Swinging/slopping in Chicago fishing, joys of February: Midwest Fishing Report
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The weather swings of February keep rolling around Chicago fishing and are the biggest impact on this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.
Luis Gonzalez sent the photo at the top from Montrose Harbor and this report:
The lake is still completely locked up. This is Montrose lakeside, its froze as far as the eye could see. It will be a while before were able to powerline.
He added an observation I completely understand:
Very serene feeling being there yesterday. I stood for almost an hour with another fishing buddy of mine.
Standing at Montrose is one of my holy spots.
David Martin Repya sent the photo below from Portage, Ind., along with his report from northwest Indiana.
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 EVENTS
The Friends of Fishing eighth annual Ice Fishing Derby looks like a go 5 a.m.-noon Saturday, Feb. 16, at Rogers/Lakewood Park in Valparaiso, Ind. Any questions, call Randy Hall at (219) 730-1566.
* FYI: The LVVA Ice Fishing Derby, benefiting TLS Veterans Outdoors, has been rescheduled for March 2 on Bangs Lake in Wauconda.
MICHIGAN FREE FISHING WEEKEND
Michigan has a free fishing weekend this weekend.
Here are the basics from the Michigan DNR:
Everyone in Michigan is invited to fish for free Saturday, Feb. 16 and Sunday, Feb. 17, for the 2019 Winter Free Fishing Weekend. A license is not required to fish those two days, but all other fishing regulations still apply. Throughout this weekend, too, state parks will waive the Recreation Passport entry fee normally required for vehicle entry.
PUBLIC SITE ICE-FISHING REGS
Click here for the updated regulations on ice fishing around public sites in Chicago fishing.
Ice fishing is variable, but there is one constant most areas have is sloppiness, so be prepared with rubber boots and cleats.
Staff at Henry’s Sports and Bait said some small pike and walleye are being caught at Wampum. Last week, as FOTW will show, some nice pike came from there, too.
Click here for the updated regulations on ice fishing around public sites in Chicago fishing.
Considering all the weather swings, probably a good week to check on river conditions. 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
Scheduled to reopen March 1.
CHAIN O’LAKES/FOX RIVER BACKWATERS
Brad Irving at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said they are doing well on crappie in 14-8 feet on the south end of Channel on the outside weed line; some good-sized perch on fatheass on Swedish Pimples and Kastmasters on Petite; continued good bluegill on the northwest corner of Deep; there’s some pike and a few walleye (northeast corner) on East Loon.
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.
Capt. Pat Harrison at Pat Harrison Outdoors sent this:
Chicago River and Lake Michigan Report,
Well the weather is twofold for some it’s keeping them in the house others it’s keeping them off open water but for the rest you guys have the ice you’ve been waiting for. I spent the weekend at the Tinley Park Show and talked to a lot of people Thank you to all that stopped and the Pat Harrison Outdoors Booth. We talked fishing, gear, locations, weather and reports.
I was told some of the guys are fishing off the piers in the harbors their drilling next to the piers and fishing off them, said a few nice Perch, Small Bass and a hammer handle Northern came through the hole. This weather still has the river locked up but as soon as the water flows I’m back out to start finding fish. This year I am adding a few other locations I will be fishing the Illinois River and the Three Rivers area where the Illinois Desplaines and Kankakee rivers come together. I will also be fishing out of Wilmette, Winthrop and Waukegan Harbors. In Wisconsin I will be fishing the Wisconsin River right after ice out Walleye, Racine and Kenosha Harbor area on the lake.
The Chain is producing some nice Crappie and a few walleyes through the ice in the Channels and main lakes. My buddy Chris from T Bone has his crew doing guided ice fishing on the chain and in Wisconsin Billy Heim Night Prowler Guide Service offers guided ice trips on Geneva ,Delevan and Green Lakes.
This will be the first year that I am going to go to the Indianapolis Show to spent some time with Grandt Rods my Rod Sponsor. If you make any of the shows the rest of the season and stop by my booth I have my 2019 Grandt Rods in the booth .
Hope everyone has a Great Week feel free to contact me if you choose to PatHarrisonOutdoors@ gmail.com or facebook Pat Harrison Outdoors – Fishing Adventures, with any fishing questions or reports.
Thanks Capt. Pat
DELAVAN LAKE, WISCONSIN
DES PLAINES RIVER
In flood, especially northern areas.
Tim Baker sent this, which I think is good stuff:
The local rivers remain very high with almost all of the snow quickly melting during the recent warming trend. That being said, I haven’t been out fishing on the Dirty D (The Des Plaines River to you) but I am anticipating a lively spring on the river. Pike should begin to think about spawning once the river waters reach at least 40 degrees. Females fish can get their heaviest during the spring as they fill with eggs in preparation for the spawn. If you’re going to target spawning fish please remember to use thought while handling and hopefully releasing. Keep your fisheries strong by releasing the big ones.
I know today it seems unlikely, but those 40-degree waters are not that far away.
