Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Ice fishing is near (“Thanks Ma!”) and perch fishing is variable

Ice fishing is near or already here (“Thanks Ma!”) while perch fishing is variable; and both threads lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

SHARE Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Ice fishing is near (“Thanks Ma!”) and perch fishing is variable
Jon Melone of Cary with a nice pike from Mille Lacs. Provided by Justin Lederer

Jon Melone of Cary with a nice pike from Mille Lacs.

Provided by Justin Lederer

[Slight update in the LAKEFRONT report.]

Two threads—the real start for ice fishing around Chicago is near and lakefront perch continues on—lead this sprawling raw-fie Midwest Fishing Report.

While giving his lakefront perch report, Arden Katz said about inland fishing, “By the end of the week, I will be ice fishing.”

He spoke the thoughts of many.

Justin Lederer emailed the photo at the top as part of his report from Mille Lacs on Monday from McQuoids Inn in Isle, Minn.:

Jon Melone from Cary Illinois with a nice 31 1/2 northern pike also caught last week


The center of the action remains the Calumet system and the South Side slips, though a few perch are being caught at the North Side harbors. Security varies in its dealings with fishing on the private property areas around the South Side slips. The small piece of Steelworkers Park at the eastern end of 87th is public land.

Chicago River perch. Provided by Jeffrey Williams

Chicago River perch.

Provided by Jeffrey Williams

Jeffrey Williams messaged the photo above and this from the Chicago River downtown:

Caught 12 kept 5, all over 9 biggest was 11. Caught on a crappie rig with a fathead minnow.

Arden Katz said, “The perch are still in.” He catches when others aren’t in, because he uses sensitive rods and a rig of a pencil weight with two Mini-Mites tied a foot apart; then he generally tips with spikes and drags it back, while popping it. “After the pop, they bite,” he said.

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

Perch still good from 105 st and up mix size perch but good action most days xl fatheads minnows best


Ice fish at your own risk. Hours are generally sunrise to sunset, unless noted otherwise. Ice fishing is not permitted at the Chicago lagoons, FPD of Kendall County, FPD of Will County and Kankakee River Valley FPD.

FP COOK COUNTY: 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 and Wampum.

FPD DuPAGE COUNTY: 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 COUNTY: Permitted only at Lake Patterson (Hampshire South FP), Oakhurst FP, two ponds within Paul Wolff Campground, and Grunwald Farms FP.

LAKE COUNTY FP: When conditions allow, ice fishing permitted 6:30 a.m. to sunset at Hastings Lake, Banana Lake, Independence Grove south bay and Lake Carina; 6:30 a.m. to one hour after sunset at Sterling Lake.

MAZONIA SFWA: Monster at Mazonia South is open year-round, ice fishing or open water. Fishing, ice or open water, opens on Saturday, Dec. 26, at both the North and South units.

McHENRY CCD: Ice fishing at The Hollows (West Lake only).

SILVER SPRINGS SFWA: As a general winter rule, enter through the east entrance.

WOLF LAKE: Ice fish at your own risk.


It’s mainly waiting on ice later this week to set up.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley emailed:

Hey Dale, Here is a recap of this past week’s fishing. Area lakes-crappie remain decent along the outside weed edges. Minnows have been the better choice over plastics for bait choice. Fish continue to be scattered. Move around to find active fish. Most lakes locked up over the weekend. However, with the warmer temps and high winds should allow for a short window of open water opportunities midweek.

Ducks found open water and swam. Photo provided by Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Ducks found open water and swam.

Provided by Ken “Husker” O’Malley

TTYL — Ken Husker O’Malley Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team


Closed for the season.


As noted above in the lakefront perch report, perch fishing for boaters has been most consistent well inland.


Brad Irving at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said a few snuck out last weekend on thin ice; real ice fishing should arrive later this week.


Jeffrey Williams messaged:

Caught 12 [perch] kept 5, all over 9 biggest was 11. Caught on a crappie rig with a fathead minnow.


Arden Katz said ice fishing was beginning last weekend and should be more widespread by this weekend.


POWERTON: Shore fishing reopened on Tuesday. Hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Boat fishing reopens Feb. 15.

SPRING: Bank fishing reopens to regular fishing on Wednesday, Dec. 23. Boat anglers may start at 1 p.m.

EMIQUON: Basically, go to the launch. General information at Fishing is allowed sunrise to sunset even during waterfowl season this year because The Nature Conservancy has suspended their public waterfowl hunting program this year due to COVID-related issues. TNC hopes to resume the public waterfowl hunting program next year.

HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Closed for the year.

SHELBYVILLE: Check with Ken Wilson of Lithia Guide Service. SOUTHERN ILLINOIS: Check with Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing.


Guide Mike Norris emailed:

Fishing Report 12/20/2020 Mike Norris Big Green Lake – There is thin ice in Beyer’s cove and the ice is crystal clear. This is hampering ice fishing efforts. The main lake remains wide open though the weather has not been favorable to getting out in a boat. Xmas Eve high temps are forecast to only reach the mid-teens with single digit temps at night. That will thicken the ice in many of the area lakes. Little Green Lake - There has been a small contingent of hard water anglers fishing shallow water on Little Green Lake but there are plenty of wide-open pockets out in the middle of the lake. I am hearing reports of a few bluegills during the day but in general fishing is tough due to clear ice. Walleye anglers fishing early and late are having better results. Lake Puckaway – There is four inches of ice close to shore but with current flowing down the middle of the lake no one is venturing out far into the lake. In shore anglers are catching walleyes and northern pike on tip ups. Fox Lake - Hard water anglers fishing in Wedges Bay are targeting northern pike on tip ups while bluegill anglers are focusing on jigging green weeds off the Town Park public access. Walking on the clear ice is hampering angling efforts. Conditions should improve as the ice thickens later this week. For information on guide trips reach out to me via my Facebook page at mike.norris.7773 or email me through my website at


Click here for the Wisconsin DNR weekly report.


