Seeking safe ice, variable perch: Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report
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Perch continue to be better in the rivers than the harbors and slips on the Chicago lakefront and Ice is very iffy at best in Illinois, look more north of the Wisconsin line for ice fishing; those two threads lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.
Dennis “Bigbo” Ocasio sent the photo above and this explanation:
Hey Dale me and a buddy of mine hit the Chicago River up this is our catch for the past 2 days I’m very happy with that Chicago River lol happy New year enjoy your holiday
Getting it done.
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.
A bit of ice fishing hangs on in a few places to the north around Chicago fishing, check individual reports for updates but in general you will need to think areas north of the Wisconsin line for fishable ice.
Click here for the regulations for public sites in the area.
Most consistent bite is the Chicago River, shore or boat, or the Calumet for boaters. See Dennis “Bigbo” Ocasio above.
Arden Katz said lots of perch, though they take sorting, are being caught from the Riverwalk on the Chicago River from Wabash and east.
Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station, Ind., which is open 5 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, texted:
Perch in river but way up past 95th all the way towards ford plant guys in boats doing good
Henry’s Sports and Bait 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.
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 park downtown for fishing; otherwise find street parking or small lots.
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.
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).
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).
Ice fades back, but spotty fishable ice hangs on in a few spots north. Areas south are open water or partially open, as Ken “Husker” O’Malley noted in his report:
Hey Dale,Here is a recap of this past week’s fishing.Area Lakes-Open water fishing continues on southern lakes not sheltered from wind. Focus on outside weedlines using small roaches under a slip float for bass and an occasional crappie. Using circle hooks for this presentation is a must. And yes, I was using a Thill float.TTYLHave a Happy and safe New Year!!—Ken “Husker” O’Malley
Waterwerks fishing team
Click here for the updated regulations on ice fishing around public sites in Chicago fishing.
One of those weeks where it might be good to check, but then if you’re river fishing this time of year, you’re probably experienced.
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
Closed for the year.
It’s one of the perch hotspots, especially for boaters. See perch report above.
CHAIN O’LAKES/FOX RIVER BACKWATERS
Arden Katz said that Nielsen’s Channel still had fishable ice in the protected back, but it was heavily pressured and the panfish were small.
Art Frisell at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said that wind and rain wreaked havoc on the ice (a few iffy fishable iced backwaters) and some are even open-water fishing.
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.
Capt. Pat Harrison at Pat Harrison Outdoors sent this:
Chicago River Report,
Let me start with saying Happy New Year, I Hope 2019 brings you all you and your families look forward to. Well I went out yesterday for a ride on the river more than fishing to end the 2018 season. I was surprised at the number of anglers out Perch Fishing and there were Perch being caught. The couple spots I was going to try had folks fishing them from above as far up as a guy casting from in front of the Apple Store. I know this is due to the bite being off at Navy Pier. This is the first season that I have seen anyone be able to fish that side of the river. Please everyone do your part to keep the areas you fish clean. Baits I heard are working Fathead minnows on a Crappie rig one about 8’ off bottom and one about 16” off. Small spoons with a single hook tipped with a waxie, spike or minnow. I’ll add I like to tail hook my minnows and clip the top tail fin off it changes their equilibrium and makes them shake a lot.
The ice season is off to a slow start this year in Illinois for sure Please Be Safe when getting out. My gear is all set and ready for the season just waiting for it to be Safe. Note I ice fish for my enjoyment I done guide on ice. One of the reasons is I can pretty much fish the river year round if it does freeze its only for a week or two. With the top and side curtain on the boat and the buddy heater it is nice and toasty inside step out on the decks fish a few minutes step back in to heat.
I am adding a few other destinations for 2019 that will be posted on my website www.PatHarrisonOutdoors.com and on Facebook Pat Harrison Outdoors – Fishing Adventures. Lastly I would Like to Thank Dale for staying on top of all the stories of the outdoors all year and for giving me the opportunity to share a bit of my Passion with other Anglers.
Happy New Year, Capt. Pat
Pat touched on what a weird year it is turning out to be.
CASTLE ROCK, WISCONSIN
Tim Baker sent this report:
Happy New Year!
Castle Rock: We parked our car and walked out of a bar called the ‘Dirty Turtle’ on the south end of the lake. Targeting Walleye, we headed straight out to the old river channel and joined the flock of shanties that positioned themselves strategically along brush piles following the winding river. The line of shanties and anglers positioned so tightly and unusually reminded me of a giant, slithering snake thrown across a frozen lake.We fished tip-ups baited with shiners and suckers along the main channel anywhere from 15-18 feet of water. We had two flags pop but missed both opportunities. Aside from that, we landed nice 9” bluegill and a few whitebass. Honestly, it was sort of a bust so we decided to make the most of the day and leave Castle Rock to fish a small local lake in hopes to end our afternoon with a couple slab panfish.
DELAVAN LAKE, WISCONSIN
Tim Baker sent this report:
Happy New Year!
Lake DelavanSome walkable ice has been reported in the inlets with limited success from the angles that I have heard from. This week calls for nightly temperatures to drop below freezing followed by a brief warming trend over the weekend, hopefully, this will continue ice building on Lake Delavan but please, use caution. Fishing tip-ups in the inlets along weed edges while jigging wax worms while watching my flags is where I’d be on Delavan right now. That is likely where you will find the safest ice and also actively feeding fish. Good luck!
DES PLAINES RIVER
Tim Baker sent this:
Happy New Year!
