Shuffling, belated ice and true winter: Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report

SHARE Shuffling, belated ice and true winter: Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report

Carl Vizzone captured this image of ice fishing at Axehead on Sunday.
From Facebook

Though the snows haven’t helped with ice formation, fishable ice gradually builds and already arrived in many places to lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

Actually, considering how much snow some places received I am a little surprised how many places have fishable ice, at least in spots, from points as varied Willow Slough and Shabbona Lake.

I thought Carl Vizzone summed it nicely Sunday with the photo above and this post on Facebook:

On ice! — at Axehead Lake.

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.


Click here for the updated regulations on ice fishing around public sites in Chicago fishing.


The Calumet and Chicago river systems remain the most consistent spots, but the weather has made them tough.

Staff at Henry’s Sports and Bait, which 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., said even the perch bite at the Riverwalk on the Chicago River has slowed.

Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station, Ind., which is open 5 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, texted:

Got cold and a lot of guys stopped perching cause of cold most action has been Torrence ave bridge and farther up river


Snow cover is the complicating factor, but there is lots of fishable ice across the area and it should be nearly universal by the weekend. I shouldn’t need to type this, but evidence suggests I should: Use caution, the snow cover has made for trickier ice conditions.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley noted in his report:

Hey Dale, Here is a recap of this past week’s fishing.Area lakes- we finally have weather to build ice. Lakes out south have 2 inches of ice along shorelines, less away from the shorelines. Should be good by the weekend.. . .TTYLYou going to be at the Schaumburg show this weekend?—Ken Husker O’Malley Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team

To answer O’Malley’s question, I do plan to be at the Schaumburg Show this weekend, hopefully opening day on Thursday and again on Saturday.

Click here for the updated regulations on ice fishing around public sites in Chicago fishing.


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


It’s one of the more consistent perch spots, especially for the few boaters braving the weather. See perch report above.


Art Frisell at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said, “Ice fishing is finally happening around the Chain.” Most are staying shallow due to the thin ice in deeper water and current areas. Use extreme caution, but fishing has been good. Bluegills are shallow and taking jigs (Wonderbread is the hot color), or try black and brown Rat Finkees; crappie are shallow taking small minnows, glow jigs, spikes or waxies;  find pike in same areas coming through and hitting medium to large roaches.

CHAIN/FOX BACKWATERS ICE-FISHING ACCESS:Most places run some version of $5 parking and usually take it off food drink orders if it applies. Hermann’s Rest-A-While (Nielsen’s Channel), Granny’s Lakeside Diner at Spring Lake Marina, Choppers Bar and Grill (Channel), Sandbar Bar & Grille (Marie), Oak Park Lounge (Pistakee Bay), Musky Tales Bait Shop (near the old Mentone’s), Famous Freddie’s Roadhouse (T-Channel), Barnacle Bob’s (Marie).

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 Michigan Report, Still no action at Navy Pier I think the Perch season is going to stay on the Chicago River. Folks are still getting some Nice Fish and limits with a little work. As temperatures drop remember that the farther you go down river away from the locks the warm will warm 3 to 4 degrees. I had a guy send me a message he got a decent Trout out of Montrose Harbor. I was at the Chicago Boat Show at McCormick Place in my Sponsors both Lake County Water Sports and G3 Boats. I had a lot of folks stop by to talk fishing and boating had a Good time. The biggest question was when do you start fishing the river again? I don’t stop fishing the river in the winter there is a period where there is a week or two where it freezes with skim ice if we have a real cold winter. What keeps me off the river in the winter is the sport shows and seminars. You can catch fish all winter on the river just have to put some time in I will say in the years I have been doing it we have only boated one Trout and that was in Ogden slip, not to say they aren’t there I just haven’t caught them. Looks like we are going to get some colder temps this coming week that may start to produce ice Please be safe out there. Don’t go out alone go with a buddy let someone know where you’re going when you’re going to get there and ho long you plan to be there. If you change locations or bodies of water again let someone know. You can’t be found if something goes wrong if someone doesn’t know where you are. Remember when you were young your parents would say Where are you going? How long are you going to be there? What time do you plan on being? Check in now and then. That’s Great advice even on open water if something happens which does from time to time it’s a Good Plan to make sure someone knows where you at. When we troll out of my G3 we normally go up and go out of North Point, Racine, Kenosha, Milwaukee etc. Sometimes in a day we run through all the areas and I’m guilty of not letting someone on land know that I’m sometimes out 10 miles and 20 miles from where I started so I’m not prefect about it either. I am going to be better about a float plan this year for sure water safety is important. Capt. Pat,


No update.


No update.


POWERTON LAKE: The cooling lake in Pekin  is open for shore fishing, hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Boat fishing reopens Feb. 15. LAKE SHELBYVILLE:  Check with Ken Wilson of Ken Wilson Guide ServiceREND LAKE: Check with Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing.

