Waiting on ice or waiting on spring, take your pick

Waiting on ice to rebuild or waiting on spring lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report; at least perch on southern Lake Michigan continue going.

SHARE Waiting on ice or waiting on spring, take your pick
Jesse Gonzalez with some of he jumbo perch caught at the North Slip (85th) on Monday.

Jesse Gonzalez with some of he jumbo perch caught at the North Slip (85th) on Monday.

Provided by Jeffrey Williams

Waiting on ice to rebuild or waiting on spring lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report; well, and perch are still being caught at the South Sides and other places on southern Lake Michigan.

See the photo at the top, sent by Jeffrey Williams of his brother Jesse Gonzalez.

ICE FISHING

The updated ice-fishing regulations for public sites around Chicago are posted here, might actually need them in some places later this week.

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

Jeffrey Williams messaged the photo at the very top on Monday and this:

Ik ur gonna get alot of reports from 87th so ill add on

Between 3 of us, we caught 30+ perch ALL JUMBOS

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

Action at the slips and in the river still good most days. Rosie reds and xl - fathead minnows best.

When u can make it out good quality perch being caught in deeper 50 to 55ft of water straight out of portage and towards the west. You must move around find the spot.

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

Some northern lakes already have a few adventurous sorts venturing out for ice fishing; while south of the city, there’s still open water.

Dave Kranz of Dave’s Bait, Tackle and Taxidermy in Crystal Lake and with his You-Tube channel, Dave Kranz Living the wild outdoors, texted:

Winter weather is back! The temperatures here in Northern Illinois look like the coldest of the season over the next couple of weeks. I have a few customers fishing on the ice on small ponds and shallow bays as of this report. I am sure the next several days will make ice in more places. Always use common sense when making the decision to go on the ice.

That last sentence is key.

Crappie caught in open-water fishing in January. Provided by MaryLou Buchhaas

Crappie caught in open-water fishing in January.

Provided by MaryLou Buchhaas

MaryLou Buchhaas messaged the photos above and below, and this:

Dale.. Got these two last week from our Shorewood pond...no need to wait til hard water comes again.

She makes a good point.

Bluegill caught in open-water fishing in January. Provided by MaryLou Buchhaas

Bluegill caught in open-water fishing in January.

Provided by MaryLou Buchhaas

Ken “Husker” O’Malley of Husker Outdoors emailed the photo below and this:

Hey Dale,

Here is a recap of this past weeks fishing.

Area lakes-open water opportunities exist until winter makes a return.

Bass have been slow overall. Live bait options are the best. Large fatheads or medium roaches under slip floats will take a few reluctant biters.

Bluegill are decent in the main basin with small ice jigs tipped with multiple spikes.

Here is the nature pic of the week.

TTYL

Ken Husker O’Malley

Husker Outdoors Waterwerks fishing team

Even in a mild winter, the stark beauty of winter shows up. Credit: Ken “Husker’ O’Malley

Even in a mild winter, the stark beauty of winter shows up.

Ken “Husker’ O’Malley

That’s a helluva nature photo.

BRAIDWOOD LAKE

Closed, but I know some people are literally counting the days until the opener on March 1.

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Kyle Tepper at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said not enough ice yet, but there will be soon.

ICE-FISHING ACCESS: Because I suspect it will be needed later this week, some options for access to ice: Choppers Bar and Grill (Channel), $5, taken off bill if you patronize; Sandbar Bar & Grille (Marie), $10 or patronize; The Boatyard (Marie), $5, dropbox or online, call ahead for bait or snacks; Hermann’s Rest-A-While (Nielsen’s Channel), $5, food, drink; Lily Bug Acres (channel between Bluff and Spring), $5, bait shop, maybe a shuttle service later in the season; Musky Tales (Channel), $5 includes trailers, open 24 hours, bait shop currently closed during renovations; Pelican Bay Marina (Marie), $5, dropbox, plowed and lighted lot; Oak Park Lounge (Pistakee Bay), $5 ($10 with trailer), park in top or middle lots.

COOLING LAKES

Heidecke, LaSalle and Braidwood are closed.

DOWNSTATE

POWERTON: Bank fishing is 8 a.m.-4 p.m. daily. Boat fishing reopens Feb. 15.

EMIQUON PRESERVE: Fishing is sunrise to sunset. Access permits and liability waivers are required, remember they expired on Dec. 31 and new ones are needed. 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:

Bank fishing and boat fishing at Spring Lake after 1:00 during the late Canada Goose season.

HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Closed for the season.

GREEN LAKE AREA, WISCONSIN

Guide Mike Norris emailed:

Fishing Report – 1/22/2023

Mike Norris

Big Green Lake – Simply put, it is a ghost town on the lake. Where there is ice, it is not safe to walk on. Anglers have pulled their shacks off the lake. Forecast is encouraging though with the temperature trend tilting downward. By the end of this week we should be making good ice with daytime temperature only reaching the teens and single digit lows during the evening hours.

