With ice setting up, ice fishing beginning across the area is the main story. The hot spot has been the Fox Chain O'Lakes, where even main lake areas are icing in.
In the words of Greg Dickson, proprietor of Triangle Sports & Marine in Antioch, ``Things are good, dude.''
This is the extended online version of the Midwest Fishing Report, which appears in the Sun-Times on Wednesdays. Normally, I post the online MFR by Wednesday morning.
If you have suggestions, post in the comments section or let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let's begin with the Chain.
CHAIN O'LAKES AREA
Primary sources: Triangle Sports & Marine or Capt. Darrell Baker
Main lake areas are starting to lock in, but use caution. Tom Cahill at Barnacle Bob's on Marie said, ``We got ice, but it is still a little soft in spots.'' The tricky spot on Marie, especially with snow cover, is near the middle by the springs. Most are accessing Marie from around the Sand Bar & Grill. Channel and Catherine have about six inches or more of ice.
Capt. Darrell Baker texted that all species are going. He and clients had a 400-fish Friday. He said the channels are good. On Channel, the traditional spot for good bluegills, he said the trick is finding the weeds since there was a late kill of weeds this fall.
Even though the back channels and backwaters are into their third week of ice fishing, Arden Katz reported T Channel remains good for bluegill, but he said to focus more on the bay than the channel.
Triangle said white bass are good on Mineola Bay, Marie and the deeper stretches of Pistakee Bay. Bluegill are good at Meyer's Bay, the south, west and north sides of Channel, and Spring Lake.
Deep Lake is now fishable. Loon continues good.
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, there's Barnacle Bob's--(847) 395-2036 and the Sand Bar & Grill--(847) 395-8990. Owners of the Sand Bar asked that ice fishermen park around the back, but don't block the dumpsters, or patronize the place.
On Deep Lake, there's Jack and Lydia's Resort--(847) 356-1389.
More Chain info at www.foxwaterway.state.il.us.
Primary sources: Kolar Bait and Henry's Sports, Bait & Marine
Ice fishing is well underway on most area lakes and ponds. Here is the ice fishing information for the winter of 2008-09. McHenry CCD expects to update the status of their ice fishing lakes by Thursday morning.
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 lcfpd.org.
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.
Obviously, we're in that in between stage on most rivers, so fishermen and reports are limited. But there are entries, some noted for things other than fishing reports, for most of the area lakes.
BIG GREEN LAKE, WISCONSIN
Primary source: Guide Mike Norton.
Go to www.biggreenlakefishing.com, then click on fishing, then lake report.
COOLING LAKES/STRIP PITS
Monster Lake at Mazonia South remains open for fishing year-round, otherwise cooling lake/pits fishing is closed.
DELAVAN/GENEVA LAKE AREA, WISCONSIN
Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle reported good ice and bass fishing on Lake Como.
The west end of Delavan has good ice fishing, but public access is nearly impossible there. Guide Dave Duwe noted there is a new ordinance which restricts parking on South Shore Drive. A few more days and more general ice fishing should be going on Delavan.
On Geneva, Geneva Bay just froze over Monday night, but there's holes from waterfowl. It will be awhile.
DES PLAINES RIVER
From Andrew Ragas of www.fishing-headquarters.com:
``I don't have much to report on for this week - much of it is
weather-related as well as not having much personal time... The
current situation is kind of like my buddy Matt's!
Until March, I probably won't be out fishing very much at all, so I
cannot guarantee a weekly report or contribution for the winter
months. But if I get any updates from my friends or find the time to
get out for some exploring and fishing on the DPR and its tribs, I
will religiously pass on the info to you so you can add it to the
weekly reports - now that I can guarantee.
I'd rather be honest than just BS the things I know.''
The drawdown began on schedule on Monday, Dec. 15. For a flow rate check http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?05592000. For more, call (217) 774-2020.
Mike Steffa sent this when I asked if there was any ice fishing yet:
``True Story: There were a couple of guys ice fishing at the mouth of Six Mile Creek Bay Saturday morning, and I thought those guys are crazy. I don't know what time they left, but I'm glad they did! When I looked over there around three o'clock the place where they were ice fishing had opened up! The high winds and warm temperatures had opened it right up.
The lake has mostly sheet ice and open water on it now. I would definitely say it is NOT SAFE to be ice fishing on Evergreen right now.''
The last fishing report is posted here.
Bank fishing reopens on next Wednesday, Dec. 24, the day after central zone waterfowl closes. Boat fishing reopens Feb. 15.
FOX RIVER: WESTERN SUBURBS
Primary sources: Kolar Bait and wading guide Ken Gortowski
I could use a hard-core fisherman for over the winter reports, but Gortowski sent a tangential note on fishing/hunting/wandering from his http://www.wadauwant.com/wd_journal/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=221:
`` Fox Report 12-14-08
Getting out on a cloudy day with temps in the 40s might have been worth it years ago. Even if only to catch one smallmouth bass.
With winds around 30, standing out there in the open trying to catch that one fish may no longer be worth it. At least the crap plant gave up the one.
I should just go for the walks, that was worth it.
Didn't have a chance to go fishing in October or November, hunting so far either. But muzzleloader season kept me out of the woods, so I squeezed in one more river trip.
Nothing worse than feeling cold water on your feet 10 seconds after stepping into the river. I need new waders. My neoprenes burned out a couple of years ago, can't afford to replace them and my breathables are going on 3 years old. That's too old.
Anyone that tells you, which someone recently did, that the new layer technology that goes under breathable waders makes neoprene waders obsolete . . . is a shore fisherman. They can get away with wearing hip boots in order to step into knee deep water now and then. And even then only for a few seconds. For those of us that actually go wading to fish in this type of weather, your nuts will quickly inform you of the stupidity of the above comment.
The river from Montgomery to Oswego and beyond holds a tremendous amount of geese. Lots of shooting off in the distance. With these numbers I question the limit of 2 geese per day. There aren't that many hunters and this is geese in just a 3 to 5 mile stretch of river. Imagine the rest. I also question not extending the season into February. Aren't todays migratory geese tomorrows resident geese? Why leave if you don't have to.
Fishermen are slobs. I think I'm done fishing where others go. I know many places where others don't. And I come across no footsteps or garbage there.
Did some hiking around the DUCK blinds around Orchard Road.
If you're in a DUCK blind on the river and you're surrounded by geese . . . and flying over head are hundreds of geese . . . and off in the distance hundreds more geese are flying around . . . and a single duck can hardly be seen or heard . . . then quit playing your DUCK call like your doing some kind of bizarre Louis Armstrong jazz solo and pick up your friggin goose call.
Also, always send one person a half mile up river on the shore, have them get in the river and take a leisurely stroll back down the middle of the river back to the blind. From what I understand, that's not illegal. But if you want some real shooting opportunities, you have no choice. They're not going to come to you for the hell of it.
Lastly, if you like fishing for carp and can figure out what they'll hit in this weather, you'll have a field day.
Damn things are everywhere. Suckers too.''
ILLINOIS RIVER: STARVED ROCK AREA
Primary source: Guide Buster Culjan or Cajun's Bait
``Baithouse Bob'' Hennig at Riverview Marine reported launches at Peru and Hennepin are open, and the one at the state park should be too. As of Tuesday, the river was open with no ice and decent sauger action. He noted with the water temperature at 37, the sauger had not concentrated yet on the deep holes.
Spring Valley launch is iced in.
Primary sources: Ed Mullady, ``Catfish'' Dave Bradigan
``No reports from fishermen this week. This kind of weather and water conditions can result in catches of pike, walleye, catfish. Most fishing done from shore, including areas at the Point, north of English Lake in Indiana. In Illinois: Aroma Park* Kankakee Dam through LeVasseur Park*Kankakee State Park *Wilmington Island Park.
A slight warm up will see even better fishing catches.''
Primary source: Harborside Bait & Tackle and Capt. Bob Poteshman
Harborside reported single eggs or green spawn sacs on white tube jigs are producing some rainbows and browns in the small-boat harbor.
LAKE ERIE: PORT CLINTON
Primary source: Rickard's and Ohio DNR
For Ohio DNR report go to wildohio.com and or call (888) HOOKFISH.
Primary sources: Henry's Sports, Bait & Marine, Park Bait, Capt. Bill Kelly and Capt. Bob Poteshman
Arden Katz reported when able to get through or avoid the ice at Navy Pier, perch were very good, but take sorting. He uses a double Mini-Mite rig tipped with spikes above a pencil weight. The pencil weight pulls through the weeds easier.
Mik-Lurch reported some browns at the stateline power plant.
Ice fishing in the harbors is not close yet.
CHICAGO PIER PASSES
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.
LITTLE BAY de NOC, MICHIGAN
Bay View reported ice fishing is underway on the north end from Gladstone to Rapid River, mostly for walleye and perch.
MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN
Primary source: D&S Bait at dsbait.com
D&S reported Kegonsa and Waubesa are froze over, action is fair. Monona Bay has the best action, but even there the panfish take some sorting.
MISSISSIPPI RIVER, SAVANNA AREA
``Baithouse Bob'' reported 5-6 inches in the backwaters with good panfish action.
Primary sources: Eagle River Sports, Pastika's and Minocqua guide Kurt Justice
``Not a good week overall. Action was picking back up Sun/Mon/Tuesday, then shut down Wed/Thurs. Slow on Fri/Sat/Sun with Sat/Sun the best. Wind, full moon, high pressure hurt. Snow keeping ice from building despite the below 0 temps.
Walleye: Fair. A few nice fish to 25". Jigging Rapalas working well when wind would allow. Seems cold, snow has fish a little deeper than last week - 7-10' best with some anglers finding walleyes over sandgrass in 20-30' on suckers.
Crappies: Fair/Poor. Bite dropped off from last weekend. With crappies so tight lipped anglers found a little success dropping small plastics when minnows not working. High pressure, full moon seemed to be the villain here. Fish are there in the bays, just weren't biting.
Pike: Poor. Few reports. Flags not popping, fish off feed.
Bluegills: Poor. Use tiny jigs, 2# test and single red spike or moussee to pry a bite.
Perch: Poor. A few anglers reported small catches on wigglers in 8-10' of cabbage, but overall bite is off.
Ice thickness not increasing due to snow. Most lakes 7-8" with some as much as 9". Slush starting to show on lakes that didn't get enough ice to hold up weight of snow. Weather swings, 39 degrees Sunday at dusk turned to -12 below by Monday dawn. Rain from Sunday afternoon covered by 3-4" of powder Monday early am. Snowmobiles and ATV best modes of transportation. With super cold starting to lift by Wednesday and move away from full moon period, we should see bites pick up late in week.''
Primary sources: Mik-Lurch Tackle Outlet, Capt. Chuck Weis and Capt. Ralph Steiger
Willow Slough reopens to fishing this morning, Wednesday, Dec. 17. It should be on the borderline for safe ice fishing. This will be one of the hot spots for ice fishing for bluegills.
Mik-Lurch reported some browns at the stateline power plant.
ST. JOSEPH AREA, MICHIGAN
Primary sources: BJ Sports and Michigan DNR
BJ Sports reported some walleye and steelhead in the river, inland lakes starting to ice in.
Primary sources: Lakeside and guide Jay Angel
Ice fishing for bluegills and crappie began in the bays and no-motor zone, according to Allen Outboard and Bait. Bluegill and crappie are decent, according to ``Baithouse Bob'' too.
For more reports, click here.
CHICAGO AREA CHAT/REPORTS
CHICAGO AREA INFO
MICHIGAN DNR REPORT
WISCONSIN DNR REPORT
IOWA DNR REPORT
INDIANA DNR REPORT