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Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Perch in spurts, waiting (hoping) for ice fishing, Thanksgiving

It’s that time of the year where it is waiting on ice up north and perch on southern Lake Michigan and those threads lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report going into the Thanksgiving break.

Perch starts in fits and starts on the Chicago lakefront, this scene is from Sunday at Navy Pier. Credit: Bob France
Perch starts in fits and starts on the Chicago lakefront, this scene is from Sunday at Navy Pier.
Bob France

Waiting on ice fishing to come up north and for perch to come in good on southern Lake Michigan are the main threads that lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report going into the Thanksgiving break.

Bob France sent the photo at the top, after posting this last week (his expanded report is in LAKEFRONT PERCH):

Perch Fishing Meet & Greet Navy Pier This Sunday November 21st 5am to 10am I will provide Coffee and Donuts I will be by post #5 I hope to see all of you there!

LAKEFRONT PERCH

Arden Katz said that he had his limit at 87th in 45 minutes, but the biting so light that it took 40 bites to get the limit. “There’s fish in there,” he said. “Don’t know if it is jam packed with fish.” He was casting a two Mini-Mite jig rig with the weight on the bottom and jigging it, not just dragging it back. Most were 9-10 inches. “They should be in for Thanksgiving, unless there is an east wind,” he said.

Bob France sent the report below:

We had a good time out at Navy Pier on Sunday. The perch were in a smaller area than years before. I think the key would be to move around until you find them. I was set up at Post #5 but only got a couple nibbles. There was about five other guys nearby with all kinds of baits and they were not having any luck either. There was a couple at #7 that were getting perch on crappie rigs with minnows and even got a couple doubles! There was a few guys near them toward #8 that got a few nice ones and one 13 1/2 inch jumbo! Jason and his daughter were closer to #8 and they did ok as well. One guy said the perch were all by #5 on Saturday.

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait texted:

Perch: boaters did very good in the river. Lake slip not as good. Shore angler results varied. River slip was pretty good . We will be open thanksgiving 6am-10am

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

Hi Dale, We will start with the news that everyone’s waiting for...PERCH The reports are hit or miss. I have 2 guys that I know for sure caught their limit down South by 87th Street on Sunday, others just a few and then some guys nothing. I have a few reports up this way at Diversey of a few nice size ones off of one of the docks but just those few. Navy Pier had a few reports of a couple here and there but nothing strong yet. I think from here on out things should pick up day by day as long as we don’t get any big Northeast blows that stir up the lake. . . .

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

Perch are going now last few days have been decent. From mouth of river to 95th st

PIER PASSES

The $6 pier passes, which allow legal access to select piers at most Chicago harbors, went on sale Monday. A number of additional piers were added this year to bring the total to 31 piers. The passes may be bought at Henry’s Sports and Bait, Park Bait and Northerly Island Visitor Center. Henry’s and Park Bait are cash only; Northerly Island is credit-card only.

Carl Vizzone, fishing coordinator for the Chicago Park District gave these details:

A pier pass gives fisherman an opportunity to use various docks in 6 of our harbors. There are 31 different piers to choose from in our harbor system. The only harbor that may not be ready to go on schedule is Burnham as it is our late leaver harbor for boaters. We printed Covid guidelines on the passes as well as Westrec has hand sanitizer stations at each accessible gate that we will try to keep filled. Pier pass program runs from November 15th through March 31st, from 6 AM to 11 PM 7 days per week. Passes will be available at Henry’s Bait & Sports, Park Bait Shop and at Northerly Island Visitors Center. There should be metal signage on all eligible pier gates with info and contact number.

NAVY PIER ANGLER PARKING

The north side of Navy Pier is open for anglers. The discounted parking for anglers is $9, if out by 10 a.m.

LAKEFRONT PARKING

Chicago Park District’s parking passes for the fisherman’s parking lots at DuSable and Burnham harbors are on sale at Henry’s Sports and Bait in Bridgeport and Park Bait at Montrose Harbor.

Readers suggest SpotHero app downtown. Otherwise, here are some basics: Foster (free street parking or pay lot); Montrose (now a mix of metered and free street parking); Belmont (pay lots on north and south sides); Diversey (pay lot or street parking); DuSable Harbor (pay lot or fisherman’s lot); Northerly Island/Burnham Harbor (meters, pay lot or fisherman’s lot); 31st/Burnham (meter parking between McCormick Place and 31st Street Harbor); Oakwood/39th (meters); 63rd Street/Casino Pier (pay lot); Steelworkers Park (free street parking at east end of 87th); Cal Park (free parking).

AREA LAKES

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

Ken “Husker” O’Malley emailed the photos above and below, and this:

Hey Dale,

Here is a recap of this past weeks fishing. Those willing to brave the cold mornings can be rewarded.

