Chicago fishing in Midwest Fishing Report: Early coho, hoping on perch after the blow, counting on ice

There’s some coho, waiting on perch after the blow and counting on ice for this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

SHARE Chicago fishing in Midwest Fishing Report: Early coho, hoping on perch after the blow, counting on ice

Sey Jay with a steelhead from a protected spot on the Chicago lakefront.


Waiting on area-wide fishable ice leads this sprawling raw-fie Midwest Fishing Report; otherwise it is waiting and hoping on Lake Michigan clearing up after the blow to restart perch fishing.

And the early start to coho fishing keeps going on southern Lake Michigan.

Sey Jay sent the photo at the top and this explanation, which, in a way, ties into the blow and Lake Michigan’s high water:

Hello again Dale, Just wanted to share a couple of pics of this 29 8.3lb steelie I caught yesterday from the end of the Fullerton Lagoon. I used to do very well back there in the early 80’s when the water levels were also very high both open water and through the ice. Now that the water is high, they have started to return to that location. Fished one rod baited with a spawn sac and coho skein on the other using slip floats set at 6 feet. The fish hit the nickel size skein chunk skewered on a #6 orange and chartreuse ice spoon. I use 8lb braid with an 8lb mono leader and she put up an excellent battle taking off on several decent runs. She surfaced a couple of times but did not clear the water. Guessing the temp was near freezing as skim ice was forming. Sey Jay

I found Sey Jay’s point very interesting. And it made me wonder if fishing might rebound a little at an obscure North Side pier I fished in my younger single days with the continued higher water over the past year.

I remember spending a February Sunday in the late ‘80s, while living in Edgewater, watching waves busting second-floor windows of condos along Sheridan Road by the lake.


Anticipating that there will be at least some ice fishing by the weekend and early next week, I am including the regulations for nearby public sites.

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. McHENRY CCD: Ice fishing at The Hollows (West Lake only). SILVER SPRINGS SFWA: Must use the east entrance.


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).


Waiting on ice to set up.


Brad Irving at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said the back channels should be good to go for ice fishing by the weekend. The back channels already have slushy ice that should firm up quickly.

Hermann’s Rest-a-While, which offers parking, access, food and drink at Nielsen’s Channel, also offers to include people on text messages about ice conditions.

Absolutely! Please tell anyone who wants to opt in to this service they can text ice conditions to (847) 309-2225.


Waiting on perch.


Braidwood, Heidecke and LaSalle are closed for the season.


POWERTON: Bank fishing is open daily 8 a.m.-4 p.m. 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.



Boat launches on Big Green Lake remained wide open before the weekend storm, though that might be changing.

Provided by Mike Norris

Guide Mike Norris texted the photo above and emailed the report below:

Fishing Report – 01/12/2020 Mike Norris Little Green Lake – Ice anglers are catching northern pike and walleye. Most of the pike are being caught on tip-ups, a few jigging. Fish along the weed edges where panfish are moving out. The best bite for walleye is right after dark and throughout the evening. Little Green finally froze all the way across and anglers venturing to the middle of the lake are catching crappie. Lake Puckaway – Anglers are still setting their tip-ups 5 to 10 feet from shore and catching northern pipe plus an occasional walleye. The two best and safest areas to park and access this lake are the public access points at Oak Street in the southwest corner of the lake, and the DNR launch located along the north shore of the lake. Fox Lake – Tip-up fishing for northern pike was excellent last week. Crappies and bluegills are also starting to bite well. Ice anglers fishing the Town Park and The Jug areas are reporting catches of nice bluegills. The Fox Lake American Legion holds their Fisheree on Fox Lake this Saturday Jan. 18th. The hours are from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Registration for the derby begins at the American Legion Hall in Fox Lake starting at 5 a.m. Saturday morning. Big Green Lake – The west end of Beyer’s Cove and the T- Channels remain frozen for ice fishing but the rest of this deep, clear 7,920-acre lake continues to be wide open. Launch ramps are dry and accessible and anglers choosing to go out in a boat are still catching smallmouth bass and walleye on live bait rigs. That may change depending on the total accumulation of snow from last weekend’s storm. I’ve headed down to the Lake County Fairgrounds in Grayslake, IL to set up my booth (#550) at the Northern Illinois Sports Show which opens this coming Thursday, January 16th and runs through Sunday January 19th. Look for my Come Catch Trophy Smallmouth banner and stop by to discuss fishing opportunities at Big Green and other nearby lakes. For more info on and a list of show events go to: 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


Coming off a minor flood.


Check the report at


North Avenue Beach floods as a major winter storm, bringing freezing rain and wind gusts as high as 55 mph, moves through the Chicago area, Saturday afternoon, Jan. 11, 2020.

