Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Adjusting and adapting after the big snow

This sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report spans the great divide between fishing before Chicago’s big snow and how it is now.

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Adrian Medina with a nice mess of panfish on the Chain O’Lakes at the end of the storm on Sunday. Provided photo

Adrian Medina with a nice mess of panfish on the Chain O’Lakes at the end of the storm on Sunday.

Provided

Before the big snow and after the big snow divide this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

And it is a sprawling report, much more than I expected.

Adrian Medina messaged the photo at the top and this (more in the CHAIN O’LAKES report):

Hey dale ! Just finished fishing threw the storm bite was really good for only fishing 4hrs ( 5pm-9pm) we fished the chain , not one other single person out here tonight

ICE FISHING DERBY

The Island Lake Lions Ice Fishing Derby is Saturday, Feb. 6, from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. It is headquartered at Eastway Park. Entry is $15 for adults, $5 for 15 and younger.

LAKEFRONT PERCH

Weather limited/stopped effort. Security varies in its dealings with fishing on the private property areas around the South Side slips, but in general be prepared to not be allowed to fish the private property areas. The small piece of Steelworkers Park at the eastern end of 87th is public land.

NEARBY PUBLIC ICE FISHING REGULATIONS

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.

AREA LAKES

Ice conditions vary and require some caution with the heavy snow cover in many area lakes.

Charles Zheng with a good bluegill in Lake County. Provided photo

Charles Zheng with a good bluegill in Lake County.

Provided

Charles Zheng emailed the photo above and this:

Hey Dale, Wanted to update you this week with this massive snowstorm coming through. At all places I visited in Lake County fish were in a terribly negative mood the entire week. Couldn’t find any feeding windows, ended up watching schools of fish suspend on the sonar with no reactions to any bait whatsoever. Was losing hope, right before the snow hit I got out one last time. I thought, Yeah, I’m crazy to fish in a blizzard. I was crazy, because it paid off- big time. All that work during the week for near nothing, now giant gills are flying out the hole as the snow and wind is howling. Two pictured below are 8.5, biggest was 9. Snowstorm really turned things around. I can only speak for my experience right before and during the snowstorm, I will see and hopefully update what I see after this snow goes by. Hope this helps, hope you’re doing well. (Side note: Bangs Lake was packed for the fishing derby. Only a few dinks in 16-18 FOW, bite was very slow compared to last week).

I think he is right about the bite pattern in a snowstorm.

I also want to note that I really enjoy his photos.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a largemouth bass caught ice fishing before the big snow. Provided photo

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a largemouth bass caught ice fishing before the big snow.

Provided

Ken Husker O’Malley emailed the photo above and this before the big snow: Hey Dale, Here is a recap of this last weeks fishing. Area lakes- Before the winter storm hit yesterday,the bluegill bite was decent during early morning hours. Best bait were spikes and waxies on tungsten jigs in the 8-9 foot range with green weeds present. The bite slowed mid morning to early afternoon hours. A few fish could be pulled out of each hole using a combination of live bait and plastics. Staying mobile was important to pull out the aggressive fish from the hole. Once the lookers came in, it was time to move. Changingcolors and size on the jigs didn’t seem to matter. A few quality bass were had throughout the day as well. Always fun to catch them on panfish setups. Here is the nature pic of the week [below]. We haven’t seen too many days of sun this month so sunsets are always welcome. — Ken Husker O’Malley Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team

Rare sunset in recent weeks. Provided by Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Rare sunset in recent weeks.

Provided by Ken “Husker” O’Malley

From a private lake in Lake County last week, Kyle Miller messaged the photo below (he also caught an interesting largemouth) and this report:

We were out in lake county on a private lake. I just thought it was a unique fish with the heart on it. We ended up with a few northern as well Pikes were 32- and 34 inches. 6’ of water.

Nate Notariano with a good Lake County northern pike. Provided photo

Nate Notariano with a good Lake County northern pike.

Provided

Anthony Lederer, via his father Justin Lederer (who does the Mille Lacs report), gave this report and the photo below:

Morning Justin Lederer sending a report from Anthony Lederer. Anthony got out pond hopping recently around Algonquin small jigs with wax worms producing good gills. He was able to double up on two nice crappie using small crappie minnows one hit a jig while he was fighting that one another hit a dead stick. He is targeting 10-14 feet of water in areas that are still holding weeds.weeds.Sent from my iPhone

Anthony Lederer with a nice double up. “Great job son,” as his father Justin put it. Provided photo

Anthony Lederer with a nice double up. “Great job son,” as his father Justin put it.

Provided

BRAIDWOOD LAKE

Closed for the season.

CALUMET SYSTEM

When weather allows, still the most consistent perch fishing, especially for boaters.

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Panfish and flasher on the Chain O’Lakes. Provided by Adrian Medina

Panfish and flasher on the Chain O’Lakes.

Provided by Adrian Medina

Adrian Medina messaged the photo above and this on Sunday night:

Hey dale ! Just finished fishing threw the storm bite was really good for only fishing 4hrs ( 5pm-9pm) we fished the chain , not one other single person out here tonight Pain in the butt getting to the spot 30 min walk on slush and 6+ of snow! Did a 10 min live on Instagram as soon as I got to the hole . 3 crappies in the first 10min bite was good .

That’s an impressive fishing day, considering the day.

Arden Katz said there are decent bluegill and a few crappie at Nielsen’s Channel. “I drill 25 holes and go hole hopping,” he said.

In conditions like this, that moving around from hole to hole is cool.

Staff at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said bluegill are being caught about everywhere; there’s some crappie and walleye on Marie, and channel catfish on Channel; ice is still slushy but should firm up this weekend.

ICE-FISHING ACCESS: Be an ethical angler and patronize or pay for parking at places that allow access and parking. 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 www.wetnwildoutfitters.com available

DOWNSTATE

POWERTON: Shore fishing is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Boat fishing reopens Feb. 14.

SPRING: Bank fishing is open to regular fishing. Boat anglers may start at 1 p.m.

EMIQUON: Basically, go to the launch. General information at http://experienceemiquon.com/sites/default/files/LakeAccessRules.pdf. 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.

GREEN LAKE AREA, WISCONSIN

A couple nice walleyes caught from Lake Puckaway last weekend. Provided by Mike Norris

A couple nice walleyes caught from Lake Puckaway last weekend.

Provided by Mike Norris

Guide Mike Norris texted the photo above and emailed this report:

Fishing Report – 1/31/2021 Mike Norris Lake Puckaway – Anglers were out in droves last Saturday for the annual Montello Lions Fisheree on Lake Puckaway.Despite the fishing pressure and fierce winds, a handful of anglers fishing live bait on tip-ups scored well on northern pike up to 39 inches and walleyes up to 26.5 inches.Northern pike and walleye remain the main attraction on for anglers fishing Puckaway, but I have also heard of several nice crappies and largemouth bass being caught over the last week. Little Green Lake – Crappies are the main attraction for ice anglers on Little Green.The best action is out over the basin in the middle of the lake.There is a plowed road which runs from The Landing Bait Shop out to where the action is, and anglers are now driving vehicles and towing their shacks out on the ice.Waxworms and small minnows are working well for crappies.You can also catch them on micro jigs tipped with plastics and with a hook and minnow suspended beneath a wind tip-up. Fox Lake – Ice thickness is 10 to 12 inches now and a few anglers are driving their vehicles out on the ice here now.Access the lake from Town Park which is in the northwest corner of the lake.One group of anglers are concentrating on crappies in the deep-water basin with micro jigs and small spoons tipped with minnows, while others are working micro jigs tipped with plastics for bluegills in shallows areas like The Government Area and The Jug.The Fox LakeAmerican Legion is holding their annual Fisheree this coming Saturday Feb. 6th.$10 for adults $5 for youth. For information on guide trips reach out to me via my Facebook page at mike.norris.7773 or email me through my website atwww.comecatchsmallmouth.com

GREEN/STURGEON BAYS, WISCONSIN

Click here for the Wisconsin DNR weekly report.

HEIDECKE LAKE

Closed for the season.

LAKE ERIE

Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.

LAKEFRONT

Cal Park lake trout. Provided photo

Cal Park lake trout.

Provided

Dan Cahill emailed the photo above and this:

Hi Dale, Hope all is well. I enjoy your column and Facebook posts. Just thought I’d drop a line and let you know of some outstanding Chicago fishing over the last couple of weekends. The weather really cooperated (for January standards). Air temps were in the lower thirtiesand the water was sitting right at 32 degrees with some good clarity. We focused on deeper breakwalls off of Chicago in about 30 feet of water. All fish were caught near the bottom with a mix of crank baits and flukes. When launching this time of year, I always say if we get one bite, it’s a success. Well, to say these last couple weekends exceeded expectations would be an understatement. Every fish we pulled in was a monster, with some of the biggest bellies on any fish I’ve ever seen. All fish were released. Attached is a sampling of some of the catches. . . . Cheers, Dan Cahill

Roving ice is impacting lakefront fishing.

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. Officially, the lakefront remains closed, inexplicably.

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait texted:

Nothing on Lake Michigan . All ice fishing reports. . . .

Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan texted:

Sounds like ice fishing, Aug has had some business, but no one going to the lake the last few days.

