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Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Ice fishing and when sprawling raw-file means something more

Ice fishing is factually the core of the sprawling raw-file online Midwest Fishing Report, but this week is extra special for other reasons, at least for me it is.

A.J. Cwiok shows it is more than ice fishing with this DuPage River smallmouth. Provided photo
A.J. Cwiok shows it is more than ice fishing with this DuPage River smallmouth.
Provided

Come now and enjoy with me how much pulling together and posting this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report means to me.

It does mean that much to me.

And thanks to the readers who chipped in special help while I am just to begin a couple months of rehab after a triple bypass. The column should formally return next Wednesday, Jan. 20, and and the usual Wednesday and Saturday routine should resume.

Ice fishing is not the only thing in this sprawling raw-file report, as shown by A.J. Cwiok with the photo at the top from fishing the DuPage River on Tuesday and this:

Cold water smallies were snappin on the dupage today

I have a weakness for nice smallmouth, so how about we run the full-length photo of the beast at the top.

Full-length view of A.J. Cwiok with a smallmouth bass from the DuPage River. Provided photo
Full-length view of A.J. Cwiok with a smallmouth bass from the DuPage River.
Provided

WISCONSIN’S WINTER FREE FISHING WEEKEND

Free fishing weekend is Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 16-17, in Wisconsin. Here are the details:

Fish anywhere in Wisconsin without a license or trout stamp. This includes all inland waters and Wisconsin’s side of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River, except for spring trout ponds. Other fishing rules apply, such as limits on the number and size of fish you can keep and any seasons when you must release certain fish species.

LAKEFRONT PERCH

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, but in general be prepared to not be allowed to fish the private property areas. The small piece of Steelworkers Park at the eastern end of 87th is public land.

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

. . .

Perch good for boaters leaving cal park 100th street and up using extra large fatheads. Move around u will get perch

The bite for shore guys kinda all over the place last couple days slips and up to 95th street. Some days good some days few dinks and that’s it.

NEARBY PUBLIC ICE FISHING REGULATIONS

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: Both units are open for open-water fishing or ice fishing.

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: When conditions allow.

AREA LAKES

Bob France with a local largemouth bass. Provided photo
Bob France with a local largemouth bass.
Provided

Bob France messaged the photo above on his way from getting groceries and this:

Neighborhood ponds seem to be everyone’s favorite place to go this season. This one hit a minnow on an ice jig.

I think he is right in his observation of neighborhood ponds this year for ice fishing.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley emailed the photo below and this:

Hey Dale,

Here is a recap of this past week’s fishing.

Area lakes-bass have been very good on tip-ups and jigging spoons along the outside weed lines adjacent to deeper water in the main basin. Bluegill are scattered in the main basin so stay mobile to find active fish. Tungsten jigs tipped with a Maki poli have been the best presentation. A few smaller bass can be taken as well on this presentation. Ice is holding at 4 inches with another half inch of frozen slush. Stay clear of areas with current or were kept open by waterfowl.

TTYL

Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Husker Outdoors
Waterwerks fishing team

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a local pond largemouth bass. Provided photo
Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a local pond largemouth bass.
Provided

BRAIDWOOD LAKE

Closed for the season.

CALUMET SYSTEM

Most consistent for perch for the boaters who get well upstream, as well as for a few shore anglers.

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Arden Katz said he did well at Nielsen’s Channel over the weekend on bluegills using wax worms. “Move around a lot, find the area and you will pound them,” he said. On Sunday, he added his biggest area crappie of 14 12 inches.

Jeremy Jakiel messaged on Monday:

Fished lake Marie today and walleye fishing was very very slowwwww didn’t get a bite and managed about ten marks fish have moved and are very skiddish channel lake has been pretty good for panfish

ICE-FISHING ACCESS: Most places run some version of $5 parking or patronize the establishment. But let me add this, more places expect ice anglers to act like ethical human beings and pay the parking fee or patronize the place. Some of the popular spots are being abused and we may lose them.

Here are some known access points: Hermann’s Rest-A-While (Nielsen’s Channel), Granny’s Lakeside Diner at Spring Lake Marina, Choppers Bar and Grill (Channel), Sandbar Bar & Grille (Marie, $10 or patronize, park in back), Oak Park Lounge (Pistakee Bay) and Barnacle Bob’s (Marie).

NOTE: Trevor James messaged

Oak Park Lounge. the best ice fishing parking in the chain! And they also have rental shacks from www.wetnwildoutfitters.com available

DOWNSTATE

POWERTON: Shore fishing is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Boat fishing reopens Feb. 15.

SPRING: Bank fishing is open to regular fishing. Boat anglers may start at 1 p.m.

EMIQUON: Basically, go to the launch. General information at http://experienceemiquon.com/sites/default/files/LakeAccessRules.pdf. 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.

GREEN LAKE AREA, WISCONSIN

Guide Mike Norris emailed:

Fishing Report 1/11/2021

Mike Norris

Eight consecutive days without a front moving through and with dark cloudy days appeared to affect the fishing in my area last week. I had received numerous reports poor fishing from many of my cohorts. Then last Saturday the clouds opened to sunshine and the fish reacted favorably. My go-to spot turned out to be the deep basin on Lake Waubesa. When the sun peeked out beyond the clouds last Saturday afternoon the panfish bit immediately and we caught limits of perch from 9 to 12 inches fishing with green glow Rat Finkies tipped with red spikes in 33 feet of water. I heard a similar report from friends that the bite turned on when the sun came out while fishing for bluegills on Beyer’s Cove on Big Green lake. The ticket there was a small tungsten jig tipped with just one red spike.

Speaking of big Green Lake, with the exception of the backwater areas of Beyer’s Cove and the T-Channels, Big Green remains wide open. Lake trout fishing reopened on the first Saturday in January and I getting reports from friends who are catching trout while trolling with live bait from their boats.

Lake Puckaway is still producing pike on tip-ups though the pike are small. Walleye anglers are fishing early and late into the day with Northland Rattle Spoons tipped with minnow heads.

For information on guide trips reach out to me via my Facebook page at mike.norris.7773 or email me through my website at www.comecatchsmallmouth.com

GREEN/STURGEON BAYS, WISCONSIN

Click here for the Wisconsin DNR weekly report.

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

Good morning fellas….here is an update on our ice fishing up to this point

Unfortunately, at the time of this report we are still experiencing lack of ice out on the big bay of Green Bay (The so called “Whitefish Grounds”) With that said, there are some folks tip toeing their way around out in some deeper water. If we can get a week of cold weather, we should be good, fingers crossed. When that does happen, Riley’s Bay, the mouth of Little Sturgeon, Henderson’s Point and Sherwood Point will be all go-to spots with Larsons Reef to follow shortly after. Howie’s Whitefish jigs tipped with plastics will most like lead the way once again as far as the most productive bait, with Rapala jigs, jigging shad raps and random spoons working also

The Perch fishing continues to be a bright spot so far in this early ice season. Little Sturgeon and Sawyer Harbor are really the only 2 spots with safe, walkable ice right now. Shiners and Rosy Reds under tip-ups or hand lines have been good along with jigging with an assortment of jigs tipped with minnows, minnow heads, waxies and spikes all working right now. And as soon as the ice thickens, the fishermen will be able to spread out and venture out to some different spots.

Pike fishing has also been going quite well as of late. Best areas have been Little Sturgeon, Riley’s Bay, Sawyer Harbor and downtown Sturgeon Bay around the marinas. Large Golden Shiners and sucker minnows under tip-ups and Auto-Fishermen definitely the method of choice

And very few Walleyes getting caught right now just due to the lack of ice and the inability to get out the “Hot-Spots”. When we do get some safe ice the better spots would include…Henderson’s point, the Rileys Bay area along with Sherwood Point and Larsens Reef

Thanks;

Lance LaVine

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

HEIDECKE LAKE

Closed for the season.

LAKE ERIE

Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.

LAKEFRONT

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; and the piers remain officially closed.

LaSALLE LAKE

Closed for the season.

MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN

Click here for the update from D&S Bait.

Guide Mike Norris emailed:

Fishing Report 1/11/2021

Mike Norris

Eight consecutive days without a front moving through and with dark cloudy days appeared to affect the fishing in my area last week. I had received numerous reports poor fishing from many of my cohorts. Then last Saturday the clouds opened to sunshine and the fish reacted favorably. My go-to spot turned out to be the deep basin on Lake Waubesa.

. . .

