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Midwest Fishing Report: Lakes and rivers around Chicago fishing

Perch in on the Chicago lakefront, ice fishing in northern Wisconsin and the melt back of ice fishing around Chicago (but hopes for the weekend) highlight this Midwest Fishing Report.

I will usually post the sprawling, raw-file online version of the MFR, which appears condensed on the Sun-Times outdoors page, generally by Tuesday evening.

If you have suggestions, tweet @BowmanOutside or email


The new hotspot–the slip north of 87th Street–is packed with a lot more fisherman than the couple when I took the photo above. Arden Katz estimated there were 200 fishermen there on Sunday. Even boaters have been doing well going into the slip.

Steve Palmisano at, at Henry’s, noted that some of the best and most widespread winter perch action keeps going on the Chicago lakefront. Katz put it best, “If you want perch for the freezer, I would get there before the front [late Thursday].” He said the biggest average perch were at the slip north of 87th; lots were in Diversey, but smaller there. Others are doing well in the river at 82nd and 95th. Palmisano said action comes and goes at Navy Pier.


Capt. John Reddy (9 a.m.), Warren Scaman and Jim “The Crappie Professor” Kopjo (11 a.m.), and Bill Modica (1 p.m.) headline an ice-fishing seminar Saturday at Lake Michigan Angler in Winthrop Harbor.

Go to for event details.


Staff at Triangle Sports & Marine said open-water fishing around current areas (Route 12 for example) is best for crappie and walleye. Otherwise, it is waiting on ice fishing to return this weekend or early next week.

Just in case ice fishing does return, I have reported Chain access below.

NOTE: Check Chain updates at or (847) 587-8540.

For more reports, see


T-Channel: Famous Freddie’s. Channel: Chopper’s Bar, $5 parking taken off if food ordered. Spring: Granny’s, $5 parking taken off if food ordered. Nielsen’s Channel: Hermann’s Lowlife Bar & Grill, $5 parking, wax worms, food, drink. Ackerman’s Channel: Try Port O’Blarney. Marie: Sand Bar and Grille, free if patronize the place; when thicker ice comes, Barnacle Bob’s is the spot. Petite: Hideout, $5 (box up soon). Pistakee: Oak Park Lounge, $4 parking. Loon: Pay launch fee. Deep: Once ice thickens, Jack & Lydia’s Resort.


While ice fishing disappeared over the past few days, I am rerunning the updates and reminders regulations on area public sites:

CHICAGO LAGOONS: Not allowed. COOK FPD: Ice fish at your own risk: Arrowhead, Axehead, Beck, Belleau, Big Bend, Bode South only, Bullfrog, Busse main and south (no north pool), Flatfoot, Green, Horsetail, Ida, Maple, Papoose, Powderhorn, Saganashkee, Sag Quarry east and west, Tampier, Turtlehead and Wampum. DuPAGE FPD: Ice fish at your own risk. Spring Creek Reservoir is closed to ice fishing (fluctuating levels). Late-night fishing is allowed at Deep Quarry Lake in Bartlett (fishermen must be out of preserve by 11 p.m.) KANE FPD: Ice fishing, at your own risk, at Lake Patterson, various ponds at Burnidge. LAKE FPD: Ice fishing is permitted at Banana, Independence Grove south bay and Sterling, when area is posted as safe for fishing. MAZONIA SFWA: Monster Lake is open year-round for open-water or ice fishing. Ice fishing at your own risk. Other lakes open after hunting. McHENRY COUNTY CD: Sites listed for ice fishing when appropriate: Fel-Pro RRR, the Hollows (Lake Atwood and West Lake), Lyons Prairie & Marsh, Pleasant Valley, Rush Creek pond and Stickney Run pond. SILVER SPRINGS SFWA: Ice fish at your own risk. Use east entrance. WILL FPD: No ice fishing allowed.


Go to to check area water levels and projections. Probably a good week to do this again.

To get to more specific gauges, even on creeks, in Illinois, go to


No update from Hooksetter’s Guide Service.


No update from Jeff Nolan of Bridgeport Bass.


MAZONIA: Fishing is closed, other than Monster Lake at Mazonia South stays open for fishing year round. BRAIDWOOD: Closed to fishing. LaSALLE: Closed to fishing. HEIDECKE: Closed to fishing.


No update.


Marcus Benesch sent this report:


I headed south on Turkey Day, south Des Plaines that is. Joliet/Rockdale to be exact. Fishing a warm water discharge I was able to wrangle up five species on a 3inch gulp minnow on a 1/16oz jig. White bass being the most abundant, with some good size as well. My jig also ran into some large mouth, small mouth, various blue gills, and a small channel cat. Then went down again Saturday and repeated those results, minus the channel cat.

