The changes of winter: Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report

SHARE The changes of winter: Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report

Conditions are changing yet again with a serious January thaw already underway and actually forecast in the 50s by the weekend; that headlines this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

Larry Green tweeted this photo, taken by Justin McGuffin, of his friend Charlie Mack with a 15-inch crappie caught ice fishing a Forest Preserves of Cook County lake over the weekend.

The MFR for Chicago fishing appears in a condensed form Wednesdays on the Sun-Times newspaper outdoors page. The sprawling raw-file report is posted here online on the Sun-Times outdoors page.


Might be a good weekend to head north for ice fishing or chasing walleye around below the dams, it is the free fishing weekend in Wisconsin.

Here is the word from the Wisconsin DNR:


Our Free Fishing Weekend, Jan. 21-22, makes it easy to bring family and friends along to discover why fishing on ice is so nice. Wisconsin residents and visitors alike can fish for free (no fishing license or trout stamp needed) on all inland lakes and rivers as well as on Wisconsin’s waters of Lake Superior, Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River. All other usual regulations and seasonal restrictions apply. Free ice fishing clinics are being held in many locations statewide and many DNR offices and parks have ice fishing equipment you can borrow if you call ahead.


Click here for a list of regulations for ice fishing public sites around the Chicago area. Steve Palmisano at Henry’s on Tuesday said ice is going fast, especially shorelines, in the forest preserves.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley sent this on Sunday, we shall see how it holds up for the rest of this week:

Hey Dale, Area lakes continue to produce excellent catches of bass. Focus on outside weed lines with roaches on tip-ups. Use jigging spoons tipped with spikes or fat heads in the main basin and along the drop offs of mid lake humps. Bluegill have been good in the main basin using tungsten jigs tipped with spikes. Using a spring bobber is a must to detect the light bite. Ice conditions are still good at 7 inches.TTYL — Ken Husker O’Malley Huskeroutdoors Waterworks fishing team


Good week to check water levels, considering the heavy rains on frozen ground. Go to to check area water levels and projection. To get to more specific gauges, even on creeks, in Illinois, go to


Closed for the season.


No update.


Art Frisell at Triangle Sports and Marine said shoreline ice fishing continues, but use extreme caution, especially around current areas and middles; bluegills with some crappie mixed in are being caught shallow, as are some pike.

For Chain updates, check with Fox Waterway Agency or call (847) 587-8540.

CHAIN ACCESS: Here are some access points. For Nielsen’s Channel off the Fox River at Port Barrington, there’s Hermann’s Lowlife Bar & Grill with $5 parking, food and drink and, generally, bait.  For T-Channel, the usual procedure is to park in back at Famous Freddie’s and be out by 11:30 or come in and eat. On Channel, Chopper’s Bar takes the $5 parking is taken off if you order food. For Spring Lake, Granny’s at Spring Lake Marina has parking and takes the $5 off if you order food.


No fishing update, other than wishing, this week from Capt. Pat Harrison (click here for his site), but there is other stuff, such as his show appearances, and he has plenty this week at Rosemont:

Chicago River wishing I was fishing report. I spent 4 days at the Chicago Boat Show talked to hundreds of people about boats fishing etc. Dale stopped by we talked fishing for about 45 minutes with a few other guys. I am really lucky to be in such a Great sport. There are some Awesome changes coming for Pat Harrison Outdoors in 2017. I’m headed to the Chicago Outdoors Sports Show in Rosemont this coming weekend with my show booth and boat which will be floating in the indoor Lake Chicago throughout the show. Stop by lets talk fishing Dale will also be at the show moderating the Muskie Panel and hanging out. I have a lot of friends in the fishing industry that are going to be hanging out in my booth with me throughout the show. I have to Thank my Great Sponsors Grandt Rods and Lake County Water Sports for ll their support they are a big part of making what I do fun and helping me improve every year. Looking forward to seeing everyone Enjoy your week. — Thanks Pat


From Geneva Lake, Michael Zielinski sent photos of some nice lakers. Not sure how the weather this week will impact that.


