Steadier perch in Chicago and waiting on firmer ice for the Midwest Fishing Report

It’s waiting on firmer ice and steadier perch in Chicago as the leads in the sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

SHARE Steadier perch in Chicago and waiting on firmer ice for the Midwest Fishing Report

A pile of perch after successful shore fishing around the South Side slips.

Provided by Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Variable perch fishing around Chicago and waiting on ice to firm up lead this sprawling raw-fie Midwest Fishing Report.

Ken ``Husker’’ O’Malley sent the photo above and this note from the South Side slips:

Between three of us from shore. Unfortunately, all our boats have been winterized for the season.


Reports are slightly better and steadier, especially around the South Side slips, but the variable weather keeps perch fishing around Chicago hit and miss. Steadiest reports have been by boaters in the Calumet system and shore fishing at the South Side slips; Navy Pier has been spotty; the North Side harbors are dead for perch.

Bumped into Jeffrey Williams last night at Fishing CPR event for Joe Capilupo at Henry’s Sports and Bait and a relative of Williams had gotten into perch on Monday at Navy Pier. Earlier in the day, a veteran lakefront angler said when the perch start showing up at DuSable Harbor, they should be going in the Chicago River, too.

Arden Katz said perch are stacked thick in South Side slips. From boat, he said they marked them “8 feet thick,” then caught them the next day from shore, too.

Ken ``Husker’’ O’Malley emailed:

Hey Dale, . . . Lake Michigan-perch are good on crappie rigs with minnows and shrimp. Early morning hours can yield limits as water clarity improved. 87th Street had the best bite this week. TTYL

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

Perch . . . action good Seems like the perch are creeping up the river a little more everyday Xl fatheads still best for perch

Be nice if the perch started creeping in farther north around the North Side and downtown harbors, too.


(I figured just in case fishable ice forms in spots, I should include this.)

Ice fish at your own risk, unless noted. Ice fishing is not permitted at the Chicago Lagoons, FPD of Kendall County, FPD of Will County and FP of the Kankakee River Valley. FP COOK: Ice-fishing lakes are Arrowhead, Axehead, Beck, Belleau, Big Bend, Bode South only, Bullfrog, Busse main and south, Flatfoot, Green, Horsetail, Ida, Maple, Papoose, Powderhorn, Saganashkee Slough, Sag Quarry, Tampier, Turtlehead, Wampum. FPD DuPAGE: Permitted most sites. No ice fishing at Spring Creek Reservoir. Late-night fishing allowed at Deep Quarry, must be out of preserve by 11 p.m. FPD KANE: Permitted only at Lake Patterson (Hampshire South FP), Oakhurst FP, two ponds within Paul Wolff Campground and Grunwald Farms FP. LAKE FP: When conditions allow, ice fishing permitted 6:30 a.m. to sunset at Banana and Independence Grove south bay; 6:30 a.m. to one hour after sunset at Sterling. MAZONIA SFWA: Monster at Mazonia South is open year-round open-water or ice fishing; other lakes closed until after hunting seasons. McHENRY CCD: Ice fishing at The Hollows (West Lake only).


Readers suggest SpotHero app downtown. Montrose (free parking); Navy Pier (check in parking office in east lot, be out by 10 a.m. for $8 angler parking); DuSable Harbor (fisherman’s lot); Northerly Island/Burnham Harbor (meters or fisherman’s lot); Steelworkers Park (free street parking at east end of 87th).


Pier passes ($6) for select piers in Chicago harbors and $10 parking passes (DuSable, Burnham fisherman’s lots) are available at Henry’s Sports and Bait or Northerly Island (10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday, credit card only).


It’s mainly waiting on ice.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley emailed:

Hey Dale, Here is a recap of this past week’s fishing. Area lakes-most lakes have thin ice covering 70-80%. Not much opportunity. The cold front should lock things up by week’s end. . . . TTYL


Art Frisell at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said the back channels had maintained their ice so there is a good chance of some ice fishing on the back channels later this week for bluegill and perch.


Waiting on perch to show up. As noted above, one veteran lakefront angler said perch will not show up until they are in DuSable Harbor, too.


Braidwood, Heidecke, LaSalle and Mazonia (except Monster at Mazonia, which is open year-round) are closed for the season.


POWERTON: Reopens to bank fishing on Dec. 23. Boat fishing reopens Feb. 15. EMIQUON: Go to SHELBYVILLE: Check with Ken Wilson of Lithia Guide Service. SOUTHERN ILLINOIS: Check with Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing. HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Closed for the season.


There’s been a lot of weekend night fishing for walleye, according to one of those doing it who wished to stay unnamed. And Geneva stays open water longer than most waters.



