Chicago Sun-Times
Stray Casts will intelligently report and observe, hopefully with a touch of wit, on daily occurrences, reports and releases related to Chicago-area outdoors from bucks to bass to birds to bugs

Cautious Chain ice fishing leads the Midwest Fishing Report

| No Comments | No TrackBacks


Cautious ice fishing on the Fox Chain leads the Midwest Fishing Report. The backwaters have had explosive action for bluegill and some crappie. But, the key word is cautious as main lake area areas have open water.

This is the extended online version of the MFR, which appears in the Sun-Times on Wednesdays. Normally, I post the online MFR by Wednesday morning.

If you have suggestions, post a comment or let me know at


Primary sources: Triangle Sports & Marine or Capt. Darrell Baker

The hot channel from the report of friends has been T Channel, but other channels have been producing good bluegill too.

Triangle reported bluegill are being caught in most back channels on waxies and small jigs. Crappie are best early and late on small minnows, Rat Finkees or Little Atom.

Walleye are just starting on tip-ups tipped with roaches or jigging with minnow heads, stay near shore in 6 feet. White bass are slow, be extremely cautious looking in deeper water, main lake ice conditions are treahcerous.

There's been some really nice pike caught, enough that it might be worth a tipup with large or jumbo roaches. A 42-inch came out of the T Channel, a 36-inch out of Meyer's Bay and something like four out of Loon.

Chain access points: Most charge $5 for parking, but most will also strike a deal for those who come in to eat or drink. At the T Channel, the best early-ice spot, staff at Famous Freddie's--(847) 587 9677--said fishermen could park for free in back if they leave by 11:30 a.m. Or, go in and eat. By the way, that's good advice all around to help build good will.

On Channel Lake, Chopper's Bar--(847) 838-1230--and the Thirsty Turtle--(847) 395-4704--both offer deals for fishermen. At Spring Lake, there's Joe's Rock N Wave Diner--(847) 838-9283. On Lake Marie, which has open water, there's Barnacle Bob's--(847) 395-2036.

More Chain info at


Primary sources: Kolar Bait and Henry's Sports, Bait & Marine

Ice fishing started on many lakes and ponds over the weekend, even south of the city, but that was knocked back by the rain/snow of the past few days. Conditions should firm up quickly in most areas with the forecast cold.

Here is the ice fishing information for the winter of 2008-09:

CHICAGO LAGOONS: Closed to ice fishing because of liability concerns.

COOK: It's ice fish at your own risk on the designated ice-fishing lakes of the forest preserve: Arrowhead, Axehead, Beck, Belleau, Big Bend, Bode South, Bullfrog, Busse main and south, Horsetail, Ida, Maple, Papoose, Powderhorn, Saganashkee, Sag Quarry east and west, Tampier, Turtlehead and Wampum.

DuPAGE: Unless otherwise posted, it's ice fish at your own risk on forest preserve waters (4 inches of ice is recommended). Spring Creek Reservoir in Bloomingdale is closed to ice fishing (fluctuating levels). Late-night fishing is allowed at Deep Quarry Lake in Bartlett (fishermen must be out of the preserve by 11 p.m.) Ice holes are limited to 10 inches in diameter, and fishermen may only fish two holes. Only portable shelters are permitted, and must be removed when not in use. The Outdoor Report line is (630) 871-6422.

KANE: Unable as yet to confirm regs for this year.

LAKE: Forest preserve ice fishing is permitted at Banana, Independence Grove (new this year) and Sterling, when the ice is uniformly 4.5 inches thick and the area is posted as safe for fishing. Shelters must be removed by the end of the day, only two poles allowed, and holes must be drilled 6 inches or smaller. Hours are 6:30 a.m. to sunset, except an additional hour in the evening is given at Sterling. For the latest, call (847) 968-3235 or go to the ice fishing page at

MAZONIA SFWA: Monster Lake is open year-round for open-water or ice fishing, except during in-between periods of unsafe ice. All fishing, ice fishing is done at your own risk, open at Mazonia South after duck season (Dec. 24) and at Mazonia North Unit after upland game ends (Jan. 9).

McHENRY: The McHenry County Conservation District allows ice fishing 8 a.m. to sunset at the Fel-Pro RRR, the Hollows (Lake Atwood and West Lake), Lyons Prairie & Marsh, Pleasant Valley, Rush Creek pond and Stickney Run pond, when there is 4 inches of clear ice. Rangers check conditions daily if necessary, and it will be posted. Shelters must be removed daily. Live bait is prohibited at Fel-Pro, the Hollows and Rush Creek. Parking lots are plowed, but other areas are not prepped by MCCD, so be prepared to make paths, etc. Updates, if needed, are made daily at (815) 338-6223.

SILVER SPRINGS SFWA: Ice fish at your own risk on both lakes (Loon and Beaver). The west entrance is generally closed in winter, the east entrance may be closed temporarily because of icing.

WILL: The forest preserve district does not offer ice fishing; however, Monee Reservoir and Whalon Lake (Naperville) allow fishing year-round, if the water is open.


For an overview of nearby river conditions, go to this NWS site.


Primary source: Guide Mike Norton.

Go to, then click on fishing, then lake report.


Monster Lake at Mazonia South remains open for fishing year-round, otherwise fishing on the cooling lake/pits is closed.


From Andrew Ragas of

``Quite possibly the slowest week I have encountered on the DesPlaines
River and its creeks all this year. Not much success to be had for
myself or anyone in general, but this is what I know:

Some anglers are still fishing the DesPlaines River but shoreline ice
is discouraging most from reaching their spots. Live bait and slow
approach is suggested for Pike as well as Panfish. No Walleye or
Sauger catches to report of. Warm water discharges would be GREAT
places to find success at for anything right now.

