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Midwest Fishing Report: Lakes and rivers around Chicago fishing

Ice fishing, on ice nearly universal now, is the story for 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. A bit early tonight because of New Year’s Eve.

If you have suggestions, tweet @BowmanOutside or email straycasts@sbcglobal.net.

LAKEFRONT PERCH

Ice solidifies, but perching goes on. There’s ice fishing on the harbors, Belmont has been best recently, Steve Palmisano at Henry’s said. Otherwise, it is punching holes at Navy Pier and 87th. NOTE: With the ice at Navy Pier and 87th, use care when releasing undersized perch back into busted holes at places. It is bad form to have ice littered with tiny perch. CHICAGO PIER PASSES: The $6 pier passes, which allow access to select piers, are in at Henry’s, 3130 S. Canal.

ICE FISHING REGS CHICAGO-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.

AREA LAKES

Ken “Husker” O’Malley sent the photo at the top and this report, which I think nicely captures conditions around the area:

Hey Dale,

Here is a recap from the weekend. Saturday I had the privilege of fishing a farm pond near Montgomery with a good friend. We had a fabulous morning fishing for bass and pike. More than twenty flags went off. It was non stop action until 11 and things went quiet. Fishing the weed lines in 8 feet was key. Ice was sloppy on top with a base of 4 inches.

On Sunday I stayed closer to home and fished Wampum (CCFP) lake. Ice was very good at 5 inches. Bluegill and perch were good until the temps stated to drop. Early morning worked depths of 7-8 and gradually went deeper at 11-12. Finding green weed clumps was key. Not much size to the fish but good action all the same. All fish were caught on a tungsten jig tipped with multiple spikes. Attached are a few pics.

Hope you and your family have a safe and happy new year

Husker Outdoors

Water Werks Fishing Team

Staff at Mik-Lurch reported reported bass at Powderhorn.

AREA WATER LEVELS

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

CENTRAL WISCONSIN

This came from Hooksetter’s Guide Service.

(Head): Good action for walleye, northern, crappies and bluegills, and catfish hitting; in and amidst the lakes and the Wisconsin River in Wisconsin¹s Marathon and Lincoln Counties (near Mosinee and Wausau).

The snow is piling up on the lakes in the central Wisconsin area and travel conditions are becoming an issue when it comes to getting to local ice fishing hotspots, but angers are still proceeding onto the ice and with that, they are doing quite well.

The walleye bite in the central Wisconsin area has continued to be very good at nighttime with some decent catches of fish in the 15 to 18 inch range with a few nice fish in the 20+ inch range. Most of these fish are coming on tip-ups in shallow water related to weeds.

Northern pike in the central Wisconsin area have been quite aggressive with some dandy fish being reported. Anglers are getting fish on tip-ups baited up with large golden shiners set right under the ice in 3 to 6 feet of water.

The crappie and bluegill bite is very good in the central Wisconsin area with nice catches coming form 10 to 16 feet of water on tip-downs baited with small minnows or by anglers jigging small ice jigs and spoons tipped with waxies and spikes.

Catfish are showing up more and more on outings in the central Wisconsin area and most of the action is coming from deeper water associated with the main Wisconsin River channel. Now normally you can’t get to the catfish this early in the year but with the early freeze up and good ice, anglers are venturing out to places they don’t normally get to until mid January and they are doing quite well.

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA/FOX RIVER BACKWATERS

Arden Katz reported more crappie in the channel at Nielsen’s, he targeted bluegill jigging down on the side. Greg Dickson at Triangle Sports & Marine reported bluegill spots being south and northwest ends of Channel; bluegill and crappie on Pistakee Bay and some walleye near the corner by Oak Park Lounge; good bluegill and night crappie on Deep, decent crappie and white bass on Long; walleye around current areas and flats.

NOTE: Check Chain updates at http://www.foxwaterway.com/ or (847) 587-8540.

For more reports, see http://www.foxlakefishing.com/

CHAIN/FOX BACKWATERS ICE-FISHING ACCESS

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; with thicker ice, Barnacle Bob’s is the spot. Petite: Hideout, $5 (box up soon). Pistakee: Oak Park Lounge, $4 parking. Loon: Pay launch fee. Deep: Jack & Lydia’s Resort.

CHICAGO RIVER

No update from Jeff Nolan of Bridgeport Bass.

COOLING LAKES/STRIP PITS

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.

DELAVAN/GENEVA LAKES, WISCONSIN

Brian Gates at Lake Geneva Bait and Tackle reported good bass and pike on Como before weather change; some bluegill and crappie, occasional pike both sides of the island on Delavan; some ice fishing on Geneva on Geneva Bay in front of the library and launch, Williams Bay is now frozen.

Gates has shacks for rent–(262) 245-6150–on Delavan and soon on Geneva.

