Our Pledge To You


Ice fishing stuff, Winnebago sturgeon: Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report

Though snow cover makes ice conditions more variable, ice fishing keeps going and even building in time for two major events and leads this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report; and sturgeon spearing opens Saturday on the Winnebago system in Wisconsin.

Starved Rock eagles, shed antlers, mallards, geese: Notes on Chicago outdoors
Late really big bass lifts Springer and Say: High school bass fishing at the top

Tommy G. Krysciak sent a couple photos of largemouth bass like the one above with this explanation:

Got both an hour apart from each other on the same tip up with roaches out on a pond in lake county.

The Midwest Fishing Report for Chicago fishing appears in a condensed form Wednesdays on the Sun-Times newspaper outdoors page. The sprawling raw-file report is posted here online on the Sun-Times outdoors page.


The Walk on Water Ice Fishing Derby is 7 a.m. to noon Saturday on Bangs Lake in Wauconda. The event raises money for the Andrea Lynn Cancer Fund. Click here for details.

The Northern Illinois Conservation Club’s 58th annual Ice Fishing Derby and Winter Festival is Saturday and Sunday. It is headquartered at Turtle Beach next to Thirsty Turtle on Channel Lake. Click here for details.


If headed to the Winnebago system in Wisconsin, be aware that sturgeon spearing season opens Saturday on Lake Winnebago and the Upper River lakes. Click here for more information.

For the Muche family and many others, the Lake Winnebago sturgeon season is all about family, fun and big fish. Rachael Mathwig celebrates her success with her grandfather, on the left, and her father on the right.
Photo credit: Ryan Koenigs/Wisconsin DNR


Know your lake or pond, if venturing out on snow-covered ice and use the usual precautions. But in general ice fishing rebuilds almost universally around the area.

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

And remember the pier passes for fishing Chicago harbors are available at Henry’s Sports and Bait.  The passes allow for legal access to select piers on the Chicago lakefront. They cost $6 cash with one per valid fishing license.


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


Closed for the year.


No update.


While talking with Art Frisell at Triangle Sports and Marine he said just how good fishing has been and we both kind of wondered if it might be related to the brief warm-up and increased water flow. As to general ice fishing notes around the Chain, Frisell said bluegill remain very good, but the bite switches between live bait or plastics, Channel stays the best; crappie are good on Custom Jigs or Rat Finkees in glow pink, orange or green, Petite is best; walleye are best on jigging lures on Marie in 15-5 feet; white bass and yellow bass (better than ever) are going in main lake basins or shallow as 8 feet, but he suggested starting to look first in the deeper water, try Swedish Pimples tipped with waxies; pike are good near creek mouths or main lake bays on large or medium roaches on tip-ups.

Ice-fishing guru Tony Boshold sent this on the NAIFC tournament:

I fished the NAIFC North American Ice Fishing Circuit tournament on Channel lake on the Fox Chain this weekend. A 1.92 14.5″ crappie caught by Nate Winters fishing with his partner Jeff Paulsen from WI won big fish. Dale Erath and his partner Chris Lemerand brought in over 9 pounds for 8 crappie and 8 gills to win the tournament. Anglers from 6 states fished the event. The top ten at each event qualify automatically for the NAIFC Championship next December near Detroit Lakes, MN. There they will compete for the Blue Diamond rings. Next weekends tournament is not far, in Indiana on Pine lake. I won’t be going there but will be at the last three events in MI, WI, and SD. I’ll be out on the ice guiding in between tournaments when I’m in town.

SOME CHAIN ACCESS:  Musky Tales (near old Mentone’s) is another access point for Channel. The old stand-by on Nielsen’s Channel is Hermann’s with its $5 parking, bait, food and drink. For  Channel, there’s Chopper’s Bar, where the $5 parking is taken off if food or drink are ordered. For Spring, there’s Granny’s, where the $5 parking is taken off if food ordered. One access point for Marie is at Barnacle Bob’s, where there is parking though it is closed for the winter.

For more info and lake updates, go to Fox Waterway Agency or call (847) 587-8540.


No update, not that I expected one with this weather, from Capt. Pat Harrison at Pat Harrison Outdoors.


Ice-fishing guru Tony Boshold sent this:

Hi Dale! Delavan has crappie and gills in the bays taken on Vertizontal-rigs and 3-4mm Fiskas tungsten tipped with bait or Little-Atom tails. Pike hitting throughout the day on tip-ups with medium roaches. Walleye better in the evening and after dark in the shallows on tip-ups with medium roaches. Perch amd some daytime walleys on deep breaks taking 5mm glow Fiskas tipped with meat or Little-Atom Plastics Jumbo Wedgee tails. Jigging Raps and Flash Champ Spoons ate good search baits deep for perch tipped with minnow heads or spikes.


No update.


POWERTON: Shore fishing is open, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. daily. Boat fishing reopens Feb. 15. LAKE SHELBYVILLE:  Check with Ken Wilson of Ken Wilson Guide Service. SOUTHERN ILLINOIS: Check with Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing EVERGREEN: Bait shop and boat rental are closed for the season. HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Closed for the season.


No update.


No update.


No update.


No update from Lance LaVine at Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay, but I have friends making plans for chasing whitefish.


Closed for the year.


Check fishing status at B & B Live Bait–(815) 433-0432–in Ottawa, where hours are now in the morning.


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.

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

Some steelhead action around bass pro area in salt creek voodoo jigs in black and purple tipped with waxworms or butterworms.


River is open water is many spots, but some days and some areas have chuck ice; to put it simply, conditions are variable. Check with Nick Carr at Kankakee River Trading Post in Altorf for fishing updates.


Arden Katz (above right in photo, Chad Scheve is left) said brown trout were good over the weekend in the harbor.  They were using 1-inch, white tube jigs with waxies, but Katz said others were doing well on spawn and Automatic Fisherman.


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


Ice conditions around Chicago lakefront vary with winds and weather. Beside perch, some lake trout as a bonus, see Nick Tarchala’s FOTW this week. Staff at Henry’s Sports and Bait said powerliners are trying in open-water areas; might as well try, there’s been a few coho caught in Indiana. With variable ice conditions in the harbors, remember pier passes available at Henry’s Sports and Bait. The passes allow for legal access to select piers available. They cost $6 cash with one per valid fishing license. NOTE: Park Bait at Montrose is closed for the season.


See top for more on sturgeon spearing opening on Saturday.


Closed for the year.


Check the latest from D & S Bait on Facebook.


Mazonia South is open. All ice fishing is at your own risk. Mazonia North reopens Feb. 16, weather forecast suggests there might be some ice fishing this year. Check with Jon Meder at Jon’s Bait Shop–(815) 237-2822–in South Wilmington.


Check with Mike Mladeik at Mike Mladenik Guide Service sent this:


No update.


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

Despite the bracket of cold temps and added snow this past weekend, the lure of February’s Ice Derbies brought anglers out in droves to fish a little and get a chance to win something, as well as help raise money for good causes.

Fishing picked up over the past weekend for many, though “the day after the derby hangover” seemed to have slowed things a bit.

Crappie:  Good – Most action deep.  Tip-downs (when not too cold) tipped with small rosie reds best.  When Crappies turing their nose up at minnows, try jigging chartreuse, orange, glow or gold #4 or #5 Fiskas tipped with waxies.  Keep movement to a minimum when dealing with these negative fish.  VMC Tungsten Flys also working well, here the subtle movement of the added hair may be what’s making the difference.  Most reports of Crappies in 18-30’, usually 1-2’ off bottom.  One group found nice fish suspended 15’ off a 30’ mud flat.

Yellow Perch:  Good – Deep mud flats best.  Venom tungsten core glow rattle spoons, Halis, pimples, Chandeliers and Flash Champs.  Red spikes and wigglers best.  The rattles and glow of the Venom spoons help pulling in fish.  Bang bait in mud to attract attention.

Northern Pike:  Good – Action improved, a few 30”+ fish reported.  Best on large shiners.  Where a deeper, 10-14’ weed edge is applicable, fish there as larger Pike being caught along these edges.

