clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Waiting on ice here, north for real ice, down here perch, lakers

Perch and near-shore lake trout in southern Lake Michigan and the slow creep of ice fishing toward Chicago lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

A northern Minnesota lake Friday to whet the appetite of ice anglers. Credit: Javier Serna
A northern Minnesota lake Friday to whet the appetite of ice anglers.
Javier Serna

Perch and near-shore lake trout in southern Lake Michigan and the slow creep of ice fishing toward Chicago lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

The photo at the top is to whet the appetite of those desperate for ice fishing.

Javier Serna, an outdoors writer/columnist who grew up in Palatine, messaged the photo at the top and this Friday evening from Big Red in northern Minnesota:

It’s my first time out. They have been walking out on Red for more than a week now.

When I replied that we are not even close to ice, he answered:

I bet. Metro area isn’t close either

Some of the bays on Mille Lacs are froze

LAKEFRONT PERCH

Arden Katz said that on Sunday hundreds were at the South Side spots and he and a friend had their limits; others were catching fewer. The difference is that he uses a good sensitive rod with light line and a double Mini-Mite rig and a pencil weight below, then jigs it back.

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait tested on Monday:

Very good perch reports over the weekend out south. Too much wind for a report today.

On Tuesday, he called and said they were not biting well on the river, but the lake slip had better action. “They came through in clouds. You would get nothing, then you couldn’t keep two rods going it was so busy. Our biggest was 10 inches.” He said minnows on drop-shots or crappie rigs was working.

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

Good morning Dale! Well as you know Southside perch bite is still going strong Navy Pier is still hit-or-miss but a few guys fishing up in the corner toward the bus station have been doing pretty good. I had a report of perch at Diversey over the weekend by my trout fisherman who was getting aggravated cuz he was fishing for steelhead and kept catching perch LOL. He also told me there was quite a few bait fish around the harbors. . . .

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

Perch day to day cal park, slips and up thru the river. Some days good some days really slow.

Christian Howe messaged about the joy of getting back out on Wednesday (and, unfortunately, jackass behavior too common, too often):

For me, today the slips and river were a goose egg. I saw a few fish caught, but there weren’t numbers like in years past. I was kind of let down after 2 years of no perch fishing for me, made worse by inconsiderate jerks in boats running the walls of the slips and the cal. I’m 4 crappie rigs lighter as a result. Tried minnows, shrimps, legal cut bait, plastics and spoons/ kasmasters. It wasn’t my day. It was good to get out though, saw a few of the regulars that I’ve missed. Lots of catching up, made some new friends and cleaned up some trash on my way out. I did over do it, though. Baby steps, I’ve got to remember that.

In case you are wondering how much the draw of perch is, Dicky’s Bait Shop in Montgomery reported some people stocking up before traveling for perch around the South Side.

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.

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.

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, Park Bait at Montrose Harbor 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

Many are waiting on ice and I think in our area the wait will continue. Even with the cold last night and tonight, rain and warmth are forecast later this week. Otherwise it’s trying for crappie in water still open.

Dustin Perkins with a good striper in northern Illinois. Provided photo
Dustin Perkins with a good striper in northern Illinois.
Provided

Dustin Perkins messaged the photo above and this

Hey Dale hope all is well. After a great Thanksgiving dinner did a little black Friday striper fishing on a private lake in Illinois and landed this 10 lb striper dragging a golden roach in 40 ft of water. Great fightn fish

Yes, they are.

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

Hey Dale,

Here is a recap of this past weeks fishing.

Area lakes-the up and down temps has slowed fishing some. However, put the time in and quality fish is the reward.

Bass have been the best during early morning hours. Slowly work a jig with a Berkley 4 inch quad craw over flats with green weeds. Best color remains blue/black.

Crappie are scattered here and there. Green weeds remain the key. Berkley whipworms under a slip float will take reluctant biters. A few active biters will hit a Diawa DR minnow. Pause the bait 5 to 8 seconds to entice a strike.

Here is the nature pic of the week. This guy is not camera shy.

TTYL

Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Husker Outdoors
Waterwerks fishing team

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

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Staff at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said there’s some skim ice, but it is breaking up during the day; otherwise, it is some crappie transitioning back and forth from deep to shallow; walleye doing something similar, dropping back to the holes during the day.

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

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.

POWERTON: Fishing is closed.

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

FOX RIVER

A carp from the Fox River caught on a streamer while fly fishing. Provided photo
A carp from the Fox River caught on a streamer while fly fishing.
Provided

Pete Lamar emailed the photo above and this:

Hi Dale

I attempted some crappie fishing on a Fox tributary late last week, when it was still warm. No crappies in their usual late Autumn locations-deep, slow pools-but I did catch this carp on a white streamer. A co-worker said he was out at the weekend on the lower Fox and caught four fish, all of which were different species: pike, white bass, channel cat and smallmouth.

. . .

Pete

I’m impressed with catching a carp on a streamer.

Dicky’s Bait Shop in Montgomery reported slow fishing, but a couple guys said before the cold snap they were catching smaller walleye.

GREEN LAKE AREA, WISCONSIN

Kevin Tabor and Bill Gros with a Big Green smallmouth bass, held by Mike Zindrick.  Provided by Mike Norris
Kevin Tabor and Bill Gros with a Big Green smallmouth bass, held by Mike Zindrick.
Provided by Mike Norris

Guide Mike Norris texted the photo above and emailed this:

Fishing Report – 12/05/2021

Mike Norris

Up and down air temperatures continue to plague ice anglers here in south central Wisconsin. Harrisville Pond near Montello, WI was the go-to place late last week for ice anglers, but the ice all but melted by last weekend. Same for Lake Puckaway, Fox Lake, and other shallow water lakes in my area. But with air temps in the upper 30’s and light winds late last week, I guided clients in open water on Big Green Lake and the fish didn’t disappoint. With a surface water temp hovering around 42 degrees and smallies grouping up for the winter, Big Green’s smallies bit live bait sucker rigs with abandon. Most of the action is along the first primary break line in 25 to 35 feet of water where they will hold throughout the winter.

KANKAKEE RIVER

George Peters with a big Kankakee River walleye. Provided photo
George Peters with a big Kankakee River walleye.
Provided

George Peters emailed the photo above and this:

Merry Fishmas Dale! Went back to the Kankakee this week. Water is clear and cold, low 40’s. Got 3 Walleyes on slow retrieved crank baits. This one topped them all. Measured at 26” . River is still ice free and should stay that way for the next few days. George Peters, Plainfield.

George Peters found the work of busy beavers along the Kankakee River. Provided photo
George Peters found the work of busy beavers along the Kankakee River.
Provided

As much time as I spend by the Kankakee, I rarely see a beaver.

Bob Johnson emailed the photo below and this:

The Kankakee River is still producing good numbers and size. River continues to look good at 43 degrees and very clear. Joel Wilson and I caught a mixed bag of Walleye, smallmouth, largemouth and really good sized white Bass on rattle trap in gold and black, swimbaits and finesse worms. This action could last through December weather permitting, I unfortunately am done for this year however have high hopes for next year on the river.

The white bass intrigued me enough that I asked Bob for any other photos and forwarded them to biologist Seth Love, who agreed that it appeared to hybrid striped bass. Next question would be where they came from. I love mysteries like that. My guess would be Braidwood Lake.

Bob Johnson with a rare hybrid striped bass on the Kankakee River. Provided photo
Bob Johnson with a rare hybrid striped bass on the Kankakee River.
Provided

LAKE ERIE

Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.

LAKEFRONT

Perch report at top.

Plus there are lakers around, as shown by the Fish of the Week. Click here for the FOTW this week.

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

Good morning Dale! . . . I had a report of perch at Diversey over the weekend by my trout fisherman who was getting aggravated cuz he was fishing for steelhead and kept catching perch LOL. He also told me there was quite a few bait fish around the harbors. Steelhead and Brown Trout still prominently being caught at Diversey but there have been some caught at Belmont and Montrose. I will be open through this weekend 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.

MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN

Click here for the update from D&S Bait.

MAZONIA

Closed, except Monster stays open all year. Hours are 6 a.m. to sunset. Other lakes begin reopening after various hunting seasons close.

MILWAUKEE

Pete Lamar emailed:

Hi Dale

. . .

I fished the Milwaukee River on Sunday-in the high winds and the snow flurries that developed-and caught nothing. I talked to a local who said he’d hooked four browns but was unable to land any of them. the next couple of days probably won’t be productive, the river may even ice up in places, but longer-range forecasts are for warm weather next week. The fish will probably still be there, so it’s just a question of how much suffering anyone wants to do.

Pete

MINNESOTA

Javier Serna shows a nice walleye caught on his time ice fishing this winter/fall in northern Minnesota. Provided photo
Javier Serna shows a nice walleye caught on his time ice fishing this winter/fall in northern Minnesota.
Provided

Javier Serna, the outdoors writer/columnist who grew up in Palatine, messaged the photo above on Friday from northern Minnesota on his first time out this fall/winter.

