Ice fishing again dominates the Midwest Fishing Report.
But we may be looking at the best weekend in months to get and enjoy all this ice. The forecast sure sounds like a weekend to go fish. Ice fishing in 40 degrees sure beats ice fishing in 0.
The ice is reaching the point where it is having impacts.
Minocqua (Wis.) guide Kurt Justice said ice is reaching the thickness in places that extensions may be needed for augers.
Don Schurr, one of the two guys who caught big northern pike in the Chicago area on Saturday and earned a share of Fishes of the Week, added a P.S. to his fish story:
``I didn't measure it but the ice at North Point is so thick I recommend a power auger or big muscles.'' That's in a Lake Michigan harbor.''
At the shallow Willow Slough just across the line in Indiana, reducing oxygen levels are moving fish out of the back and toward the front of the lake, said Ed McCain of Mik-Lurch.
This is the extended online version of the MFR, which appears in the Sun-Times on Wednesdays. Normally, I post the online version by Wednesday morning.
If you have suggestions, post in the comments section or let me know at email@example.com.
The forecast break in the weather this weekend should make it an excellent time to fully savor the thick ice on area ponds and lakes, which have had some of the most consistent ice fishing in years.
Mik-Lurch reported big (catch and release) bass at Powderhorn on large roaches or sucker minnows. Henry's reported the forest preserve lakes all over producing.
Here is the ice fishing information for public sites 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
Triangle reports good bluegill, north side of Channel has been good. Look for fish shallow. Crappie are good on Petite on small fatheads or Rat Finkees. Walleye are good, Petite, Marie are best on large or medium roaches on tip-ups. White bass are good on Marie or Petite on small minnows or spikes, look for them in and around 20 feet.
Ice is in very good. But if going up this weekend, you might be prepared for some slop on top and wear rubber boots.
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.
COOLING LAKES/STRIP PITS NOTES
BRAIDWOOD: Set to open on schedule on March 1.
LaSALLE: Scheduled to open March 15; but, as usual, the lake will be closed to fishing on Mondays and Tuesdays in March.
HEIDECKE: Set to open on schedule on April 1, the only hitch would be if the ice isn't off by then.
MAZONIA: Ice fishing is well underway at both the south and north units.
DELAVAN/GENEVA LAKES AREA, WISCONSIN
Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle said perch are spotty, best early in 20-22 feet, lakers are good in 60-90 feet. Bluegill and crappie on are good on the west end of Delavan. Bluegills remain good at Pleasant. Bass are sporadic but a few good days on Como.
NOTE: On Sunday, NAIFC (www.naifc.com) will hold a tournament from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Headquarters are at the Delavan Park. Dave Genz gives a seminar at Lake Lawn Resort at 6 p.m. Friday. A kids event will be held at Lake Lawn from 10 a.m.-noon Saturday. To enter a two-men team in the tournament, call (320) 252-0428.
Mike Steffa said it is a ``carbon copy'' of last week: lots trying with fair catching for bluegill and crappie with occasional yellow or white bass in the mouths of coves.
Boat fishing reopens Feb. 15, but there will be no docks. Hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
For more, call (217) 774-2020.
ILLINOIS RIVER: STARVED ROCK AREA
Primary source: Guide Buster Culjan or Cajun's Bait
River is opening up. About all I can about that now.
Primary sources: Ed Mullady, ``Catfish'' Dave Bradigan
Mullady, who will present a river seminar with sons Matt and Rex at Tinley Park this weekend, sent this:
``Some pike being caught at mouths of ditches, bayous on large minnows, #5 Spinners.
Smallmouth Bass hitting some around open shorelines, mouths of creeks, ditches on*minnows *Jig & Twister tails. A few small walleye from shore on jig and minnow. Some areas with open water, others covered or partially covered with ice.''
Primary source: Harborside Bait & Tackle and Capt. Bob Poteshman
Action remains slow, though Arden Katz said the few browns being caught were taken with spawn sacs. Action was so slow, Katz even drove up to try Milwaukee harbor, instead last week.
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
Montrose and Belmont are tops for those perch fishing on the ice, but they take sorting for keepers. Mik-Lurch reported good browns at the stateline power, remember you need to come to it from the Illinois side. There's been some perch at 92nd.
Primary source: Poteshman
As FOTW shows, there's some big fish being taken through the ice. But there's so much ice, remember Schurr's advice to bring ``a power auger or big muscles.''
MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN
Primary source: D&S Bait at dsbait.com
D&S Bait said there's plenty of ice and decent bluegill continue on Waubesa and Monona Bay, a few perch on Kegonsa and variable perch on Mendota.
Primary sources: Eagle River Sports, Pastika's and Minocqua guide Kurt Justice
``Fishing success followed the weather last week, brutal cold kept anglers at bay though a few who did venture out were actually surprised with the action they had, but as things warmed up so did the attention and action. Not a lot of reports from Friday night thru Sunday due to very high wind, but those out reported good success.
Walleyes: Good. Action started out slow at beginning on the week, but built to a good bite by Friday evening. Hard fished humps and edges not producing as well, find deeper, less pressured areas for better success. Good fish this weekend with a 32 1/2", 13# plus fish reported this week.
Perch: Good. Once again slow early in the week with the cold. Some reports of anglers not even able to get bites using wigglers. Use of a single red spike needed to tempt fish from mud flats. Bite got better on wigglers with warm up.
Pike: Fair. Smaller fish this week, seems better when temps above 20. In some lakes tall weeds have laid down (lack of light?). Fish have left these areas for standing green weeds.
Bluegills: Fair. Warmer weather needed to improve bite. Small #12-#14 gill pills, marmooskas tipped with single red spike, moussee best. Look for same standing weeds as in pike reports. Leave flat weeds.
Crappies: Fair. Weed fish very slow. Deep crappies taking glow jigs tipped with waxies, small minnows over 20-28' mud. As weather warms, tip-downs should produce better, try small rosies.
More cold early part of week, expect tough fishing through Wed. Forecast for temps to hit low 30's by weekend should really improve action. High winds Sunday made for some tough drifts. ATV travel very tough, even truck travel bad where roads not packed down. Most lakes averaging 22-26" though reports on the Willow/Rainbow has ice nearly up to gear boxes on augers. Extensions may be needed soon.''
Primary sources: Mik-Lurch Tackle Outlet, Capt. Chuck Weis and Capt. Ralph Steiger
Mik-Lurch reported lowering oxygen on Willow Slough has moved the fish toward the front, but there's good bluegill and evening crappie. Pressure has made the fish leery, light line is helpful.
Shore fishermen are using crawlers at Amoco. Mik-Lurch reported good browns at the stateline power, remember you need to come to it from the Illinois side.
With the coming warm-up, look for winter steelhead to hit the creeks around Michigan City.
ST. JOSEPH AREA, MICHIGAN
Primary sources: BJ Sports and Michigan DNR
BJ Sports reported steelhead by the dam. The river is open enough to navigate a few miles below the dam.
Primary sources: Lakeside and guide Jay Angel
Ice has built to more than a foot, according to Allen Outboard and Bait. NOTE: RockFest on the southwest bay begins at 8:390 a.m. Saturday.
For more reports, click here.
Primary source: Mik-Lurch and Henry's
Mik-Lurch and Henry's both report good bass and pike on the Illinois side on large roaches on tip-ups.
CHICAGO AREA CHAT/REPORTS
CHICAGO AREA INFO
MICHIGAN DNR REPORT
WISCONSIN DNR REPORT
IOWA DNR REPORT
INDIANA DNR REPORT