Perch fishermen trying, without a lot of luck, on Monday at Steelworkers Park.
Dale Bowman/Sun-Times

Building early ice, seeking perch: Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report

SHARE Building early ice, seeking perch: Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report
SHARE Building early ice, seeking perch: Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report

Ice fishing has spread nearer and perch fishing remains variable on the Chicago lakefront for this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

The condensed Midwest Fishing Report appears Wednesdays on the outdoors page of the Sun-Times newspaper.The sprawling raw-file report is posted here online on the Sun-Times outdoors page.


Ice fishing spreads across Chicago fishing, check individual reports for updates. I updated the regulations for public sites in the area. Click here for that.


Carl Vizzone, program and event coordinator, fishing, for the Chicago Park District, emailed that parking and pier passes are now available at Northerly Island, by credit card only. Hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday through Friday. For parking passes, both a fishing license and driver’s license are needed.


Boaters are doing best, because they can move around in the Calumet River and Cal Harbor. With the dirty water in most slips and harbors, fishing from shore has been tough, but the same advice applies, move around, try the cleaner water in the main stem of the Chicago River downtown. I’m thinking the weather this week may help clear up the water and improve fishing.

Henry’s Sports and Bait has regular hours of M-F 6:30 a.m.-7 p.m., Sat. 6 a.m.-7 p.m., Sun. 6 a.m.-5 p.m.

Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station, Ind. texted:

Perch action good for guys going up towards 100 th street and father all in boats action for shore guys 92 to 95 hit or miss should get good again this week light winds water will clear up

Park Bait is closed for the winter.

The Anglers Outlet in Oak Forest has regular hours of M-Th. 7 a.m.-6 p.m., F 7-7, Sat. 6-5, Sun. 6-3. The shop is moving to 17036 Oak Park Ave. in Tinley Park, a couple blocks north of Freddie Bear Sports.


Here are some parking and access notes for winter perch fishing. Information on parking passes and pier passes is below under separate headings.

Several guys have said the parking app, Spot Hero, has been working well for them while trying to find parking downtown for fishing.

Montrose Harbor has plenty of free parking within easy walking. . . . At Navy Pier, check in at the parking office in the east lot, then be out by 10 a.m. sharp for $6 parking. . . . For DuSable Harbor, use the small fisherman’s lot. . . . At Burnham/Northerly Island, use the Burnham fishermen’s lot or meter parking north of the old terminal (on days with no events at Soldier Field or the music pavilion). . . . Only legal fishing at the slip north of 87th is on the east end at Steelworkers Park. Plenty of free street parking. The slip at 89th is private property.


Selected piers in the Chicago harbors–Montrose, Belmont, Diversey, DuSable, Burnham, Jackson–are open to fishermen with a pier pass. The $6 passes are available at Henry’s Sports and Bait and Northerly Island (credit card only and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday).

Sample pier pass.<br>Provided by Chicago Park District

Sample pier pass.
Provided by Chicago Park District


Passes ($10 for two months) for parking at the two small fishermen’s lots at DuSable and Burnham harbors are available at Henry’s Sports and Bait and Northerly Island (credit card only and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday).


Hoarfrost on plants by early ice on Monday.<br>Dale Bowman/Sun-Times

Hoarfrost on plants by early ice on Monday.
Dale Bowman/Sun-Times

Ice builds, especially in northern and western areas, whether it holds through the weekend will be seen. Click here for the updated regulations on ice fishing around public sites in Chicago fishing.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley sent this report:

Hey Dale, Here’s a recap of this past week’s fishing.Area lakes- waiting.Southern waters have about an inch of ice. Western lakes have about an inch and a half. Ice continues to build but the forecast for later in the week of warmer temps and rain will put a hault to that.TTYL—Ken Husker O’Malley Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team

I think his assessment is pretty good.


Click here to find river closures listed by the Illinois DNR. 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 year.


It’s one of the perch hotspots, especially for boaters. See above.