The screen of Mike Norris when he was catching bass as deep as 78 feet.

Provided by Mike Norris

Guide Mike Norris texted the photo above

Here is what they look like tight to the bottom on my Humminbird That was not a typo in my report.We caught bass last week as deep as 78 ft of water.That resets my personal mark for the deepest I have ever caught bass.Also set mark for the latest date I have ever fished for Smallies in open water on Big Green.Here’s a photo to accompany my report.


December smallmouth and Mike Norris on Green Lake.


He also emailed the smallmouth photo and this report:

Fishing Report – 12/09/2019 Mike Norris Big Green Lake – My clients and I experienced excellent open water smallmouth bass fishing on Big Green last week despite measuring surface water temps down to 39 – 40 degrees.Live bait rigging with suckers remained the best option for catching smallmouth bass which we located anywhere from 16 to 78 feet of water.A small group of anglers were also catching suspended walleyes on this lake.A major cold front is expected to arrive here on Tuesday and last through the end of the week.Daytime high temps are forecast to be in the teens with single digit temps at night.I should see significant ice formation in the shallow water bays and around boat launches on Big Green Lake, but I won’t see Big Green freeze over entirely until sometime in January due to its size and depth.Smaller area lakes should freeze completely over as this week progresses.For early ice fishing in south central Wisconsin check out Waterworks Park and Edgewater Beach on Beaver Dam Lake for Crappie and Wedges Bay and Town Park for early ice bluegill on Fox lake, WI. Contact Mike Norris, Wacky Worm Guide Service, at 630-842-8199 for Big Green Lake and other south-central Wisconsin guided fishing trips


Check the Wisconsin DNR weekly report at


Check the report at


See perch at the top.

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

There’s still trout at Diversey some really nice steelhead actually and Montrose had a couple nice brown trout and some steelhead other than that nothing else to talk about. Actually my last day was Sunday the water went off yesterday so I am done for the 2019 seasonhave a great safe winter and a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year .

SALMON SNAGGING: Here are the details from the IDNR:

4) Snagging for chinook and coho salmon only is permitted from the following Lake Michigan shoreline areas from October 1 through December 31; however, no snagging is allowed at any time within 200 feet of a moored watercraft or 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). d) Disposition of Snagged Salmon and Paddlefish. All snagged salmon and paddlefish must be removed from the area from which they are taken and disposed of properly, in accordance with Article 5, Section 5-5 of the Fish and Aquatic Life Code.


Check the D&S Bait update at


Kurt Justice at Kurt’s Island Sport Shop emailed:

Previous week’s snow put caution in the minds of ice anglers throughout the Nothwoods.Where snow fell on existing ice (5-8 ice), ice still good, but sloppy with slush depths of 5-7.New ice formed after the last storm, over deeper parts of lakes, had a solid 2 ½ - 3 ½ of firm ice. Bluegills:Good – Most anglers concentrating on the old reliable bays where ice thickness runs 6-8 but had to deal with slush on tip.The 5-8’ depths with green cabage was giving up some good action with enough larger (8 ½ - 9 ½) Gills to make things interesting.#10 lead teardrops tipped with waxies worked fine. Northern Pike:Good –Not many tip-up anglers ‘til the weekend.Largest shiners and suckers to be found worked best.6-9’ green cabbage. Crappies:Good-Fair – Crappie minnows on tip-downs, slow dropping gold rockers tipped with pink or chartreuse plastics best. Perch:Good-Fair – Lots of smaller Perch, yet some eaters on gobs of waxies on forage spoons or #2 pimples in shallow flats Walleye:Fair –Mostly due to lack of participation until Friday night, though several reports of larger fish (26, 27, 27 ½) caught and released by tip-up anglers. As of this report (12/9/19), its snowing with forecast of several inches of new snow possible.Hopefully this dryer, lighter snow will blow off lakes and allow the coming cold snap (negative teens at night) to dry up things and build good ice for this coming weekend. Give up through Thursday to get fresh reorts.Check out our sites on Friday for updates. Kurt Justice Kurt’s Island Sport Shop Like us on FaceBook


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

Perch and steelhead action good Seems like the perch are creeping up the river a little more everyday Xl fatheads still best for perch voodoo jigs in black and purple tipped with butterworms taking good number of steelhead in all area tributaries Some lake trout being caught from shore guys in portage and Michigan city mostly casting a variety of spoons and crankbaits


The Wisconsin DNR usually issues updates on Tuesday or Wednesday at


Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said some steelhead (mid-river up to the dam) and a few walleye are going in the river; when the piers are accssible, a few whitefish are being caught.


Lakeside is closed until ice fishing. Park hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m.


For the southern Lake Michigan reports from the Wisconsin DNR, go to

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