Ice conditions and ice fishing will quickly improve and rebuild and that leads this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.
Larry Jennings sent this on the final day of 2016:
The Slip is still hot!! Lake Michigan is a World Class Perch Fishery.
Plenty of perch continue to caught at the 87th Street slip and other spots on the Chicago lakefront, but it takes sorting through smaller ones and often busting through skim ice.
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.
Click here for a list of regulations for ice fishing public sites around the Chicago area. Expect much thicker ice nearly universally by later this week.
Steve Palmisano at Henry’s said creepers will be essential as the surface water freezes. He also said a bit of snow cover would help with spooky fish. Otherwise, most places have accessible ice.
Ken “Husker” O’Malley sent this report and the photo of the big bass caught ice fishing:
Hey Dale, Bass and crappie are very good during early morning hours on area lakes. Setting up tip-ups with roaches along weed flats adjacent to deep water are taking good number of bass. Crappie can be caught jigging a kastmaster tipped with fat heads or Berkeley gulp maggots in the main basin. Key is staying mobile to keep up with the roaming school. Ice is a good 5 inches of clear ice. We will lose a little from today’s rains, but will start building later in the week with the cold temps. I was able to try out the new camera for the first time. Very cool as I had two bass that were not camera shy.TTYL— Ken Husker O’Malley Huskeroutdoors Waterworks fishing team
AREA WATER LEVELS
Considering the ice melt and precipitation, might be a good time to check 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
Closed for the season.
CHAIN O’LAKES AREA
Brad Irvingat Triangle Sports and Marine said ice will be made, currently generally in the 5- to 6-inch range. Bites of note are on East and West Loon for bass and pike; on Deep, bluegill (better quality) are OK; on the south end of Channel, there’s bluegill but it takes sorting; on Pistakee, there’s good crappie and white bass if you can find rock piles.
Arden Katz said red spikes and moving around were the key to some very good panfish action at Nielsen’s Channel by Hermann’s Lowlife Bar & Grill.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 update this week from Capt. Pat Harrison (click here for his site).
DELAVAN/LAKE GENEVA AREA, WISCONSIN
DES PLAINES RIVER
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
Pete Lamar sent this:
Hi Dale, Not sure if I’m too late with this or not-I didn’t see a weekly fishing report posted yet. This may be my last report for a little while as I go into a Winter hibernation of sorts (as far as open water fishing anyway). I went to one of the bigger filtration plant discharges south of Aurora over the weekend. It was absolutely full of suckers of all sizes. I used to fish for steelhead in Wisconsin and Indiana a lot and saw plenty of suckers stacked in small streams as their spawning runs got going as the steelhead runs were winding down. But I’ve never seen numbers like this. I think a few of them hit my fly; what was unusual about it was that they hit just as I was about to pull it out of the water to make another cast. The fly was creating a bulge on the surface as I picked it up; that’s when they hit, which is surprising considering that they have clearly evolved to feed on the bottom. I also caught a couple of walleyes doing the same thing: they hit as the fly was about to leave the water What’s surprising about that is, considering (the lack of a) fight they put up, I didn’t think they could move fast enough to chase down a fly. It would be like a gear fisherman catching suckers and walleyes on a buzz bait. I hope your New Year is off to a good start. Pete
Timing was perfect. And I loved the story of suckers on a fly. That is an interesting note.
