Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Ice fishing leads, but there’s also lakefront fishing

Ice fishing inland leads this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing, but there are also open-water options.

SHARE Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Ice fishing leads, but there’s also lakefront fishing
Other than Ken “Husker” O’Malley’s damn hat, this is fairly representative of the last week in area fishing. Provided photo

Other than Ken “Husker” O’Malley’s damn hat, this is fairly representative of the last week in area fishing.

Provided

Ice fishing again leads this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report, but there are other options, even some river fishing.

An indication of how ice fishing looks to be here for a while came Tuesday morning when Capt. Rich Sleziak delayed texting his report because a fresh shipment of ice-fishing stuff had just arrived.

I thought the photo at the top of Ken “Husker” O’Malley was representative of the last week in area fishing, other than his damn hat.

SPECIAL THANKS: Thanks to everybody who contributed to helping me crank out this sprawling raw-file MFR. I truly appreciate it.

LAKEFRONT PERCH

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait texted:

. . . Perch are still biting sporadically in the lake and river slips out south. Take care, Steve

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

Perch still good for boat fisherman fishing 105th street and farther up fathead minnowsbest

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.

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

I suspect the cold snap later this week will firm up weaker areas.

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait texted:

Marginal ice southside. Western burbs still 5 of ice with the edges soft from the rain last week. . . . Take care, Steve

Ken “Husker” O’Malley emailed:

Hey Dale, Here is recap of this past week’s fishing. Areas lakes-it’s been a while since we had fishable ice south of I-80. Ice is at 4 inches with some frozen slush on top.Bass have been good mid morning on tip downs with large fatheads. They can also be caught jigging Kenders t-rip tipped with multiple spikes or smaller fatheads. Bluegills have been excellent from mid-morning to late afternoon. Work the weeds lines in 8-10 feet adjacent to deeper water. Stay mobile to keep up with the fish. Best bait has been the google eye glow jigs tipped with wax worms or spikes. Here is the nature pic of the week. Someone else has been fishing my area. They have been eating the discarded roaches at night. TTYL — Ken Husker O’Malley Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team

Ken “Husker” O’Malley nature shot. Provided photo

Ken “Husker” O’Malley nature shot.

Provided

BRAIDWOOD LAKE

Closed for the season.

CALUMET SYSTEM

Remains the most consistent spot for perch, especially for boaters well inland.

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Chain O’Lakes catfish. Provided photo

Chain O’Lakes catfish.

Provided

Jason Fox emailed the photos above and below, and this:

My catches that pinner crappie was from Nielsen’s yesterday and walleye and catfish from Marie on Sunday

Jason Fox with a Chain O’Lakes walleye. Provided photo

Jason Fox with a Chain O’Lakes walleye.

Provided

Arden Katz said Nielsen’s has lots of bluegills, all sizes, on wax worms, with a few crappie mixed in, some are right under the ice; ice is 5 inches.

ICE-FISHING ACCESS: I reiterate, act like an ethical angler and either patronize the parking places or pay the parking fee. Most places run some version of $5 parking or patronize the establishment. 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.

FOX RIVER

Anthony Hoovers sent this:

Hi Dale, It’s Anthony Hoovers. I attached a photo of a 9 pound catfish from the Fox River. I’ve been getting a bunch of these guys this winter; it’s been quite fun! Especially when they hit jigs. We can still find quality fish on the Fox right now, just have to keep hunting. Hope all is well with you. Tight lines! Sincerely, Anthony Hoovers

Not sure why that makes me so happy, but it does.

GREEN LAKE AREA, WISCONSIN

Guide Mike Norris texted

Mike Norris with a Green Lake northern pike. Provided photo

Mike Norris with a Green Lake northern pike.

Provided

the photo above and emailed:

Fishing Report 1/1/8/2021 Mike Norris Big Green Lake – Last week I took advantage of light winds and an air temperature hovering in the mid-30’s to clear the snow from one of Big Green’s boat launch ramps.I then launched my boat and headed to one of my favorite early winter smallmouth spots.It was eerie feeling to be on Big Green in a boat in mid-January and I was hoping to encounter huge smallmouths which had not been disturbed by boat traffic for more than four weeks.Unfortunately, the smallies weren’t cooperating.But during last week’s outing I caught and released oversized northern pike with belly’s so packed with forage that I found the width of their stomach measuring wider than the height of the fish.And I found them foraging in less than 15 feet of water.Apparently, baitfish had migrated to the shallows where the surface water temperature was 38 degrees, which was 4 degrees warmer than I had observed on Big Green in mid-December.That evening I posted a couple photos of my catches online and I received a message from an angler who had successfully targeted lake trout.A third friend messaged me with photos of early evening walleyes he had caught.I am not ready to put my ice fishing gear away yet, but I am hoping mother nature gives me another open water opportunity to fish Big Green in February. Lake Puckaway remains iced over and anglers are still catching northern pike on tip-ups during the day while jig fishermen are targeting walleyes before sunrise and after sunset. For information on guide trips reach out to me via my Facebook page at mike.norris.7773 or email me through my website atwww.comecatchsmallmouth.com

GREEN/STURGEON BAYS, WISCONSIN

Click here for the Wisconsin DNR weekly report.

