Changeable times in Chicago fishing: Midwest Fishing Report

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SHARE Changeable times in Chicago fishing: Midwest Fishing Report

Just as quickly as ice fishing spread area wide, it reduced back to the more traditional ice fishing spots for this, very much in flux, sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

Larry Green tweeted the Christmas photo above from an icy scene. Norm Minas, meanwhile, went in search of some open water around the Kankakee River and found some (open water and a few fish).

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. Ice fishing continues north and west, while it is much more variable south. Use caution around shoreline and current areas in particular. But it looks like a week to firm up ice. Also looks like a week where creepers are necessary.

AsKen “Husker” O’Malley notes in this:

Hey Dale, Our spring like temps are not helping out the ice on area lakes.Some shorelines have 1 to 1 1/2 inches of ice. Main pad is locked up but ice does not look good to travel on. Areas that have current have some open water.I recommend staying of the ice until we get some colder temps.TTYL — Ken Husker O’Malley Huskeroutdoors Waterworks fishing team

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s seconded the main cap holding well in most areas; shorelines and softer areas should firm up as the week progresses.


Considering the ice melt and precipitation, might be a good time to check water levels. 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.


Greg Dicksonat Triangle Sports and Marine said ice fishing continues, though Monday’s weather slowed it some; favorable spots include south bay of Channel, Pistakee Bay, East Loon and Camp (southern Wisconsin). The word from Hermann’s Lowlife Bar & Grill is that the ice held at Nielsen’s Channel, but use caution. 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 fromCapt. Pat Harrison (click here for his site).


No update.


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 withJason Johnsof Boneyard Fishing.SHELBYVILLE:Check withKen WilsonofKen 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 fromLarry 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. 14thwith 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 RanchRoad 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 CLOSEDDURINGWATERFOWL 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…


Pete Lamar sent this:

Hi Dale, Not much actual information to share, but I did make some casts at a couple of warm water discharges on the Fox, this time north of Aurora. Didn’t handle any fish; didn’t even see any, not even suckers or carp. The only signs of life were ducks and a heron taking advantage of the open water and a muskrat who seemed surprised to see me. I need to sit down and do some serious fly tying for the Spring, before the smallmouths get active again, so if there is a silver lining to the lack of activity at the local warm water spots, it’s that it will provide the impetus to start cranking out some Clouser minnows over the next couple of months. Pete

I’m not much of a fly fishermen, but tying flies sounds good in winter. BTW, I thought his report was very Ken Gortowskieque.


No update.


No update fromLance LaVineatHowie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay.

The Wisconsin DNR report is usually posted Tuesdaysand 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 atSlez’s Bait in Lake Station texted that some steelhead are in the streams, best on Voodoo jigs with wax worms. Access points for Trail Creek can be found on the Trail Creek Access Map.


Norm Minas sent this:

