Midwest Fishing Report: Coho, perch and variable ice

Coho and perch on southern Lake Michigan and variable ice conditions inland lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

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Tom Spence hoists a smallmouth bass from the Kankakee River with Bob Johnson.

Tom Spence hoists a smallmouth bass from the Kankakee River with Bob Johnson.

Provided

Coho and perch on southern Lake Michigan and variable ice conditions inland lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

Bob Johnson sent the photo at the top, a reminder that in this mellow winter river fishing is coming around quickly.

SOUTHERN LAKE MICHIGAN SALMON/TROUT

Weather will be the big factor the next few days.

Quinn Wunar with a limit of coho on the Chicago lakefront Monday. Provided photo

A limit of coho on the Chicago lakefront.

Provided

Monday evening, Quinn Wunar tweeted the photo above and this:

Went poking around for trout today after slamming some coho past couple trips out. Bad news, no trout, good news limit of Chicago coho. They’re moving up! Steelhead skein 2ft down. 10yds or so off the rocks.

Jason “Special One” Le with the results of a very special day for coho in Indiana. Provided photo

Jason “Special One” Le with the results of a very special day for coho in Indiana.

Provided

Jason “Special One” Le texted the photo above and this from a very good outing Sunday in Indiana:

Dale coho gonna be great this year

That would be wonderful. I am just concerned that with the warmth of the winter, the coho may fly north faster than normal.

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

Coho action at portage Riverwalk and Michigan city pier has been good most days using skein, squid, shrimp and crawlers.

Coho action on brad’s thinfish for trollers fishing in and out of the mudd line at portage and near Gary light.

SOUTHERN LAKE MICHIGAN PERCH

When weather allows, perch fishing continues on.

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Jeffrey Williams messaged the photos above and below on Sunday:

Nice lil haul from 87th st, my brothers biggest was shy of 14 in

Jesse Gonzalez with jumbo perch from the North Slip. Provided by Jeffrey Williams

Jesse Gonzalez with jumbo perch from the North Slip.

Provided by Jeffrey Williams

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

When the wind allows boats to get out to 55 to 60ft straight out of portage and west towards Gary light perch fishing has been very good.

Perch action fishing the slip is still pretty good most days. Some groups even fishing at night over there doing good.

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.

STURGEON

Michael Egger celebrating his 154-pound, 79.5-inch F2 female at the Southwest Winnebago registration station. / Photo Credit: Wisconsin DNR  Saturday.

Michael Egger celebrating his 154-pound, 79.5-inch F2 female at the Southwest Winnebago registration station.

Wisconsin DNR

Sturgeon spearing on Wisconsin’s Lake Winnebago may run the entire season through Sunday, Feb. 26. unless one of the caps is hit in the next couple days. The Upriver Lakes closed on Saturday after a cap was hit. Previous permits are required.

ICE FISHING

Ice fishing is so varied around Chicago, those reports are within individual reports below.

AREA LAKES

South waters are open or opening; north is mainly in some stage of in-between (lot depends on what happens with the ice or rain tomorrow and wind).

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:

Ice is leaving us fast! Still had a handful of people on crystal lake yesterday.

BRAIDWOOD LAKE

With Braidwood Lake reopening to fishing next Wednesday, March 1, many of us are looking forward to seeing the slag heap, Torino Hill, again. Credit: Dale Bowman

With Braidwood Lake reopening to fishing next Wednesday, March 1, many of us are looking forward to seeing the slag heap, Torino Hill, again.

Dale Bowman

Reopens next Wednesday, March 1. My column is on the basics.

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Proprietor Greg Dickson at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said ice is in between.

NOTE: Check updates on water conditions at foxwaterway.com or (847) 587-8540. Might be a week to pay attention to this.

COOLING LAKES

Heidecke, LaSalle and Braidwood are closed, but Braidwood reopens next Wednesday, March 1.

DOWNSTATE

POWERTON: Boat and shore fishing is open. Hours through April 30 are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. daily.

EMIQUON PRESERVE: Fishing is sunrise to sunset. Access permits and liability waivers 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: Back to regular hours.

HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Closed for the season.

FLORIDA

Capt Dan Zier, fishinkeys.com, mate Zane and Dan’s 7-year-old son, Christopher, with eight tuna and nice snapper on a trip. Provided by Bruce Zolna

Capt Dan Zier, fishinkeys.com, mate Zane and Dan’s 7-year-old son, Christopher, with eight tuna and nice snapper on a trip.

