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Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Ice, slop, rubber boots, cleats, warmup, coho, Braidwood opener

Even with the warmup, there is plenty of ice for this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report; as well as Braidwood Lake reopening Monday and coho reports building on southern Lake Michigan.

Sign of the times in Indiana from “Jason Special One” Le on Instagram. Provided photo
Sign of the times in Indiana from “Jason Special One” Le on Instagram.
Provided

The Braidwood opener, early coho and ongoing ice fishing lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

“Jason Special One” Le sent the photo at the top on Instagram from an outing in Indiana. It’s that time of year.

BRAIDWOOD LAKE OPENER

The cooling lake in southwestern Will County reopens to fishing on Monday, March 1. It’s open daily 6 a.m. to sunset. Click here to see the main column on Braidwood prospects.

STURGEON

Emily Muche harvested this 121.8 pound (76.1 inches) F4 female on Lake Winnebago during day 4 of the 2021 sturgeon spearing season. / Photo Credit: Wisconsin DNR
Emily Muche harvested this 121.8 pound (76.1 inches) F4 female on Lake Winnebago during day 4 of the 2021 sturgeon spearing season.
Wisconsin DNR

Spearing season for sturgeon (previous permits required) on the Winnebago system in Wisconsin opened Feb. 13. On Friday, Feb. 19, the Upriver Lakes harvest hit the 90% trigger for male lake sturgeon and the season closed on Saturday, Feb, 20. It appears likely that the season on Winnebago will run the full 16 days through Sunday, Feb. 28. On Thursday, Steven Lenz registered the big fish of the last week, an F4 female weighing 154.5 pounds (78.2 inches), speared on Lake Poygan.

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

It is time for rubber boots and cleats as the ice will be sloppier by the day on top.

Kyle Lamm tweeted this largemouth bass caught from a Kane County forest preserve. Proved photo
Kyle Lamm tweeted this largemouth bass caught from a Kane County forest preserve.
Provided

Kyle Lamm tweeted the photo above and had this about ice fishing on a Kane County forest preserve:

15 inch Bucket Mouth through the hole. At least 25 people out on the ice. Great to see

I’ve never seen so many ice fisherman with hand cranked augers. It was a great day

That does sound like a great day.

A well-presented bluegill from Lake County. Credit: Charles Zheng
A well-presented bluegill from Lake County.
Charles Zheng

Charles Zheng emailed this and the photo above:

Hey Dale,

Good afternoon, hope you’re doing well. Had my slowest week ice fishing for the entire season, however the story was the same everywhere on Sunday when the snow moved in. Drop in barometric pressure caused fish to fire up and feed for a more prolonged time frame. Saw the amount of great ice fishing days increase dramatically on Sunday, at area lakes such as Bangs Lake or Mallard, especially for crappie and bass. Overall nearly every pond I went to around Northern Lake County was the same for the week- a very slow and finicky bite. With the warming temps slush is back, consistently wet everywhere I went. Pictured below is one of the only good bluegills I got last week, 8.5”.

I enjoy Zheng’s bluegill photos, as I have mentioned before.

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

Hey Dale,

Here is a recap of this past weeks fishing.

Area lakes-Ice is holding at 8 inches of clear ice with another 4 inches of frozen slush. The snow pack has some areas hard to get to. Finding accessible areas has been a bit of a challenge.

Bass have been the most consistent bite over the past week. Best presentation has been large fatheads on tip downs and jigging a Clam Maki polli on tungsten jigs. Mid-morning and early afternoon hours have been best.

Bluegill have been very finicky no matter what presentation is offered. They come in and light up the flasher like a Christmas tree, but getting them to commit takes some work. The aggressive ones seem to turn on early afternoon.

This coming weeks warmup should trigger a more constant bite.

. . .

TTYL

Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Husker Outdoors
Waterwerks fishing team

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a late-season largemouth bass. Provided photo
Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a late-season largemouth bass.
Provided

I think he is right on that last comment.

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Brad Irving at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said on the south end of Channel, lots of little bluegill are being caught, bigger ones and some crappie come later in the day; suspended bluegill and crappie on the south end of Deep Lake, a few evening walleye on north end; crappie and bluegill are good on Petite and Bluff; “they’re slamming catfish” on the north end of Channel.

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 www.wetnwildoutfitters.com 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.

DOWNSTATE

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 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.

HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Closed for the year.

SHELBYVILLE: Check with Ken Wilson of Lithia Guide Service. SOUTHERN ILLINOIS: Check with Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing.

GREEN LAKE AREA, WISCONSIN

Guide Mike Norris emailed:

Fishing Report 2/22/2021

Mike Norris

We experienced 17 consecutive days of below freezing temps here in south central Wisconsin, but the current forecast indicates more moderate temps are in store for the next week. Fishing pressure was down during the cold spell, but with a high temp of 32 last Sunday, ice anglers are now out in numbers.

Big Green lake attracted scores of ice anglers seeking out lake trout this past weekend, and anglers who knew how to fish deep water with rattle spoons and with tubes did well. By my measurements, ice on Big Green is varying between 8 and 12 inches, enough to walk or take a four-wheeler out on, but not an auto or truck. Try jigging for trout in 110 to 150 feet of water.

Little Green Lake – Anglers are continuing to catch crappies out in the deep basin of the lake. The biggest crappies are only measuring between 8 and 10 inches, but nonetheless, they are a lot of fun to catch. I expect the bite to improve with the coming thaw this week. The bite in late February is traditionally a better time to catch fish.

Fox Lake – The ice here is 12 to 20 inches thick and anglers are accessing their fishing spots by vehicles. Slush and snow drifts continue to be a problem though and four-wheel drive vehicles are a must.

Crappies are biting out in the deep basin of the lake with anglers concentrating on the drop off areas west of both Dead and Elmwood Islands. Bluegills remain active in “The Jug” while a few pike and walleye are being caught in “The Government” area.

One of the reasons I like Mike Norris, beside his being a great angler and an even better fishing teacher, is that he’s a weather geek, too.

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

Just in time for the start of coho season, Chicago Park District superintendent Michael Kelly announced on Tuesday the gradual reopening of the lakefront east of Lake Shore Drive. Click here for details.

Fisherman’s parking passes should be available soon; details on how and when to come.

And coho fishing should really start going this week as the ice on the lakefront moves out.

LaSALLE LAKE

Reopens March 15.

MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN

Click here for the update from D&S Bait.

MAZONIA

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

MILLE LACS, MINNESOTA

John from Cary with a beautiful lake Mille Lacs walleye. Provided by McQuoid’s
John from Cary with a beautiful lake Mille Lacs walleye.
Provided by McQuoid’s

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. The bite is picking up with the beautiful weather we are having right now. Walleye are back to hitting jigs with just the heads of fatheads. Work 20-35 feet of water around gravel patches rock to mud transitions and boulders. Rattle reels are still producing during the night tip them medium suckers or fatheads. Tullibee are hitting wax worms in 30-40 feet of water use small tungsten jigs. Perch are hitting wax worms and small crappie minnows also on small tungsten jigs in the same areas as the walleye. Walleye season closing midnight on February 28th. March 1st we will be targeting northern and pan fish

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

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

Following two weeks of brutally cold weather, anglers are gearing back up to head onto the ice. With only two weekends left of the inland gamefish season, its nice to see some good weather and great ice to get out on!

Northern Pike: Good-Very Good – Warm up has helped get tip-up anglers going, holes not freezing up so fast (not to mention fish pulled from the ice). Mid mornings to late afternoons on the big baits (shiners, suckers, frozen smelt). Reports of some nice, heavy fish caught this past weekend to 34”.

Walleye: Good – As more anglers getting out, more reports. Fishing off shore humps using suckers (supplies of this bait getting low), river shiners or medium goldens. Large rosies and large fatheads using #12 trebles also good. Upswing in action as anglers using jigging Raps, Shiver Minnows, Hyper Rattles and Tikka Minos reporting better action. Working the 17-28’ depths seem best.

Largemouth Bass: Good – Jigging spoons tipped with minnow heads in 7-12’ depths. Tip-ups with medium shiners.

Bluegills: Good – Action has improved as weather turned and anglers moving about. Wind of late cause for use of tungsten jigs to hold baits (mousses, waxies, beaver tail) in place.

Crappies: Good – Best over deep mud flats. Fish suspended 3-5’ off bottom taking waxies, small minnows on glowing jigs, spoons. Best action occurring 2 hours prior to and 1 hour after dusk.

Yellow Perch: Good – Mud flats of 22-34’. Hali jigs, Clam Pinhead and Kastmaster chained spoons with wigglers (very tough to find) or red spikes best.

Anglers targeting Ciscos and Whitefish having some success on pimples tipped with waxies.

Temps in the 20’s – low 30’s this week will allow for comfort. Ice of 20-34” great for travel. Some slush, but not enough to slow down travel on most lakes.

Kurt Justice

Kurt’s Island Sport Shop
Like us on FaceBook

NORTHWEST INDIANA

Indiana steelhead in February. Provided by “Jason Special One” Le
Indiana steelhead in February.
Provided by “Jason Special One” Le

“Jason Special One” Le sent the photo above (and the one at the top) on Instagram from an outing for steelhead and coho in Indiana.

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

Yes coho up in the river from portage river walk up to 249 bridge squid shrimp and jigs with waxworms doing decent

Lots of people still doing ice fishing but it is a mess on top of every lake or pond slush and more slush

Lots of groups still out fishing everywhere shop has been bizy daily

“Bizy daily” is what I want to hear.

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

Hey, Dale; here’s what we have for this week:

local Rivers & Wolf Lake are starting to open up; anglers in boats are catching steelhead. The inland lakes, creeks, & ponds still have good ice, but BE CAREFUL with these warmer temperatures; anglers are still catching lots of bluegills & pike. Northeast near St. Joseph, anglers are catching some walleye & a few steelhead at the dam.

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.

SOUTHEAST WISCONSIN LAKEFRONT

Arden Katz said that in Kenosha fishing was tough, but if you put in the time you will catch browns, He used tube jigs and waxies, a few are fishing with spawn.; ice was over a foot thick.

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

WINNEBAGO SYSTEM, WISCONSIN

Spearing season for sturgeon ended Saturday on the Upriver lakes, while it looks like Winnebago looks like it might run the full 16 days to Sunday, Feb. 28. Click here for details.

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:

Bite has been slow on up river lakes and bayous. With warm weather coming in, could change things. I’m hoping for a fast warm up, and the sight of open water

It’s coming.