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Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Ice fishing locks in; open-water perch fishing locked out

Ice fishing builds to nearly universal coverage around the Chicago area and leads this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report; the ice is limiting open-water efforts by perch anglers on the Chicago lakefront.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a bluegill on the ice. Provided photo
Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a bluegill on the ice.
Provided

That ice fishing is nearly universal leads this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report; but the cold is limiting effort by anglers for perch on the Chicago lakefront.

ICE FISHING

Ice fishing is nearly universal around the Chicago area and is in most reports. The updated ice-fishing regulations for public sites around Chicago are posted here.

LAKEFRONT PERCH

The perch rod of an angler endeavoring to persevere as ice builds around the Chicago. Credit: Quinn Wunar
The perch rod of an angler endeavoring to persevere as ice builds around the Chicago.
Quinn Wunar
Even with the cold, there’s perch to be caught on the Chicago lakefront, with some extra effort.  Credit: Quinn Wunar
Even with the cold, there’s perch to be caught on the Chicago lakefront, with some extra effort.
Quinn Wunar

Quinn Wunar put it well Saturday when he tweeted the photos above and left, and this:

This is the end.

The end of open water season

Only a few

If you can punch through, there’s eaters. Nothing big. But a limit of eaters if you have the time.

Minnow heads. Better than minnows. Don’t bother with a 2nd rod.

To Wunar’s point, Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait said, “Perch conditions dwindled. It’s sketchy. Use a weight with a rope to bust the ice.”

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

. . .

Some still doing well for perch at 87th. Some days you have to bust skim ice up to fish.

. . .

NAVY PIER ANGLING

The north side of Navy Pier is open for anglers. The discounted parking for anglers is $9 daily, if out by 10 a.m.

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).

PIER PASSES

The $6 pier passes, which allow legal access to select piers at Jackson Park, Burnham, DuSable, Diversey, Belmont and Montrose harbors, may be bought at Henry’s Sports and Bait (cash only) and Northerly Island Visitor Center (credit-card only). A number of additional piers were added this year to bring the total to 31 piers.

George Peters with a redfish from Florida. Provided photo
George Peters with a redfish from Florida.
Provided

FLORIDA

It just feels right to add this note from Florida.

The photo to the right came from George Peters, who contributes to the Kankakee River report, and emailed this:

Hi Dale, saw the kkk had an ice jam, not here in south Fl. Here is a nice 29” Redfish caught on a bass crank bait. Talk to you in May. G. Peters

WISCONSIN’S FREE FISHING WEEKEND

Wisconsin’s Free Fishing Weekend is here Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 15-16.

No fishing license or trout and salmon stamps are required.

AREA LAKES

Kyle Lamm tweeted:

We fished Kane County Forest Preserve Lake. Ice was good, 5 inches. Caught lots of small bluegill and crappie. Really small. Not as good as last year. Fished a brush pile in 20 feet of water. About 20 anglers out there. Most near shoreline in about 8 ft of water. Not sure how those people did.

Tiny jigs with waxies out performed small spoons. But caught fish on both

Staff at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said neighborhood ponds producing pretty good bass and some crappie for ice anglers.

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait said there were 5 inches at Arrowhead already, so South Side ice is good already. Henry’s new winter hours are open Wednesday to Sunday, closed Monday and Tuesday.

Dicky’s Bait Shop in Montgomery reported a lot of people came in the over weekend, but none but none came bac yet after ice fishing on local ponds or at local clubs. They’re selling lots of wax worms, Rosie Reds, spikes and minnows; so it sounds like panfish, crappie and largemouth bass.

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

Lots of groups ice fishing now all over most nwi lakes and ponds are 5 inches some lil more.

Ice is very clear making the bite kinda tough.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley of Husker Outdoors emailed the photo at the top and this:

Hey Dale,

Here is a recap of this weeks fishing.

The hard water season has started. South of I-80 has 4 1/2 to 5 inches of good clear ice. Always check with a spud bar while venturing out at first ice and drill holes as you go along. Safety first so follow all the rules.

Bluegill have been good during early morning hours on a variety of plastics. Switch to spikes once the bite slows late morning as that will keep the reluctant biters interested. Focus on areas in 7-10 fow with green weeds.

Bass have been decent on jigging spoons tipped with wax worms and tip downs with fatheads. First light has been the best bite.

. . .

TTYL

Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Husker Outdoors
Waterwerks fishing team

A south suburban industrial pond where a guy has been ice fishing at dusk nearly daily. Credit: Dale Bowman
A south suburban industrial pond where a guy has been ice fishing at dusk nearly daily.
Dale Bowman

BRAIDWOOD LAKE

Closed. Reopens March 1.

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

From his YouTube channel, “Jason Special,” Jason “Special One” Le sent the video below.

Staff at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said pike were being caught on East Loon, crappie and perch on West Loon, bluegill and crappie on the south end of Channel; a few good walleye and some catfish on Marie; panfish moved out of the channels, try tin 8-10 feet; white bass are surprisingly slow on Marie and Bluff.

NOTE: The Stratton Lock and Dam is closed through April 30.

COOLING LAKES

Braidwood, Heidecke and LaSalle are closed for the season.

DOWNSTATE

POWERTON: Bank fishing is open. Winter hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Boat fishing reopens Feb. 15.

SPRING LAKE: Boat fishing is allowed after 1 p.m., after goose hunting is closed, on the main lake. Bank fishing along South Lake Road is allowed all day.

EMIQUON PRESERVE: Hours are sunrise to sunset. 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.

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

GREEN LAKE AREA, WISCONSIN

Guide Mike Norris emailed:

Fishing Report – 1/10/2022

Mike Norris

Big Green Lake - Gale force winds last week broke up the ice and the east end of the lake is wide open again. There is thin ice along the west end of the lake and those who venture out on it are catching walleyes and northern pike on tip-ups. Beyer’s Cove has 8 to 10 inches of ice and anglers are catching nice bluegills there on small jigs tipped with live bait or plastic.

Fox Lake – Ice is 6 to 10 inches thick, and anglers are driving four wheelers out now. There is a good walleye bite at night along the deep weed edges and northern pike are biting shiners on tip-ups in Towne Park and Wedges Bay during the day. Jiggers are catching bluegills in the Jug.

I am heading down to Illinois this week to conduct seminars, talk fishing and book customers for the 2022 guiding season. Stop in and see me at my booth at the Northern Illinois Sports Show in Grayslake, IL. January 13 -16. Go to ILSportsShow.com for show hours and seminar schedule.

GREEN/STURGEON BAYS, WISCONSIN

Lance LaVine at Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay emailed this:

Hi fellas. Here is a very quick update as we await “Good” ice

The Perch fishing reports have been quite good so far on the very limited, walkable ice we currently have. The shallow bays of Little Sturgeon and Sawyer Harbor have relatively safe, walkable ice up until this point. Stay quiet, mobile and away from other ice fishermen and noise and you should go home with a nice meal of Perch. Shiners, Rosies, Waxies and spikes the baits of choice right now.

Along with the Perch in the shallow bays and some of the marina slips in town, there is some pretty good opportunity for some nice Northern Pike. Suspending Golden Shiners under tip-ups or auto fishermen the ticket there.

As for the overall ice conditions throughout the county….I anticipate after some of the latest snow from our recent storm blows off the bay and we get the extremely cold weather that is forecast for our area, fishermen will carefully start to venture out to some near shore spots for the very popular Whitefish along with a few elusive Walleyes. As of right now, the ice is just too unpredictable to give a safe report

Thanks;

Lance LaVine

Howie’s Tackle
1309 Green Bay Rd
Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235
Ph: 920-746-9916

HEIDECKE LAKE

Closed. Reopens April 1.

LAKE ERIE

Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.

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 ice was everywhere with some perch are being caught on Kegonsa and Waubesa, which have about 6 inches of ice; not perch fishing on Mendota yet but that will happen shortly as fast as ice is being made; some pike on Mendota; bluegills on Monona; some nice bluegills on Mud Lake.

MAZONIA

Both units are open for open-water and/or ice fishing (when safe). Hours are 6 a.m. to sunset.

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

Wisconsin winter scene. Credit: Ken “Husker” O’Malley
Wisconsin winter scene.
Ken “Husker” O’Malley

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

For those too far south to enjoy this past weekend in the Northwoods, here’s a little update…

Okay already! It’s winter, I get it! Don’t need to be slapped in the face with temps of 17 below and wind chill of 35 below to make a point, I got a calendar.

Bitter cold and high winds kept a lot of anglers indoors and probably glued to their TVs this past weekend. Those hardy (?) souls that ventured out were not well compensated for their efforts. Unless tied to a contest (derby) or a permanent shack available little effort and even less results were reported.

Yellow Perch: Fair – Thanks to one tough couple that reported some “eater” (8-9”) Perch on Sunday (1/9). This remains the brightest of a poor bite. Not talking much (lip frost bite?), but seemed satisfied with what they did find. Prior to cold snap anglers fishing mud in 17-28’ producing some Perch.

Crappie: Poor – Fair at mid-week, but not good conditions for hole hopping. As with Perch, signs of Crappies being more active over deeper water for now. Be prepared to probe same mud flats as Perch being found.

Bluegill: Poor

Northern Pike: Poor – A few fair reports prior to wind and cold making it tough to keep homes from freezing.

Walleye: Poor – Just not much talk this weekend.

The one good thing about this sub-zero cold and high wind is snow cover not bad on lakes and ice conditions to thicken. Average reports are of 12-14”+. Can’t recommend truck travel, but you will see some out and likely to see a bunch by week’s end. Forecast of highs in mid-20’s and decrease of wind makes coming weekend look promising.

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 groups ice fishing now all over most nwi lakes and ponds are 5 inches some lil more.

Ice is very clear making the bite kinda tough.

Some still doing well for perch at 87th. Some days you have to bust skim ice up to fish.

A fresh lil batch of steelhead have entered the nwi tributaries. Covering the deeper holes and river bends using black voodoo jigs tipped with waxworms has been best.

Slez’s has all ice gear and bait in stock daily. Open 5 to 5

SHABBONA LAKE

Ice fishing is underway. It’s a rare year where the ice closed up quickly enough that the geese couldn’t keep the middle open and the ice is fairly even, but use caution all the same; 5-6 inches of ice as of Friday.

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 the lower end of the river was iced up.

Paddle and Pole hosts the Berrien Springs Fish Ladder Camera.

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:

Just checking ice conditions. They’re driving on Partridge and off the south shore of Poygan,10 to 14”. Walleye action has been slow , need to move around. Panfish on Partridge has been fair