No update.


POWERTON:Open to shore fishing. Hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Boat fishing reopens on Feb. 15. LAKE OF EGYPT/REND: Check with Jason Johns of Boneyard FishingSHELBYVILLE: Check with Ken Wilson of Ken Wilson Guide Service.EVERGREEN: Bait shop and boat rental are closed for the season. HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Closed for season.

The updates on Downstate sites below come from Larry Dozard of

        – RICE LAKE –. . , will Re-Open at end of Duck & Goose season..

– BANNER MARSH – Will CLOSE TO BOAT FISHING on Oct. 12th with last day to boat fish being Oct. 11th 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– DOUBLE T STATE FISH and WILDLIFE AREA – . . . remains Closed till Feb. 1st– EMIQUON PRESERVE – No boating, fishing or ice skating access before 12:00 pm during waterfowl season.– EVERGREEN LAKE – the SOUTHERN PART OF LAKE, AROUND DEER ISLAND and ALL OF SIX-MILE CREEK BAY IS CLOSED TO GAS MOTORS from Oct. 15th through JAN. 1st to allow resting areas for migratory waterfowl. YOU ARE ALLOWED TO STILL RUN A TROLLING MOTOR IN THESE AREAS ONLY.– SNAKEDEN HOLLOW & McMASTER LAKE – closed– SPRING LAKE (South & North) – WILL BE CLOSED TO BOAT FISHING in Waterfowl Hunting Area ON OCT. 15th with Last Day to Boat Fish being Oct. 14th with BANK FISHING ALLOWED ONLY AFTER 1pm– & AREAS THAT REMAIN OPEN TO BOATS ARE NORTH OF MAPLE ISLAND with ramp at north end at the Sky Ranch Road launch and IN PIKE HOLE with carry in boats – and Shore Fishing is allowed in entire lake after 1pm in Hunting areas or at boat ramps all day.– SANGCHRIS LAKE – THE WEST and EAST ARMS OF LAKE and Small AREA NEAR DAM ARE CLOSED DURING WATERFOWL SEASON to boat traffic effective Oct. 12th (last day to boat fish will be Oct. 11th) through Jan. 31, 2016 (during this time fishing boat traffic is permitted in the center hot arm only).– PRAIRIE LAKE in Jim Edgar/ Panther Creek State F&W Area – Lake is CLOSED from Nov. 1st to Jan. 15th to Fishing until after 12:01 PM on Wednesday & Saturday.– ANDERSON LAKE – THIS AREA Will be CLOSED TO BOAT FISHING in Main Lake from Oct. 15th (with last day to boat fish Oct. 14th) through Dec. 20th during waterfowl season with bank fishing Only allowed.– CLINTON LAKE – an easterly area of Clinton Lake (The Waterfowl Refuge Area) between the DeWitt Bridge East (CH14) and the Rt. 48 Bridge will CLOSE be on October 10th and will re-open on MARCH 31st…


No update.


No update.


No update this week from Lance LaVine at Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay, but there was updates, especially notable on whitefish, on Tuesday’s Wisconsin DNR reportThe Wisconsin DNR report is usually posted Tuesdays and includes reports from both the bay and lake sides.


Closed for the season.


Remember that Illinois Valley Outdoors is closed. Have bait and terminal tackle before going.


Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station texted that steelhead came into somewhat, not a lot of them, but quality fish. Access points for Trail Creek can be found on the Trail Creek Access Map


Norm Minas sent this on Sunday:

