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Better ice & spring sign coho, really: Chicago fishing

Ice fishing conditions should could improving well into next week and headlines this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report, but there was a smattering of coho and brown trout reports on southern Lake Michigan, especially before the cold began building.

And even some guys fishing the rivers, such as James Wawrzaszek catching smallmouth on the DuPage River (photo above).

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

ICE FISHING

Ice fishing conditions improve again and it looks to be setting up to extend the ice fishing season in many areas for a couple weeks. Click here for the ice fishing regulations on area public sites.

AREA LAKES

Ice fishing is back to the front.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley sent this:

Hey Dale,

Area lakes should firm out with the colder temps this week just in time for the weekend. Last week’s rain and warm temps made shorelines very unpredictable.

TTYL

Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Huskeroutdoors

Waterworks fishing team

I think that pretty much nails it, there should more firmer and better ice fishing conditions this week and well into next week, virtually all around Chicago. NOTE: The big Walk on Water Charity Ice Fishing Derby is Saturday on Bangs Lake in Wauconda.

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

Greg Dickson at Triangle Sports & Marine said the ice is good and thickening; fishing holds about the same with the best bluegill action on Channel; walleye OK and white bass are improving with water clearing.

Arden Katz said crappie and bluegill were good on Nielsen’s Channel if you kept moving around; and red spikes were a big help.

NOTE: Timing certainly looks right for the Northern Illinois Conservation Club Ice Fishing Derby and Winter Festival on Saturday and Sunday. Headquarters are at Turtle Beach on Channel Lake, Saturday-Sunday.

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

CHICAGO RIVER

No update.

COOLING LAKES/STRIP PITS

MAZONIA: Any ice fishing is at your own risk. I do not know what the status of ice there will be later this week. HEIDECKE: Closed. BRAIDWOOD: Closed. LaSALLE: Closed.

DELAVAN/LAKE GENEVA AREA, WISCONSIN

Brian Gates at Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle said bluegill and pike picked up on the west end of Delavan, assorted perch in middle; pike are “real good’’ on Como; perch are being caught on east end of Geneva; bluegill and crappie are going on Pleasant; a few walleye toward dark.

Michael Zielinski messaged Tuesday afternoon:

Just buzzed Geneva on sled. Open holes off narrows by Linn Pier, NE off Fontana ,and around Williams Bay heading SE. Can hit all my spots. 0 for 6 on Lakers. Hope to change it.

DES PLAINES RIVER

No update.

DOWNSTATE NOTES

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

HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Unless there is an unbelievable arrival of polar air, there will be no ice fishing day this year; staff decided. Otherwise, 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. SOUTHERN ILLINOIS: Check with Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing. 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.

DuPAGE RIVER

James Wasrzaszek sent this:

Closin’ out 2015 in style. Windy and raw but scratched out a couple on a jig/grub worked slowly and tight to structure. Happy New Year!

FOX RIVER

No update.

GREEN BAY/STURGEON BAY

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

Good morning Fellas…here is what I have as far as the Ice Fishing is concerned

The ice conditions are relatively good at this stage in the game. Most fishermen are walking or using atv’s or snowmobiles at least up until this point of the season. There are some cracks throughout the county along with open water to the north of Sturgeon Bay, which as most of you know, does allow the ice to move a bit, especially with a south wind. But overall, the fishing has been good and the ice from Sturgeon Bay to the south all the way to Dykesville can be classed as good. As always, do your homework and contact a local bait shop for details before heading out for your first time. And with the temperatures expecting to plunge, it should stiffen the ice and slushy spots up quite nicely.

Whitefish action continues to stay very HOT along the Door County Peninsula. Some of the most popular areas to fish are as follows…the Old Stone Quarry area, Sherwood Point and out along Larson’s Reef, Riley’s Point and of course the Henderson’s point area south is always a good bet. One key to a successful Whitefish outing is to stay away from the big groups of fishermen, high traffic areas and be mobile…and don’t be afraid to move every 20 to 30 minutes if you don’t get a bite. A wide variety of jigs tipped with waxies, spikes and minnow pieces work well. Some of the most popular jigs are…Rapala jigs, jigging Shad Raps, Sweedish Pimples and Lindy Slick Jigs just to name a few. And most fishermen run some sort of a slider hook above their main jig which can be a single hook, treble hook, small ice jig or a fly of some kind.

Perch action has been relatively good which is very nice to see. There are a bunch of small fish around which is also nice to see, but if you put your time in, you can usually go home with a nice meal of fish. Areas to try are some of that deeper water mud to the south like around Sugar Creek north to Henderson’s Point, Little Sturgeon has been very good at times especially when you can find a quiet area with low traffic, Riley’s Bay can be good at times along with the Sawyer Harbor area. Medium and large lake shiners, Rosy Red minnows along with wax worms are all good live baits to have along.

Pike action is starting to heat back up according to recent reports. A few of the better areas have been right in downtown Sturgeon Bay, the Potawatomi Park shoreline can be good, the Sturgeon Bay Flats will give up some big fish and the Little Sturgeon area has also been a good spot. Large Golden shiners and sucker minnow under tip-ups or auto fishermen is always a great method

Walleye action can be classed as “normal” Door County Walleye fishing. Some days you get them and some days they just don’t want to bite, but overall the fishing has been good especially now that fishermen can venture out a bit more and stay away from the high traffic areas. Areas to try are…pretty much the whole Henderson’s point shoreline along the secondary drop and transition area, Riley’s Bay and of course Sandbay is always a go-to spot. The best jigs have been of course the Rapala jig, Moonhine jigs, Rip’in Raps and Odd’ball jigs tipped with minnows or minnow heads

Thanks;

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 http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/lakemichigan/OutdoorReport.html

ILLINOIS RIVER

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

INDIANA STREAMS

Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station said that steelhead really picked up in streams, on either spawn or Voodoo jigs tipped with waxies on the lower sections of Trail, but also Burns Ditch, Little Cal and Salt.

