Chicago fishing: Ice fishing and hoping on coho leads the Midwest Fishing Report

Ice fishing around Chicago leads the sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report; and hints and hopes of coho build.

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Quality bluegill on the Chain O’Lakes caught ice fishing.

Ty Bocian

Ice fishing around Chicago, as it should this time of the year, leads this sprawling raw-fie Midwest Fishing Report, but hints of and hopes for the coho that are coming also build.

Ty Bocian messaged the photo at the top and the one below, as well as this note:

Just shy of 9 on the chain, consistently hammered 8+ gills, smallest was 6.5


Ty Bocian constructed an artful photo while ice fishing on the Chain O’Lakes.

Ty Bocian


The 11th annual LVVA Ice Fishing Derby, benefiting veterans’ groups is Saturday, Feb. 22, out of the LVVA Beach on Bangs Lake in Wauconda. Click here for more information.


Sturgeon spearing on the Winnebago system in Wisconsin, previous permits required, is expected to last the full 16 days until Sunday, Feb. 23. Click here for more information.


Kevin Shady registered the largest fish of the day on February 18, 2020. Kevin’s fish was 105.6 pounds, 69.0 inches and registered at Critter’s.

Wisconsin DNR

The Wisconsin DNR sent this report after Tuesday’s spearing, the 11th day.

Daily Recap and Highlights There were 17 lake sturgeon harvested from the Winnebago System on day 11 of the 2020 spear fishery with 13 fish coming from Lake Winnebago and 4 from the Upriver Lakes. The first 11 days of the season have included a total harvest of 296 fish from Lake Winnebago and 270 fish from the Upriver Lakes. A breakdown of today’s registration numbers by station can be viewed through the following link: Day 11 Harvest Report.pdf The largest fish of the day was the lone adult female that was harvested from the Upriver Lakes. That fish was 105.6 pounds, 69.0 inches and registered at Critter’s by Kevin Shady. The largest fish registered on Lake Winnebago today was also 69.0 inches. Mark Livingstone registered his 69 inch sturgeon (91.4 pounds) at Payne’s Point. I’ve included photos of both fish in today’s report. Good luck to all of the spearers who are still on the hunt for a lake sturgeon this season!


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).


Southern lakes should have fishable ice through the weekend; western and northern waters may hold fishable ice into March. But conditions vary with the snows and up-and-down weather.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley emailed this report on the lakes to the south.

Hey Dale, Here is a recap of this past week’s fishing. Area lakes-ice was holding at 3-4 inches before the rains hit on southern waters.There are some thinner areas, so using a spud bar is a must. Bite was very slow with not many bluegills or crappie willing to commit. Spikes worked best over plastic tails this day. May be the last weekend for hard water out south. TTYL — Ken Husker O’Malley Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team


Both Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait in Bridgeport and Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station, Ind. mentioned that is still some perch being caught in the Cal.


Brad Irving at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said panfish continue good on the south end of Channel and Catherine; walleye are going early mornings (till about 9:30 a.m.) shallow in 6-7 ft, then moving out to 17-18 feet on Pistakee and Marie; some pretty good catfish being caught on Pistakee and Petite; pike are active around most lakes in the area; across the Wisconsin line Powers has perch and crappie in the deep basins.


Braidwood, Heidecke and LaSalle are closed for the season. Braidwood reopens March 1; LaSalle, March 15; and Heidecke, April 1.


POWERTON: Both bank and boat fishing are open daily 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

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.


Pete Lamar emailed:

Hi Dale, This was really my first outing of the year and it was pretty uneventful. I went to a treatment plant on the Fox yesterday afternoon. It usually holds a lot of suckers and I thought that might have meant a musky or pike hunting the suckers, but that turned out to not be the case. Only a carp spotted: no pike/muskies; no smallmouths or walleyes either. The only excitement was hearing an owl hooting from his roost on a nearby island and seeing an eagle perched on the drive home. Pete

Some days there is only the hooting.



Kaden Hardy, 4, from Lowell, Wis., holds his winning 35-inch northern pike caught during a recent Fox Lake Fisheree.


