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Midwest Fishing Report: LaSalle loony [Updated]

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[UPDATED ADD} Word now is the decision has been made to reopen LaSalle Lake as usual on March 17.

Springfield stupid leads this Midwest Fishing Report. As in, it looks like the reopening of LaSalle Lake to fishing may be pushed back to April 1.


Traditionally, LaSalle reopened to fishing on March 15 or the first Wednesday thereafter. That may not happen this year. There isn't enough staff to cover the shifts, so Springfield thinkers may decide to push back reopening the cooling lake until April 1 when conservation workers (summer help) come online.

So what's the big deal about those two weeks?

That ticks me off that I would even have to explain that.

The value of LaSalle to fishermen in northern Illinois is as a cooling lake, it's warm water makes for explosive fishing at a time when many waters are in between ice and open water.

It's like a mini-trip to Florida to fish LaSalle in March.

By April 1, in most years, there are a multitude of other fishing options around Chicago from Heidecke reopening to smelting on the lakefront to spring coho to ice-out fishing on the Chain and other area lakes.

For those couple weeks at the end of March, LaSalle provides a great and unique service to those supposed to be served by the IDNR. And it's shameful that the option of a late start would be laid on the table.

If anything, LaSalle should be open longer, as in year round. This is asinine to go the other way.

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, running a bit late this morning.

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


The weather was winter-comfortable over the weekend, though ice conditions were slushy in spots and fishing was mostly fair. Maybe the slight warm-up and falling barometer will help. Overall, ice depth is not the problem.


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 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. I did not include river reports this week. Though I noticed the ice breaking up on the Kankakee yesterday, so maybe I should have.


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


Ice conditions are good, but the bite has been surprisingly tough or fair. Once again, maybe the warm-up will spark a better one. Arlington Anglers outing blanked on Marie on Saturday, though Triangle reported some yellow bass coming there on wigglers. Loon and Deep are seeing more effort, though Jack & Lydia's reported mainly smaller bluegills on Deep, and suggested another time. Jim's seconded fair or mixed reports for bluegill shallow on Channel, the south end of Catherine for panfish, while Spring is probably holding the best panfish bite. Jim's also had variable crappie reports--variable as in skunked to 25--toward dusk or around dawn on the south shore of Pistakee.

More Chain info at


Joe's Rock N Wave Diner--(847) 838-9283--has access to Spring Lake. Staff asks that ice fishermen park on the east side and come in and pay. . . . At 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. With the thicker ice, Barnacle Bob's--(847) 395-2036--is an option. . . . For Ackerman's Channel, try Port O'Blarney--(847) 395-4122. . . . For Deep Lake, there's Jack & Lydia's Resort--(847) 356-1389.


MAZONIA: All lakes at both units are open to fishing. Ice fishing is at your own risk. {LATE ADD] From Bill Lanham:

On Monday the 18th, Mazonia's South Unit opened to us ice anglers and we were welcomed with a good all day long hot bite.
Bluegill, crappie, largemouth bass and northern pike greeted us joyful anglers with open mouths and gave to each of us a wonderous day of line straining and stretching yankings.
Oh how sweet a walkabout it was for us all!
One happy ice man


Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle reported good pike on Como. Some bluegill on the west end of Delavan, some perch in 30-40 feet on Hali jigs and spikes and some spotty walleye. Geneva has questionable ice from the Narrows west, better ice toward town.


POWERTON: Shore fishing is open 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Boat fishing reopens Feb. 15, 2010. EMIQUON: Emiquon Preserve near Lewistown is open to ice fishing, too, though I haven't heard great reports. 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. EVERGREEN: Evergreen Lake Boat Stickers are in! You can get one on-line at or at the Park Visitor Center (Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)


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


CHICAGO: Navy Pier has open water, and the forecast would seem to favor it staying open, with some perch catches. Best spot remains ice fishing at Montrose, but even there it takes sorting for keepers, according to fishermen and Henry's \. There's some action at Diversey and Belmont (see fish of the week). Ed McCain of Mik-Lurch reported decent browns from boat Tuesday at the stateline power plant. 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.


For D&S Bait, go to


Guide Kurt Justice of Island Sports reported excellent weather last week, but the only good bite were deep-water species. Perch are good in 14-20 feet over mud flats on wigglers, especially on the Minocqua chain. Trout has been good for whitefish in 70 feet. Deep-water walleye around mud edges are decent from 5:30 p.m. and later with suckers on tip-ups or jigging Rapalas tipped with minnow heads. With low pressure returning, the panfish bite should improve. Pike are fair, largemouth are active on warmer days. Weather should be good this week. They recommended sticking to ATVs and snowmobiles, though some are driving trucks out.


The bright spot remains Willow Slough, where Mik-Lurch said there's been increasing reports of crappie, otherwise there's limits of bluegills some days and continued sporadic big pike (more on a 36 1/2-inch caught Saturday another day). McCain was picking up browns at the stateline power plant, Inland Shipping Channel and Amoco; the other spot, when reachable, is Gary Light.


Eddie Valenzuela at Allen Outboard and Bait--(815) 739-4522--reported lots trying on 12-14 inches of ice with catches of crappie, bluegill and even catfish, mainly on the road bed, the rocks or deep trees. NOTE: Feb. 13 will be the day for extended night fishing.



Fishing Headquarters



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






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Here's a question for you guys. I'm wheelchair bound, does anyone know if there is a way for me to access the ice on The Chain in my wheelchair?
I still have my tip-ups and ice jig poles, although I probably need new line by now since it's been about 10 years since I've been stuck in this chair!

Carl, the best answer so far is trying by the Thirsty Turtle on Channel. But I have to ask how you would do it with a wheelchair, both in terms of staying warm and handling drilling holes, etc.? I am fascinated by the question.

Nobody but crazy folk out catching fish in the river lately anyway.

Most definitely agree about needing LaSalle open year round. It would be better than having to drive to Powerton when the river freezes up.
If nothing else opening in March would keep some folks off a certain river for a couple weeks.

What a joke!! How about charging to park or a cooling lake sticker similar to the fox chain? Somebody needs to invest in and manage these great fisheries that we have here.

Dale, who should we, the concerned internet citizens contact to voice our displeasure with this knuckleheaded plan? I'm sure once word gets out there will be a lot of unhappy people, remember the mile long lines on opening day last year?

Rat, the number for the director is 217/785-0075 and the main Springfield number is 217/782-6302. And I remember the little surprise last year too of finding out about the early closure. What irks me to the core about this is that the true value of LaSalle is early in the year before other options are available. This is a site that should be year-round, quite the opposite of going backwards. Major PO

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on January 20, 2010 6:43 AM.

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