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Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Perch, inimitable Oscar, waiting on ice, walleye, lakers, steelies

Perch on Chicago’s South Side, a note from the inimitable Oscar Santos, lake trout on southern Lake Michigan, steelhead on some LM tributaries and some walleye inland lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

George Peters with a good rock bass in December from the Kankakee River. Provided photo
George Peters with a good rock bass in December from the Kankakee River.
Provided photo

As it such be, perch on Chicago’s South Side lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report, but there’s also , a note from the inimitable Oscar Santos, lake trout on southern Lake Michigan, steelhead on Lake Michigan tributaries, and some walleye inland.

For ice, you need to head to central Wisconsin and north.

George Peters emailed the photo at the top and this:

9” Rock Bass very unusual for Dec.

A good rock bass and I believe it is the first rock bass to top the MFR online.

LAKEFRONT PERCH FISHING

The South Side is the designation, but some are trying Navy Pier and some of the North Side harbors with limited success.

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait texted about the South Side slips:

Red hot in the lake slip. Great parking and access!

Arden Katz and his cousin Les Goldstein are “tearing them up at 87th” on Mini-Mites with a pencil weight, dragging it back slow and popping it once in a while.

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

Perch going pretty good last few days lots of perchers out catching them all the way to 95th street bridge.

Oscar Santos’ one-and-only perch at Navy Pier last week. Provided photo
Oscar Santos’ one-and-only perch at Navy Pier last week.
Provided

Reports are not so good at Navy Pier, as Oscar Santos messaged in his inimitable style Thursday night with the photos above and below and this:

Bite is DEAD at Navy Pier,Dale. Absolutely HORRIFIC. Ran into Dale Rehus and I gave him my one and only fish I caught. Was a nice keeper. Idk whats going on. This is TERRIBLE!!!

Rehus is another great lakefront angler.

Santos sent a bonus photograph of night at Navy Pier.

Navy Pier in the dark while perch fishing. Provided by Oscar Santos.
Navy Pier in the dark while perch fishing.
Provided by Oscar Santos

NAVY PIER ANGLING

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

PIER PASSES

The $6 pier passes, which allow legal access to select piers at most Chicago harbors. 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 (cash only) and Northerly Island Visitor Center (credit-card only).

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 Northerly Island Visitor Center.

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 wait goes on for ice fishing; otherwise it is mainly a few trying for crappie.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a cold-water largemouth bass. Provided photo
Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a cold-water largemouth bass.
Provided

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

Hey Dale,

Here is a recap of this past weeks fishing.

Area lakes-most lakes mid week locked up with 1/2 to inch of ice that was gone by Saturday. Next weeks forecast might start making ice again.

Bass continue to be decent during early morning hours on jigs with a variety of trailers. A Berkley max scent creature hawg was the most consistent. Vary your jig size based on winds to keep contact with the bait.

Crappie are still scattered with no real pattern developing. Plastics worked under a slip float took active biters.

. . .

TTYL

Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Husker Outdoors
Waterwerks fishing team

BRAIDWOOD LAKE

Closed. Reopens March 1.

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Proprietor Greg Dickson at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said the little bit of ice fishing in the back channels last week is done for now; otherwise, the water is very low, fishing opportunities are still there, but use caution launching and navigating.

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/STRIP PITS

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

DOWNSTATE

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.

POWERTON: Fishing is closed.

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

Mike Norris holds a Big Green Lake smallmouth bass caught Thursday.  Provided photo
Mike Norris holds a Big Green Lake smallmouth bass caught Thursday.
Provided

Guide Mike Norris texted the photo above and emailed this:

Fishing Report – 12/10/2021

Mike Norris

Big Green Lake – Fluctuating weather continues to plague anglers here in south central Wisconsin. Three inches of ice formed on Little Green Lake late last week and I heard of walleyes up to 27.5 inches being caught through the ice there. But as of last Sunday, that ice is all but gone. With a surface water temperature of 40 degrees, Big Green remains ice free. My best option remains fishing live bait rigs from my boat for smallmouth bass on Big Green Lake. Trolling crankbaits for walleye on both Big Green and Beaver Dam Lakes after sunset is a good second choice.

HEIDECKE LAKE

Closed. Reopens April 1.

George Peters with a cold-water Kankakee River smallmouth bass. Provided photo
George Peters with a cold-water Kankakee River smallmouth bass.
Provided

KANKAKEE RIVER

George Peters emailed the photo to the left as well as this explanation:

Hi Dale, not a monster but 17” on Dec. 13 is ok. Water very cold, about 42, slow fishing a jig. G. Peters, Plainfield

He also emailed the photo to the right and this explanation:

My beaver pal was hard at work on yet another tree!

