Some areas will be or are already done with ice fishing for the season while other areas around Chicago should hold well into next week or beyond. That headlines this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report; but, the anticipation is that coho fishing on the southern Lake Michigan shoreline will explode this weekend with the warm-up.
The MFR appears in a condensed form Wednesdays on the Sun-Times outdoors page.
The photo above is Larry Green on Monday at Willow Slough with the day’s best largemouth on the ice.
As the photo above and other reports suggest, largemouth continue to be one of the best bites on the ice around the area. However, ice fishing nears the end south of Chicago, while I suspect it should hold in northern areas. . Click here for the ice fishing regulations on area public sites.
AREA WATER LEVELS
To to http://water.weather.gov//ahps2/index.php?wfo=lot to check area water levels and projection. To get to more specific gauges, even on creeks, in Illinois, go to http://waterdata.usgs.gov/il/nwis/current/?type=flow
CHAIN O’LAKES AREA/FOX RIVER BACKWATERS
Art Frisell at Triangle Sports & Marine said bluegill remain good, drawing the most interest on the south end of Channel; try for crappie and white bass on main lake points on Marie; pike are improving with warming weather (practice catch and release as spawn nears); walleye are fair by current areas, but use caution around moving water; catfish are good deeper (12-18 ft.) on red worms or even crawlers.
Check updates at Fox Waterway Agency or by calling (847) 587-8540.
COOLING LAKES/STRIP PITS
MAZONIA: The end is near or here for ice fishing. Any ice fishing is at your own risk. BRAIDWOOD: Reopens to fishing on March 1. Hours will be 6 a.m.-sunset. LaSALLE: Reopens March 15, you read that right, and it will be open daily, 6 a.m.-sunset. HEIDECKE: Reopens April 1. Hours are 6 a.m.-sunset (usually 6:30 on shore side).
DELAVAN/LAKE GENEVA AREA, WISCONSIN
Brian Gates at Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle said Como is “gangbusters on pike,’’ but one in nine is legal (26 inches), better bass on north shore; bluegill and pike are being caught on west end of Delavan, a few late day crappie straight off the island; more ciscoes are being caught on minnows in Geneva Bay on Geneva, some lakers almost to Black Point, but there is also some open water near there, a few bluegill by Trinkes; crappie being caught in 25 feet on Pleasant; walleye slowed on Lauderdale and Pleasant, improved on Whitewater.
DES PLAINES RIVER
LAKE OF EGYPT: Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing said crappie are hitting jigs (blue best) and corks in 5 feet, deeper when the sun is out; bass hitting Alabama rigs. REND: REND: Johns said crappie are being caught on rocks, by docks and in sailboat harbor. POWERTON: Boat fishing reopened Monday. Riverside Bait staff reported shore fishermen picking up good white bass. Hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. HENNEPIN-HOPPER: It will reopen to general fishing, most likely around Memorial Day, 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.
EVERGREEN: Bait shop is closed.
Larry Dozard of larrysfishinghole.com also had these updates:
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.
GREEN BAY/STURGEON BAY
No update from Lance LaVine at Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay.
The Wisconsin DNR posts a report, typically updated on Tuesdays at http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/lakemichigan/OutdoorReport.html
Illinois Valley Outdoors is open in Spring Valley. The phone is (815) 663-1000.
Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station more are out fishing for steelhead, doing decent; mostly with Voodoo jigs or spawn. Access points for Trail Creek can be found on the Trail Creek Access Map.
Norm Minas sent this:
state park area of river full of icy, slushy crap, up in urban area there is open water . the biggest problem is access , not a whole lot of plowing done .
gauge still screwed up due to ice, river looked to be up . I didn’t bother with water temps .
With the sloppy conditions I traveled light, rod/reel, box with Carolina rig stuff and pliers in coat pocket, line clippers on lanyard , no waders, wore the redwing boots .
I fished current seams and slack areas with a Carolina rig slightly modified for use in current . Where possible I casted as straight up stream as possible on the seams and quarter cast when not . In the slack areas it was pretty much a straight retrieve allowing for some movement by current .
The pickups were very light, just the mushy, not quite right feel .two smallmouth on the seams, two in the slack areas , 1 carp in the slack areas .
nice outing for this time of year
LAKE KOSHKONONG, WISCONSIN
Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait said icce fishing is producing steelhead and a few coho, in Jackson Park’s inner harbor; a few perch at Montrose; but he expects coho will pick up again most places with the warm-up. 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.
MADISON CHAIN, WISCONSIN
Gene Dellinger at D&S Bait said ice is good, but fishing “lackluster.” Monona is best for bluegill; there’s big perch on Kegonsa, but only a few; pike slowed on Mendota; perch are generally slow all over.
MENOMINEE RIVER, WISCONSIN
Check with Mike Mladeik at Mike Mladenik Guide Service.
MINOCQUA: Kurt Justice of Kurt’s Island Sport Shop sent this:
After a week of watching the fishing plummet right along with the air temperature (20 below on Valentine’s Day) some fresh reports from Monday (2/15) are going to help add a little better outlook on this week’s report. The sub-zero temps and winds kept most anglers looking for other things to do this past weekend. Those that did go out struggled to keep warm and catch fish. As Monday’s temps rose above zero to start the day (13 degrees at dawn) so did anglers and their catches.
