Perch on the Chicago lakefront and waiting on ice fishing

Perch fishing on the Chicago lakefront leads this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report, otherwise it is waiting on ice (except well to our north, where they are already ice fishing).

SHARE Perch on the Chicago lakefront and waiting on ice fishing
Jim Shell caught his first burbot Saturday off downtown Chicago.

Jim Shell caught his first burbot Saturday off downtown Chicago.

Provided

Perch fishing on the Chicago lakefront leads this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report, otherwise it is waiting on ice (except well to our north, where they are already ice fishing). But there are some other things, too, such as steelhead, brown trout and lake trout as well as burbot on the lakefront to keep things interesting.

Jim Shell and his son Casey experienced their first burbot on Saturday and sent the photo at the top.

“Surprise burbot at the Chicago lighthouse today while jigging for lakers,” messaged Jim, who caught it.

That’s worth a YouTube video.

It’s that time of year for burbot to show up near shore.

It’s also a good time for a reminder that it is two years since the last Illinois-record burbot (11 pounds, 12.5 ounces) was caught by Saro Kevorkian on Dec. 7, 2020, at Diversey Harbor.

Saro Kevorkian prepares to release his Illinois record burbot back into Lake Michigan on Dec. 8, 2020. Credit: Dale Bowman

Saro Kevorkian prepares to release his Illinois record burbot back into Lake Michigan on Dec. 8, 2020.

Dale Bowman

AUGER SHARPENING

For the 23rd year, Fran Connelly is 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).

LAKEFRONT PERCH

Perch anglers spaced along the North Slip (85th Street) late Saturday morning. Credit: Dale Bowman

Perch anglers spaced along the North Slip (85th Street) late Saturday morning.

Dale Bowman

Even late Saturday morning, anglers were spaced along the North Slip (85th Street) when I was there.

Jasper Wyatt emailed:

Hi Dale! Hope all is well. Would love to share my report today for navy pier perching. Feel free to share in your article if it makes the cut. Caught a couple of 14 jumbos at the Navy Pier slip on Saturday, 12/10. Bite was relatively slow. The 9-11 range are there for the taking as usual. These two were certainly the highlight, as well as my PB. Jumbos are coming in slowly but surely. Get out there and get em.

Slowly but surely works.

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

NOW FOR THE FISHING REPORT,PERCH FOR THE MOST PART ARE STILL REALLY GOOD WITH A SLOW PATCH HERE AND THERE. MOST REPORTS ARE FROM NAVY PIER AND SOUTH. NO REPORTS FROM ANYONE I KNOW FISHING NORTH HARBORS FOR A WHILE NOW BUT I’M SURE WITH THE AMOUNT OF PERCH AROUND THERE HAS TO BE SOME. MOST USING MINNOWS OF ALL VARIETIES ESPECIALLY ROSEY REDS, ALSO SHRIMP,WAX WORMS, SPIKES, NIGHT CRAWLERS,ETC… IF SOMETHING ISN’T WORKING FOR YOU CHANGE IT UP.

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

Still lots of groups fishing perch more from shore but when weather allows lots of boat fishermen also.

Perch fishing has been slow to really good everyday seems to change a little bit. Xl-fatheads, baby golden roaches and Rosie reds are most popular bait.

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 ($20 for two months) for the anglers’ parking lots at DuSable and Burnham harbors are on sale at the Northerly Island Visitor Center (credit card only, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday), but call (312) 745-2910 first to make sure someone is there.

My column from Nov. 30, 2022, on parking the length of the Chicago lakefront is posted at https://chicago.suntimes.com/2022/11/30/23485385/chicago-lakefront-parking-fishing

PIER PASSES

The $10 pier passes, which allow legal access to select piers at Jackson Park, Burnham, DuSable, Diversey, Belmont and Montrose harbors, may be bought at Northerly Island Visitor Center (credit-card only, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday), but call (312) 745-2910 first to make sure someone is there.

