Some holiday fishing forecasts, including crappie going Downstate, the fading ice fishing in nearby areas and variable and improving perch-fishing reports lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

Considering the weather forecast for the rest of the month (year), head north for ice fishing and river fishing is more of an option.

Or head south for crappie fishing, such as the photo above from Ken Wilson of Ken Wilson Guide Service of Kevin Dozier and a friend with crappie from Lake Shelbyville.

The condensed Midwest Fishing Report appears Wednesdays on the outdoors page of the Sun-Times newspaper. The sprawling raw-file report is posted here online on the Sun-Times outdoors page.

ICE FISHING

Ice fishing fades back around Chicago fishing, check individual reports for updates but in general you will need to think areas north of Chicago or even north of the Wisconsin line for fishable ice. I updated the regulations for public sites in the area. Click here for that.

LAKEFRONT PERCH

Boaters continue to do best, because they can move around in the Calumet River and Cal Harbor and on the main stem of the Chicago River downtown. Shore fishermen would do well to follow that mantra of moving around.

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait said, “Perch starting to go again.” Steadiest is along the Riverwalk for shore fishermen. Some are being caught again at 87th, but take sorting, the harbors remain spotty.

Henry’s, which has regular hours of M-F 6:30 a.m.-7 p.m., Sat. 6 a.m.-7 p.m., Sun. 6 a.m.-5 p.m., will be closed on Christmas..

Capt. Rich Sleziak  at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station, Ind., which will be open 5 a.m. to noon Christmas, texted:

Perch from 92 st all the way past 100th street for guys in boats move around ul find some perch fly rigs xl fatheads best

Guys fishing on shore really hit or miss catches vary a lot but some being caught up along river navy peir still dirty fishing tough there

The Anglers Outlet  with regular hours of Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-7 p.m., Saturday 6-5, Sun. 6-3 is now at its new location 17036 Oak Park Ave. in Tinley Park, a couple blocks north of Freddie Bear Sports. Anglers Outlet will be closed on Christmas.

Park Bait is closed for the winter.

ACCESS/PARKING OPTIONS FOR PERCHING CHICAGO LAKEFRONT

Here are some parking and access notes for winter perch fishing. Information on parking passes and pier passes is below under separate headings.

Several guys have said the parking app, Spot Hero, has been working well for them while trying to find parking downtown for fishing.

Montrose Harbor has plenty of free parking within easy walking. . . . At Navy Pier, check in at the parking office in the east lot, then be out by 10 a.m. sharp for $6 parking. . . . For DuSable Harbor, use the small fisherman’s lot. . . . At Burnham/Northerly Island, use the Burnham fishermen’s lot or meter parking north of the old terminal (on days with no events at Soldier Field or the music pavilion). . . . Only legal fishing at the slip north of 87th is on the east end at Steelworkers Park. Plenty of free street parking. The slip at 89th is private property.

PIER PASSES

Selected piers in the Chicago harbors–Montrose, Belmont, Diversey, DuSable, Burnham, Jackson–are open to fishermen with a pier pass. The $6 passes are available at Henry’s Sports and Bait and Northerly Island (credit card only and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday).

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Sample pier pass.
Provided by Chicago Park District

PARKING PASSES

Passes ($10 for two months) for parking at the two small fishermen’s lots at DuSable and Burnham harbors are available at Henry’s Sports and Bait and Northerly Island (credit card only and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday).

AREA LAKES

Ice fades back, even lots of open water south, and the long-term forecast suggests that will continue through the rest of the year, but some spots may hold fishable ice to the north and west through the holiday. Click here for the updated regulations on ice fishing around public sites in Chicago fishing.

AREA RIVERS

Click here to find river closures listed by the Illinois DNR. Go to http://water.weather.gov//ahps2/index.php?wfo=lot to check area water levels and projection. To get to more specific gauges, even on creeks, in Illinois, go to http://waterdata.usgs.gov/il/nwis/current/?type=flow

BRAIDWOOD LAKE

Closed for the year.

CALUMET SYSTEM

It’s one of the perch hotspots, especially for boaters. See above.

CHAIN O’LAKES/FOX RIVER BACKWATERS

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Ice fishing on the Chain O’Lakes on Dec. 18, 2018.
Provided by Art Frisell

Art Frisell at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch  sent the photo above from Tuesday morning and said that there was still some ice fishing going on the south end of Channel and the back channels; but it is touchy and he stressed that creepers are essential. Definitely time to check before going.

Eariler Tuesday, Brad Irving at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said that the closest good ice was just across the Wisconsin line at Eagle and Twin Lakes.

Check updates at Fox Waterway Agency or (847) 587-8540 for more information.

STRATTON LOCK AND DAM: The lock is closed through April 30. Click here for more info on the lock and dam.

CHICAGO RIVER

Capt. Pat Harrison at Pat Harrison Outdoors sent this:

Chicago River and Lake Michigan Report,

  Well the talk of the week is Perch, Navy Pier is still slow to none but the River is getting busy with folks out perching. I have one favor to ask of everyone Please keep the Riverwalk clean. People are finding trash from some people that are leaving it behind. The Riverwalk if the Jewel of the City on the Riverand is a Tourist distention for a lot of them not as much through the winter but there are still people in Chicago year round. This past open season I had people on the decks of my G3 Boat from over 20 states and 5 countries. That makes me Pretty Proud of “Our City”.

I was out last week with a couple fellow River Rats Oscar and Jeff we fished by boat and had some fun. The bite was Good had to sort a lot of dinks but managed about 30 9” or better Perch a nice Crappie and a Nice gill. It was fun to be out and to see all the anglers enjoying Our Riverwalk. We were staying over fish on the locater and pulling Minnows Wax worms and Shrimp through them. My boat has a full top with curtains and heat so I am guiding throughout the winter as long as we don’t get ice. If you’re interested in getting out feel free to contact me.

  II grew up on 23rd Street and Damen Ave. went to Whittier School then to Cooper Upper Grade Center. As a kid we would play along the River My Mom would say don’t touch the water you’ll get polio. If you threw a branch in the water back then it would hit the surface and thump and stick there. If someone would have told me in 50years your going to be guiding on this river I would have said you’re nuts.

  I spent 10 years fishing the river to learn it with help from Jeff Bridgeport Bass and Eddie Bridgeport Eddie to be able to get it to a point where I felt comfortable about my knowledge of the river and were I could find fish. I have to tell in the past 5 years the river has changed a ton in a very positive way.  When you can spend a day multi species fishing in the Heart of a major City on a River that most People don’t understand or spend enough time to learn about is Awesome. Most judge it for what it was not what it is, it is an incredible Metropolitan Fishery. Friends of the Chicago River have done a ton to improve the waterway including some stocking work Thank You.

So that’s it treat the River like it’s yours because it is, go catch some Perch and Take Pride in fishing on a body of water that is in the History Books as one of the mechanical Wonders of the World. Yep when Chicago reversed the flow of the Chicago River it was a Historical Event it had never been done before. So now you know when People say I wouldn’t eat fish out of that water it’s the same water that is surrounding Navy Pier Pure Lake Michigan water. I will say that the flow slows down after about Ashland so the water is murky and isn’t quite as pretty but there is still wild life and fish.

Have A Merry Christmas ,Capt. Pat

DELAVAN LAKE, WISCONSIN

Tim Baker sent this:

Lake Delavan

The ice conditions are not safe on Lake Delavan. Do not fish until we receive cooler weather. Be safe and fish with a friend during unstable conditions.

DES PLAINES RIVER

Tim Baker sent this:

Des Plaines River

The river water temp continues to drop with USGS water temp readings at 39 degrees in Channahon. River fishing can be hot throughout the winter months for anglers willing to fish through rough conditions. Fish will relate to deep holes, current breaks, and feeder creeks during witner months while feeding less often. Focusing on your river ‘Honey Hole’ may be a better bet than running and gunning this time of year.  There are also a handful of warm water discharges on the Des Plaines River and they all contain fish during the winter months. Slow moving artificial presentations or live bait under a slip bobber is never a bad choice on the Dirty D. Good luck and be safe out there!