Bass have been decent. They are starting to setup in their winter patterns. Dragging a jig with a 4 inch chigger craw will take active biters. Work the jig slowly from deeper water up to the drop off. The active bass have been sitting right on the edge of the drop in areas with green weeds. This is not a numbers game, but will take some nicer fish in the system.

Here is the nature pic of the week. Got some sunscreen?

TTYL

Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Husker Outdoors
Waterwerks fishing team

Ken “Husker” O’Malley’s nature photo of the week. Provided photo
Ken “Husker” O’Malley’s nature photo of the week.
Provided

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Proprietor Greg Dickson at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said, “No,” when asked about ice fishing. Water is low because of the winter drawdown, so try for walleye around current areas, such as the Route 12 bridge, etc.

NOTE: Check updates on water conditions at foxwaterway.com or (847) 587-8540.

NOTE 2: The Stratton Lock and Dam is closed through April 30.

CHICAGO RIVER

Jesse Gonzalez with a largemouth bass from the Chicago River. Provided by Jeffrey Williams
Jesse Gonzalez with a largemouth bass from the Chicago River.
Provided by Jeffrey Williams

Jeffrey Williams messaged the photo above and this:

so i might have to call it for fishing the riverwalk, but my brother [Jesse Gonzalez] did catch 2 nice LMB a few days ago

COOLING LAKES/STRIP PITS

Braidwood, Heidecke and LaSalle are closed for the season; so is Mazonia, except Monster stays open all year.

DOWNSTATE

POWERTON: Fishing is closed.

SPRING LAKE: Boat fishing is closed on the main lake; boat fishing is allowed from the Sky Ranch Road ramp to Maple Island buoy during waterfowl seasons. Bank fishing along South Lake Road is not allowed until after 1 p.m. during waterfowl season.

EMIQUON PRESERVE: During waterfowl season, non-waterfowl hunting boating (which includes fishing) is not allowed until noon. Access permits and liability waivers are required. They are available Tuesday to Saturday at Dickson Mounts Museum, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

SHELBYVILLE: Check with Ken Wilson of Lithia Guide Service.

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS: Check with Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing.

HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Closed for the season. Check regulations at http://www.wetlands-initiative.org/dixon-paddling-fishing.

FOX RIVER

Dicky’s Bait Shop in Montgomery reported a few smaller catfish on shiners or frozen shad; otherwise few anglers coming through

Pete Lamar emailed the photo below and this:

Hi Dale,

This time of year, any warm water report could be the last one for a while (my next fish is more likely to be a brown or steelhead than a largemouth). If the fish in the attached image is the last one of 2021, it’s a nice way to finish. I caught it on a white streamer under a very buoyant strike indicator; the fly was completely stationary when he hit.

The day before, I ran into some dead calm conditions just before sunset and something-probably midges-were hatching. Bluegills had taken notice: I got a few within a rod length of shore.

All this took place in the Kane County Forest Preserves.

Pete

The end times are near. Or something like that.

What might be the last bass of the year for Pete Lamar. Provided photo
What might be the last bass of the year for Pete Lamar.
Provided

GREEN LAKE AREA, WISCONSIN

Guide Mike Norris emailed:

Fishing Report – 11/22/2021

Mike Norris

Big Green Lake – Cooler weather last week pushed surface water temps below 50 degrees and fishing slowed somewhat. Smallmouth bass moved deeper, and I am now finding them on secondary breaks in 25 to 35 feet of water. Wind has also limited my days on the water. But by no means am I giving up on open water fishing. Smallmouth bass group up as the water continues to cool, and they will willingly bite when located. I am trending towards all live bait fishing now as the bass are harder to reach at deeper depths with reaction lures. Bluegills and perch can are holding in the back bays and the best bet for walleyes is to troll crankbaits after dark when the weather permits.

GREEN/STURGEON BAYS, WISCONSIN

Click here for the Wisconsin DNR weekly report.

KANKAKEE RIVER

Bob Johnson with two good walleye, the only two, caught and released on the Kankakee River. Provided photo
Bob Johnson with two good walleye, the only two, caught and released on the Kankakee River.
Provided

Bob Johnson emailed the photo above and this:

Hi Dale -

Kankakee River is looking good with clear water and water temp at 44. Walleye were slow for this time of year in my opinion but the surprise today were the largemouth. I was able to land almost a dozen in separate spots. Caught some smallmouth today too so it was a mixed bag with the 2 Walleye. Finesse baits worked today sticking to green pumpkin fishing the slack water just out of current. As always catch and release.

Bob Johnson with a good largemouth bass from the Kankakee River. Provided photo
Bob Johnson with a good largemouth bass from the Kankakee River.
Provided

LAKE ERIE

Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.

