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Midwest Fishing Report: Snow and ice

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The hulking storm has put all ice fishing into question. It's a very fluid situation for first-ice fishing, even in northern Wisconsin. Even so, ice fishing, well, what survives the storm, leads this week's Midwest Fishing Report.


The problem with snow on top of forming ice started earlier this week as this photo of a Chicago-area pond showed with Monday's coating of snow already insulating some ice.

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

Let's start with the ice fishing regs for area waters.


LOCAL ICE FISHING UPDATES: All area waters are in-between. But some of the northern areas may begin to have safe ice by the weekend. So 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. Though very few are trying the rivers in this weather, I included a few individual river reports.


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


Waiting. ``Well, it is supposed to go pretty bloody cold after this snow spits,'' said Greg Dickson at Triangle--(847) 395-0813. ``I think our chances [of ice fishing] are real good. I am going to guess by the weekend.'' There was a good inch of ice by Tuesday at Nielsen's Channel on the Fox at Port Barrington, but Wayne Krcmar at Hermann's--(847) 639-9644--said, ``I don't know what with this snow.'' Call first.

For more reports, see

More Chain info at


Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle reported a few ice fishing on some channels on Delavan on Tuesday. Snow could knock it out.


Check latest at Fox Waterway Agency

Ken Gortowski sent this:

Didn't plan on going fishing, I'm done for the year. I think I've said that 3 times now. But the deer hunters were in the woods shooting at anything that moves in the hopes it might be a deer. So a couple of squirrels live to see another week. What I don't get is that next week is muzzleloading rifle weekend, but I get to be in the woods with them. This is starting to tell me something about firearm deer hunters.

Hit the outflow when the air temps finally got above 32 degrees. Won't go fishing when its below that. Finally happened about 1 p.m. As I was walking up to the start of the outflow, someone else was coming from the opposite direction. They had 3 rods, which meant they were going to camp out and zig zag the area with lines. I hate fishing around people like that. No use for them.

Started heading down stream to see someone else already there. They gave up soon after and came by, Lance from my site. Asked if it was now worth going further. He said to ask Travis, he's even further down. Travis eventually showed and they insisted it would still be worth it. They both tied into a couple and missed a few. I didn't have my hopes up, but the fish tend to move back into the warmer current relatively quick. I gave it a few more minutes before heading down.

I've noticed when I'm not hurried I get into this methodical, fluid way of fishing. My daughters would say I'm even OCD about that. I don't give it any thought so it can't be OCD. Lance had mentioned his hits came real tight to shore, so I stayed about 5 feet out and just floated a light jig and twister down stream in front of me. Swam it and hung it in the slow current and worked every indent in the bottom and every piece of shore line structure I could get near.

This got me 10 smallies and I only missed 2. I had switched to 6 pound test Trilene figuring the PowerPro may be a little too thick in the clear water. That may have helped. The largest smallie was 16 inches. I forget what a thrill that is on light line. Got to see that big one come out from an undercut bank and hit the jig. I had already cast to that stretch twice. I guess it got tired of looking at it swim by barely a foot away.

I don't have the patience to fish like that in the main river this time of year. If I'm going to torture myself fishing in the cold, I'm going to increase my odds and fish water that's flowing at 55 degrees.

I swear, this is the last time I'm getting out for the year. Really.


Ed Mullady sent this:

There were not too many fishing over the week end! Those who dressed warmly and went fishing did catch some fish.
Pike will be more active now, especially around creek and ditch mouths. Best on 4"-6" minnows worked along quieter edges. Walleye fair on *jig and minnow *jig and crawler and Rattlin' Rogue. Best around *Momence area *Kankakee dam through Warner Bridge *Wilmington Dam through Island Park.
Smallmouth bass still hitting in quieter 3-5" deep shoreline pools on *minnows *crankbaits *minnow shaped lures.


Check the latest at Harborside.


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


Henry's reported better action and size on perch at Navy Pier, Belmont and Montrose. ``Navy Pier and Montrose are loaded, bigger size at Navy Pier,'' North Side fisherman Arden Katz said. ``The biggest are about 10 inches [at Navy Pier], but you have to sort them out. At Montrose, it is almost every cast off the docks, but 80 percent are small.'' He favors spikes and Mini-Mites; others stick with minnows. Weather has knocked out boat fishing for perch. 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.


Some backwaters had an inch or more by Monday, but Gene Dellinger at D&S Bait said, ``I wouldn't count on it. If we get all the snow, it would not be good. We're ready, but we're not there.'' For D&S Bait, go to


EAGLE RIVER: Staff at Eagle Sports Center reported, ``We are all over the board. There's some open water on bigger lakes, some of the smaller shallower lakes have up to 4 inches of ice. A few people are going to out. It is up in the air. If we get a whole bunch of snow, it will slow things.'' HAYWARD: Al Rosenquist at Pastika's said, ``We are starting to get people sneaking out on back bays. I think it will come to a screeching halt with this snow.'' MINOCQUA: Kurt Justice of Island Sports sent this: ``Ice built rapidly through Tuesday morning (as of this report) [and] area anglers just started fishing Allequash, Carrol, the Rainbow Flowage and a few of the bays of the larger lakes. If predicted snow stays light, dropping temperatures (high of 5 degrees on Thursday) should give plenty of opportunity to early ice anglers willing to walk.''


Mik-Lurch reported lots of steelhead in the creeks, spawn is tops, or b-moths. Weather has knocked out boat fishing for perch. WILLOW SLOUGH: General fishing reopens Dec. 17.


BJ Sports reported some walleye and steelhead in the river, some steelhead at the Berrien Springs dam.


For reports, click here.


Mik-Lurch reported the corn channel is giving up some crappie and a few walleye.



Fishing Headquarters



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






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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on December 9, 2009 6:15 AM.

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