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Midwest Fishing Report: Mid-winter

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I would love to have something sexy to lead the Midwest Fishing Report, but I don't; other than the low pressure expected tomorrow should help kick in better ice fishing and a question about northern pike.

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


I've done Fish of the Week for several years, and I have never received so many nominations from guys with big pike from all around the area. It is three weeks straight for a pike being FOTW from areas far and wide around Chicago outdoors: Belmont harbor, Willow Slough and northwest suburbs, respectively.

If anybody has a theory why, I would love to hear it.


There's plenty of good ice, and the warmer weather had fishermen out all over on Monday. Best reports continue to come from suburban or farm ponds. My favorite story was about an old guy who decided to drive his big white Cadillac around on a small lake well south of Chicago.


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 included individual river reports this week.


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


Triangle reported bluegill are the No. 1 bite throughout the Chain, Channel, Pistakee and Petite are producing, mostly on small jigs or spikes. Pike are good on most area lakes, especially Deep, Loon or around the creeks on the Chain; use smelt or large roaches on tip-ups. For walleye, use various jigging lures tipped with a minnow head or minnow, or tip-ups with roaches; try in 8-12 feet. Look for white bass on Marie or Petite, start around 20 feet with a Swedish pimple with spikes. Look for suspended crappie, focus early or late. For perch, try small fatheads, spikes or waxies in the heaviest weeds you can find. Catfish are fair.

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.


Ice fishing is at your own risk at both Mazonia units. Braidwood reopens March 1. LaSalle reopens March 17. Heidecke reopens April 1.


Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle reported better bluegills being caught on the north side of the island (if you can find them, wigglers are the bait of choice); a few bigger perch are being taken on the east end of Geneva by Trinke's; and good pike numbers continue on Como.


POWERTON: Riverside reported white bass and hybrids are the best bites, some decent blues and flatheads, smallmouth are slow. Shore fishing hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Boat fishing reopens Feb. 15. EMIQUON: Ice fishing is permitted. SHELBYVILLE: For more, call (217) 774-2020. EVERGREEN: I did not see an updated report. Boat stickers are in, you can get them at the visitor's center Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


CHICAGO: Most consistent ice fishing for perch remains at Belmont and Montrose harbors. Ice has been in and out at Navy Pier, where action has been spotty, usually depending on ice cover. The best perch fishing is the east side of Burnham, where conflicts with access mount. Perch have been tougher at 92nd and 95th, reported Mik-Lurch. 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 a fair bite, much the same as last week: Monona Bay and upper Mud are best for bluegills with some perch (take sorting) on Mendota in deep water. For D&S Bait, go to


Things should change radically for the better in terms of fishing this week, as guide Kurt Justice of Island Sports noted here:

Following a very cold stretch of weather this past week (lows to -16) looks as if things will warm up a bit and we should see a moderation in temps, some clouds and a little snow. Conditions should improve what would have to be described as poor fishing last week.

Perch: Fair. Even the deep water (to 30') anglers saw the high pressure affect their fishing. Start out with wigglers as bait on as small a jig as you can get down. Try using a pimple or kastmaster for weight, try a 4-5" dropper to offer bait. Single red spikes, even leaf worms working in depths. Shallow weed perch use medium fats to key in on larger fish.

Pike: Fair. Not very active mid-week, but improving by Feb 1st. Bigger pike (over 30") taking big shiners and suckers fished over weed tops in 5-10'. Don't be afraid to hold bait up high under ice.

Walleye: Poor - Fair. Bite improving by Saturday. Most action from 4pm and on (cold mornings unproductive). Suckers preferred by anglers fishing outside weed lines (12-14') and out over deep grass. Evening action in cabbage flats best to use medium shiners 1-2' off bottom. Jigging bite has been slow, but should improve with warmer temps by weeks end.

Whitefish: Fair. Fewer reports due to cold. Most action in 70-80' of water. #3, #4, and #5 pimples, Rattle spoons and plastics. Tip spoons with waxies or gulp alive.

Bluegill: Poor-Fair. Cold kept gill anglers indoors. Bite improving with moderate temps. Light line (1-3#_ with #10 darts tipped with moussees, #12 rockers with tiny piece of dark plastic.

Crappies: Poor. Anglers spotting lots of crappies in bays with 8-12' weeks, just weren't biting. Typical of cold, high pressure spells, watch for rising temps and drop in barometer to turn this species on. Finesse with #10 light colored rocker (yellow, white, gold) tipped with plastic. As bite increases set tip-downs with minnows 2-4' off bottom.

It was a dismal week for fishing but signs of a better bite are ahead.

The only bright side to the extreme cold - lake travel is very good to excellent. 3-4" of snow on ice, 15-17" average. Finally great for truck travel.


Staff at Mik-Lurch said the best bite remains bluegill at Willow Slough, but early until about 8:30 a.m. Creeks hold decent steelhead. Perch have been tougher at 92nd and 95th.


Eddie Valenzuela at Allen Outboard and Bait reported slower action over the weekend, though there is plenty of ice (one-foot range). Most are focusing on the road bed. NOTES: Rockfest is Saturday. Meet at the main office about 8:30. The night fishing night will be Feb. 13.

For more reports, click here.


North Sider Arden Katz grew tired of slow ice fishing in the stained water at Kenosha, so he pushed north to Milwaukee, where he and a buddy caught steelhead and browns in the much clearer water. While others fished tip-ups, they went jigging with tube jigs or the new Lindy spoons.



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 3, 2010 6:31 AM.

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