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Variable ice, perch, holidays: Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report

Resized/Sun-Times

Christmas Eve on the Kankakee River between Aroma Park and Momence.
Dale Bowman/Sun-Times

Places with ice seem to be holding it, especially north of the Wisconsin line, and perch are variable around the Chicago lakefront for this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

And it is holiday time. I took the photo above on the Kankakee River Christmas Eve on the way to my mother-in-law’s with two of the boys.

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 hangs 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 Chicago or even north of the Wisconsin line for fishable ice. Looking at the forecast, I wonder about the rain and wind forecast for later in the week.

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. Click here for an account of my trip last week with Ken Schneider and Tom Palmisano.

Shore fishermen would do well to follow that mantra of moving around.

Staff at Henry’s Sports and Bait said some were being caught at Diversey Harbor, but that dirty water is still keeping the bite tough at Navy Pier and 87th. Henry’s 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.

Capt. Rich Sleziak  at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station, Ind., which is open 5 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, texted:

Guys in boats fishing past 95th st up towards 100th st and farther in boats doing good with perch moving around a lot

Shore fisherman it’s hit or miss with a lot of slower days

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

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.

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, but hangs on a few spots north. Areas south are open water, 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 is back. Crappie and bluegill were decent using a chartreuse PowerBait whipworm ice plastic under a slip float.  Work the bait along the outside weedlines. Best bite was on sunny days mid afternoon.
Merry Christmas to you and your family.
TTYL
Ken “Husker” O’Malley
Husker Outdoors
Waterwerks fishing team

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 perch report above.

CHAIN O’LAKES/FOX RIVER BACKWATERS

If the forecast wind and rain come later in the week, conditions will obviously change, but as of Tuesday morning, there was ice fishing to be had.

Over the weekend, Arden Katz said there was still 3 1/2 to 4 inches of ice on Nielsen’s Channel; where there’s good ice fishing for bluegill, which take sorting, and some crappie.

On Monday, Brad Irving at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said they were ice fishing the south end of Channel, some back channels and bays, and the edges of Loon. North of the Wisconsin line, ice conditions are better.

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:

This past week as most of us know the lake was not Friendly for getting out to fish. In fact from Chicago Illinois to Michigan City Indiana it took 4 lives. These were not fisherman but it is a wake up call for all of us. Lake Michigan can be a friend or foe in a minute. Please pay attention to everything around you when your out.
The Perch bite dropped off a bit I think it’s more weather related than anything else. I would think we should see a rebound. There are still some folks scratching out some keepers but their working for them.
The Trout and Salmon bite is pretty good up north of us right now. It may be worth a ride across the border to Kenosha, Racine or Milwaukee harbors they are jigging up some nice fish.
Hope everyone has an Excellent Christmas. Enjoy the time with family and friends. I’m out this coming week for one trip then the next time out will be New Years Day with my Brother and my sons.
Capt.Pat

DELAVAN LAKE, WISCONSIN

Tim Baker sent this report:

Delavan

Anglers were out recently fishing the inlet but still continue to use caution as inconsistent weather can lead to weak spots. Travel on foot and bring a friend. Tip-Ups and early ice tactics will be the best bet. The water in the shallow inlets should still be warmer compared to the main lake to chances are the bite will still be on in shallow inlets and channels.

Tim Baker

DES PLAINES RIVER

Tim Baker sent this:

Des Plaines

I fished a tributary of the Des Plaines on Christmas Eve for a few hours before I had to head to Mass with the family. Landed one small pike on a piece of cut bait that looked to be around 21”. The fish hit hard but did not put up much of a fight but that didn’t matter to me, that quick encounter was all I needed.

That whole idea of Christmas Eve fishing is just wonderful. It reminded me that to this day I have not caught a Christmas Day smallmouth bass from the Kankakee, as Ed Mullady suggested years ago.

DOWNSTATE NOTES

LAKE SHELBYVILLE:  Ken Wilson of Ken Wilson Guide Service said last week that crappie were going on the north end and lots of boats were out.

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

POWERTON LAKE: The cooling lake in Pekin  is open for shore fishing, 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

Lance LaVine at Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay sent this update on Wednesday:

The Perch fishing can be good once we start seeing safe ice form in bays around Door County.  Sawyer Harbor, Little Sturgeon and Riley’s bay are generally the first bays to freeze up since they are the shallowest and are very good 1st ice areas to target Perch

The Pike fishing is also going good for the very few fishermen that are targeting them.  Casting and trolling crank baits, spinner baits and large plastics all good options along with soaking some sucker minnows from the docks in and around the harbors north of Sturgeon Bay.  And as far as ice fishing…those same 3 shallow bays will produce some good numbers of Pike once we get safe ice cover along with some of the protected marinas in town.

There is still some Brown Trout action going on from the docks in and around the harbors to the north of Sturgeon Bay.  Folks have been casting spoons and plugs with some moderate success.  With that said, the trolling bite can be really good too if you can take the frigid temperatures and battle the floating ice chunks.  And again, once the ice forms, concentrate your efforts around all of those marinas from Sturgeon Bay north to Sister Bay

The Walleye bite however will require some time to start back up with ice condition needing to improve greatly to reach the areas the fish reside during the ice season. Sherwood Point, Henderson’s Point, the Potawatomi Park shoreline along with the vast shoreline to the north and south of Sturgeon Bay all good areas to target Walleyes during the ice season. Concentrate your efforts along the primary shoreline drop-offs along those areas once we get safe ice.

Thanks;

Lance LaVine

Howie’s Tackle
1309 Green Bay Rd
Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235
Ph: 920-746-9916

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

HEIDECKE LAKE

Closed for year.

ILLINOIS RIVER

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:

Steelhead same hit or miss some being caught  lots of groups out trying with mild weather voodoo jigs still best but spawn taking fish too

KANKAKEE RIVER

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Matt Mullady with a smallmouth bass caught on artificials from the Kankakee last week.
Provided

As of Monday, the river was in decent condition. Matt Mullady said he was still catching some smallmouth on artificials as of last week, as witness this photo his son Mick sent.

If Kyle Lund sends an update, I will add it.

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. Haven’t heard much on lakers or other trout recently. Park Bait is closed for the winter. SALMON SNAGGING: Snagging season ends Monday.

LaSALLE LAKE

Closed to fishing.

MADISON CHAIN, WISCONSIN

The fishing report from D & S Bait on Friday indicated good bluegill on Monona Bay with about 4 inches of ice; there were some walleye over deeper water on Waubesa, a few perch on Kegonsa and Cherokee Marsh has 4-5 inches of ice but spotty fishing.

D & S Bait can be followed 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 little snow just in time for Christmas! After last weeks warmer spell, just enough cold the past four days to firm things up and even make a little more ice.

Not as much ice as we would like, can’t recommend truck travel yet, but enough in most places for A.T.V. and snowmobile travel.

Crappies: Very good,

Shot up the charts this past week! Moving up and down the water column depending barometric pressure. On super lows fish tight to bottom. On days moving up finding crappies as high as 3-3 1/2’ below ice. Tip-downs with rosie and small crappie minnows been tops when things slow, dropping rockers tipped with white or yellow plastic (weeds of 12’ less) or tungsten jigs (#4) tipped with waxies working.  Keep eye on locator to find fish surprisingly high in water column some days.

Walleye: Good – Very Good

Night bite has been best (dusk till 10pm) Set tip-ups on weedy bars of 6-10’ as eye’s move in as it gets darker. Suckers, shiners best on tip-ups. Jigging, flash Bangs, Glo Spoons and Rippin Raps producing.  Early morning, 2 hrs before sun up till sun up also good, same areas.

Northern Pike: Good- Very good

Tip-ups baited with big shiners or suckers. A few active anglers jigging Slab Raps and #5, #6 pimples dressed with minnow heads.

Yellow Perch:  Good

Up in weed areas stick to Vinglas, Slender Spoons tipped with minnow heads or waxies. For deeper perch Venom Inferno Spoons (1/16 – 3/32) Kastmaters and #2 pimples baited with wigglers or Red Spikes.

Bluegill:  Good

Small #14-#12 JIGS (Dingle Drops, Larva jigs and Hackle Jigs tipped with spikes or red, purple or root beer colored plastics.

Largemouth Bass:  Good

Tip-ups with medium shiners. Anglers reporting bass to 18” on jig/grubs meant for gills.

Watching weather for possible snow, don’t want any heavy wet stuff yet, need to see some more ice before we get the snow. Most lakes reporting 6-10+”, but caution due to last weeks warm up still advised 

Kurt Justice
Kurt’s Island Sport Shop
Like us on FaceBook

NORTHWEST INDIANA

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

Guys in boats fishing past 95th st up towards 100th st and farther in boats doing good with perch moving around a lot

Shore fisherman it’s hit or miss with a lot of slower days
Steelhead same hit or miss some being caught  lots of groups out trying with mild weather voodoo jigs still best but spawn taking fish too
Will be open 5 till noon tomorrow and back to 5 to 5 regular hours after that
Merry Christmas dale and family

Tis the season.

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

Phil Schuman at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said there’s some steelhead in the river and a few whitefish off the pier; for ice fishing, head north.

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

Guide Bill Stoeger said there’s some good ice fishing for bluegill and some pike on Partridge and the bays and bayous around Fremont; they are back to walking the ice on Poygan.