The ice in northern Wisconsin is the big story. That and, if winter weather, allows perch are around on the Chicago lakefront.
And with this weather, it seemed like the week to update the ice fishing information on Chicago-area public waters.
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.
Primary sources: Eagle River Sports, Pastika's and Minocqua guide Kurt Justice
Good early ice is building and most of the areas have excaped the snow that has hit northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin in recent days.
``Early ice is in Full Swing!
Good to very good ice conditions, most lakes averaging 4-6+". About 2" of light snow presently covering the lakes. Creepers are advised for walking on the ice.
Cautions: Trout Lake, Fence Lake and the middle of Lake Tom are still reported as being open.
Walleye: Hot!!! Good numbers and big fish being caught. Three fish of 28-29" released from 11/27-11/30. A pair of 27"ers on Sunday and Monday afternoons (about 4:14 - 4:30). Most fish shallow at 4-5', a few caught deeper in the afternoons as they move in. Evenings best on natural lakes with shiners, but jigging rapalas and shads also producing. Flowages best in the am.
Pike: Very good. Large shiners in 5-7' of heavy green weeds. Fast action and nice sized fish to 30". A 34"er released on Minocqua over the weekend.
Crappies: Very good. Shallow bays with green weed producing very well. Minnows on small bobbers, tip-downs. #8 bright jigs tipped with waxies also doing well.
Bluegills: Good. Fish shallow, 3-5'. #10 dark teardrops tipped with moussees best. Fish green weeds, expect some game fish (Pike, LMB) to be present.
Perch: Good. Medium fathead minnow under a small float. #8 Forage minnow jig with a gob of waxies in 4-6' of water.
Largemouth Bass: Good. Rarely targeted through the ice, but very aggressive. Large shiners meant for pike producing big bass to 19" this past weekend. Jigging shad raps also worth the effort.
Luckily we've missed most of the snow so far. We need to hit a good foot of ice before snowfall. No car or truck travel yet, but ATV travel should be a week away.
Earlist fishable ice in a few years. Very good for those ''
Primary sources: Kolar Bait and Henry's Sports, Bait & Marine
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.
BIG GREEN LAKE, WISCONSIN
Primary source: Guide Mike Norton.
Go to www.biggreenlakefishing.com, then click on fishing, then lake report.
CHAIN O'LAKES AREA
Primary sources: Triangle Sports & Marine or Capt. Darrell Baker
Ice fishing started on some backwaters by Thanksgiving, but the snow cover has made it very tricky, and this fresh snow won't help.
Call Triangle--(847) 395-0813--or Hermann's--(847) 639-9644--for the latest.
More Chain info at www.foxwaterway.state.il.us.
COOLING LAKES/STRIP PITS
Monster Lake at Mazonia South remains open for fishing year-round, otherwise cooling lake/pits fishing is closed.
DES PLAINES RIVER
From Matt Coppolino:
``Fishing has been slow but what do you expect this time of year. Northern would be your best bet as there has been some decent fish caught recently, mostly in the 16 to 24 inch range but a couple have been caught in the 30s. The river is on the rise with the recent rain and snow so fish are going to be looking for anywhere to get out of the current. Concentrate in areas such as slack water, larger eddies, and downed trees. Minnows and golden roaches should out produce anything else but you can always throw swim baits, spoons, and in-line spinners to find the active fish.''
From Andrew Ragas of www.fishing-headquarters.com:
``Was a slow week in general. Water is cold in the mid-30 degree range
and so is the weather. As a result, not many anglers are out there
there fishing, or trying.
Not too many fish caught or reports and stories to be told except for
a few Pike on the DesPlaines River in the north suburbs. Best catch of
the week goes out to Jason Norris of www.windycityfishing.com, for
catching his personal-best fish from the river, a 31-inch Pike. For
those still trying, the following are still working and enticing fish:
Smaller bucktails; Spinnerbaits; Spoons; and minnowbaits.
No Walleye or Sauger reports - best advice is to locate their
wintering holes and fish with live bait.
As for the Salt Creek, some reports of activity taking place at the
warm water discharges. Small Bass and Panfish being caught, with some
finesse, on live bait.''
For more, call (217) 774-2020.
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.
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.
Primary sources: Ed Mullady, ``Catfish'' Dave Bradigan
``Smallmouth Bass continue to be caught. Dave Zack, Momence Conservancy District of the Kankakee River reported that Carl Henschel, Momence caught some Kankakee River walleye and a 21" smallmouth bass! Smallmouth fishing continues fair to good east and west of Momence *Old Dam remains Ryans Pier, Aroma Park, IL through Kankakee Dam *Kankakee River State Park *Below Wilmington, IL Dam. Croppie also good upstream from Momence *Iroquois River into the Kankakee *Kankakee Dam through Johnson's Fisherman's Park. Best on *minnows *pinkie jigs.
Pike and Walleye also good throughout river.
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
Perch had been in good, but the northeast blow really set things back. If the weather settles down again, the perch should go again at Montrose, Belmont and Navy Pier. And eventually Burnham. There have been decent perch in the slips off the river around 95th and 92nd.
CHICAGO PIER PASSES
On Friday, Nov. 28, the Chicago Park District was scheduled to begin 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
Primary sources: Mik-Lurch Tackle Outlet, Capt. Chuck Weis and Capt. Ralph Steiger
Perch are around, if the weather ever settles again. Otherwise, there's perch in the slips off Calumet.
Primary sources: Lakeside and guide Jay Angel
For more reports, click here.
CHICAGO AREA CHAT/REPORTS
CHICAGO AREA INFO
MICHIGAN DNR REPORT
WISCONSIN DNR REPORT
IOWA DNR REPORT
INDIANA DNR REPORT