Spring of Chicago fishing in winter: Midwest Fishing Report

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Spring is here for this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report, although I am sure snow and cold will make sporadic appearances.

It was one of the wildest February weekends ever for all kinds of fishing, mostly unexpected, all around Chicago fishing. Photo above was from Larry Jennings of the crowds fishing for perch at a South Side slip over the holiday 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.

LAKEFRONT PERCH

Perch on the Chicago lakefront, especially around the South Side slips, continues to be one of the top fishing stories this winter. Some of it takes sorting, but there are a lot of quality fish, too. Steve Palmisano at Henry’s said Navy Pier and the South Side slips are producing, minnows or spoons are best. Arden Katz said the key was to cast out Mini-Mites with spikes, then hold in one spot and shake it.

On Tuesday, Christian Howe emailed:

Dale, Perch report, keepers were 1-20 ratio today at 87th and 89th. Smalls ones hitting real hard, keepers just a little pop, best action was right on the walls. The bigger perch preferred dead minnows that got smashed a touch almost as if they were being lazy. The surprise today was smelt. I caught 4 and saw a few others do the same with spikes. On a hook. That was a surprise, maybe a sign of things to come?!? Christian Howe

Smelt? Hmmm?

WINNEBAGO SYSTEM, WISCONSIN

Sturgeon spearing is being slowed and generally impacted by the record heat. For example, here is the lead of Lake Winnebago sturgeon biologist Ryan Koenigs’ daily report on Tuesday:

I’ve been talking in many of my reports about the reduction in spearing effort, and in turn harvest. Well, today the inevitable finally happened; we had a 0 fish harvest on Lake Winnebago. I’m not sure when the last 0 was recorded for a day of spearing on Lake Winnebago, but I’m pretty confident that it predates my tenure with the DNR dating back to the 2008 spearing season. May be a good trivia question in future spearing seasons. There was 1 fish harvested on the Upriver Lakes today. Derek Hanneman wins the perseverance award with today’s lone fish, and it was a nice one (65.7 and 82.4 pounds). As the saying goes, the show must go on, and thus the season will continue tomorrow.

AREA LAKES

All sorts of fishing, from crappie to bass, is underway on local lakes and ponds. Steve Palmisano at Henry’s said crappie reports are starting to come in, Tampier is one of the more mentioned but he has not heard much yet from Saganashkee Slough.

As to bass fishing, Ken Husker O’Malley sent this open-water report:Hey Dale, The ice gear has officially been put away and it’s only mid February. Don’t tell the bass on area lakes that it’s only February. Bass patterns that usually set up early spring are going now. Lipless cranks retrieved slowly along the inside and outside weedlines are taking quality bass. Ticking the top of the weeds and causing the bait to pause entices that reaction strike despite the cold water. Sunny days have been producing better numbers. Even the turtles are out in full force thinking its spring.TTYL—Ken Husker O’MalleyHuskeroutdoorsWaterworks fishing team

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Before that [CORRECTION] Dana Robinson sent this photo from Tampier and note:He went back with about 15 others. Keepers in the bucket. @berkleyfishing @bowmanoutside #watermelonpearl #chartreuseshad#crappiekiller #crappiefishing

AREA WATER LEVELS

Again a good week 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

BRAIDWOOD

Closed for the season.

CALUMET SYSTEM

BoRabb Williams sent this from him and Frank Smith:

Calumet River system is Slow…. a few crappie Saturday…..mostly perch….a couple of northern pike….. same in the river 42 and Rising…..that’s it from Frank Smith and BoRabb the crappie man……it gonna get better.

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Art Frisell at Triangle Sports and Marine said the ice is melting rapidly, look for open water by the weekend, but water level is low so use caution navigating; crappie should be moving into the channels, walleye should be around the current areas and bluegill will likely still be in 8-12 feet until the water warms.

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

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

Pete Lamar sent this:

I got out for a short time on both Saturday and Sunday, but never caught a thing. On Saturday afternoon, I fished the Des Plaines between First Ave. and the site of the old Hoffman Dam. Things have really changed for the better there. Very little silt anymore; I think it’s been washed away since the removal of the dam. A lot of classic riffle/run/pool configurations; some large eddies; a few downed trees here and there to provide cover. But I didn’t move a single fish. I found some places that will likely hold fish when the water has warmed up 20 degrees or so. Something that surprised me: how difficult the wading was. Water was low and clear, but I never found a path that allowed me to wade entirely across the river with waist-high waders. There was usually a deep hole in my way. Where the river was shallow, the current was heavy; I’d have had a hard time staying on my feet. I can think of places on the Fox and Kankakee where the wading is much easier.

I totally agree on how things have changed (for the better) around the dam. If you only memories of that area is from years ago, time to revisit. It is a different place.

DOWNSTATE NOTES

POWERTON:Boat and shore fishing is open. Hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m.  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.

FOX RIVER: WESTERN SUBURBS

Pete Lamar sent this:

I got out for a short time on both Saturday and Sunday, but never caught a thing. I fished a small warm water discharge on the Fox north of Aurora on Sunday afternoon with the same result. I did see some young of the year game fish in the clear water, but no adult smallmouths or walleyes (or suckers or carp for that matter).

FOX RIVER: WISCONSIN

No update.

GREEN BAY/STURGEON BAY

No update this week from Lance LaVine at Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay, but probably a good week to doublecheck conditions with this stretch of weather.

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., said that there were “some brutes” of steelhead being caught on small spawn sacs under floats or b-moths. “There are winter-run ready to spawn and spring-run, so you can catch some colored up and some shiny as as a new dime,” he said. Access points for Trail Creek can be found on the Trail Creek Access Map. Access points for Little Cal and Salt Creek, which are closer to Chicago than Trail Creek, may be found at littlecal_saltcreek_access.

KANKAKEE RIVER

Reports from Alex Oquendo and Kyle Danhausen of smallmouth being caught. I know the secretive walleye guys are out looking on both the Kankakee and the Iroquois. How they are doing, I am not as certain.

LAKE ERIE

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

LAKEFRONT

See perch at top. Steve Palmisano at Henry’s said that some browns are starting to be caught here and there around Chicago harbors; very few coho reports. Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop texted that some decent browns are being caught at Waukegan’s Government Pier. 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

On Tuesday, Gene Dellinger at D & S Bait said ice fishing is going. Otherwise, check the latest from D & S Bait on Facebook.

MAZONIA

Both units are open for fishing. 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:

Great weekend to be out on the ice. Plenty of ice, temps in the 50’s, scattering of good reports and just an overall good experience. Travel being great, the only issue being the need for knee high boots and creepers as things got slick. Crappies: Very Good – Weather being perfect for tip-downs – holes not freezing and not much wind – anglers targeting crappies had a lot of success using tip-downs and rosies. Anglers slow dropping rocker jigs (#10 gold or white) tipped with plastics (white, yellow, pink) did extremely well – especially late afternoons. Yellow Perch: Very Good – The deep bite has been good using Pimples, Halis, Kastmasters and Demon Tounges tipped with wigglers or red spikes. Depths of 22-32’ best with some real nice perch of 11-13 coming from the big clear lakes. A shallow bite is also occurring, cabbage flats of 7-10’ producing nice catches. Here minnows, minnow heads or several waxies on Northland Forage Fry has been producing as these fat perch have been feeding heavily on young of year bluegills of about 1-1 ½ long. Northern Pike: Good-Very Good – Seemed a slow start, but action picked up for tip-up anglers using large shiners for bait. Bluegills: Good-Very Good – With warm weather anglers moved about and scored good catches dropping dark colored Fiska, darts and Moon Glow jigs tipped with moussees, waxies or black, purple or red plastic tails. Walleyes: Fair-Good – A little more participation helped the reports, though later at night came the best bites. With walleye sized suckers being hard to come by, anglers resorted to chubs, shiners and even large fatheads on Glass Eye jigs to score. Only two weekends left for the inland lakes gamefish season. The warmth, plus rain Monday took the snow cover down to bare ice. Travel is great, though a few south facing launches will have to be watched. Ice thickness started out Friday at about 20-21 average. Still in 18+ range as of Tuesday (2/21). Heavy snow for Thursday will complicate travel for ATV’s. Caution advised anywhere you go. UPCOMING DERBY DATES Feb 25th -Carrol Lake Ice Fishing Tournament Carrol Lake Kurt Justice Kurt’s Island Sport Shop www.kurtsislandsports.com Like us on FaceBook

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

Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station, Ind., said a few guys are doing well for big bluegill and redears at Willow Slough with a few big crappie, too; crappie fishing at Lake George in Hobart is “one after another,” by gazebo and the bridges; crappie fishing is going at Webster Lake in the bays, too. On Lake Michigan, he said trollers are taking some browns and lakers working the top five feet of water, but coho (shore or boat) are not showing up yet in good numbers and much of what is being caught is undersized. “Everybody is waiting on the coho, they’re just not here yet,” he said. COHO NOTE: Be aware there is a bunch of small coho, as in 10 to 12 inches, around and the minimum is 14 inches.

ROCK RIVER, WISCONSINNo 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 are a few steelhead, coho and whitefish off the piers; some steelhead and a few walleye at Berrien Springs; some sucker fishing in the lower river.

ST. JOSEPH RIVER, INDIANA

Click herefor reports from the Indiana DNR.

SHABBONA LAKE

As noted in the column tomorrow, there was fishing over the weekend, including “Muskie Ed” Potocki catching a muskie. Lakeside posted photos of walleye and muskie from the weekend and noted the boat launch is open. Lakeside is now open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. with limited boat rental. Lake hours 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

BoRabb Williams sent this from him and Frank Smith:

Wolf Lake was good this weekend and slowed Today….Nothing …. the water was 42 degrees…..that’s it from Frank Smith and BoRabb the crappie man……it gonna get better.

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

No update.


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