HEIDECKE LAKE

Closed for the season.

ILLINOIS RIVER

Sauger fishing is on on the Illinois River. Photo provided by Capt. Mike Hanson

Sauger fishing is on on the Illinois River.

Provided by Capt. Mike Hanson

Capt. Mike Hanson messaged the photo above and this on Tuesday:

Illinois River coming alive

I should say so.

LAKE ERIE

Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.

LAKEFRONT

Tom Starcevich with a good burbot at Cal Park. Provided photo

Tom Starcevich with a good burbot at Cal Park.

Provided

Perch report at top; a few are catching an odd mix of fish on the Chicago lakefront. Tom Starcevich above shows proof of that variety.

Burbot i caught jan 14 at the breakwallat Calumet parkit hit a 1oz jig and 3 inch white tube greatfight

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.

Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan texted:

Aug hasnt had much business, a few guys going down to the pier. Sounds like some trout here and there. Most guys are ice fishing [inland].

LaSALLE LAKE

Closed for the season.

MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN

Click here for the update from D&S Bait.

MILLE LACS LAKE, MINNESOTA

Isabelle Krawiecki with a Mille Lacs walleye. Photo provided

Isabelle Krawiecki with a Mille Lacs walleye.

Provided

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

Isabelle Krawiecki keep an eye out for this young lady she is going to make a big name for herself in fishing Justin Lederer checking in from McQuoids Inn Millie Lacs Lake. If you stay moving the walleye bite is hot work 12-18 feet in the morning push out to deeper water for the afternoon. The evening bight has varied some guys are staying in the deeper water and doing good others are pushing back into the 12-18 foot range. Fish houses are producing the best at night. Buckshot,360’s, and forage minnow jigs are producing the best. Tip ups and dead sticking medium suckers.Northern are being caught in 7-12 feet on the edge of weed lines on tip ups and dead sticks with large suckers. The roads are plowed 1/2 ton pickups are the max right now. Stay safe on the lakes everyone.

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

Kurt Justice at Kurt’s Island Sport Shop in Minocqua emailed:

1/19/2021 Following a very low-pressure system midweek that seemed to have shut down most daytime angling (after dark fishing was noticeably better), things improved by the weekend. Threats of snowstorms and polar vortex cold never really materialized in what has to be the mildest winter the Northwoods has ever experienced. Ice not building very much up through Jan. 18, but not losing either! Walleye: Poor/good – Following the mid-week slump, flags started popping better for anglers using the standard tip-up baits. Jigging also improved as eyes got more aggressive. Jigging Raps, Clam Tikka Mino, and Shiner Minnows tipped with a minnow head scored well this past week on fish in the low to mid 20 range (slot fish!) Crappies: Poor/Good – Mid-week it was nighttime only for the most part - glow jigs tipped with waxies on small minnows. By the weekend, daytime angling improved for tip-down anglers using rosies! Northern Pike: Poor/Good – Fishing river shiners, goldens, and suckers in the 6-12’ cabbage best. Action improved by weekend. Bluegill: Poor/Good – Small dark jigs tipped with mousses or waxies. Some larger gills found outside weeds over mud in 12-18’ mixed with crappies and perch. Yellow Perch: Poor/Good – While still nice, perch are mingled in with smaller fish in weeds (use small lake shiners or medium fats to keep the little ones at bay). Better average fish and fewer little ones plying the mud flats using tip-downs with crappie minnows or wigglers on fast dropping chained spoons! Largemouth Bass: Poor/Good – While medium shiners on tip-downs are good, some anglers are doing better on small Jigging Raps or Slender Spoons Despite reports of a truck breaking through on the Willow (the current isalwaysa problem there) ice is getting somewhat better this week with lows in the single digits and little snow cover to help build more ice. Kurt Justice Kurt’s Island Sport Shop Like us on Facebook

NORTHWEST INDIANA

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

Lots of groups fishing ice still on sketchy side tho. The cold that’s here will do us some good. Some coho at portage river walk and up to the 249 bridge by izzak waltons squid and jigs tipped with waxworms taking few fish Boat fishernsn around Gary light for coho and few browns has been decent casting spoons and small crankbaits Perch still good for boat fisherman fishing 105th street and farther up fathead minnowsbest Some steelhead being had in area tributaries nothing fast and furious but some coming on voodoo jigs tipped with waxworms and few on spinners

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 there are a few steelhead in the river; a few walleye are being caught evenings below Berrien Springs; no action, not even whitefish, off the pier.

SHABBONA LAKE

Site hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The concessionaires are looking for buyers.

SOUTHEAST WISCONSIN LAKEFRONT

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

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

FREMONT: Bill Stoeger texted:

Templeton Bayou has been giving up some good catches of perch. Other than that, it’s been slow.

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