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

Fishing Report – 02/17/2020 Mike Norris Fox Lake (Dodge County) - Last week’s sub-zero temperature plunge finally produced thicker ice and allowed anglers to pull shacks out on the lake with four-wheeled vehicles. There is 8 – 12 inches of ice in most sections of the lake. The big story here is the number of legal-sized northern pike being caught with tip-ups in The Jug. A handful of anglers are reporting 25 fish days. You can also catch bluegills with micro jigs and plastics. The crappie bite has pick up out in front of the Boat House. Drill multiple holes and fish from the first drop off out to the middle of the lake. Big Green Lake – There is only 6 – 8 inches of ice on Big Green. For safety’s sake, follow the paths other anglers are using. Anglers are walking north out on the ice from Horner’s Road to reach the deep break line and deep water are catching trout. For safety’s sake, follow the paths other people are using. Try Jigging Raps or jigs with white tubes baited with minnows. Sunset Park off County Rd A is the only other safe access where anglers can walk out on Big Green and anglers are drilling holes along the weed edges and jigging for walleyes. Little Green Lake – Ice anglers are still catching walleyes, northern pike and small crappies. Its been a good ice season for walleye. There is a lot of little ones in the 9 to 14-inch range being caught but I’m receiving reports of several walleyes measuring 16 – 20 inches. Fishing with tip-ups and small to medium shiners at night is best. I’m getting reports of some northern pike catches. Ice depth is 10 – 12 inches. Contact Mike Norris, Wacky Worm Guide Service, at 630-842-8199 for Big Green Lake and other south-central Wisconsin guided fishing trips


Click here for the Wisconsin DNR weekly report.


Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.


Sey Jay emailed about a couple quick steelhead, including one to 13 pounds, ice fishing near the lakefront.

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

Just a few reports of perch in the calumet river. Coho in creeks in portage, Indiana. Powerline s are trying in the Chicago area with no reports of fish yet.

Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan texted:

Aug has been down at the pier and the south rocks the past 4 days, finally yesterday the ice moved out, could have been fishable. We’re getting a few guys on private lakes and a few chain guys buying roaches having some luck, but no one tells us where exactly they are going. I would safely assume some fish on the bottom at the harbor. Can you remind your readers that if they don’t check in with the local bait shops with locations and reports of where they are catching fish, folks like you and I don’t have much to report?? Did I say that right?



Click here for the update from D&S Bait.


Only two weekends of gamefish season to go.

Kurt Justice at Kurt’s Island Sport Shop emailed:

Two weekends of the gamefish season left. If the results from the past few weeks are any indication, there should be plenty of Walleye and Pike left! Actually, fishing seemed to improve as we got into the weekend, until Saturday evening when conditions changed and the bite shut down through Sunday. Yellow Perch: Good-Poor (Sunday) – Deep bite using wigglers on fast dropping spoons to get down and pound the mud. Shallow weed bite very slow. Crappies: Good-Fair – Deep, suspended fish (5-7’ off bottom) in 18-27’. Glow jigs (Venom Glo Demons, Glow spoons) tipped with waxies or tip-downs with rosies best Northern Pike: Good-Fair – Bite fell off on Sunday. Signs of low oxygen in shallow weedy lakes as shiners on tip-ups dying quickly. Bring shiners to weed tops or above for best results. Bluegills: Fair – As with Pike, fish higher in water column as Gills seem to be suspending. Moussees, waxies best, don’t be afraid to try just under ice. Walleye: Fair-Poor – Evenings and after dark using Walleye suckers in 12-15’ weed lines. What started off good, slowed to a halt (could be the barometer, SSE wind or any number of excuses). Thanks to sub zero cold (-23 degrees Friday am) ice building, many reports of 20-22, but slush still occurring in spots. Not enough to bother snowmobiles or tracked vehicles, but wheeled ATV’s should chain up and keep a sharp eye out! Ice Fishing Events Feb 22nd – Lake Tomahawk Family Fisheree – Lake Tomahawk Town Bay Kurt Justice Kurt’s Island Sport Shop Like us on FaceBook


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

Coho still going at lake front park in portage up in river to bass pro area Squid spawn saks and jigs with beemoth best baits A little slow for coho at Washington park but still a few being caught mainly skein on the bottom there Guys this weekend on sketchy ice here and there not worth the risk


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


Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said there’s been a few coho (and apparently a small burbot Tuesday, too) off the pier; some steelhead and a few walleye at Berrien Springs.


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


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


Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted late Tuesday:

Sorry it took so long to get back to you. Haven’t heard much, only some walleye action on Poygan. Another 6 of snow last night, hard to get around

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