Preparing the Midwest Fishing Report, I can dream of the days when the lakefront looked like this, then snap back and remember that this is the busiest weekend of the year for organized ice fishing events.
This is the extended online version of the MFR, which appears on the outdoors page of the Sun-Times on Wednesdays. Normally, I post the online MFR by Wednesday morning.
If you have suggestions, post in the comments section or let me know at email@example.com.
Let’s get to the ice fishing events around Chicago fishing. And the weekend weather looks perfect for them.
SHABBONA LAKE DOUBLE
Site super Kerry Novak said the township helped plow on Monday, then the state scraped out more parking. So the rescheduled Rockfest (placement of structure) is Saturday morning. Saturday is a go for the late-night ice fishing. Ice fishermen need to be out of the park by 10 p.m.
WALK ON WATER CHARITY ICE EVENT
The annual fundraiser is 7 a.m.-noon Saturday out of Lindy’s Landing on Bangs Lake in Wauconda. Entry donation is $15 to Andrea Lynn Cancer Fund, 11 and younger free. Call (847) 526-9789 or click here.
CHAIN O’LAKES ICE FISHING DERBY AND WINTER FESTIVAL
It will be a busy weekend on the northern end of the Chain when the Northern Illinois Conservation Club holds its 51st festival this weekend. Headquarters are at Thirsty Turtle on Channel Lake with a satellite at Sandbar at Lake Marie. Call (847) 395-NICC or click here.
More people started getting out again the last few days. Considering the weather forecast for the weekend, this might be the best weekend of the winter for ice fishing. The best reports continue to come from local farm and retention ponds.
LOCAL PUBLIC ICE FISHING REGS: CHICAGO LAGOONS: Closed to all ice fishing. COOK FPD: Ice fish at your own risk on the designated ice-fishing lakes (4 inches is recommended): Arrowhead, Axehead, Beck, Belleau, Big Bend, Bode South only, Bullfrog, Busse main and south (no north pool), Flatfoot (new), Green (new), Horsetail, Ida, Maple, Papoose, Powderhorn, Saganashkee, Sag Quarry east and west, Tampier, Turtlehead and Wampum. DuPAGE FPD: Unless otherwise posted, it’s ice fish at your own risk on forest preserve waters. Spring Creek Reservoir in Bloomingdale is closed to ice fishing (fluctuating levels). Late-night fishing is allowed at Deep Quarry Lake in Bartlett (fishermen must be out of the preserve by 11 p.m.) KANE FPD: Ice fishing, at your own risk, is permitted at Lake Patterson at Oakhurst in Aurora and the various ponds at Burnidge in Elgin. LAKE FPD: Ice fishing is permitted at Banana, Independence Grove south bay and Sterling, when the ice is uniformly 4.5 inches thick and the area is posted as safe for fishing. Call (847) 968-3235 or go to the ice fishing page at lcfpd.org. McHENRY COUNTY CD: The McHenry County Conservation District allows ice fishing 8 a.m. to sunset at the Fel-Pro RRR, the Hollows (Lake Atwood and West Lake), Lyons Prairie & Marsh, Pleasant Valley, Rush Creek pond and Stickney Run pond at your own risk. SILVER SPRINGS SFWA: Ice fish at your own risk on both lakes (Loon and Beaver). The west entrance is closed in winter, the east entrance may be closed temporarily because of icing. WILL FPD: The forest preserve district does not offer ice fishing. WOLF LAKE: Ice fishing is at your own risk.
For an overview of nearby river conditions, click here. I included a Ken Gortowski rumination under the Fox, but did not post reports and for the Illinois and Kankakee, both of which are locked up in the extreme.
From licensed guide and trapper Phil Schweik and guide Glenn Moberg of Hooksetters Guide Service:
(Lead): Those grumbling about cabin fever should get up off the couch, get out and enjoy some of the best ice fishing that central Wisconsin has had in years. It’s that good!
The panfish bite in the central Wisconsin area has been unbelievably hot this winter, with limits of both slab crappies and bull bluegills coming on most every outing, and many times in a matter of an hour or two! The key to finding these late winter fish is to target the deep water flats in 12-16 feet of water. Work the very bottom with small ice jigs tipped with waxies or spikes for the bluegills, and then work the different depths on the water column for the crappies. The use of a flasher unit comes in very hand when
chasing crappies, as they are usually suspended and can change depths on a
daily basis, and will often be holding at different levels on different lakes. While the crappies may routinely hold one foot off the bottom on one lake, they may be suspended 5-7 feet off the bottom on another, and change throughout the day. It really pays to be versatile.
With winter moving on, the walleyes in the central Wisconsin area are just starting their migration towards traditional spring spawning destinations. Anglers looking to capitalize on this can look at targeting shallow, dark bottomed bays and creek inlets. Low light periods are good, with the early morning hours being the prime time to be out. Run your tip ups in 2-5 feet of water along the shallow channel edge or along contour breaks in the backs of shallow bays. Most of the time, run a good sized golden shiner about 4
to 5 inches long, or a small sucker minnow, about 6 inches to a foot off the bottom. Running the larger baits will eliminate catching all the “dinks”, and allow you more time to chase good sized eaters and the occasional giant marble eye. Don’t be surprised if you hook into a monster northern set up this way, as they inhabit the same general areas as the walleyes do at this time of the winter.
It’s “perch time” in the central Wisconsin area, and as usual the perch have started to move towards their later winter destinations. Shallow, stump strewn mud flats in 4 to 6 feet of water are what to look for. To target this prized panfish, start by drilling about 20 to 30 holes in the area you’ve targeted. This will allow you to move around as the school moves through the area, and by following the school, you can capitalize on the perch movement for a longer period of time, than by sitting at just one hole. “Hole hopping” as it’s called is quickly becoming premier method of chasing perch. For bait and tackle, run a light rod rigged with 2 to 3 pound test line down to a small ice jig. Purple and red are usually the best colors for perch, with orange working well, too. Tip the jig with spikes or waxies, and sometimes a minnow head, and move from hole to hole until you find them. After a few times you’ll begin to see a pattern as to how the fish are moving through the area, and can make a pretty good estimate as to how t move around to stay on top of the schools as they come through the area. There are some real nice jumbos being caught, as well as a good mix of eaters. There’s nothing better than a winter ice fishing season perch fish fry. Nothing!
CHAIN O’LAKES AREA
Triangle Sports reported bluegill the top bite, favorite is shallow on Channel, keep moving to find the schools. If fishing early or late, try for crappie suspended over deeper water. White bass (suspended deep) and walleye (try tip-ups shallower toward dark) remain good on Marie. Otherwise, try white bass on Mineola. Catfish are good on Channel and Catherine. For pike, try tip-ups along shorelines or near creek mouths. Try for perch in 8-12 feet on Marie.
For more reports, see http://www.foxlakefishing.com/
More Chain info at www.foxwaterway.state.il.us.
COOLING LAKES/STRIP PITS
LaSALLE: Reopening is up in the air because of a retirement. BRAIDWOOD/MAZONIA: Roads are open. Ice fishermen are out on Mazonia lakes. Braidwood reopens March 1. HEIDECKE: Set to open April 1 (CORRECTED, brain cramp, that a faithful reader caught the typo).
DELAVAN/GENEVA LAKES AREA, WISCONSIN
Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle reported some smaller perch on Geneva, but there’s some trouble walking with the snow. On Delavan, bluegills (take sorting) are being caught on the west end; there’s also some legal pike; however, snow has made parking options tougher.
SANGCHRIS: Guide Ken Wilson of Lithia Guide Service–(217) 454-2672–said plant is fired up again, so he expects ramps to be thawed by weekend. Put it this way, he is fired up enough, so to speak, that he will be there this weekend. POWERTON: Boat fishing opens Tuesday. Winter hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. COFFEEN: Wilson said crappie (find 62-64 degrees in back of bigger coves) and bass remain strong. EMIQUON: Emiquon Preserve near Lewistown is open to fishing. New permits are required for 2011. Between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. get them at the Dickson Mounds Museum in Lewistown. There is no fee. No gas powered motors are permitted, and bank fishing is not allowed. For more, call (309) 547-2730. EVERGREEN: Any updated fishing report will be posted here. SHELBYVILLE: Remains abnormally iced in. For info from the Corps, call (217) 774-2020.
FOX RIVER: WESTERN SUBURBS
Click here for a fishing report and rumination from Ken Gortowski.
GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN
From the WDNR report:
Green Bay Fishing Report: February 7, 2011
Voyageur Park has been producing some nice catches of perch lately, fishing just off shore jigging with minnows. Walleye are also being caught in the same area using jigging spoons tipped with minnows. Perch size has been reasonable while the walleye have been on the small size. Sunset Beach area has also been producing some perch although the bite has slowed some. Jigs and minnows or wax worms are a good bet.
Sturgeon Bay: Anglers fishing from the state park have found it slow going. The perch fishing has slowed down over the last week. A few fishermen have been targeting walleyes with limited success. Anglers have been reporting finding large schools of walleye but most have lock jaw. Little Sturgeon Bay: The angling pressure was very high over the last week or so, thus causing the bite to slow a bit. There still were very good catches of whitefish in 30 feet of water. Also the occasional perch are being caught. Sand Bay: Anglers have been finding good numbers of whitefish in deeper water. Most have been using a gold Kastmaster or Swedish Pimple tip with a minnow head or wax worm. Dyckesville: Fishing has been hit or miss over the last week with some anglers coming up big and others fishless. The best action has been with whitefish, most anglers targeting them with a jigging spoon at the bottom of the rig with a small jig tied 20 inches or so above tipped with a wax worm. Anglers have been finding some perch as well, with most being of good size. Chaudoir’s Dock: Fishing was good over the last week for whitefish, with the best fishing being in 25 feet of water. Volk’s Landing: Fishing has been slow, but anglers are still finding some perch and whitefish.
Fishermen in the Geano Beach area report some whitefish, perch, and pike being caught off shore. Oconto Breakwater Park is seeing its share of fishermen plying their trade for pike, perch and whitefish. Some perch fishermen have been driving out to the sucker hole and catching some larger fish. Pike fishing has been slow in the Oconto Parks area; large shiners and smelt are being used.
Fishermen are gathering at the Hattie Street Dam in search of walleye; early mornings and after dark are the best times to fish. Jigging Rap’s and Moon Glows are two good baits to try. 6th Street Slip fishermen are still catching perch, walleye and the occasional whitefish in about 18 feet of water.
LAKE ERIE: PORT CLINTON
For Ohio DNR report go to wildohio.com and or call (888) HOOKFISH.
Those challenging snow and ice found good perch at Navy Pier (some 10-inchers). Arden Katz said the trick is to bust holes at old holes; then minnows have been best for keepers. “Jumbo Jimmy” Baczek reported water clarity and perch fair at Montrose with access. Henry’s said another good perch spot has been on the north end of DuSable harbor. Other harbors take sorting for keeper perch. CHICAGO PIER PASSES: They are available at Henry’s. CHICAGO’S FISHERMAN’S PARKING: The $10 parking passes for the small fishermen’s lots at Burnham and DuSable harbors are available at Henry’s.
MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN
For D&S Bait, click here.
EAGLE RIVER: Creative Brilliance sent this report for the Chamber of Commerce:
(Lead): Ice conditions are generally good in the Eagle River area, but
travel can be tough in places, because of snow drifts and deep snow.
Northern action is good in the Eagle River area. Fish 15 feet of water or
less, in and around weeds. Use a large shiner or northern sucker minnow
under a tip up. All date bite.
Crappie and bluegills are providing a good bite in the Eagle River area, and
are holding near weeds in 15 feet of water or less. The crappies and gills
are both suspending in and around weeds. Use a crappie minnow or waxie for
the crappies, and a waxie for the bluegills.
Perch action is good in the Eagle River area. Fish 8-20 feet of water off
of break edges. The perch are holding tight to the bottom. Use a crappie
minnow, waxie or wiggler.
The walleye bite in the Eagle River area is fair. Fish 8-20 feet of water
off of break edges. Use a walleye sucker or a small shiner under a tip up.
Evening is providing the best action.
(Report for the Eagle River Chamber of Commerce based on Creative Brilliance
interviews with Eagle River guides “Muskie Matt” of Wild Eagle Lodge,
“Ranger Rick” Krueger of Guide’s Choice Pro Shop, and Mat Hegy).
Contact info for Eagle River:
* Eagle River Chamber of Commerce; 800-359-6315; 715-479-6400; e-mail:
firstname.lastname@example.org; web: www.eagleriver.org
* “Muskie Matt”, 715-891-5980; e-mail: email@example.com
* Mat Hegy, 715-571-7544, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
* Guide’s Choice Pro Shop, guide/owner “Ranger Rick” Krueger 715-477-2248
* George Langley, Eagle River Fishing Guides Association, 715-479-8804.
MINOCQUA: Guide Kurt Justice of Island Sports sent this:
A good weather, participation and cooperation by fish made for a great weekend (topped off by a Packer Superbowl victory)!
Mid daytime temps in the mid to upper 20’s lured anglers out and reports were generally good.
Walleye: Good to very good. Lots of big fish caught this past week. Fish of 25-30″ with the weeks best fish of 30″, 10 1/2#s caught on #9 Jigging Rapala and 31″ 10 3/4#s caught on a tip-up with a big sucker. Jigging raps in the #7-#9 sizes accounted for most of the big fish. Anglers jigging at dark and just before dawn setting up on offshore humps of 6-18′ surrounded by 30-40′ depths best. Eaters of 15-20″ coming in earlier to tip-ups baited with shiners or jiggers using #5 raps.
Northern: Good-Very Good. Tip-ups baited with large shiners accounting for most of the larger pike being caught. Good reports of 28-32″ fish with some to 37″ this weekend. Anglers reporting finding pike feeding heavily on small young of year gills in shallows of 6-8′. Warmer weather has probably helped to draw bait fish in – pike to follow.
Perch: Good-Very good. Mud flat anglers reporting good catches of 8-10″ fish over mud in 18-26′ depths. Hali jigs, flickers, #2 pimples, small Tungsten jigs to drop wigglers or red spikes down quickly when schools move in. Small rosies on tip-downs also effective. Anglers also catching big perch (but not numbers) in 6-8′ weeds feeding on small young of year bluegills. Match the hatch with a Northland Forage Minnow jig in similar pattern tipped with waxie or minnow head.
Bluegill: Good. Bite spread out during day. Moussees, waxies on #10 Moon glos in purple, black, red. Gills seem to have moved back into weeds after being vacant during cold spell. Concentrate on 6-10′ cabbage. Fish 2-4′ off bottom, at times at weed tops.
Crappies: Fair-Good. As with gills, some sign of activity in weeds. Tip-downs with minnows under slip-floats. At dusk, fish transition breaks along 18-22′ edges with tip-downs and rosie reds for big crappies.
It was good to have such an active weekend. Lots of reports of nice fish and limits for the panfish anglers. Ice thickness averaging 20-24″ and with most snow south of us, access remains great. Reports are for cold mid week to highs in the low 30’s for weekend. Should be another good one.
Mik-Lurch reported a few browns at discharges from shore. There’s some bluegill at Willow Slough.
ST. JOSEPH AREA, MICHIGAN
Click here for BJ Sports.
See top for Saturday doings. For reports, click here.
SOUTHEAST WISCONSIN LAKEFRONT
From the Wisconsin DNR Lake Michigan Report:
Southern Lake Michigan Fishing Report: February 7, 2011
In Kenosha anglers in Simmons Island Marina have been catching occasional brown trout on spawn. Anglers have been fishing through the ice near the docks, as well as in the open water near the railing on shore.
In Racine, much of the Root River is iced over. There has been evidence of anglers ice fishing downstream near the 6th Street and Marquette Street bridges, as well as in the Racine harbor. Use extra caution, as conditions can change quickly. Fishing has been relatively slow in the harbor, but some steelhead have been caught further upriver on spawn set close to the bottom.
In Milwaukee open water can be found in the lower stretches of the Menomonee River and canals, and there is some limited open water under the Hoan Bridge near Jones Island. The Milwaukee River mouth and harbor are covered in broken up ice floes. The lagoon behind Lakeshore State Park and McKinley Marina are iced over, but fishing in both of those locations has been relatively slow.
In Port Washington, the area near the power plant discharge provides good winter open water fishing opportunities. Brown trout and steelhead have both been caught near the power plant on spawn fished on a three-way rig.
In Sheboygan, much of the marina around the Deland boat launch is iced over. Ice anglers have been working the areas around the docks, but fishing has been generally slow. Please use extra caution out on the ice as conditions can change rapidly.
Ray Hinton reported jigging up nice bass and pike on Tuesday on the Illinois side. Mik-Lurch seconded pike reports on Illinois side.
CHICAGO AREA CHAT/REPORTS
CHICAGO AREA INFO
MICHIGAN DNR REPORT
WISCONSIN DNR REPORT
IOWA DNR REPORT
INDIANA DNR REPORT