Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: What we know, mainly before the snow

Ice fishing around Chicago leads this sprawling and snowy raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

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A nice bluegill in Lake County. Credit: Charles Zheng

A nice bluegill in Lake County.

Charles Zheng

Ice fishing and the impacts of the storm lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

Charles Zheng emailed the photo at the top, an artful presentation of a bluegill from Lake County.


Weather has been the limiting factor. 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. (Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait texted that a few perch are being caught at DuSable.) 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.


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.


Ice conditions are going vary wildly after the storm, from little impact south with little snow cover to much heavier snow north. Use special caution, even south there is enough snow to mask weak spots.

Charles Zheng emailed:

Hey Dale, Hope you’re doing well. Just wanted to inform you of some panfishing I’ve been doing in the last few days. This year to stay away from crowds I find myself on local ponds more often, as I keep my distance while constantly getting slab gills, crappie, and perch. Pictured below is an 8.5 tank, gills bite much better when the sun is out. On cloudy days I go straight for crappie. Northern Lake County, Bangs Lake and ponds nearby.

That one nugget of advice from Zheng applies to more than ice fishing.

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

Hey Dale, Here is a recap of this past weeks fishing. Area lakes-the cold front that pushed through last last week helped start building some ice. Ice was a solid 5 inches with another half inch of frozen slush. The front had fish tight to cover. Bluegills were on fire early to mid-morning in 7-8 feet of water in thick weeds. Best bait was tungsten jigs tipped with multiple spikes as live bait was out fishing plastics. A few bass could be had as well. The most productive color was glow pink even though color really didn’t seem the matter. TTYL — Ken Husker O’Malley Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a nice bluegill on ice. Provided

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a nice bluegill on ice.



Closed for the season.


Continues to be the best for perch, especially well up for boaters.


Brad Irving at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said ice anglers on Petite are catching crappie with a few walleye on a Jigging Rap with a minnow body in 15-20 feet; catfish are good on Marie in 8-20 feet; south end of Channel producing bluegill; Cedar has some nice perch; just across the border Mary and Elizabeth are good for night walleye.

ICE-FISHING ACCESS: Hey, act like an ethical angler and patronize the places or pay the fee, whatever is wanted. 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).

Trevor James messaged

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


POWERTON: Shore fishing is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Boat fishing reopens Feb. 14.

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 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.


Anthony Hoovers with the accomplishment of a winter smallmouth bass from the Fox River. Provided photo

Anthony Hoovers with the accomplishment of a winter smallmouth bass from the Fox River.


Anthony Hoovers emailed the photo above and this:

Been getting into some nice smallmouth lately. The Fox has been very generous this winter.


Guide Mike Norris emailed:

Fishing Report 1/25/2021 Mike Norris Big Green Lake – Big Green is transitioning from soft water to ice right now with skim ice forming across a great deal of the lake. Having said that it looks like lake trout and cisco fishing will continue remain on hold until safer ice forms. This week’s forecast calls for nighttime temps to drop into the single digits by mid-week. But daytime temps will climb back above the freeze mark this weekend and into next week. Fox Lake – There are plenty of anglers venturing out into Fox Lake now with reports of seven inches of ice across most of the lake. The exception is the two open cracks running from Maple Point to the tip of Keno Trail. The Wisconsin Elite Series Ice Fishing Team Tournament held a one-day event on Fox Lake last Saturday. Under the Elite Series format, Teams can weigh in their single best caught gamefish and best two panfish. These three fish are then measured and the team with the longest combined number of inches wins the tournament. Tyler Bessa and Andrew Mosley won the event with a 33-inch northern pike caught on a tip-up and they also jigged up two 11-inch crappies for a combined length of 55 inches. There is enough ice now to walk out into the basin of the lake where the crappies suspend during the winter months. Lake Puckaway – Northern Pike are still the main attraction at Lake Puckaway. Ice is 7 to 8 inches thick and anglers are hauling shacks out. There are a few brave souls driving vehicles across the lake, but with Puckaway’s tricky currents, but I would not recommend doing so unless you know the lake well. Walleyes are still falling for spoons tipped with minnow heads at the west end of the lake early mornings and after the sun goes down in the evening. For information on guide trips reach out to me via my Facebook page at mike.norris.7773 or email me through my website at


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 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 when the winds allow you to safely go out there. 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 season. Little Sturgeon and Sawyer Harbor are really the only 2 spots with the safest 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 Larsen’s Reef Basically the same report as last time, but its starting to get better. We still have to tread lightly until the big bay freezes so we don’t have guys getting rescued every other day Thanks; Lance LaVine Howie’s Tackle 1309 Green Bay Rd Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235 Ph: 920-746-9916

Always good to hear the term, “Whitefish Grounds.” Hope there is some decent fishing out there soon, we’re more than halfway through winter


Closed for the season.


Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.


The Chicago lakefront east of Lake Shore Drive remains officially closed, but people may walk or bike in. Pier and parking passes are not being sold.

Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan texted:

Yea, still browns off the piers, using bait,, spawn, and roaches, Gov pier and johnsons


Closed for the season.


Click here for the update from D&S Bait.


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


Tommy McGrath of Crystal Lake with a good walleye from Mille Lacs. Provided by McQuoid’s Inn

Tommy McGrath of Crystal Lake with a good walleye from Mille Lacs.

Provided by McQuoid’s Inn

Justin Lederer emailed the photo above and the report below from McQuoids Inn in Isle, Minn.:

Justin Lederer checking in from McQuoids Inn Lake Millie Lacs fishing has slowed down during the day you can still pick up some nice fish like Tommy did during the day on suckers and tip ups or dead sticks in 20-30 foot of water jigging crappie minnows also is producing fish. Perch have been biting in the same water depths also on crappie minnows or wax worms for perch use small tungsten jigs. Northern are slow right now. Full Moon this weekend with a snow system moving in should get them fired up. Keep an eye on Tommy by following him at McGrath Fishing. Tight lines stay safe everyone.


Three guys—Moose Lake Pool, Ballin Kraut and Patrick Patel—tweeted photos from their ice fishing in the North Woods and this explanation:

Whitefish Lake, WI it’s near Lac Courte Oreilles. Fishing with Andrew Gerdes Guide Service. The guy driving the plane just landed for shore lunch, no plane needed to access the lake

They’ve been trying to get me to go with Andrew Gerdes Guide Service out of Hayward for years. Maybe I should.

Fun on the ice in the North Woods. Provided photo

Fun on the ice in the North Woods.


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

Wintery weather! The type we’ve grown unaccustomed to this year. High wind, sub-zero temps and 5-6 of very light, fluffy snow slowed anglers this past week. The cold may have helped some anglers as reports of 14-16 of ice on many lakes has eased the worry of truck travel. Some of the mid-winter dull-drums have hit, but overall, due to a very mild winter, conditions still very good for anglers. Crappies: Fair-Good – Anglers still finding some weed related fish in 8-12’ using tip-downs with minnows or dropping Lethal Cecils tipped with waxies. More basin fish being caught over mud flats of 16-24’. Tungsten jigs tipped with waxies, glow T-Rips and tip-downs baited with small rosies best. Walleye: Fair-Good – Anglers finding smaller windows of activity, pre-dawn, dusk and later. Jigging Chubby Dartors, 3/8 oz Z-Vibs, Tikka Minnows and Jigging Raps tipped with minnow heads on off shore humps at low light. Some tip-up action on suckers in same areas. Anglers in weeds reporting better results using golden shiners. Northern Pike: Fair-Good – Anglers reporting action on shiners, suckers, hot dogs and large frozen smelt. (Turns out some Pike won’t bite hot dogs that aren’t kosher…who knew? - haha) Bluegill: Fair-Good - Mid-mornings through mid-afternoons best. Small dark #3 tungsten jigs tipped with mousses or spikes. Most Gills weed related, yet anglers fishing Crappies over mud in 16-24’ picking up occasional fish. Yellow Perch: Fair-Good – Movement out over mud basin improves as Perch search for midge and mayfly larvae at this time. Clam Bomb Spoons, Pinhead Jigging Mino, Hali jigs and Pimples to deliver red spikes or wigglers best. Start in 16-18’, but depths as deep as 28-32’ holding Perch on some lakes. Largemouth Bass: Fair – A few reports of incidental catches on medium shiners and jigs meant for other species. Despite recent cold building ice, caution still advised. Check conditions, especially if you are first out on the lake. Kurt Justice Kurt’s Island Sport Shop Like us on FaceBook


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

Lots of groups on ice all over nwi most places ice is ok but still must be careful still some iffy areas Coho at Gary light area for those willing to take the boat out casting and trolling Lake trout and a few coho at portage river walk casting spoons and few on skein or squid Steelhead fishing in area tributaries is hit or miss not seeing the numbers of fish we are use too. Still some fish to be had on voodoo jigs tipped with beemoth or spawn sacks


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


Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said a few whitefish were caught off the pier last week; steelhead are hit and miss in the river; some walleye at night on jig and twister at Berrien Springs.


Site hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Concessionaires are looking for buyers.


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

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