Art Frisell at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said ice fishing has begun. Some back channel areas are safe, use caution; main lakes are not ready. It is usual early spots, such as Nielsen’s and T-Channel. Bluegill are active on small jigs, waxies and spikes. Some crappie are mixed in with the bluegill in the back channels.

Arden Katz said he did well over the weekend at Nielsen’s for some surprisingly nice crappie and lots of bluegill, though it took sorting. He said there was about 4 inches of ice, but nobody had went out to the front.

Check updates at Fox Waterway Agency or (847) 587-8540 for more information.

STRATTON LOCK AND DAM:The lock is closed through April 30. Click here for more info on the lock and dam.


Capt. Pat Harrison at Pat Harrison Outdoors sent this:

Chicago River and Lake Report, Well the Perch still haven’t come back to Navy Pier. Water is clearing a bit but still murky. Did hear of a few Perch being taken in the harbors but no numbers, there are also a few being taken on the River. If the wind lets up this coming week and we get a break from the wind they should start showing up. My buddy Oscar puts in a lot of time Perch fishing he gets his share for sure but he has even taken a few days off. Now onto to the Ice FIRST OFF Safety should be your NUMBER ONE thought. I know everyone gets excited for First Ice but there is a difference between first ice and safe ice. I know there are guys getting out on the back channels and bays on the Chain and getting some fish most of those areas are 4’ or less so guys get out thinking its shallow enough to get it. I myself don’t ice fish a ton because I still fish open water all winter. I have spent time on the ice with Tod Todd, Tony Boshold, Brent Beckwith and a few other well know ice anglers and I can tell you Safety is always on their mind. Some of the gear I for Safety on ice. Early season spud bar All Season ice cleats, safety spikes, throw able flotation device with a 50’ rope attached, spare gloves, a couple large black trash bags they make good wind breakers and help to remove trash if you have any. If you carry your keys out on the ice with you a key float is a good idea if there dropped on the ice it’s easier to see if they slip in a hole they float. In the truck change of clothes ,blanket, hat, gloves. I’m sure everyone can add to this it’s just my outline of what I bring. My ice gear is all set out in the basement ready to go just have to decide when and were. Not sure about this coming week with temps going back up to about 40 degrees. The boat is ready to go just have to hook up and take the tarp off it so I may be on the river this week if you see me say hi. Have a Great Week catch some fish. Capt. Pat


Tim Baker sent this:

Lake Delavan The last couple weeks have been a transitional phase for Lke Delavan as the hard water season begins to settle in. The main lake is not yet fishable but anglers are getting out in some of the back bays. Reports of crappie, gills being caught with jigging techniques with a few pike and walleye being mixed in usually caught on tip-ups. Warm temperatures are expected for the upcoming week so, unfortunately, not much ice will be made. If you decide to go out, please use extreme caution. Fish with a friend and always bring your spud bar to measure thickness as you venture out. Good luck, stay dry!


Tim Baker sent this:

Des Plaines River I did not make it out on the Dirty D this weekend but I’ve heard of recent success from anglers getting out on the water. Pike has been the target species and they seem to be biting. One thing to keep in mind is the size and speed of your presentation. Big baits catch big fish and this is especially true later into the season. Fish are cold-blooded meaning their metabolism will slow down greatly in the winter months causing them to feed less often and cover less water while in pursuit of their next meal. Knowing this, try throwing bigger, slower moving baits to catch late season pike. You may not get as many bites this way but when you do, they’re usually good ones.


REND LAKE:Check withJason Johnsof Boneyard Fishing.LAKE SHELBYVILLE: Check with Ken WilsonofKen Wilson Guide Service.

