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Fishing a nebulous winter: Chicago fishing/Midwest Fishing Report

And odd, and somewhat dangerous, winter of fishing is the main part of this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report; more changes back to winter coming this week.

Photo was tweeted from @Edweirdo34, who sends some wonderful lakefront photos.

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.

ISLAND LAKE LIONS CLUB ICE FISHING DERBY

Organizers think ice will be OK for the Island Lake Lions Club Ice Fishing Derby on Saturday from the 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Headquarters are at Eastway Park.

Again, I am almost concerned to post this link, but because some places hold fishable ice and others will build it, click here for a list of regulations for ice fishing public sites around the Chicago area.

As of Tuesday, some lakes to the south were completely open, while I suspect some lakes to the north may build fishable ice.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley pretty much summed it up, at least for southern lakes, when he sent this and the photo here on Sunday:

Hey Dale,

Here is the first open water report of 2017. It was good to get out and catch fish with the long rods. Some of the area lakes had open water late in the week. Ones that are wind protected still had thin ice on them. Ducks and geese were my best friends as they helped open up areas to fish. Roaches under a slip float using circle hooks caught a few bass. I had to continually clear ice from my guides, but it was worth it. Don’t put away the short rods yet though. Lakes that were open Saturday locked up today again with thin ice. This week’s forecast will start building some ice again.TTYL—

Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Huskeroutdoors

Waterworks fishing team

AREA WATER LEVELS

Again a good week to check water levels, considering rains and such. 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

BRAIDWOOD

Closed for the season.

CALUMET SYSTEM

No update.

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Art Frisell at Triangle Sports and Marine said ice conditions are treacherous as of Tuesday, stay out of most middles, but there are fishable shoreline areas. Better to ice fish smaller local lakes than the Chain. Bluegill are going well on the smaller lakes; some pike staging near creek area, which are extremely dangerous.

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

CHAIN ACCESS: Here are some access points during ice season, think that still fits. 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.

CHICAGO RIVER

No fishing update this week from Capt. Pat Harrison (click here for his site).

DELAVAN/LAKE GENEVA AREA, WISCONSIN

No update this week.

DES PLAINES RIVER

No update.

DOWNSTATE NOTES

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 Fishing. SHELBYVILLE: 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 larrysfishinghole.com:

– 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…

FOX RIVER: WESTERN SUBURBS

No update.

FOX RIVER: WISCONSIN

No update.

GREEN BAY/STURGEON BAY

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

Good morning fellas. This is what I have as far as the ice fishing/ice conditions update

The overall ice conditions throughout the county has greatly improved after the 2 week thaw that we went through. According to the many guides that report in to us on a daily basis, most of the bigger cracks have pushed together an is starting to seal up. Again, since there is open water on the other side of the bay from us and open water to the north of us, fishermen really have to watch the winds because cracks can and will open up and it can happen quickly, especially with south east winds.

As for the fishing…

Whitefish action can still be classed as excellent with lots and lots of limit catches being reported. Some of the hot spots continue to be the Little sturgeon and Riley’s Bay area out in a little deeper water like that 40 to 60 foot depth, the Larsen’s Reef and Sherwood Point area anywhere from 30 to 80 feet and from the Old Stone Quarry north past Egg Harbor the spots are endless in that 30 to 100 foot range. The key is to stay mobile and stay away from other fishermen and your success will greatly increase. Best baits have been Rapalas, Sweedish Pimples, Forage Minnows and Slick Jigs and above your main jig run some kind of a slider hook like a fly, dot jig, plain single or treble hook. Tip your jigs and slider hooks with minnow pieces, wax worms, spikes or gulp.

Perch fishing continues to provide some really good action with some decent sized fish and some limits being reported which we havn’t seen for quite a few years. Better areas have been Little Sturgeon, Sugar Creek, Riley’s Bay and Sawyer Harbor. An assortment of jigs tipped with minnows, waxies and spikes work well along with just suspending shiners or Rosy Reds under tip ups or handlines

Walleye fishing is still a bit on the slower slide, but that should change as it usually does as we move into February. Best areas to fish have been the Henderson’s Point shoreline, Rileys Bay, Sherwood Point and the Larson’s Reef area along with some of the shoreline to the north of the Old Stone Quarry. Rapala Jigs, Moonshine Shiver minnows and Odd Ball jigs are the most popular jigs and tip those jigs with minnows and minnow heads

Pike fishing reports have been a bit hit and miss…some days have been very good and some days a little slow, but overall fishing can be classed as good. Little Sturgeon, Sawyer Harbor and the Downtown Sturgeon Bay area all have been producing some fish with a few very big fish mixed in. Golden shiners, suckers and frozen smelt all have been working

Thanks;

Lance LaVine

Howie’s Tackle

1309 Green Bay Rd

Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235

Ph: 920-746-9916

The Wisconsin DNR report is usually posted Tuesdays and includes reports from both the bay and lake sides.

HEIDECKE LAKE

Closed for the season.

ILLINOIS RIVER

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

INDIANA STREAMS

Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station, Ind., texted “a lot of steelhead” were caught in Trail and the Little Cal over the weekend on Voodoo jigs and wax worms or spawns, mostly under floats. 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.

LAKEFRONT

Perch are the main story, but a few steelhead and browns are being caught, too.