Bluegills: Fair-Good. Action was slow most of the week, but, picked up on Monday. Anglers doing best on neutral colored (brown, red, blue) 3mm Tungsten jigs and Tungsten jig/flys tipped with spikes. Some anglers are finding gills as shallow as 6-7’, others working mud for perch picking up nice gills in 20-25’.
Northern: Fair-Good. Not a lot of action during the cold snap, but, improved after. Most pike caught on typical tip-up set-ups with big shiners or suckers as bait. One lucky angler caught and released a 36”er on a jigging Rapala yesterday as action picked up with the warm weather.
Perch: Poor-Good. The best bite is deep over mud flats. Perch probing mud for blood worms and mayfly larvae in 20-25’ of water taking Halis, Pimples, Bro Bugs and #4 Fiska jigs tipped with red spikes or wigglers. Anglers working sand grass flats getting some action on minnows, but, the mud fish just seem to want bugs.
Crappies: Poor-Good. Dismal weekend for this species, but, showed improvement on Monday. While a few anglers picked up some crappies in 6-7’ while targeting gills, deeper water proved to be a better bite. Also producing was 10-12’ cabbage areas with dark rockers (#8 or #10) in black, purple, green or red dressed with red, brown, purple or black plastic or live spikes. Tip-down anglers working outside weedy bays in 14-18’ of water on lakes or 18-24’ on flowages did better on rosies. A few anglers reported nice slabs hitting #2 or #3 jigging Rapalas. This is a good sign of some aggressive action to come.
Walleye: Poor-Fair. While most anglers reporting bad walleye fishing (most catches 0-1 per outing), a few are having luck after dark on deeper lakes finding bars or humps topping 18-22’ on walleye suckers.
Largemouth Bass: Poor. Not surprising with the cold. This weekend with forecast to hit upper 30’s/lower 40’s should improve bite.
Not sure if it’s the doldrums of mid-winter, but, fishing has not been good overall this past month. We have just 3 weekends left of the gamefish season. With most ice reports running in the 12-17” range and a forecast of warm weather to come, I can’t foresee having fishable ice into April, leaving a short late ice panfish season (but, I’m wrong more than I’m right…just ask my wife) so it may be imperative to get out and get your ice fishing fix in soon.
Kurt’s Island Sport shop
The recent series of snowy days has been a windfall for snowmobilers, snowshoers and cross-country skiers in the Eagle River area. Snowmobile trail conditions are in good condition and drawing lots of riders. However, groomers are still cutting the bumps due to a very icy base. More snow is on the way, although above-freezing temperatures are also a possibility. Get the latest trails report by going online and visiting eagleriver.org/trailconditions/.
Cold temperatures have frozen most of the snow on the lakes, so access has been relatively good for ice fishermen, and fish activity has been typical for mid-February. Warmer temperatures later in the week could make for good ice fishing conditions.
Northern Pike: They are suspending in about 8 to 14 feet of water. Set tip-ups 1 to 2 feet above the weed tops tipped with a medium to large golden shiner or a sucker minnow. The bite seems to be good all day long until dark.
Walleyes: For the best results, set up along the deepest weed edges during the day and then in the evening, look to rock humps that have deeper water around them. Use tip-ups tipped with golden shiners set 1 to 2 feet above the bottom. The bite has just been fair. Jigging spoons tipped with a minnow head or tipped with a couple wax worms.
Crappies: They are primarily settling 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 during the daylight hours.
Perch: Located along deep rock bars and on the mud flats. Jigging a tungsten live bait combo of wigglers, spikes, and waxies or crappie minnows has been effective. The bite is good to very good during daylight hours.
Bluegills: Use small ice jigs tipped with spikes or waxies in shallow weeds of 4 to 8 feet of water.
Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station said, “It will be gangbusters for coho this weekend.’’ Ice fishing is winding down.
ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN
The Wisconsin DNR Root River Report is generally posted on Tuesday.
ST. JOSEPH, MICHIGAN
No update from Phil Schuman at Tackle Haven in Benton.
ST. JOSEPH RIVER, INDIANA
Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR.
Clint Sands at Lakeside said the ice is about 9 inches and will hold through the warm-up. Catfish continue as the top bite; crappie fishing depends on whether lots of little perch are being caught. NOTE: Rockfest is canceled for Saturday.
Ken “Husker” O’Malley sent this:
I had the day off so I hit Shabbona. Ice is in good shape at 10 inches. Travel was tricky as the fresh snow made the ice very slick pulling the sled. On to fishing. The perch bite was awesome all day long. Not much size to them, but as soon as the bait went down the hole, a perch came up. They were hitting on spikes, waxies, minnows, and gulp. Cribs and brush piles all produced perch. Bluegill were also decent on brush piles in-between all the perch. A few crappie were also caught on minnows.
Ken “Husker” O’Malley
Waterworks fishing team
LAKESIDE 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 shabbonalake.com or call (815) 824-2581.
The Wisconsin DNR posts a report at http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/lakemichigan/OutdoorReport.html. It is usually posted by Tuesday afternoon. Stream flow info is at http://waterdata.usgs.gov/wi/nwis/current?type=flow.
WINNEBAGO SYSTEM, WISCONSIN
Sturgeon spearing season is open and looks to have a longer run this year because of lower water clarity. Previous permits are required.
Not sure how much longer this will last, but Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station said that tip-ups are producing pike.
WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN