Ice fishing: Weekend nice enough to make it special; add safe ice and Springfield notes

The weekend was the right kind of weather to make ice fishing special; and there are notes on safe ice and Springfield.

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Samantha Hunzinger’s 21-inch largemouth was the best of eight caught by four kids over the weekend on a pond in Green Oaks.


The weekend was nice enough to bring people out on the ice. That sentence is less oxymoronic than it reads.

On a neighborhood pond in Green Oaks over the weekend, four kids—Samantha and Justin Hunzinger, and Ava and Quinn Podolski—landed eight fish out of 17 tip-up flags. (For non-ice fishing readers, flags going up indicate a fish hit the bait under a tip-up.)

“All eight fish, all largemouth bass, were landed by the kids,” emailed Eric Hunzinger, whose daughter Samantha had the big bass of 21 inches.


Nathaniel Notariano’s catfish was part of a big-fish outing over the weekend in Lake County with several young men catching big catfish, big bass and big pike.


Kyle Miller and friends had quite the weekend in Lake County, catching big catfish, big northern pike and big largemouth bass on Sunday. The day before Miller caught a 35-inch northern pike for the Fish of the Week.

“Just one of those weekends I guess.” Miller messaged. “The flags never stopped. We ended Sunday with 20 flags, 16 fish, and had two break-offs on 40-pound fluorocarbon.”

Sey Jay, the dedicated lakefront angler from Skokie, was finally able to try a patch of fishable ice near the Chicago lakefront Saturday. It paid off with a pair of steelhead caught 20 minutes apart. Both were released. The biggest weighed 13 pounds and was his personal best.

“The bait was a dime-sized spawn sac skewered on a No. 8 chartreuse and orange Jiggle Bug suspended 5.5 feet down over 6 to 7 feet of water,” he emailed.


Sey Jay caught his personal best steelhead of 13 pounds on a piece of ice near the lakefront over the weekend.


Those kind of reports and the forecast this week suggest good conditions for the 11th LVVA Ice Fishing Derby Saturday on Bangs Lake. The derby, which grew from 38 anglers to 446 last year in 10 years, supports veteran groups and organizations. More information is at

FISHABLE ICE: I try to use fishable ice in place of safe ice. It’s a more useful designation. Fishable ice means if you know what you are doing (use spud bars, have picks and some sort of flotation device or suit), you should be able to ice fish.

Yesterday, Pete Lamar sent several observations on safe ice. On Saturday, when taking his daughter ice skating on a pond, he found a recently frozen patch and gathered it was a spring. Geese are our most common source of holes or weak spots in ice, but Lamar also noticed during the Polar Vortex a few years ago that beavers kept a run open near their house.

“But I keep reminding myself that the drive to the body of water is probably more dangerous than walking on the ice,” he concluded.

SPRINGFIELD: Bills pop up in the General Assembly, here’s a couple to watch. Both bills were referred to rules committee on Tuesday.

On Thursday, State Rep. Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville) introduced HB5060, which would require at least one side of antlered deer have four points before being harvested in all seasons except the youth hunt. That basically means mature bucks, who have significantly higher rates of chronic wasting disease where it is found.

On Friday, State Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz (D-Glenview) introduced HB5170. The key part of this proposed amendment to the Firearm Owners Identification Card Act is to require a $1 million liability insurance policy for renewal of FOID cards. Putting aside the policy question, the practical side is that the Illinois State Police are already backlogged in simply processing FOID cards. Mine arrived last year almost exactly 60 days after I sent in the renewal.

STRAY CAST: Calling the World Series trophy a ``piece of metal’’ is akin to calling the rack of Mel Johnson’s world-record buck ``a pair of antlers.’’

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