Arden Katz said that the west end of Navy Pier produced jumbos to 14 inches, but the window was small and light line (4 pound) was essential. For numbers of perch, he did better at the South Side slips.

Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station, Ind., texted that lots are fishing and catching at the South Side slips with smaller minnows best for perch; some days take sorting. He called it one of the best perch years in years there.

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.

LAKE VERMILION, MINNESOTA

Check Jarek Wujkowski of Rodsbent Guide Service.

LaSALLE LAKE

Closed for season.

MADISON CHAIN, WISCONSIN

Check the latest from D & S Bait on Facebook.

MAZONIA

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

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

MENOMINEE RIVER, WISCONSIN

Check with Mike Mladeik at Mike Mladenik Guide Service.

MILWAUKEE HARBOR

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

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

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

As we head into February and the lull in action that usually comes with, it seems the lack of snow on the ice is actually helping the fishing. More light passing through the ice (which at a 17” average, isn’t a lot for late January) is keeping weeds alive, which in turn, produces oxygen – and everyone likes a little oxygen in their life!

Yellow Perch: Good-Very good – Got to be mobile to cover mud flats of 20-26’ water. Flash and Bash, drop heavy, noisy, shiny spoons into the mud to create the appearance of actively feeding perch. Perch Talkers, Halis, Pimples, Kastmasters and VMC Chandelier jigs tipped with wigglers on red spikes. Some anglers picking up large perch using rosie reds or medium fatheads on tip-downs. For spoons/jigs gold, glows and oranges top colors.

Northern Pike: Good– No monsters reported this week, but plenty of #’s. Tip-ups with big shiners best.

Bluegills: Very good-Good – Action slowed as cold moved in. Anglers tipping dark colored tungsten jigs (Fiskas, Skandia) doing best in depths of 8-12’. Some big gills being caught over deep mud by perch anglers.

Crappies: Good-Fair – Weather has dictated the bite on these somewhat fickle fish. When the barometer isn’t too high or too low tip-downs with small minnows best along transition zones of 18-25’ mud. In shallower water of 8-14’ weeds , best on slow-dropping plastics of red, white or pink.

Walleyes: Good-Fair – Same as crappies, best on suckers over sandgrass flats/humps of 18-26’. Some action on jigging Raps and Hyper Glides when fish more aggressive.

With reports of trucks breaking through on the Willow flowage and down in Rhinelander, good to keep attention to conditions. Drop in the Willow could have much to do with ice conditions there. New snow (1-2”) is powder, still slick to walk on so creepers are advised.

Overall, reports still have 17-18” average, though thinner “spots” still being reported.

UPCOMING DERBY DATES

Feb 4th – United Way

Stacks Bay, Lake Minocqua

Feb 4th – Willow Haven

Willow Flowage

Feb 18th – Rob Lemmer Memorial

Lake Katherine

Feb 28th -Carrol Lake Ice Fishing Tournament

Carrol Lake

Kurt Justice

Kurt’s Island Sport Shop

www.kurtsislandsports.com

EAGLE RIVER: B+L, from reports from Colin Crawford of Colin Crawford Guide Service for the Eagle River Chamber of Commerce, sent this:

Fishing Report

Northern Pike: We are finding fish on the weed edges and in the deeper weeds. On the edges, the set up should be tip ups set a foot or so off the bottom. When fishing the deep weeds, set your tip ups so that your bait is just above the tops of the weeds.

Walleye: These fish are being caught in a couple of areas, in and around weeds. Setting tip ups on the weed edges baited with walleye suckers or medium golden shiners in low light conditions seem to be best. Also, jigging in the same areas with baits like the buckshot rattle spoon are producing fish. The other good option is on the tops of rock humps for good spots in the early evening.

Panfish: Bluegills are being found in the weeds using small jigs tipped with waxies, spikes or tipped with plastic. Perch are being caught on the deep weed edge where the mud meets.

NORTHWEST INDIANA

Wind and weather is the limiting factor on Lake Michigan. Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station texted that a few browns are being caught on golden roaches at Portage lakefront park and Port of Indiana.

ROCK RIVER, WISCONSIN

No update.

ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN

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.

ST. JOSEPH, MICHIGAN

Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said there’s still a few steelhead at Berrien Springs, otherwise quiet.

ST. JOSEPH RIVER, INDIANA

Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR.

SHABBONA LAKE

Clint Sands at Lakeside emailed Tuesday afternoon:

Dale,Here are a few announcements.Night ice fishing has been cancelled for Sat. Feb 4th. The park will close per regular park hours.Park hours change in Feb to 8 am to 6pm daily.Ice update…well over half of the lake is open water as of today. The rest of the lake has extremely thin honeycombed ice.

Mike Chronik posted on Facebook:

Rockfest is canceled for Saturday February 4 due to thin ice but we will be assembling fish cribs at the park office starting at 8 am

Lakeside is closed until safe ice returns. Lake hours as of Wednesday, Feb. 1, are 8 a.m.-6 p.m. The restaurant is closed for the season. For more information and reports from Lakeside, go to shabbonalake.com or call (815) 824-2581.

SOUTHEAST WISCONSIN LAKEFRONT

The Wisconsin DNR posts a report during open water 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.

WISCONSIN RIVER

No update.

WOLF LAKE

No update.

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

No update.