Larry Dozard of Larry’s Fishing Hole sent this update on closures and fall/winter hours at some Downstate sites:

BANNER MARSH: * THIS AREA Will CLOSE TO BOAT FISHING on Oct. 17th. With the Last Day to Boat Fish being Oct. 16th AND BANK FISHING ONLY ALLOWED AFTER 1PM but NO FISHING ALLOWED in EAST POINT ACCESS AREA, (lakes to the East) which is CLOSED TO ALL FISHING to provide a GOOSE REFUGE AREA during seasonCLINTON LAKE: An easterly area of Clinton Lake (The Waterfowl Refuge Area) between the DeWitt Bridge East (CH14) and the Rt. 48 Bridge . . . remains Closed typically until April 1st.COFFEEN LAKE: During the Central Zone waterfowl season: No fishing north of the railroad tracks (upper pool) until after 1pm daily through Jan. 31stDOUBLE T STATE FISH and WILDLIFE AREA:* THIS LAKE IS CLOSED TO FISHING – . . . till Feb. 1stEMIQUON PRESERVE: No boating, fishing or ice skating access before 12:00 pm during waterfowl hunting season. Oct. 27 – Jan. 31 Lake users should be aware that hunting might occur on the Preserve other times as well.EVERGREEN LAKE: – A SOUTHERN PART OF EVERGREEN LAKE – AROUND DEER ISLAND and ALL OF SIX-MILE CREEK BAYIS CLOSED TO GAS from Oct. 15th through JAN. 1st to allow resting areas for migratory waterfowl. YOU ARE ALLOWED TO STILL RUN A TROLLING MOTOR ONLY IN THESE AREAS.HENNEPIN-HOPPER LAKES: * Lakes are CLOSED for season.. And will be Open spring 2019.McMASTER LAKE at – SNAKEDEN HOLLOW: Lake will CLOSE TO FISHING on Oct 15th . . . Lake will Re-Open on February 1st.NEWTON LAKE: As written in the fishing regs booklet : * The cold arm of Newton Lake shall be CLOSED daily from one-half hour before sunrise until 1:00 pm to all fishing and boat traffic except for legal waterfowl hunters during waterfowl season commencing with regular duck season through the close of the Canada goose and regular duck season. * For here – Regular South Waterfowl Season for 2018: Nov. 10 – Jan. 31PRAIRIE LAKEin Jim Edgar/ Panther Creek State F&W Area: Lake Partial Closures during Waterfowl Season from Nov. 1st to Jan. 15th Lake access is CLOSED until after 12:01 PM on Wednesday & Saturday.POWERTON LAKE: *- Lake Will RE-OPEN to Shore Fishing on Dec. 24th – but – Will Remain CLOSED TO BOAT FISHING Until Feb. 15thRICE LAKE: Will Re-Open at end of Duck & Goose season.SANGCHRIS LAKE: * THE WEST & EAST ARMS OF LAKE and Small AREA NEAR DAM WILL CLOSE DURING WATERFOWL SEASON to boat traffic . . . through Jan. 31, 2018SPRING LAKE (South & North): Last Day of Boat Fishing in Hunting Areas is Oct. 19th As – THIS AREA will CLOSE TO BOAT FISHING in Hunting Area on Oct. 20th — with BANK FISHING ALLOWED ONLY AFTER 1pm– – AREAS THAT REMAIN OPEN TO BOATS ALL DAY 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.


No update.


No update, other than the note on ice fishing the back channels in the Chain report.


No update.


I could use somebody to give winter reports.


No update this week fromLance LaVineatHowie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay.

Click here to see the Wisconsin DNR’s Lake Michigan Fishing Report.


Closed for year.


On fishing and conditions, check with B&B Live Bait in Ottawa–(815) 433-0432.


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 atlittlecal_saltcreek_access.

Some nice catches came in the Northwest Indiana Steelheaders’ 33rd State Stream & Surf Tournament. Click here for more.

Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station, Ind. texted:

Steelhead action decent lil cal salt creek on voodoo jigs tipped with butterworms or waxworms spawn saks too


No update.


Click here to see the Wisconsin DNR’s Lake Michigan Fishing Report. It generally comes out Tuesday.


Click here for bag limits and prospects for the season from the Ohio DNR.The Ohio DNR hasgeneral Lake Erie info and a fishing report.


See perch at top. There’s the occasional laker and other trout, especially around the South Side of Chicago.

