Chicago fishing, the Midwest Fishing Report: Stays as variable as the weather

SHARE Chicago fishing, the Midwest Fishing Report: Stays as variable as the weather

Jackson Benesch with a northern pike caught and released at Independence Grove.
Provided by Marcus Benesch

A few were getting anxious enough for early coho to try powerlining at Montrose Harbor; I would expect more of that as the weather moderates later this week; but all the same, ice fishing dominates this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

Marcus Benesch sent the photo of his son Jackson with a northern pike caught and released while ice fishing an Independence Grove.

Also good to hear some news and a bit of a report from Rob Abouchar on the Wisconsin River around Merrill, Wis. (Plus I just like getting a mention of the Wild Hare in.)

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.


Ice fishing goes on, but in general probably want rubber boots and cleats again later in the week.

Marcus Benesch sent this report on Independence Grove (mandatory catch-and-release), where ice fishing when conditions allow is in the south bay, and the photo at the top and the one below his report:

Dale, Spent a few days on the ice this month at Independence Grove in Libertyville. It’s a catch and release only lake and they allow ice fishing in the marina pool only. Lucked into a very large school of jumbo perch the other day. (15fow) Haven’t caught that many large perch like that since the mid 90’s when my father would take me to Montrose Pier at the crack of dawn.Small-fats have been a really hot presentation, could not replicate the same action with wax worms. Even caught a jumbo perch under a tip up that engulfed a 4inch golden roach that was intended for a pike. As for the pike, they are pretty steady in the shallow weeds. (4-8fow). Managed to land a 39inch 16lb pike, what a thrill. However, those jumbos supplied the most fun I’ve had in a long time at a forest preserve lake.I attached a few pictures of the fish my son Jackson and I have been getting into over there.Marcus BeneschGurnee

Jackson Benesch with a perch caught and released at Independence Grove.<br>Provided by Marcus Benesch

Jackson Benesch with a perch caught and released at Independence Grove.
Provided by Marcus Benesch

Staff at Henry’s Sports and Bait said ice fishing for panfish is generally going well all across the area at local ponds and lakes.

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


Scheduled to reopen March 1.


No report.


Art Frisell at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said crappie are going on Channel or Catherine, stay away from current areas (flow has some of them open), use spikes or minnows on glow or pink jigs; for bluegill, try waxies on red, gold or clown jigs, Channel or Catherine are best; pike fishing is very good in most northern Lake County lakes, particularly Loon and Deep, try tip-ups rigged with large or medium roaches; perch are fair, try small fatheads, waxies or spikes on firetiger jigs, best is Channel, start in 11 feet and work deeper and look for weeds.

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), Jack & Lydia’s Resort (Deep).

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 Report, Well the ice has busted up a bit but it hasn’t moved. Down river from Downtown the river is wide open. I’m thinking about seeing if the Crappie are in a few of the spots I fish in the area. This ice and snow is getting to me. My boat is out at my sponsor Lake County Water Sports for a few people to view it, it’s up for sale. I have been busy with the show season but I’m back to getting out in about a week. Reports of some nice fish coming through the holes on Geneva and Delevan. Here in the Chicago Area a buddy has been doing pretty good at Busse. And remember if you want to open water fish there’s always the warm water discharge below the dam on Salt Creek. I used to fish there every weekend years ago and always had a good time. Ice is good at Shabbona and so is the fishing they have been sending some nice pictures.. Well we have a few more weeks of the cold weather but there are still a few shows and swaps to hit. Lake County Water Sports is having an Open House the 22nd 23rd and 24th we will have Pro Staff members there throughout the Open House talking to folks about fishing and boats. Till next week grab a good fishing book and relax and read water and spring will be here soon. Thanks Capt. Pat, — Thanks Pat


No update.


No update, though I had an interesting submission for Fish of the Week caught in the snows.


POWERTON LAKE:Boat fishing reopened Friday. Hours remain 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

LAKE SHELBYVILLE: Check with Ken Wilson of Ken Wilson Guide Service. REND LAKE: Check with Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing. HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Have not yet seen the opening day for spring/summer fishing to begin.


No update.


No update.


No update.


No update.