Marcus Benesch

River Grove, Illinois


Larry Dozard of sent this on Downstate closures during the fall and winter hunting seasons:



which is CLOSED TO ALL FISHING to provide a GOOSE REFUGE AREA during season till Feb. 1st– DOUBLE T STATE FISH and WILDLIFE AREA IS CLOSED TO FISHING for the season and remains Closed till APRIL 1st, 2014– EMIQUON PRESERVE during waterfowl hunting season fishing is allowed only between Noon and sunset.– EVERGREEN LAKE – A SOUTHERN PART OF Lake AROUND DEER ISLAND and ALL OF SIX-MILE CREEK BAY IS CLOSED TO GAS MOTORS from Oct. 15th through JAN. 1st to allow for resting areas for migratory waterfowl. YOU ARE ALLOWED TO STILL RUN A TROLLING MOTOR IN THESE AREAS ONLY. – Also, the ENTIRE lake and park, with the exception of the campground, is CLOSED to general use Nov. 22-24 and Dec. 5-8 for the Deer Management Program.– RICE LAKE is CLOSED to boat fishing till end of Duck & Goose season– SNAKEDEN HOLLOW including McMASTER LAKE IS CLOSED TO FISHING for the Season till Feb. 1st– SPRING LAKE (South & North) IS CLOSED TO BOAT FISHING in Waterfowl Hunting Area

with BANK FISHING ALLOWED ONLY AFTER 1pm– And Closed to shore fishing in hunting areas on Oct. 26th..

AREAS THAT REMAIN OPEN TO BOATS ARE NORTH OF MAPLE ISLAND with ramp at north end at the Sky Ranch Road launch and IN PIKE HOLE with carry in boats -On December 25th boat fishing and shore fishing in the waterfowl hunting area will be allowed after 1:00 p.m. through the end of Canada Goose season.– CLINTON LAKE the easterly area of Clinton Lake between the DeWitt (CH14) and the 48 bridges

is CLOSED FROM OCT. 10th through MARCH 31st to protect fish and wildlife. It will Re-OPEN April 1st..– POWERTON LAKE IS CLOSED TO BOAT FISHING

and CLOSES TO SHORE FISHING and ALL FISHING ON OCT. 26th (Last day for Shore fishing is Oct. 25th)

and REOPENS TO SHORE FISHING ONLY ON DEC. 23rd AND NO BOAT FISHING till FEB. 15th– SANGCHRIS LAKE THE WEST and EAST ARMS OF LAKE and Small AREA NEAR DAM Are CLOSED DURING WATERFOWL SEASONto boat traffic through Jan. 31, 2014 (during this time fishing boat traffic is permitted in the center hot arm only).And the Entire lake will be CLOSED Nov. 22-24 and Dec. 5-8th due to firearm deer hunting on adjacent properties.The exception will be for hunting programs with restricted usage during this time period.For more info, contact site office at 217/498-9208 from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday.


No report this week.


SS Minnows in South Elgin–(847) 289-0135–offers the opportunities of a local bait shop.

Check Fox updates near the Stratton Dam at or (847) 587-8540. For the area above the Montgomery dam, go to

To join the Fox River Angler Diary Project, go to I think it is one of the neater projects around.

Sam Bennett has a getting-started guide for the Fox at


The Wisconsin DNR has a report, which is typically updated on Tuesdays, posted at


Staff at Time on the Water Outdoors reported good sauger (vertical jigging) in the deep holes around the the Spring Valley and 39 bridges.


Steelhead are on and off, according to Lake Michigan fisheries biologist Brian Breidert.

Access points for Trail Creek can be found on the Trail Creek Access Map.


Norm Minas sent this:

Fished about every day, caught something on most of them. Swim bait was the best thing going, then jointed size 11 rapala minnow , then jig/plastic. Eddies, seams and flats off channels.

Smallmouth, pike, walleye.

Water temps mid to high 30’s, flow rates hovering around normal range, some stain to water. still algae on bottom in many stretches.

weather tad cold to decent. wind had a nip to it over the holidays.


The Ohio DNR has general Lake Erie info and a fishing report.


See top for perch report.

CHICAGO PIER PASSES: The $6 pier passes, which allow access to select piers, are in at Henry’s, 3130 S. Canal.

SNAGGING: Here are the regs:

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: — Lincoln Park Lagoon from the Fullerton Avenue Bridge to the southern end of the Lagoon, — Waukegan Harbor (in North Harbor basin only), — Winnetka Power Plant discharge area, — Jackson Harbor (Inner and Outer Harbors)


Go to for information and reports from D&S Bait.


Mike Mladenik has reports and info at his Mike Mladenik Guide Service site.


Kurt Justice of Kurt’s Island Sport Shop sent this Tuesday:

fantastic start to the ice season! Most lakes averaging 4-6”. Fish active and biting. Earliest fishable ice in the past few years. Not everyone ready for it, but, those that are have been taking advantage of some great early ice fishing.

Walleye: Excellent. Best reports at dusk and just after dark. Tip-ups baited with suckers or chubs fish in waters of 6-12’ best. With little ice and mobility easy, jig fishermen using Jigging Raps, Chubby Darters having great success as walleyes have been aggressive. Lots of 17-24” fish being reported. Bite becoming earlier as we hit new moon (tonight).

Pike: Excellent. Big suckers, shiners and chubs on tip-downs over weeds in 5-9’. Fish heavy as they have been feeding on panfish in shallows. Lots of mid 20” fish with good numbers of 30+”.

Musky: Season over as of Nov 30th. A few ice anglers did score some bonus muskies through the ice. No reports from the last of the shore anglers.

Crappies: Good-Very good. Moving into the classic bays with standing weeds. Best catches had been by anglers finessing plastics on tiny #14 or #12 jigs. With the front moving in action picked up on minnows below tip-downs as crappies got more aggressive.

Bluegills: Good. Not quite as good as expected. Lots of action, though a lot of little fish. Anglers targeting areas of drowned wood finding larger fish of 8+” in 5-8’ of water. Red spikes and dark plastics on #10 tear drops working.

Perch: Fair-good. Mostly numbers of smaller fish. Anglers using minnows catching some larger perch in weeds.

Largemouth Bass: Very good. Lots of bass on tip-ups using shiners meant for pike. Bass also taking Jigging Shad Raps, spoons and even small ice jigs tipped with waxies. Bass to 20” this weekend.

Unfortunately it’s started snowing a warm heavy snow and 4+” expected. This will make lakes slushy, though super cold temps Friday morning should firm things up.

Don’t miss our 4th Annual Ice Fishing Extravaganza on December 6, 7 and 8. All the latest in Electronics, Augers, Shacks by Otter Frabill and Clam as well as the floating ice suites by Striker. Hot deals on jigs, chances to win prices. Everything ice fishing at Kurt’s Island Sport Shop.

Kurt Justice

Kurt’s Island Sport Shop

EAGLE RIVER: Note that this report came Sunday and we have had a number of ice-forming days and nights since, 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 Guide¹s Choice Pro Shop, Mat Hegy; and Eagle River hunting enthusiast, Dan Anderson:

(Head): Ice fishing starting to move forward with walleye, northern and panfish all hitting. All in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area.

The Eagle River area is now pretty much iced up. While some die-hards are still breaking the very thin ice on larger lakes, the open water season is done.

As we do every year, we must remind all of our readers that while early ice is one of the “primo” times to fish in the Eagle River area, caution SUPER CAUTION – -is needed! Yes- – there are some back bays and shoreline areas (in spots) that are “OK” to get out on, but not THAT “OK” at the moment.

We urge anglers not to try to get out by themselves. Hire one of the Eagle River area’s excellent guides. They’ll know where it’s safe- – and where the fish are. Every winter season without fail we hear of anglers who go out, don’t know what they’re doing or where they’re going, and go through the ice. Don’t let that happen to you. We want you to come up and enjoy the bounty, thrills and fun that Eagle River offers, but only in complete safety. Be cautious, be patient, and remember the old guide axiom: “There is no such thing as totally safe ice.”

Walleye: Right now it’s tough getting out to the break edges where the alleye are holding, in the Eagle River area. But if you can get out, fish 6-20 feet off of break edges or weed edges. Use a small shiner or walleye sucker under a tip up, or a fathead on a jig. The walleyes will be tight to bottom, and the best bite will be around sunset.

Northern in the Eagle River area are locating in 10 feet of water or less in and around weeds. Use a medium to large shiner under a tip up. Keep the shiners high up in the water column. All day action. Bite can be good to excellent.

Panfish (crappies, bluegills and perch) in the Eagle River area are locating in 15 feet of water or less off of break edges and in and around weeds. Use a jig and a waxie or spike. The perch will be tight to bottom, with the crappies and gills suspending. Use a locator to find out the depth the crappies and gills are at on any given day. It’ll save you drilling a lot of holes. All day action. Bite can be strong at times.


Brian Breidert, Lake Michigan fisheries biologist sent this:

Ben fished over the weekend for whitefish off the pier with 5-6 others and had no luck. Water was really dirty. Steelhead action continues on a hit or miss in the streams. Saturday lots of guys out and not catches. Friday was better including Little cal. Perch in Cal harbor was the report we most recently got. Good number of guys out catching.

Rain coming and snow as well so bite will definitely change. Time to just tune up gear for the spring ice out.


The Wisconsin DNR Root River Report is again being updates weekly, generally by 4 p.m. Tuesdays.


Lakeside is closed. It’s waiting on ice time. For information and reports from Lakeside, go to or call (815) 824-2581.


The Wisconsin DNR posts a fishing report, generally updated on Tuesday at

Stream flow info is at


Tyler Harmon messaged this Monday:

Still great Steelhead action on the rivers. Walleye fishings been decent at night. Whitefish and Steelhead from the piers when the conditions allow. Still no safe ice in the area.


Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR.


Check reports and info at River’s Edge.