While ice continues to build and whitefish on Green and Sturgeon bays and walleye on Lake Erie are drawing much interest, there is the hope for open-water fishermen with the reopening of Braidwood Lake on Sunday.
The photo at the top is Larry Green on a weekend outing at Shabbona Lake.
This is the sprawling raw-file version of the Midwest Fishing Report, which appears much condensed Wednesdays on the Sun-Times outdoors page.
The cooling lake in southwest Will County reopens to fishing on Sunday.
Hours are 6 a.m. to sunset daily and, as always, wind-dependent.
My Wednesday column is on prospects, which look good for largemouth bass and blue catfish.
Jon’s Bait & Tackle Shop–(815) 237-2822– is at 430 E Rice Rd, South Wilmington, IL 60474.
WISCONSIN GAMEFISH SEASON
Gamefish season in Wisconsin ends at midnight Sunday.
Here is the wrap-up from the Wisconsin DNR on sturgeon spearing season:
It’s over! – February 21
The 2015 sturgeon spearing season is now complete and I think this season will be looked upon fondly by many spearers. Today was by far the nicest weather of the season, which was a nice change from the very cold temperatures most of the last 7 days. An additional 136 sturgeon were harvested today, bringing the season total to 2,158 fish harvested during the season (1,870 from Lake Winnebago and 288 from the Upriver Lakes). The 1,870 fish harvested from Lake Winnebago ranks this season as the 6th highest harvest on record from the 1940-2015 harvest seasons[PDF]. That’s really pretty impressive when you consider that’s 75 spearing seasons, the majority of which had longer spearing days, no harvest caps, and seasons that were longer than 16 days. Coming into today, I was anticipating an increase in spearing effort and in turn an increase in harvest given that today was a Saturday. However, that was not the case and today’s harvest numbers were actually one of the lowest of any day this season. The season may be over, but our work at the DNR is just getting started. We will be cleaning up our registration stations this week and then get started on the data entry and report writing. I hope to have the spearing data entered and spearer list drafted within the next 2 weeks, but it will be quite time consuming given the number of fish harvested and other commitments that myself and staff have over the next couple of weeks. I will be sending out updates and summary reports as they become available over the next month or so. Thank you to all of the spearers out there for making 2015 a safe, successful, and enjoyable sturgeon spearing season. —- Ryan Koenigs, Winnebago sturgeon biologist
Even in areas south of the city, ice has built well past a foot in most spots.
Ken “Husker” O’Malley, Water Werks Fishing Team, sent this:
Hey Dale, Fishing was good between fronts Saturday afternoon. Bass were good on tip ups and jigging spoons along outside weed lines and mid lake humps. Crappie were hitting on jigging spoons tipped with a fat head minnow. They were hitting three feet from bottom in main lake basin. Key was keeping up with the school. If the stopped hitting within 5 minutes, move to the next hole. It was nice to be out in warmer temps as brief as it was. – Ken Husker O’Malley Huskeroutdoors Waterworks fishing team
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.
AREA WATER LEVELS
Go 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
Hooksetter’s Guide Servicehad this report:
(Head): Lots of great opportunities for walleyes, perch, crappies, bluegills and northerns in the central Wisconsin area. Most of the fish have come by targeting big open flats and channel edges for perch and crappies and shallow weeds for bluegills and northerns. The best advice for finding fish right now is to use your electronics to find suspended schools of panfish. Keep moving around and use your electronics to locate active feeding fish, don’t sit in one spot too long or you may miss out on better opportunities. Once you locate a school of fish or actively feeding fish set up and work the water column directly above. To find out if the fish are active you want to draw fish off the bottom and/or out of the school. Aggressive fish will move up out of the school or off the bottom to chase your presentation when they are ready to eat. For the northerns and walleyes, search out vast shallow weedy or stump filled bays. Set tip-ups at select locations that you have found by searching out the area with electronics. Once you have determined where you’re going to fish run your tip-ups baited with large golden shiners or medium sized sucker minnows about 1 to 3 feet off the bottom. In very weedy areas the preferred method is to run the baits right under the ice or about one foot above the weed-line.
CHAIN O’LAKES AREA
Art Frisell at Triangle Sports & Marine said ice fishing continues good most days. For bluegills he suggested looking in 8-10 feet and to stick with darker-colored jigs, brown and red. Crappie are good early and late, sticking with glow jigs helps. Walleye are good, fish main lake points and current areas, but obviously use caution around the current areas, with tip-ups and medium roaches or fatheads or jigging with jigging Rapalas or Swedish Pimples tipped with a minnow head. Pike continue to pick up as spring nears.
ACCESS NOTE:There’s been some issues with access to Petite for ice fishermen. Greg Dickson said to stop in at Triangle and they have info for contacts about year-long parking access at the old Cypress Resort.