Between the iced over river in the recent cold snap and some skunk trips , I just haven’t felt that groove . Today was the day it took a turn for the better. The gauge is still broke from the ice and the battery on my thermometer chose today to crap out, minor details . The river is up and out of it’s banks at spots and definitely muddy and cold . Mudlines at creekmouths as the creeks are less muddy than the river . Air temps 30ish , overcast, slight breeze . I wore gloves while walking about but fished without them . Today was a tour of inflows, shoreline related slack/slow spots and shoreline related eddies. No wading strictly from shore . Govt. Mule [ Telstar Sessions ] was cranked on the drive from spot to spot , just felt like that kind of day . 3 smallmouth bass , average sized all on 1/0 weighted keeper hook with a 4 inch ‘pede . 1 off a hump in slow water, 1 from the sweetspot from the head off an eddy and 1 off some rip rap by a boat launch . All three fish hit real light, felt mush when I started dragging the lure again after long pauses . Also got 1 drum smallish in size, off the same rig off the outside seam of the same eddy I got the smallmouth in . Bottom content in the slow area was mostly cobble with some larger rock . The bottom of the eddy was a mix of cobble, soft dark , sand and waterwillow stubble . The smallmouth was on the tip of a waterwillow stubble point that caused the eddy . The drum was on cobble . 1 pike on a spoon in a eddy behind a riprap point, bottom cobble to soft muck/sand . Pike was at the base of the riprap on the transition from hard to soft bottom . It popped the spoon hard as it was dropping . Thanks to using tieable wire , I landed it . Decent size but nothing to really brag on . 5 walleye , all at inflows with cobble to larger rock bottoms . 3 on 1/8 oz darter head jig with jig spinner and swimbait with a slow steady retrieve just above bottom inside the seam of the faster river flow. All three of them grabbed it after it made contact with a rock or hump . 2 walleye on a rapala jointed floating minnow , slow retrieve against the current on creek/river seam . I just felt the vibration stop and set the hook, never really felt a hit . Best guess is they took it and swam towards me . Walleyes small to medium sized 5 crappie in slower water between the outside seam and the shore, suspended in water column. 1/16 oz ball head jig with jig spinner and sassy shad, two to three count drop, then slow steady retrieve . same general area I got the smallmouth on the hump . Crappies good sized. I saw a lot of water fowl , a handful of hawks and one small flock of turkeys . Spooked one deer out in the woods, squirrels were active, I saw beaver and coon tracks in softer bottom along the shore but never saw the critters themselves . Only meet one other guy out fishing, a bunch of folks out riding bikes, walking and jogging the paths. Some very nice spandex out on the pathsPeaceNorm


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


Steve Palmisano at Henry’s said ice is moving out of the slips and river is open (though channel has ice in it) as of Tuesday; so perch fishing will likely be back to fall style with long rods and minnows again for perch in the slips. No stepping on harbor ice, time to drop lines in off piers. Capt. Rich Sleziak  at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station texted that perch vary daily at the slips and harbors in size and number, but there is action daily. NAVY PIER NOTE: The fisherman’s parking special is $6, if out by 10 a.m. Find an parking attendant after you pull in to get the special. PIER PASSES: The pier passes for legal access to fish select piers at Jackson, Burnham, DuSable, Diversey, Belmont and Montrose harbors in Chicago are available at Henry’s ($6 cash, one per valid fishing license). SHOP NOTE: Park Bait is closed for the winter.


Check Jarek Wujkowski of Rodsbent Guide Service.


Closed for season.


Gene Dellingerat D & S Bait said there will be ice fishing this weekend. The ice is holding, but obviously it is wet. Otherwise, go to Facebook for the latest updates.


The South unit lakes reopened to fishing. All ice fishing is at your own risk. North unit reopens to ice fishing on Feb. 16, after rabbit hunting ends. Hours are 6 a.m.-sunset daily.

Check with Jon Meder at Jon’s Bait Shop–(815) 237-2822–in South Wilmington.


Check with Mike Mladeik at Mike Mladenik Guide Service.


Check the Wisconsin DNR Lake Michigan Report, which generally comes out Tuesdays for updates.