On Saturday, he followed up with the big fat northern pike below and this:

Came in hot and ran into our entire array

We’re fishing in 7 feet out next to Waskish, Minn.

Big northern pike caught ice fishing in northern Minnesota. Provided by Javier Serna
Big northern pike caught ice fishing in northern Minnesota.
Provided by Javier Serna

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

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

A 9” snowfall and lots of wind 12/5 thru 12/6 shut down what had been a nice start to our ice season. Fortunately, high winds and cold temps (sub zero) made for light snow that in many cases blew off the unsheltered portions of the lakes. This should allow for the cold to work its way in and make some more ice!

Walleye: Very Good-Good – Action (and participation) slowed by Sunday (12/5) but good catches and nice Walleyes even during mid-late afternoons. Jigging rattle baits (Rattlin Raps, Hyper Rattles and Rattlin Google Eyes) and vibration baits (such a Z-Vibers) also effective during these early ice days when Walleyes are the most active. Shiners on tip-ups are the preferred live bait while Eyes are still in the weeds.

Northern Pike: Very Good-Good – Great time to ice some nice Pike in shallower water using big shiners or Pike suckers. Good reports of nice Pike in the 26-34” range. Try jigging a large Slender Spoon tipped with a minnow head on a medium to medium/heavy spinning rod and reel set up for some real fun!

Crappie: Good – Most anglers trying for Crappies finding action in green weeds of 5-8’. Minnows on tip-downs and Lethal Cecils fluttered down to entice action.

Bluegills, Perch, Bass: Few reports, not many anglers targeting.

Ice will still build, but not the way we would like with the snow cover. Walking still the only safe mode of transportation. Spud your way out anywhere you go. Look for 3” of solid clear ice for a safe platform. Many smaller lakes and protected bays have 3-5” as of now with 1-1 ½” of “soft” ice on top. Above all, be safe and use good judgement on the ice.

Kurt Justice

Kurt’s Island Sport Shop - Like us on Facebook

That’s weather we haven’t seen yet.

NORTHWEST INDIANA

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

Perch day to day cal park, slips and up thru the river. Some days good some days really slow.

Crappie action at lake George in Hobart under the gazebo near the bank and below the dam crappie minnows doing best.

Whitefish and lake trout off Michigan city peir. Blade baits and small peices of worm or skein doing best.

Area tributaries giving up steelhead using voodoo jigs tipped with waxworms. Must move around cover some water.

Lakers outside of burns ditch near the reef for boaters when lake allows. Jigging spoons and blade baits best

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

Hi, Dale. The recent, mild weather has been quite enjoyable. Here’s what we e heard lately in the fishing world:

River fishing remains very good for Steelhead; anglers are trolling mag lips & flatfish, also using spawn as a backup.

Walleye at Wolf Lake & the St. Joseph dam is steady.

Perch remain steady, especially in the slips. The Cal Sag & Power Plant have done well lately. Minnows, beemoths, & red worms all working well.

Whitefish off the pier at Michigan City & St. Joseph are still going strong with single eggs.

Inland lakes have slowed down some, but anglers are still catching Bluegill.

ROCK RIVER, WISCONSIN

Arden Katz said they were caught a bunch of drum, five walleye (saw others caught) and a sauger at the Jefferson Dam. He was using 3 12-iinch swimbait on a 16th-ounce jig.

SHABBONA LAKE

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

SOUTHEAST WISCONSIN LAKEFRONT

Tony Hammond with a good brown trout from a kayak in Racine. Provided photo
Tony Hammond with a good brown trout from a kayak in Racine.
Provided

Tony Hammond messaged the photo above and this from Racine:

Got a nice brown this week....theyre in over the border 16.2lbs

I know its not illinois but still a beauty

In the kayak! Haha

That kayak note truly impresses me.

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN

Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said everybody caught steelhead in a big tournament Saturday; some whitefish off the pier last week; still a few walleye at night at Berrien Springs.

Paddle and Pole hosts the Berrien Springs Fish Ladder Camera.

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:

We had a good end to open water last week. Wednesday to Saturday caught near 70 walleye. I do think that is over, with the river icing over. Had 1 degree this morning. There has been a few anglers testing the ice on local bayous. Early ice is always good for crappie, gills, and northerns.

Time marches on, though ice season has been taking its time.