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 http://www.foxlakefishing.com/
Check Chain updates from at the Fox Waterway Agency or by calling (847) 587-8540.
No update this week.
COOLING LAKES/STRIP PITS
Braidwood Lake reopens Sunday (see top). Lakes at both Mazonia South and Mazonia are open for fishing. All ice fishing is at your own risk. Jon’s reported plenty of ice (foot or more in most spots), but few trying recently.
DELAVAN/LAKE GENEVA AREA
Brian Gatesfrom Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle said there’s lots of small pike but not many bass (odd for this time of year) on Como; on Geneva, lots of perch scattered in 20 feet, bigger lakers are in 95-105 but good quantities of 6-pounders are being caught in 30-35 feet; on Delavan, fair number of pike and bluegill (take sorting) are being caught, some crappie last hour. NOTE: Lake trout remain open when gamefish season closes.
DES PLAINES RIVER
No report this week.
POWERTON:Both shore and boat fishing are open. Hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. daily.
CLINTON: No update.
REND LAKE/LAKE OF EGYPT: For more, contact Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing.
SHELBYVILLE: Contact Ken Wilson of Lithia Guide Service.
EVERGREEN:The boat rental and bait shop are done for the season.
EMIQUON: Call (309) 547-2730.
No report this week.
No update this week.
Whitefish may be the hottest thing going around Chicago fishing.
I had planned to get up this week, but a downed boiler in our house KO’d my plans. All the same Jeff Norris did a searching mission over the weekend and found some as this photo shows. He said being quiet and away from the crowds was key.
Lance LaVineat Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay says something similar in the report he sent:
Here is the updated fish report for Monday February 23rd Whitefish action continues to stay strong throughout the Door County Peninsula. Though, there have been some reports that the bite is a bit slower for some, but fishermen are starting to realize that you need to spread out and stay away from the big groups. When you do that, the fishing is still really good and the fish are less spooky. Areas that have been popular spots continue to be…Henderson’s Point, the deeper water out in front of Riley’s Bay, Larson’s Reef and pretty much all of the deep structure north of the Old Stone Quarry. A wide variety of jigs will work well for the Whitefish. Some of them are…Rapalas, Sweedish Pimples, Forage minnows and Kastmaster spoons just to name a few. And most fishermen are using a slider hook above their main jig which could be just a plain hook or dot jig. Tip your jigs with minnow pieces, wax worms, spikes and Gulp. Perch fishing is still classed as slow with very limited Good reports coming in. Now with that said, there are always a select few anglers and groups that manage consistent catches. The Perch fishing should get better as it usually does when we move into March and get closer to the spawn and the closing of the season. Areas to try would be the Chaudoir’s Dock area, Little Sturgeon, Riley’s Bay and some area in the Sturgeon Bay area. If you keep moving and spread out your tip ups to locate fish, you will have a better chance at catching a nice meal of fish. And when you do find some fish set up on top of them and jig with an assortment of jigs tipped with minnows, minnow heads or wax worms. Pike fishing has been going pretty well as of late. Areas to try would be Little Sturgeon, Riley’s Bay, Sturgeon Bay and to the north up in Egg Harbor and Ephraim. Spread out your tip ups and auto fishermen and suspend large golden shiners and suckers throughout the water column. Walleye action has been steady for this time of year. As most fishermen know, the best fishing is still ahead of us once we move deeper into March and the pre-spawn action kicks in. Areas to try would be along the Henderson’s Point shoreline, Riley’s Bay can be good at times, Sand Bay is a go-to spot and of course the vast structure along the northern Door County peninsula will hold a fair share of fish. The key once again is to stay away from large groups of fishermen if possible. The best jigs to have in the box are…the new Hali minnow jig, Rapalas, OddBall jigs, Puppet Minnows and Moonshine shiver minnows tipped with medium and large lake shiners 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
No update this week, but sauger time is nearing. NOTE: Illinois Valley Outdoors (in the former Time on the Water Outdoors buildings) at Spring Valley will have bait before the walleye tournaments at the end of March; formal opening is not definite yet.
Access points for Trail Creek can be found on the Trail Creek Access Map.
I expect both the Kankakee and Iroquois to be well iced over the next few days.
Mike Starcevichat Mik-Lurch just came back from some very good walleye fishing.
Most consistent perch action remains ice fishing or busting ice at the South Side slips, according to Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports & Bait. There’s some scattered trout in Chicago harbors (See FOTW); some panfish and perch, too. PIER PASSES: The $6 pass from the Chicago Park District, allowing access to select docks in Chicago harbors, are available at Henry’s Sports & Bait.
MADISON CHAIN, WISCONSIN
Gene Dellinger at D&S Bait said there’s some perch on Mendota in 45-65 feet (“no rhyme or reason’’); some decent bluegill in Squaw and Turvilles bays.
MENOMINEE RIVER, WISCONSIN
Mike Mladenik has updates at Mike Mladenik Guide Service.
MINOCQUA:Kurt Justice of Kurt’s Island Sport Shop sent this:
Minocqua Area Fishing Report: Though not as bad as last year, it’s been a cold February that has been keeping anglers off the ice and fishing tough when they do venture out. This final weekend of game fish season shows promise as temps look to get into the 20′s. Walleye, Northern Pike and Bass season ends at midnight Sunday! Northern Pike: Fair-Good. Action slowly increasing since last week. As expected mostly on tip-ups with large shiners or large suckers. A few anglers scored some nice pike, jigging Raps and Swedish Pimples (#5-#6) dressed with a minnow head in 8-12′ weeds. Yellow Perch: Best catches over mud in 18-30′ but bite is spotty. Wigglers on Hali’s & #2 Pimples. More action yet less average size in weeds of 6-12′ using Forage Spoons with waxies or medium Fats-Large Rosies. In the weeds, the larger perch have been bigger (11-12″) but few, lots of little perch (3-7″). Walleye: Fair. Best at dark and after. Golden Shiners and Lake shiners in weeds to 12′ on tip-ups. Off shore anglers using suckers and Lake shiners over 18-24′ humps surrounded by 40+ feet. Jigging spoons also effective. Crappies: Fair. A few anglers catching fish in bays on plastics or waxies. Best catches in these areas coming after dark using small rosie reds. Deep water action is best on rosies or crappie minnows from 3pm till dusk, along transition areas of mud / gravel in 17-24′. It’s been too cold for tip-downs so anglers have been resorting to setting up inside shacks. Bluegills: Fair. Best catches over deeper water, some in areas anglers typically fish for perch and crappies. In depths of 14-24′ over mud, anglers using Tungsten jigs to get moussees and spike down quickly. Around weeds, fish deeper at this time, 10-12′ edges for the better gills using rockers with waxies, Gulp waxies. Largemouth Bass: Poor. Cold temps slowing the bite. Use medium shiners on tip-ups for best action on warmer days. Hopefully the game fish season will end on a high note- the past two years have not. Check out the Carrol Lake Tourney, over $10,000 in prizes, food. Tourney is Sat. Feb. 28th, we’ll be opening the shop @ 5 am. that morning! Thanks, Kurt Island Sportshop Minocqua, WI
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 hitting very well, with walleye action good, and largemouth bass continuing to hit northern and panfish setups ; all in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area. Ice conditions continue to improve along with travel in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area. Ice thickness runs from 10-18 inches on many lakes. There is still slush and snow on untraveled areas. Ice anglers are getting out by foot, snowmobiles, four-wheelers and some trucks (truck travel is recommended only for those who know a particular water/area/location inside-out- – caution is still very much in play). NORTHERN: Fish 12 feet of water or less off of break edges and remaining weeds. Use a medium to large shiner or northern sucker under a tip-up; or try a large jigging spoon. Focus on the upper of the water colum, as northerns eat and look up. All day action and the bite is good to excellent. PANFISH: Crappies, bluegills and perch are locating in two distinct areas. Fish mid-lake mudflats in 35 feet of water or less, concentrating on brush piles, rockpiles, and any contour changes (that can mean fishing a hump or a depression on a mudlfat- – fish can be in both locations). You can also fish break edges or adjacent weeds in 12 feet of water or less. Use a crappie minnow, waxie, spike, wiggler or micro-plastic on a small jig or under a slip bobber. Perch are tight to bottom, with crappies and gills suspending up and down the water column (day dependent). All day action and the bite is good to excellent. LARGEMOUTH BASS: Northern and panfish anglers are having their setups hit off-and-on by largemouth bass locating in 12 feet of warer or less in and around weeds. Mixed bag on sizes.
Mike Starcevich at Mik-Lurch said best panfish action at Willow Slough is at Mormom Hill area. Otherwise, it is mainly waiting on access to Lake Michigan.
No report this week.
ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN
The Wisconsin DNR Root River Report is generally posted on Tuesday.
ST. JOSEPH, MICHIGAN
Staff at Tackle Haven said the river and piers are iced, but they are catching some steelhead at Berrien Springs.
ST. JOSEPH RIVER, INDIANA
Click herefor reports from the Indiana DNR.
Clint Sands at Lakeside said crappie remain the top bite in the deep trees or around the cribs by the campground and the old roadbed. The the night ice fishing on Saturday unfortunately the crappie bite shut down at 3 p.m. Catfish are second best bite.
Lakeside will open be for ice fisherman Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m.-noon; then on Friday through Sunday from 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
For information and reports from Lakeside, go to shabbonalake.com or call (815) 824-2581.
The Wisconsin DNR report is at http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/lakemichigan/OutdoorReport.html. They are generally posted by Tuesday afternoon. Stream flow info is at http://waterdata.usgs.gov/wi/nwis/current?type=flow.
WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN