Ice fishing on the Fox Chain O'Lakes remains the prime focus. But ice, even south of Chicago, is building back.
This is the east side of Willow Slough, just across the state line in Indiana an hour south of Chicago, where even in the middle of sunny afternoon Monday, a bunch of guys were trying for bluegills.
Chicago harbors remainy on the tricky side, varying from 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 email@example.com.
Again, we begin with the Chain report.
CHAIN O'LAKES AREA
Primary sources: Triangle Sports & Marine or Capt. Darrell Baker
With most of the snow covered knocked off the ice, my buddy Art Frisell at Triangle said to remind people the ice surface is slick, so cleats are very good idea right now.
Otherwise, Triangle reports bluegill are the top bite; Channel is best. Next best is white bass on Swedish Pimples tipped with waxies; Marie is tops in 15-20 feet, other good lakes are Pistakee and Fox. For crappie, Marie is No. 1, then Petite on various glow jigs (Rat Finkees and Atom). For pike, try large roaches on tipups.
For night fishing, Marie is No. 1 for walleye on tipups or jigging with Rapalas.
Baker said the high water has made excellent fishing in the channels, and he texted a photo of a 13.5-inch crappie last weekend.
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 lakes and ponds south of the city have good ice, relatively snow and slop free. Mik-Lurch reports multiple pike from Powderhorn.
Here is the ice fishing information for public sites around Chicago 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.
Once again, I am not including individual river reports today, but I suspect there will be some out plying the open water shortly.
``Baithouse Bob'' at Riverview in Spring Valley thought some might be out on the Illinois River by the weekend for sauger. He thought the launches at the state park and Hennepin should be open enough to launch.
Typical of river reports came from Ed Mullady on the Kankakee,
``With virtually no one fishing, we have no reports. Kankakee is receding as of now with quite a few quiet shorelines that would hold walleye....mouths of bayous,ditches for walleye, some smallmouth bass, pike and croppie.''
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
Mazonia South lakes is open to fishing. All ice fishing is done at your own risk. Mazonia North reopens to fishing on Friday, Jan. 9.
Mike Steffa sent an iffy ice report Tuesday morning: ``Not much to speak of. Still have a lot of open water. Some coves MAY have enough, but doubtful.''
The latest fishing report is posted here.
Bank fishing is open. PrairieStateOutdoors.com reported white bass are going. Boat fishing reopens Feb. 15.
For flow rates, call (217) 774-2020.
Ice fishing for members was outstanding for crappie, until winds opened up the ice over the weekend and ice fishing was closed. Site super Rick Seibert thought ice fishing may reopen for members late this week. There was also some bluegill and bass caught. For memberships, call (815) 481-0778.
DELAVAN/GENEVA LAKE AREA, WISCONSIN
Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle reported Geneva Bay has a few but good-sized bluegills with a few crappie mixed in. Delavan takes more sorting for good bluegill. Bass on Como slowed, but pike are hitting.
Ice conditions vary from a foot on the west end of Delavan, to the main part of Geneva, which just skimmed over Tuesday.
Primary source: Harborside Bait & Tackle and Capt. Bob Poteshman
Harborside reports steady browns and rainbows at the small-boat harbor on tubes with waxies, No. 6 Rat Finkees with waxies or small minnows on tipups.
LAKE ERIE: PORT CLINTON
Primary source: Rickard's and Ohio DNR
For Ohio DNR report go to wildohio.com and or call (888) HOOKFISH.
There's people fishing in the harbors from the piers and from the ice, but use caution, action has been fair. Most effort has been at Montrose. Navy Pier is iced in, those busting holes are only doing fair for perch.
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 a few perch starting out deep on Mendota. Monona Bay remains good for bluegill, but sorting is required. A few perch on Monona. Some bluegill on Waubesa.
Primary sources: Eagle River Sports, Pastika's and Minocqua guide Kurt Justice
``Cold weather (-teens at night) and the threat of snow (called for 6-10" -- we got 1") slowed the action and participation down this weekend. Prior to that reports good for some species. This coming weekend's temps look to level off, bite will depend a lot on weather. Full moon daytime bites not strong with high pressure that usually (but not always) accompanies big moon time.
Walleyes: Fair/Good. Mid week was very good with lots of #'s and big fish. It got tougher as weekend worked through, but lots of nice wallyes to 7-8#s caught and released. Wild shiners where available have been deadly on weed fish. Suckers best on mud and sandgrass. Jigging Rapalas, chubby darters caught nice fish during warmer times.
Perch: Good. Finally some decent reports of deeper, mud perch in 18-23' taking wigglers on #2 pimples, #25 Hali and small fire eye jigs. Perch in weeds preferring small minnows, waxies on rocker jigs. Decent numbers of eaters, but few reports of fish over 10".
Crappies: Fair/Good. As typical weather important to mood of these fish. Tip-downs with minnows (rosies) best on flowages. Waxies, plastics on Lakes.
Bluegills: Fair. Bite best on warm days. Waxies, moussees in 8-12' of heavy weeds. Fairy jigs (blades on top of jig) working for bringing fish in. Once you have their attention switch to tiny #12 tear drops for light biters.
Pike: Fair. Action spotty for this species. Large shiners providing some action in 6-8' weeds. Try deeper weed edges of 10-14' as this species doesn't seem to be in it's usual haunts.
Overall fishing has been fairly good, though we've received lots of reports from anglers fishing the same areas night after night and having a couple of decent catches followed by one "hot" night, followed by more just decent catches. Placement of you bait is key. Sometimes just moving a couple of yards can make all the difference.
Primary sources: Mik-Lurch Tackle Outlet, Capt. Chuck Weis and Capt. Ralph Steiger
I'll repost the warning from Mik-Lurch last that those boaters young and crazy enough to attempt to get out to watch the pack ice. And there are some finagling ways to put a boat in to fish for the browns in the shipping channel, and catching some.
Ice fishermen are focusing on the east side of Willow Slough for bluegills. Otherwise, most of the inland lakes have decent ice conditions.
There's some steelhead in Trail near Route 35.
ST. JOSEPH AREA, MICHIGAN
Primary sources: BJ Sports and Michigan DNR
BJ Sports reports a smattering of walleye and steelhead in the river, which remains high. Inland lakes with safe ice, virtually all have good panfish going.
Primary sources: Lakeside and guide Jay Angel
Allen Outboard and Bait reports about 10 inches of ice, good bluegills and some crappie around the cribs or road bed.
For more Shabbona reports, click here.
Mik-Lurch reported a 36-inch pike caught near the flagpole on the Illinois side on Saturday. There's some crappie in the open-water corn channel. There have not been many reports of walleye.
CHICAGO AREA CHAT/REPORTS
CHICAGO AREA INFO
MICHIGAN DNR REPORT
WISCONSIN DNR REPORT
IOWA DNR REPORT
INDIANA DNR REPORT