Chicago Sun-Times
Stray Casts will intelligently report and observe, hopefully with a touch of wit, on daily occurrences, reports and releases related to Chicago-area outdoors from bucks to bass to birds to bugs

Midwest Fishing Report: Perch and ice

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

I hate stretches like this. The good ice across almost the entire Chicago area will be impacted by the incoming weather, if not completely taken out by heavy rains. Even so, ice conditions and perch at Navy Pier lead this fishing report.


The traditional holiday week fishing for perch at Navy Pier should be right on target. That's Frank Pauliks and his son Erik with a double Tuesday morning, they were part of my column today in the Sun-Times on Navy Pier perching.

This is the extended online version of the MFR, 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


Again, I can simply say that the forecast heavy rains will likely take out a good chunk of our ice fishing. But until tomorrow, there's been some good early-ice fishing.

Henry's reported one of the better first-ice bites has been pike on tip-ups at Wampum in Cook. Fishing is allowed as of Tuesday at Sterling in Lake.

LOCAL ICE FISHING REGS: 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. The Mazonia units open after various hunting seasons. 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.


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


This is the hot spot of the area, with hundreds of ice fishermen going for nearly two weeks straight now.

Triangle reported Spring and the south side of Channel are good for bluegill; for crappie, best has been by Channel and Catherine, and there's some white bass in Mineola Bay and on Marie. North Side fsiherman Arden Katz does well for mostly bluegills and a few crappie on the mouth and outside of the T channel with black Rat Finkees.

For more reports, see

More Chain info at

CHAIN ACCESS: Joe's Rock N Wave Diner--(847) 838-9283--has access to Spring lake.

By the early-ice spot 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 (maybe safe by the weekend), there's Jack & Lydia's Resort--(847) 356-1389.


Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle reported small pike being taken at the Abbey on Geneva; lots of pike and a few bass on Como. On Delavan, at the boat launch, there's 6-7 inches of ice with small bluegills being caught. Pleasant is producing good crappie at night.


EMIQUON: If you've become a fan of the bass fishing at Emiquon, note you must pick up the new free fishing permit after Jan. 1.

Emiquon Preserve Fishing and Boating Permits for 2010 Now Available

WHAT: The Nature Conservancy announced today that boating and fishing will be allowed at the Emiquon Preserve on a limited basis in 2010. New permits are required as of January 2010 for participation. The wetland restoration opened for fishing in 2009. Existing 2009 permits for boating and fishing will expire on December 31, 2009. The free permits and a complete list of rules for 2010 are now available to be picked up at the Dickson Mounds Museum. Boating and fishing is allowed only on the west side of Thompson Lake. Not allowed are gas powered motors, whether or not in use, and bank fishing. Children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult and have a permit signed by a parent or legal guardian.

WHERE: The Emiquon Preserve is located near Peoria in Lewistown, Illinois. The Dickson Mounds Museum is located at 10956 North Dickson Mounds Road, and is open from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Parking locations and access to the lake may change or be limited during the season as on-site construction of visitor facilities progresses.

WHEN: Boating and fishing are permitted between sunrise and sunset. Additional restrictions apply on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays during waterfowl hunting season when fishing is allowed only between 1 pm and sunset.

WHY: Boating and fishing opportunities are offered as a public service and to share some of the many multiple-use benefits provided by restored wetlands. The Nature Conservancy is restoring and managing the Emiquon Preserve to conserve ecological processes and the plant and animal communities of the Illinois River ecosystem. Through a cooperative fisheries management agreement, the Illinois Department of Natural resources has stocked Emiquon's lakes with 1.7 million fish of 30 different species.

Those interested in supporting the Conservancy's work are encouraged to become a member at

POWERTON: Shore fishing reopens Monday. Boat fishing reopens Feb. 15, 2010.

SHELBYVILLE: For more, call (217) 774-2020.