FOX RIVER: WISCONSIN
GREEN BAY/STURGEON BAY
Lance LaVineat Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay sent this:
Happy New Year Fellas This is what I have as far as the fishing/ice conditions Let’s start with the ice conditions in our area. As of right now, the protected bays which include Little Sturgeon, Riley’s Bay and Sawyer Harbor have fair to good ice cover. According to reports there is anywhere from 5 to 10 inches respectively in those bays. As a sport shop, we play it safe and tell folks that it is safe, walkable ice. With that said, there are plenty of ATV’s and UTV’s venturing out, we just can’t say that. On the big bay, the Bay of Green Bay from the Dykesville area north past the Old Stone Quarry the ice up until this point can and will move with the wind since it is not locked in as of yet. With that said, there have been fishermen venturing out along the shorelines and catching their fair share of Whitefish. The ice ranges from 3 to 10 inches according to reports. So here is what I have as far as the fishing is concerned Perch fishing has been off to a pretty strong start here in the protected bays in Door County. Fishermen that are able to stay away from those high traffic areas in that shallow water are generally the ones who go home with the nicest bucket of fish. Small jigs tipped with waxies, spikes or minnow heads and suspending minnows under tip-ups is the key to a nice meal of Perch. Pike fishing has been fair in those same areas as the Perch. Some of the key areas for the Pike are just not safe as of yet. For the Pike, the best baits are large Golden Shiners and Large suckers suspended under tip ups. Soon, when better ice cover comes, fishermen will be concentrating their efforts in other Pike honey holes like the Sturgeon Bay Flats, Potawatomi Park area along with the deeper water drops in Little Sturgeon all the way up the Peninsula to Ephraim looking for those trophy 40 plus inch Pike Whitefish action can be classed as OK just because the deep water Hot Spots are still not quite ready because of lack of ice. The fishermen that are fishing those shallow water, rocky drop offs are still managing plenty of fish for a meal though. As most Whitefish enthusiast know, Whitefish are pretty much all over from 2 feet of water all the way out to that 100 foot mark. It’s just that most fishermen tend to now go deeper because quite frankly it’s a bit easier because they are not as spooky. That’s why we always stress staying away from the groups of people. An assortment of jigs as dropper rigs tipped with waxies, spikes, minnow pieces or gulp is very effective. Another big help is using small diameter power pro especially in that deep water with a fluorocarbon leader. And of course a flasher and or camera will also increase your chances Walleye action has been a bit slower obviously because of the lack of ice up until this point. There have been a few brave souls walking out and fishing some of the shoreline drop offs with some success, but as of right now you just can’t get out to those Walleye hot spots safely. With the cold weather predicted this week, all that should and I imagine will change especially if the wind does not screw it up again. Again, please use caution and do your homework before venturing out on the ice 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.
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 some steelhead came into the tributaries. The weather could impact conditions later this week. Access points for Trail Creek can be found on the Trail Creek Access Map.
As of Monday, the river had been receding, how that changes remains to be seen with the rain and ice up again.
Norm Minas sent this:
river is dropping, about 1/2 again it’s normal flow, maybe couple inches visibility near shore in slack areas , water temps mid 30’s . weatherwise, fairly nice, fished without gloves on but had them on while walking . sun felt good on the old bones . First place I hit was an inflow and the point bar downstream . I worked a weighted keeper hook with a Eire Darter around and got nothing . I went back to point A and switched to a rattlebait worked slow and steady just off bottom . the walleyes loved it, the smallmouth ignored it . Walleye up toward the creekmouth, along the front, side and back of the point bar . Next up , fished a pipeline crossing of the river. I stuck with the rattlebait, same deal walleye ate it, smallmouth ignored it. Again , slow steady retrieve just of bottom. Most productive spot was a deeper hole [well for this river] upstream of the pipeline. I worked thru with jig/plastic, jig/pig , hard jerkbait and a crankbait all ignored by smallmouth and walleye . Next up drove a bit, hiked a bit more[ got well beyond forked stick country] to get to a good winter spot for this flow rate . There is enough water to put enough depth in the key areas . If the river gets lower , you can pretty much write it off in winter . It is a series of slack spots featuring soft bottoms off shore transitioning to cobblestone with some larger rock a bit off shore . There is one significant rock point coming off shore and out into the flow to set up a riffle . One small inflow that runs clear due to being feed further up from farm field drain tiles. There are two springs coming out a bit up from the riverbank where the land slopes a bit sharper than elsewhere. Both these springs run down to the river . A series of downed trees laying in the water as