Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Walleye, bluegill, crappie and largemouth bass in snow and cold

Despite brutal cold everywhere and heavy snow in many areas around Chicago, anglers were out and at least some fish were being caught through the ice for this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

SHARE Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Walleye, bluegill, crappie and largemouth bass in snow and cold
Tyler Braswell and the 27.5-inch walleye he caught and released during the NICC’s 61st Ice Fishing Derby on the Chain O’Lakes. Credit: Northern Illinois Conservation Club’s Facebook

Tyler Braswell and the 27.5-inch walleye he caught and released during the NICC’s 61st Ice Fishing Derby on the Chain O’Lakes.

Credit: Northern Illinois Conservation Club’s Facebook

Despite the brutal cold everywhere and heavy snow in many areas, fish were caught around Chicago for this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

Tyler Braswell starred at the venerable Northern Illinois Conservation Club’s 61st annual Ice Fishing Derby on the Chain O’Lakes Saturday and Sunday with the 27.5-inch walleye he caught, registered at Musky Tales, then released. Braswell and his walleye are the lead photo.


Spearing season for sturgeon (previous permits required) on the Winnebago system in Wisconsin opened Saturday, Feb. 13, and will run for a maximum of 16 days or until any of the pre-determined harvest caps are reached. Conditions look very favorable for a fast end to the season, however, through Monday, none of the caps had been reached yet. Click here for details.

Through the first three days, the biggest sturgeon (160.1 pounds, 77 inches) speared was on Saturday by Adam Derksen.


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.


Charles Zheng with one of good crappie from Lake County. Provided photo

Charles Zheng with one of good crappie from Lake County.


Charles Zheng emailed the photo above and this:

Hey Dale, Hope you’re doing well. Wanted to inform you of what has been one of the best ice fishing weeks I think I’ve ever experienced. Once again sticking to local public ponds around Northern Lake County, caught numerous bass and slab crappie each day. As the week progressed the best time to fish from what I saw was 30 minutes before sunset, where fish, especially crappie, would become extremely active. Every crappie this week was 10.75+, the 1/12 oz rattle spoon tipped with a waxie has been king, fishing over drop offs, weed edges, and deep basins this week. Only targeted bluegills twice this week, today action wasn’t fast but every fish was willing to bite a tungsten jig and waxie, all over 8, with the biggest being a huge 9 male. I wish I could speak for other public locations around Lake County, however with the serious cold temperatures, very little people in general were getting out. By next week the amount of anglers out will increase tremendously with the warming temps. I hope this helps, good night. — Best, Charles Zheng

Charles Zheng with one of signature bluegill photos. Provided photo

Charles Zheng with one of signature bluegill photos.


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

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a largemouth.


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

Hey Dale, Here is a recap of this past weeks fishing. Area lakes-ice is 8 inches with another 2 inches of frozen slush on top of a growing snow pack. Staying mobile is becoming more difficult with another significant snowfall coming. Bass have been excellent early morning hours despite the frigid morning temps. The bite slows however by mid-morning. Best bait has been jigging spoons tipped with waxies along outside weedlines. Bluegill have been decent on tungsten jigs tipped with multiple spikes. Live bait has been out producing plastics of late. An aggressive rising jigging action will trigger the active gills from the pack.

True nature with a story. Photo provided by Ken “Husker” O’Malley

True nature with a story.

Photo provided by Ken “Husker” O’Malley


Closed for the season. Reopens to fishing on March 1.


Received less snow than some other areas. Staff at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said bluegill are the best bit, but there’s some nice crappie (Marie, north end of Channel) and walleye (Marie); a little bit of white bass on Marie.

ICE-FISHING ACCESS: 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).

NOTE: Trevor James messaged:

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

CHAIN O’LAKES ACCESS HELP: Here is a great idea for those walking out to access the ice on the Chain. Brian Marcinkiewicz will tow people out on some popular lakes with his snowmobile. Here is explanation:

I’ve towed on Fox lake and channel the last week and since I live next to long lake I’ve had a few people reach out and I’ve gone to pull them on and off even when I wasn’t fishing since it’s close to home. I charge $5/ person each way, includes ride on the back of snowmobile and towing all gear behind in a sled or shack

Best way to reach him is on Messenger, which you can do even if not Facebook friends with him.


POWERTON: Shore and boat fishing is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

SPRING: Open for fishing.

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.


Guide Mike Norris emailed:

Fishing Report 2/15/2021 Mike Norris Big Green Lake – South central Wisconsin is in the middle of an artic blast of cold air, but unlike Illinois, we are not getting the snow. Numbers of ice anglers out fishing is down though due to the frigid temps. Nonetheless, frigid temps are just what was needed to form thicker ice on Big Green. The ice on the west end of the Big Green remains sketchy, but the east end of the lake is firming up nicely. There is not enough ice to drive vehicles out on the lake, but a good number of anglers are using four-wheelers to reach their fishing hotspots. Sunset Park at the east end of the lake, and Horner’s Landing along the south shore of the lake, are the two primary access points. Lake trout and ciscoes are the primary target for anglers fishing Big Green right now, and the Horner’s Landing access is the easiest way to reach the deep water where both species of fish reside. Jig a spoon aggressively to draw trout to your hole and slowly start to lift the jig higher to get the lake trout to commit. Little Green Lake – Ice thickness is 12 to 16 inches on Little Green now and anglers are driving vehicles out to the basin where crappies and perch reside. Working small jigging spoons tipped with waxworms, or jig and minnow combinations are working best in 15 feet of water for crappies and perch. There is still unsafe ice in areas where there are springs. Stay away from the areas marked with Christmas trees. Fox Lake – Bluegills are fair in The Jug. You must work hard for them, but the few you catch are decent in size. Fish with small gold-colored jigs tipped with either red or purple plastics. Move around a lot. The best bite has been in the afternoon.


Click here for the Wisconsin DNR weekly report, which indicates some whitefish limits in the traditional Stone Quarry area and some good whitefish around Murphy Park in deeper water.


Closed for the season.


Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.


When weather allows, people are biking or walking in to fish. Fisherman’s parking passes and pier passes are not being sold while the lakefront remains officially closed.


Closed for the season.


Click here for the update from D&S Bait.


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


Andrew with Sinn City pool builders with a nice Mille Lacs walleye. Provided by McQuoid’s

Andrew with Sinn City pool builders with a nice Mille Lacs walleye.

Provided by McQuoids

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

Justin Lederer checking in from McQuoids Inn Lake Millie Lacs. Walleye bite has been pretty hot even though it’s been -20 to -40 outside. Fish are being taken between 19-30 foot of water on tip ups rattle reels and dead sticks. Bigger suckers 4-5 are working well also getting some with fatheads. Jigging has been slow with the cold front. Hearing good reports from the northern side of the lake for perch in the 25-30 foot range small jigs with wax worms or real small crappie minnows. Temperature is going to trending up from here so it should make the bite even better. February 28th is the final day for targeting walleye so time is running out to get on a great walleye bite. Come March 1 it will be time to switch over to targeting trophy northern. If you can’t get on lakes by you cause of all the snow come on up we have plenty of plowed road systems on the lake to easily drive out and get to where the fish are.


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

This has been a very long cold stretch, even by Northwoods standards! Nearly two weeks of sub-zero (-10 to -30 without wind chill factored in), is finally starting to break. Today’s (2/16) highs in teens, weekend in 20’s, low 30’s by early next week will allow anglers to bust out. Very few anglers have been fishing and those that have, have been struggling. A few reports of Walleyes on off shore humps taking suckers or large fatheads on tip-ups. The few decent (relative to condition) reports have been from anglers fishing deep water Crappies and Perch and mud flats in 22-30’ of water. Even for these anglers, 4-8 fish on a trip has been tops. Very slow presentations using as small of spoon or tungsten jigs to present red spikes or wigglers have proved best. When using Crappie minnows choose the smallest from your bucket. While the super cold has built ice thickness (truck travel not a concern anymore) there are many concerns of slush. Not for trucks, but snowmobiles and quad users reporting finding 6-7 of slush on some lakes making travel difficult. Ice thickness ranging 20 to over 30 depending on lake, snow and slush levels. Extensions are needed on some lakes. Game fish season ends when the clock strikes midnight on Sunday, March 7th! Three weekends left. Kurt Justice Kurt’s Island Sport Shop Like us on FaceBook


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

Still have groups ice fishing all over obviously all the snow has slowed down some. A few coho being caught in the river along portage lakefront and up to 249 bridge squid and beemoth on jigs best


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


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


Arden Katz reported decent ice fishing at Kenosha, including a 7-pound brown, and about a foot of ice with lots of anglers out. He is using tube jigs.

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


Spearing season opened Saturday, Feb. 13, and will run for a maximum of 16 days or until any of the pre-determined harvest caps are reached. Click here for details. As of Monday afternoon, none of the caps had been hit yet.

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