Bruce Zolna

Bruce Zolna emailed the photo above and this on Monday:

Tom P and I and 3 KW friends did a late trip yesterday with Capt Dan Zier, fishinkeys.com, mate Zane and Dan’s 7-yr old son, Christopher, worked hard for these 8 tuna and nice snapper. My big one on the far left didn’t make it to the gaff thanks to a big Cuda or shark that got the back half. What a jungle in the water.Bruce

I’m envious.

FOX RIVER

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:

. . . A fair amount putting in boats to fish walleye at the McHenry dam. Some channels on the river have open areas and guys are catching crappies and bluegills.

George Peters with a redfish from southern Florida. Provided photo

George Peters with a redfish from southern Florida.

Provided

George Peters emailed the photo above and this:

Hi Dale, fishing is good in S. Florida. Redfish like this and sea trout taking a variety of lures. Gulf of Mexico water temp. At 70 degrees and will go up from here. Good to see an early spring on the way! G. Peters

GREEN LAKE AREA, WISCONSIN

Guide Mike Norris emailed:

Fishing Report – 2/20/2023

Mike Norris

Big Green Lake – Warm weather accompanied with brisk west winds reopened the center of the lake. Most anglers pulled their shacks off the lake and are just walking out from Sunset Park to areas with safe ice along the east end of the lake, parking near the beach area on Lawson Drive and walking out into Dartmouth Bay. Smaller lakes with better ice thickness remain the best option for hard water anglers.

Fox Lake – The Fish Tales Fishery was held just over a week ago and every category was filled with big fish. The access areas to the lake suffered though due to the number of users. With warm weather this past weekend there were reports of ATV’s going through the ice at or near the access areas. If you opt to walk out you will find that the crappies are good on jigs and minnows in the central basin of the lake. Northern pike are also good in the Government area and in the Jug. Walleyes are active at night off Maple Point. Try tip-ups baited with medium and large shiners for both the pike and walleye. Bluegill action is heating up in the Jug. If heading out to Fox Lake stop by Fish Tales on State Route 33 for updated fishing reports and the latest on ice conditions.

GREEN/STURGEON BAYS, WISCONSIN

Lance LaVine at Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay said perch fishing is very good in shallow bays, lots of good pike action in the bays, too.

HEIDECKE LAKE

Closed. Scheduled to reopen April 1.

KANKAKEE RIVER

Bob Johnson emailed the photo at the very top and this:

Hi Dale - made it back out to Kankakee River Sunday with Tom Spence. We caught 8 feisty Smallmouth bass on a couple different baits. Bass were caught on Rapala Rocco along with jigs. River is clear and temps right at 40 degrees. We also had a Walleye up to the surface but lost it at boat.

LAKE ERIE

Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.

LAKEFRONT

Perch and coho reports at the top.

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor said they are still waiting on the word when they will reopen.

Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop in Waukegan texted:

Not alot of reports, looks like steelers out of NP. Just not many reports. Our winter hours are coming to an end, back to work soon. Packing up for SU swap meet this saturday

LaSALLE LAKE

Closed. Scheduled to reopen March 15.

MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN

Arden Katz said good bluegill continue on Monona Bay. It takes sorting, but there are bluegills to 9 inches. He was fishing in 5-6 feet of water and jigging down to near the green weeds with waxies or red spikes. He thought ice fishing should last another two weeks.

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

MAZONIA

Hours are 6 a.m. to sunset.

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

Brian Athern with the crappie that tied his personal best. Provided photo

Brian Athern with the crappie that tied his personal best.

Provided

Brian Athern emailed the photo above and this from an outing on Sawyer Lake in Langlade County:

Tied my PB crappie in WI this past weekend with the assist going to my buddy Jake in the other picture with 11 inch rock bass. Also my buddy Ricardo who gave up his spot after catching a couple smaller crappies. And I quote Brian! You gotta hit the HONEY HOLE BROTHER!. Fish were caught in 22 feet of water suspended at 14 foot. Ice jigs and crappie minnows and off the bottom with wax worms. Ice still about 14 or so inches.