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.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. 31RICE 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.


No update.


I could use somebody to give winter reports.


No update from Lance LaVine at Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay, but last week he noted whitefish anglers were starting to get farther out.

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


Closed for year.


Check with B&B Live Bait in Ottawa at (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 at littlecal_saltcreek_access.

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

Some good steelhead action over weekend even with it cold a lot of fisherman in river salt creek lil cal and trail all gave up steelhead voodoo jigs or spawn saks taking almost all the fish


No update.


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


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


Weather has really limited effort and catching.

ACCESS/PARKING OPTIONS: 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 park downtown for fishing; otherwise find street parking or small lots. . . . 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 the reduced parking rate. . . . 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.

PASSES: PIER: 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). PARKING: 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).


Closed to fishing.


D & S Baitcan be followed on Facebook.


Because of an operational change, both units are now open for fishing. Any ice fishing is at your own risk.


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


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

If we had forgotten what winter Really feels like, it’s back! Sub zero temps, sometimes at 20 degrees below and more, has put a slow down to the activity of ice anglers. Fishing has taken a bit of a hit, but fish still being caught. Mobility, due to cold, not travel conditions, biggest draw back. The cold, coupled with the lack of snow, is actually making ice travel better as ice depths are increasing. Northern Pike: Fair-Good – Tip-up anglers have faired best using large shiners and suckers along outside weed edges of 10-16’. Not as many numbers, but some nice Pike in the low 30 range. Check holes often for freeze up and moving bait seems to help trigger hits. Bluegill: Fair-Good – Not the easiest, since cold keeping anglers from being outside shacks, but nice Gills (7-9) with several anglers catching (and releasing) Gills of over 10! #4 tungsten jigs (Fiskas, Skandia, 13 Fishing) tipped with spikes or plastics (J:S Ice Mites, Little Atom wedgees, 13 Sneaks) in red, purple, motor oil and blue have worked this weekend. Crappies: Fair-Good – Cold has made tip-down fishing near impossible (holes freeze too quick). Anglers finding Crappies suspended outside deep weeds or over mud flats taking minnows, small spoons (Demon Tongue, Slender spoons, Forage minnows) tipped with waxies. Small flutter spoon jigs, FJN, FJG and Lethal Cecils also effective. Yellow Perch: Fair-Good – Seek mud flats of 16-28’. Anglers using tungsten Venom Glo jigs tipped with spikes (red) doing well when bouncing jig to stir up mud. Pimples, Halis, Rattle Spoons, Kastmasters-all with weight to get back down quickly. #5 tungsten jigs in glow colors also effective tipped with wigglers or a single red spike. Walleye: Poor-Fair – Mostly after dark. Anglers reporting using suckers on tip-ups or minnow heads on glow (Flash Bang, Glo Shot spoons) or something with a rattle (Kastmaster, Buckshot spoons) to entice bites. Walleyes seem to be less aggressive, so slow down and scale down if necessary. Largemouth Bass: Poor – Respond best on warmer days, don’t see much in forecast. Use small-medium shiners on tip-ups, forage minnow spoons w/ waxies. Ice thickness has increased to 20+ on many lakes. With little snow, travel excellent for trucks, SUVs and ATVs. While anglers may not want to fish outside a shack for long periods, on windless days conditions not bad. Kurt Justice Kurt’s Island Sport Shop Like us on FaceBook —



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

Ice still iffy at a lot of places but some are out on ice just needs to firm up better Some guys out at [Willow Slough]Some good steelhead action over weekend even with it cold a lot of fisherman in river salt creek lil cal and trail all gave up steelhead voodoo jigs or spawn saks taking almost all the fish


No update.


No update.


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


Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said river in lower sections is icing up.


Click herefor reports from the Indiana DNR.


Ice fishing began.

Clint Sands at Lakeside–(815) 824-2581–sent this on Monday:

Ice update!Most of the lake is covered in ice. There are open pockets of water that are freezing up in the deep trees and out by the road bed. The geese are fighting a losing battle trying to keep the pockets open.There was some anglers fishing the campground cribs this morning. I did not get a chance to speak with them.Some more anglers fished somonauk bay and said the ice there was around 5 inches.I drilled some holes in the boat rental bay and found around 5 inches as well.I do not have any reports south of the baitshop.As always no ice is safe ice and ice thickness can vary quickly. Always check thickness for yourself.Lakeside Bait and Tackle will have bait delivered tomorrow Tuesday Jan 22nd mid day. Lakeside will be open seven days a week 8 am to 2 pm. We have a full line of bait, a large selection of ice fishing tackle and rental equipment. Rental equipment includes flashers, cameras, power auger and one man tent.

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


Sturgeon spearing season opens Feb. 9. Click here for details.


Check with River’s Edge.


No update.


No update.


No update.

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