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The changing seasons: Chicago fishing, the Midwest Fishing Report

Warning signs were already up Tuesday afternoon along the Iroquois River, which is expected to reach major flood stage in spots later this week.
Credit: Dale Bowman

Conditions changed dramatically over the past couple days, though ice fishing may hold in northern areas, and that makes for a variable sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

The scene above was taken Tuesday along the Iroquois River, which is expected to rise to major flood stage later this week.

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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.

AREA LAKES

Other than some spots in northern areas, ice fishing is gone or will be in most areas.

As Ken “Husker” O’Malley nicely summed it up:

Hey Dale,

Here is a recap of this week’s area fishing.
One word can describe it. Waiting.
Ice will go off area lakes so there may be open water opportunities next weekend. Area rivers will not be fishable with the heavy rain expected.
Over the weekend helped my neighbor pick out his first boat. Now the days to the opener for the coolers can’t come quick enough.
TTYL
Ken “Husker” O’Malley
Husker Outdoors
Waterworks fishing team

I have the opening dates for the cooling lakes listed below.

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.

AREA WATER LEVELS

Probably a good week to check water levels. 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 March 1.

CALUMET SYSTEM

No update.

CHAIN O’LAKES

Greg Dickson at Triangle Sports and Marine said Tuesday morning, “I don’t know. I wish I could tell you. As it stands right now, we are still getting guys coming in who are going out [ice fishing]. . . . Deep Lake will hold its ice better than most and I am sure guys will be able to go on Geneva and Delavan. It is a wait and see pattern.’’

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

CHICAGO RIVER/CHICAGO LAKEFRONT

Capt. Pat Harrison at Pat Harrison Outdoors sent this:

Chicago River and Lake Front Report,

  I have been at Shows most weekends talking fishing and booking trips. With this coming weeks warm weather and rain the river and lake front should be open very soon. My Boat is ready to go all loaded with gear. The Perch fishing has slowed down spoke to a few guys that have been trying the past week or so. I will be at shows throughout the next 5 weeks and I hope to be fishing by the end of this week.

  If you’re an ice fisherman Please be Extra Careful if your still thinking of going out after this week’s warm up.  I would almost think the ice season here has come to an end. I am looking forward to an Outstanding 2018 Season and hope it starts soon, Have a Great week.

 Capt. Pat

DELAVAN LAKE, WISCONSIN

No update.

DES PLAINES RIVER

No update.

DOWNSTATE NOTES

POWERTON: Shore and boat fishing are open, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. daily. 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.

FOX RIVER: WESTERN SUBURBS

River is in flood at Montgomery; projected to reach moderate flood stage at Dayton.

FOX RIVER: WISCONSIN

No update.

GENEVA LAKE, WISCONSIN

No update.

GREEN BAY/STURGEON BAY

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

Good afternoon fellas.  Here is a quick run-down on the fishing

Whitefish action continues to please throughout the county.  And it seems like most fishermen, especially the return fishermen to the area are starting to figure out that staying clear from the BIG groups is key as their success rate is really going up.  I can’t say it enough, but Whitefish are truly all over the place on the bay-side of the Peninsula, from 5 feet of water out past 100 feet.  Just stay mobile and away from other people.  An assortment of jigs with slider hooks tipped with minnow pieces, waxies, spikes and plastics work well

Perch fishing has also been going quite well and could be even better if fishermen would not play follow the leader.  Quiet, small groups are the key ingredient here too.  Fish hate noise and traffic, so the more people in one area lessens your chances for a productive day.  Areas to try…the Big Bay out in some of that deeper water around the rites cove area up past Riley’s Bay, Little Sturgeon is a great spot, the inner bay of Riley’s Bay and also Sawyer Harbor.  Rosy Reds, shiners, waxies and spikes all good options for live bait

Pike action has been OK and will just get better as we move through February and into March.  Sturgeon Bay, Little Sturgeon and even some of the northern Door County bays can be very good for big Pike.  Large Golden shiners and sucker minnows under tip ups and auto fishermen the method of choice

Walleye fishing seems to be picking up a bit now as it usually does.  It’s not great yet but the bites are starting to become more frequent.  And as most trophy fishermen know, the one or two bites you get up here can be from a huge one.  Jigging Raps, Moonshine shiver minnows and Odd Ball jigs are on top of the list for most popular baits.  Tip your jigs with full minnows and or minnow pieces

Thanks;

Lance LaVine

Howie’s Tackle
1309 Green Bay Rd
Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235
Ph: 920-746-9916

“Whitefish action continues to please” is a nice turn of phrase. I may need to borrow it some day.

HEIDECKE LAKE

Reopens April 1.

ILLINOIS RIVER

River is projected to reach major flood stage later this week at LaSalle.

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

INDIANA STREAMS (LAKE MICHIGAN TRIBUTARIES)

Creeks are blown out.

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.

Fisherman’s shelter below the Kankakee Dam on Feb. 20, 2018.
Credit: Dale Bowman

KANKAKEE RIVER

River is projected to reach major flood stage in some areas; as is the Iroquois River (scene at the top) later this week. But that did not stop two fishermen from fishing below the Kankakee Dam Tuesday, despite water already up enough to be lapping on the shelter floor and the flood nearly obscuring the dam.

Check with Nick Carr at Kankakee River Trading Post in Altorf for fishing updates.

KENOSHA, WISCONSIN

No update.

LAKE ERIE

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

LAKEFRONT

Weather has limited effort, but staff at Henry’s Sports and Bait said some, especially the powerliners, are trying for coho while perch fishermen continue to take perch, especially inside the harbors, such as DuSable. Remember pier passes are available at Henry’s Sports and Bait. The passes allow for legal access to select piers. They cost $6 cash with one per valid fishing license. NOTE: Park Bait at Montrose is closed for the season.

LaSALLE LAKE

Reopens to fishing on March 15. It will be open daily.

MADISON CHAIN, WISCONSIN

Gene Dellinger at D & S Bait said Tuesday, “Ice is holding. Shorelines are still holding as of this moment. I am sure we will be [ice] fishing this weekend.”

Check the latest from D & S Bait on Facebook.

MAZONIA

Ice fishing is done, probably for the year, but both Mazonia South and North are open for fishing.

Check with Jon Meder at Jon’s Bait Shop–(815) 237-2822–in South Wilmington.

MENOMINEE RIVER, WISCONSIN

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

MILWAUKEE HARBOR

No update.

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

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

Thanks to a holiday weekend, decent weather and the Wisconsin High School State Championship, the Lakeland area was busy with ice anglers this past weekend.

Fishing started out slow on Thursday and Friday as high pressure didn’t help anglers trying to catch uninterested fish.  But Saturday, with a change in the weather, action improved.

Northern Pike:  Fair-Good – Some very nice fish in the mid 30” range on the largest of shiners and suckers.  10-14’ depths brought about the largest fish where that water was available, but nice fish from shallower flats also came in.

Crappie:  Fair-Good – Action dipped but picked up by weekend.  Deep water still best with anglers using Tungsten jigs and spoons to work waxies and even plastics, as well as a decent minnow bite when weather allowed for tip-downs or inside shacks.  Look for suspended fish 4-6’ up off bottom.

Yellow Perch:  Fair-Good – Similar action with perch preferring wigglers or red spikes on Hali jigs, Tungsten Demons and Chandeliers.  A preference for small minnows was seen as bite improved.

Bluegill:  Fair- Good – Improving catches in standing cabbage.  Anglers doing well using #10 rockers tipped with plastics in red, maroon, black, purple and motor oil.  #3 Fiskas tipped with small J&S plastics or Chena also good.

Walleye:  Poor-Fair – Some improvement as weekend progressed (Big Walleyes caught and released on Minocqua chain of 28, 27 & 26 1/4”, but that fishery NOT open ‘til May 2020.)  Best action deep on most lakes using 3” suckers, large fats on large rosies.  Jigging Raps and Slab Raps accounted for several nice Eyes over weekend (18-23”)

Largemouth Bass:  Poor-Fair – Medium shiners or large slender spoons best.

The Wisconsin Interscholastic Fishing Association did an outstanding job running their State Championship here.  Great organization and the participants did a great job of representing their high schools, their upbringing and the great sport of ice fishing.  I encourage anyone reading our post to support this organization and the young anglers that participate.  Our hats off to you!

Tournaments

2/24       Carroll Lake Ice Derby

Lake Tomahawk Family Ice Derby

Kurt Justice
Kurt’s Island Sport Shop
www.kurtsislandsports.com
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EAGLE RIVER: This update came from B+L, from reports from Colin Crawford of Colin Crawford Guide Service, for the Eagle River Chamber of Commerce:

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

The stable weather should make for an uptick in action on all area lakes. Some area lakes are also marked with barrels for snowmobiles, so be sure to punch your holes away from the trail areas.

Reminder: Gamefish season in Wisconsin closes March 4th and boundary water lakes closes March 1st (such as Lac Vieux Desert and some of the Cisco Chain).

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. Crappies are being caught in the weeds mixed in with some gills and are still out suspended over the deeper holes and mudflats.

NORTHWEST INDIANA

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

Crappie good in ditch 249 bridge area before all the rain blowed out now

Some browns and a coho here and ther at river walk in portage on squid and casting everything blowed out now gonna be a good few days before water goes down

ROCK RIVER, WISCONSIN

No update.

ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN

No update.

ST. JOSEPH, MICHIGAN

Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor, Mich. said there were some walleye and steelhead at Berrien Springs and the sucker bite is going on the lower river.

ST. JOSEPH RIVER, INDIANA

Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR.

SHABBONA LAKE

Clint Sands at Lakeside said the bluegill and perch were good over the weekend, but he thinks today will be the end of the ice fishing. Probably best to call Lakeside first–(815) 824-2581–to check conditions later this week.

Lakeside is open seven days a week, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. as long as ice fishing holds or at least for now. 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.

SOUTHEAST WISCONSIN LAKEFRONT

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. Streads flow info is at http://waterdata.usgs.gov/wi/nwis/current?type=flow.

WINNEBAGO SYSTEM, WISCONSIN

Sturgeon spearing will run through Sunday as scheduled. Click here for more information.

WISCONSIN DELLS

Check with River’s Edge.

WISCONSIN RIVER

No update.

WOLF LAKE

No update.

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

No update.