I find the work of beavers fascinating, one of those animals whose populations have changed greatly in my lifetime.

LAKE ERIE

Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.

LAKEFRONT

Main stories are perch, primarily on the South Side from shore and boat, and lake trout for boaters. Well Arden Katz said at least one laker was caught at 87th by a perch angler on shore.

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait texted about the South Side slips:

Red hot in the lake slip. Great parking and access!

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.

LaSALLE LAKE

Closed. Reopens March 15.

MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN

Click here for the update from D&S Bait.

Gene Dellinger at D&S Bait said there was fishable ice on Cherokee Marsh until yesterday, now it will probably be a while before that happens again.

MAZONIA

Closed, but Monster stays open all year. Other lakes reopen after various hunting seasons. Hours are 6 a.m. to sunset.

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

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

Mid-December and still lots of questions about our ice conditions. Thanks to over 20” of snow through two snow falls at the beginning AND the end of last week, the little (3-6”) of ice we have on our small lakes and bays are under a lot of strain!

The first snow (12/5), about 9”, was light and mostly blew off the lakes. The second snow (12/10) added 12” of heavier snow. Warmth and wind have helped, but lakes are still messy. Some shorelines where snow piled up have deteriorating ice. Other areas, more wind swept with traffic to pack down and refreeze slush are better. No matter, still important to check ice conditions before traveling, spud bar, safety picks and rope are essentials at this time of year

Walleye: Very Good-Good – Bite depending as always on weather (pre-storm on Friday – excellent, post storm on Saturday – not so much!). Jigging rattling baits in 6-8’ of weeds towards dusk working extremely well as “early ice” Walleyes still aggressive. Shiners on tip-ups in same weeds working “cause you can’t be in two places at once”.

Northern Pike: Very Good-Good – Large baits on bladed wire rigs scoring some nice Pike in the 26-32” range this past week. Mid-mornings and mid-afternoon had been peak times. Could be earlier in a.m. as we hit warm spell mid-week.

Crappie: Good – Check tall weeds (green) in 6-10’. Work entire water column using light fluttering spoons (Lethal Cecils) to slow drop waxies, plastics or beaver tail until you find “the depth” they want to bite at. Don’t be surprised on warm days if Crappies are right under ice.

Bluegill: Good – Those targeting are finding Gills in shallow (3-6’) weeds. Soft bottomed bays are best using #10 tear drops tipped with waxies or red plastic tails.

Yellow Perch: Good-Fair – Lots of small fish in shallows. Push out into 6-10’ weeds to find “eaters” on medium fatheads or Forage Minnow Spoons tipped with waxies.

Largemouth Bass: Good-Fair – Not a lot of attention, but some anglers targeting using medium shiners on tip-ups in 5-8’ of green weeds.

Wind, rain and a 40 hour stretch of above freezing temps with highs into mid-50’s could help the conditions. Hopefully, it’s a long enough stretch to melt down snow and slush and allow ice to build back up again with the following cold.

Most reports of solid, good ice are ranging 3-7” with edges of the lakes experiencing the worse of the slush depending if it’s the side (usually the east) the snow blew into.

Kurt Justice

Kurt’s Island Sport Shop
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NORTHWEST INDIANA

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

Perch going pretty good last few days lots of perchers out catching them all the way to 95th street bridge.

Steelhead action in area tributaries floating voodoo jigs tipped with waxworms or spawn sacks.

Lakers outside of burns ditch along the sunken reef blade baits and jigging spoons doing good.

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

Hi, Dale! I hope you’re enjoying the holiday gear up with this beautiful, mild weather!Here’s what’s been happening:

Steelhead fishing is still strong on the the Little Calumet & St. Joseph Rivers; it got a little tougher due to the strong winds over the weekend. A lot of leaves & logs were floating down the rivers, making conditions challenging.

Walleye & Smallmouth are still producing decent numbers of fish. Wolf Lake & Hammond Marina are holding strong.

Inland lakes have slowed down; Crappie & Perch are still going, especially in the slips, but the recent fluctuation in weather has presented a bit of a challenge. Limiting out with nice-seized catches is still possible but has required more of an effort & longer period of time.

ROCK RIVER, WISCONSIN

Arden Katz caught drum and Roger Jackson had four walleye 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 there’s more steelhead in the lower section of the St. Joseph River.

Paddle and Pole hosts the Berrien Springs Fish Ladder Camera.

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:

I don’t venture out on the ice much anymore. A wise guy told me many years ago, ice was for mixed drinks. But, there has been a lot of action on the backwaters I don’t venture out on the ice much anymore. A wise guy told me many years ago, ice was for mixed drinks. But, there has been a lot of action on the backwaters