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Ice-out muskie and Navy Pier perch top Midwest Fishing Report

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A mixed bag of open-water fishing and ice fishing form the Midwest Fishing Report.


Perch fishing at Navy Pier is the top open-water story around Chicago as this scene Tuesday morning shows. Downstate it is ice-out muskie on places like Evergreen.

Such as this brute from guide Thad Hinshaw.


The extended online version of the MFR, which appears in the Sun-Times on Wednesdays, is normally posted online by Wednesday morning. I'm running behind today.

If you have suggestions, post in the comments section or let me know at

Let's start with the perch at Navy Pier.


The yellow perch are schooled up at Navy Pier. There were hundreds out over the weekend, even on Tuesday morning when I fished it, there were at least 50 guys lining the north side of the pier.

This isn't rocket science. Feel the bottom, the slowly jig it back or leave it sit. Minnows on crappie rigs seem best, but maggots on Mini-Mites seems to catch more fish and faithful reader Arden Katz swears by thin long strips of belly meat. And he favors the west end because there's a good weed bed down there.

A note on the fisherman's parking rate of $5 before 10 a.m. Since the booths are unmanned now, here's the drill: Go to the blue door marked ''Standard Parking'' just inside the entry to the east parking lot. The staffer there will give you a validation card to use when you pay at the machines inside.


First the ice went off Spring Lake early last week and guide Dan Vinovich had a bust out day with five muskies, according to this report in

Then on Friday at Spring (CORRECTED FROM EARLIER), Hinshaw boated his muskie.

``Here is a picture of my first muskie of 2009. I was on the water about 45 minutes when she hit. She was 44 inches long and I would guess her in the mid to upper 20# range. I hope the rest of 2009 continues to go this well.''

We all do.


The NAIFC Tournament Series visits Channel Lake on the Chain O'Lakes on Sunday. Headquarters are at Triangle Sports & Marine. The launch is at the Thirsty Turtle.

Click here for details.

Dave Genz holds a seminar at 7 p.m. Friday. On Saturday, there's a kids ice camp out of the Thirsty Turtle from 10 a.m.-noon.


Through Monday, a three-day total of 1,105 sturgeon were speared on Lake Winnebago and the upriver lakes. Season on the upriver will likely be closed by today.

Click here for the latest.

I will update, if needed.


It varies by area. North of the city, shorelines may be iffy but there's plenty of good ice. The forecast would seem to favor making more ice. However, south of the city, some lakes and ponds are open or partially open.


For an overview of nearby river conditions, go to this NWS site. With water levels receding, I have included individual river reports.


For guide Mike Norton's report, go to, then click on fishing, then lake report.


Triangle reports 8-9 inches of ice, but use caution around current areas. Fishing is fair, bluegills remain the No. 1 bite. Look for them to be shallow in 4-6 feet. Crappie are fair, work around 12 of feet on small minnows or spikes. Pike have been good, look for them moving shallower with roaches on tip-ups. Walleye are fair, mornings and evenings, jigging or with tip-ups. A report of a 9.5-pound walleye taken from Marie by Ryan Johnson. White bass are fair, look around 17-22 feet; spikes are No. 1 bait or Swedish Pimples tipped with wigglers (if you can find them).

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


MAZONIA: I would not advise ice fishing. BRAIDWOOD: Set to open March 1. LaSALLE: Set to open March 15. The lake will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays in March. HEIDECKE: Set to open on April 1, the only hitch would be ice.


Guide Dave Duwe reported good bluegill in 4 feet off the Highlands on Delavan, and in 3 feet off Lake Lawn. Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle also reported a few good perch in 40 feet on Delavan. GLBT also reported good lakers, a few good pike and fair panfish on Geneva; good bluegill, crappie and some perch on Powers; good bluegill and crappie on Pleasant and some good pike on Como. Ice is good, but no driving on Geneva.


Bill Anderson reported he and Al Bernicky had a good outing Monday and the oil spill was fairly well cleaned up. Here's Anderson's report:

``I hit the Des Plaines with my friend Al Bernicky. Fishing was relatively slow. We caught a few nice fish but we had to work for them. My first fish of the year was a fat Buffalo and Al's first fish of the year was a real nice chunky Bass. A few casts later near the same spot where Al caught his Bass, I tied into something. I thought it was a Gar but the color was all wrong, and then we saw it. It was a BIG Pike. I got it to the boat and Al scooped it into the net.

4 hours, 4 more Bass, and 4 Drum later, it was time to go. Nice day to be out and worth it not driving to Powerton.''


SPRING: Muskie are going as Hinshaw and Vinovich showed. SHELBYVILLE: For more, call (217) 774-2020. EVERGREEN: If there is a fishing report, it is posted here. POWERTON: Boat fishing reopened Sunday. Hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m.


I could use a hard-core fisherman for over the winter reports.


The river dropped below flood stage on Tuesday at LaSalle and is forecast to continue to drop steadily. Ottawa should be fishable already or very shortly.


The Indiana portion is in flood, while the Illinois side is high but fishable. Ed Mullady sent this:

``River is open with more people fishing. Some small walleye being caught on *jig and minnow*Spinner Baits *Countdowns. Croppie fair in mouths of bayous and creeks on pinkie jigs and minnows *jig and crawlers.''


For Ohio DNR report go to and or call (888) HOOKFISH.


See top for perch report at Navy Pier. Ice fishing in the harbors appears done for the season. Vet's reported at least one coho and a few browns at the stateline power plant. Mik-Lurch reported some perch in the slips off the river near the state line.


D&S Bait reported ice is fine. Monona Bay remains good for bluegill and a few crappie; a few perch on Monona, and Waubesa has some bluegill.

For D&S Bait, go to


Minocqua guide Kurt Justice sent this:

``Back to winter, with colder temps, a little snow in the forecast. Fishing action slowed somewhat from the weekend before with all the warm temps, bites sort of flip-flopped.

Walleye: Good. Better numbers not as many large fish, though a several 25-26" reported. Tip-ups accounting for bulk of reports, though with milder temps, anglers hole hopping jigging Rapalas (#5 & #7), shad raps (#5), and Chubby Darters (#4). Better activity also on weed edges (probably due to warm spell) so shiners have produced best.

Perch: Fair/Good. As usual, two bites. Mud bite best in water deeper than 30' on wigglers, red spikes. Hali jigs, #2-#3 pimples to bet bait down quickly. Weed perch taking small minnows on tip-downs. Try medium fatheads, small shiners to target larger perch.

Bluegills: Fair/Good. slowed from previous week, probably due to cold. When the bite was hot, bright colored jigs worked best. With slower bite, switch to black, purple, red. Single spike or moussee vs. wax worm best.

Pike: Fair/Good. Slower than previous week, but nice fish reported including a 36"er. Bluegill anglers complaining of lost rocker jigs to pike. Big shiners/suckers best.

Crappie: Fair. Action started to pick up, then came to a halt this weekend. Deep water fish best bet on tip-downs baited with rosies in 20-28' over mud/gravel breaks. Some fish in weeds on camera, but not a good bite yet.

Largemouth Bass: Quiet. Active last week, but very few biting with sub-zero temps. A few odd smallmouth reported, not much else.

Game fish season runs through till midnight March 1st, just two weekends left. While colder temps in the forecast for this weekend, new moon coming up should improve.''


Mik-Lurch reported some perch in the river. Ice is not recommended on Wolf or Willow Slough. Vet's reported at least one coho and a few browns at the stateline power plant.


BJ Sports reported the river is high, but receding; walleye and steelhead are being taken at Berrien Springs. Some days the piers are fishable with browns, steelhead and whitefish being taken, other times ice blows in.


For more reports, click here.


The river is open. Duwe reported lots of small walleye and sauger in the deeper holes, either drifting with Lindy rigs or jigging.






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






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Not to be picky, but that musky pic doesn't look like a recent's been nice out, but that doesn't look like an ice-out fish...well, that's just my take on it.

I don't doubt that musky are being taken, just not sure about the photo shown.

Been reading a lot of scary reports on ice fishing lately...with that massive warm-up we had fishermen are finding some safe ice, and not far from where they set up seeing really thin ice too. There's been several reports on the "net" of people going through. If you're still ice fishing, best word of advice is - don't go alone.

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on February 18, 2009 9:13 AM.

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