Ice fishing is setting up all across the area, and even well into central Illinois. There's perch, but they take sorting, being taken on the ice from Chicago harbors.
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.
We'll start with the Chicago lakefront and the Chain O'Lakes.
Primary sources: Henry's Sports, Bait & Marine, Park Bait, Capt. Bill Kelly and Capt. Bob Poteshman
Henry's reported ice fishermen are taking perch in the harbors (Montrose is No. 1, followed by Belmont and the east side of Burnham), but it takes sorting. Ice has been in and out at Navy Pier, I suspect it will be in for good here very shortly.
Mik-Lurch reported some perch, takes sorting or waiting for keepers, in the river at 92nd for shore fishermen.
CHICAGO PIER PASSES: The Chicago Park District is supposed to sell 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.
CHAIN O'LAKES AREA
Primary sources: Triangle Sports & Marine or Capt. Darrell Baker
Triangle reports bluegill remain good on waxies and ice jigs, fish your favorite spot on the Chain and be patient. Art Frisell said the reason for patience, if you are in on of your regular spots, is the fish are on a regular schedule as far as feeding hours and will eventually go.
White bass are good, but deep as 22 feet. Crappie pick up in the evening, start in 12-15 feet with glow jigs tipped with minnows. The evening bite has been good for walleye, including regular catches of decent-sized ones.
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.
Primary sources: Kolar Bait and Henry's Sports, Bait & Marine
Local retention and farm ponds are the best bet for bluegill and bass. The only unsafe areas, as a rule, are those few spots still being swam open by geese. The latest snow and cold may be enough to put an end to most of that.
Here is the ice fishing information for the winter of 2008-09 for area public sites:
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 did not include river reports this week.
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
Ice fishing, at your risk, is underway at both Mazonia South and North.
DELAVAN/LAKE GENEVA AREA, WISCONSIN
Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle reported good big bluegills (to the 10-inch range) in 8-12 feet on Geneva Bay of Geneva Lake; plus some early and late crappie. Some areas were still unsafe as of Tuesday.
On Delavan, those spreading east from the west end are doing best for bluegill, some are starting to hunt for perch over deep water.
From Mike Steffa:
`` We do finally have some ice fishing going on. There is between 3" and 6" of ice in the coves only. Main lake still has open water, although I imagine that will be changing after this week. I have heard that fishermen are having some luck catching gills and crappies. Best bets are Mallard Cove, White Pines Cove, Two Cedars Cove, and Beaver Den Cove.
I will try to update again by next Monday.
REMINDER - THAT THE PARK AND LAKE ARE CLOSED THIS WEEKEND (Friday-Sunday) TO GENERAL USE BECAUSE OF THE LATE FOREARM DEER SEASON. YOU CAN STILL ICE FISH IN CAMPGROUND COVE AND JONE'S POND.''
The latest fishing report is posted here.
Bank fishing is open. Boat fishing reopens Feb. 15.
Ice fishing should be a go for members only. For memberships, call Rick Seibert at (815) 481-0778.
For more, call (217) 774-2020.
Primary source: Harborside Bait & Tackle and Capt. Bob Poteshman
Harborside said most are fishing by the launch ramp and taking rainbows and browns on small tubes with waxies or tip-ups with minnows.
Arden Katz reported the key to catching the steelhead (he bagged his biggest ever through the ice of 30 inches last week) is venturing farther out toward bridge and looking for suspended fish on the graph. He uses a discontinued 1-inch Berkley grub for jigging and said it does better than spawn.
LAKE ERIE: PORT CLINTON
Primary source: Rickard's and Ohio DNR
For Ohio DNR report go to wildohio.com and or call (888) HOOKFISH.
MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN
Primary source: D&S Bait at dsbait.com
D&S Bait said Monona Bay remains best for bluegills, some perch are starting deep on Mendota. There's good ice with snow cover, no slop.
Primary sources: Eagle River Sports, Pastika's and Minocqua guide Kurt Justice
Justice said the bitter cold (up there they're looking at actual -20 temps) will keep fishing down through Thursday, but a relative warm-up by the weekend should greatly improve fishing.
Otherwise, there's been a good walleye bite at sunup and sundown on the weed edges (10-14 feet) with shiners, wild ones are best. For big fish (a 27-inch caught last week), jigging Rapalas have been best. For deeper mud flat walleye, suckers have been better.
Perch have been good, especially weed fish in 7-10 feet. Bluegill are good in heavy weeds (8-10 feet). Crappie are decent on chena bait in the weeds; or with Rosie Reds on the flowages on tipdowns (that bite has slowed from the greatness of a couple weeks ago). Pike are fair, big shiners in weed best
Primary sources: Mik-Lurch Tackle Outlet, Capt. Chuck Weis and Capt. Ralph Steiger
Mik-Lurch reported some perch, takes sorting or waiting for keepers, in the river under the bridge at 92nd for shore fishermen. Willow Slough still has decent bluegill action and the ice should be much safer this week. Henry's reported some good pike on tip-ups with roaches on the Indiana side of Wolf Lake
ST. JOSEPH AREA, MICHIGAN
Primary sources: BJ Sports and Michigan DNR
BJ Sports said ice is good on inland lakes as is action for crappie, bluegill and perch. Walleye were good on Sister Lakes.
Boaters were doing well in the river for walleye and steelhead, but it will likely change as the river goes ``chunky-style'' in the next day or two.
Primary sources: Lakeside and guide Jay Angel
Allen Outboard and Bait reported 10-12 inches of ice with snow cover, and bluegills are the most consistent bite.
For more reports, click here.
CHICAGO AREA CHAT/REPORTS
CHICAGO AREA INFO
MICHIGAN DNR REPORT
WISCONSIN DNR REPORT
IOWA DNR REPORT
INDIANA DNR REPORT