LaSALLE LAKE

Closed for the season.

MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN

Click here for the update from D&S Bait.

MILLE LACS, MINNESOTA

Jace Higgins with a beautiful Lake Mille Lacs walleye. Provided by McQuoids

Jace Higgins with a beautiful Lake Mille Lacs walleye.

Provided by McQuoids

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

Justin Lederer checking in from McQuoids Inn Lake Mille Lacs. This weekend bite was hot from 4pm - 4am with the full moon phase in place. We are looking forward to the next few days of a hot bite. Target the 15-20 foot range for the evening bite bigger suckers on rattle reels or tip ups seems to be producing the best. For a day bite get out to 25-35 feet of water work deep rock piles or rock to mud/sand transitions. Jigs with fatheads or bigger crappie minnows are producing also try just the heads if you are seeing finicky bites. Roads are fully open to drive out and we also have ice castles available for rent if you want to get on a night bite. Tight lines everyone stay safe on the lakes.

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

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

As we head into February, with just five weeks of the gamefish season left (closes at the end of the night, March 7th), conditions for ice fishing just keep improving.Not quite so much for the fishing, but that is somewhat expected for mid-winter. Crappies:Fair-Good – Some tough days on the usual spots – weed beds and Flowages, but anglers plying the deep mud flats of 22-30’ finding willing biters using #5 mm tungsten jigs in glow tipped with waxies or wigglers.Tip-downs with rosies also working.Keep a close eye on the locator for depths, many times Crappies cruising 3-8’+ off bottom. Northern Pike:Fair-Good – A few tougher days, probably due to full moon/high pressure.Some big fish were caught (and released!) including a whopping 42 1/2 er.Big shiners and suckers – nothing from the hotdog clan this week! Yellow Perch:Fair – As with the Crappie anglers, best bites over deep mud flats using wigglers as bait on Venom Core spoons, Clam Bombs and Hali jigs.Mud of 18-28’ has been best.Mid-morning through mid-afternoon. Bluegill:Fair – Best action in weeds, but best fish out over deep water.Mixing with Perch and Crappies.If you can find deep wood to hold some fish it will up your odds.Tungsten jigs in black, red, purples tipped with mousses or wigglers. Walleye:Poor-Fair – Best later in the evening for short windows.Walleye suckers, lake shiners and river shiners best.Moon phase and high barometer biggest suspect for slowing down bite. Largemouth Bass:Poor – Very few reports. While we received a little snow this past week, not enough to hinder travel or ice production.Many lakes sporting 14-20 of ice (good truck travel) and with artic blast forecasted for the weekend, should build more. This coming weekend looks rough but if things warm towards the end of the following week, with a new moon and Valentines, could be worth waiting to take your Sweety fishing. Kurt Justice Kurt’s Island Sport Shop Like us on FaceBook

NORTHWEST INDIANA

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

Lots of ice fisherman out everywhere best bite has been early am or at sunset. Willow slough fishing on slow side for most Some coho are around portage lakefront and up in the river near 249 bridge squid and beemoth on jigs doing best Steelhead in the area tributaries ok must be willing to move around and cover some water voodoo jigs in black or purple tipped with beemoth doing ok

ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN

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

SHABBONA LAKE

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

SOUTHEAST WISCONSIN LAKEFRONT

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

Arden Katz said Racine had about 8 inches of ice, lots of ice anglers, and some trout around.

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN

Phil Schuman at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said one big walleye was caught off the St. Joseph pier a few days ago; in the river boaters are catching one to three steelhead per trip (forecast cold may shut the river down); ice fishing going on inland lakes.

ST. CROIX RIVER, MINNESOTA

Sturgeon through the ice on the St. Croix River. Provided by Erik Brztowski

Sturgeon through the ice on the St. Croix River.

Provided by Erik Brztowsk

Erik Brztowski sent the photo above and this last week:

Well if you want a report from Minnesota (st. Croix river I gotchu) Was just out on the St. Croix river for sturgeon through the ice. Was a fun experience no big fish though. Ice was varying from 10-16 depending on where you are on the river. Still some areas to be cautious of but people are driving out.

I think there is a story there.

WINNEBAGO SYSTEM, WISCONSIN

Sturgeon spearing season opens Feb. 13, 2021 and will run for a maximum of 16 days or until any of the pre-determined harvest caps are reached. Click here for details.

WOLF LAKE

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait texted:

. . . Wolf lake nice Gill and crappie on both Illinois and Indiana sides.

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:

Poygan has been giving up some walleye, and Partridge lake is giving up some northerns, perch, and gills. To my knowledge, no one is driving out yet. A fewbrave soles are fishing the river in the New London area and doing well on walleye, mainly late afternoon.

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