Closed for the season.


Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.


Perch report at the top.

People are biking or walking in to fish. Fisherman’s parking passes and pier passes are not being sold while the lakefront remains officially closed.

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait said fewer perch reports but more people are actually targeting burbot at night with golden roaches on three-way rigs on the bottom. Henry’s will close at 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve and be closed on Christmas.

Below is an unknown angler with a burbot, close to the Illinois record, which Palmisano texted:

11.2 lb on our scale

Chicago lakefront burbot. Photo provided by Henry’s Sports and Bait

Chicago lakefront burbot.

Provided by Henry’s Sports and Bait

UPDATE: The fabled Chicago angler Oscar Santos messaged that it is his buddy, “I call him THE MASTER.”

Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan texted:

Merry Christmas!! Guys getting steelies and browns off gov pier and johnson’s pier. Most guys are hunting and never expected this nice weather!!


Closed for the season.


Gene Dellinger at D&S Bait said they are ice fishing on Cherokee Marsh; he added, “Some other ice forming but it is not safe.” There will be more ice by the weekend.


Closed, but Monster Lake at Mazonia South stays open year-round. On Saturday, Dec. 26, both units reopen to fishing, open-water or ice.


Austin from  Iowa, who came with his father last week and he bested his dad with this beautiful walleye  on Mille Lacs. Photo provided by Justin Lederer

Austin from Iowa, who came with his father last week and he bested his dad with this beautiful walleye on Mille Lacs.

Provided by Justin Lederer

Justin Lederer emailed the photo at the very top and the one above as well as this report on Monday from McQuoids Inn in Isle, Minn.:

Evening Dale Justin Lederer checking in from McQuoids Inn Millie Lacs Lake been out the last few days ice conditions are good on the bays with 6-9 in most areas the main part of the lake has been a different story you can get out to most of it by foot but there’s no need pike are still in the bays taking medium suckers picking them up from 6-15 of water. We have also been picking up walleye in the the 10-15 range also on medium suckers. Worked some deeper water with no success. As things change I will keep you posted. Have a great Holiday Justin Lederer


Kurt Justice at Kurt’s Island Sport Shop in Minocqua emailed:

This may be payback for what Mother Nature threw at us last year, but whatever it is we will gladly take it! Thanks Ma! Ice conditions through out the Northwoods have gradually improved. A recent snow from last night (12/21) will stall ice production at these current temps but provide some traction when out on the ice. Ice not too thick (6-9+) but enough for good foot travel and light penetration… and active fish. Walleye: ExcellentIt’s toss up between walleye and crappies for top billing, but due to flags and size from reports and typical difficulty – they get #1 Good catches continue to come in from anglers fishing shallow weed flats and bars from mid afternoon thru dark. Medium shiners, river shiners, walleye suckers and even large fatheads/rosies on tip-ups and tip-downs. Jigging raps, slab raps, rippin raps, micro pro v’s and Acme hyper R.I.P.’s also producing well as fish are continuing to actively feed during this extended early ice period. Good #’s of eaters and multiple reports of walleye in the 25 – 28 range being caught and released, Way To Go Anglers !! Crappies: ExcellentMost action taking place in 7-10’ narrow leaf cabbage by slow dropping plastics or waxies or setting up tip-downs with small minnows. Vary depth either technique as crappies have been found both high and low in weeds, moving up and down with varying light and barometric changes. Northern Pike: Excellent.Good flag action using large suckers and shiners. Anglers reporting very good #’s and size with several silver (spotless) pike and lots of musky (must be released immediately) being caught. Bluegill: Excellent – Very good. Bright jigs of orange, chartruese or yellow with waxies best. For targeting larger gills, work more subdued colors of red, brown or black tipped with moussee’s. If to many small gills, search deeper weed edges for larger fish. Yellow Perch: GoodNot getting the attention yet, probably due to being scattered about weed flats and less concentrated over mud as we will see later in season. Largemouth Bass: Good.Not as targeted, but some really nice bass with one family catching and releasing 4 bucketmouths of 19 – 21 1/2 over the weekend. While they caught some jigging, most on tip-ups with medium shiners. Following this Wednesdays forecast for rain with a high of 38 degrees we won’t see above freezing temps for the next week, with lows of single digits to below zero for the next week plus. Ice will thicken and creepers will more than likely be needed once again. While questions of ice travel by use of snowmobile or ATV are frequently asked, we can’t say its totally safe! Some lager lakes have areas of only 3 and how ice thickens across and entire lake is a hard thing to judge. If forecast holds, we should see improved conditions through out the Christmas / New Year week!


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

Perch still good from 105 st and up mix size perch but good action most days xl fatheads minnows best Some action on lake trout and few browns and few cohos at portage river walk on skein and spawn sacks fishing the bottom Steelhead in area tributaries decent floating spawn sacks or voodoo jigs tipped with beemoth must cover water and move around Slezs bait shop open regular hours 5 to 5 everyday with exception on Christmas Day we will be open 5am till noon


Click here for the Wisconsin DNR’s report, usually on Tuesday or Wednesday.


Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said a couple whitefish off the pier, a few steelhead being in the river.


Site hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Lakeside, Pokanoka’s Cafe and camp store are closed for the season. Lakeside plans to reopen when ice fishing comes.


Click here for the southern Lake Michigan reports from the Wisconsin DNR.


Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:

Merry Christmas to you also. There’s a lot of people fishing, mostly bayous and smaller ponds. Some northerns, crappie,and perch being taken. I think with coldweather coming Thursday, will open up more spots to fish.

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