MINOCQUA: Kurt Justice of Kurt’s Island Sport Shop in Minocqua, Wis. sent this:

1/16/17 After getting dumped on with snow (13-15) followed by some severe cold (morning lows in the -20 degree range), high pressure and a general lack of participation due to all of the above this past week, things are looking up for the week ahead. While fishing reports as a whole were slow, there were a few bright spots early in the week which should bode well for anglers with the coming warm up. Yellow Perch: Poor-Fair – Once the cold and high pressure had settled in, anglers were starting to pick up perch over mud and some sandgrass in 18-28’ depths. Hali jigs, kastmasters and #2 pimples tipped with red spikes or wigglers. Bluegills: Poor-Fair – Once the weather got tolerable enough for anglers to move about, some decent reports from anglers catching nice gills in 9-11’ of water. Moussees and waxies have been the preferred fare, with one angler icing a huge 11 ½ pumpkinseed over the weekend. Northern Pike: Poor-Fair – Best action reported late morning thru mid afternoon. Big shiners. Walleyes: Poor-Fair – Tough conditions for the walleye anglers of late. Best on smaller shiners, suckers or large fatheads. Down size to a #12 treble. Artificial action slow, should improve with coming warm up. Crappies: Poor-Fair – Catches were spotty. Cold, snow and wind limited tip-down use. Best in deeper water using glow tungsten jigs tipped with waxie or small spoons (pimples, kastmaster) with gold or glow also tip with waxies. On flowages, rosie reds best. Most travel was by truck or snowmobile after Tuesday’s snow, though on some larger, more open lakes the following wind pushed some of that powdery snow off. As the week progresses, forecast for temps to possibly hit 40 degrees by Friday should pack the snow down a bit and make ATV travel better. Despite what have been rather poor reports and conditions, things look good for this week. Average ice thickness 12-17 with 15+ being the norm. Kurt Justice Kurt’s Island Sport Shop

EAGLE RIVER: B+L, from reports from George Langley for the Eagle River Chamber of Commerce, sent this:

Fishing Report As winter continues, ice fishing action is heating up. The recent snow and the resultant slush, mixed with the warmer weather this week, should pack that snow down and make it easier to get around. Moving through January and into February, the increased daylight will mean more fishing time. Walleyes: Good action has been reported on a number of lakes throughout the area. It seems that the Chain of 28 Lakes has been a little slower lately, but a number of the deeper lakes have been much more active. As usual, shiners or sucker minnows are working best for these fish in the evenings and after dark. Remember to move shallower after dark, as fish will move right into the shallow weeds to feed later at night. Another pattern that has started now is deep water jigging on deeper lakes in the afternoons. Using vertical jigs topped with either fathead minnows or parts of shiners seems to work very well in this deep water. Northern Pike: You will find these fish on a daily basis in the weeds, feeding actively on minnows and panfish. Setting tipups with larger shiners works quite well everywhere. You can also find success in the shallow weeds and in the deeper grass beds on all lakes. They are daytime feeders, so you will get fish all day in these weeds. Many anglers set two tipups for them and fish with their third rig for panfish. Panfish: Crappie action has been very good in deeper water. The holes on the chain of 28 lakes are always productive. Jigging with small vertical jigs or setting tipdowns works very well. Bluegills are, as always, in the weeds and hitting on waxies. Perch are deeper in the same weeds and beginning to hit on wigglers near the bottom in soft bottom areas.


Capt. Ralph Steiger has been out chasing big lake trout and a mix of browns, steelhead and coho, when conditions allow on Lake Michigan.


No update.


The Wisconsin DNR Lake Michigan Report is generally posted on Tuesday and includes a Root river section. Click here for the stream flow update, which can be really important for how good the fishing is.


Phil Schuman at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said walleye and some steelhead are going at Berrien Springs; there’s a good sucker run in the river; and pier fishing should be picking up this week.


Click herefor reports from the Indiana DNR.


Clint Sands at Lakeside said the night fishing this weekend is canceled. He said a couple people were still ice fishing as of Tuesday, but the shorelines in particular are giving way. He said Lakeside, open for ice fishing with all the staples for ice fishing from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. daily, will remain open through at least the weekend. Lake hours are now 8 a.m.-5 p.m. The restaurant is closed for the season. For more information and reports from Lakeside, go to or call (815) 824-2581.


Arden Katz reported tube jigs and wax worms taking browns and steelhead at Kenosha; big question will be that ice conditions will likely change greatly.

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


No update.


No update.


No update.

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