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Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Still ice fishing and Braidwood opener

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Anglers making their way down the south bank of Braidwood Lake through the steamy dawn on opening day March 1, 2019.
Dale Bowman/Sun-Times

Considering what the first half of winter was like, it is amazing that ice fishing continues to be the top subject (well, ice fishing  and now Braidwood Lake after reopening Friday) for the sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

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.

BRAIDWOOD OPENER

My Sunday column was on opening morning Friday at Braidwood. Click here for that column. Shore anglers and boaters alike were all catching fish. The south side (the hot side) was surprisingly cool at 67 degrees on Friday.

Rob Abouchar sent the photo below and this shore report from Saturday:

Hi Dale

I was able to do my traditional shore fishing at Braidwood opening week on Saturday as the forecast for Pulaski day looked frigid.  My friend Joe Schatz and I rode the bikes on the warm side and the action for bass was on.  My first bass of the season broke a favorite rod but the fish came to shore.  Squarebill crankbaits were getting the best fish.  Other anglers catching bass on Spinnerbaits in white or black.  I Hooked into a giant threadfin shad that I gave to some shore catfisherman to use for bait.  They later reported catching some channel cats on the cut bait.  Joe lost a really big fish right at the fence on the warm side.  Neither of us saw the fish but the boil was huge as it swam off.  Joe things big cat I am saying Muskie.
Tight Lines
Rob

Either cat or muskie seems possible, I would lean toward big blue.

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Rob Abouchar with a fat bass from Braidwood Lake on Saturday.
Provied

AREA LAKES

Ice fishing goes on, even building some.

Click here for 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

Opener report at top. Open 6 a.m.-sunset daily.

CALUMET SYSTEM

Staff at Henry’s Sports and Bait said there’s been some perch around the Ford plant when weather allows.

CHAIN O’LAKES/FOX RIVER BACKWATERS

Art Frisell at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said ice fishing continues “stupendous,” despite this generally being a down time at the tail end of ice fishing; crappie are good on glow jigs (Widow Maker and Skandia best) as are bluegills in the shallows (5-9 feet of water) on waxies and ice jigs, both best on Channel; pike fishing is picking up steadily around creek areas on tip-ups or jigging spoons as the spawn nears (practice catch-and-release); walleye continue good, feeding regularly shallower toward evening (start in 12 feet and come in to 6 with tip-ups and jigging), Channel and Marie are best.

CHAIN/FOX BACKWATERS ICE-FISHING ACCESS: Most places run some version of $5 parking and usually take it off food drink orders if it applies. Hermann’s Rest-A-While (Nielsen’s Channel), Granny’s Lakeside Diner at Spring Lake Marina, Choppers Bar and Grill (Channel), Sandbar Bar & Grille (Marie), Oak Park Lounge (Pistakee Bay), Musky Tales Bait Shop (near the old Mentone’s), Famous Freddie’s Roadhouse (T-Channel), Barnacle Bob’s (Marie), Jack & Lydia’s Resort (Deep).

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

No update this week from Capt. Pat Harrison at Pat Harrison Outdoors.

DELAVAN LAKE, WISCONSIN

No update.

DES PLAINES RIVER

No update.

DOWNSTATE NOTES

POWERTON LAKE: Boat and shore fishing are open. Hours remain 8 a.m.-4 p.m. through April 30.

LAKE SHELBYVILLE:  Check with Ken Wilson of Ken Wilson Guide ServiceREND LAKE: Check with Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing. HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Have not yet seen the opening day for spring/summer fishing to begin.

DuPAGE RIVER

No update.

FOX RIVER: WESTERN SUBURBS

When, and if, the weather breaks a little, Violetta Talley will begin regular reports.

FOX RIVER, WISCONSIN

No update.

GENEVA LAKE, WISCONSIN

No update.

GREEN BAY/STURGEON BAY

This came last week from Lance LaVine at Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. and I think it should hold up:

Here is what I have

The ice travel is still quite difficult overall throughout the county because of the snow and slush on top of the ice.  The best method of travel is with snowmobiles or tracked vehicles. If you do venture out with any other form of transportation, make sure someone else has a vehicle, a tow rope and some shovels.  You do not want to get stuck out on the ice overnight.

Whitefish action can be classed as good to very good pending on where you are at and if you are somewhere quiet.  The fishermen that stay away from those big groups with lots of noise, whether you are in shallow water or deep, do much better.  All sorts of jigs and rigs will work for the Whitefish, but some of the main ones are…Rapala jigs, Jiggin Shad Raps, Howie’s Gobie head jigs along with Moonshine’s shiver minnows.  And most folks run some sort of a slide hook above their main jig.  Tip your jigs and sliders with minnow pieces, waxies, red or white spikes and an assortment of plastics which is really starting to catch on now

Walleye fishing is starting pick up a bit more now that we are moving into March as it usually does.  Better areas to try your luck include…Henderson’s Point, Sherwood Point, Larsen’s Reef along with the steep shorelines and shoals to the north of Sturgeon Bay.  Oddball jigs, Rippin Raps, Rapala jigs and Slab Raps are just a few of the most popular jigs used for the Walleyes.  Tip your jigs with full minnow and or minnow heads

