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Perch variable, ice coming, maybe? Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report

Resized/Sun-Times

Violetta Talley with a smallmouth bass caught Jan. 4 as the unseasonable weather stretches on and on.
Provided

Ice was going the wrong way but it appears to be likely to return toward more normal conditions for January; that and perch fishing on the Chicago lakefront staying variable lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

A touch of real winter returns this week and will change things, but up until then we were in nearly a month above normal.

The photo above, posted by Violetta Talley, nicely illustrates what the weather has been like for the past month and what it means:

Not bad for my first fish of 2019! Winter has been pretty mild so I have been out and about on the rivers and managed to finally catch a decent smallie. Happy New Year to all and I wish all of you much success in your fishing endeavours. #smallmouth#riverfishing #riversmallies #riverrat #womenwhofish #girlswhofish #northernillinoisfishing

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.

ICE FISHING

Conditions are listed in the individual reports, but overall there will be ice building this week once the winds die down.

Click here for the regulations for public sites in the area.

LAKEFRONT PERCH

The blow will impact harbor and slip fishing, I think it will be another stretch where the Calumet and Chicago river systems will be the most consistent spots.

Tom Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait had another strong boat trip fishing perch in the downtown stretch of the Chicago River Tuesday. Other staff at Henry’s, which has regular hours of M-F 6:30 a.m.-7 p.m., Sat. 6 a.m.-7 p.m., Sun. 6 a.m.-5 p.m., said that the river downtown is the one consistent spot.

Capt. Rich Sleziak  at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station, Ind., which is open 5 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, texted:

Perch over weekend for groups in boats did good sort sort but a lot of fish mainly 95 th street all the way up around ford plant xl fatheads perch flys best

The Anglers Outlet  with regular hours of Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-7 p.m., Saturday 6-5, Sun. 6-3 is at its new location 17036 Oak Park Ave. in Tinley Park, a couple blocks north of Freddie Bear Sports.

Park Bait is closed for the winter.

ACCESS/PARKING OPTIONS FOR PERCHING CHICAGO LAKEFRONT

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 $6 parking. . . . 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.

PIER PASSES

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).

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Sample pier pass.
Provided by Chicago Park District

PARKING PASSES

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).

AREA LAKES

Fishable ice was nearly gone, even north, but is or will be back at least in northern areas this week. Southern areas, I kind of doubt whether fishable ice will be back any time soon.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley noted in his report:

Hey Dale,

Here is a recap of this past week’s fishing.
Area Lakes-Its the first week of January and early spring tactics are working for bass. Work outside weedlines with a lipless crankbait on sunny days. A slow retrieves with an occasional pause enticed a reaction strike from bass during midday hours.
A Strike King red eye shad was more dependable than a made Codey Parkey field goal!
TTYL
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

One of those weeks where it might be good to check, but then if you’re river fishing this time of year, you’re probably experienced.

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

Closed for the year.

CALUMET SYSTEM

It’s one of the perch hotspots, especially for boaters. See perch report above.

CHAIN O’LAKES/FOX RIVER BACKWATERS

Arden Katz said he was ice fishing on Nielsen’s Channel over the weekend and did best jigging the whole way down and most panfish came about halfway down. He expects with the weather shift back to winter that the front section may finally have fishable ice.

Art Frisell at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said with the wind and rain that open-water fishing is going with glow or pink jigs for crappie or bluegill, try for walleye with small or floating with split shot with floating jighead best. He expects that super cold should bring backwater ice again.

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

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Crappie caught Saturday downtown on the Chicago River.
Provided by Tom Palmisano/Henry’s Sports and Bait

Tom Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait texted the photo showing that more than perch are being caught in the Chicago River downtown. The catch came over the weekend.

Capt. Pat Harrison at Pat Harrison Outdoors sent this:

Chicago River Report,

First off Let me say Happy 2019, may this season bring you great fishing and BIG fish. Last week there wasn’t much time to fish with New Years  and Family get gatherings. I did get out on the river last Sunday more for a ride on the river to check out conditions and some of my spots. There were a lot of folks out catching Perch and I was told a guy caught a couple Large Mouth.