For information on guide trips reach out to me via my Facebook page at mike.norris.7773 or email me through my website at www.comecatchsmallmouth.com

MAZONIA

Both units are open for open-water fishing or ice fishing.

MILLE LACS LAKE, MINNESOTA

Iowan Liam with his first walleye, caught from Mille Lacs. Photo provided by McQuoids Inn
Iowan Liam with his first walleye, caught from Mille Lacs.
Provided by McQuoids Inn

Justin Lederer emailed Tuesday night from McQuoids Inn in Isle, Minn.:

Justin Lederer checking in from McQuoids Inn Millie Lacs lake. Roads are being plowed further out now as of right now most of the roads you can get a half ton pickups out on. For walleye work the 20-30 foot range in the daytime buckshot, 360’s and forage minnow jigs have been producing with just the minnows head. Some are still being picked up on dead sticks with medium suckers. Closer to sunset push into 15-20 foot range and go with the same jigs and use a whole fathead or crappie minnows. Northern and perch fishing has slowed down still a few being caught if you can find areas that have not had as much fishing pressure. Stay safe on lakes everyone.

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

Kurt Justice at Kurt’s Island Sport Shop in Minocqua emailed:Maybe it’s based on how great things have been, lots of anglers on the ice, lower than normal barometer or just an ice fishing hangover! Fishing slowed some this past weekend. Anglers reporting having to work a little harder for the fish they did catch, but catching has continued! With ice thickness on average of 11-13”and only a couple inches of snow on ice, travel by foot, sno-mo or ATV excellent. Can’t recommend truck travel yet, even though it’s being done.

Walleye: Good – Anglers working off shore humps jigging 13 Fishing Majic Mans, Hyper Rattles, Slab Raps and jigging Raps. Scoring fish during the early morning hours and dusk to just after period. Suckers on tip-downs best on these areas while those working 6-12’ weeds at dusk reporting better success on shiners.

Crappies: Good – Weed anglers still finding Crappies in 10-12’ narrow leaf cabbage using Lethal Cecils and Rockers to present plastics and beavertail to fish. Crappie minnows on tip-downs still producing well both there and on mud basin fish in 14-22’ while working Venom Inferno jigs and sling blade jigs tipped with waxies.

Bluegill: Good – Ice anglers getting good results using Clam Dingle Drop and Swirl Drop jigs tipped with mousees in 6-10’ cabbage pockets. Tungsten jig flys offered in a slow drop also a good way to tempt reluctant biters.

Northern Pike: Good – Some very good-sized Pike reported this past weekend, fish to 39” on big shiners over weed tops of 6’ in 12-16’ of water. Smaller Pike active in flats of 6-10’, river shiners and goldens best.

Yellow Perch: Good – Have to search to find active fish. In weeds K-Rips and T-Rips tipped with waxies. Work bait aggressively to attract attention, then hold bait still once an audience arrives. Over mud flats Hali jigs, Kastmasters D-Chain tipped with wigglers or red spikes doing the trick. Tip-downs baited with small rosies or a large wiggler on a #16 treble upping the odds.

Largemouth Bass: Good – Most anglers picking up Bass on tip-ups using medium shiners. Jigging a #3 pimple tipped with a minnow head also producing.

Forecasted temps seem to be holding steady this week, the dreaded “Polar Vortex” to arrive on Sunday with lows in the low teens to highs in low 20’s (it is winter here) shouldn’t be as drastic as predicted. Some more cold to build another 2-3” of ice would make truck travel better. Overall, it’s been an incredible ice season so far.

Kurt Justice

Kurt’s Island Sport Shop
Like us on FaceBook

NORTHWEST INDIANA

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

Steelhead fisherman out daily but the bite is on the slow side for most. Voodoo jigs tipped with waxworms still best bait spawn sacks come in second.

Lots of groups on ice some places good some not ready yet

Perch good for boaters leaving cal park 100th street and up using extra large fatheads. Move around u will get perch

The bite for shore guys kinda all over the place last couple days slips and up to 95th street. Some days good some days few dinks and that’s it.

Few fish from portage river walk and Michigan city peir. Lakers, whitefish and a coho here and there.

ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN

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

SHABBONA LAKE

Site hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Lakeside, Pokanoka’s Cafe and camp store are closed for the season. Clint Sands and his wife Heather are looking to sell the concessions.

SOUTHEAST WISCONSIN LAKEFRONT

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