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Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Ice fishing arrives; otherwise, it’s lake trout and perch

Ice fishing, which arrived around the Chicago area and will lock up more waters later this week, leads this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report; plus the perch and lake trout bite continues on the Chicago lakefront.

Crystal Newport caught a 27 1/2-inch walleye ice fishing in the Minocqua area of northern Wisconsin. Provided by Kurt’s Island Sport Shop
Crystal Newport caught a 27 1/2-inch walleye ice fishing in the Minocqua area of northern Wisconsin.
Provided by Kurt’s Island Sport Shop

Ice fishing, which arrived around the Chicago area and will lock up more waters later this week, leads this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

Plus the perch and lake trout bite continues on the Chicago lakefront, though the weather slowed it some.

ICE FISHING

With ice fishing beginning around the Chicago area, I updated the ice-fishing regulations for public sites around Chicago and posted them here.

LAKEFRONT PERCH/LAKERS

I’ve added lakefront lake trout to the lead because of the number being caught by perch anglers and the stories that come with it.

The weather has impacted the frenzy of perch fishing to a degree (or I guess that should be because of the lack of degrees) and fewer anglers are trying.

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait texted:

Same perch and some trout on spoons kastmasters tipped w a minnow head. Don’t forget to bring a landing net for those trout

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

Perch groups have slowed up some with the cold weather.

Arden Katz said that Navy Pier was so-so Friday and he didn’t try it again after the blow.

I suspect that sort of weather impact is true for many.

Quinn Wunar with a lake trout caught perch fishing Navy Pier. Provided photo
Quinn Wunar with a lake trout caught perch fishing Navy Pier.
Provided

Quinn Wunar tweeted a wonderful series of notes and photos (one above and one below) last week:

One trout is good

Two trout is better

The 2nd hit an ultra light and 4lb test. Took 40 mins

Quinn Wunar with his second and bigger lake trout at Navy Pier. Provided photo
Quinn Wunar with his second and bigger lake trout at Navy Pier.
Provided

Then he added an interesting theory:

Yeah. Big time. I caught two at dusable on spoons. 2 Lakers and a nice brown here at navy

That’s why the perch are scattered

I will ponder that.

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 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.

AREA LAKES

Ice fishing is beginning, but many areas remain unsafe or borderline; I suspect by the weekend fishable ice should be more widespread. The link for updated regulations for ice fishing on nearby public sites is posted here.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a crappie caught before ice-up. Provided photo
Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a crappie caught before ice-up.
Provided

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

Hey Dale,

Here is a recap of this past weeks fishing.

Area lakes-open water opportunities existed through Sunday. The overnight temps ended that. Time to get ready for the hard water season.

Crappies remain good on ice plastics fished under a slip float. Some days they are on the weedlines, other days out roaming the main basin. A variety of colors have worked. Let the fish tell you what they want each day.

Bass have been slow since a good start to the month. A few can be caught on a Rapala shadow rap. A 1-2-3 cadence with a very long pause over the top of weeds can draw a few willing takers.

Here is the nature pic of the week. Enjoying one last dip.

TTYL

Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Husker Outdoors
Waterwerks fishing team

A heron sharing fishing waters before ice-up. Credit: Ken “Husker” O’Malley
A heron sharing fishing waters before ice-up.
Ken “Husker” O’Malley

BRAIDWOOD LAKE

Closed. Reopens March 1.

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

As to ice fishing, proprietor Greg Dickson at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said, “I saw some people starting [Monday].” The Chain was lucky with no snow intermingling with the ice formation. As soon as the snow ended, the wind blew it free. As usual at first ice, it is in the shallow bays and back channels. “I think we are ahead full.”

NOTE: Check updates on water conditions at foxwaterway.com or (847) 587-8540.

NOTE 2: 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 will 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 this:

Happy New Year Dale,

Big Green Lake Area Fishing Report – 1/3/2022

Mike Norris

With frigid air and little snow in the area good ice is finally forming on south-central Wisconsin lakes. We should see four-wheelers out on the lakes this week as most lakes have up to six inches of ice now.

Though the middle of the lake is wide open, shoreline areas on Big Green Lake have iced up and a handful of anglers are heading out from Horner’s Landing in pursuit of lake trout and ciscoes. Ice formation can be tricky on the big lake, so walk along well-established routes. Head out to ninety feet of water and jig a spoon aggressively to draw trout to your hole. Slowly start to lift the jig higher to get the lake trout to commit.

Anglers are catching walleyes on Little Green Lake along the outside weed edge with shiners on tip ups at night. During daylight hours search for crappies and perch in mid lake with a jig and minnow or try bluegills in shallow weeds on a micro jig tipped with spikes or waxworms.

Lake Emily is providing steady bluegill and northern pike action.

Stop by my booth at the Northern Illinois Sports Show in Grayslake, IL. January 13 -16 to talk fishing and book your 2022 fishing guide trip.

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 fishing is going on Cherokee Marsh (smaller fish), Monona Bay and the Triangles (bluegill and a few perch and crappie), Squaw Bay (mainly pike) and Lake Farm Park on Waubesa (bluegill, small pike and walleye at night). There should be traveling on Kegonsa and Waubesa by the weekend.

MAZONIA

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

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

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

As typical for a Christmas/New Year’s Week, pressure (from anglers) increased, weather got colder and fishing, while still good, got tougher. Some good fishing taking place here in the Northwoods, but at times it’s windows of activity or getting off the beaten path to discover better bites.

Walleye: Good – As stated, mostly windows of opportunity, as well as dusk, have been key. By moving out a bit deeper during mid-afternoons and fishing new areas, anglers reporting finding Walleyes on points and bars extending out into main lake basins taking 3-4” suckers or hitting jigging lures (Raps, Tikkas).

Northern Pike: Good – This one really seemed to show those “windows” of opportunity, several reports of flags flyin’ for 1-2 hour periods during late mornings followed by dead periods until just before dusk. Big shiners and suckers best.

Crappie: Good – Moving out over 15-25’ of water to find suspended Crappies has been the most consistent producer. Weed Crappies seem to only turn on for small windows of activity. Open water fish, when you can locate, have been easier to get action from. Tip-downs with rosies and Pin head jigs tipped with waxies best.

Bluegill: Good – While most reports coming from anglers working weed beds of 5-10’, anglers targeting Crappies in 15-20’ reporting nice Gills mixed in with suspended Crappies

Yellow Perch: Good-Fair – Shallow weeds producing action in 6-10’ of water, but a move to deeper mud has already begun with anglers finding “eaters” (9-11”) using wigglers and red spikes on Hali jigs and pimples.

Largemouth Bass: Fair-Poor – Not a lot of reports, don’t seem to bite as much during periods of 0 degree temps.

Travel on the ice is very good. No slush and not enough snow to be cumbersome. ATV and snowmobile travel excellent. Can’t in good conscious recommend truck travel (though some have been spotted). Ice thickness ranging 9-14” and building, should be a good season as ice is getting a chance to thicken enough to support weight of any snow to come.

Kurt Justice

Kurt’s Island Sport Shop - Like us on Facebook

NORTHWEST INDIANA

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

Perch groups have slowed up some with the cold weather.

Fisherman waiting on ice fishing

Few steelhead in nwi area tributaries. Voodoo jigs tipped with waxworms best.

Happy new year too all.

I don’t think those waiting on ice fishing will have to wait long.

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

Perch fishing remains pretty good. Spikes paired with Mini Mites are working well as a backup to minnows.

Steelhead fishing on the rivers & inlets still remains steady, with a lot of nice fish being taken on mag lips.

Walleye are heating up also, with fair catches in the channel on jumbo nightcrawlers.

By the forecast, anglers should be ice fishing on some of the channels & smaller ponds/lakes by the weekend. Stay safe on the ice.

SHABBONA LAKE

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 everybody was getting steelhead in the river, the river was packed with boats last week; also a few walleye at Berrien Springs.

Paddle and Pole hosts the Berrien Springs Fish Ladder Camera.

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:

Ice conditions continue to improve, near 6” average. 4 wheelers and snow machines, no one driving out yet. Poygan is the best bet for walleye, don’t be afraid to move a lot.