 This week is going to be a busy one too. My Boat Sponsor Store Lake County Water Sports will be displaying a full line of G3 Boats and Pontoons at the Chicago Boat Show at McCormick Place. We are loading in and setting up on Tuesday. The Show starts Thursday and runs through Sunday. If your looking for something to do this weekend stop by check out some Great Boats  and  Let’s talk fishing. If you book a trip during the show you will receive a 10% discount and an extra hour of fishing my way to start the New Season.

. . .

Hope these couple tips help put a fish or two on your hooks Good Luck and Good Fishing.

Capt. Pat

DELAVAN LAKE, WISCONSIN

Tim Baker sent this report:

Timmy Bakes Report

Lake Delavan
I haven’t heard that much about Lake Delavan since the recent warm up in weather. The silence in fishing reports online is an indicator to me that not many anglers are out fishing. I would suggest continuing to monitor reports and the weather before thinking about venturing out on the inlets of Lake Delavan. It is worth calling Lakeside Bait and Tackle (262) 725-7007 for an up to date report. Ice conditions change from day to day and no one will have better information than them, they’re located across from the launch!

DES PLAINES RIVER

Tim Baker sent this:

Timmy Bakes Report

Des Plaines River 

I fished a tributary of the Des Plaines River on the unusually warm Saturday morning hoping to run into a few northern but walked away from my 3 hours of fishing without even a sniff of a fish. The area I was fishing is highly pressured and can be a typically a tough bite but when fish show up, it is very rewarding and the fish are often times very large. I saw three other anglers that morning targeting the same few fish in the same few community holes that I was. No complaints here, it was just nice to be out.  One friend of mine was also on the DPR that Saturday fishing a different stretch of the river, he had the same results as me. Don’t let our reports discourage you, there are fish out there and they are biting, Saturday just wasn’t our day.

DOWNSTATE NOTES

POWERTON LAKE: The cooling lake in Pekin  is open for shore fishing, hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. LAKE SHELBYVILLE:  Check with Ken Wilson of Ken Wilson Guide ServiceREND LAKE: Check with Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing.

Larry Dozard of Larry’s Fishing Hole sent this update on closures and fall/winter hours at some Downstate sites:

BANNER MARSH:
* THIS AREA Will CLOSE TO BOAT FISHING on Oct. 17th. With the Last Day to Boat Fish being Oct. 16th
AND BANK FISHING ONLY ALLOWED AFTER 1PM but NO FISHING ALLOWED in EAST POINT ACCESS AREA, 
(lakes to the East) which is CLOSED TO ALL FISHING to provide a GOOSE REFUGE AREA during season
CLINTON LAKE:
An easterly area of Clinton Lake (The Waterfowl Refuge Area) between the DeWitt Bridge East (CH14) 
and the Rt. 48 Bridge . . . remains Closed typically until April 1st.
COFFEEN LAKE:
During the Central Zone waterfowl season: No fishing north of the railroad tracks (upper pool) 
until after 1pm daily through Jan. 31st
DOUBLE T STATE FISH and WILDLIFE AREA:
* THIS LAKE IS CLOSED TO FISHING – . . . till Feb. 1st
EMIQUON PRESERVE:
No boating, fishing or ice skating access before 12:00 pm during waterfowl hunting season.
Oct. 27 – Jan. 31
Lake users should be aware that hunting might occur on the Preserve other times as well.
EVERGREEN LAKE:
– A SOUTHERN PART OF EVERGREEN LAKE – AROUND DEER ISLAND and ALL OF SIX-MILE CREEK BAY
 IS CLOSED TO GAS from Oct. 15th through JAN. 1st to allow resting areas for migratory waterfowl.  
YOU ARE ALLOWED TO STILL RUN A TROLLING MOTOR ONLY IN THESE AREAS.
HENNEPIN-HOPPER LAKES:  * Lakes are CLOSED for season.. And will be Open spring 2019.
McMASTER LAKE at – SNAKEDEN HOLLOW:
Lake will CLOSE TO FISHING on Oct 15th . . . Lake will Re-Open on February 1st.
NEWTON LAKE:
As written in the fishing regs booklet : * The cold arm of Newton Lake shall be CLOSED daily 
 from one-half hour before sunrise until 1:00 pm to all fishing and boat traffic except for 
legal waterfowl hunters during waterfowl season commencing with regular duck season through 
the close of the Canada goose and regular duck season.
* For here – Regular South Waterfowl Season for 2018: Nov. 10 – Jan. 31
PRAIRIE LAKE in Jim Edgar/ Panther Creek State F&W Area:
Lake Partial Closures during Waterfowl Season from Nov. 1st to Jan. 15th 
Lake access is CLOSED until after 12:01 PM on Wednesday & Saturday.
POWERTON LAKE:
*- Lake Will RE-OPEN to Shore Fishing on Dec. 24th
– but – Will Remain CLOSED TO BOAT FISHING Until Feb. 15th
RICE LAKE: 
Will Re-Open at end of Duck & Goose season.
SANGCHRIS LAKE:
* THE WEST & EAST ARMS OF LAKE and Small AREA NEAR DAM WILL CLOSE DURING WATERFOWL SEASON to boat traffic . . . through Jan. 31, 2018
SPRING LAKE (South & North):
Last Day of Boat Fishing in Hunting Areas is Oct. 19th 
 As – THIS AREA will CLOSE TO BOAT FISHING in Hunting Area on Oct. 20th
— with BANK FISHING ALLOWED ONLY AFTER 1pm–
– AREAS THAT REMAIN OPEN TO BOATS ALL DAY ARE NORTH OF MAPLE ISLAND with ramp at 
 north end at the Sky Ranch Road launch and IN PIKE HOLE with carry in boats —
and Shore Fishing is allowed in entire lake after 1pm in Hunting areas or at boat ramps all day.

DuPAGE RIVER

No update.

FOX RIVER: WESTERN SUBURBS

No update.

FOX RIVER, WISCONSIN

No update.

GENEVA LAKE, WISCONSIN

I could use somebody to give winter reports.

GREEN BAY/STURGEON BAY

Lance LaVine at Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay sent this on Thursday:

Good morning fellas

The Perch fishing has been pretty good so far, but just be aware the ice is not super.  Ice thickness varies from 2 inches up to 6 inches pending on where you are at.  Sawyer Harbor, Little Sturgeon and Riley’s bay are generally the first bays to freeze up since they are the shallowest.

The Pike fishing has been fair…those same 3 shallow bays will produce some good numbers of Pike once we get safe ice cover along with some of the protected marinas in town.  Golden shiners under tip ups the best bet

The Whitefish fishing is non-existent due to the lack of ice cover over the areas that hold the majority of the Whitefish.  Once we do get safe ice cover, go-to spots will enclude…Henderson’s Point, Larsen’s Reef and the shoreline to the north of the Old Stone Quarry.

The Walleye bite however will require some time to start back up with ice condition needing to improve greatly to reach the areas the fish reside during the ice season. Sherwood Point, Henderson’s Point, the Potawatomi Park shoreline along with the vast shoreline to the north and south of Sturgeon Bay all good areas to target Walleyes during the ice season. Concentrate your efforts along the primary shoreline drop-offs along those areas once we get safe ice.

Sorry it’s not more in depth, we just do not have much ice/safe ice right now in our area.  Hope the next report will be more exciting

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

Closed for year.

ILLINOIS RIVER

Check with B&B Live Bait in Ottawa 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.

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

Some steelhead action in area creeks lots of pressure on then but still fish caught groups that walked way back in woods did well voodoo jigs and butterworms good spawn saks ok also move around cover water for best results

KANKAKEE RIVER

High, fast and stained.

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

See perch at top.

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Lake trout caught over the weekend at 95th.
Provided

Curt Pazdro messaged the photo above and these notes:

Got some big Lakers over the weekend biggest one 20 pounds . . . Mike heresko…stan tisher. Joe.tisher…off of 95th st in boat . . . From the fishing team at minooka

Capt. Pat Harrison at Pat Harrison Outdoors sent this:

Chicago River Report,

First off Let me say Happy 2019, may this season bring you great fishing and BIG fish.

. . .

Now a bit about the reports some Buddies of mine were out in Waukegan and a bit farther north on the lake front and they were jigging up some nice Trout and a few Salmon. I like to use blade baits Vibrations Tackle  Echo Tails tipped with a minnow for my jigging. Drop to the bottom take up slack rip it up 3 or 4 feet and let it down slow with a slight shake so it circles and hold on.  Spoons and Cast Masters work well to I like to change out the treble Hook for a good quality single hook and a strong split ring again tipped with a Fat Head minnow hooked trough the the meat in front of the tail and the top tail fin clipped out to knock of their equilibrium. Makes the minnow shake and move a lot more and draws interest.

Hope these couple tips help put a fish or two on your hooks Good Luck and Good Fishing.

Capt. Pat

Park Bait is closed for the winter. Snagging season is over.

LaSALLE LAKE

Closed to fishing.

MADISON CHAIN, WISCONSIN

D & S Bait can be followed on Facebook.

MAZONIA

Closed to fishing, except for Monster Lake at Mazonia South, which is open year-round to fishing.

MILWAUKEE HARBOR

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

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

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

After Friday and Saturday’s spring-like temperatures, Mother Nature gave us a reality check Sunday night into Monday in the form of snow.  The further east you go from Minocqua received the brunt of the storm.  Rain Monday morning should help pack down the snow on lakes making travel by ATV, snowmobile and foot still easy for this time of year.  Though caution is still advised with ATV and snowmobiles in some areas around creeks and aerators.  We still can’t recommend truck travel as most lakes reporting 8 to 12” of ice.  This past week’s weather brought a lot of anglers out on the ice with many reports of excellent fishing.

Walleye:  Very Good – Tip-up action has been great, from 4 in the evening to 7 at night, and pre-dawn to around 8 in the morning.  Suckers seem to be the minnow of choice rigged on a glow or red hook.  Jigging has been successful as well, in the 12’ to 18’ depths.  Jigging Raps, HpyoGlydes, Flutter Spoons have all been producing well.

Northern:  Very Good – These fish have been hungry and aggressive the past week.  Try working tip-ups along the 8-14’ weed edges.  Large shiners and suckers have been taking some good fish, with a few reports of 30”, to mid 30”, fish being caught.

Largemouth Bass:  Good – Most of these fish are being reported taking shiners under tip-ups when fishing for Pike.  Along with anglers targeting Gills and Crappies using small jigs and a grub.

Crappies:  Very Good – This past week’s weather has been great for tip-down fishing as holes wouldn’t freeze up on you.  11’ to 13’ of water has been the desired depths with a small fathead or rosie.  Jigging has been great too using slow dropping spoons tipped with a waxie or minnow head.  Size #4 tungsten jigs tipped with a bright colored plastic has been taking a lot of fish too.  Crappies have been biting well throughout the day, but 4 to 7 in the evening has been the hot bites.

Yellow Perch:  Good – Fish are coming over mud flats using jigging spoons like pimples, Venom Cores and Kastmasters tipped with spikes, wigglers or a minnow head.  Fish are coming on weed flats as well, try using large baits to keep the little ones off.

Bluegills:  Good – Fishing for Gills has been good this week.  A lot of fish being caught, but a lot of smaller Gills mixed in.  Try using a small tungsten jig with a piece of plastic (red, motor oil or purple seem to be the hot colors), tight to the bottom to get the larger fish.  Cabbage weeds in 6’ to 10’ of water is the best bet.

Midweek looks to be cool with high in teens and single digits for lows.  This should help firm up slushy areas left by the snow and rain.  Get out, be safe and good luck fishing!

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:

Perch over weekend for groups in boats did good sort sort but a lot of fish mainly 95 th street all the way up around ford plant xl fatheads perch flys best

Some steelhead action in area creeks lots of pressure on then but still fish caught groups that walked way back in woods did well voodoo jigs and butterworms good spawn saks ok also move around cover water for best results
Lots of people out over weekend good biz few crappie still being took around 248 bridge down from portage marina crappie minnows or jigs with waxworms best bait again move cover area water for best results

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

Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said not much going with the weather shifts and blow.

ST. JOSEPH RIVER, INDIANA

Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR.

SHABBONA LAKE

Lakeside–(815) 824-2581–is closed for the season (reopening when ice fishing comes).

Park hours are 8 a.m.- 5 p.m. through Jan. 31.

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.