Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Deepening ice, snow, cold and, of course, ice fishing

Ice fishing, of course, leads this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

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Canada geese keeping a hole open, despite the brutal cold. Credit: Dale Bowman

Canada geese keeping a hole open, despite the brutal cold.

Dale Bowman

Ice fishing, all around Chicago, obviously leads this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

I got lucky this morning and found these geese keeping a hole open on a retention pond. Not many of those scenes left with this weather.


Ice fishing is in nearly every report. The updated ice-fishing regulations for public sites around Chicago are posted here.

Friends of Fishing Ice Fishing Derby on Saturday. Provided by Slez’s Bait

Friends of Fishing Ice Fishing Derby on Saturday.

Provided by Slez’s Bait


The LVVA 11th annual Ice Fishing Derby is Friday and Saturday, Jan. 28-29, on Bangs Lake in Wauconda.

It’s a benefit for veterans organizations and programs.

The Friends of Fishing 11th Annual Ice Fishing Derby is at Rogers Lakewood Park (Loomis Lake) in Valparaiso, Ind. on Saturday, January, 29, 5 a.m.-noon.

For more info, see the poster left or email

Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station, Ind., texted that the shop will open at 4 a.m. for the derby on Saturday.


After 22 years, Fran Connelly is still sharpening of auger blades. Find “Ice Auger Sharpening” on Facebook or drop off blades at either Lee’s Bait & Tackle (Elk Grove Village or Carol Stream).


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


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).


The $6 pier passes, which allow legal access to select piers at most 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.

James Merritt with a good northern pike from Grundy County. Provided photo

James Merritt with a good northern pike from Grundy County.



With ice fishing around Chicago nearly universal, reports come from all over of varied catches.

Some of those reports are included here.

The two small snowstorms in the last few days seemed to have helped the bite overall.

James Merritt messaged the photo to the left and this on his 35-inch northern pike:

Hey I’ll submit this one for FOTW caught it Wednesday in Grundy county

Dicky’s Bait Shop in Montgomery reported bite is picking up, some doing better with minnow heads than with a minnow.

Mousies, something a bit different to try, are working, too.

Snow cover helped the bite.

Roy Coackley with a good crappie from Island Lake. Provided photo

Roy Coackley with a good crappie from Island Lake.


Rob Abouchar emailed the photo to the right as well as the note below from ice fishing on Island Lake:

Hi Dale We had some great ice fishing action on Island lake fishing Tip ups and tip downs with minnows. Some beautiful and very healthy largemouth bass were hitting consistently throughout the day. A big crappie hit a small fathead minnow for Roy Coackley. I had a surprise Northern Pike that gave me quite a battle coming to the hole. Still no bluegill in the area we have been fishing. I may have to hit the south end of the lake. Tight Lines and Good Health

Yes, I did miss one of Abouchar’s usual notes on music in general and, more specifically, the reggae music scene.

Not sure why, but his musical notes usually make my Tuesdays feel much better when I am wrapping up putting the finals touches on before posting the sprawling raw-file MFR.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley of Husker Outdoors emailed the photos below left and below, and this:

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a good bluegill from ice fishing locally. Provided photo

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a good bluegill from ice fishing locally.


Hey Dale, Here is a recap of this past weeks fishing. Area lakes-most have 7-8 inches of clear ice. With the last two days of snow, the ice now has some cover nowso the fish won’t be so skittish. Crappie and bluegill have been very good the last 3 hours of the day. Focus on the ledges to the main basin adjacent to weeds flats. The best bait has been a Vexan tungsten glow jig tipped with a maki plastic. Best colors have been wonder bread and pink on the jigs and white or chartreuse with the plastics. Here is the nature pic of the week [below’]. Last call. TTYL — Ken Husker O’Malley Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team

Nature photo of the week from the fishing world. Credit: Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Nature photo of the week from the fishing world.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley


Closed. Reopens March 1.


Jason “Special One” Le sent another one of his wonderful videos from his “Jason Special” YouTube channel.

Staff at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said walleye are pretty, especially in the Pistakee holes; bluegill in the weeds on Fox and Petite; a bunch of bluegill and catfish on Marie; lots of anglers fishing Channel. Snow on the ice has helped with the bite.

ICE-FISHING ACCESS: Hermann’s Rest-A-While (Nielsen’s Channel), $5, food, drink; Choppers Bar and Grill (Channel), $5, taken off bill if you patronize; Sandbar Bar & Grille (Marie), $10 or patronize; Oak Park Lounge (Pistakee Bay), $5 ($10 with trailer), park in top or middle lots; The Boatyard (Marie), $5, dropbox or online; Musky Tales (Channel), $5, open 24 hours; Pelican Bay Marina (Marie), $5, dropbox, plowed lot.


Jeffrey Williams messaged the photo below and this:

thought i give u a lil river report, caught a few good size bluegills today, put in a hour cause temperatures felt like they were dropping

Chicago River bluegill in winter. Provided by Jeffrey Williams

Chicago River bluegill in winter.

Provided by Jeffrey Williams


Braidwood, Heidecke and LaSalle are closed for the season.


It’s time for big northern pike, as shown by the FOTW.


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


Dicky’s Bait Shop in Montgomery reported a good muskie caught below the dam on Monday.


Jesse Bricco with a northern pike caught on a tip-up on Fox Lake in Wisconsin. Provided by Mike Norris

Jesse Bricco with a northern pike caught on a tip-up on Fox Lake in Wisconsin.

Provided by Mike Norris

Guide Mike Norris texted the photo above and emailed this:

Fishing Report – 1/24/2022 Mike Norris Big Green Lake – Anglers are ice fishing in Dartmouth Bay where the bluegill and perch action rated good right now. There is thick enough ice to drive four wheelers out at both the east and west ends of the lake where anglers are reporting catches of lake trout with jigging spoons tipped with meat. Check ahead with North Bay Sports & Liquor for ice reports as wind conditions continue to hamper ice anglers who are trying to reach deep water for lake trout. Fox Lake – Ice is 10 to 16 inches thick. Angling is exceptionally good now in The Jug and Towne Park areas for bluegills up to 10 inches and perch up to 12 inches. Try jigs tipped with plastic or meal worms. Best bite is early morning and late in the afternoon. Northern pike are biting during the day on shiners rigged on tip ups.


Staff at Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay said whitefish anglers are getting out to the reefs, primarily with four-wheelers and such, with good catches. Ice should only be getting better.


Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.


If trying for perch, be prepared to ice fish or to bust ice.

Gary Bloom messaged:

Was Saturday. About 8 inches at Diversey. Caught mix bag of perch ,sunfish,n rockbass. Mostly small fish. Not many keepers.


Click here for the update from D&S Bait.

Gene Dellinger at D&S Bait said not a lot of guys are perch fishing on Mendota yet, he thinks the perch might not be schooled up yet and the fish are small; some perch being caught on Monona; a handful of perch on Waubesa along with a few walleye in the main basin; by Madison standards, bluegill overall are disappointing; ice conditions are very good with 10-plus inches.


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

Jon Meder at Jon’s Bait & Tackle Shop in East Brooklyn said, “We got lots of ice, about 6 inches on [Ponderosa]. We’ll get a couple inches more of ice.”

He said it is mainly bluegill and largemouth; a few crappie from Mazonia North;


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

Sub-zero temps, winds and wind chills pushing from -20’s into -30’s has curtailed a lot of fishing activity this past week. Saturday (1/22) may have been the warmest, but winds were very high adding difficulty to angler’s attempts. Despite the weather, reports from the Lakeland High School Invitational weren’t’ bad. Those anglers competing in the tournament found some fish and made a good showing. Crappie: Good-Fair – Deep water bites best with anglers finding suspended fish in 18-28’. Tough to chase with high winds, but once found anglers jigging glow spoons tipped with waxies scoring. Been rather windy for tip-downs. Northern Pike: Fair – Typical mid-winter windows of activity with anglers catching Pike on shiners where standing weeds found in 6-12’. Yellow Perch: Fair – Work the mud flats at this time of year using fast dropping spoons (Halis, Pimples, Pinheads) to get wigglers or red spikes down to mud. Pound mud to create a disturbance, like other Perch working for Mayfly larvae or blood worms to get interest. Bluegill: Fair – Weed flat Gills running small according to reports. Better Gills working outside weed edges and over mud where Crappies and Perch working for invertebrates. Largemouth Bass: Fair – Some decent reports from High School tourney, but overall few other reports. Small to medium shiners best. Walleye: Poor – Few reports. Those that have caught Walleyes reporting low numbers and small in size. Suckers best bait. Forecast for Saturday morning (01/29) to be the last sub-zero morning. Things look to improve temperature wise by late Saturday morning with temps in low 30’s by Tuesday (2/1). Hopefully warm up will bring renewed interest from anglers and fish during the New Moon period. We are finding ice thickness averages of 14-15. Kurt Justice Kurt’s Island Sport Shop - Like us on Facebook


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

Lots of ice fisherman out here there and everywhere. Willow slough is hit or miss on panfish some days all you want other days hardly nothing. Tip -up action for bass and a northern pike pretty steady. Nwi lakes and ponds best at first light and sundown. Valpo Loomis lake derby this Saturday it’s always a great turnout with great prizes. Slez’s is still fully stocked with all ice gear and bait. 5 to 5 daily.


Better than 8 inches of ice. Peeps tell me that least two 12-inch crappie were caught and released Tuesday morning; and there’s been some 8- to 9-inch bluegill caught recently. Lots of anglers were out over the weekend,

Concessions are closed, reopening April 1. Site hours through Monday, Jan. 31 are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. February hours are 8 a.m.-6 p.m.


Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said the of the upper stretch of the St. Joseph River, roughly Jasper Dairy Landing to Berrien Springs, has good steelhead action; the lower river is iced in; piers are unsafe. Most inland lakes have good ice and good panfish action.

Paddle and Pole hosts the Berrien Springs Fish Ladder Camera.


Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:

Travel is good on Poygan with most roads open. Some walleye coming on jigging spoons tipped with wax worms, in the deeper water near Horseshoe hole. Partridge is giving up some perch,gills, and small northerns.

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