Lake Puckaway – The middle of the lake is ice free again following the inch of rain we had last week. Where there is ice along the shoreline, I’d recommend foot travel only. Both a truck and an ice house broke through the ice during the last’s weeks ice derby. Where ice is safe enough to walk on, northern pike are still biting medium and large shiners on tip-ups during the day. Try fishing out from Miller’s Resort or Good Old Days. The best walleye bite remains during low light into the evening.

Fox Lake – Several nice northern pike and a bunch of crappies were caught early last week by ice fishermen working tip-ups over the main basin of the lake. The shallow water panfish bite in both the Government and The Jug areas is slow. Very unusual for this time of the year. I recommend foot travel only where there is ice. Wisconsin Elite Ice Tourney scheduled for last weekend is rescheduled to February 25th.

Beaver Dam Lake – Ice is sketchy in spots and the walleye bite has slowed.

GENEVA LAKE

Kyle Tepper at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said some are catching walleye trolling on Geneva Lake.

HEIDECKE LAKE

Closed. Scheduled to reopen April 1.

LAKE ERIE

Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.

LAKEFRONT

Perch report at the top. Some steelhead (see Jingchen Zhu’s Fish of the Week) and lake trout, too, especially as bonuses for perch anglers, at Chicago harbors and the South Side slips.

LaSALLE LAKE

Closed. Scheduled to reopen March 15.

MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN

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

Arden Katz reported about 8 inches of ice in Monona Bay with outstanding bluegill (some 9-inchers), but it takes sorting, by jigging down a tungsten jig with red spikes or wax worms

MAZONIA

In case ice rebuilds enough, remember Ice fishing is at your own risk.

Hours are 6 a.m. to sunset.

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

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

Things changed some in the Northwoods as 8-10 of new snow last Thursday (1/19) slowed travel on lakes. The slush seems to be getting worse each day, most lakes that don’t get a lot of traffic are the worst as the snow has insulated the slush from freezing. Stick to well-traveled trails and away from the fluffy stuff.

Bluegill: Good-Fair – Once on, not a bad bite, it was the moving from spot to spot that kept catches down. Fishing 8-12’ weeds, 1-2’ up off bottom using #3 tungsten jigs tipped with waxies or spikes. Larger Gills biting best early morning and late afternoons.

Crappie: Good-Fair – Deep water Crappies in 24-35’, 6-12’ off bottom. Schools roaming! Rattle jigs (Kastmasters) tipped with spikes or tip-downs with small rosies. Bites vary as effects of new snow and varying barometer seems to have dictated willingness to bite. Weed Crappies of 8-12’, tall weeds moving up and down water column, (barometer) holding 4-6’ up off bottom to tight. Use Lethal Cecils tipped with waxies or rocker jigs tipped with plastics.

Yellow Perch: Good-Fair – Basin Perch over mud flats in 20-30’. Use wigglers or red spikes on #2 pimples or #25 Hali jigs. Check just outside weed edges of 10-14’ also for small schools of roamers.

Northern Pike: Fair – Action slowed from previous week. Tip-ups with shiners best. Very little other techniques reported on.

Walleye: Fair-Poor – Dusk along weed edges of 8-14’ using 3 suckers or redtails. The good jigging rap bite of last week seemed to have stopped following snow. Getting out on bars and humps of 16-24’ where surrounding water is 30-40’ deep is best.

Forecast looks to be changing temperature wise as our incredibly mild January seems to be fading away into the reality of a real Northwoods winter. Over night temps in the negative degrees come weekend hopefully will dry and freeze things up, making travel easier. Maybe even opening up some of our lakes to truck travel (fingers crossed!)

Shout out of congratulations to our local High School ice fishing team on winning last Saturdays Ice Tournament on Lake Minocqua. Great Job Team!

Kurt Justice

Kurt’s Island Sport Shop - Like us on Facebook

NORTHWEST INDIANA

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

Action at the slips and in the river still good most days. Rosie reds and xl - fathead minnows best.

When u can make it out good quality perch being caught in deeper 50 to 55ft of water straight out of portage and towards the west. You must move around find the spot.

Steelhead action going on in all nwi tributaries. Voodoo jigs tipped with waxworms best.

Crappie action on Wisconsin st bridge on lake George in Hobart. Rosie reds and regular size crappie minnows doing best.

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

Hi, Dale! Looks like we’re gonna be getting ice soon, with the drop in temperature coming up. Here’s what’s been happening with fishing in our area:

Coho & Whitefish are starting to show up at the piers around Michigan City & east to St. Joseph; anglers are using spawn.

River fishing has slowed down some, but guys are still catching Steelhead.

Perch fishing in the slips on Lake Michigan & local lakes is still moderate; rosy reds, beemoths, & spikes are working well.

ROOT RIVER

Kyle Tepper at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said guys catching are catching browns in the Root River and in the harbor.

SHABBONA LAKE

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

Boondocks is closed

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN

Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said steelhead are good in the river; a few whitefish off the pier.

Paddle and Pole hosts the Berrien Springs Fish Ladder Camera.

WINNEBAGO SYSTEM, WISCONSIN

Sturgeon spearing season opens Feb. 11. Previous permits required.

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:

No vehicle traffic on area lakes, ATV only. Not much to report, not many venturing out

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