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Chicago fishing: Coho on the lakefront and inland ice fishing lead Midwest Fishing Report

Early coho on southern Lake Michigan and ice fishing inland lead the sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

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Jason Fox caught his Illinois-best walleye and crappie on the same day ice fishing the Chain O’Lakes last week.
Provided by Jason Fox

Coho on the southern Lake Michigan lakefront and ice fishing inland lead this sprawling raw-fie Midwest Fishing Report. The question is how much the forecast snow and short cold snap will impact fishing and conditions.

Jason Fox emailed the photo above and the one below on Friday:

Hey Dale had a blast on the chain today not a lot of bites but quality ones. The walleye was 22 my Illinois best, and the crappie went 14 also my Illinois best. Walleye was on a jig rod. Crappie came on a tip down. Have not got out on the ice much but these made my season

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Jason Fox caught his Illinois-best crappie and walleye on the same day ice fishing the Chain O’Lakes last week.
Provided by Jason Fox

STURGEON SPEARING

Sturgeon spearing, previous permits required, opened Saturday, Feb. 8, and harvest rates suggest the season could last the full 16 days until Feb. 23, on the Winnebago system in Wisconsin. Click here for more information.

The Wisconsin DNR reported that William Thern registered the largest sturgoeon so far—142.3 pounds, 80 inches—on Day 2, Sunday, and registered at it at Wendt’s.

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William Thern registered the largest sturgone so far, 142.3 pounds, 80 inches, on Sunday and registered at it at Wendt’s.
Wisconsin DNR

Here is the Day 4 recap on Tuesday from the Wisconsin DNR:

Daily Recap and Highlights

Today was day 4 of the 2020 sturgeon spearing season, meaning that 25% of the season is now complete. There were 35 lake sturgeon harvested today with 15 fish coming from Lake Winnebago and 20 from the Upriver Lakes. The Upriver Lakes harvest included 4 adult females, bringing the season total to 44. We are now 42 adult females away from the 90% trigger meaning that this fishery will continue for quite some time, quite possibly the full 16-days. A breakdown of the number of fish registered at each station can be viewed through the following link:

Day 4 Harvest Report.pdf

The largest fish in today’s harvest was 104.7 pounds (72.8 inches) and registered at Stockbridge Harbor by Lance Olson. The largest fish from the Upriver Lakes harvest was 75.4 pounds (66.3”) and registered at Critter’s by Mayson Muche. Congratulations to Lance, Mayson, and the other 33 spearers who filled their tag today!

Lance Olson registered this 104.7 pound, 72.8 inch sturgeon at Stockbridge Harbor on 2/11/2020!

Mayson Muche registered the largest fish on the Upriver Lakes on 2/11/2020. Mayson’s fish was 75.4 pounds (66.3 inches) and registered at Critter’s.

Today’s Vignette: “The 1960 Sturgeon Spearing Season”

Yesterday’s vignette highlighted the 1950 sturgeon spearing season on Lake Winnebago. Today we will skip ahead a decade to remember the 1960 spearing season. I’ve provided a link to an intra-department memorandum put together by Gordon Priegel following the 1960 spearing season.

1960 Havest Memo.pdf

Here are a few highlights from that season:

520 lake sturgeon were harvested.

The average fish measured 55 inches and weighed 44 pounds.

4 fish larger than 100 pounds were registered with the largest fish being 108 pounds (72 inches) and registered by Edward Jewson of Fond du Lac.

2,688 licenses were sold for the 1960 spearing season.

1,417 shanties were out on opening day.

There was a 40 inch minimum length limit.

The bag limit was 1 fish per season. 1960 was actually the 3rd season with a 1 fish limit, the limit had been 5 fish per season as recently as 1953.

LAKEFRONT PARKING

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).

CHICAGO LAKEFRONT PASSES

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).

AREA LAKES

As the FOTW showed, good fish are being taken through the ice. Click here for that big largemouth bass.

Once again we go through this, west and north ice should be fishable, with the usual cautions. The snow may impact conditions, but the bitter cold on Thursday night and Friday should help. South varies from half open to partially fishable ice and I doubt that is going to change much.

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait in Bridgeport texted:

Spotty ice in the western burbs, and Chicago area with pockets of open water creeping in on fish able ice. Spring is a coming. Must use caution especially with more snow coming to disguise unsafe ice conditions.Have a good day.

Yes, we still have 6” in the western burbs, but not consistently across the lakes. So they are fishable , but use caution. I’m speaking about, Mays, Herrick, hidden lakes, East branch , Blackwell dupage county lakes are fishable but caution and common sense needed.

