Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Braidwood opener, ice fishing changing, lakefront trout/coho
Braidwood reopens to fishing Tuesday, March 1, the changes of late-season ice fishing, and lakefront trout and coho lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.
The combination of Braidwood reopening to fishing Tuesday, March 1, the changing late-season ice, and catching lakefront trout and coho lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.
Chris Belz emailed the photo at the top, and this:
Jason Kleppe of Wisconsin landed this Rainbow Teout beast in Calumet Yacht Club, Chicago side of course.
Out of curiosity, I asked for details and Belz replied:
Feb 12, yes shore on a tiny chartreuse jig w a waxey, jigging on the bottom for perch.
Braidwood reopens to fishing on Tuesday, March 1. Hours are 6 a.m. to sunset. Site regulations remain the same. Biologist Seth Love emailed that the usual hot-water events happened over the summer, but no notable fish kills. Largemouth body condition was excellent for all size groups in the fall survey; again 26 percent surveyed were 15 inches or longer (two tournament bass topped 7 pounds); small fish dominate bluegills; number of 11-inch channel catfish increased “greatly;” average length (28 inches) of blue catfish increased with biggest 30.5; only one hybrid striped bass was surveyed (Love would love to hear of any big angler catches).
With slow harvest rates, the season is expected to last the full 16 days, through Sunday, Feb. 27, on Lake Winnebago in Wisconsin.
That idea was certainly reinforced on Monday, Feb. 21.
Monday’s update from the Wisconsin DNR noted:
Day 10 saw the lowest amount of sturgeon speared this season. Only 22 sturgeon were harvested today.
Click herefor more information.
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.
Birder Alan Anderson messaged the photo above on Saturday:
One of three ice fishermen groups at Big Bend Lake today. The outflow to the river and Des Plaines River were ice free however.
Figured I better get photos like this in while I can. Plus I found it interesting that a birder noticed the changing ice conditions.
Especially south and on smaller lakes around Chicago, the rain and warmth is making for very sloppy ice or worse. In an interesting side note (see the Northern Wisconsin report), conditions are such at building ice and snow depth on lakes in the North Woods that Kurt Justice emailed that extensions are needed on augers on some lakes.
The updated ice-fishing regulations for public sites around Chicago are posted here.
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, Wednesday-Sunday) and Northerly Island Visitor Center (credit-card only). A number of additional piers were added this year to bring the total to 31 piers.
Ken “Husker” O’Malley of Husker Outdoors emailed the photos above and below, and this:
Hey Dale, Here is a recap of this past weeks fishing. Area lakes-With the warmup and expected rain, ice will start to go quickly south. As of today, ice was holding at 5-6 inches but was getting soft by the afternoon hours. Bass have been good early on tip-downs and jigging a variety of plastics along outside weed lines. Bluegill have been very good throughout the day. Find green weeds and you will find active fish. There will be windows when the bite slows but just stay on the schools by moving and changing baits. Best bait has been the gojo by J & S Custom jigs. I saw my first flock of sandhills today. Spring is coming. Here is the nature pics of the week [below]. They know how to find open water. TTYL — Ken Husker O’Malley Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team
Rob Abouchar emailed the photo below, and this from Island Lake:
Hi Dale If it was the last weekend of ice fishing it was spectacular. On Saturday the good tip up action continued for bass. The beautiful conditions were perfect for bird watching while fishing. I thought I saw a juvenile Eagle early on Saturday and then later in the day I saw a full grown adult Bald Eagle while fishing with Joe Schatz; and was convinced of eagles living in the area. Several nice largemouth bass were taken again with medium and large golden roach minnows set two feet down in 4 feet of water throughout the day. On Sunday my sisters and Brother in-laws came over for Brunch to celebrate my Brother-in-law Tom McKluskeys’ 64th birthday. I caught a few nice Largemouth in the morning as the temps soared and the ice seemed to be melting by the minute. When I was down to my last minnow I let my sister Cecilia know she would pull in the next fish if the flag went up. Not long after that the flag went up and she proceeded to set the hook and pull the fish through the hole. The fish had almost spooled the tip up to the end. As the big headed largemouth came through the hole she let out a scream that sounded like a bad cheap monster movie. The largemouth was her first largemouth bass caught ever and the excitement was palpable. It was one of the biggest I have seen so far this winter. If it was the biggest we saved the best for last...that is if the ice does not hold. We finished the day off with a little blues jam session in the studio as the sun set over the lake. On the music front I wish it was Friday right now so I could get to the gig. Looking very forward to the show at the Art Gallery Kafe (yes with a K) in Woodale with the Conscious Rockers Reggae Band this Friday. Showtime is 8pm! Tight lines and Good Health! Rob
Reopens Tuesday, March 1. A preview is at the top.