Likewise, some anglers are fishing the various warm water discharges
and outflows on Salt Creek. Not much catching or reporting taking
place, but some trying anglers are catching small Panfish and Bass
near Busse.''



For more, call (217) 774-2020. Monday, Dec. 15, is the traditional start to the drawdown, which sometimes triggers the start of the fishing below the dam.


Even in the coves, Mike Steffa said the ice is not even close to being safe.

The latest fishing report is posted here. Boat rental are open weekends only now.


Bank fishing reopens on Dec. 24, the day after central zone waterfowl closes. Boat fishing reopens Feb. 15.


Primary sources: Kolar Bait and wading guide Ken Gortowski

Ice fishermen have been doing well at Nielsen's Channel at Port Barrington. Hermann's--(847) 639-9644--has $5 parking, food, drink and waxies (for the fish).

Gortowski sent this brief note:

``Saw two guys at the Yorkville dam Sunday morning. 5 degrees out and these guys are standing waist deep in the usual spot. Don't see that much anymore. The weather Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday is perfect crap plant fishing weather, but I'd be surprised if anyone even goes.''

I could use a hard-core fisherman for reports over the winter.


Primary sources: Ed Mullady, ``Catfish'' Dave Bradigan

From Jay Urban of Tinley Park:

``I thought I would let you know that a few of us have been picking up some decent Walleye on the Illinois side with various baits! Friday night I brought a buddy, Jason Sternisha, from work down to the river for his third time! Even though the air temps were in the teens he was very eager to go after catching a few keeper size Walleye on Thanksgiving! After only a few casts his veins were filled with adrenaline as his rod doubled over and he got a quick glimpse of a huge Walleye only a few feet from shore. I've enclosed a pic of this thick and healthy Kankakee Walleye! To say the least there is now one more die-hard fisherman willing to loose feeling in his limbs to find the next cold weather monster Walleye!'

And a followup note in answer to my questions:

``The largest Walleye have been within a mile of both dams. I did pick up some smaller Walleye in the state park earlier in the week but I'm sure those areas may have a little ice now. I noticed that you didn't have any river report this past week so I thought you'd be able to let the guys now that the river is fishable 12 months a year!''

Froim Mullady:

``Good time to fish for northern pike. Try mouths of any bayous that are open in either IN or IL or quieter open shorelines. Big Minnows #5 Mepps Spinner Doctor Spoons good. If warming trend hits us try for walleye on *jig and minnow*Rattlin' Rogue *jig and crawler. Croppie continue fair on *minnows *pinkie jigs *small Beetle Spins.''


Primary source: Rickard's and Ohio DNR

For Ohio DNR report go to and or call (888) HOOKFISH.



Primary sources: Henry's Sports, Bait & Marine, Park Bait, Capt. Bill Kelly and Capt. Bob Poteshman

Skim ice limited fishing some, but there's been some perch at Navy Pier and Montrose. Ice fishing is a long way off.


The Chicago Park District is supposed to be selling pier passes at the ice rinks at Daley Bicentennial Park, McFetridge Sports Center, Midway Plaisance Park, Mt. Greenwood Park, Riis Park, Rowan Park, Warren Park and West Lawn Park. Pier passes grant legal access to designated piers in the boating off-season.


Primary source: D&S Bait at


Primary sources: Eagle River Sports, Pastika's and Minocqua guide Kurt Justice

Ice fishing is well underway, though some areas are starting to pile up the snow.

From Justice:

``Cold weather, high wind and snow cut through the northwoods starting last Friday. Friday and Saturday action slowed, but there was also a big drop in participation. Sunday as the weather relaxed, anglers saw very good action before the next front Sunday night.

Walleyes: Good. Looks like you need to pick up your days, find a window between fronts and fishing in good. Due to wind, all anglers relying on live bait (jigging and hole hoping) not easy. Shiners best on tip-ups in 6-8' cabbage. Anglers venturing out to deeper water finding walleyes over sandgrass in 20-30' have had better success using suckers.

Pike: Good. Same as above, weather dictating anglers involvement. Large Shiners Best.

Crappies: Fair to Good. Best action on minnows on tip-downs, but wind and snow making tip-down use tough. Weedy bays of 6-8' best.

Bluegills: Fair to good. Waxies, moussees on #10 tear drops, greed weeds key. With ice thickening and snow fall increasing gills (and all fish) slowly sliding out to deeper water.

Perch: Fair. No reports of good catches yet. Some incidental fish by anglers targeting other species.

Snowfall will limit ice production at the point. Snow is light and dry, but forecast for temps in the 30's could create problems. Stick to the small to mide sized lakes as these will have the best ice.

There have been some rumors regarding closing the Willow and the Rainbow Flowage for ice fishing. Just talked to a biologist at the DNR and this is not true. However, Highway D across the brigde on the Rainbow is closed until spring.''


Primary sources: Mik-Lurch Tackle Outlet, Capt. Chuck Weis and Capt. Ralph Steiger

Mik-Lurch reported some steelhead in the lower Ditch. Browns should be going around the discharges, if weather allows. Willow Slough reopens to fishing on Wednesday, Dec. 17 (whethere it is for ice fishing or boats, depends on weather).


Primary sources: BJ Sports and Michigan DNR

BJ Sports said a few steelhead are being taken in the lower end of the river near the marinas, gold is the key. Stay off the piers in this weather.


Primary sources: Lakeside and guide Jay Angel

For reports when ice fishing starts, click here.






MICHIGAN DNR REPORT,1607,7-153-10364-34956--,00.html






No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL:

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on December 10, 2008 6:42 AM.

Fish of the Week: Father-son smallmouth tale was the previous entry in this blog.

Stunningly, Illinois firearm deer harvest tops 100,000 is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.