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Midwest Fishing Report: Ice thickening

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Ice conditions rapidly stabilized over the area after the rains and heavy snows around Christmas. Nearly all areas should have safe ice, even corners of the Chicago harbors were borderline Tuesday afternoon. Ice fishing leads the Midwest Fishing Report.

This is the extended online version of the MFR, which appears on the outdoors page of 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


I was surprised how quickly ice conditions firmed up after the holiday weather. Any remaining problems on shorelines, around current or under drifts should be gone or nearly so by this morning. The only real problems will be areas swam open by geese, and there are quite a few areas like that. I've heard multiple reports of good fish, pike and panfish, from Wampum. But there will be options virtually everywhere by the weekend.


Here are the ice fishing regulations the winter of 2009-10 on local public waters:

CHICAGO LAGOONS: Closed to ice fishing because of liability concerns.

COOK FPD: It's ice fish at your own risk on the designated ice-fishing lakes (4 inches is recommended): Arrowhead, Axehead, Beck, Belleau, Big Bend, Bode South only, Bullfrog, Busse main and south (no north pool), Horsetail, Ida, Maple, Papoose, Powderhorn, Saganashkee, Sag Quarry east and west, Tampier, Turtlehead and Wampum.

DuPAGE FPD: 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 FPD: Ice fishing is permitted at Lake Patterson at Oakhurst in Aurora and the various ponds at Burnidge in Elgin.

LAKE FPD: Forest preserve ice fishing is permitted at Banana, Independence Grove south bay 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 on week days. For the latest, call (847) 968-3235 or go to the ice fishing page at

MAZONIA SFWA: Monster Lake is open year-round for open-water or ice fishing. All ice fishing is done at your own risk.

McHENRY CD: 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. Live bait is prohibited at Fel-Pro, the Hollows and Rush Creek. Updates, if needed, are made daily at (815) 338-6223. Parking lots are plowed, but other areas are not prepped by MCCD, so be prepared to make paths, etc.

SILVER SPRINGS SFWA: Ice fish at your own risk on both lakes (Loon and Beaver). The west entrance is closed in winter, the east entrance may be closed temporarily because of icing.

WILL FPD: The forest preserve district does not offer ice fishing; however, Monee Reservoir and Whalon Lake allow fishing year-round, if the water is open.


For an overview of nearby river conditions, go to this NWS site. Ice floes and icing will be common by this morning on many rivers. The Illinois is projected to be at flood stage through the weekend at LaSalle. I am not doing individual river reports this week.


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


Ice conditions are good. The Christmas weather kicked in the flow, which sparked a good walleye bite (fish to 28 inches). Triangle staff recommended starting in 8-12 feet daily, moving shallower toward evening. Bluegill are excellent throughout on waxies and ice jigs; best are the south end of Channel and Mineola or Pistakee bays. Crappie are good on glow jigs and spikes mornings or evenings in 8-15 feet; Marie, Channel and Petite are best. Arden Katz reported decent white bass and sheephead on wigglers or spikes on No. 2 Swedish Pimples on Pistakee; Triangle suggested trying for white bass in 15-25 feet on Marie, Petite or Channel. There's been some catfish on red worms.

For more reports, see

More Chain info at

CHAIN ACCESS: Joe's Rock N Wave Diner--(847) 838-9283--has access to Spring lake, where fishing has been good; staff asks early fishermen to park on the east side and come in and pay.

By the T Channel, staff at Famous Freddie's--(847) 587 9677--last year asked fishermen to park in back and be out by 11:30 a.m. when they open, or come in and eat.

On Nielsen's Channel off the Fox River at Port Barrington, Hermann's--(847) 639-9644--offers parking, wax worms, food and drink.

On Channel Lake, Choppers Bar--(847) 838-1230--and the Thirsty Turtle--(847) 395-4704--have access. Chopper's refunds the parking voucher if you order food.

On Lake Marie, McKinney's East Marina--(847) 838-8550--or the Sand Bar & Grill--(847) 395-8990--are best. As the ice thickens, Barnacle Bob's--(847) 395-2036--is an option.

For Ackerman's Channel, try Port O'Blarney--(847) 395-4122.

For Deep Lake, a later lake for safe ice, there's Jack & Lydia's Resort--(847) 356-1389.


Ice conditions deteriorated, though they should be firm up later this week. On Monday, Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle said basically the only safe ice was the boat launch on Delavan and or for pike fishing on Como.


EMIQUON: New free permits are required for the new year. Emiquon Preserve near Lewistown is open to fishing. Interested parties may request a permit and list of rules between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at the Dickson Mounds Museum in Lewistown. There is no fee. No gas powered motors are permitted, and bank fishing is not allowed. For more, call (309) 547-2730. SHELBYVILLE: For more, call (217) 774-2020. POWERTON: Shore fishing reopened Monday. suggested the stars may flatheads and blues, more than white bass and smallmouth.


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


CHICAGO: The big news was some ice starting to form in the harbors, there may be some ice fishing later this week. Right now most are fishing off the piers. Perching remains decent at Navy Pier (though murky water and some ice limited success) and Montrose, according to Henry's . Keepers take sorting. Mik-Lurch reported some perch in the slips and up the river by the Cal. WAUKEGAN: The Salmon Stop reported browns and steelhead; frozen shad is best, spawn sacs are hit and miss. South rocks are open, but part is fenced off. CHICAGO'S FISHERMAN'S PARKING: The $10 parking passes for the small fishermen's lots at Burnham and DuSable harbors are available at Henry's.


In case you're in the mood for going way north, Bay View Bait said ice fishing is beginning with most concentrating north of Gladstone, where there is 5-7 inches of ice.


D&S Bait reported best is Monona Bay for bluegills and some crappie and pike. Waubesa and Cherokee Marsh have spotty bluegill. Mendota was open as of Monday afternoon. For D&S Bait, go to


Conditions remain very variable for this late in the season, but ice conditions should be more consistent by the weekend.

Guide Kurt Justice of Island Sports sent this:

Ice is no where near what we would like, but we will have to take what we can get. Most lakes averaging 6-8" with a few reports of thicker ice on bays of flowages and a few lakes. Caution still advised as ice under snow drifts as little as 2 inches. With rain Christmas day and weight of snow prior, slush has become a problem. Saturday was the worst, things improved a little Sunday.

Walleye: Fair. Some big fish being caught by nocturnal anglers on large shiners. Several fish of 26-28" reported with a 29", 11#4oz beast (I weighed it myself) tops. Dusk till 6pm, then another bite at 10-11pm. Walleyes still moving up to 6-12' weeds.

Northern: Fair. Action slowed from fast start, probably should be rated higher than walleye, but no impressive fish reported this week.

Bluegills: Fair. Moussees, waxies in 5-8' weeds. Fish the back end of bays as it seems gills haven't been pushed out due to lack of ice production.

Perch: Fair. Anglers finding lots of small fish in weeds on grubs. For larger perch (8-10") fish a medium fathead under a small float. A few anglers probing deeper edges with spotty success.

Crappies: Poor. Few reports.

Nice temps in the 20s making it nice to fish, unfortunately slush making it tough to move. Wear knee boots and use caution blazing new trails.


Mik-Lurch reported bluegill limits coming from Willow Slough, which should have safer ice by today; there's been some nice pike taken. Steelhead are decent on Salt and Little Cal, Trail should improve with the runoff. When conditions allow, boaters are doing well for browns, steelhead and shaker coho at Gary Light.


BJ Sports reported a few steelhead at the Berrien Springs, decent walleye for trollers in the river and ``\a few crazies going on the pier'' are catching whitefish. Ice fishing is becoming good on inland lakes.


Ice fishing will set in for real this week. Check the latest at click here.


Reports of some pike around the flagpole on the Illinois side. Ice conditions should keep improving.



Fishing Headquarters



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






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1 Comment

Thanks for the awesome reports. I am sure that they will help lots of peaople and probably save some lives. Unfortunatley, I live in Canada and the reports dont affect me all that much. I still like them though.


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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on December 30, 2009 5:58 AM.

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