AREA LAKES

It’s waiting on ice fishing. Looking at the forecast, maybe some places by Christmas locally.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley of Husker Outdoors emailed:

Hey Dale,

Here is a recap of this weeks fishing.

Area lakes-we are back to open water this week. That will change this coming weekend as the below average temps will start locking lakes up again.

Bluegill and crappie are the most consistent bite. Active biters can be found along the main basin of lakes. Ice jigs tipped with waxies are the best bet.

Bass have been slow. Go to live bite as your best option.

TTYL

Ken Husker O’Malley

Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team

CALUMET SYSTEM

Both boaters and shore anglers finding perch up and down the Cal.

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Staff at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said not much going, waiting on ice fishing to arrive, probably next week.

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

NOTE 2: Stratton Lock and Dam is closed through April 30, 2023.

CHICAGO RIVER

Ryan with a largemouth bass from the Chicago River. Provided by Jeffrey Williams

Ryan with a largemouth bass from the Chicago River.

Provided by Jeffrey Williams

Jeffrey Williams messaged the photos above and below, and this:

Chicago river is doing good surprisingly, caught a handful of Bass and a couple of crappie slabs, Ryan takes credit for this 2 pound LMB, and T takes credit with the crappies

T with a crappie from the Chicago River. Provided by Jeffrey Williams

T with a crappie from the Chicago River.

Provided by Jeffrey Williamsc

COOLING LAKES/STRIP PITS

Heidecke, LaSalle, Braidwood and Mazonia (except Monster Lake is open all years) are closed.

DOWNSTATE

POWERTON: Closed until after duck season.

EMIQUON PRESERVE: During waterfowl season, fishing is not allowed until noon. 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.

SPRING LAKE: Site superintendent Thad Cook emailed:

Hey Dale, Oct 21st is the last day for boats to be on Spring Lake. Boat fishing will still be allowed from the Sky Ranch ramp up to the narrows throughout waterfowl season. The stoping point in the narrows will be marked with buoy markers. The youth waterfowl hunt is oct 23-24. Bank fishing will be allowed along the south Lake road after 1:00pm during waterfowl season. Thanks. Thad

HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Closed for the season.

GREEN LAKE AREA, WISCONSIN

Guide Mike Norris emailed:

Fishing Report – 12/12/2022

Mike Norris

Big Green Lake remains wide open and provides a fantastic opportunity to boat anglers who want to pursue trophy smallmouth bass, walleye, and northern pike. Boat anglers are catching a few walleyes trolling with crankbaits from sunset through the early evening hours over 10–15 feet of water with planer boards. I prefer fishing during daylight hours and will focus on smallmouth bass and northern pike while slow trolling a sucker minnow on a Carolina rig. A winter storm is predicted to arrive in my area mid-week followed by freezing weather which should build up ice in Beyer’s Cove and in Dartmouth Bay for early ice bluegills.

Beaver Dam Lake - Ice fishing shiners suspended beneath tip-ups for walleye and northern pike was excellent early last week. The hotspot was by the railroad trestle along the northwest side of the lake. By last weekend though the ice was thinning and nearly impossible to navigate. Hopefully, this bite will still be good when the ice firms up following the arrival of colder weather later this week.

KANKAKEE RIVER

Bob Johnson with a cold-water smallmouth bass from the Kankakee River. Provided photo

Bob Johnson with a cold-water smallmouth bass from the Kankakee River.

Provided

Bob Johnson emailed the photo above and this:

Hi Dale - River is Cold and clear with water temps at 39 to 40. The colder water and lack of sun made the bite tough Saturday. Jerk bait bite wasn’t going along with any technique of motion, so blade baits, crainkbaits and swim baits were all slow. I was able to catch 5 smallmouth using finesse baits off the bottom in 6 - 8’ holes. No size to them however the river is still productive and trophies can be caught this time of year.

LAKE ERIE

Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.

LAKEFRONT

See Jim Shell’s photo at the top about burbot.

Lake trout are being caught accidently by boaters targetng them and by perch anglers accidently, such as Les Wooten did to earn Fish of the Week. There’s also brown trout and steelhead around (column coming on Wednesday about Danny “Taks” Borgert and steelhead).

Sey Jay with his personal best steelhead. Provided photo

Sey Jay with his personal best steelhead.

Provided

Sey Jay emailed the photo above of his personal best and this:

Good afternoon Dale,

I’ve been rather scarce due to lack of catching anything noteworthy. Been fishing my usual Chicago Lakefront spots and picking up some steelies and cohos from Diversey and Belmont Harbors float fishing with skein, spawn sacs and cooked shrimp. Hadn’t had any success bottom fishing for lakers yet.

This morning I tried Belmont and picked up a small coho and an exceptional steelie. The coho hit a piece of cooked shrimp and the steelie took a dime sized spawn sac suspended 5 feet down. Measuring 36 and weighing 16#’s, it’s my personal best. Both fish were released. Enjoy the pics and happy holidays.

Sey Jay

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

LET ME START BY THANKING YOU ALL FOR A WONDERFUL YEAR. I LOVE WHAT I DO AND IT IS BECAUSE OF ALL OF YOU. UNFORTUNATELY IT HAS COME TO THAT TIME OF THE YEAR WHEN WE MUST TURN OFF THE WATER AND SHUT DOWN FOR THE SEASON. WE WERE FORTUNATE TO HAVE HAD MILD WEATHER THIS MONTH AND STAY OPEN A WHILE LONGER.

THIS MEANS THAT OUR MOBILE BAIT VAN PARKED BAIT HAS TO COME TO AN END ALSO. WE WILL BE OPEN THROUGH SUNDAY THE 18th OR UNTIL WE RUN OUT OF MINNOWS WHICHEVER COMES FIRST. THIS WEEKS HOURS MAY BE SPORADIC PLEASE CALL FIRST.

NOW FOR THE FISHING REPORT,PERCH FOR THE MOST PART ARE STILL REALLY GOOD WITH A SLOW PATCH HERE AND THERE. MOST REPORTS ARE FROM NAVY PIER AND SOUTH. NO REPORTS FROM ANYONE I KNOW FISHING NORTH HARBORS FOR A WHILE NOW BUT I’M SURE WITH THE AMOUNT OF PERCH AROUND THERE HAS TO BE SOME. MOST USING MINNOWS OF ALL VARIETIES ESPECIALLY ROSEY REDS, ALSO SHRIMP,WAX WORMS, SPIKES, NIGHT CRAWLERS,ETC… IF SOMETHING ISN’T WORKING FOR YOU CHANGE IT UP.

NICE TROUT IN THE MIX, LAKE, STEELHEAD AND BROWN TROUT. IF YOU ARE IN NEED OF A PIER PASS OR FISHERMANS PARKING PASS THEY ARE AVAILABLE AT THE NORTHERLY ISLAND VISITORS CENTER MONDAY THROUGH FRIDAY 10am TO 4pm.

SALMON SNAGGING: Here are the details from the IDNR:

4) Snagging for chinook and coho salmon only is permitted from the following Lake Michigan shoreline areas from October 1 through December 31; however, no snagging is allowed at any time within 200 feet of a moored watercraft or as posted: A) Lincoln Park Lagoon from the Fullerton Avenue Bridge to the southern end of the Lagoon. B) Waukegan Harbor (in North Harbor basin only).

MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN

Click here for the update from D&S Bait, Tackle & Fly Shop .

Pat Hasburgh at D&S Bait, Tackle & Fly Shop said ice deteriorated, but weather forecast makes next week look promising for ice fishing.

MAZONIA

Closed, except Monster Lake is open all year. Other lakes will reopen after duck season, so reopening on the Dec. 28th.

Hours are 6 a.m. to sunset.

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

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

The past few days were a great weekend to enjoy ice fishing! Mild temps, not too much ice and for the most part good reports of action. Some east wind slowed things a little, but anglers reported a good bounce back and the fishing improved once more.

