The balminess of early in the week is gone, and good ice-building came back with a vengeance Tuesday night. Ice fishing is still the story.
Shoreline conditions became a little tricky on the Fox Chain O'Lakes after the warm-up and rain, but they should stabilize relatively quickly and the main pad of ice is fine.
Chicago harbors are tricky, varying from pieces of fishable ice to open water, but there's been some decent perch catches.
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.
We begin with the Chain report.
CHAIN O'LAKES AREA
Primary sources: Triangle Sports & Marine or Capt. Darrell Baker
Triangle reported the pad of ice is good (in the 6-inch range), however, there were problems with shorelines. Those problems may be frozen away by this morning. If shorelines are tricky, enter the ice through piers such as at the Thirsty Turtle on Channel. In these conditions, avoid or use extreme caution in and around current areas.
There were plenty of ice fishermen out on Monday and it should be a very strong weekend. The warm-up and rain should help by having cleaned off the heavy snow cover.
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--where the owners asked that ice fishermen park around the back, but don't block the dumpsters and patronize the place.
More Chain info at www.foxwaterway.state.il.us.
Even the lakes south of the city that slopped up early in the week should be back to ice fishing condition by today or Thursday.
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 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.
I am not including individual river reports today. All area rivers are coming off or are in flood stage, and those that are reachable have very treacherous conditions on the banks for shore fishermen and in the water for boaters.
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
With the end of duck season, Mazonia South lakes reopened to fishing. All ice fishing is done at your own risk. Mazonia North will reopen to fishing on Jan. 9, after the close of upland game.
Mike Steffa sent this Tuesday morning: ``Just when the ice was getting good (5-7"), the warm weather ruined everything! The lake is probably 85% ice-free right now. I'll send you a report if things turned cold again.''
The latest fishing report is posted here.
Bank fishing is open. All reports I have are for fair fishing. Boat fishing reopens Feb. 15.
For flow rates, call (217) 774-2020.
DELAVAN/GENEVA LAKE AREA, WISCONSIN
Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle said bluegill, crappie and pike are being taken on Delavan. There's access from the launch, other parking spots are trickier for non-residents. On Geneva, there's spotty and treacherous ice fishing, what has been the most stable has been on Geneva Bay. Como has decent bass and pike.
Primary source: Harborside Bait & Tackle and Capt. Bob Poteshman
Harborside said the small-boat harbor is good for browns on tube jigs tipped waxies or large fatheads, or on orange spawn. There's some rainbows too.
Arden Katz, who gave the FOTW, said the key to the best fishing was overcast days.
LAKE ERIE: PORT CLINTON
Primary source: Rickard's and Ohio DNR
For Ohio DNR report go to wildohio.com and or call (888) HOOKFISH.
It's a mixed bag around Chicago harbors. There's spotty ice fishing at places like Montrose and the east side of Burnham, but there's also open water around, according to Henry's. About half of the north side of Navy Pier is iced in. The good news is those navigating such conditions have caught some decent perch.
Mik-Lurch reported the stateline plant is only accessible to shore fishermen through the Illinois side now; smallmouth and browns are being taken there, big fish are better in evening.
Pack ice moves in and out, so boaters who salt the ramps and try to get out at 95th to fish the browns at the discharge or the perch in the slips up the river need to take extreme care and be very alert to ice movement.
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.
MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN
Primary source: D&S Bait at dsbait.com
D&S Bait reported Monona Bay remains the best bite, a few bluegills starting on Waubesa and a few perch on Kegonsa off Quam Road. Some smaller pike are being taken on Mendota, a few are starting to venture out deeper for perch.
If you're one of those who likes to chase the perch bite on Mendota or the big bluegill there, this might be the week to watch for prime conditions to begin setting up.
Primary sources: Eagle River Sports, Pastika's and Minocqua guide Kurt Justice
``Lots of fluctuating temperatures and barometer readings has made for inconsistent action, but despite the almost daily weather changes, fishing has been pretty good overall.
Walleye: Good. Obviously some nights better than others. Set up by 3pm as most afternoons bite starts by 4-4:30. Very early mornings also good. Be set up before light. Shiners still best for walleyes in 8-12' cabbage. Choose suckers over mud/sandgrass in 18-28' depths. Jigging also effective. Use Chubby darters, Rapalas, even 2 1/2" gulp alive minnows. Fish to 26" this week by jigging.
Perch: Good. Not many limits but anglers taking home plenty for a meal. Best bites were weed related in 7-10'. Wigglers, waxies and minnows best. Not much for jumbos, but 7-9" eaters being caught along weed covered bars.
Bluegills: Fair-Good. Best bites on overcast days. Moussees, waxies over 7-10' weeds.
Crappies: Fair-Good. Tip-downs with minnows very effective on days above 20 degrees. Work plastics, waxies on #10 moon glos jigs, #8 rockers. 8-12' cabbage best.
Pike: Fair. Not a lot of strong reports, though some nice fish caught (24-28") using large shiners over 6-10' weeds.
Friday night through Saturday temps held from 38-43 degrees knocking snow down. Slush on ice messy, but not a major problem as of yet. Some areas do have 4-6" of slush, a few areas a little more. Forecast for 3-5" of snow Tuesday would keep this from freezing. Most lakes reporting 10-12" of ice on average. Reports of lakes with up to 17" (not confirmed). Be careful with travel. Some lakes receiving car/truck traffic, but ATV, Snowmobile best way.
With the exception of some sloppy travel, this looks to be a good week with temps in the 20's and threats of light snow making for good fishing conditions.''
Primary sources: Mik-Lurch Tackle Outlet, Capt. Chuck Weis and Capt. Ralph Steiger
Mik-Lurch warned those boaters young and crazy enough to attempt to get out to watch the pack ice. Steiger, one of those wild and crazy guys, busted ice to get out of East Chicago on Monday and was rewarded with browns (one of 16 pounds), steelhead and a 17-inch coho.
The stateline plant is only accessible through the Illinois side now; smallmouth and browns are being taken, big fish better in evening.
Willow Slough is a mixed bag with some areas of open waer, but other areas are thick enough for ice fishing. That should set up better this week, and might be a good spot for panfishermen to remember this week, especially those on the South Side and south suburbs.
ST. JOSEPH AREA, MICHIGAN
Primary sources: BJ Sports and Michigan DNR
BJ Sports reported the river is within a couple feet of January's flood; some shoreline walleye in backwaters, some steelhead in the tributaries on spawn under a float. Inland lakes with good ice have some very good bluegill reports.
Primary sources: Lakeside and guide Jay Angel
Only a few ice fishermen were out Monday. However, the ice should set up very nicely for holiday-week fishing, especially for those in the western suburbs.
For more Shabbona reports, click here.
CHICAGO AREA CHAT/REPORTS
CHICAGO AREA INFO
MICHIGAN DNR REPORT
WISCONSIN DNR REPORT
IOWA DNR REPORT
INDIANA DNR REPORT