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Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: South Side perch; “Early ice fishing season is upon us!” (North)

The building of the perch bite around Chicago’s South Side slips and the Calumet along with “Early ice fishing season is upon us!” up north lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

Ed Oquendo caught a beautiful rainbow trout Monday on the Chicago lakefront. Provided by Linda Oquendo
Ed Oquendo caught a beautiful rainbow trout Monday on the Chicago lakefront.
Provided by Linda Oquendo

The building of the perch bite around Chicago’s South Side slips and the Calumet along with “Early ice fishing season is upon us!” up north lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

Yes, ice fishing reports of sorts from northern Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Linda Oquendo sent the photo at the top of Ed Oquendo with a beautiful steelhead on the Chicago lakefront.

LAKEFRONT PERCH

Fraser Semple with his PB perch from Calumet Harbor. Provided photo
Fraser Semple with his PB perch from Calumet Harbor.
Provided

Fraser Semple messaged the photo above and this:

Dale, took a day off work to chase perch in the Calumet Harbor area, after catch and releasing many small ones, just when I debated having a last cast at twilight I took in a personal best 14” Perch. After some time in a livewell for pictures it was safely released.

Arden Katz Lots of perch at the South Side slips, but the bite is very light, just the feel of weight. Those using heavy line and crappie rigs are having a harder time. He uses very light line and a sensitive rod with a double Mini-Mite and spikes with a small pencil weight below.

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait texted:

Excellent southside reports. It’s been red hot and started Wednesday before thanksgiving. Warm weather coming and good times

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

Diversey and Belmont [have] a couple perch. A lot of good perch reports from Navy Pier South. The weather looks like it’s going to be okay for the next week or so, so as of right now I plan to stay open through the next couple weeks. Have a great week

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

Perch fair over in cal park and up the river everyday is different move around fish different areas is best.

Chris Strand on Tuesday messaged the photo right and this:

Went to may pier for perch. I didn’t get a bite but didn’t have minnows. Those who did caught some small ones. Highlight of the day was seeing this... never saw one in person before! Someone else caught and released it

A mudpuppy at Navy Pier. Provided by Chris Strand
A mudpuppy at Navy Pier.
Provided by Chris Strand

I know my first sighting of a mudpuppy, caught at Navy Pier, stuck with me. The photo brought back good memories.

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 ANGLING

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

The main focus remains crappie and waiting on local ice.

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

Ken “Husker” O’Malley emailed:

Hey Dale,

Here is a recap of this past weeks fishing.

Area lakes-there has been skim ice a few mornings as overnight temps have started some ice building. The forecast for mid week will create open water opportunities.

Bass have been decent early morning hours. The bite slows mid-morning. The best bait has been a jig with a 4 inch chigger craw. If you think you are working the bait too slow, slow it down more. Bass have not been chasing any kind of moving bait. The most consistent color has been black/blue.

Thanksgiving morning I was thankful for this beast as it hit when I popped the jig off a reed. I managed to flip the fish over shoreline cover despite my drag giving line. Who says dinner and football are the best part of the day!

Here is the nature pic of the week [below]. A late fall blaze.

TTYL

Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Husker Outdoors
Waterwerks fishing team

A late fall scene as nature photo of the week. Credit: Ken “Husker” O’Malley
A late fall scene as nature photo of the week.
Ken “Husker” O’Malley

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Art Frisell at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said the bite is OK, but the water level is extremely low (use caution when launching) and in between (some busting skim ice), so look for crappie in 15 feet during the day on main lake points with small fatheads and slip-bobber rigs; try main lake points for walleye, too, with jigs and large fatheads; some trying for muskies with large suckers in deep water off main lake points.

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.

COOLING LAKES

Braidwood, Heidecke and LaSalle are closed for the season.

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.

GREEN LAKE AREA, WISCONSIN

Guide Mike Norris emailed:

Fishing Report – 11/29/2021

Mike Norris

With nighttime air temps dropping into the mid 20’s and daytime air temps rising back into the mid-30’s, it is a time of transition here is south-central Wisconsin. Due to these fluctuations in air temperatures, it will be another week before we get weather cold enough to form safe walkable ice on our shallower lakes. Big Green Lake, which due to its size and depth remains ice free, presents the best opportunity for diehard anglers to pursue smallmouth bass or walleye. It is harder to launch a boat with Big Green’s public launch ramps having been pulled, but weather permitting, rigging sucker minnows for smallmouth during the day and slow trolling crankbaits for walleye in the evening remain the best bet for anglers who desire to catch a trophy fish.

GREEN/STURGEON BAYS, WISCONSIN

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

Good morning fellas. Sorry I’m a day late. Hope I’m not too late

Perch fishing has been outstanding up until this point and will continue as it has the past handful of years and right up until ice-up. Concentrate your efforts in and around the shallow bays like Sawyer Harbor, Riley’s Bay and Little Sturgeon from shore or from a boat. Fathead minnows are the main bait now that the water has cooled

The night time Walleye has been pretty darn good and will stay good right up until ice. Trolling near shore drop off with suspending crank baits has been the ticket there. There is also a decent shore fishing bite going on right now in Sturgeon Bay in all of the community, public areas.

The Northern Pike fishing has also been phenomenal throughout the area especially in and around the 3 shallow bays that hold a bunch of Perch along with the Sturgeon Bay ship canal. Dragging around big sucker minnows, casting and trolling with large crank baits, plastics and spinner baits

The Smallmouth Bass bite has also been very good when you can get out on the water comfortably. Howie’s Shorty tubes slowly dragged in that 25 to 40 foot range seems to be the ticket as of late.

