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Midwest Fishing Report: Ice fishing

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The start of ice fishing obviously leads this Midwest Fishing Report.


We are not quite up to the conditions of the ice hole above, which is from January. I think on the town pond.

This is the extended online version of the MFR, which appears on the Sun-Times outdoors page 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 will begin with access and regulation points on local waters around Chicago fishing, then follow with lakefront perch. Ice fishing is beginning across northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. I suspect into central Illinois later this week.


Ice fishing is beginning or already underway, across the whole area. Here are the regulations on public waters. 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. The other Mazonia units open after various hunting seasons. 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.


Arden Katz reported unbelievable perch at Navy Pier, though it takes sorting and you have to move the bait. He uses Mini-Mites and spikes. He reported minnows were taking bigger perch. Henry's said Navy Pier is best, but there's also action (though takes more sorting) at Montrose, Belmont and Burnham. Unfortunately, weather has limited boater access to the big school off Gary Light. Mik-Lurch reported some perch up the river around 92nd and 95th.


For an overview of nearby river conditions, click here. I did not include individual river reports today. I did post separately a ``Ramble with Gortowski'' about the Fox. Frankly, hats off to the individualists who do fish open-water rivers in this weather.


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): Ice forming daily in the central Wisconsin area, but extreme caution
is recommended. Best suggestion: Hire one of the central Wisconsin area's
top flight fishing guides who will put you on lots of fish in safety.

With ice forming daily, and with cooler temperatures in the forecast, it
appears as though the 2010-2011 ice fishing season has arrived in the
central Wisconsin area It's a bit later than the last few years, but worth
the anticipation. Some of the smaller lakes, some flowage areas, and a few
Wisconsin River backwater areas have sufficient ice for foot travel. Having
said that, it is essential, indeed critical that anyone who goes out has
with them safety equipment, and an extremely knowledgeable local who knows
the particular area inside-out, or better yet a licensed local guide. The
central Wisconsin area provides tremendous ice fishing opportunities, but it
is replete with danger- - strong currents, thin ice, ice that appears good
but isn't. This area is to be enjoyed, but only in complete safety. Be
safe - -not sorry!

Walleyes are feeding aggressively in the central Wisconsin area, hitting on
small sucker minnow and 4 to 5 inch golden shiners. Run them on tip-ups in
2 to 5 feet of water, about a foot off the bottom. Look for the walleyes to
be most aggressive during low light periods, with some absolutely awesome
action after dark, as these walleyes are primarily night time feeders.

For those looking for some very aggressive action in the central Wisconsin
area, the northern pike is what you are after. These fresh water alligators
will bite all day long and sometimes even better during the mid-day hours.
Work shallow mud flats in 3 to 5 feet of water along active weed beds in 4
to 7 feet of water to tempt these aggressive fish into biting. Run tip-ups
baited with medium sized suckers that are 5 to 6 inches long, or the large
golden shiners that are 4 to 6 inches long. When setting up your baits,
locate along the weed edges, and contours in the depth of the vast mud
flats, as these are highways for the traffic.

The panfish bite in the central Wisconsin area is outstanding, with very
good catches of giant bull nosed bluegills coming in. Target these big
gills in the same areas every year- -the main Wisconsin River channel in
backwater areas with little or no current. Big gills, along with slab
crappies and some decent perch will hold in these areas for a good part of
the early ice fishing season, until thicker ice forces them out. Lots of
fish being caught in 3 to 5 feet of water, mainly on the bottom, but some of
the crappies have been a bit suspended up to 2 feet off the bottom. Small
ice jigs like Marmooskas, Fiskas, Rat Finkies or Gill Pills in orange or
yellow will work on these feisty biters all day long. Tip the jigs with
either waxies or spikes but on particularly good days all you will need is a
piece of plastic like a wedge tail on your jig to entire them to bite.


Triangle Sports said safe conditions for ice fishing have been increasing daily with the cold, but be extremely careful in all areas. Some nice early bluegills are being caught, try your regular backwater areas. Don't try to venture out on main lake areas at all yet. Hermann's reported good ice on Nielsen's Channel at Port Barrington on the Fox River. EARLY ACCESS: By the T Channel, staff at 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 will have parking and food. Be careful, early ice is tricky there. . . . For Ackerman's Channel, there's Port O'Blarney.

For more reports, see

More Chain info at


Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle said they are walking out to ice fish on Como, while it is just beginning on Delavan (still spotty).


SHELBYVILLE: For info from the Corps, call (217) 774-2020. EVERGREEN: Any updated fishing report will be posted here.


Check the latest at Harborside.


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


For perch, see above. The other big news is the arrival of pier passes in Chicago. CHICAGO PIER PASSES: Once again, Henry's is selling the $6 pier passes. I will get details later. 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. SALMON SNAGGING: Snagging for chinook and coho salmon is allowed only at the inner and outer harbors at Jackson Park, Lincoln Park Lagoon from the Fullerton Avenue Bridge to the southern end of the Lagoon, Winnetka power plant discharge area and Waukegan Harbor (in North Harbor basin only). No snagging is allowed at any time within 200 feet of a moored watercraft or as posted. Salmon snagging season ends Dec. 31.


D&S Bait reported ice fishing beginning on Monona Bay. For D&S Bait, go to


EAGLE RIVER: Locals are ice fishing on bays, etc. The Chamber of Commerce suggested extreme caution or waiting until the weekend. . . . I think that is a little wishy-washy. Here's a better breakdown. MINOCQUA: Guide Kurt Justice of Island Sports sent this:

There is fishable ice all over the Northwoods. Ice averaging 2-5" with some areas at 6" plus. BUT, as of 12/6/10 there were lakes with open water (Fence, Minocqua, Tomahawk, Big Muskellunge). Most of those skimmed over last night/this morning thanks to single digit cold. Just be careful.

We should have a lot better ice come this weekend with the cold. No car/truck traffic yet, but ATV travel will be possible on most bays and smaller lakes.

Fishing has been good overall with Northern Pike (up to 15 lbs) Walleye (to 10-1/2 lbs) good #'s of gills lots of largemouth bass and some perch.

As of now, take a spud bar and creepers as snow cover not too deep. Check ice thickness as you go and don't go alone.


For perch, see above. Ice fishing opens at Willow Slough today. However, you must park by the office. Revised regs may come soon because of fears of an impending winter kill from the excessive low water levels. Stay tuned. Mik-Lurch reported steelhead in the creeks.


Click here for BJ Sports.


Click here for reports when ice fishing starts.


Click here for the Wisconsin DNR Lake Michigan Report, obviously very few are fishing the open water and ice fishing is off a ways.


Ice if forming. Not safe.



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 8, 2010 5:55 AM.

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