Des Plaines River
Anglers were out in the early morning hours of 2019 trying to catch their first fish of the year along the DPR in the South Suburbs. The River was high and no one had caught any fish by that point but, I admire the anglers for being out there on an unusually drab morning. Look for warm water discharges, eddies, and creek channels this time of year and remember to slow down. Good luck and please send any river reports or catches to email@example.com for a feature. Tight lines!
POWERTON LAKE: The cooling lake in Pekin is open for shore fishing, hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. LAKE SHELBYVILLE: Check with Ken Wilson of Ken Wilson Guide Service. REND LAKE: Check with Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing.
Larry Dozard of Larry’s Fishing Hole sent this update on closures and fall/winter hours at some Downstate sites:
* 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 seasonCLINTON 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. 31stDOUBLE T STATE FISH and WILDLIFE AREA:* THIS LAKE IS CLOSED TO FISHING – . . . till Feb. 1stEMIQUON 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 BAYIS 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. 31PRAIRIE 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. 15thRICE 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, 2018SPRING 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.
FOX RIVER: WESTERN SUBURBS
FOX RIVER, WISCONSIN
GENEVA LAKE, WISCONSIN
I could use somebody to give winter reports.
GREEN BAY/STURGEON BAY
No update from Lance LaVine at Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay.
Click here to see the Wisconsin DNR’s Lake Michigan Fishing Report.
Closed for year.
Projected to crest at flood on Wednesday at LaSalle.
Check with B&B Live Bait in Ottawa at (815) 433-0432.
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:
Rivers little high now but before that some good steelhead caught lil cal and salt creek spawn and voodoo jigs tipped with butterworms
NOTE: Beginning at noon Saturday, the Kankakee River Rats holds its inaugural banquet at Aroma Park Boat Club. Dennis Wyllie gave these details. Matt Mullady will be the keynote speaker. They will be serving BBQ Pulled Pork and sides prepared by Ol’ Pokes BBQ. There will be presentations and awards. Admission is $15 presale, $20 at the door. Donations are being accepted for the raffles.
Click here to see the Wisconsin DNR’s Lake Michigan Fishing Report. It generally comes out Tuesday.
See perch at top. Park Bait is closed for the winter. Snagging season is over.
Closed to fishing.
MADISON CHAIN, WISCONSIN
Tim Baker sent this report:
Happy New Year!Madison Area Lakes: After loading the car back up at Castle Rock we headed straight for a small lake which is known for a strong Panfish population. I know this particular lake well and immediately set us up a newly found honey hole. This particular spot is on a breakline sitting on the inside swing of a main lake point. The drop off was sitting between both a weed-bed and the old creek channel that runs through the manmade lake. Using waxworms and fathead minnows we ended up catching around 15 bluegills, crappie, and perch all found swimming between 12-15 feet of water. The mission was a complete grind but it was in good company on good water which is a win in my book any day.
Closed to fishing, except for Monster Lake at Mazonia South, which is open year-round to fishing.
Click here to see the Wisconsin DNR’s Lake Michigan Fishing Report. It is generally out Tuesdays.
Kurt Justice of Kurt’s Island Sport Shop in Minocqua, Wis. emailed this:
Been a great Christmas / New Year week for ice anglers. Access to lakes is excellent and the little snow (2-3”) we received last week got washed away by the following rain. A light snow after the rain put a little grip to the ice. Low night times temps in the single digits added a little thickness. Could be my age, but still can’t recommend driving trucks or cars till ice thickens to 14-16”, but with forecast the middle of this week of highs in single digits, That may not be far off.
Walleye: Very Good The past four days have reports of good action on tip-ups using suckers for bait. Jigging Slab Raps, jigging Raps, Flutter spoons and slender spoons have also been working as the fish have been aggressive in 12-18’ from 3:30 -7pm and again pre-dawn till 8ish.
Crappies: Very Good Bite has been on as anglers utilizing tip-downs with small minnows reporting nice slabs of 11-13”. Slow dropping lethal Cecils tipped with waxies as well as #4 tungsten jigs with bright colored plastics working best.
Northern Pike: Very Good Flags popping from early morning on. Big shiners and suckers run along 8-14’ weed edges best.
Yellow Perch: Good In weedy flats use bulk on your jigs to try to keep the smaller perch off. Out over mud flats pimples and venam glow jigs tipped with spikes on wigglers.
Largemouth Bass: Good Medium shiners on tip-ups and jigs with waxies meant for crappies and gills.
Bluegill: good Lots of “action” gills this week. Work a tungsten jigs (#3 or #4) with piece of red, purple or motan oil colored plastic tight to bottom to entice larger gills. Cabbage flats of 6-10’ best.
After several spotty weekends of ice fishing, it was great to hear anglers having such good success. Despite a few reports of quads and snowmobiles going through in areas of questionable ice, overall has been mostly good, solid ice cover.
Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station, Ind. texted:
Rivers little high now but before that some good steelhead caught lil cal and salt creek spawn and voodoo jigs tipped with butterwormsPerch in river but way up past 95th all the way towards ford plant guys in boats doing goodGuys from shore is spotty hit or miss everyday is differentAgain water lil high now but some good catches of crappie under 249 bridge must move around a lot but some days it’s really good jigs with waxworms or plain gold hooks with fatheads
ROCK RIVER, ILLINOIS
ROCK RIVER, WISCONSIN
ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN
The Wisconsin DNR’s Root River Report is usually out Tuesday or Wednesday. Click here to see it.
ST. JOSEPH, MICHIGAN
No update from Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor.
ST. JOSEPH RIVER, INDIANA
Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR.
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
Check with River’s Edge.
WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN