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Winter arrives and builds fishable ice: Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report

Resized/Sun-Times

Largemouth bass caught from a local pond in 33-degree water.
Provided by Dave Holmquist

Conditions dramatically changed as winter finally arrived; ice fishing will be spreading across the whole area and that change leads this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

Dave Holmquist sent the photo above and this note on fishing a local pond:

Monday the 7th went to a local pond near home, water temp 37.2 and caught the first 4+ of the New Year, a 3-1/2 and a smaller one. Went to same pond on the 8th and caught a nice 3.10oz and went back on Wednesday the 9th just to see how cold you could get a bass to hit a jerkbait and in 33.8 water temps caught 1, lol air temp 19, wind chill 8.

I’m impressed.

Holmquist also included this video of getting out on the Cal system and fishing jerkbaits for bass and northern pike:

December 28th, January 6th, 7th and 8th we had banner days fishing jerkbaits in 35 to 36 water temps. On January 6th my partner Mike Fosco and I had to break through 200 yards of thin ice to get to open water 

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.

MAZONIA NOTE

In an operational change this winter, Mazonia North and the South Unit are both open now for either open-water fishing or ice fishing (at your own risk).

ICE FISHING

Conditions are listed in the individual reports, but overall things are changing and will be changing.

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

LAKEFRONT PERCH

The Calumet and Chicago river systems remain the most consistent spots and even they have been slower or at least tougher with the weather. The slips and harbors have been tough.

Staff at Henry’s Sports and Bait, 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 best to try the Chicago from boat or shore by the Riverwalk.

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

Groups in boats fishing past 100th street and farther did well on perch  xl fatheads still best bait  lots of perch way up in that river

People fishing usual 92 and 95 th bridges it’s a lot slower and day to day as of weekend the big loads of perch way up in river

The Anglers Outlet–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 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.

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).

Resized/Sun-Times

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 is back or building across the entire area. The wild card is the possibility of significant snow later this week.

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

Hey Dale,

Here is a recap of this past week’s fishing.
Area lakes- recent cold nights locked up lakes out south. The snow over the weekend will slow ice building. Hopefully there will be a season still.
I thought a would share a cool pic from the Lake house and cabin show this weekend
TTYL
Ken “Husker” O’Malley
Husker Outdoors
Waterwerks fishing team

I do enjoy the photo.

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

Closed for the year.

CALUMET SYSTEM

It’s one of the more consistent perch spots, especially for boaters. See perch report above.

Dave Holmquist sent this update from recent fishing:

Hello and Happy New Year Dale. Hope you and yours had a great Holiday season. Using the same email string we used to talk back in June for reference lol
Sending you some reports for your entertainment. What a strange fall early winter we had. November was like January and killed our fall bite. Was able to get out once on November 24th and had a decent day catching LM’s on jerkbaits but the fun catch (snagged on a jerkbait) was an enormous 19-5/8” 3lb 4oz shad. Too bad Illinois’s shad state record is for spear and bow fishing only, because this was 2ozs bigger than the current record. Pics attached for that.
December 28th, January 6th, 7th and 8th we had banner days fishing jerkbaits in 35 to 36 water temps. On January 6th we had to break through 200 yards of thin ice to get to open water https://youtu.be/4hPmJ8ZLTlU we then caught a dozen bass and pike in 4hrs. Best 5 bass went 16-1/4lbs

CHAIN O’LAKES/FOX RIVER BACKWATERS

See tomorrow’s column for an update on access points for ice fishing. By the weekend, ice fishing should be widespread I think.

Arden Katz said there was “unbelievable action” on bluegills and some crappie on Nielsen’s Channel; jigging tungsten jigs tipped with two maggots through water column. He expects more will be fishing the front channel later this week. Hermann’s has an ice fishing contest 6 a.m.-1 p.m. Sunday.

Brad Irving at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said it is mainly waiting for the widespread ice fishing that will set up this week.

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

No update from Capt. Pat Harrison at Pat Harrison Outdoors.

DELAVAN LAKE, WISCONSIN

No update.

DES PLAINES RIVER

No update.

DOWNSTATE NOTES

POWERTON LAKE: The cooling lake in Pekin  is open for shore fishing, hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Boat fishing reopens Feb. 15. 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.
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
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

Violet Talley is going to start giving reports on the Fox from herself and some friends. Otherwise, this is a tough week to start and she noted, “All I can tell you that the water is up just a little and the eddy’s are starting to freeze up.”

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 Afternoon fellas

Here is what I came up with as for an update on the ice fishing

We are finally starting to get some ice cover here in Door County…now with that said, it’s not safe ice everywhere.  The most stable ice is still in the backs of the bays which are…Little Sturgeon, Riley’s Bay and Sawyer Harbor.  The weather looks like it’s going to take a turn for the better, meaning the forecast coming up looks to be quite cold and should start to add to the ice thickness and may allow fishermen to spread out and do a bit of venturing.  We just hope the wind stays away so the ice stays locked in.

So up until this point, the Perch fishing has been going pretty good especially when you can stay away from the large groups that make a bunch of noise.  A wide variety of jigs tipped with minnows, waxies, spikes and plastics have been working and also tip up fishing with shiners and Rosy Reds working well at times

The Pike fishing has also been providing some fair action in all of the same shallow bays.  Suspending golden shiners, suckers and dead bait under tip-ups and auto fishermen has been the best method.  And again, trying to stay as far away from the big groups and noise as possible is always a plus

There have been some decent Whitefish reports coming in from the folks that are sneaking out to a bit deeper water.  Now with that said, the ice is still quite iffy and anyone that goes out there should definitely fish with a buddy and really do some homework before heading out!

Better areas for Whitefish especially once the ice becomes very safe include…Hederson’s Point, Riley’s Point, Sherwood Point along with the shoreline to the north of the Old Stone Quarry all good spots with massive amounts of Whitefish in those areas.  A wide variety of jigs will work for those Whitey’s as they will pretty much eat anything.  And tip your jigs with waxies, spikes, minnow pieces and plastics

There have been a few Brown Trout reports also trickling in.  Most of the reports have been coming in from guys fishing the very protected harbors and inside marinas that have walkable ice.  Medium golden shiners  under tip-ups and auto fishermen have been good.  Also, jigging with spoons and rippin raps has been quite effective at times

Not much to report on as far as the Walleye fishing is concerned mainly because of the lack of safe ice cover. As the ice does thicken over the so called “Walleye Hot Spots”  Some of those spots include…Henderson’s Point, Sherwood point and Larsen’s Reef.  OddBall jigs, Rapala jigs, rippin raps and slab raps all go-to jigs

Thanks;

Lance LaVine

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

Been waiting a long time for a better report on whitefish possibilities.

Like how LaVine worded that:

The weather looks like it’s going to take a turn for the better, meaning the forecast coming up looks to be quite cold and should start to add to the ice thickness and may allow fishermen to spread out and do a bit of venturing.  We just hope the wind stays away so the ice stays locked in.

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:

Steelhead action better over weekend for a lot of fisherman section of creek near bass pro was ok along with 1/49 behind burns harbor police station back in woods off beaten trail
Voodoo jigs tipped with butterworms or waxworms best spawn saks taking some fish also

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

See perch at top. When weather allows, there are lakers being caught out of 95th.

Park Bait is closed for the winter.

LaSALLE LAKE

Closed to fishing.

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

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

While Snowmobilers and Skiers can’t be happy with the conditions in the Lakeland Area (not much for snow), anglers have everything to be happy about as local lakes are getting ice thick enough for truck travel.

Lots of lakes reporting 13-16”+ thickness, coupled with lack of snow, access has been great.

Bluegill:  Very Good-Fair – Excellent reports late into week until southeast winds seemed to shut things off.  Good catches in 7-12’ weeds using #3 ; #4 tungsten jigs (Fiskas, Skandias) in greens, yellows and oranges tipped with waxies, spikes or green yellow or red plastics (J:S, TJ’s).  Better reports on size as anglers catching nice 7-8”+ Gills.

Crappies:  Very Good-Fair – Same type of reports, action slowed over weekend, most likely wind shift.  Slow dropping Lethal Cecil spoons and small slender spoons tipped with waxies or plastics in white or silver.  Tip-downs have been effective using small fatheads or rosies.  Nice Crappies in the 10-13” range, best mid-mornings, again mid to late afternoons.

Northern Pike:  Very Good-Fair – Lots of flags flying according to reports.  Big shiners, suckers on tip-ups in 8-14’.  Fish have been active, so running baits 12-18” over weed tops has been very effective.

Walleye:  Very Good-Fair – Working humps and rises of 12-18’ using suckers on tip-ups, as well as jigging spoons (Flutter Spoons, Northland Rattle Spoons), tipped with a head of a medium to large fathead minnow.  Nice catches before the weekend, including a reported 31”er on a tip-up!

Yellow Perch:  Good-Fair – Lots of smaller Perch in 8-16’, but for larger Perch, fish deeper 16-28’+.  Venom tungsten glow spoons, Halis and Pimples tipped with red spikes or wigglers.  Tip downs with minnows also effective, though forecast for weekend (lows below 0 degrees) may limit tip-down success.

Largemouth Bass:  Good-Fair – Tip-ups with medium shiners in 7-12’ cabbage.  Some action on jigging spoons with minnow heads.

Midweek looks good to start, shift in wind, warmer temps, but dropping temps through weekend could make things tough.  Being able to drive on most (but not all) lakes will help with access.  Lack of mobility will be due to cold, but as ice builds, mobility will only get better.

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

Truck travel.

NORTHWEST INDIANA

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

Groups in boats fishing past 100th street and farther did well on perch  xl fatheads still best bait  lots of perch way up in that river

People fishing usual 92 and 95 th bridges it’s a lot slower and day to day as of weekend the big loads of perch way up in river
Steelhead action better over weekend for a lot of fisherman section of creek near bass pro was ok along with 1/49 behind burns harbor police station back in woods off beaten trail
Voodoo jigs tipped with butterworms or waxworms best spawn saks taking some fish also
Cold weather coming end of week should be some ice shortly we have all ice gear in stock from augers to tip ups to all ice bait 5 to 5 everyday this time of year

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 there’s a few steelhead being caught at Berrien Springs.

ST. JOSEPH RIVER, INDIANA

Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR.

SHABBONA LAKE

Clint Sands at Lakeside said on Tuesday that there are still pockets of open water from the geese, otherwise there is 1-2 inches of ice. He thinks the tentative reopening of Lakeside–(815) 824-2581–will come next Thursday, Jan. 24.

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

Sturgeon spearing season opens Feb. 9. Click here for details.

WISCONSIN DELLS

Check with River’s Edge.

WISCONSIN RIVER

No update.

WOLF LAKE

No update.

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

No update.