CHAIN O’LAKES AREA
Arden Katz said good crappie and bluegill on south end of Channel in 4-6 feet, on red spikes and small tungsten jig. Ice about 10 inches. Katz thinks ice will be safe through the weekend.
Proprietor Greg Dickson at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said ice should be fine. On Tuesday morning, he said, “We’re already icing up here.”
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.
Braidwood, Heidecke and LaSalle are closed for the season; but Braidwood reopens next Tuesday, March 1.
DES PLAINES RIVER
Sean Whippo emailed the photo left, and this:
Dale, I hope you’re well sir and getting through the winter ok, and most of all, staying healthy. I had a great week fishing on the Des Plaines River with 8 or 9 Pike landed over a few days, not normal for casting in February. Warmer weather & ice melt had them majorly active. I had 2 today this size (photo) & 3 little jacks. Unfortunately I lost a tank on a ridiculous head shake that threw my lure before I could get a hook set, but this one striking 2 feet from shore like a train absolutely cheered me up. I had similar action Sunday and Tuesday as well, and from social media, it seems on the ice and on the open water on the rivers, the Pike bite is very hot right now, which leads me to believe the pre spawn Pike bite is on fire right now as they fatten up before the Spawn. Notably, all fish located were also in shallow slack water (recent rains helped push them in) and staging near typical spawning areas. All fish were also caught on swimbaits fished slow, and slow rolling big jerkbaits in 3 feet of water. A larger presentation still seems key right now as well. Tight lines Dale! Regards, Sean Whippo
I am doing well and I don’t take the health wishes casually any more.
POWERTON: Boat and bank fishing is open. Winter hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
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.
Dicky’s Bait Shop in Montgomery reported ice starting to break up enough that people are starting to open-water fish below the Montgomery dam.
GREEN LAKE AREA, WISCONSIN
Guide Mike Norris emailed this:
Fishing Report – 2/21/2022 Mike Norris Lake Puckaway – Northern pike and walleye fishing remains decent tip-up fishing with medium shiners. The big pike in the Grim Outdoors Pike-O-Palooza event last Saturday measured 39.5 inches and netted a lucky angler $2,000. Big Green Lake – Both cisco and trout fishing remain excellent jigging with spoons or tubes. Look for cisco suspended over 60 feet of water and trout off the bottom in 100-120 feet of water. Little Green Lake – Anglers are catching numbers of crappies with minnows or waxworms out over the deep-water basin. Occasional walleye in both shallow water and deep water with shiners on tip-ups.
That’s a pretty good award in fishing.
GREEN/STURGEON BAYS, WISCONSIN
Staff at Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay said on Tuesday there is good ice and anglers doing best for whitefish are working deep, as in 70-90 feet, and moving around.
Closed. Reopens April 1.
Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.
Gary Bloom emailed the photo left, and this on Sunday:
My buddy caught 2 browns and lost another. I caught 1 Perch. Ice starting to get bad. The Trout caught in first hour.
The seasons are changing.
And that is advice to take serious note of.
I think what both Bloom and Le (below) observe and think on the state of the harbor ice is important to note.
Jason “Special One” Le texted the photo above and right, and this:
We smoke em at Downtown Chicago today!
It’s a good look.
When I first asked how long he thought the harbor ice would last, he indicated we probably had another week of ice fishing on the harbors.
Then he texted on Tuesday that about a sign that it might be sooner, after three days of relative warmth and the rain beginning to change conditions.
Larry Green tweeted the photo below, and this:
Modesto Perez messaged me with this pic of a 13 inch perch caught in the harbors. Told me he finally found a few.
Closed. Reopens March 15.
MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN
Click here for the update from D&S Bait.
Both units are open for open-water and/or ice fishing. Hours are 6 a.m. to sunset.
Chad Rauch messaged the photo left, and this on Saturday:
Kept 12 gills out at mazonia south unit, numerous 9 plus fish. Threw back another 50. White tungsten bug tipped with a waxxie. 9’ of water and 10 of ice. Easily my best day panfishing out there
He added this explanation of how it happened.
I hadn’t even planned on jigging, after setting up to tipups I popped a hole in the shanty and threw the ducer in and saw marks. Pulled a tipup in and had a bluegill taking drag on the first drop.
I think that is a useful explanation of adjusting.
I’m not sure how the three days of warmth and the rain will impact conditions at Mazonia, other than making it sloppy. Be aware and be careful.
MISSISSIPPI RIVER, WISCONSIN
Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted the photo left and this report on a trek to LaCrosse to fish with McCormick’s River Guide Service:
We took a trip to Lacrosse to fish with Mike McCormick last week. Had a great time with his air boat adventure, and the perch cooperated too.
I noticed that air-boat adventure; I can see where that would add an extra layer of adventure.