POWERTON LAKE: Reopened to shore fishing last week. Boat fishing is scheduled to reopen Friday, Feb. 15.
LAKE SHELBYVILLE: Check with Ken Wilson of Ken Wilson Guide Service. REND LAKE: Check with Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing. HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Have not yet seen the opening day for spring/summer fishing to begin.
FOX RIVER: WESTERN SUBURBS
Flooding at McHenry dam, near flood stage at Montgomery,
FOX RIVER, WISCONSIN
GENEVA LAKE, WISCONSIN
GREEN BAY/STURGEON BAY
Lance LaVine at Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. sent this:
Good afternoon fellas. Here’s a quick update on the ice fishing
The overall ice thickness around the county is pretty good for the most part. Anywhere from 8 to 20 inches pending on where you are at. The issue fishermen are having is on the ice travel part of things because of the amount of snow and slush we have on the ice currently. And to make matters worse, they are calling for a substantial snowstorm for our area mid-week which could really cause some problems unless you travel by tracked vehicle or snowmobile. Let’s just hope the weather forecasters are wrong!
The Whitefish action has been going pretty well for the most part throughout the area. I will class it as good to very good overall. And if you stay away from other fishermen….like a long ways away from other fishermen, the Whitefish action can be classed as excellent. One of the main keys, for any species is to stay quiet and not follow the groups of fishermen around. Whitefish are all over the place and will bite very good if they are calm and not spooky. So just find a quiet spot out there and start jigging. You can catch them in 10 feet of water out to 100 feet of water and everywhere in-between. There are tons of baits that will work, but some of them include….Rapala Jigs, Storm Wild Eye Jigs, Howie’s Goby Head tipped with a minnow or plastic and Sweedish Pimples just to name a few. And most folks run some kind of a slider above their main jig. For the most part, if you’re not fishing plastics, tip your jigs and sliders with waxies, spikes and or minnow pieces
Pike action has been going quite good in our area basically from the 3 southern bays starting with Little Sturgeon all the way up to Washington Island with some very big Pike getting iced. The depth vary from as shallow as 3 feet of water out to that 30 foot range pending on the area. Suspend sucker minnows, golden shiners and or dead/frozen bait under tip-ups or auto fishermen through the area you are fishing at different depths
Walleye fishing is just normal Walleye fishing for our area and for this time of year. Which means some days you get a bite or two and some days your just practicing, but the bite you get may just be the biggest one you’ll ever catch and that’s why we do it. The Walleye fishing picks up here in Door County near the end of February and into March even April pending on our ice cover. The best baits to have in the box include…Rippin Raps, Slab Raps, Rapala Jigs and OddBall jigs just to name a few. And pending on the jig, tip them with a full shiner or fat head or just the head
Perch fishing has been going quite well overall. Little Sturgeon, the Sawyer Harbor area and some areas out in the big bay from out in front of Riley’s Bay south to Chaudoirs Dock. Out in that deeper water you have to do a little more searching, but once you find them, they are generally nice sized fish. Fatheads, shiners, Rosy Reds, waxies and spikes will all work. The big key here again is to steer clear of other fishermen for the best success
1309 Green Bay Rd
Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235
Click here to see the Wisconsin DNR’s Lake Michigan Fishing Report.
Scheduled to reopen April 1.
Projected to remain in flood into next week at LaSalle, where crest is projected for Friday at 24.7 feet.
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.
Ice jams are easing, river receding.
Click here to see the Wisconsin DNR’s Lake Michigan Fishing Report. It generally comes out Tuesday.
Weather/conditions limited effort. Some are busting holes and trying in the harbors. When the weather settles, or if it ever does, it might be worth trying for early coho.
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.
Scheduled to reopen March 15.
MADISON CHAIN, WISCONSIN
Because of an operational change, both units are now open for fishing. Any ice fishing is at your own risk. No recent reports.
Click here to see the Wisconsin DNR’s Lake Michigan Fishing Report. It is generally out Tuesdays.
Kurt Justice of Kurt’s Island Sport Shop in Minocqua, Wis. emailed this:
Fishing in the Lakeland area got a little tougher after a week of snow and cold. Snow could have been worse, luckily it was light enough to blow off the lakes to some extent. The frozen crust from the earlier ice storm did protect some, but overall on the lakes it’s not bad.
The cold (29 below 2/9) kept more anglers off the ice than the snow did.
Largemouth Bass: Good-Very Good – Huh? I’m constantly reporting how largemouth never seem to get active during the ice season till temps get above 20 degrees. A group of high school students this weekend proved me wrong, as Largemouth were by far the most consistent fish caught during a recent ice tourney. Medium shiners on tip-ups did the trick, though some jigging did produce. Bass to 20” over the weekend
Northern Pike: Fair – Good – Big shiners along 10-14’ weeks. Nice Pike including a fat 34” C&R during tourney.
Bluegill: Fair – Cold and snow slowed anglers pursuing Gills, but some decent reports, from those willing to stick it out, using waxies on teardrops jigs in 8-10’ weeds.
Perch: Fair – Anglers picking up some shallow weed fish in 8-12’ using small minnows or pimples loaded with waxies.
Walleye: Fair – Best towards dusk on suckers on tip-ups.
Crappies: Fair – After a hot bite last weekend during warm period, things have slowed. Anglers seeing Crappies, just tough to get to bite. Best downsizing with small plastics.
Better temps, but chance for more snow could make travel tougher by truck. Snowmobiles and quads with tracks may be a requirement by next weekend. Will try to add update by mid-week.
Feb 16th – 3rd Annual Rob Lemmer Memorial Ice Fishing Tournament – Lake Katherine in Hazelhurst
Feb 23rd – 6th Annual Carrol Lake Ice Fishing Tournament – Carrol Lake in Woodruff
Feb 23rd – 13th Annual Lake Tomahawk Family Fun Fisheree – Lake Tomahawk
Feb 23rd – Annual Claus Kraetke Memorial Ice Fishing Jamboree – Donners Bay Resort – Turtle Flambeau Flowage
David Martin Repya messaged this report on the lakefront:
M.C.iced in..Port too..A few browns and coho at Portage..Variable at best..Surt of Steelhead in ditch by bass pro..Water can’t get clean with weather.
Lots of pack ice by Gary to the west..
Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station, Ind. texted:
Over weekend ice was 4 to 6 inches most ponds and lakes lots of groups fishing some decent catch’s and a lot of slow days for groupsWillow slough lots of people out on ice results all over the place from very good to slow bass on tip ups pretty good golden roachs and suckers gills a lot of nice ones a lot of dink’sValpo chain loomis and long lake had a good number of fisherman a few gills and bass here and there
ROCK RIVER, ILLINOIS
ROCK RIVER, WISCONSIN
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 a few steelhead are being caught at Berrien Springs. Ice anglers taking some crappie in the channel at Lake of the Woods.
ST. JOSEPH RIVER, INDIANA
Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR.
Ken “Husker” O’Malley sent this:
Hey Dale,Here is a recap of this past week’s fishing.Shabbona Lake- Ice condition are good as the average thickness was 10 inches. Ice cleats are a must as there is little snow cover. Crappie are excellent during morning hours on wack’em and stack’em custom plastics. Focus on deep cribs using bright colors as the water clarity is very cloudy. Using lead jigs for a larger profile and aggressive jigging motion worked best. Afternoon hours, focus on brush piles for bluegill and perch action.TTYL—Ken “Husker” O’Malley
Waterwerks fishing team
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.
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 opened Saturday, Feb. 9. Click here for details.
As of Monday afternoon, after Day 3, this was the update from the Wisconsin DNR:
Today marked the 3rd day of the 2019 sturgeon spearing season on the Winnebago System, a day where 42 fish were registered. Things have really slowed down on the Upriver Lakes as only 19 fish were registered today bringing the season total to 201. Of the 19 fish harvested today, 6 were adult females. We are currently 25 adult females away from the 90% trigger on the Upriver Lakes and 34 adult females away from the harvest cap. Given the weather forecast tomorrow into Wednesday and the relatively low harvest numbers today, we are anticipating an extended season on the Upriver Lakes that likely will go into the weekend. There were 23 sturgeon harvested from Lake Winnebago today. A more detailed breakdown of today’s harvest can be accessed through the following link:
There were 4 fish harvested today that were 100 pounds or larger, 2 of which were harvested from the Upriver Lakes and 2 from Lake Winnebago. The largest fish of the day was 126.2 pounds (79.2”) and registered at Stockbridge Harbor my Matt Leitner of Chilton. A photo of Matt with his fish can be accessed through the following link:
The forecasted weather has caused many sturgeon spearers to pull their shanties from the Winnebago Pool Lakes today. We are anticipating a substantial reduction in effort for tomorrow and possibly into Wednesday. Due to the weather and slow registration numbers, we have closed our Quinney registration station until further notice. The station will reopen again this season but will be closed on Tuesday and possibly Wednesday. Successful spearers that were planning to register their fish at Quinney should plan to register their fish at Stockbridge or Pipe (Jim and Linda’s).
Sturgeon Vignette: The 1959 Sturgeon Spearing Season!
The 1959 Sturgeon Spearing season was a unique season in that there were open fisheries on Lake Winnebago, the Upriver Lakes and Little Lake Butte des Morts. Ice conditions were great (22-35”), but heavy snowfalls and drifting snow made transportation very challenging. There were 221 fish harvested from Lake Winnebago that season and another 297 from the Upriver Lakes. I have included a few documents about the season that can be accessed through the following links:
I hope you enjoy reading up on a little bit of history and good luck during the remainder of the season!
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Staff at Henry’s Sports and Bait said action and effort by ice fishermen slowed.
WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN