Chicago fishing: Early coho, lakers, variable ice and sturgeon spearing in Midwest Fishing Report

Early coho go on southern Lake Michigan, while ice remains variable inland around Chicago for this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

SHARE Chicago fishing: Early coho, lakers, variable ice and sturgeon spearing in Midwest Fishing Report

Michael Trinka caught this crappie before the warm came on Super Sunday.

Provided by Michael Trinka

Early coho on southern Lake Michigan and variable ice inland around Chicago headline this sprawling raw-fie Midwest Fishing Report.

Michael Trinka emailed the photo at the top and the note below before the Super Bowl:

Hi Dale, Got out early this morning before the warm up on super bowl Sunday. Action was slow but it made up in two quality fish. One 14.5 white crappie and a surprise 22.5 bass through the ice. Both were caught at a private lake in Wilmington IL area.

Especially for those of us who live south of the city, Trinka’s effort to get out ahead of the warm-up was followed by others.


The Northern Illinois Conservation Club’s 60th annual Chain O’Lakes Ice Fishing Derby and Winter Festival is this weekend, Feb. 8-9, and is headquartered at the Thirsty Turtle on Channel Lake. Click here for more details.



Jonathan Eiden’s opening day 2019 fish weighing 171.0 pounds and measuring 85.5 inches. This large fish had been tagged at the Shawano Dam in 2012.

Wisconsin DNR

Sturgeon spearing, previous permits required, opens Saturday, Feb. 8, and lasts up to 16 days, unless harvest caps are hit earlier, on the Winnebago system in Wisconsin. Click here for more information.


(Since it looks like ice fishing will hold or come back in some areas, I’m including this again.)

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).


North and west, ice should hold or rebuild this week; south is pretty well summed up by Ken “Husker” O’Malley, who emailed:

Hey Dale, Here is a recap of this past week’s fishing. Area lakes-ice continues to deteriorate on southern ponds. Shorelines are in bad shape. Main base has two inches of clear ice with another inch of cloudy frozen slush with plenty of water now on top. I would not recommend going out. I would say the season may be over when it really never started. Time to head north before the season is over. TTYL — Ken Husker O’Malley Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait texted this on Tuesday afternoon:

I went to a small lake in western suburbs dupage county. I took my skates and a spud bar, but I couldn’t get on it. Water and thin ice all along the edges. Probably an okay base, but I couldn’t get out on it wo getting my feet wet. We another cold blast. I’m sure the southside is worse. North side burbs may still be okay. Not sure.


For boaters, this remains the spot for chasing perch, though it is tougher than earlier in the winter.

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

Cal park perch guys in boats fishing up river in the 106 th area doing good on perch still xl fatheads best bait most have gave up on perching over ther but if u get up river it’s good with some real nice ones mixed in


Proprietor Greg Dickson at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said, ``We’re rolling. Ice is maintaining [generally 5-7 inches]. Generally good, but stay where people are, where you see tracks. This is not hard, use common sense.’’

The NICC’s Chain O’Lakes Ice Fishing Derby and Winter Festival is this weekend, headquartered at the Thirsty Turtle on Channel Lake. Click here for details.


A mess of bluegill from Nielsen’s Channel over the weekend.

Provided by Dennis “Bigbo” Ocasio

Dennis ``Bigbo’’ Ocasio posted the photo above and this account from Hermann’s Rest-a-While’s tournament on Nielsen’s Channel over the weekend:

I would like to say thanks 2 Dwayne Sanders and Wayne Szklankonwski and a couple of other friends that are not on Facebook for coming out to the derby with me today I had a great time with you guys hope we can do it again soon still going to be some ice around for a little while let’s get it while it lasts time to fillet all these fish and get some damn sleep

When I messaged him about using the photo, which I liked for the symmetry, he messaged back:

Fishing has been great over there for blue gill

BTW, Hermann’s Rest-a-While, which offers parking, access, food and drink on 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.


A few variable reports of perch in the river.


Braidwood, Heidecke and LaSalle are closed for the season.


On Instagram, Henry’s Sports and Bait posted a photo of Steve Palmisano with a mess of panfish and this:

henrysbaitshop Steve got this yield of bluegill and crappie on recent trip to nearby Delavan Lake, WI. The fish seem happy to bite this Winter, it’s just a matter of finding safe ice or open water & good weather windows. That’s the name of the Winter fishing game! .


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.



A 45-inch northern pike caught through the ice on Lake Puckaway last week.