DOWNSTATE NOTES

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Full view of Kevin Dozier right) and friend with a mess of crappie from Lake Shelbyville.
Provided by guide Ken Wilson

LAKE SHELBYVILLE:  Ken Wilson of Ken Wilson Guide Service said crappie are going on the north end of the lake, shallow in 8-10 feet on cork and jig around laydowns; the lake is ice free; and some muskie are being caught below the dam. He said he counted 64 trailers out the other morning.

REND LAKE: Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing said crappie are being caught in 12-14 feet on smaller jigs or double-jig rigs around bridges, drop-offs and channel drops. He added, “As soon as you find them, stay on them.”

POWERTON LAKE: The cooling lake in Pekin reopens to shore fishing on Monday, hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

Larry Dozard of Larry’s Fishing Hole sent this update on closures and fall/winter hours at some Downstate sites:

BANNER MARSH:
* THIS AREA Will CLOSE TO BOAT FISHING on Oct. 17th. With the Last Day to Boat Fish being Oct. 16th
AND BANK FISHING ONLY ALLOWED AFTER 1PM but NO FISHING ALLOWED in EAST POINT ACCESS AREA, 
(lakes to the East) which is CLOSED TO ALL FISHING to provide a GOOSE REFUGE AREA during season
CLINTON LAKE:
An easterly area of Clinton Lake (The Waterfowl Refuge Area) between the DeWitt Bridge East (CH14) 
and the Rt. 48 Bridge . . . remains Closed typically until April 1st.
COFFEEN LAKE:
During the Central Zone waterfowl season: No fishing north of the railroad tracks (upper pool) 
until after 1pm daily through Jan. 31st
DOUBLE T STATE FISH and WILDLIFE AREA:
* THIS LAKE IS CLOSED TO FISHING – . . . till Feb. 1st
EMIQUON PRESERVE:
No boating, fishing or ice skating access before 12:00 pm during waterfowl hunting season.
Oct. 27 – Jan. 31
Lake users should be aware that hunting might occur on the Preserve other times as well.
EVERGREEN LAKE:
– A SOUTHERN PART OF EVERGREEN LAKE – AROUND DEER ISLAND and ALL OF SIX-MILE CREEK BAY
 IS CLOSED TO GAS from Oct. 15th through JAN. 1st to allow resting areas for migratory waterfowl.  
YOU ARE ALLOWED TO STILL RUN A TROLLING MOTOR ONLY IN THESE AREAS.
HENNEPIN-HOPPER LAKES:  * Lakes are CLOSED for season.. And will be Open spring 2019.
McMASTER LAKE at – SNAKEDEN HOLLOW:
Lake will CLOSE TO FISHING on Oct 15th . . . Lake will Re-Open on February 1st.
NEWTON LAKE:
As written in the fishing regs booklet : * The cold arm of Newton Lake shall be CLOSED daily 
 from one-half hour before sunrise until 1:00 pm to all fishing and boat traffic except for 
legal waterfowl hunters during waterfowl season commencing with regular duck season through 
the close of the Canada goose and regular duck season.
* For here – Regular South Waterfowl Season for 2018: Nov. 10 – Jan. 31
PRAIRIE LAKE in Jim Edgar/ Panther Creek State F&W Area:
Lake Partial Closures during Waterfowl Season from Nov. 1st to Jan. 15th 
Lake access is CLOSED until after 12:01 PM on Wednesday & Saturday.
POWERTON LAKE:
*- Lake Will RE-OPEN to Shore Fishing on Dec. 24th
– but – Will Remain CLOSED TO BOAT FISHING Until Feb. 15th
RICE LAKE: 
Will Re-Open at end of Duck & Goose season.
SANGCHRIS LAKE:
* THE WEST & EAST ARMS OF LAKE and Small AREA NEAR DAM WILL CLOSE DURING WATERFOWL SEASON to boat traffic . . . through Jan. 31, 2018
SPRING LAKE (South & North):
Last Day of Boat Fishing in Hunting Areas is Oct. 19th 
 As – THIS AREA will CLOSE TO BOAT FISHING in Hunting Area on Oct. 20th
— with BANK FISHING ALLOWED ONLY AFTER 1pm–
– AREAS THAT REMAIN OPEN TO BOATS ALL DAY ARE NORTH OF MAPLE ISLAND with ramp at 
 north end at the Sky Ranch Road launch and IN PIKE HOLE with carry in boats —
and Shore Fishing is allowed in entire lake after 1pm in Hunting areas or at boat ramps all day.

DuPAGE RIVER

No update.

FOX RIVER: WESTERN SUBURBS

No update.

FOX RIVER, WISCONSIN

No update.

GENEVA LAKE, WISCONSIN

I could use somebody to give winter reports.

GREEN BAY/STURGEON BAY

No update this week from Lance LaVine at Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay.

Click here to see the Wisconsin DNR’s Lake Michigan Fishing Report.

HEIDECKE LAKE

Closed for year.

ILLINOIS RIVER

I checked with B&B Live Bait in Ottawa–(815) 433-0432–and not much to report.

INDIANA STREAMS (LAKE MICHIGAN TRIBUTARIES)

Access points for Trail Creek can be found on the Trail Creek Access Map. Access points for Little Cal and Salt Creek, which are closer to Chicago than Trail Creek, may be found at littlecal_saltcreek_access.

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

Steelhead action decent lil cal and salt creek spawn or voodoo jigs tipped with butterworms or waxworms doing the damage cover water move a lot find the active fish some beauty’s being caught

KANKAKEE RIVER

Kyle Lund sent this update:

The Kankakee is a bit high for this time of year and is hold in the upper 30’s. We have been seeing some smallies being caught fairly regularly by guys fishing walleye with live chubs under a bobber. Walleye have also picked up a bit with the above average weather. It’s not a great bite but if you fish the flats next to holes during primetime (half hour before first light and last hour of light and half hour into dark) you will find success. The key is to slow down and be there. Don’t expect to be rewarded your first time out. If your in an area and there are walleye they will eat maybe not tonight or tomorrow but they will eat if you put in your time. Ice is still a distant dream at this point so river fishing will be the focus till after the holiday.

KENOSHA, WISCONSIN

Click here to see the Wisconsin DNR’s Lake Michigan Fishing Report. It generally comes out Tuesday.

LAKE ERIE

Click here for bag limits and prospects for the season from the Ohio DNR. The Ohio DNR has general Lake Erie info and a fishing report.

LAKEFRONT

See perch at top. There’s the occasional laker and other trout, especially around the South Side of Chicago.

Park Bait is closed for the winter.

SALMON SNAGGING: Snagging season is open at four spots on the Illinois lakefront. Here is the word from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources:

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).

C) Winnetka Power Plant discharge area.

D) Jackson Harbor (Inner and Outer Harbors)

LaSALLE LAKE

Closed to fishing.

MADISON CHAIN, WISCONSIN

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Wisconsin ice fishing.
Provided by Tim Baker

Tim Baker sent the photo above and the report below:

Madison Area

I ventured north this weekend and fished a small lake near the Wisconsin Dells with my younger brother. While the entire lake was frozen over, we fished the shallow bays for two reasons: The ice was thicker in the bay (around 6 inches of solid ice)  and the fish were there.

Thanks to a good lake map we had a specific spot picked out prior to my getting on the ice. The area we choose was a secondary point just inside of a bay off the main lake. We started drilling holes along a steep breakline and it didn’t take long for us to start marking fish. This specific spot happened to sit near a creek channel that runs from the main lake into a shallow back bay. We primarily fished in 14-17 feet of water but also caught fish as shallow as 8 feet. While the fish were spread across various depths, the sweet spot seemed to be15 feet of water. We used small tungsten jigs with paired with either artificial plastics or wax worms. Our day ended around sunset where we had just shy of a two-man limit of panfish. The haul consisted of Crappie, Bluegill along with two rogue Perch.  The Crappies were a bit more choosey while suspending in the water column and the bluegills came off the bottom, aggressively. As always, good luck on the hardwater this season, stay dry!

Otherwise, check updates for D & S Bait on Facebook.

MAZONIA

Closed to fishing, except for Monster Lake at Mazonia South, which is open year-round to fishing.

