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Ice fishing in March, Braidwood opener: Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report

Resized/Sun-Times

The island in early light on Braidwood Lake, which reopens to fishing on Friday, March 1.
Dale Bowman/Sun-Times

There will be ice fishing well into March around Chicago fishing, but there’s also a sure sign of spring with the reopening of Braidwood Lake to fishing on Friday; those two strands of spring and winter lead this 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

The cooling lake is southwest Will County reopens to fishing on Friday. It will be open 6 a.m.-sunset daily. The stone piled in the north lot should be spread by the opener. Largest largemouth caught in a tournament last year was 6.25 pounds.

I plan to be there opening day. If things go right, I should be going both shore fishing and boat fishing. We shall see.

Below is the memory from opening day last year. I did not last long on the south end from shore.

Savage north winds drove rain and closed the launch on the south (hot) side of Braidwood Lake, but did not stop shore fishermen on opening day Thursday.
Credit: Dale Bowman

ICE FISHING EVENT

The rescheduled LVVA Ice Fishing Derby is Saturday on Bangs Lake in Wauconda.

PUBLIC SITE ICE-FISHING REGS

Click here for the updated regulations on ice fishing around public sites in Chicago fishing.

AREA LAKES

Ice fishing goes on, ice is firmed up or will firm up; it could even build more by early next week.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley: sent this:

Hey Dale,

Here is a recap of this past week’s fishing.
Area lakes- rain over the weekend opened shorelines on southern lakes. Caution should be taken as overall ice conditions are deteriorating. Ice conditions may improve with the colder temps this week’s.
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

Reopens Friday, March 1, then is open 6 a.m.-sunset daily.

CALUMET SYSTEM

No report.

CHAIN O’LAKES/FOX RIVER BACKWATERS

Brad Irving at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said Petite has perch and walleye going, start in 12-14 feet; crappie and bluegill are still going on the south end of Channel; good-sized bluegill, but few, are going on Deep; there’s pike and bluegill on East Loon; pike with some walleye on West Loon; shallow mornings there are some walleye being aught on the north ends of Catherine and Channel; those going out on Marie there’s white bass, some walleye and catfish.

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

Capt. Pat Harrison at Pat Harrison Outdoors sent this:

Chicago River and Lake Michigan Report,

 Again we are at the mercy of the weather but folks are both open water and ice fishing right now.  Ice fishing I had people tell me they are getting some nice fish on the Chain, Long, Geneva others are fishing farther up north in Wisconsin. Here in Chicago some folks are finding some open water in the harbors on the lake others are on ice in some of the harbors if you go out Please be Safe with the up and down temperatures and the winds ice can change on the lake while you’re on it. I would say Play it Safe wear a PDF.

 This coming weekend I will be the Northern Illinois Boat Show at the Lake County Fair Grounds with Lake County Water Sports in their Boat Display talking about local fishing and G3 Yamaha Boats. There is about another month of shows to attend and then is back to full time fishing.  Talked with friend yesterday that has been fishing the Lake Front and getting his share of Salmon. I am going to see about getting out with my fishing partner Nick and pulling some Yellow Birds and baits to get some Salmon.

 Looking forward to the 2019 Season with some great new ideas, baits, gear and sponsors.

Have a Great Week,

Capt. Pat

DELAVAN LAKE, WISCONSIN

No update.

DES PLAINES RIVER

Check out the FOTW on Wednesday.

Tim Baker, between moving, sent  this:

Weekly Report (It’s not much but it’s all I got)

My brother Kevin got out to fish the Des Plaines River and Salt Creek before the heavy rains last week in the Southwest suburbs. He had no luck while fishing a jerkbait but, hopefully, the bite picks up here soon. Water levels on local rivers should remain high throughout the next week but warm weather, water, and better fishing opportunities are getting closer. Dust of your gear and start prepping for the open water season, it’ll be here before you know it.

Thanks, Dale

Tim Baker

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

Lance LaVine at Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. sent this:

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

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.

KENOSHA, WISCONSIN

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 comes in and out, when out there’s been some trying for early coho. Staff at Henry’s Sports and Bait said some perch reported around the Ford Plant on the Cal and some trout in the inner harbor at Jackson Park.

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

Scheduled to reopen March 15.

MADISON CHAIN, WISCONSIN

D & S Bait can be followed on Facebook.

MAZONIA

Because of an operational change, both units are now open for fishing. 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 ends at midnight Sunday.

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

With less than a week of the inland lake gamefish season left (closes at midnight, March 3rd), there is little for anglers to get excited about at this time.

Record snows for the month of February in our area (50”+ so far in the Lakeland area) has caused a near shut down to anglers, as access has gone from bad to almost unattainable!

Largemouth Bass and Perch reports have been decent for anglers that have gotten out, with tip-ups for Bass using shiners and anglers jigging spikes for Perch.

A few areas of high traffic (without long walks) such as Schoolhouse Bay and Stacks Bay on Lake Minocqua, parts of Carroll Lake, and the southern end of Big Arbor Vitae had anglers getting out by foot or snowmobile.  Anglers fishing Monday (2/25) did get some Crappies, Gills and Perch.

This deep snow will likely hurt the shallower, weedy lakes.  Keep an eye on your minnows.  If fished close to bottom and dying quickly, raise your bait up higher in the water column for better oxygen levels.  Fish will move up, sometimes to within a foot or two of the ice if necessary, to survive.

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:

Not a ton of people out over weekend with heavy wind and rain

Ice is still ok at some places and no good at others as of today with cold all week it is making ice
Coho fishing skein squid near bottom best
 Best spots Michigan city behind dnr and portage lakefront park
I still have all ice gear in stock ready to rock
Shipment of fresh skein and squid came last week we got it all

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

Resized/Sun-Times

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

Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said there have been some good steelhead action for waders at Berrien Springs.

ST. JOSEPH RIVER, INDIANA

Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR.

SHABBONA LAKE

Staff at Lakeside said there is 10-12 inches of ice with crappie, bluegill and catfish being caught. Lakeside–(815) 824-2581–is open 8 a.m.-2 p.m. while there is ice fishing.

Park hours in February are 8 a.m.- 6 p.m. On Friday, March 1, March hours–8 a.m.-8 p.m.–go into effect.

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

Sturgeon spearing season ended Sunday.

WISCONSIN DELLS

Check with River’s Edge.

WISCONSIN RIVER

No update.

WOLF LAKE

No update.

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

No update.