Bluegill:  Good – Not great numbers, but good reports of 7, 8, 9 and even 10”+ Gills!  Anglers finding Gills in 8-12’ standing cabbage using small Tungsten jig flys or just plain #3-#4 Fiska jigs tipped with red, purple, motor oil and sometimes clear/silver J&S plastics or wedges.  Some open water Gills holding over sandgrass in 16-23’ preferring clear, motor oil or black plastic on Dude jigs of red or black.

Walleye:  Fair-Poor – Catches few, but better than previous week.  Smaller suckers, shiners or large rosies.  Jigging Raps, Hyper Glydes and spoons with light by Northland and 13 Flash Bangs for after dark.  The smaller Rippin Raps also working, though Walleye don’t seem to be as aggressive as earlier in season.

Largemouth Bass:  Poor – Cold not conducive to good action.  Use medium shiners on tip-ups or a shiner head jigged on a #4 pimple.

Ice thickness continues to grow slowly, 18-22” on average.  Travel good despite recent snow.  A few reports of slush on lakes with heavy snow and little traffic.


2/10       Plum Lake Tournament – to Benefit Sayner-Star Lake Lions Projects

2/17       Bob Lemer Tournament – Lake Katherine

                Wisconsin High School State Championship

2/24       Carroll Lake Ice Derby

                Lake Tomahawk Fisheree

Kurt Justice
Kurt’s Island Sport Shop
Like us on FaceBook

EAGLE RIVER: B+L, from reports from Colin Crawford of Colin Crawford Guide Service, for the Eagle River Chamber of Commerce: sent this:

Ice fishing season is here. For a full report on fishing trends and ice conditions, be sure to visithttp://eagleriver.org/fish/. View the complete fishing report below.

Cold weather has returned, making action slow a bit. Persistent anglers will be rewarded with forecasted warmer temperatures this upcoming weekend. Reminder: some area lakes are also marked with barrels for snowmobiles, so be sure to punch your holes away from the trail areas.

Northern Pike: We are finding fish on the weed edges and in the deeper weeds. On the edges, the set up should be tip ups set a foot or so off the bottom.  When fishing the deep weeds, set your tip ups so that your bait is just above the tops of the weeds.

Walleye: These fish are being caught in and around weeds.  Setting tip ups on the weed edges baited with walleye suckers or medium golden shiners in low light conditions seem to be best.  Also, jigging in the same areas with baits (like the buckshot rattle spoon) are producing fish.  The other good option is on the tops of rock humps for good spots in the early evening.

Panfish: Bluegills are being found in the weeds using small jigs tipped with waxies, spikes or tipped with plastic.  Perch are being caught on the deep weed edge where the mud meets.


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

Some steelhead action around bass pro area in salt creek voodoo jigs in black and purple tipped with waxworms or butterworms

Few browns and a coho and steelhead here and there at portage river walk on golden roaches squid and a mix of crank baits and spoons not a bunch of fish yet but a few

Guys starting to ice fish again some valpo chain and smaller ponds most places around nwi 4 to 6 inches of ice shoreline little less still use caution
Some good crappie action to the few that went under 249 bridge around old docks and barge use xl fatheads under a bobber or chartuese jig under bobber tipped with beemoth some slabs lately

Staff at Willow Slough said ice fishing should reopen on Monday.


No update.


No update.


Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor, Mich. said not much going with the weather.


Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR.


Clint Sands at Lakeside said the open spots are refrozen; ice is generally 8 inches. Bluegills were outstanding over the weekend; crappie were good, but took sorting for keepers; catfish are outstanding suspended in the deep trees; a few walleye and hybrid stripers.

Lakeside is open seven days a week, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. as long as ice fishing holds. Park hours are now 8 a.m.-6 p.m.

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


The Wisconsin DNR posts a report during open water at http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/lakemichigan/OutdoorReport.html. It is usually posted by Tuesday afternoon. Streadsm flow info is at http://waterdata.usgs.gov/wi/nwis/current?type=flow.


Check with River’s Edge.


No update.


No update.


No update.