Here is the report that Lance LaVine at Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. sent last week and it should hold:

Good afternoon fellas. Here’s a quick update on the ice fishing The overall ice thickness around the county is pretty good for the most part. Anywhere from 8 to 20 inches pending on where you are at. The issue fishermen are having is on the ice travel part of things because of the amount of snow and slush we have on the ice currently. And to make matters worse, they are calling for a substantial snowstorm for our area mid-week which could really cause some problems unless you travel by tracked vehicle or snowmobile. Let’s just hope the weather forecasters are wrong! The Whitefish action has been going pretty well for the most part throughout the area. I will class it as good to very good overall. And if you stay away from other fishermen….like a long ways away from other fishermen, the Whitefish action can be classed as excellent. One of the main keys, for any species is to stay quiet and not follow the groups of fishermen around. Whitefish are all over the place and will bite very good if they are calm and not spooky. So just find a quiet spot out there and start jigging. You can catch them in 10 feet of water out to 100 feet of water and everywhere in-between. There are tons of baits that will work, but some of them include….Rapala Jigs, Storm Wild Eye Jigs, Howie’s Goby Head tipped with a minnow or plastic and Sweedish Pimples just to name a few. And most folks run some kind of a slider above their main jig. For the most part, if you’re not fishing plastics, tip your jigs and sliders with waxies, spikes and or minnow pieces Pike action has been going quite good in our area basically from the 3 southern bays starting with Little Sturgeon all the way up to Washington Island with some very big Pike getting iced. The depth vary from as shallow as 3 feet of water out to that 30 foot range pending on the area. Suspend sucker minnows, golden shiners and or dead/frozen bait under tip-ups or auto fishermen through the area you are fishing at different depths Walleye fishing is just normal Walleye fishing for our area and for this time of year. Which means some days you get a bite or two and some days your just practicing, but the bite you get may just be the biggest one you’ll ever catch and that’s why we do it. The Walleye fishing picks up here in Door County near the end of February and into March even April pending on our ice cover. The best baits to have in the box include…Rippin Raps, Slab Raps, Rapala Jigs and OddBall jigs just to name a few. And pending on the jig, tip them with a full shiner or fat head or just the head Perch fishing has been going quite well overall. Little Sturgeon, the Sawyer Harbor area and some areas out in the big bay from out in front of Riley’s Bay south to Chaudoirs Dock. Out in that deeper water you have to do a little more searching, but once you find them, they are generally nice sized fish. Fatheads, shiners, Rosy Reds, waxies and spikes will all work. The big key here again is to steer clear of other fishermen for the best success Thanks; Lance LaVine Howie’s Tackle 1309 Green Bay Rd Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235 Ph: 920-746-9916

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


Scheduled to reopen April 1.


Projected to steadily drop off flood stage after today.


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:

Few steelhead still being caught in salt creek and Lil cal mainly voodoo jigs tipped with butterworms or waxworms best


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.


Ice pack cleared out rather quickly on the lake side and a few were even powerlining for early coho. It’s worth a shot, they;re catching a few coho in Indiana.

Tom Platt at Henry’s Sports and Bait said there is ice fishing going in the harbors with reports of a few browns and rainbows/steelhead.

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).

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.


Scheduled to reopen March 15.


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:

Quite the punch to the gut for us ice anglers! Following the polar vortex(s) that gave us enough ice for good truck travel, Mother Nature dumps 24 from two snow falls last week to plant a total of 35 for February alone! And this is as of 2/19 – forecast of additional 6 on 2/20, then possible 10 on 2/24. It’s messy out there folks. Hard to give very good reports when many anglers are spending more time digging than drilling. Slow would be most reports coming off ice. Though some anglers lucked on to some Northern Pike, Perch and Crappies. But overall, the weekend was spent searching for ice that wasn’t sloppy. Areas of high traffic from snowmobiles seemed packed down for use by foot, ATV with tracks or other snowmobiles. At some derbies, fish were caught, the traffic actually helping to flatten some areas for use. You can be sure Brad Schillinger and his crew at Custom Caretaking will have some roads plowed open for their Carrol Lake Tourney this Saturday, with proceeds going to Angel on My Shoulder. Big Arb, Stacks Bay have got useable ice. The problem isn’t the ice (22 – 28 averages) it’s the stuff on top. Temps Thursday – Saturday in mid-30’s will make it pleasant, but not any dryer. Make sure to wear knee boots and bring a shovel. Derbys Feb 23rd – 6th Annual Carrol Lake Ice Fishing Tournament – Carrol Lake in Woodruff Feb 23rd – 13th Annual Lake Tomahawk Family Fun Fisheree – Lake Tomahawk Feb 23rd – Annual Claus Kraetke Memorial Ice Fishing Jamboree – Donners Bay Resort – Turtle Flambeau Flowage Mar 9th – 1st Annual KISS High School Panfish Ice Tournament – Lake Minocqua Kurt Justice Kurt’s Island Sport Shop Like us on FaceBook —



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

Coho fishing last few days decent at portage lakefront riverwalk and in the basin behind dnr station in Michigan city Skein or small golden roachs on floats and bottom best right now good number of fish caughtWillow slough gave up good numbers of gills over weekend u must pick thru the small ones tho front and back doing good bass on tip ups with medium suckers and roaches gills on beemoth or spikes tungsten jigs in all colorsFew steelhead still being caught in salt creek and Lil cal mainly voodoo jigs tipped with butterworms or waxworms best

David Martin Repya messaged the photo below and this:

Michigan City is open in the harbor for the weekend guys..Water is still stained Michigan City Iceland

The status of Michigan City, should be wide open by the weekend.<br>Provided by David Martin Repya

The status of Michigan City, should be wide open by the weekend.
Provided by David Martin Repya


No update.