12-24First time out in a bit, good thing I was out in the back end of no where with the first couple casts . Pathetic as a politicians campaign promises. Everywhere I went was a mixture of open water and ice , thankfully enough open water to fish . I started out in the back country at a crick that doesn’t get a lot of attention and I like it that way . Most of the slackwater be it shoreline, island , snag or weed related was covered with ice. After getting nothing going upstream with jigs/plastics in the open and faster moving water , I figured a change of tactics was needed. I headed back downstream to where I was parked working the edges of the ice cover over the slack areas. I used a small floating minnow , cast it downstream to hang in the current next to the ice cover . I ended up with 1 decent rock bass from the ice cover along a wood jam . Cool, found open water and figured a way to catch a fish . After going thru that medical crap , it was a good feeling to feel something on the end of my line . I hit another crick, this one has some hold over trout from the fall stocking as well as bass and rock bass . I found a riffle-pool-riffle sequence that had more depth than the rest that I scouted and decided to fish there first . I was casting a size 2 panther martin spinner across and down from the top to the back. I ended up catching an 8 inch trout . I fished three of the other riffle-pools with no fish caught but did have a very small smallmouth flash out and miss the spinner as it passed some wood laying on the bottom . Last stop was the river , found some places where there was slower but not slack flow that was not ice covered . rock bottom , algae on the rocks maybe 3 feet deep. I used a 1/8 oz darter head jig with a jigspinner attached and a dropshot erie darter swimming it off bottom . Finally get the fish I’ve been thinking about while not being able to fish, nice fat smallmouth 15 – 16 inches . Kepp working the area and get another hit, this from the head shake felt like a walleye . Sure enough , walleye just over 19 inches. Man just over the slot , no walleye dinner . Not bad, 4 fish, each of a different species , from three different places in about 4 hours in my first trip back . Back is a little sore , but it’s a good sore, I earned it .12-25The extended forecasts were wrong, the wind today definitely made it colder than yesterday . The fish didn’t care . I stuck with the river today , started out urban and worked back out to the park . First place I stopped, the best known place in town , the whole slack area was covered with ice . I bounced some jigs and banged some cranks in the faster flow , no takers . I went up and hit the wall as no one was sitting up above fishing . I had one hit on a swimbait, bit off by a pike . I put on a metal leader of course , no more bites . I went to go fish a pike spot that I rarely fish due to a promise I made to the guy who showed me the spot . About 35 years , an old grizzled river rat took a liking to a young , long haired river rat and started sharing his stuff . This spot , I promised him , I wouldn’t fish when any of the meat hogs could see me catching fish there . You local guys know where them dudes hang, the ones that pay no mind to any of the size or creel limits . I am proud to say that even though he passed about 30 years ago, I’ve kept my promise to him . Today there was no one out, not even the usual panhandlers or petty crack dealers , so I fished there. When he showed it to me , we used size 9 floating Rapalas , still do . I landed one pike , second got off due to operator error . I moved downstream , fished the flat off the channel . I was using a blade bait I’ve never tried before, the Johnson Thin Fisher . I settled on the middle hole for medium wobble/vibration. Upstream quartercast, count down 3 or 4 and follow it down with the rod tip, picking up slack as it went . I ended up with three eaters but let them go as today was the family holiday meal . I fished some bridge pilings and a creekmouth with everything from cranks to jigs with nothing to show for it . I moved to a spot out in the park , nice sized slack/slow area . Slack was iced over , the slow was open. I switched up and went with a bobber/jig rig . I guess it’s technically not F-N-F because I used a slip float not a fixed float . I used the Thill wobble bobber rated for 1/8 oz , so that is the size ballhead crappie chenille/marabou jig I used . It imparts action to the jig by wind and/or wave action . It did that well enough to entice two smallmouth and two rock bass into eating the jig . I mean the tip of the jig was barely sticking out of the fish’s mouth . No guessing is that a hit, the float went under . Plan to be out again tomorrow12-26Air temps up in the 50’s sure felt good . It blew in over night and did a number on the ice in the river . River came up as you would expect . Only problem is a lot of that ice is in smaller chunks and floating downstream . So much so that it interfered with fishing . Shoot one time one of those chunks ended up with my lure stuck on it . I fought it in because I wasn’t going to break off unless I had too. After I get it in, a guy standing behind me on the shore wisecracks, well that brings a whole new meaning to ice fishing . I tried the fnf , no go , ice kept interrupting . Too much algae on the bottom, tired soon of picking algae off cranks and jigs , although I would have picked green some more had I caught any fish . I got one smallmouth on a swimbait , retrieved slow and steady just above bottom . I got two walleye on rattlebaits off of a current seampeacenorm


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


Gary Bloom messaged on Monday that it was back to dock fishing only at Montrose. Lots of small fish around, he was hoping for some trout so he was using small rattle baits, but he caught lots of small perch (5 to 6 inches) with the biggest one reaching 9 inches.Steve Palmisano at Henry’s said that on Tuesday it was all open at Navy Pier, the perch being more on smaller size again in recent days; there is no ice as of Tuesday morning at 87th and 89th, takes sorting for keepers; harbor ice is unsafe, access through sitting on the piers, but the cap is there and could firm up quickly with a good freeze. 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 that the ice holds; Monona Bay and the Triangle are best; Cherokee Marsh is still fishable; there’s some perch on Kegonsa; Mendota is still open. Otherwise, go to Facebook for the latest updates.



[UPDATED} 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 withJon Meder at Jon’s Bait Shop–(815) 237-2822–in South Wilmington.Open daily, 6 a.m.-sunset.


Check withMike MladeikatMike Mladenik Guide Service.


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


MINOCQUA:If the written report comes fromKurt Justiceof Kurt’s Island Sport Shop in Minocqua, Wis. comes, I will post that, otherwise he said that the Christmas rain put slush on top of 6-9 inches of ice, but the cold snap is refreezing the top, ice cleats are a must; ATVs and snowmobiles are OK on most lakes, that travel should be nearly universal by weekend; bluegill and pike (both numbers and size, to 35 inches) are very good; walleye (best around sunset) and perch (weed flats and bars in 6-10 feet) are good to very good; crappie good when you can get out of the wind.

EAGLE RIVER: This came from B+L, from reports fromGeorge Langley, for the Eagle River Chamber of Commerce:

Ice fishing has started in earnest in the Eagle River area. Mixed weather has led to a bit of slush on the lakes, which isn’t completely unusual at this time of year. Most anglers are searching for fish and learning their winter patterns. 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 atSlez’s Bait in Lake Station texted that ice fishing was hot through Monday, it should rebound; bass are steady at Willow Slough, bluegill have been tough; on the Valpo Chain, some big pike (to 36 inches) on suckers on Long, good crappie and some walleye on Loomis.


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.


Not much going right now, according to Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor.


Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR.


Lakeside posted about nice crappie, including one of 13.5 inches, on Monday. 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 or call (815) 824-2581.


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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