MILWAUKEE HARBOR

Click here to see the Wisconsin DNR’s Lake Michigan Fishing Report. It is generally out Tuesdays.

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

Kurt Justice of Kurt’s Island Sport Shop in Minocqua, Wis. emailed this:

A long mild stretch of weather halted ice production for the time being.  Night time lows firming things up for morning anglers, but afternoons are a little sloppy.

Access pretty good overall for foot, ATV and snowmobile traffic.  Travel over mid portions of lakes with any type of vehicle not advisable on the larger lakes, but overall averages of 8-10” seem to be the norm.

Walleye:  Good-Very Good – After last weeks tough weekend, things have turned around. Better reports as fish feeding again.  Jigging Raps, Slender Spoons, Northland Glo Spoons and Clam Flutter Spoons effective.  Tip ups baited with suckers over sandgrass flats and mud transitions from hard drops in 14-18’.  One hour before dark till one hour after.  About 8-9 PM and again from hour before dawn till about 8 AM best.  Good reports of eaters plus several reports of 26-28 ½” Walleyes this past week by the after work crowd, all releases, thanks guys!

Northern Pike:  Good-Very Good – Best action dawn till late morning.  Cabbage flats and along edge using big suckers on slab shiners.  Decent numbers of eaters (22-26”) but several 34-39” “gators” caught and released also. 

Yellow Perch:  Good-Very Good – Most reports are of numbers, but sorting to get a meal or two plus lots of fun!  Venom Glow Spoons, Pimples and Kastmasters tipped with spikes or wigglers.  With warm (above freezing) temps, tip-downs have worked very well baited with small fatheads or rosies.

Crappies:  Good – Best slow dropping plastics (Duppies, Wedgees) on rockers, moon glows. Tip-downs with minnows good also.  Hold tighter to base of tall cabbage in 8-12’ for larger slab (12’13”) Crappies.

Bluegills:  Good – Small lead jigs, (popular on calmer days) tipped with waxies or plastics producing “action” Gill, with sorting required to get some eaters.

Largemouth Bass: – Good – With warmer temps, anglers catching Largemouth on tip-ups baited with shiners and even smaller jigs baited with waxies.

As much as anglers are enjoying these daytime highs in the 30’s, and even low 40’s, many of us would like to see some sub-zero temps to get a good base of 14-16” of ice before snow arrives.  Fortunately, no snow in near forecast and night time lows in upper teens will help keep what we have.

Fishing has been good, and with friendly temps, and not a lot of ice to cut, it’s a great time to get out on the ice.

Kurt Justice
Kurt’s Island Sport Shop
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NORTHWEST INDIANA

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

Perch from 92 st all the way past 100th street for guys in boats move around ul find some perch fly rigs xl fatheads best

Guys fishing on shore really hit or miss catches vary a lot but some being caught up along river navy peir still dirty fishing tough there
Steelhead action decent lil cal and salt creek spawn or voodoo jigs tipped with butterworms or waxworms doing the damage cover water move a lot find the active fish some beauty’s being caught
Need a big cold front to get any ice going again

I think that last sentence applies to more than northwest Indiana.

ROCK RIVER, ILLINOIS

No update.

ROCK RIVER, WISCONSIN

No update.

ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN

The Wisconsin DNR’s Root River Report is usually out Tuesday or Wednesday. Click here to see it.

ST. JOSEPH, MICHIGAN

Staff Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said evening walleye are going from Berrien Springs dam to the first bridge; and there are a couple whitefish being caught off the pier.

ST. JOSEPH RIVER, INDIANA

Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR.

SHABBONA LAKE

Lakeside–(815) 824-2581–is closed for the season (reopening when ice fishing comes).

Park hours are 8 a.m.- 5 p.m. through Jan. 31.

SOUTHEAST WISCONSIN LAKEFRONT

For the Wisconsin DNR’s Lake Michigan Fishing Report, click here to see it. Streams flow info is at http://waterdata.usgs.gov/wi/nwis/current?type=flow.

WINNEBAGO SYSTEM, WISCONSIN

No update.

WISCONSIN DELLS

Check with River’s Edge.

WISCONSIN RIVER

No update.

WOLF LAKE

No update.

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

No update.