No update.


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


No update.


Click herefor reports from the Indiana DNR.


Ken “Husker” O’Malley sent this:

Hey Dale, Here is a recap of this past week’s fishing.Shabbona Lake-Ice conditions are good at 12 inches. Crappie were decent despite high pressure post frontal conditions. Key was staying mobile catching a few fish from each hole and moving as the crappie were roaming. A few bluegill were caught also. Focus on brush piles, cribs, and traditional areas from soft to hard bottoms. Best colors were gold and white jigs tipped with multiple spikes or wack’em and stack’em plastics. Water clarity improved from last weekend, but still is cloudy.TTYL—Ken Husker O’Malley Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team

Lakeside–(815) 824-2581–is open 8 a.m.-2 p.m. while there is ice fishing.

Park hours in February are 8 a.m.- 6 p.m.


For the Wisconsin DNR’s Lake Michigan Fishing Report, click here to see it. Streams flow info is at


Scott Heller with the 114.4-pound, 73.9-inch sturgeon he speared Sunday.<br>Provided by Wisconsin DNR

Scott Heller with the 114.4-pound, 73.9-inch sturgeon he speared Sunday.
Provided by Wisconsin DNR

Sturgeon spearing season ended Monday on the Upriver lakes, but continues on Winnebago. Click here for details.

As of Monday afternoon, after Day 10, this was the update from the Wisconsin DNR:

As expected, today’s sturgeon harvest took quite a dip as 26 fish were registered on the Winnebago System (17 from Lake Winnebago and 9 from the Upriver Lakes). Waverly Beach and Stockbridge Harbor stations continue to register the most fish with each station registering five sturgeon today. The largest fish harvested today was 95.6 pounds (68.2) and registered at Waverly Beach by Mack Stuck of Menasha. The largest fish registered on the Upriver Lakes today was 83.1 pounds (68.0) and registered at Critter’s by Ricky Remme of Freemont. A detailed break down of today’s harvest can be viewed through the following link: Day 10 – Harvest Report.pdf Good luck to all spearers during the remainder of the season! Today’s Vignette: History of the Upriver Lakes Spearing Seasons and Trends in the Modern Era Today was the last day of the 2019 spearing season on the Upriver Lakes. The season lasted 10 days with a harvest of 307 fish. The 10-day season is tied for the 2nd longest season since the lottery fishery format was implemented in 2007. More information about the history of the sturgeon spearing seasons on the Upriver Lakes is presented in today’s vignette. Congratulations to all spearers that were successful during the lottery fishery this season! History of the Upriver Lakes Sturgeon Spear Fishery and Trends in the Modern Era_2019.pdf We are committed to service excellence. Visit our survey at to evaluate how I did. Ryan Koenigs Senior Fisheries Biologist / Winnebago System Sturgeon Biologist


Check with River’s Edge.


Scene at the Wild Hare.<br>Provided by Rob Abouchar.

Scene at the Wild Hare.
Provided by Rob Abouchar.

Rob Abouchar sent the photo above and the sort-of report below:

Hi Dale Wow what a couple of months it has been! Too long to not drop you a line. The signs were showing up last week; crocus pushing through melting ice and snow, Starlings over running the feeders, male cardinals starting their mating calls in the early morning. It could all mean one thing; just days till the Braidwood opener. I finally made it to Merrill over the weekend and the snow was 3 feet high and icicles were stretching from roofs to the ground, and temps were hovering around zero Most of the river is locked in ice except for high current areas. My visits North were reduced due to the amount of Gigs I was playing with the reggae band. Once again I hosted Anthony Cruz from Jamaica and played a series of sold out shows in December and on New years. It was really again a dream come true taking the stage at the Wild Hare singing songs I wrote and having an audience respond so positively. It truly was amazing. Having people tell me my songs are really good and that they should be recorded is very humbling and my next adventure is to hopefully record the songs for release in the coming months.The 35 years of music is really paying off. I will be participating in Writers Week at my school in March. I will be telling my story of living the musical dream while working and going to school. It should be very fun as I will be playing a couple of my original songs along with telling my story.One more big bit of news is that my fishing team has been awarded the catch the future financial grant from Salmon Unlimited. We will be helping at the Salmon Unlimited events coming up this year. This should be a great experience for the members of the team. I have a copy of the letter here.Tight LinesRob


No update.


No update.

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