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Midwest Fishing Report: Holiday edition

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Ice fishing, even on Chicago harbors, leads this Midwest Fishing Report--it should make for a good wintry holiday weekend.


Jingle bells, jingle bells. Enough of that.

Bluegill are the top bite, fairly universally, but northern pike are much in the news, such as from the Westchester pair of ``Bass Ron'' Antinori and ``Musky Ed'' Potocki of Midwest Musky Hunters sent a note and photo about a nice pike caught and released on a public lake in Lake County during ``first 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


Ice fishing is underway across the entire area, only trouble spots are a few current areas and spots swam open by geese. There's some sloppiness after recent precip, but generally access if fine. Overall, bluegill are the dominant bite As of Tuesday noon, Sterling in Lake County was not open. Mik-Lurch reported some decent crappie at Powderhorn. Henry's reported some pike, bluegill, perch and crappie at Wampum.

LOCAL PUBLIC ICE FISHING REGS: CHICAGO LAGOONS: Closed to all ice fishing. COOK FPD: 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), Flatfoot (new), Green (new), 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.) KANE FPD: Ice fishing, at your own risk, is permitted at Lake Patterson at Oakhurst in Aurora and the various ponds at Burnidge in Elgin. LAKE FPD: No ice fishing is open yet. When it is, it 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. 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. North Unit lakes open Jan. 9; South Unit on Jan. 17. McHENRY COUNTY 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, once signs are posted after 4 inches of ice are formed. Then it is at your own risk. 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. WOLF LAKE: Ice fishing is at your own risk.


For an overview of nearby river conditions, click here. I did not included individual river reports.


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


From licensed guide and trapper Phil Schweik and guide Glenn Moberg of Hooksetters Guide Service:

(Lead): Heavy snows in the central Wisconsin area are making it very
difficult for ice anglers to get out and roam around. Those who are willing
to make the effort to get out are being rewarded with some very good
fishing. Be cautious! Never forget that the mighty Wisconsin River, its
backwaters and impoundments have strong currents, and very dangerous thin
ice areas that can be well hidden. Hire a local guide. You'll catch a lot
of fish, and have a lot of fun - -in complete safety.

Walleyes in the central Wisconsin area have been biting well in the evening
hours on tip-ups baited with golden shiners set about one foot off the
bottom in 3 to 5 feet of water. The same locations are holding northerns,
during the daytime hours, so be prepared to get bit off, or run a light wire
leader to prevent bite offs during the day. Use golden shiners on tip-ups,
set about one foot off the bottom in 3 to 5 feet of water or the northern -
-just like for the walleyes.

Crappies in the central Wisconsin area are suspending about 2 to 4 feet off
the bottom in 12 to 14 feet of water, and can be taken on tip-downs baited
with rosie reds (a type of red minnow), or regular, black crappie minnows.
Ice anglers have also been catching quite a few crappies by jigging small
spoons tipped with waxies or spikes, and paying close attention to flasher
units to pick up on the rest of the suspended fish, locating at different

Bluegills in the central Wisconsin area have been associating tight to the
remaining weeds, but are starting to move off, and towards deeper water.
Look for the gills to be in about 8 feet of water, hanging around any
remaining structure. Small jigs tipped with waxies or spikes will do the
trick. Be prepared to change up your bait throughout the day, as the gills
will turn on and off to certain colors as the day goes on.

Late season bow deer hunters in the central Wisconsin area can look forward
to a very good remainder of the season. With all of the snow that has piled
up in central Wisconsin, and the extremely cold temperatures, deer are being
forced to become more active and to start feeding earlier in the day. Any
remaining food sources will be deer magnets, as they try to fight off the
cold, and keep up their nourishment for the winter.


Great ice conditions on the Chain, but it is early in the season so be careful in current areas and middles. Arden Katz reported slower panfish at the T Channel, but good action at Nielsen Channel at Port Barrington. Triangle Sports reported good bluegill (try Diamond or Gill Pills); Channel and Petite, best lakes. Walleye are good on Marie or Channel, try tip-ups rigged with roaches or fatheads early morning and evening. Crappie are fair, try around channel mouth points for suspended fish with glow jigs. White bass are good on Swedish Pimples or Striper Specials, start in 13 feet on Marie.

For more reports, see

More Chain info at

SOME ACCESS POINTS: By the T Channel, Famous Freddie's asked fishermen to park in back and be out by 11:30 a.m. when they open, or come in and eat. . . . Granny's at Spring Lake Marina has parking and food, will refund on vouchers. . . . For Ackerman's Channel, there's Port O'Blarney. . . . On Nielsen's Channel, Hermann's offers parking, wax worms, food and drink. . . . On Channel, Chopper's Bar has access and refunds the parking voucher if you order food. . . . On Marie, the Sand Bar & Grill offers access for those who patronize the place.


Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle said Geneva Bay is safe to walk except for small hole from geese, while there is open water from The Narrows west. Delavan has a couple holes from geese and one soft area near Bluegill Road; otherwise Saturday was the best day in 10 yeas of fishing that lake with some 10-inch bluegills; some crappies and a few pike and bass. Como had variable decent bass and pike, but watch driving vehicles. Sweet spot may be northwest end of Elizabeth (those who can get there) for bluegill, crappie, pike and bass.


Ice fishing is underway across central Illinois with 4-6 inches in most places, according to Larry Dozard of Bluegills are the top bite. EMIQUON: Emiquon Preserve near Lewistown is open to fishing. 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 info from the Corps, call (217) 774-2020. EVERGREEN: Any updated fishing report will be posted here.