well as woody debris on the bottom . A few spots where the current undercut some roots of standing trees. The best part is no signs of other fisherman, only the tracks of beaver, raccoons, deer, and geese were seen in the damper, softer soils . In short the kind of place , I go to by myself . Bogart , maybe, but you have to have places like this in your back pocket to go when you really need to catch some fish . I went to the 1/0 weighted keeper with an Eire Darter as I figured the bass weren’t chasing at all. I used a drag, stop for about a 10 count and repeat . I also tossed the combo upstream of the trees laying in the water and let it sweep under the wood/debris piles . I dabbled it in amongst those spots as best I could reach. I did the same at the undercut roots. The smallmouth were laying out on the soft bottom/rock transition , at the sweet spot at the upstream side of eddies and on the inside seams of eddies . I never got one sweeping under wood or roots or dabbling, that turned out to be rock bass country. I was kind of puzzled by that, figured the bass would be there but they rock bass were all very nice sized. Maybe the bass just preferred to be out in the sunshine, who knows . With the rock bass, I soon figured out either they hit as soon as it got under the debris/wood or it got ignored . Once that became apparent I just pulled the rig back out if it didn’t get bite right away, cut down on losing jigs back in the wood . I also got three huge carp with the jig/darter, all three swallowed it . All three double digits in weight, I found out I am not in as good of shape as I thought. Those fish took it out of me, I had to take a break and sit down on a log . I moved to a couple spots I knew elsewhere where there was wood in the water or undercut roots . I went with the same program, same results, rock bass that either took it first thing or it was ignored. Last spot I went to was a winter spot that also has spawning habitat so there is usually some smallmouth there . I stuck with the drag/pause with the weighted keeper, one smallmouth and called it a day. 8 smallmouth, the three carp, 11 walleye and 11 rock bass , what a day for Januarypeacenorm
Minas went one better and sent this on Monday:
Well I don’t care what the gauge shows , I saw the river rising . I made a mark on the shore , 45 minutes later the water was lapping over it . The air temps may have been warmer than yesterday but with the completely overcast sky and almost continual rain of varying degrees of output , it was no where near as nice to fish today . Not that it stopped me , I’ve fished in much worse this time of year . First place I fished was behind a levee that was flooded in the middle . I stuck to the slower side of the flow . First rig I used was an 1/8 ox mushroom head with a Zoom Centipede . I started on the seam and worked into progressively slower water just dragging it upstream on the bottom . Three smallmouth hit it with a solid thunk after it popped free from a rock . Two other smallmouth just picked it up as I was dragging it . I never felt anything but the mushy , something is different thing . I think they may have been swimming toward me as they picked it up. The biggest smallmouth 20 3/4 inches was on the seam . The rest got progressively smaller the further I got from the seam except for an 18 incher that came off a rock hump in the slower water . I switched to an 1/8 oz ballhead jig with a Mr Twister Sassy grub and a jig spinner with a size 2 orange Colorado blade . I let it drop for a two count and brought if back on as horizontal retrieve as I could on the initial cast . A crappie liked that so I continued and caught a bunch of 10 to 14 inch crappie . I went thru again with a hard jerk, a crankbait, a rattlebait and a singlespin, all ignored . I tried a straight shaft spinner, Mepps size two and picked up some small bass about 8 to 11 inches . I went to the next spot, a well known walleye spot and saw someone fishing . I called down and asked if he minded some company . He said come on down , he had caught two walleye . Well I guess I jinxed the spot because neither of us caught any walleye after that . He caught some suckers , including his first Quillback . We were both fishing swimbaits . While chatting it turned out one of the guys that gave him some help in learning the river was a guy I went to high school with. Small world . Last spot I fished was a pipeline area . I got a couple small walleye on a rattlebait swum slow and steady as close to the bottom as I could manage .PeaceNorm
The Ohio DNR has general Lake Erie info and a fishing report.
Steve Palmisano at Henry’s said perch remain very active, though it takes sorting through smaller ones and often busting through skim ice, at Navy Pier and 87th, that ice will be thickening this week (Palmisano suggested jigging a Hali’s or Swedish pimpled through holes punched in the ice); the harbors in general have skim ice, but it will thicken this week rather quickly. 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.
Closed for season.
MADISON CHAIN, WISCONSIN
Gene Dellingerat D & S Bait said Mendota should be iced by the weekend, as of right now there is already some pike action along the edges; otherwise the best is Monona Bay and the Triangle for bluegill and the occasional crappie; there’s a bit of walleye action in the main basin of Waubesa; and some perch, mostly smaller, on Kegonsa. Otherwise, go to Facebook for the latest updates.