Park Bait is closed for the winter.

SALMON SNAGGING: Snagging season is open at four spots on the Illinois lakefront.Here is the word from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources:

Snagging for chinook and coho salmon only is permitted from the following Lake Michiganshoreline areas from October 1 through December 31; however, no snagging is allowedat any time within 200 feet of a moored watercraftor as posted: A) Lincoln Park Lagoon from the Fullerton Avenue Bridge to the southern end of the Lagoon. B) Waukegan Harbor (in North Harbor basin only). C) Winnetka Power Plant discharge area. D) Jackson Harbor (Inner and Outer Harbors)


Closed to fishing.


Tim Baker sent this:

Madison Area Lakes I was able to get out on a small public lake near the Wisconsin Dells over the weekend for the first time this hard water season. While the main lake was covered in only a thin sheet of ice, the back bays had around 4 inches of solid ice. Anglers were catching gills and crappie on small tungsten jigs and plastics. Early ice is an exciting time of year for catching in the shallows, the best part is they always seem to fight a little harder compared to main lake fish caught later in the season.

Otherwise, check updates for D & S Bait on Facebook.


Closed to fishing, except for Monster Lake at Mazonia South, which is open year-round to fishing.


Click here to see the Wisconsin DNR’s Lake Michigan Fishing Report. It is generally out Tuesdays.


Kurt Justiceof Kurt’s Island Sport Shop in Minocqua, Wis. emailed this:

Good ice conditions, NOT great, throughout the Lakeland area.Good because most lakes are reporting 6-8 of good solid ice.Not great because we don’t have 12-16 and because some larger lakes are still reporting only 3-6 mid-lake.Yet oddly, things are worse north of us where heavy snow has halted ice growth to the 3-5 range.Still, most lakes good for walking, ATV and some snowmobile use. A high-pressure system on Friday and Saturday was the biggest hurdle for anglers, fish just seemed to shut down everywhere – even the small panfish were hard to entice.In cases like this, shift to dark moving water to hopefully offset some of the high barometric effects.Those that did Sunday found some nice Walleyes taking small #3 : #4 tungsten jigs meant for panfish, just an example of how to go small on a tough bite works for even larger fish. Walleye:Poor – Fair – See above.With new, lower pressure system moving in, bite has already improved as of this writing.Live minnows for now, but jigging lures and spoons will be good as week progresses. Northern Pike:Poor – Fair – Same here.Downsize to medium shiners, suckers but supersize ‘em for warm weekend coming up. Bluegill, Crappie & Perch:Poor – Fair What can be said?But hey, its behind us and this system coming in should pick things back up to what it was before. It was an unfortunate blip on the early ice season.But the end of last week’s cold did add some ice and improve mobility on the lakes.Still, use precaution, but this coming week looks great. Kurt Justice – Kurt’s Island Sport Shop www.kurtsislandsports.com Like us on FaceBook


Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station, Ind. texted:

Steelhead action decent lil cal salt creek on voodoo jigs tipped with butterworms or waxworms spawn saks too Perch action good for guys going up towards 100 th street and father all in boats action for shore guys 92 to 95 hit or miss should get good again this week light winds water will clear upIce iffy not safe most places few going but I don’t promote to iffy


No update.


No update.


The Wisconsin DNR’s Root River Report is usually out Tuesday or Wednesday. Click here to see it.


I did not do a check-in with Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor.


Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR.


Lakeside–(815)824-2581–is closed for the season (reopening when ice fishing comes).

On Monday, Lakeside posted:

Just drove thru the park. Lake is 95 percent covered. The geese have open pockets of water in the deep trees and north of the roadbed. Did not drill any holes because it did not look very thick at all. As always no ice is safe ice.

Park hours are 8 a.m.- 5 p.m. through Jan. 31.


For the Wisconsin DNR’s Lake Michigan Fishing Report, click here to see it. Streams flow info is at http://waterdata.usgs.gov/wi/nwis/current?type=flow.


No update.


Check with River’s Edge.


No update.


No update.


No update.

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