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


Henry's reported ice fishing starting on most harbors. Problem is the leftovers from the big blow earlier this month has slowed catching. When the lake clears, the perch bite should take off any day. They are still busting ice at Navy Pier, but perch have been slow. Mik-Lurch reported some perch being caught from shore at 92nd and a few browns at the stateline power plant. Henry's has pier passes. 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 ice everywhere, best bite remains bluegill in Monona Bay, there's a few perch and pike on Mendota; Waubesa has some pike. For D&S Bait, go to


EAGLE RIVER: Creative Brilliance sent this report for the Chamber of Commerce:

(Lead): Ice getting steadily better (5-6 inches of clear ice topped with
snow/slush/frozen slush). Ice anglers should use foot travel only, and
remain vigilant and cautious. Ice thickness in any given area of a lake can
and will vary depending on the snow/slush/frozen slush cover.

Northern in the Eagle River area are in 5-15 feet of water in and around
weeds. Use a large shiner under a tip-up. Action is very good.

The walleye bite in the Eagle River area is good. Fish for walleyes in 8-15
feet of water off of weed or break edges. Use a small sucker or medium
shiner under a tip-up. While action is steady throughout the day, best time
is at sunset.

Crappies in the Eagle River area are locating over lake basin flats in 17-18
feet of water, with active fish hanging 5 feet or so off the bottom.
Crappies seem to still be scattered in these areas, but as winter progresses
look for them to "tighten-up" their schools. Use a jig with a waxie or a
small minnow under a tip-down or bobber. Use a small hook - -that "size" is
definitely producing best. The real secret to catching crappies right now
in the Eagle River area is to keep drilling holes and keep moving around.

(Report for the Eagle River Chamber of Commerce based on Creative Brilliance
interviews with Eagle River guides "Muskie Matt" of Wild Eagle Lodge,
"Ranger Rick" Krueger of Guide's Choice Pro Shop, and Mat Hegy).
Contact info for Eagle River:
* Eagle River Chamber of Commerce; 800-359-6315; 715-479-6400; e-mail:; web:
* "Muskie Matt", 715-891-5980; e-mail:
* Mat Hegy, 715-571-7544, e-mail:
* Guide's Choice Pro Shop, guide/owner "Ranger Rick" Krueger 715-477-2248
* George Langley, Eagle River Fishing Guides Association, 715-479-8804.

MINOCQUA: Guide Kurt Justice of Island Sports sent this:

While not great, ice conditions have improved thanks to last weeks wind and cold. Still, be careful as areas with snow build up (east shores, small lakes and bays) have slush and thinner ice problems.

Since Thursday, fishing improved as conditions became more favorable. The wind let up and daytime temps in the high teens to low 20's easier to deal with.

Walleye: Fair to Very Good. The bite is back. Dusk best but some anglers reporting nice fish (to 28"-C &R) during mid day on cloudy days. Suckers over sandgrass, gravel humps, shiners along cabbage/coontail edges on tip-ups. The smaller (1/16-1/8 oz) Slick jigs tipped with a large fathead also working in pockets of cabbage beds.

Northern Pike: Good. Lively shiners on tip-ups in 6-8' cabbage beds. Early mornings through 11 am have been best.

Bluegills: Good-Very good. Bright colored #8-#10 tear drops, darts and glows tipped with waxies. From as shallow as 4' to as deep as 10', bays with a lot of slush/snow not as good.

Crappies: Fair-Good. Mostly incidentals, but nice crappies to 12" mixed in with gills. Larger jigs (#6) tipped with waxies, small minnows. a few anglers reporting catches after dark on minnows under small bobbers in 8-10'.

Perch: Fair to Good. Bite finally starting to pick up. Weeds best, use small minnows. Forage minnow jigs (new ones shaped like small perch/crappies) tipped with a couple waxies good.

Ice thickness to 10" on many mid-larger lakes, but not uniform. Stick to ATV/snowmobile travel, stay away from areas of deeper snow.

Bait supplies good. Wild bait not, so don't expect river shiners or wild goldens yet. Moussees very hard to get and twice as pricey as waxies. Probably won't see much of this bluegill favorite this year.


Mik-Lurch said the top bite is ice fishing at Willow Slough for bluegill and pike. There's some browns at the stateline power plant and Amoco.


Click here for BJ Sports.


For reports, click here.


From the Wisconsin DNR Lake Michigan Report:

Kenosha Co.
No report.
Racine Co.
On the Root River in Racine open water can still be found from the Horlick dam through Quarry Lake Park. The water has been very clear with temperatures around 33 degrees. Fishing effort has dropped dramatically, but those anglers who are out have been successful at times. Most fish have been caught on small brown and orange flies. Some anglers have been ice fishing on the Root near the 6th Street and Marquette Street bridges as well as in the Racine harbor. Use extra caution, as conditions can change quickly. Fishing has been relatively slow in the harbor, but some steelhead have been caught further upriver on spawn set close to the bottom.
Milwaukee Co.
Milwaukee area tributaries are freezing over, but open water fishing can be found in the lower stretches of the Menomonee River and canals. The Milwaukee River mouth and harbor are ice covered and unfishable, and Riverfront Ramp is not usable.
Ozaukee Co.
In Port Washington, the area near the power plant discharge provides good winter open water fishing opportunities. Brown trout and steelhead can usually be found there this time of year.
Sheboygan Co.
No report.

Last Revised: Monday December 20 2010



Fishing Headquarters



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






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1 Comment

A couple of spring fed creeks that feed into the Fox have a fair amount of open water. Just drove over the DuPage in Shorewood. Anyone itching for some open water smallie fishing might want to give that river a try. I hear the rock bass like to hit in this colder weather too. Not all of us can tolerate sitting on buckets staring into little holes.

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on December 22, 2010 1:44 PM.

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