I think the heavy rains after ice will set back and make it very dubious for me to chase my long desire to catch a Christmas smallmouth from the Kankakee, but before the weather whips the river, Ed Mullady sent this:

Kankakee River is still pretty much opened up, with a few more fishermen fishing!
In Indiana and Illinois, good time to fish for walleye around any open ditch mouths and even in the ditch mouth if open. Best on *jig and minnow *jig and crawler *minnow shaped lures.
Croppie good along shoreline in-the-water logs *brushpiles 8creek mouths on *pinkie jigs and twister tail *jig and minnow *small Beetle Spins.
Good all around fishing at: Point, north of English Lake, Indiana *Rt. 39 & 8, Indiana.
Illinois: East of Momence *Kankakee Dam through Station St. Bridge *Kankakee River State Park *Wilmington Dam thru Broken Dam.
Merry Christmas to you and your family!


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


Henry's reported Navy Pier remains the top perch bite, minnows have been best. Montrose and Belmont are also producing, but those spots take even more sorting. Mik-Lurch reported some up the river at 92nd. 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.


D&S Bait said the best bite is bluegills on Monona Bay, but there's decent bluegill on Waubesa, Kegonsa and Cherokee Marsh, too. Mendota is mostly open. For D&S Bait, go to


Very variable ice conditions dominate the entire area. As guide Kurt Justice of Island Sports graphically puts it:

Snow has definitely hindered ice production. Ice thickness ranges all over the board from as little as 1 1/2" to as much as 8". While I'm still not advising vehicle travel, there are some areas where snowmobiles and even small trucks have been seen on the ice. The problem is those ice depths mentioned earlier have come off of the same lakes. Stay clear of snow drifts, some areas under snow less than 2"!

Pike: Very good to excellent. Action plus size. Nice fish to 30". Big shiners in 4-8' of water.

Walleye: Very good. Some days bite starting early (3pm). Six - 12' weed best. Medium shiners, suckers on tip-ups. Fish to 28" reported. Larger jigging Rapalas just after dark in 5-8'.

Largemouth Bass: Very good. Usually not reported at this time, but good action and size (to 18") caught by anglers targeting pike walleye and crappies in 6-8" weed flats during day.

Bluegills: Good. Action improving. Fish absent from some traditional spots, moving back in. Waxies, moussees, plastics over old vegetation in 3-6' - though some small lake anglers finding fish in 15-20'.

Perch: Fair-Good. Patterns haven't set up yet. Still good numbers in weeds. Loose schools taking small minnows, Northland forage minnows with gob of wax worms in 4-8'. A few anglers finding schools of first major break in 12-14'.

Crappies: Poor-Fair. Few fish, few reports. Best towards evening along weed edges in 10-12'. try deep mud flats for staging fish.

A light snow today (12/21) didn't amount to much. More snow in forecast could hurt. We still need more cold and less snow to build ice.


Mik-Lurch reported browns at Gary Light, when boats can launch, and a few steelhead in the streams on spawn sacs. Willow Slough has solid bluegill action and pike reported to 32 inches, but ice conditions are iffy and could get more dangerous. Frankly, I think it will be wiped out by the rain.


From the Wisconsin DNR Root River Report:

Water and flow conditions
Water levels are at normal levels and water clarity is excellent. There remains a good population of both brown trout as well as steelhead throughout the river.
Fishing Report
With the cooler weather and overcast conditions this weekend the fish were consistently holding in the deeper holes. This has made them tougher to catch for those fishing with fly gear as the drifts are extremely short in the slower water. Those willing to put forth the effort required are having some luck. Smaller flies have been most productive. Black or olive whooley buggers or worms (in smaller sizes) as well as small egg imitation flies have been taking fish. For those drifting spawn sacs the fishing has been much more consistent. With the fish holding in the deeper holes, drifting the sac under a float will allow one to cover the deep pools much more effectively. Action has been best in the mid-afternoon, but mornings have also produced fairly well.


BJ Sports reported some steelhead and walleye at Berrien Springs and for those braving icy piers there's a mixed bag including whitefish. Ice fishing is going on inland lakes.


For reports, click here.


Henry's reported some pike on the Illinois side (flagpole), but I think the weather is going to impact the ice in a day or two.



Fishing Headquarters



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






No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL:

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on December 22, 2009 10:55 PM.

Wednesday Stray Cast: Trib and Bull was the previous entry in this blog.

A morning for cleats: And Clete is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.