The Perch fishing is still going alright.  The biggest issue is being able to move around to find those schools of fish because of how hard it is to travel on the ice, but overall Perch fishing can be classed as good.  And as most fishermen know, the Perch fishing usually picks up in March right up until the season closes for the spawn.  An assortment of jigs tipped with minnow heads, waxies and spikes work well along with suspending large lake shiners, fatheads and rosie reds under tip ups, hand lines or dead sticks

Pike fishing seems to be heating up as we swiftly move through winter.  There have been numerous 40 plus inch fish caught recently along with some decent numbers to go along with the trophies.  There are many areas to fish for Pike, but a few of the most popular areas include…Little Sturgeon, Sawyer Harbor and the Sturgeon Bay area.  Large sucker minnows and Golden shiners under tip ups and auto fishermen generally the method of choice

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

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An opening day scene at Heidecke Lake in 2013.
Credit: Dale Bowman

Scheduled to reopen April 1.

ILLINOIS RIVER

Check with B&B Live Bait 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.

KANKAKEE RIVER

No update. Went over the river this morning and ice floes were rolling through again.

KENOSHA, WISCONSIN

Arden Katz said steelhead are still steady when ice fishing with shiners, tube jigs or spawn sacs.

Click here to see the Wisconsin DNR’s Lake Michigan Fishing Report. It generally comes out Tuesday.

LAKE ERIE

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

LAKEFRONT

Ice pack still comes in and out, but when out some powerliners are trying for early coho.

Staff at Henry’s Sports and Bait said there’s been some trout caught at Jackson Park; some perch at Diversey Harbor.

Park Bait at Montrose is aiming at opening around March 16.

PASSES: PIER: 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). PARKING: 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).

ACCESS/PARKING OPTIONS: 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 the reduced parking rate. . . . 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.

LaSALLE LAKE

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“Biker Corner” at LaSalle Lake should be packed again opening when the cooling lake reopens to fishing on March 15.
Dale Bowman/Sun-Times

Photo above is just a primer. It’s not long. Scheduled to reopen March 15.

MADISON CHAIN, WISCONSIN

D & S Bait can be followed on Facebook.

MAZONIA

Both units are open, any ice fishing is at your own risk.

MILWAUKEE HARBOR

Click here to see the Wisconsin DNR’s Lake Michigan Fishing Report. It is generally out Tuesdays.

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

Gamefish season is closed.

Kurt Justice of Kurt’s Island Sport Shop in Minocqua, Wis. emailed this:

Gamefish seasons almost always seem to close rather quietly around here.  Late ice anglers tend to gear up for panfish.  But this may have been one of the quietest in a long time. 

The two feet plus of snow combined with the two feet of ice that is sandwiching, in some places, 8-10” of slush and water is making a work out of our sport!

The hardy souls working their way onto the ice aren’t doing any hole hopping, typically the pattern for March ice fishing.  Instead, its pick a spot, shovel, drill, fish and stay put!

Bluegill:  Good – Surprisingly!  For these conditions anglers fishing the mid to larger lakes are catching some nice Gills to 8”+!  Waxies, spikes and beaver bait on tear drops and #4 Tungsten jigs with brighter colors (chartreuse, orange) working best.

Crappies:  Fair – Most of the best Crappie fishing too hard to get to.  Anglers working bays for Gills reporting some Crappie action early in AM and again towards dusk. Most days too cold for tip-downs (3/4/19 – 20 below) so jigging grubs best.

Perch:  Poor – Few anglers reporting Perch.  Like Crappies, best areas too hard to reach.

With temps warming up into low 30’s this weekend, and with snowmobilers and the few hardy anglers trudging around, hopefully some better access will emerge.

We will need some long stretches of warm weather to knock this snow down…don’t put your jig poles away, ice will be here awhile.

Kurt Justice
Kurt’s Island Sport Shop
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NORTHWEST INDIANA

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

Lots of ice fisherman out last few days fishing all over the place ice is 4 to 7 inches most places

Coho at riverwalk in portage day to day skein on bottom best bait still
Michigan city ice is blown in bad making it hard to fish but when a pocket opens up fish are being caught skein best bait but squid and shrimp too

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

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Stock photo of Berrien Springs dam from March 2018.
Dale Bowman/Sun-Times

Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said steelhead are going from the middle of the river upstream to Berrien Springs, both from shore and boat; ice fishing is going good on local lakes.

ST. JOSEPH RIVER, INDIANA

Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR.

SHABBONA LAKE

That’s right, well into March and still ice fishing, even building ice.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley sent this:

Hey Dale,

Here is a recap of this past week’s fishing.
Shabbona Lake- the crappie bite continues to be good. Work tungsten jigs tipped with little atom wedgies over deeper brush piles. Brighter colored jigs and tails worked best as the water clarity is still cloudy but clearing. Ice is at a foot and building. It’s March and who would have ever bet we would be building ice this late in the season. Go figure.
TTYL
Ken “Husker” O’Malley
Husker Outdoors
Waterwerks fishing team

Lakeside–(815) 824-2581–is open 8 a.m.-2 p.m. while there is ice fishing.

Park hours in March are 8 a.m.-8 p.m.

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

No update.