinch of Gulp Alive waxies on the hook along with a small Wedgee plastic (Purple, Red) to entice reluctant biters. Gulp Alive 1” minnows cut down to ½ – ¾ “ also worked on slow drops.

Walleyes: Fair-Good. Action spotty with successful anglers rarely reporting more than two walleyes a night. With fish less aggressive, live bait has been best. Smaller suckers, shiners and even large fatheads or rosies were better producers over the weekend. As we get out of this full moon period and fish hopefully get more aggressive, Rippin’ Raps and jigging spoons will again be good choices.

Bluegills: Fair. Despite warm temps, catches of better gills were hard to come by. Down-sizing to small #2.5 or #3 tungsten or #12 or #14 teardorps tipped with a single spike or mousee (*see editor’s note at the bottom). Make sure you are tight to the bottom (6-12”) and light 2# test were needed in most cases to tempt bites.

Perch: Fair. Anglers probing mud flats found wigglers on #25 Hali jigs, #2 pimples or small Perch Talkers best. Use a #4 (size 10) Tungsten jig or 1/32 oz Flash Champ spoon tipped with waxies or a minnow head over sandgrass. These areas gave up the better numbers (though not good over the weekend). Fishing weeds of 6-12’ on bars surrounded by deeper water, anglers reported best results on small to medium fatheads or Northland Forage spoons tipped with waxies.

Pike: Fair. Usually the fish to make flags fly even during tough times, the pike action was noticeably off over the weekend. Try tip-up rigs with small blades above the hook for added attraction. Also try raising the bait higher off the bottom on at least some rigs to see if pike may be cruising higher for some reason (possibly low oxygen levels on some lakes).

Largemouth Bass: Fair. Surprisingly slow over weekend with the warm up. Those reporting success found best action on tip-ups baited with medium shiners in weeds of 6-12’.

A couple inches of snowfall on Monday and Tuesday should make the snowmobilers happier, but, will surely suspend any more ice building. Most reports seem to be stuck in the 9-12” range. We still aren’t recommending truck travel, but snowmobiles and ATV’s (for now) still good. Forecast of 4 days of above freezing temps this coming weekend will make for another nice change to get out on the ice.

Reports of a lack of standing weeds is a concern. Not sure why, with such a mild December and not much snow, that weeds aren’t in better shape. If fishing is slow and you can’t find standing weeds (try snagging a few if you don’t use a camera), move on. The fish have moved to better feeding areas. With the lack of December ice fishing, it stands to reason there should be more hungry fish out there for us.

Kurt Justice

Kurt’s Island Sport Shop


B+L, from interviews with guide Muskie Matt, provided this report for the Eagle River Chamber of Commerce:

With mild weather coming on the heels of an Arctic freeze, lakes in the Eagle River area have been packed with ice fishermen in the past week. Fishing has been very good, with anglers reporting fish up to 36 inches. Lakes on the Eagle River Chain O’Lakes have been particularly productive. The moderate temperatures and snow cover have made lakes very accessible. Ice depth has reached at least 8 inches on larger lakes and up to a foot or more on smaller lakes, which is under average for late January and – while fine for fisherman – not thick enough for extensive vehicle traffic.

Most snowmobile trails in Vilas County are in good condition and they should only improve as snow is in the forecast this week for Eagle River. For a full trails report, visit

Fishing Report

Northern Pike: Most often settling in 5 to 12 feet of water. Set tip-ups 1 to 2 foot above the weed tops tipped with a medium to large golden shiner or a sucker minnow. The bite seems to be good to very good all day long until dark.

Walleyes: Set up along the deepest weed edges using tip-ups tipped with golden shiners set 1 to 2 feet above the bottom. The bite is fair to good in the mornings and evenings. Use rattle spoons tipped with a minnow head in the same weed line edges for jigging.

Crappies: Appearing usually deep in the main lake basins suspended just a few feet off the bottom. Jigging with tungsten jigs tipped with plastic tail, spikes or waxies. Bite has been fair to good during the daylight hours.

Perch: Getting them on deep rock bars jigging a tungsten live bait combo of wigglers, spikes, waxies or crappie minnows.

Bluegills: Use small ice jigs tipped with spikes or waxies in shallow weeds of 4 to 8 feet of water. The bite has been very good on these tasty table fares.


Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station said ice fishing is best on local lakes and ponds; Loomis and Long have been fair; Willow Slough has been tough. DERBY NOTE: Click here for information on Saturday’s derby at Willow Slough.

Remember Mik-Lurch closed.


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


Phil Schuman at Tackle Haven said there’s some ice fishing starting; not much in the river, lakefront or pier.


Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR.


Clint Sands at Lakeside staff said crappie are being caught in the deep trees, but bigger crappie are in the cribs; there’s catfish in the deep trees and some walleye on the road bed. NIGHT FISHING: The scheduled dates for night fishing (out of park by 10 p.m.) are Feb. 6 and 27. NOTE: Lakeside–open 8 a.m.-noon, Monday-Thursday; 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday-Sunday during ice fishing–rents Vexilars, cameras, augers and ice tents. For more information and reports from Lakeside, go to or call (815) 824-2581.


The Wisconsin DNR posts a report at It is usually posted by Tuesday afternoon. Stream flow info is at


There’s ice fishing, but I have not heard an update on how recent days have been.


No update.