Walleye: Very Good – With ice thickness not building (avg 5-9), Walleyes staying fairly shallow for the early morning and evening bites. Tip-ups with live bait (shiners, suckers) per usual. 8-12’ on average, though some anglers reporting fish to 18’. Jigging Raps, Slab Raps, Hyper Rattles and Tikka Minnows has improved as anglers enjoying the warmer weather are moving around, working different edges and pockets. Best reported for the week was a 27 ½ with lots of slot fish (20-24) caught & released as well!

Crappie: Very Good-Good – Work bays of 8-12’ with tall green narrow leaf cabbage. Slow dropping plastics in white, pink, silver or blue. Bite good on Crappie minnows as well. Watch barometer, when very high or low, Crappies holding tighter to bottom. When stable or slightly dropping can be found higher off bottom up to the weed tops (6-8’) at times.

Northern Pike: Very Good-Good – Mostly #’s, but some good 30+ fish reported as anglers fishing big shiners and suckers under tip-ups and Jaw Jackers in 5-12’ of good weeds had plenty of action.

Bluegill: Good-Very Good – Anglers starting very early (pre-light) catching the biggest Gills with a 12 behemoth being the largest! Small plastics in brown, motor oil, black or red best. Bigger Gills mostly deeper along edges at dawn and dusk. Plenty of eaters in the 7-8+ range.

Perch: Good – Lots of sorting, but nice catches in 6-12’ weeds. Small jigging spoons tipped with waxies or minnow pieces. With weather permitting, drill a series of holes and keep bouncing from one to the next, picking the few larger eaters from the herd of little ones.

Largemouth Bass: Good – Rarely targeted but being caught by anglers both jigging for Gills and Crappies or using tip-ups for Walleye or Pike. Not unusual to catch plenty of Bass when temps in upper teens and above

Forecast has the area getting 5-12 of snow Wed (12/14) thru Fri (12/16) followed by an increasingly colder weekend anchored by a sub-zero Monday (12/19) with highs in the single digits. Depending on how much snow we actually get and how much wind to push the snow off, it could have a big effect on ice production the rest of the season! Last time we were forecasted 6-12 we only got 3-4, cross your fingers.

Kurt Justice

Kurt’s Island Sport Shop - Like us on Facebook

NORTHWEST INDIANA

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

Still lots of groups fishing perch more from shore but when weather allows lots of boat fishermen also.

Perch fishing has been slow to really good everyday seems to change a little bit. Xl-fatheads, baby golden roaches and Rosie reds are most popular bait.

Few whitefish and lake trout being caught off of the Michigan city lighthouse pier.

Steelhead action for some in salt creek and lil cal using voodoo jigs tipped with waxworms. Most be willing to cover water to be rewarded.

Getting all the ice fishing gear on display this week stop in.

SHABBONA LAKE

Site winter hours—through Jan. 31—are 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Boondocks is closed for the season.

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN

Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said big smallmouth are going in the St. Joseph River; steelhead still going in the river, too; pier slow.

Paddle and Pole hosts the Berrien Springs Fish Ladder Camera.

UPPER PENISULA (UP), MICHIGAN

There’s a first time for many things. I think this is a first for the UP in the MFR. But I can’t say for sure.

Harold Plein with his last smallmouth bass before ice-up in the UP. Provided photo

Harold Plein with his last smallmouth bass before ice-up in the UP.

Provided

Harold Plein messaged the photos above and below, and this:

Thought you might be interested in some of these pics from Iron County in the great UP. I caught my last open water smallie on Nov 15 and the lake iced over the next day. That’s my buddy Bob Londo holding his pb smallmouth. He was a happy man.

Bob Londo with his personal-best smallmouth bass, caught in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Provided photo

Bob Londo with his personal-best smallmouth bass, caught in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Provided

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:

Northern and panfish are doing well on the bayous and small bays. The ice is a little thin on the lakes. The forecast is for cold weather moving in and should change things

I think that is true across many places in the Midwest.

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