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Gregg Peters with a nice pike from a Lake County lake.
Provided by Gregg Peters

Gregg Peters messaged the photo above and this:

Hey Dale, hope all is well. Been hitting the ice now that it has arrived and the bite has been pretty. Last week I was seeing anywhere from 4-7” of ice on lake county lakes. Here’s a nice 37.5” pike I got last weekend. Not the greatest pic i know lol.

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Brad Irving at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said that catfish and walleye are being caught on Marie; the south end of Channel has been good for bluegill and some crappie (takes sorting) for bluegill, also try Deep Lake; pike are good on Loon, but watch the ice conditions; the south bay of Petite has crappie early.

From Nielsen’s Channel, where Hermann’s Rest-a-While offers parking, access, food and drink, Dennis ``Bigbo’’ Ocasio messaged late last week the report and photo, which I truly enjoy on several levels, below:

Fishing is so great over there it’s amazing how many fish are under that ice

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Panfish caught ice fishing on Nielsen’s Channel.
Provided by Dennis “Bigbo”Ocasio

COOLING LAKES

Braidwood, Heidecke and LaSalle are closed.

DOWNSTATE

POWERTON: Boat fishing reopens Saturday, Feb. 15. Bank fishing is already open. Hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

LAKE OF EGYPT: I bumped into Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing at the Tinley Park Fishing Show and he said crappie have been on fire on Lake of Eygpt.

EMIQUON: Go to http://experienceemiquon.com/sites/default/files/LakeAccessRules.pdf. SHELBYVILLE: Check with Ken Wilson of Lithia Guide Service. SOUTHERN ILLINOIS: Check with Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing. HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Closed for the season.

GREEN LAKE AREA, WISCONSIN

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Dave Deprey with a couple early morning bluegills from Big Green Lake.
Provided by Mike Norris

Guide Mike Norris emailed:

Fishing Report – 02/10/2020

Mike Norris

Little Green lake – Crappie fishing is very good, but the crappies are only averaging 8 inches in length. Minnows and wax worms fished on jigs just of the bottom is working the best. Walleyes continue to bite well but the best bite remains from dusk through the overnight hours. As of last Monday, there is 12 inches of ice on the lake with 9 inches of fresh snow on top of the ice. Nighttime lows are forecast to reach minus 14 degrees by this coming Friday morning so the ice should thicken enough to drive vehicles out on the lake.

Big Green Lake – I had success last week with the early morning bite for bluegills measuring up to nine inches, but the bite doesn’t last long. Other anglers are having success on Big Green catching ciscos and lake trout in 90 feet or more of water. Anglers are accessing Big Green’s deeper waters from Horner’s Landing, located on the south side of the lake, and from Sunset Park at the east end of the lake. Many areas of Big Green only have five inches of ice, but ice thickness should improve upon arrival of the colder weather predicted for later this week.

Fox Lake – I was also out on Fox Lake last week and the northern pike bite is very good. Pike anglers are not catching giants, but they are getting lots of action on tip-ups with pike running in the 26 to 30-inch range. I fished for bluegills in the “Jug” last week and found the bite to be steady all day long. The bluegills fell for light jigs tipped with plastic wedges and with jigs tipped with wax worms.

Contact Mike Norris, Wacky Worm Guide Service, at 630-842-8199 for Big Green Lake and other south-central Wisconsin guided fishing trips.

GREEN/STURGEON BAYS, WISCONSIN

Lance LaVine at Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay emailed this:

Good morning fellas….Here is a quick update on the fishing in our area

Again, I want to start off by saying that even though we did have a bit of a cold snap and it did thicken the ice and harden up the slush spots, you have to really use extreme caution while venturing out. We did have a snow storm which is going to cover up some of the cracks so that is another reason to really do your homework before heading out blind especially out on the big bay like Larsen’s reef or anywhere on the bay of Green Bay for that matter. With that said, this is what we’ve got…

Whitefish fishing has been very good throughout our area especially when you stay away from high traffic areas and the large groups of people. Too much noise equals and empty bucket. Areas to fish include…Sugar Creek, Henderson’s Point, Riley’s Point along with the Sherwood Point and Larsens Reef area. Anywhere from as shallow as 15ft of water out to that 60 plus foot range. Best baits include…Howie’s Whitefish jig heads, Rapala jigs, jigging shads and an assortment of spoons tipped with minnow pieces, waxies and plastics.