Reopened to fishing.Note reg changes because of an ad rule change. Monster at Mazonia South remains open year-round. The other South unit lakes reopen Jan. 16. North unit reopens to ice fishing on Feb. 16, after rabbit hunting ends. Any ice fishing is at your own risk. Check with Jon Meder at Jon’s Bait Shop–(815) 237-2822–in South Wilmington. Open daily, 6 a.m.-sunset.
MENOMINEE RIVER, WISCONSIN
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:
After weeks of very good ice fishing, if not always the best conditions, we hit a little bump this past Friday/Saturday. Southeast by East winds seemed to be the deciding factor in the slow down of the action. The amount of added pressure could account for some of the slow down, lot of people on not a lot of ice (7-10). Got to figure all that noise from quads, snowmobiles, augers and people will make fish skittish in some of the shallower bays. Bluegills: Very good-good. Action slowed and size dropped mostly due to aforementioned conditions. Those early/first ice gills got picked pretty hard, now still good numbers, but, anglers sorting to get their keepers. When bite slows, smaller jigs (#2.5, #3 tungsten and #12 and #14 jig flys) with a single moussee or spike work best. Pike: Very good-good. A drop-off from action earlier in the week, but, still a good number of flags and some pike to 36 reported this week. Big shiners and suckers working best in 5’ to as deep as 14’. Walleyes: Very good-fair. Action and size slowed as this species seems more susceptible to those east winds. Still, anglers were having some success towards and after dark. Smaller sucker minnows in the 2 ½ to 3 range did better. The jigging action slowed as walleyes got less aggressive. Try shorter lifts and slow drops, this is where the Hyper Glides have shown an improvement in hook ups over traditional jigging Rapala style lures. Perch: Good-Fair. Lots of small fish in shallow weeds, but, anglers starting to probe deeper mud flats picking up fish using VMC tungsten Chandelier jigs, Hali #25’s and #2 pimples to get wigglers and red spikes down quickly to the perch. In shallower situations, spoons with a slower drop such as the smaller VMC Tinglers, Shiver Spoons and Vinglas that flutter more as they fall have been best to lure perch in. Tip these light spoons with 2-3 waxies. Crappies: Good-Fair. The fish are there, according to the guys dropping cameras in the bays with 7-12’ green weeds, they just ain’t biting. Being fussy with wind they don’t like. Finesse with plastics is the best when they aren’t taking minnows. On the Flowages, a few nice crappies caught on rosie reds over 12-16’ wood. Weather is switching as of this writing. A short warming trend looks to end Tuesday night when temps will drop off into the negative digits. Slowly rising by the end of the weekend. Travel still relegated to ATV, snowmobile and foot. If the snow misses us this week, the coming cold could add enough to our 7-10 ice average to allow small trucks in some places next week. Kurt Justice Kurt’s Island Sport Shop http://www.kurtsislandsports.com
EAGLE RIVER: This came from B+L, from reports from George Langley, for the Eagle River Chamber of Commerce:
Ice fishing has returned to the Eagle River area, as well. Early season temperatures have led to some slush on the lakes. Most anglers are in the process of plotting fish trends and learning their winter patterns in preparation for the ongoing freeze. Read below for a more detailed fishing report. Fishing Report Walleye: Some success has been noted with walleye, mostly in the evenings on the Eagle River Chain. Sucker minnows or golden shiners are the baits of choice under tip-ups. Northern: Action has been pretty good with this fish, especially in the daytime. They’re mostly in deeper grassy weed areas. Larger minnows and large shiners are the ticket. Perch: They are being found in weeds. Most have been fairly small to this point. Larger perch that hang out by mudflats will start appearing soon. Bluegills: They are starting to hit, mostly on waxies.
Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station texted most are waiting on ice to rebuild.
ROCK RIVER, WISCONSIN
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 some walleye, including some limits, at Berrien Springs; otherwise not much going.
ST. JOSEPH RIVER, INDIANA
Click herefor reports from the Indiana DNR.
Denny Sands at Lakeside said the two best bites are for catfish and crappie; ice is generally good, but be careful around any wood, and will be thickening this week. Lakeside is open for ice fishing with all the staples for ice fishing from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. daily. 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 shabbonalake.com or call (815) 824-2581.
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.
WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN