Chicago Sun-Times
Stray Casts will intelligently report and observe, hopefully with a touch of wit, on daily occurrences, reports and releases related to Chicago-area outdoors from bucks to bass to birds to bugs

Midwest Fishing Report: Ice fishing

| 1 Comment | No TrackBacks

Ice fishing, obviously, leads this Midwest Fishing Report.

I love this YouTube video shot yesterday from that favorite of Chicago fishing, the Montrose horseshoe, which illustrates how variable ice on Lake Michigan can be.

This is the extended online version of the MFR, which appears in 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


With the thaw last week, then the refreezing, the ice in many spots is very slick. Many said to remind fishermen to use creepers. ``I sold more creepers in the last four days than all last year,'' said Brian Gates at Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle.


Ice conditions solidified quickly after the sloppiness of Friday. Best fishing remains farm and retention ponds. NOTE: Mazonia North opens Sunday to ice fishing, at your own risk. Ice conditions should be good.

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 North Unit opens Sunday, the 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 include individual river reports today, though both Ken Gortowski and Ed Mullady sent me ones for the Fox and Kankakee, respectively.


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): There's anywhere from 8-12 inches of ice on the waters of the
central Wisconsin area, but with strong currents, and many thin areas,
caution is critical.

Walleyes in the central Wisconsin area are hitting well, particularly in the
early morning (6:00 am). Fish shallow areas (3-4 feet of water) near weed
edges. Run your tip up parallel to the weed edge, using a medium golden
shiner under a tip up.

Good northern bite in the central Wisconsin area. Fish in and around weeds,
as well as backwater areas with stumps and logs. The northerns are shallow -
- 3-4 feet deep. Use a large golden shiner under a tip up. Best bet is to
fish the walleyes real early in the morning, and then transition to the
northerns throughout the day. Great "two-fer" opportunity.

Fantastic crappie and bluegill bite going on in the central Wisconsin area.
You'll limit out quickly, and have a total blast (especially with kids and
seniors!!) playing catch-and-release all day long.

Crappies are in 12-18 feet of water over hardbottom areas in the central
Wisconsin area. Use a tip down with a small red treble hook (#12-14 size).
Weight it down with a tiny piece of "shot". Use a rosie red minnow.
Fabulous action.

Bluegills are in backwater slues in the central Wisconsin area. Fish 2-4
feet of water in and around wood and weeds. Tip a small jig with a waxie or
spike. You'll limit out quickly, and then have a lot of fun doing
catch-and-release. Now's the time to take a kid or a senior out with you.


Arden Katz continues to do well for panfish at Nielsen's Channel by Hermann's at Port Barrington. Triangle Sports reported good bluegill (Skandia jigs are the hot ticket); Channel or Catherine are best. White bass are good on Mineola (7-10 feet) and Maria. For crappie, look early or late for suspended fish (so try different depths) with bait on pink or light green glow jigs. For walleye, try tip-ups shallow with roaches or jigging with Swedish Pimples, Rapalas or similar lures tipped with fatheads; Marie or Petite, best.

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 reported some bigger perch from Geneva Bay, a few walleye at night on large shiners, but use common sense around open-water areas on Geneva; on Delevan, there's good numbers of bluegill on the west end (takes sorting), but better perch, crappie and bluegill in 40-44 feet.


POWERTON: Winter hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. for shore fishing. Boating fishing opens Feb. 15. Heartland Outdoors reported the catch of a 70-pound flathead last year. EMIQUON: Remember new fishing/boating permits are needed for the new year. Otherwise, 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. POWERTON: Lake is open to shore fishing from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Boat fishing opens Feb. 15. 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.


Henry's reported ice fishermen took some nice steelhead from the inner harbor of Jackson Park on chartreuse jigs with waxies on Tuesday. Harbors are firming up nicely, but use sense with breakage at some harbors. There is plenty of perch being caught in the harbors, but it takes much sorting. Some perch are being taken at Navy Pier for those busting ice. CHICAGO PIER PASSES: They are available at Henry's. 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


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

(Lead): Eagle River area lakes generally have 6-8 inches of ice. Still
plenty of thin spots, especially in current areas, so no car or trucks are
recommended yet.

Walleye in the Eagle River area are putting on a good bite. Fish 5-20 feet
of water off break edges, or on shallow flats. Use a small shiner or
walleye sucker under a tip up. Sunrise and sunset are providing the best

Northern are hitting well in the Eagle River area. Fish 15 feet of water or
less in and around weeds. Use a larger shiner or northern sucker under a
tip up. Set your bait high, as the northerns "hunt" by looking up. In a
weedy area this may mean setting your bait just under the ice. In less
weedy areas set your bait high off the bottom, say 5-6 feet.

Largemouth bass in the Eagle River area are biting well. Fish large weed
flat areas in 8-10 feet of water, or along edges of weeds where water depths
drop off into deep water. Use shiners under a tip-up.

Perch are mixed in with the walleyes in the Eagle River area. Fish 5-20 feet
of water off of break edges or on shallow flats. Best action coming with a
small jig tipped with a waxie. Good bite.

Crappies are scattered in the Eagle River area and are putting on a fair
bite. Fish 20 feet of water or less over mud flats. Use a crappie minnow
under a slip bobber. The crappies will suspend up and down the water
column, so fish different depths until you find them. As winter wears on
the crappies will start to school more tightly.

(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:

The early mid-winter thaw, coupled with a rare December rain, took the snow cover off the lakes. Without the snows insulation, sub zero temps that followed froze up the standing water and slush and is currently adding inches to the ice.

Bluegills: Good. Bite windows are smaller than earlier, with hot bites opening up for 30-45 minute periods only to shut down with any type of change in the weather (sun, snow, clouds, rain, ect). Still best to work 6-10' weeds. Moon Glo jigs in sizes 8-10 tipped with waxie, moussee. Bright colors of chart, orange, best.

Walleye: Good - Fair. After a good week, high winds, cold and high pressure slowed most bites. Still several nice big fish to 30" reported from anglers fishing after dark. #9 or #7 jigging Rapalas scored one angler fish of 27 to 28" from 5' of water, while shiners on tip-ups accounted for big eyes of 27, 28 and 30" this week. Most fish moving up to 12-20 at dark to feed.

Northern Pike: Good - Fair. The action for this fish slowed with the change in the weather this weekend. Should improve by weeks end as weather stabilizes. Big shiners on tip-ups accounted for nice pike to 34" during warm up late last week. Work 6-10' weeds with sign of lots of panfish.

Crappies: Good - Fair. Similar to other species. Crappies responded well to warm up slowed with cold. Fish still holding in weed filled bays of 8-12', but like gills only feeding for short windows now. Early am and just before dusk best.

Yellow Perch: Fair. Still not a lot of reports, but a few groups targeting perch having good success. Some signs of perch moving out to their mid-winter mud flat haunts feeding on mayfly larvae and midge larvae. Others targeting perch in weeds finding action on minnows best.

With rain taking care of snow, lakes have become very slick. Use of creepers a necessity as all lakes are glare ice. Ice thickness increasing, should have lots of drivable options by weeks end.


Mik-Lurch reported clearer ice at Willow Slough with some good bluegill being caught and the rare big pike.


From the WDNR's Root River Report:

Root River Fishing Report for January 3, 2011
Water and flow conditions

Fishing on the Root River this past Wednesday was pretty fair for some anglers. The sunny skies and warmer air temperatures increased the fishing effort compared to past weekdays. Water temperature was steady around 32-33 degrees Fahrenheit. Many anglers were out near the Horlick dam and downstream through Quarry Lake Park.
. . .
Fishing ReportFishing the open water in Quarry Lake Park and upstream to the dam was pretty hit or miss. Most anglers were fly fishing or drifting spawn sacs targeting brown trout. Anglers reported visually seeing trout in the water but few successful trips were made.
Ice fishing around the 6th Street Bridge was where most of the steady action was found. Success came from fishing just upstream from the bridge as well as downstream about 50 yards. A group of three fisherman who put in a long day were able to harvest 6 nice steelhead. Another group of two, fishing mid afternoon picked up two smaller sized steelhead in just a couple hours. The harvested steelhead ranged from 2-6 pounds and were mostly caught on spawn sacs using brown trout eggs. Fin clipping indicated a good mix of rainbow strains including Arlee, Chambers Creek, and Ganeraska.

Click here for BJ Sports.


For reports, click here.


Mik-Lurch reported some pike by the flagpole on the Illinois side, and decent crappie from the corn channel.



Fishing Headquarters



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






No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL:

1 Comment

Does anyone know the shallowest and deepest parts of powerton lake? Especially by the boat ramps, also where can I throw my cast net to locate/catch shad?

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on January 5, 2011 5:58 AM.

Stray cast: New Year's Eve was the previous entry in this blog.

Illinois hunting: More controlled pheasant hunting is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.