Perch fishing has also been pretty good overall and again even better when you are by yourself. Little Sturgeon has probably been the most productive area, but other areas include Riley’s Bay and Sawyer Harbor. Best baits have been an assortment of jigs tipped with minnow pieces, wax worms and spikes along with suspending medium and large lake shiners along with Rosy Reds under tip ups

The Northern Pike fishing has also been going quite good with some really huge fish getting caught. Some areas to try include….Downtown Sturgeon Bay, the Sturgeon Bay flats, the Potawatomi Park shoreline, Sawyer Harbor and the Little Sturgeon area. Large Golden shiners under tip ups and auto fishermen has been the best

Thanks;

Lance LaVine

Howie’s Tackle
1309 Green Bay Rd
Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235
Ph: 920-746-9916

Click here for the Wisconsin DNR weekly report.

LAKE ERIE

Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.

LAKEFRONT

For perch, it is mainly boaters going up the Calumet.

A few are trying for early coho, browns, steelhead and pike around the harbors.

Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan texted:

Yes, browns on the bottom off of govt pier using spawn sacks and shrimp. My shop face book page is open for anyone to add report or pictures, they never do, nor do they text it to me!

Launch ramps are out, but you can still launch a boat, N/C. Aug says he knows fish are in the shallows, we wish we had a smaller boat to take out this time of year

MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN

Click here for the update from D&S Bait.

MAZONIA

Lakes are open daily for fishing. Any ice fishing is at your own risk.

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

Kurt Justice at Kurt’s Island Sport Shop emailed:

Clear skies brought cold nights this past week, freezing up hard the mess from the previous weekend. Travel good for snowmobiles and all ATV and UTV travel. Despite ice thickness to 18”+ in some areas, quality of ice (not all solid, 40-50% or more grey ice) keeps us from recommending any truck or car travel

Bluegills: Good-Fair – Slowed as the week progressed. Could have been the pressure of new ice being formed, or higher barometric readings. Whatever the case, early week bite good using VMC Tungsten fly Jigs tipped with mousses or waxies. Some Gills in as shallow as 4-5’, but most anglers working 7-12’ depths.

Northern Pike: Good-Fair – Best on big shiners or suckers. Action slowed as week progressed.

Crappies: Good-Fair – While mid-winter is deep water time for this species, some anglers finding Crappies in shallower weeds of 7-12’. Glow jigs tipped with waxies or rosies over mud in 17-24’. For weed fish, plastics in yellow, pink, white and chartreuse on #8 rockers.

Yellow Perch: Fair-Good – The cold snap has actually opened up areas to fish Perch that had been tough to reach previously. Mud Flats of 18-30’ using Hali rigs, pimples, Perch Talkers to get wigglers down quickly. Red spikes a good second choice for bait as Perch feeding on mayfly larvae as well as midge larvae.

Walleye: Fair – Action relegated to evening bite mostly, well after dark on our full moon weekend. Suckers top choice for tip-up bait. A few anglers caught fish while jigging slender spoons tipped with minnow head.

Largemouth Bass: Fair – A few reports of mid-teen Bass on medium shiners.

With only three weeks remaining to the inland lake’s gamefish season, time to catch Walleye and Pike through the ice is coming quickly to an end.

Derbys on Katherine and Lake Tomahawk still a go here in the Northwoods. So, don’t put those tip-ups away yet.

Ice Fishing Events

Feb 15th – 4th Annual Rob Lemmer Memorial – Lake Katherine in Hazelhurst

Feb 15th – 18th Annual Winter Rendevous – Manitowish Waters – Rest Lake Park

Feb 22nd – Lake Tomahawk Family Fisheree – Lake Tomahawk Town Bay

NORTHWEST INDIANA

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

Coho bit at portage river walk still good skein squid crawlers minnows plus spoons all taking fish top to bottom

Coho are up in river near bass pro good also with a few steelhead still being had also

Michigan city behind dnr building or behind fish camp restaurant has been on and off with coho also spotty there lately but has had good days since last report same baits there

NOTE: Friends of Fishing has canceled their annual derby, scheduled for Saturday on Loomis Lake.

ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN

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

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN

Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said steelhead, including some limits, are being caught at Berrien Springs; some walleye are also being caught there; weather has limited access to the pier, but when possible some coho are being caught.

SHABBONA LAKE

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Charlie Mack with a couple slab crappie on Shabbona Lake.
Provided by Larry Green

Larry Green tweeted the photo and this report on Monday:

Charlie Mack with a couple of slabs from today from Shabbona.

Lakeside is closed until re-opening on April 1, though Sands said sometimes you can catch them in the shop. Park hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

SOUTHEAST WISCONSIN LAKEFRONT

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

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:

Some walleye and white bass on Poygan. Driving off the south shore, 12 to 15” of ice. Partridge has been slow, not many going out, had another 8” of snow