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Icy Midwest Fishing Report

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Quote of the week goes to Greg Dickson at Triangle in Antioch: ``It's been colder than a brass tiolet seat in the Yukon.''


Between the ice storm south of Chicago--this is Kankakee County Friday morning--and the heavy snow north of Chicago into southern Wisconsin, there's been a limiting factor on fishermen venturing out.

Not to mention the life-threatening cold early in the week. But the moderating conditions should make for better fishing over the holiday weekend.

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

Let's begin with the Chain.


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

Dickson said the start of snowmobilers getting out could actually benefit ice fishermen. They compact the paths and the snow in general, which reduces the insulating effect of snow.

Weather has limited access. But Triangle reported all the usual fishable spots should be tight and in good shape. However, use caution with the heavy snow cover (more than a foot in the past week).

Main bite remains panfish in the channels. Bluegill are good on Channel as are white bass around Mineola Bay. Walleye fisherman are focusing very early or late.

Loon and Deep are still decent.

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


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

Ice fishing is well underway on most area lakes and ponds. The best catching has been on local farm and retention ponds. From about Will County south, the top of the ice is extremely sloppy.

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. With the close of the central duck season, fishing is permited at Mazonia South. It will open 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. In fact, we won't post for the Des Plaines, Fox, Illinois or Kankakee. Some of the rivers are having ice jam problems too, leading to flooding. Weather may mellow enough that some of the hard-core open-water fishermen like Norm Minas might by plying their winter tricks later this week.


Primary source: Guide Mike Norton.

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


Monster Lake is open year-round for open-water or ice fishing, except during in-between periods of unsafe ice. All ice fishing is done at your own risk. With the close of the central duck season, fishing is permited at Mazonia South. It will open at Mazonia North Unit after upland game ends (Jan. 9).



The drawdown began on schedule Dec. 15. Late last week, the flow topped 1,500, which is usually the trigger point for a good bite below the dam. For a flow rate check For more, call (217) 774-2020.


The last fishing report is posted here.


Bank fishing opened Monday. I have not heard if anybody actually tried then. Many more should be out with the moderating weather. Boat fishing reopens Feb. 15.


Site super Rick Seibert said ice fishing began on Monday for members. For membership, call (815) 481-0778.


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 right off the boat launch.


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

Weather has limited effort. If weather allows, browns should go at the stateline power plant.

Very spotty ice fishing in the harbors started earlier this week, but this is an extremely treacherous time with the weather and I would highly recommend against trying it right now.


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.


Dan Kotowski at Bay View reported good early-ice walleye mostly near or on the edge of the reefs. Ice on the north is 6-9 inches, though Kotowski said he had not seen any trucks on it yet.


Primary source: D&S Bait at

D&S reported Monona Bay remains the best action. Lots of snow, but they're fishing Waubesa and University Bay (but it's slow).


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

From Justice:

``It's been a long cold month of winter and yesterday was the first (official) day.

Fishing picked up from the previous week, but daily weather conditions have made some days better than others. Cold and wind keeping anglers off the ice.

Walleye: Fair (improving). Lake bites best towards dusk, flowages in mornings. Shiners on tip-ups accounting for most fish, though deeper water anglers having better success with suckers. Jigging Rapala type lures scoring larger fish.

Bluegill: Fair/Good. On warmer days (anything above 0 is warmer), gills fairly active in bays with good, green vegetation in 7-9' taking #10-#12 gill pills tipped with a single spike or moussee. Nice fish of 7-8", use smallest jig possible, extremely light line on tough days.

Perch: Fair (improving). Weed bite perch on fire eye jigs tipped with a couple of waxies. Deep sandgrass perch taking wigglers on #2 pimples, vinglas. Bites come and go during the course of a day: dawn, mid morning and again about mid afternoon best (6:30am, 9:30-10am, 2-3pm).

Pike: Fair (improving). Shiners on tip-ups (as usual) larger bait for larger fish.

Crappies: Fair. This species hasn't turned on as much. The fish are there in the weedy bays of 8-10'. Anglers with cameras seeing lots of fish but either cold or high pressure making for tough bite. If minnows not working, switch to plastics.

While most lakes didn't seem to make ice the previous week, we now have some lakes with up to 12" with 8-10" being the average. Some slush reported, but not bad. Snowmobile and ATV travel good with some lakes having trucks on them. We are not advising truck travel at this time.

We need some mild weather to improve fishing and get people on ice.''


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

Weather has limited effort. Mik-Lurch reported decent bluegill at Willow Slough, which reopened last week. If weather allows, there should be browns at the discharges.


Primary sources: BJ Sports and Michigan DNR

With even the river starting to freeze, BJ Sports said most fishing is on the inland lakes.


Primary sources: Lakeside and guide Jay Angel

Allen Outboard and Bait (just east of town) reported about 8 inches of ice. Bluegills are plentiful, especially in the bay areas and the road bed. Night fishing will be Jan. 31.

For more reports, click here.






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






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I just want to remind folks that with the warmer weather will come the floods. You may run into access areas closed due to being underwater and will definitely run into unimproved roads that are soft and muddy.

With the muddy banks be extremely careful as falling into the river at the extremely high flows we will have could be fatal. It have have any doubt, don't try it.

Norm Minas aka Creekyknees

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on December 24, 2008 12:13 AM.

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