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Midwest Fishing Report: Ice and spears

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A look at weekend ice fishing events, results of ice fishing events and a catch-up on sturgeon spearing lead this Midwest Fishing Report.


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


The photo above is of last year's grand champion, Samantha Riemann, at the Island Lake Lions Club's annual ice fishing derby. This year's event will be from 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday. The hotline (847) 604-1709.


At Port Barrington on the Fox River backwaters, Hermann's Ice Fishing Derby will be held out of Hermann's, 300 Center St. Port Barrington, IL 60010. Sign-up starts at 6:30 a.m. Tournament ends at 1 p.m. Phone is (847) 639-9644.


Multiple records were set when the 2010 Lake Winnebago sturgeon spearing season opened Saturday. Most important was the one by Ron Grishaber of Appleton, Wis., who registered a 212.2 pound, 84.2-inch sturgeon Saturday morning. It is believed to be about 100 years old. The largest male ever registered--116.8 pounds, 71 inches -- was also brought in Saturday. And there was a record number of sturgeon registered of 100 pounds or heavier with 34, 31 from Winnebago and three from the Upriver Lakes.

Wisconsin DNR senior sturgeon biologist Ron Bruch said, The large number of big fish over 100 pounds (at this point 71 out of 1478 or 4.8%) is a real trend in the sturgeon population that we have seen building over the last decade.

It was expected that triggers would shut the spearing season after Tuesday, but the season will last at least through today.



I don't think this is a winner, but the kid sure looks happy at the Northern Illinois Conservation Club's 50th annual Chain O'Lakes Fishing Derby & Winter Festival over the weekend. Here are the big fish: Northern pike: 36 7/8 inches, Nathan Zeien, Antioch; walleye: 15 5/8, Jeff Parsons, Oregon; bass: 19 1/8, Greg Cowll, Fox Lake; catfish: 25 1/8, Chris Zeien, Antioch; crappie: 14, Shawn Schuld, Antioch; striped bass: 11 5/8, Parsons, perch: 12 1/4, Parsons; Bluegill/sunfish/rock bass: 9 1/8, Parsons.


From the annual night of late ice fishing Saturday, Eddie Valenzuela at Allen Outboard and Bait reported these big fish: crappie, 11 1/4 inches (a tie); catfish, 22 1/2; and bluegill, 8 1/2 inches.


Even south, ice thickness is near a foot. Fishing has been fair. LOCAL PUBLIC ICE FISHING REGS:

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 an Illinois report today and a partial for the Kankakee.


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


Speaking of timely, Butch Vynalek caught a 33-inch pike from Deep Lake in the past week. Triangle reported most consistent bluegill and crappie action has been on Petite. There's about 18 inches of ice. See above for results for weekend NICC derby. Hermann's reported better panfish action in the Fox River backwaters on spikes or plastic.

For more reports, see

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.


Haven't heard recent reports on ice fishing at Mazonia. Braidwood reopens March 1; LaSalle, March 17; and Heidecke, April 1.


Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle reported on and off big perch (Slender spoons) out of Geneva, and a few lakers in 80 feet. On Delavan, there's steady bluegill; they're seeing big fish, not catching much. Como remains good for keeper pike; bass may turn on with warmer weather. Good numbers of bluegills on Pleasant.


POWERTON: Boat fishing reopened Monday. There is no dock. Winter hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. EMIQUON: Haven't heard anything on ice fishing, which is allowed. SHELBYVILLE: For more, call (217) 774-2020. EVERGREEN: Haven't heard any updates on ice fishing. Boat stickers are in.


Guide Jay Angel reported being able to launch from Spring Valley Boat Club on Monday. In a couple hours, they boated about a dozen sauger from 10-17 1/2 inches on Berkley Gulp around the bridge. He figured with minnows they might have doubled their catch. Barto was still iced in.


Virtually no fishermen, but I called Ed Mullady any way on Tuesday and he reminded that traditionally this is the time when big walleye are taken from the Kankakee dam on down a mile or so and that pike start heading up into the creeks and ditches.


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


CHICAGO: Henry's reported more ice fishermen going out on Diversey and DuSable; but the main effort by ice fishermen remains at Belmont and Montrose. It takes sorting for keeper perch. Arden Katz reported better and bigger perch to 10 inches at Navy Pier on Friday, but that was fishing through holes between ice. He said key was using 4-pound line and Hali spoons. Mik-Lurch reported some browns and steelhead 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.


D&S Bait reported some good days for perch on Mendota, other days poor; some bluegill on Monona end Squaw bays and the south end of Waubesa. Some mid-sized pike are being taken on Mendota. For D&S Bait, go to


Guide Kurt Justice of Island Sports sent this:

Snow held off till Sunday, making for a good weekend for ice fishing. Reports, while not outstanding, were good for mid February and should only build through the end of the ice season.

Pike: Good-Very good. Pike action increased dramatically over last week. The big fish of a week ago didn't show, but lots of numbers. Medium shiners on tip-ups in 6-10' for the majority of anglers working "action pike", but the big fish still want the big pike suckers and shiners a little deeper.

Largemouth Bass: Very good. Usually not a cold month fish, but taking medium shiners and jigs tipped with waxies from anglers targeting other species. Nice fish to 19" holding in green weedy bays on most lakes. Try flashy spoons and jigging shads.

Perch: Good-Very Good. Both mud flat and weed edge anglers experiencing good catches. Mud fish over 20-30' mud taking wigglers, red spikes on Hali jigs, pimples, forage minnows. For weed edge perch in 12-16' use small minnows on tip-downs. Mimic minnows, forage minnows tipped with waxies also working.

Walleye: Good. Early evening bite starting 4:30-5pm. Target 12-16' weed edges with medium shiners or move out to sandgrass flats in 18-28' using 3-4" suckers. Jigging rapalas (#5, #7) also effective on submerged humps.

Bluegill: Fair-Good. Bite best in afternoons (1pm till 4pm). Moussees, waxies on black or purple moon glos. Plastic in dark colors also effective. Fish 1-3' off bottom.

Crappies: Fair. Deep water breaks of 18-30' holding brief but productive bites at dawn and again at dusk. Rosie reds on tip-downs best. Some weed action in bays on low pressure days on jigs tipped with plastic or Chena.

Whitefish: Fair. Dawn to 8am in 40', move out to 70-80' after that. Fish till 3-4pm. Pimples, Macho minnows, #50 Hali jigs tipped with waxies or Gulp Alive.

Fishing for gamefish continues through Sunday March 7th ending at midnight. Three weekends left to target walleyes and pike. Overall fishing action remains good for this time of year probably due to good light penetration. Travel is great. Ice thickness averaging 17-20".


Mik-Lurch reported the best bite remains Trail and Salt creeks for steelhead, especially on spawn sacs. The bluegill bite appears to be rebounding on Willow Slough. Otherwise, the warm-water discharges on Lake Michigan--Amoco and the stateline power plant--are giving up some steelhead and browns on roaches or Little Cleos.


Valenzuela reported the night of ice fishing went OK, though it was mostly small bluegill and crappie. For more reports, click here.


Katz continues to focus on Milwaukee harbor, more than Kenosham and is catching fair steelhead, including a 10-pounder Saturday. He is catching them on tube jigs, but he said local guides are using spawn bags.

Check the latest at from Harborside on Kenosha at Harborside.


Mik-Lurch reported a few good pike on the Illinois side, otherwise fair ice fishing.



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 February 17, 2010 8:03 AM.

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