Stoeger’s note reminded that I should be doing more on fishing reports for the Mississippi River.
Kurt Justice at Kurt’s Island Sport Shop in Minocqua emailed:
Dangerous road conditions, wind, some snow (more on its way) put ice fishing on a back seat I most peoples’ minds as just getting to the Northwoods was a questionable task. Even the one nice day (Sunday 2/20) was windy, off-setting the warmer temps of upper 30’s we’ve been longing for. Now travel on lakes is becoming more iffy as snow depth limits the use of ATV’s without tracks and smaller SUV’s. There was a bright side to those that did get out on the ice, an uptick in the fishing. Northern Pike: Good – Anglers using large shiners reported good action from Pike in the 25-34 range in weed beds of 6-12’. Frozen smelt has also been effective as signs of heavy feeding going on with comments of how fat the Pike have been is common. On some lakes, shallow weedy types, watch for signs of low oxygen. Shiners and suckers dying quickly need to be raised higher in the water column to keep in areas of better oxygen levels. Don’t worry, the Pike will be there also. One foot increments are all you need till you get better life. Yellow Perch: Good – Basin fishing for the most part, Halis, Pimples tipped with spikes and wigglers to get down quickly. Mud bottoms of 18-18’. Watch for fish 2-4’ off bottom cruising through. Crappie: Good – Best action over basins as well. Crappies taking glow tungsten jigs (#4mm) tipped with waxies as well as Crappie minnows on tip-downs when wind allows. Fish suspending 2-8’ off bottom will also take tungsten jigs with hair (VMC Fly Jig, Bullfly Jig) tipped with spike or waxie. Largemouth Bass: Good – Mid-morning through mid-afternoon best. Good results on tip-ups with medium shiners and jigging #3 jigging Raps with a small minnow head off middle hook. Reports of Bass to 18 this weekend! Bluegill: Good-Fair – Wind hurts the Bluegill angler, makes hole hopping tough! Some decent Gills for the anglers using tungsten (to fight the wind) tipped with mousses or waxies. Plastics tough to use under windy conditions. Walleye: Fair – Finally an upgrade! Anglers reported some decent (some actually good) bites an hour prior to dark and the hour just after. 12-16’ breaks leading up to weeds. Most reports on suckers, yet one group scored on big shiners left over from Pike fishing to catch slot fish of 20-24. Good sign of things to come. Two weekends left of the gamefish season on our lakes here. Walleye, Pike and Bass open through the 6th of March. Slush and snow becoming an issue as is ice thickness on some lakes (as in too much, almost time for extensions in places). More cold nights (sub-zero) with highs in upper teens/low 20’s won’t alleviate snow/slush issues this week. But fish activity appeared to pick up and should unless too much snow shuts down light penetration and closes shallower fishing down for a while. Hopefully not. Kurt Justice Kurt’s Island Sport Shop - Like us on Facebook
Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station texted:
Groups still on ice some places. Willow slough and potato creek state park have been good for bluegills and few crappie. Look for coho action to get going once the rivers clean up from the snow melt off. Portage Riverwalk and Michigan city lighthouse will be the places to go. Fishing skein, squid and shrimp. Still plenty of ice gear in stock here at Slez’s along with the other goods.
WILLOW SLOUGH NOTE: As of Tuesday, ice fishing was still going. Also note, a ublic update on renovations at J.C. Murphey Lake is 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, at the Newton County Government Center in Morocco, Ind.
Christina Petrites at Stan’s Bait & Tackle Center in Hammond emailed:
Hi, Dale! While the last few days with unexpected higher temperature hike were enjoyable, here’s what’s been going on in the fishing world in our area: short & sweet! Ice fishing is still going strong but the warmer weather has slowed some people down. Bluegill & Pike are what most anglers are catching. Most shore locations on Lake Michigan from the Chicago area up to St. Joseph still have ice & are therefore not launchable yet for boats. Wolf Lake & Hammond Marina also have ice still & are not launch-ready. The rivers are slower due to high water.
As of Tuesday, ice was sloppy on top but good thickness.
Site hours for March, beginning Tuesday, March 1, are 8 a.m.-8 p.m.; for the remaining days in February, site hours are 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
Concessions are closed, reopening April 1.
Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said even with higher water, some steelhead are being caught at Berrien Springs.
Paddle and Pole hosts the Berrien Springs Fish Ladder Camera.
WINNEBAGO SYSTEM, WISCONSIN
The sturgeon-spearing season is expected to last the full 16 days, through Sunday, Feb. 27, on Lake Winnebago. Click here for more information.
WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN
Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:
. . . Locally, several cracks opened on lakes Poygan and Winnebago. You’ll need to check at local bait shops for info. Fish action has been a little slow with the roller coaster of weather.