Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: First coho reports, ice fishing, derbies, sturgeon spearing

Ice fishing, obviously, again leads this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report, but there ‘s also the first reports of open-water coho and sturgeon spearing season begins Saturday on the Winnebago system.

SHARE Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: First coho reports, ice fishing, derbies, sturgeon spearing
The starkness of ice fishing on Green Bay, near downtown Green Bay. Credit: Ray Hinton

The starkness of ice fishing on Green Bay, near downtown Green Bay.

Ray Hinton

Ice fishing, of course, leads this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report, but there is also a couple ice derbies and the start of sturgeon spearing Saturday on the Winnebago system.

Ray Hinton texted the photo at the top and this:

I was going to Oskosh But since I called every fish there I decided to try for some white fish I know these babies are good Off 43 and Webster Road outside of South Bay Marina 20 to 12 feet of water back-and-forth

He was using classic Swedish Pimples.

My romantic side loves that he just picked up and went there blind, then ended up with good enough advice to catch some whitefish. He later called and said two ladies at a gas station/convenience store directed him where to go.

ICE FISHING EVENTS

The Hard Water Classic Ice Fishing Tourney is Saturday, Feb. 12, noon-3:30 p.m., on Silver Lake at Blackwell Forest Preserve, Must preregister at dupageforest.org/hard-water-classic.

The Chain O’Lakes Ice Fishing Derby, sponsored by the Northern Illinois Conservation Club. is Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 12-13, and headquartered at Thirsty Turtle Beach on Channel Lake, mynicc.org/event-info/fishin-derby/.

STURGEON SPEARING

Sturgeon spearing opens Saturday, Feb. 12, on Lake Winnebago and the Upper Lakes in Wisconsin. Previous permits are required. It could run up to 16 days, unless one of the harvest caps is reached. Click here for more information.

ICE FISHING

Nearly every report gives updated ice fishing information.

The updated ice-fishing regulations for public sites around Chicago are posted here.

AUGER SHARPENING

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).

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

Joe Schatz took third for largemouth bass in the Island Lake Lions Club Fishing Derby. Provided photo

Joe Schatz took third for largemouth bass in the Island Lake Lions Club Fishing Derby.

Provided

Rob Abouchar emailed the photos above and below, and this:

Hello Dale, It was an action packed weekend with the Island Lake Lions Club Fishing Derby Saturday on Island Lake and the musical performance at the Bob Marley BirthdayBash at Two Brothers Roundhouse in ArauraSaturday night.At the ice fishing derby Island lake was producing some nice crappie and bluegill for anglers using spikes and waxworms.The big surprise was the amount of nice bass in all sizes caught on tip-ups with minnows.Despite talk of Perch not reproducing in the lake some nice ones were caught.My partner in the tourney Joe Schatz won 3rd place in the bass category for one of the hourly prizes with a 16.5 inch healthy bass..The bass took a shiner minnow on a aberdeen hook with a small spinner/flasher. I had a nice 16 inch largemouth on big golden roach on a plain kale hook.The tip-up action has been very consistenteach time out. On the Music front it was a fantastic performance by Indika Reggae Band on Saturday night at the Bob Marley Birthday Bash.I debuted my Melodica and sang my original song with Indikka.I think it went well as many people were genuinely complimentary afterwards.Hopefully I can do it again sometime in the future.Next up The gig at the Art Gallery Kafe in Wood Dale February 25thwith The Conscious Rockers Reggae Band. Tight Lines and Good Health! Rob
Rob Abouchar debuted his Melodica with the Indikka Reggae Band at the Bob Marley Birthday Bash at Two Brothers Roundhouse in Aurora after the ice fishing derby. Provided photo

Rob Abouchar debuted his Melodica with the Indikka Reggae Band at the Bob Marley Birthday Bash at Two Brothers Roundhouse in Aurora after the ice fishing derby.

Provided

What can I say, I am fascinated by the whole concept of the transition from ice fishing to a Bob Marley Birthday Bash. Plus I had to look up Melodica.

Chad Rauch found 11 inches of ice on a Manteno pond Monday, with fish mostly negative, but he messaged:

Ended up with 7 bluegill and a crappie. All small.
Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a bluegill. Provided photo

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a bluegill.

Provided

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

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

Nature photo of the week.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Hey Dale, Here is a recap of this past weeks fishing. Area lakes-the 11 plus inches of snow did not affect travel on the ice out south as expected. Most of the snow blew off from the high winds so ice conditions are good with a half inch of frozen slush and 10 inches of clear ice. Bluegill and crappie still remain the most consistent bite, especially during early to late afternoon hours. Focus on points that drop off to deep water relatively quickly from shore. The best baits are a variety of plastics. When the bite slows on plastics, switch to spikes. Let the fish tell you want they want. Here is the nature pic of the week. TTYL — Ken Husker O’Malley Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team

BRAIDWOOD LAKE

Closed. Reopens March 1.

Rob Abouchar sending a reminder that Braidwood Lake reopens to fishing on March 1. Provided photo

Rob Abouchar sending a reminder that Braidwood Lake reopens to fishing on March 1.

Provided

Rob Abouchar emailed the photo above and this:

Hi Dale, I forgot to add most importantly...Braidwood Lake opens in 3 weeks. Tight Lines and good health! Rob

He speaks for many.

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Remember, the Chain O’Lakes Ice Fishing Derby, sponsored by the Northern Illinois Conservation Club. is Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 12-13, and headquartered at Thirsty Turtle Beach on Channel Lake

Arden Katz said the south end of Channel was “very good” for bluegill and crappie, with a few perch, over the weekend; his key was jigging all the way down the water column.

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.

COOLING LAKES

Braidwood, Heidecke and LaSalle are closed for the season.

DOWNSTATE

POWERTON: Boat fishing reopens next Tuesday, Feb. 15. 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.

GENEVA LAKE, WISCONSIN

As the FOTW for a big lake trout, shows, there is fishable ice, enough to fish for lakers.

GREEN LAKE AREA, WISCONSIN

Guide Mike Norris emailed this:

Fishing Report – 2/7/2022 Mike Norris Fox Lake remains the hot lake for ice fishing.Numbers of good-sized bluegills, bass and crappies are biting in The Jug and Government areas.Reports from the past week indicate one angler caught a 16-inch crappie weighing in at 2 lbs. 5 ozs. while another angler caught a 7 lb. largemouth bass. Big Green remains good for cisco and white bass on small blade baits.For lake trout try VMC Mooneye Jigs tipped with pieces of cisco meat.Head out to deep water from Horner’s Landing for best results. Little Green Lake anglers are catching crappies out in the basin of lake.Walleye fishing is good at night.

GREEN/STURGEON BAYS, WISCONSIN

One of the bigger whitefish caught by Ray Hinton over the weekend on Green Bay. Provided photo

One of the bigger whitefish caught by Ray Hinton over the weekend on Green Bay.

Provided

Catches vary, best around Sturgeon Bay in deep water, but, as noted at the top, Ray Hinton found some in 12-20 feet just off downtown Green Bay.

HEIDECKE LAKE

Closed. Reopens April 1.

KENOSHA, WISCONSIN

Arden Katz said Sunday was packed with anglers, at least 60 groups mostly using automatic fishermen, but no fish caught spotted. The water was a little murky.

LAKEFRONT

Ice fishing in the harbors continues, as it has for decades this time of year, especially at Montrose, Diversey and DuSable. Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait said perch have been variable. Remember pier passes for access.

LaSALLE LAKE

Closed. Reopens March 15.

MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN

Click here for the update from D&S Bait.

Chad Rauch hit Madison over the weekend and messaged:

Madison trip was a bust. No flags and only a few pannies marked. From the folks I talked to that was how the weekend was. 15 of ice tho, so they’re looking good up there in that respect.

MAZONIA/STRIP PITS

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

Dustin Perkins doing well for largemouth bass at private strip pits. Provided photo

Dustin Perkins doing well for largemouth bass at private strip pits.

Provided

Doing well on the private strip pits for bluegill. Provided by Dustin Perkins

Doing well on the private strip pits for bluegill.

Provided by Dustin Perkins

Jon Meder at Jon’s Bait & Tackle Shop in East Brooklyn said there’s plenty of ice, “I was surprised with all that snow we had. We probably have 10 12 inches.”

The weekend was pretty good around the local clubs, which did well for bluegills and perch.

“Not killing them but catching fish,” he said.

He added, “I think it will be good during the week when it warms up.”

I think he has a point.

Dustin Perkins messaged the photo above and the one left, then gave this report from some private strip pits:

Dale Caught a few nice bass and some killer bluegill’s out in braidwood this Sunday . Next stop the braidwood opener !!! Open water baby!

He’s not the only one ready for opening day on Braidwood Lake

Opening day at Braidwood comes March 1.

It’s been a winter, at least since the New Year, and many of us are ready.

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

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

First week of February is here and gone.Weather seems to be on a pattern of warming up by Tuesday, only to see temps fall again by the weekend.One customer referred to this time as the Dog days of Winter, I’ve gotta agree.Fishing has been slow and always seems to be during mid-winter.But with the sun out a little longer each day, the colds aren’t as cold and better temps should bring better fishing as we move forward. Northern Pike:Good-Fair – A little slower than the previous week, but reports of some nice low 30 (32, 33 & 34) Pike over the weekend.Most anglers sticking to big shiners and suckers, but a few are suspending preserved smelt below their tip-ups for a shot at larger Pike. Yellow Perch:Good-Fair – Mud flats of 18-28’ this past week produced the best for anglers pounding the bottom with Halis, Pinheads and Kastmasters tipped with red spikes or wigglers.Some shallower (8-12’) weed action, but lots of smaller fish (4-6) mixed in with the fewer keepers (8-10) Largemouth Bass:Good-Fair – Not targeted as much, but anglers that are reporting action on 14-16 Bass on tip-ups baited with small to medium shiners.Also, jigging slender spoons tipped with minnow heads are effective. Crappie:Fair – Fish suspended Crappies holding 3-5’ off bottom in most instances (higher in a few), using small spoons that flutter on the fall, tipped with waxies.Tip-downs (when not too cold) working using rosies. Bluegill:Fair – Most anglers targeting weeds using mousses or waxies on dark jigs getting action, but once again, more small ones than keepers. Walleye:Poor – Still most reports (and that’s not many) are of Walleye bites (wouldn’t call it action) coming after dark, very sporadic.Suckers and large fatheads (or large rosies) being the best choices for bait as downsizing seems to be best for negative fish. Most reports of ice depth at 16-18+, though some lakes have thicker ice (those with lots of travel), but a few very large lakes and even some small lakes with springs are not safe for truck travel. This year’s inland lake gamefish season runs through March 6th, giving ice fishing game fish anglers four more weekends to get those flags flying. Kurt Justice Kurt’s Island Sport Shop - Like us on Facebook
Capt. Rich Sleziak texted that his buddy and his son did well Monday at Willow Slough. Provided photo

Capt. Rich Sleziak texted that his buddy and his son did well Monday at Willow Slough.

Provided

NORTHWEST INDIANA

Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station texted the photo to the left, and this:

Willow slough has been pretty good last few days gills and bass. Valpo chain of lakes giving up crappie in the evening on crappie minnows or glow jigs tipped with beemoth Few lake trout and some small coho being caught at portage river walk nothing hot and heavy yet but few fish being caught. Golden roaches and skein taking fish. Slez’s bait is still fully stocked with all ice gear. Open 5 to 5

I love the annual first reports of coho being caught on southern Lake Michigan. To me, it’s one of the first hints of spring is coming.

SHABBONA LAKE

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait said that a group that included Joe “The Fireman” Quinn and Jim “The Crappie Professor” Kopjo picked off crappie in the deep trees with jigs and plastics or Kastmasters Tuesday; ice is 13 inches.

Concessions are closed, reopening April 1. Site hours for February are 8 a.m.-6 p.m.

Gary Bloom with the bounty of ice fishing on Lake Poygan. Provided photo

Gary Bloom with the bounty of ice fishing on Lake Poygan.

Provided

WINNEBAGO SYSTEM, WISCONSIN

Sturgeon spearing opens Saturday and could run up to 16 days. Previous permits are required. Click here for more information on sturgeon spearing.

But there is other fishing, too. On Sunday, Gary Bloom emailed the photo to the left, and this from Lake Poygan:

Fished 3 days. 2 cold days.Today nice. Fish biting well. 5 Walleye 14 wh. Bass.1 -13 inch crappie.1 cat.5.5 ft. Water. Jigging spoon’s in hammered gold with red spikes.Fresh walleye tomorrow.

He added on Tuesday:

Great trip. Good mixed bag. [On Saturday] Sturgeon spearing opens. Upper lakes should do great, there is clear water, Winnebago water more cloudy.

Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:

Ice conditions are good with very little snow cover. Poygan bite has improved, early & late best for walleye. Winnebago & the up river lakes have slowed.

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