Thanks

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

A great holiday weekend for ice anglers in the Northwoods. Last week’s rain froze up to create good, if not slippery, travel on most all lakes. Some lakes the snow had melted and refroze to a sheet of skateable ice. Cleats were a necessity for getting around. Combining the warm temps (upper 20’s to low 30’s), with a three-day weekend and a New Moon proved a winning combination.

Largemouth Bass: Very Good – Rarely targeted, and not typically as active in winter, but with the stars lining up just right lots of Bass action. Mostly on tip-ups and medium shiners, though jig anglers looking for Gills reported catching lots of surprises to 20!

Yellow Perch: Very Good – Mud basin Perch were found in 25-35’ of water stacking up, feeding on Mayfly larvae (wigglers). Anglers using Pimples, Kastmasters, Halis and Buckshot Rattle spoons tipped with wigglers or spikes. Weed relating Perch taking Z-Vibers and T-Rips tipped with waxies in 6-10’ cabbage.

Crappie: Good – As with Perch, two different locales. Basin schools in 25-40’, roaming the open water taking #3 ultra light Rippin Raps or small Rattlin Kastmasters tipped with spikes. Anglers finding some nice Crappies in 10-12’ narrow leaf cabbage taking small rosies on tip-downs, but holding fairly tight to the bottom.

Walleye: Good – Best bite surprisingly in morning for some (New Moon!?). Mid-morning action on bars and saddles as loose schools roam from deep to humps to feed. Suckers, shiners on tip-ups (smaller better) and jigging spoons working well.

Northern Pike: Good – Had some mixed reports, but overall good action on tip-ups with large shiners.

Bluegill: Good-Fair – More of the action/sorting reports than anyone talking good overall catches.

While ice thickness continues to improve (22-24 avg), truck travel is becoming better across many lakes. Biggest concern is coming snow forecasted for this Wed/Thur – great for bubble heads – not for bucket butts! If right, we are supposed to see 12-14+ snow. If this happens, ice travel will be relegated to snowmobiles, tracked UTV’s and trucks. Will wait and see!

Also…only two weekends left to the Wisconsin inland lake game fish season here, so try to get out while you can.

Upcoming Ice Fishing Tournaments

Feb 25th – Northwoods Chapter of Muskies Inc. – Kids Ice Fishing Day

Feb 25th – Newbold Fire Department – 2nd Annual

Mar 4th – KISS Highschool Ice Fishing Tournament

Kurt Justice

Kurt’s Island Sport Shop - Like us on Facebook

NORTHWEST INDIANA

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

Coho action at portage Riverwalk and Michigan city pier has been good most days using skein, squid, shrimp and crawlers.

Coho action on brad’s thinfish for trollers fishing in and out of the mudd line at portage and near Gary light.

When the wind allows boats to get out to 55 to 60ft straight out of portage and west towards Gary light perch fishing has been very good.

Perch action fishing the slip is still pretty good most days. Some groups even fishing at night over there doing good.

Crappie action fishing Lake George in Hobart under the Wisconsin street bridge. Minnows and Rufus jr jigs tipped with waxworms have been best.

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

Hi, Dale! Hope you’re enjoying the mild weather. Here’s what’s been happening:

Fishing on the south end of Lake Michigan is really heating up well with this nice weather. Lots of limits of Coho & Perch are being caught; spawn/squid/nightcrawlers & beemoths are doing well respectively.

Inland lakes anglers are starting to catch some Crappies; red worms doing well.

SHABBONA LAKE

February hours are 8 a.m.-6 p.m.

Boondocks is closed

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN

Tommy Cwiok with a big walleye from the Grand River in Michigan. Provided by A.J. Cwiok

Tommy Cwiok with a big walleye from the Grand River in Michigan.

Provided by A.J. Cwiok

Capt. A.J. Cwiok messaged the photo above and this from an outing on the Grand River with his twin Tommy (who will soon be a captain, too):

My brother showed me up big time last night. 30 inches right on the head!

Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said coho have been very good off the pier when the weather allows.

Paddle and Pole hosts the Berrien Springs Fish Ladder Camera.

WINNEBAGO SYSTEM, WISCONSIN

Sturgeon spearing season could run through Sunday, Feb. 26, on Lake Winnebago. The Upriver Lakes closed Saturday. Previous permits required.

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:

Only area lake with vehicle traffic is Partridge. After sturgeon season, the lower lakes are unsafe. ATV travel only. The bite is still good for perch and bluegill. Northern action is good, remember the season closes Sunday, March 5th.

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