LAKEFRONT

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait texted:

Perch: boaters did very good in the river. Lake slip not as good. Shore angler results varied. River slip was pretty good . We will be open thanksgiving 6am-10am

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

Hi Dale, We will start with the news that everyone’s waiting for...PERCHThe reports are hit or miss. I have 2 guys that I know for sure caught their limit down South by 87th Street on Sunday, others just a few and then some guys nothing. I have a few reports up this way at Diversey of a few nice size ones off of one of the docks but just those few. Navy Pier had a few reports of a couple here and there but nothing strong yet. I think from here on out things should pick up day by day as long as we don’t get any big Northeast blows that stir up the lake. Diversey and Belmont still have some nice Steelhead, a few Coho, and a couple really old zombie Kings.Our hours now are 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. seven days a week. We will be open Thanksgiving Day normal hours 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Have a great week.

Capt. Dan Leslie at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan said steelhead (including a 30-incher) and a few coho, no lakers or browns yet, on spawn sacks, spoons or stick baits. Shop closed Wednesday-Friday, reopening Saturday. Winter hours are 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to when apt during week.

SALMON SNAGGING: Here are the details from the IDNR:

4) Snagging for chinook and coho salmon only is permitted from the following Lake Michigan shoreline areas from October 1 through December 31; however, no snagging is allowed at any time within 200 feet of a moored watercraft or as posted: A) Lincoln Park Lagoon from the Fullerton Avenue Bridge to the southern end of the Lagoon. B) Waukegan Harbor (in North Harbor basin only). C) Winnetka Power Plant discharge area. D) Jackson Harbor (Inner and Outer Harbors).

d) Disposition of Snagged Salmon and Paddlefish. All snagged salmon and paddlefish must be removed from the area from which they are taken and disposed of properly, in accordance with Article 5, Section 5-5 of the Fish and Aquatic Life Code.

MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN

Click here for the update from D&S Bait.

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

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

Almost made it a whole year without a mistake! For the 6 or 8 people still reading this report this time of year, last week surface temps were in the low to mid 40’s…they probably aren’t now! Some lakes and bays skimmed over Sunday morning (11/21) but if any part was still open the ice was quickly blown off by high winds on Sunday afternoon. Overnight lows in the upper single digits is building ice on locked up lakes. Open water waiting for wind to stop.

Musky: Good-Very Good – Not many anglers out (opener of gun deer), but those that were had good success on suckers and trout on quick set rigs. Gliders also caught fish as two different boats reported fish of 43” and 46” on Smity baits and Phantoms.

As ice forms on the lakes (the “Pond” froze, opened and has since refroze), it is important to use caution in deciding to fish. Also, with the Musky season extending through December this year, ice CAN NOT be used as a base to fish Musky. Just so anglers are clear on this, ice fishing for Musky is not allowed.

As safe ice develops, we will update posts.

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving!!

Kurt Justice

Kurt’s Island Sport Shop - Like us on Facebook

NORTHWEST INDIANA

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

Perch are going now last few days have been decent. From mouth of river to 95th st

Whitefish and lake trout off of Michigan city peir using blade baits and spoons. Whitefish on bottom using small peices of skein, waxworms, or lil peice of worm.

Few steelhead being caught in area tributaries using voodoo jigs tipped with waxworms. Spawn sacks taking fish too.

Open 5am till 2pm on thanksgiving day. Back to 5 to 5 on Black Friday.

Christina Petrites at Stan’s Bait & Tackle Center in Hammond emailed:

Hi, Dale! I hope you’re getting ready for the holiday season with your loved ones; we certainly are! The sudden, downward swing in temperature scared off a lot of the fair-weather anglers, but the most-devoted ones have given positive reports as of late:

Fishing on the rivers has really picked up; good numbers of Steelhead are being caught on Mag Lips & Flatfish. The spawn guys are doing well floating spawn under a bobber, occasionally successful tipped with a beemoth.

Walleye are being caught in nice numbers during the evening time; performing especially well are Wolf Lake (with a nice upsurge due to the recent stocking) & near the damn east on the St. Joseph River.

Inland lakes are still moderately producing bluegill catches.

ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN

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

SHABBONA LAKE

Concessions are closed. Site hours through Jan. 31 are 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

SOUTHEAST WISCONSIN LAKEFRONT

Andy Mikos with a brown trout caught in Kenosha, Wisconsin harbor. Provided photo
Andy Mikos with a brown trout caught in Kenosha, Wisconsin harbor.
Provided

Andy Mikos emailed the photos above and below, and this on Sunday:

Small boat report from Kenosha this morning. 3 for 4 with an 8 and 10 pound brown and a 7 pound steelhead. All caught casing in the small boat harbor around the bridge. Shallow and deep diving shad raps in purple and natural shad colors. This will make the Bears game Bloody Mary taste sweeter. GO BEARS!

In case you are wondering, he emailed before the Bears game.

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

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN

Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said a few more steelhead in the river; South Haven is doing better on whitefish.

Paddle and Pole hosts the Berrien Springs Fish Ladder Camera.

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted that there has not been much of a fall walleye run, perhaps because of the lack of current.