North Avenue Beach floods as a major winter storm, bringing freezing rain and wind gusts as high as 55 mph, moves through the Chicago area, Saturday afternoon, Jan. 11, 2020.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

For perch, the blow knocked back fishing and ice may begin to make an impact by the weekend. Otherwise, still some steelhead (see top), a few browns and lakers. Haven’t heard of a whitefish in recent days.

Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan texted:

Not getting many reports at all plus alot of guys were at the boat show

MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN Gene Dellinger at D&S Bait said, “We have fishable ice, but not everywhere.’’

Chief spots with fishable ice are Monona Bay and Cherokee Marsh. Waubesa has ice cover but not much going on in terms of fishing.

Nearly all lakes “have something resembling ice, but not all fishable,’’ Dellinger noted. But he thinks much more will be fishable, barring too much snow, by the weekend.

Check updates at


Lakes are open daily for fishing. If ice fishing comes, it will be at your own risk.


Kurt Justice at Kurt’s Island Sport Shop emailed:

The Lakeland area was spared the snow storm that hit the southern part of the state this past Saturday! Held off by a very high-pressure system that also seemed to put the bite at bay. Those high barometer readings Fri/Sat took their toll as anglers reported a near shut down of action. By Monday (1/13) things appeared to pick back up as clouds moved in and barometric pressure started falling. Two nights of light snow have put a new cover on the lakes that have been getting firmer thanks to last week’s cold. Northern Pike: Poor-Good – Once conditions improved by late Sunday afternoon, Pike action picked up through Monday. Typical tip-ups with big shiners or suckers in 8-13’ of water. Crappies: Poor-Good – Following the weekend of tough fishing, this species popped back into action taking Fairy jigs, Little Cecils and Rembrandts on the drop tipped with waxies or Beaver Tail. Minnows on tip-downs were also effective as Crappies seemed to finally find an appetite. Yellow Perch: Poor-Good – Following suit, Perch action improved, anglers using Z-vibes and K-Raps and Norhtland Forage Minnows in the small panfish shapes, tipped with waxies doing well on numbers of 9-11 Perch over mud or sparse weeds in 10-15’. Bluegills: Poor-Good – As bite improved, Gills actively taking Flirty Girtys, Clam Dingle Drops and Fiska Tungsten to deliver dark plastics, mousses or spikes to Gills holding 1-2’ off bottom in 8-14’. Walleye: Poor-Good – Bite went from zero to hero by Sunday night, (though most of us were chewing on our fingernails at home while watching the Packers!) Suckers along outside weed edges 1 hour before dusk. Jigging Slab Raps and Rippin Raps also picking up Walleyes Monday night as bite improved. Never a fan of full moon daytime fishing, but this past weekend was very tough. Hopefully, as this week progresses and small fronts seem to move through, the bite will improve and stay better. Ice thickness and firmness seemed to improve, the cold and wind last week let things dry out and slush conditions have improved. 12-15 of assorted ice (6-7 grey, 1-2 water, 6-7 solid) but holding ATV’s and snowmobiles up well. Even some areas of Rainbow improving thanks to cold. Ice Fishing Events Jan 18th – 2nd Annual KISS High School Ice Fishing Tournament (Highschool Teams Only) Jan 18th – Iceholes of the North – All Lakes Welcome – Register fish at Retreat Bar - Presque Isle, WI Feb 1st – Kids Ice Fishing Day – Big Arbor Vitae Lake @ Mielke Bay Feb 15th – 4th Annual Rob Lemmer Memorial – Lake Katherine in Hazelhurst Kurt Justice Kurt’s Island Sport Shop Like us on FaceBook


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

Guys are out last couple days not hearing much had handful of boats heading to cal park today will see cold comes tomorrow afternoon Guys want ice gonna be fast ice season when it does come

TOURNAMENT: The Northwest Indiana Steelheaders hold their first Coldest Day Tournament on Saturday. Weigh-in is 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at Chief’s Bait in Michigan City. Anglers may weigh their largest steelhead, three largest coho, largest brown trout and largest whitefish. Click here for more.


The Wisconsin DNR usuaully issues updates on Tuesday or Wednesday at


Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said there were coho limits off the St. Joe pier on Monday and some coho at New Buffalo, too; best is spawn on the bottom.


Clint Sands at Lakeside said as of Tuesday the lake was 100 percent open and even with the incoming cold it might be two weeks before there is ice fishing and Lakeside reopens.

Park hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m.


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


Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted Tuesday morning:

Ice conditions were really poor on lakes along the river. Water came up about 15, and landings went to hell . Looking for colder weather starting tomorrow. Should make some good ice

Tuesday afternoon, he followed up with this:

In Shawano today, I see some brave soles are driving out

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