Thanks;

Lance LaVine

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

KANKAKEE RIVER

Bob Johnson with a quality walleye on the Kankakee River. Provided photo
Bob Johnson with a quality walleye on the Kankakee River.
Provided

Bob Johnson emailed the photo left and this:

Hello Dale hope all is well with you -The fall Walleye are here with both Size and numbers. I caught the Walleye on slow rolling crainkbaits, swim baits and jigs fished up river bringing lures back at a very slow retrieve. Snap the swim baits on occasion produced some hits.

Largemouth was caught on finesse bait in slack water close to river current.

Water conditions are good with temps at 39 and gin clear. Also caught a few white Bass mixed in with walleye. Bass was about 4 lbs and biggest walleye was 25” at 5 lbs. found the walleye staged on sand bars coming off the islands from 3 to 7 feet. A good day!!

A good day indeed.

George Peters with a good Kankakee River smallmouth bass. Provided photo
George Peters with a good Kankakee River smallmouth bass.
Provided

George Peters emailed the photo below and this:

Happy holidays Dale! Went down to the Kankakee on Saturday trying to get a Walleye, while fishing a jig slow and deep guess what? This 20” smallmouth instead. Water temp was 42 degrees and that is a bit cold for bass, but you never know in fishing.

Walleye should be good as long as we stay ice free. G. Peters

Ice free is going to be around for a while (I think).

LAKE ERIE

Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.

LAKEFRONT

See perch at the top.

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

Hope you and everybody had a great holiday.

Diversey and Belmont still have trout and a couple perch.No reports from Montrose not many people trying this way yet.A lot of good perch reports from Navy Pier South.The weather looks like it’s going to be okay for the next week or soso as of right now I plan to stay open through the next couple weeks.Have a great week

My hours should be staying 6 a.m. through 3 p.m. with the possibility of leaving early if we do have bad weather.

Capt. Dan Leslie at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan said some steelhead and a few coho are around the harbor; South Rocks has been best. Robinson’s is upping price in minnows slightly, so be prepared.

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.

MAZONIA

Closed, but Monster stays open all year. Other areas reopen after various hunting seasons.

MINNESOTA

The winter look of Mille Lacs. Provided by McQuoid’s Inn
The winter look of Mille Lacs.
Provided by McQuoid’s Inn

Justin Lederer emailed the photo above and this ice report from McQuoid’s Inn in Isle, Minn.:

Justin Lederer checking in from McQuoids Inn Lake Mille Lacs. McQuoids now owns Macs Twin Bay right down the road for premium lake access. Ice is setting up in the bays few shacks out as of 11/29. We will be opening up the lake access for walking out this weekend. If you looking to get out on the ice come on up it’s that time.

For those wondering about ice.

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

And more for those wondering about ice.

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

Early ice fishing season is upon us! Small lakes and protected bays reporting 3-4+” of good solid ice, prior to Mondays (11/29) snow.

Walleyes: Very Good – Evening bites in shallow weeds of 4-6’ of water. Get out early to check ice conditions and set-up. Fish are aggressive early like this, Jigging Raps, Chubby Darters, Rip ‘n Raps, Slab Raps. Shiver Minnows worked at dusk, as well as lively shiners on tip-downs. Work closer to shore (2-4’) if dusk bite fades as Walleyes moving shallow to feed while ice still not very thick.

Northern Pike: Very Good – Shiners, chubs or suckers on tip-ups. Jigging Slender Spoons tipped with a minnow head also producing well. Pike very active, reports of anglers not getting all 3 tip-ups out before having a “limit” of eaters.

Crappie: Good – Also shallow in 4-8’ of green weeds taking small minnows or Little Cecils tipped with waxies.

Caution is highly advisable as larger lakes have yet to freeze, or have not put on safe ice thickness due to wind. Foot traffic only, spud your way out to keep track of ice thickness. Fish with a friend (or Mother-in-law) and let them walk out first. Don’t travel on early ice without picks and rope. Last night’s snow (4” in Minocqua/Arbor Vitae to 8” in St. Germaine) will be hard on new ice. Hopefully, 18 hour period of above freezing temps starting Wed thru Thurs AM will be enough to knock snow down to allow cold to shore up ice thickness.

There are opportunities to fish now, but use common sense when thinking of early ice conditions and always be prepared.

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 fair over in cal park and up the river everyday is different move around fish different areas is best.

Steelhead action on voodoo jigs tipped with beemoth in the local tributaries

Lakers along the reef outside of burns ditch when weather permits. Blade baits or jigging spoons best.

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

Hi, Dale. I hope you & your family enjoyed the holiday weekend. Here’s what we have for you this week:

River Steelhead fishing remains good, with anglers having their best luck on mag lips & flatfish.

Walleye are still being taken at the Wolf Lake & the St Joseph dam using nightcrawlers, tubes, & jigs.

Smallmouth are doing well throughout the rivers.

Inland lakes have slowed down but are still moderately producing bluegill catches.

ROCK RIVER, WISCONSIN

Arden Katz with a pair of fine walleye from the Rock River. Provided by Roger Jackson
Arden Katz with a pair of fine walleye from the Rock River.
Provided by Roger Jackson

Roger Jackson emailed the photo above and this on an outing with Arden Katz:

Dale, Arden Katz and Roger Jackson were fishing the Rock river, picking up some Walleyes, kept a couple 18 inchers, realeased a lot back for another day! We were at Jefferson dam.

SHABBONA LAKE

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

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN

Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said steelhead are coming into the river and should continue to come in; very few whitefish off the pier and the occasional accidental walleye in the river.

Paddle and Pole hosts the Berrien Springs Fish Ladder Camera.