Courtesy of Paul Gettelman

Guide Mike Norris texted the photo above and this explanation:

A 45-inch northern pike caught through the ice on Lake Puckaway last week - Photo courtesy of Paul Gettelman

Norris emailed this fishing report:

Fishing Report – 02/02/2020 Mike Norris Lake Puckaway – Northern pike and walleye continue to bite well during the day on this lake. In the last week 39, 43 and 45-inch pike have been caught and registered in contests on this lake that produced the state record 38 lb. pike back in 1956. It remains a jig and minnow bite for walleye while the pike are falling for shiners fished under tip-ups. Most of the landings on Puckaway are rough due to increased traffic from last weekend’s Fisheree. The best landing to use is off Oak Street near the southwest corner of the lake. Little Green Lake is still producing numbers of walleyes with tip-ups but they are running smaller. Anglers fishing after dark and through the night are doing better on legal sized fish of 15 inches or more. The northern pike bite is decent during the day. Crappies are biting well right now in deep water near the center of the lake. Most of the crappies are running 8 - 8 ½ inches and you can catch a lot of them. Minnows and wax worms fished just of the bottom is working the best. There is 11 - 12 inches of ice on the lake but last week’s wet snow followed by colder weather has the lake full of 6-inch ruts. If pulling a sled or shelter, I would advise caution when driving out on the lake. Hopefully this weekend’s warmer temperatures will smooth the ice out. Beaver Dam Lake – Fishing has slowed on Beaver Dam Lake. There are reports of a few walleye and crappie being caught on the north end of the lake. Look for rock edges for bluegills. Walleyes are biting near the Trestle and the last few days have been good. 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.


Perch have been scarce to not there, but there’s still a few steelhead, browns and pike around the Chicago harbors.

Talk over the weekend was of John Gillespie’s ``Woods and Water’’ television show, which focused on catching lake trout near Chicago Light. Click here for a taste.

Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan texted:

Only a few guys fishing Waukegan, a few browns it sounds like. Very, very few customers and reports. We’re pretty much open like 8 to 3 during the week, weekends vary according to weather


Click here for the update from D&S Bait.


Kurt Justice at Kurt’s Island Sport Shop emailed:

Warm weather (for the end of January) made for comfortable conditions temperature wise, but more slush and added frustration for anglers, mobility wise. With truck travel, and now ATV travel, out of the equation this past weekend (and snowmobile/tracked vehicle use limited), walking was the best way to get around. Tall boots were required as slush was deep in areas. Northern Pike: Good-Very Good – Good reports from anglers using the standard tip-ups baited with large shiners or suckers. Did not get reports of any larger Pike, but plenty in 23-28 range. Walleye: Good – Best from 4 pm thru 6 pm. Get set up prior to prime time with suckers along weed edges, depths varying from 6-14’ depending on lake. Short windows of action, so jigging Slab Raps, Chubby Darters and Z-Vibes working as fish move in. Bluegills: Good – Reports of Gills riding high under the ice, most likely due to warm temps, had anglers catching in 5-6’ of water over the weekend. Lead jigs such as Moon Glos, Shad Darts, Snickers, small Marmooskas tipped with waxies, spikes, mousses or red plastics worked well as once anglers found fish, the bite was good! Crappies: Fair-Good – Access and the ability to move around once on the ice were the biggest factors to the bite. Once located, a fairly good bite on minnows with tip-downs, Lethal Cecils tipped with waxies and Shrimpos, Rembrandts and light plastics working well. Yellow Perch: Fair – Access to deep mud flats due to slush biggest hindrance. Those who were out found success using wigglers on Kastmasters, Pimples, Inferno spoons and Flash Champs over mud in 18-24’. Largemouth Bass: Fair – Incidental catches on jigs meant for other species or tip-ups baited with medium shiners. The warm spell made things messy for sure, but it did knock down the snow depth. Starting Tuesday (2/4), lows in the single digits to below zero with no highs forecasted the coming week above freezing, hopefully we should see better travel come this weekend! 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 Kurt Justice Kurt’s Island Sport Shop Like us on FaceBook


All I will say is any ice fishing is at your own risk.


FYI, Willow Slough is closed currently except for a few designated shore-fishing spots.

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

Coho bite very good last few days at portage riverwalk and all thru river leading to marinas Skein and squid along with crawlers and shrimp and minnows best baits Cal park perch guys in boats fishing up river in the 106 th area doing good on perch still xl fatheads best bait most have gave up on perching over ther but if u get up river it’s good with some real nice ones mixed in Underneath 249 bridge giving up crappie and gills jigs tipped with beemoth or crappie minnows doing good Yes I doo have plenty of squid strips in stock A lot of people out last few days with weather so nice and a lot of coho caught


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


Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said, when weather allows, coho are being caught off the pier, but whitefish have slowed there, and there’s some walleye at Berrien Springs, but they take sorting.



Ice fishing scene Monday at Shabbona Lake.

Provided by Larry Green.

Larry Green tweeted the photo above on Monday.

Clint Sands at Lakeside said on Tuesday that there was 4-6 inches of ice and it should hold up good, but be aware the hole in the middle off the rental docks was being opened wider on Tuesday with the winds. The bite is mainly catfish and crappie in the deep trees or barn foundations.

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.


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


Sturgeon spearing, previous permits required, opens Saturday and lasts up to 16 days, unless harvest caps are hit earlier. Be aware ice conditions are variable. Click here for details.


Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:

Some walleye action on Poygan. Also some panfish and northerns on Partridge and the bayous. Although it’s either 4 wheelers or walking in most cases. A lot of fishermen getting ready for sturgeon this weekend [see Winnebago System above].

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