DES PLAINES RIVER

Marcus Benesch has been kayak fishing and sent this:

Been having decent results the last couple weekends on the river. Its seems to freeze up during the week and then open up on the weekends with those warm ups we’ve had late in the week, just in time for my days off. Pike has been my main focus, they’re really tireless when you do find them this time of year.

Clarity has been down so using firetiger and clown colored lures has been my go to. Sunnier days have been best even though something you read in book about fishing might tell you the opposite. I also attribute that to the fact it seems the bite really picks up once you start getting closer to noon. Can’t seem to find any pike at sunrise lately.

Well here’s a picture of my last good one of 2013. A really heavy 32inch that jumped 2ft out of the water with out unbuckling somehow. Caught on a J-13 Rapala in firetiger up in Lake County.

Marcus Benesch

DOWNSTATE NOTES

Larry Dozard of larrysfishinghole.com sent this on Downstate closures during the fall and winter hunting seasons, which I just updated:

ANDERSON LAKE is CLOSED TO BOAT FISHING for the season– BANNER MARSH IS CLOSED TO BOAT FISHING

AND AS OF OCT. 31st, BANK FISHING ONLY ALLOWED AFTER 1PM but NO FISHING ALLOWED in EAST POINT ACCESS AREA ,

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.– 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 (reopening for boats on Feb. 15), but reopened to shore fishing.– 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). For more info, contact site office at 217/498-9208 from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

DuPAGE RIVER

No report this week.

FOX RIVER

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

Check Fox updates near the Stratton Dam at http://foxwaterway.com/ or (847) 587-8540. For the area above the Montgomery dam, go to http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/closures/Pages/default.aspx

To join the Fox River Angler Diary Project, go to http://data.foxriverfishing.com I think it is one of the neater projects around.

Sam Bennett has a getting-started guide for the Fox at http://www.foxriverfishing.com/tips/fox-river-getting-started-guide/

GREEN BAY

The Wisconsin DNR has a report, which is typically updated on Tuesdays, posted at http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/lakemichigan/OutdoorReport.html

ILLINOIS RIVER

Launches and river are icing.

INDIANA STREAMS

No reports with this weather. Access points for Trail Creek can be found on the Trail Creek Access Map.

KANKAKEE RIVER

Both the Kankakee and Iroquois are icing up again. Norm Minas sent this in Sunday:

River a tad over normal flow, off color, still a lot of ice on slack areas. Second day of a warming trend, nice not to have ice in the guides or chips flying off the line in your face. Overcast, ended up with some rain.

As I was driving to the area I was going to fish I saw some herons feeding in an area of water willow bed remnants. I figured they knew better than me, so I joined them, much to their disgust.

I started with a weighted keeper hook and an Erie Darter , dragging and dropping into the water willow remnants where I saw minnows hanging out. No dice with that , so I tossed it upstream of a riffle that came off the bed. I let it slide down into the slack spot at the bottom of the front edge of the riffle and let it sit for a bit. On the fourth cast doing that I picked up a decent smallmouth, maybe 16 inches. I didn’t measure as I left it in the water while I popped the hook out.

I worked the front and back end of that riffle for about another 20 minutes or so but that was it as far as catching any more fish I continued up, working the outer edge of the willow bed with the jig/darter and may have had a light pick up. if I did, I missed it on the set or was just too slow to react.

I worked up to a spot in the bed that was a little deeper, cobblestone and no weeds growing in it. First cast, got another nice smallmouth about the same size as the other. I fished another riffle that was about half a decent cast detatched from the willow bed. No more fishand out of time.

norm

LAKE ERIE

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

LAKEFRONT

See top for perch report. Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop said the fiew getting out are ice fishing at North Point for pike and panfish.

MADISON CHAIN, WISCONSIN

Gene Dellinger at D&S Bait said Mud is crowded for those fishing bluegill and crappie, Waubesa has perch and crappie; there’s bluegill on Monona in the main bays; Mendota ice is still iffy (perch fishing soon, otherwise pike around the edges).

MENOMINEE RIVER, WISCONSIN

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

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

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

Great week till the bottom dropped out of the thermometer. A 62 degree temperature swing from Saturday December 28 through Monday December 30. Anglers were out in force on Saturday enjoying the above freezing temps and the holiday weekend. While there have been some conflicting reports, most reports were of good fishing though out the Lakeland area. Numbers and size was the talk of the weekend. Come Sunday, though, action and participation fell off precipitously. By Monday morning (-29 degrees) very few anglers ventured out.

Walleye: Very Good-Fair. What started out as a great bite, slowed way down with the drop in temps, rise in barometer and lack of anglers due to cold temps. A very good bite during the warm days occurred oddly enough from noon till 2pm. Walleyes were found cruising 8-12’ weed flats by day taking shiners meant for pike on tip-ups. Several walleyes from 26” to 29 ½” were caught during that mid-day bite. Evening bites continued for anglers using suckers on tip-ups. Jigging raps, slender spoons and vibratos accounted for good catches also during the warm spell.