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

KANKAKEE RIVER

No update.

LAKE ERIE

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

LAKE KOSHKONONG, WISCONSIN

No update.

LAKEFRONT

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait said powerliners were trying before the cold snap at Montrose; otherwise, there’s a few perch at Navy Pier and the South Side slips; otherwise, it is fishing from the piers in the harbors. Maybe ice fishing returns. 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

No update from Gene Dellinger at D&S Bait.

MENOMINEE RIVER, WISCONSIN

Check with Mike Mladeik at Mike Mladenik Guide Service.

MILWAUKEE HARBOR

No update.

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

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

Minocqua Area Fishing Report 2/9/16

Once again our area missed the heavy snow that was predicted, a narrow band of only 4-5” when both east and west of our area got 9-10” last Tuesday. Also the snow was light and dry. High winds pushed most of it off the lakes, maintaining good travel for A.T.V’s as well as snowmobiles and some truck travel where ice thickness allows. Fishing improved over the past week, with the exception of a low pressure that moved in Sun/Mon.

Bluegills: Good. Best in areas away from the crowds. Nice gills of 8 ½” and some pushing 10”. Water depths of 10-18’ depending on lake type (clear, hard bottom lakes deeper than lakes with color). Dark colored tungsten jigs, (black, purple, red, green) tipped with mousees, spikes or waxies. Work over mud bottoms and occasionally stir up mud to attract roaming schools using a larger spoon to disrupt bottom.

Northern Pike: Good. Action improved with some nice reports of fish to 34” on big baits on tip-ups.

Walleye: Good. Finally some improved bites, most at or just after dark. Jigging Rippin Raps, Raps, RP Minnows and Slender spoons with a minnow head for enticement all working well again. When Walleyes striking these baits it’s a good sign they are more active. Suckers in the 3-4” size on tip-ups over sand grass flats of 22-28’ have been productive. Get set up a couple hours before dark and stair step some tip-ups leading to the top of humps as the walleyes move up at dusk to feed.

Crappies: Good-Fair. Mixed reports. Some anglers having better success out away from weed bays in 14-18’ of water on neutral colored plastics (red,rootbeer,motoroil) or small minnows on tip downs. At this time of year deep flats with pockets that drop a foot or two deeper also are key areas for crappies. On the flowages some days bites good on small rosies and tip-downs 4-5’ off bottom. Yet when bite off, a small VMC Flash Champ tipped with red spikes held a afoot off bottom is needed to draw bites.

Yellow Perch: Good-Fair. Deep mud flat bites starting to show up. These fish feeding on mayfly and midge larvae. Wigglers and red spikes good choice on Hali jigs, #4 Tungesten jigs and #2 Pimples. Work mud flats of 18-28’. Heavy lures good to get bait down quickly to keep roaming schools in area once they show up.

While still slushy, lake travel not as bad as expected since snow did not accumulate on lakes in most cases. Some areas have only a couple inches of snow, while others may have drifts of 6-8”. Slush still a problem and unlikely to go away. Ice thickness reports of 8-15” with 11-12” average. Four weekends left of the game fish season. A little cold weather this week may slow crowds, but holiday will give some a longer weekend to get out on ice.

Kurt Justice

Kurt’s Island Sport Shop

www.kurtsislandsports.com

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

Riding conditions this weekend should be excellent, as most Eagle River trails are already in fair-to-good condition and more snow is expected throughout the week. For a full trails report, visit eagleriver.org/trailconditions/.

The snow has made for great cross country skiing and snowshoeing conditions, although it is slightly slushy for ice fishermen. However, ice depths are holding near a foot in most areas and anglers are reporting plenty of action.

Fishing Report

Northern Pike: Typically suspended in 8 to 14 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 during the day and then in the evening, set up near rock humps that have deeper water around them using tip-ups tipped with golden shiners set 1 to 2 foot above the bottom. The bite has been good, especially in the evening. For jigging, use rattle spoons tipped with a minnow head.

Crappies: They are settling deep in the main lake basins, just a few feet off the bottom. Jigging with tungsten jigs tipped with either plastic tail, spikes or waxies will get you bit. Bite has been fair during the daylight hours.

Perch: Finding them on deep rock bars and on the mud flats jigging a tungsten live bait combo of wigglers, spikes, and waxies or crappie minnows. The bite is good to very good during daylight hours.

Bluegills: Use small ice jigs tipped with spikes or waxies in shallow weed of 4 to 8 feet of water.

NORTHWEST INDIANA

Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station said ice fishermen are working the Valpo Chain for bluegill and crappie; uncertain about what the weekend might hold for Willow Slough; when boaters get out, some browns and coho are being caught at the warm-water discharges; variable catches from shore at Port.

David Martin Repya messaged this on Monday:

ust starting in M.C. Whitefish,,,Brown’s and some Coho on spawn and small spoon’s…Should start up again after this front…Some nice Whitefish in the 20 in.range….Also Sat. a 10# Brown on a Kastmaster……Keep up the good work..Later’s

ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN

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

ST. JOSEPH, MICHIGAN

Phil Schuman at Tackle Haven said that suckers in the river; boaters taking some steelhead in river; Berrien Springs is fair.

ST. JOSEPH RIVER, INDIANA

Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR.

SHABBONA LAKE

Staff at Lakeside said there is 8-9 inches of ice, best bites are crappie (deep cribs or trees) and catfish (barn foundation).

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.

SOUTHEAST WISCONSIN

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 opens Saturday on the system, so there will be thousands on the ice. Previous permits are required.

WOLF LAKE

No update.

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

No update.