Pike: Very good-Fair. During the warm spell flags were flying! Lots of good action on tip-ups baited with chubs, suckers and shiners. Big fish active as catches of pike in the 30-40” range were regular.

Perch: Good-Fair. Tip-downs with medium fatheads/rosie reds accounted for nice catches of larger perch in 10-12’ weed/wood mix during warm spell. Deep water perch (20’+) taking wigglers presented on Hali jigs, Pimples. Cold slowed the action, but weed bite still produced Monday for angler using minnows inside shacks (too cold for tip-downs).

Crappies: Good-Fair. Tip-down action good for crappies during warm spell. Also slow-dropping plastics on #10 rockers in white, chartreuse, and orange. With the cold weather, action stalled. Anglers hunkered in shacks picking up an occasional crappie on 3mm tungsten jigs with tiny red or purple plastic tail.

Bluegills: Good-Poor. Warm weather promoted active fish and fishermen alike. Good catches using Gill Pills or Gill Getters tipped with waxies, spikes or mousses. Lots of action with enough eaters from the 7-10’ weeds to make effort worth it. With the cold, few anglers willing to target gills.

Largemouth Bass: Very good-poor. The action for bass during the warm spell was exceptional, as expected during times of warmer temps. Few anglers target bass through the ice up here, yet they make their presence felt hitting shiners and suckers meant for walleyes and pike as well as jigging raps and spoons tipped with meat, but, the cold shut them down.

This extreme cold is scheduled to lift by the weekend, with Saturday being the warmest. Hopefully with temps in the 20’s and a dip in the barometer, the bite will return to what it was last weekend.

Kurt Justice

Kurt’s Island Sport Shop

www.kurtsislandsports.com

EAGLE RIVER: 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): Northern bite excellent, with walleye and panfish good to excellent in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area.

Ice conditions continue to improve in the Eagle River area. We’re seeing 6-10 inches of ice on most lakes, with some lakes running 12 inches +. We prefer to be conservative in our estimates. There is some snow cover and slush in limited areas. Snowmobiles, ATV’s and foot travel are all getting anglers out on the ice. A FEW are starting to try motor vehicles on the ice.

Our guide sources strongly recommend not using motor vehicles at this time. We’ll keep you closely posted on when we are confident that the ice is safe for cars and trucks. A reminder that the Eagle River area has a wealth of excellent/qualified/licensed guides who will take you out on the ice, making sure of your safety, while having a lot of fun catching fish in the Eagle River area (ice fishing remains very good to excellent).

Northern in the Eagle River area are in 10 feet of water or less in and around remaining weeds. Use medium to large shiners or northern suckers under a tip up, All day action and the bite is excellent (you’ll probably catch larger northerns fishing deeper, but the action will be less).

Walleye in the Eagle River area are off of break edges and over adjacent mud flats in 30 feet of water or less. The walleye are tight to bottom. Use a small to medium shiner or walleye sucker under a tip up, or try a jigging spoon tipped with a minnow head. All day action, with peaks in the evening. Bite has been good to excellent.

Panfish (crappies, bluegills and perch) are on mud flats in 15 feet of water or less. The perch are tight to bottom, with the crappies and gills suspending (save yourself time and hard work drilling lots of holes by using electronics- – a “flasher” – -to locate the depth that the fish are suspending at on any given day, as the depth will vary). Use a waxie, spike or crappie minnow on a small jig or under a slip bobber. All day action and the bite is good to excellent.

NORTHWEST INDIANA

Staff at Mik-Lurch said there is bass and bluegill being caught at Willow Slough, but just about everybody has fishable ice nearby on lakes and ponds.

ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN

The Wisconsin DNR Root River Report will be reports again when the season begins again.

SHABBONA LAKE

Denny Sands at Lakeside said there’s 8-9 inches of ice, good crappie in deep trees down 15-20 feet and very nice catfish to 8 pounds on gobs of red worms.

With ice fishing going, Lakeside bait shop is open 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Restaurant is open Saturday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

For information and reports from Lakeside, go to shabbonalake.com or call (815) 824-2581.

SOUTHEAST WISCONSIN

Arden Katz reported some browns and steelhead jigging 1-inch Berkeley tubes with waxies at Milwaukee. Racine has been more productive than Kenosha.

The Wisconsin DNR posts a fishing report, generally updated on Tuesday at http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/lakemichigan/OutdoorReport.html.

Stream flow info is at http://waterdata.usgs.gov/wi/nwis/current?type=flow

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN

Tyler Harmon messaged:

Ice conditions are still improving around the area.

Panfish, pike action has been good

ST. JOSEPH RIVER, INDIANA

Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR.

WISCONSIN DELLS

Check reports and info at River’s Edge.

WOLF LAKE

Staff at Mik-Lurch reported bass and some small pike being caught ice fishing in both states. Ice is building.