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Midwest Fishing Report: Mid-winter muddling

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Open water is starting to pull at some (good thing outdoor-show season opens this week) and leads this Midwest Fishing Report, and we add a new well-known contributor in Mike Norris.


For some, like Norm Minas, this winter has dissolved into searches for open patches of water, like this above on the Kankakee. Click here for his ramble on Monday to fish open water on the Kankakee.

There must be something in the ar, or maybe it is just mid-winter where safe ice has been around for more than a month. But Ken Gortowski offered this suggestion to me:

A wise outdoor writer would realize that and cater to desperate open water anglers needs. The creeks, chunks of different rivers, Indiana creeks for steelhead.

Besides, ain't no one else doing it. Once a week you could link to this post till all the safe ice is gone.

Click here to link to Gortowski's rumination and suggestions on finding and fishing open water, with the Fox River area as a base.

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


FOTW will resume next week. Send nominations to


Snow cover should help with slick surfaces. Best fishing remains on farm ponds and subdivision ponds. Please note that Mazonia North is open, and Mik-Lurch had some very good bluegill reports out of there earlier this week. Think virgin ice fishing there.

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: Conditions permitting, ice fishing is permitted at Banana, Independence Grove south bay and Sterling. Call (847) 968-3235 or go to the ice fishing page at MAZONIA SFWA: Mazonia North is open, and Mik-Lurch reported some excellent bluegill action. Monster Lake is open year-round for open-water or ice fishing, and the rest of Mazonia South opens Monday, and ice conditions should be good. 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 included some reports.


My friend Mike Norris, one of the area's great teachers of fishing, spends much time in central Wisconsin and he starts giving reports for there:

Fox Lake, Dodge County.....Walleyes and northern pike shallow in the evening hours on tip-ups and shiners in the Government area. Crappies biting in deeper water near Maple Point on small spoons tipped with minnow heads or spikes. Bluegills best later in the day in the Jug.

Little Green Lake....Perch Galore. The bottom is crawling with smaller ones but you can round out with a selection of keepers. Try jigs and spikes in deeper water near Kearley's Point.

Big Green Lake.....The lake just froze over this past weekend and should be drivable in another week.

Lake Puckaway......Catfish are biting on shiners but slow for pike and walleye.


Triangle Sports reported crappie are top bite, look for suspended in 12 feet on small minnows or spikes on glow jigs; bluegill are also good, try shallow with gold, red or black jigs with wax worms, Channel or Marie are choice. Walleye are good on Marie, try jigging Swedish Pimple or Rapalas tipped with minnow heads or tip-ups with roaches, best early and late. White bass are spotty, best on Mineola. Art Frisell said it is one of the best years he has seen for pike in Lake County, including a 38-incher from a secret lake, try 10-6 feet of water with tip-ups.

NOTE: Ed Rzewnicki facebooked that there will a JD Spinner Memorial Ice Get Together on Pistakee Lake from 6-9 a.m. Saturday.

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. . . . For Deep Lake, there's Jack & Lydia's Resort--(847) 356-1389.


Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle reported an 18-pound pike and some walleye in 18 feet on Geneva by Library Park; perch take sorting, same depth. On Delavan, good early for bluegill, good toward dark on big pike. Pleasant has good bluegill and crappie (especially at night).


POWERTON: Speaking of open-water. Winter hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. for shore fishing. Boating fishing opens Feb. 15. 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. SHELBYVILLE: For info from the Corps, call (217) 774-2020. EVERGREEN: New permits for 2011 are in. Any updated fishing report will be posted here.


Ed Mullady sent this:

Still not too many fishing! Ice fishing reported good at Black Oak Bayou at LaSalle F&W Area, just on the Indiana side of near the river. Most fish of a nice size have been bass and bluegill. Good place for big pike on minnows.
Ice is starting to reform in much of the river and even in some bayous....but not safe to fish at right now. There is some open water , but much of it has fragile shore ice where it is tough and dangerous to reach the water.


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


Snow cover should help with slick ice. There's plenty of harbor ice in Chicago, but perch take much sorting. Those busting ice are taking more keeper perch at Navy Pier. Henry's has fisherman's parking lot passes and pier passes.


D&S Bait reported some decent pike and an 11-pound walleye from Mendota, but overall ice fishing is fair. Some big catfish off Governor's Island in 20-30 feet. For D&S Bait, go to


EAGLE RIVER: Creative Brilliance sent this report for the Chamber of Commerce:(Lead): Ice conditions in the Eagle River area are generally good, with ice
going 8-12 inches. ATV's and snowmobiles are OK, but stick to the trails,
and with any number of lakes in the area still without a real thick bed of
solid ice, it is advised that no trucks or cars be used. If you're walking
use "creepers" (cleats) as it is slippery out there. Caution is always a
good idea. You'll do yourself a favor by hiring one of the Eagle River
area's excellent guides who know where/when to go and how to provide great
fishing action with lots of fun, in safety.

Northern are hitting well in the Eagle River area. Fish 15 feet of water or
less in and around weeds. Use a large shiner or northern sucker under a tip

Walleye are providing good action in the Eagle River area. Use a sucker
minnow under a tip up, and fish cloudy days, or at sunrise/sunset/after
dark. Focus on 10-12 foot and deeper breaklines or weed flats.

Largemouth bass are relating to the same areas as the northerns in the Eagle
River area. Fish 15 feet of water or less in and around weeds. Use a
northern sucker or a large shiner under a tip up. Best action is when you
place your bait 4-6 feet off the bottom in 15 feet of water or less. Good

Crappie in the Eagle River area are locating on mud flats or lake basins in
10-20 feet of water. The crappie are suspending anywhere on the water
column. The crappie are scattered and very mobile. You'll do well if you
drill a lot of holes and move around. As the winter goes on these same
crappies will school up more tightly and become more stable. For best action
use a crappie minnow, but some are being caught on waxies. Tiny bobbers or
tip downs will get you fish. Good bite - -when you locate them.

Perch in the Eagle River area are in 6-12 feet of water off of break lines
and outside of weed edges or over weed flats. The perch will be tight to the
bottom. Use a fathead or a waxie. Good action.

(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:

Wish the fishing was as good as the weather. Cold with no snow has built up some great ice for traveling. Truck traffic is great with most lakes reporting an average of 14-16" and building.

Yellow Perch: Fair to Good. This species has jumped up to the forefront as anglers are moving out to deep water with truck access to target mud flats. Wigglers on heavy, but small spoons (pimples, Hali's) and bro-bug type horizontal jigs tipped with red spikes.

Northern Pike: Fair - Good. Action has picked up with many reports of good numbers some size. Basic tip-up with wire leader, #8 or #6 treble baited with medium shiners. Target 6-10' weeds.

Bluegill: Fair - Good. What started out as a slow week picked up lately as gills got active. Fish suspending 6' down in 8-10' weeds taking moussees on #10 darts.

Walleye: Fair. Action surprisingly slow considering new moon phase. Best on live bait with slow bite. Suckers after dark. A few recent (1/10) reports of action picking up just before dusk (4-4:30 pm).

Crappie: Fair. One day on, 3 days off. Finicky bite most times with most catches on Russian Spoons (Gold, silver, white) tipped with waxies. Have tip-downs out for when fish pick up and want minnows (last hour of light).

Last week was surprisingly slow, but a bit of a change in the weather the last two days (1/10-1/11) has improved things. A little snow on the ice (1-1-1/2") has helped with traction but still use of creepers advised. Cold weather forecasted for this weekend, keep eye on cloud cover. If it's sunny and bright concentrate on dusk/dark fishing. Also look to deeper breaks (Walleye) or mud flats (Perch).


Mik-Lurch reported decent bluegill at Willow Slough, an occasional big pike.


Click here for BJ Sports.


Guide Jay Angel said fishing with Jim Kopjo over deeper fish cribs with tungsten jigs and soft plastics produced nice crappie over the weekend.

For more reports, click here.


Arden Katz reported unexpectedly slow ice fishing at Kenosha. He's not sure why.

From the Wisconsin DNR Lake Michigan Report:

Kenosha Co.
In Kenosha anglers in Simmons Island Marina have been catching occasional brown trout on spawn. Anglers have been fishing through the ice near the docks, as well as in the open water near the railing on shore.
Racine Co.
In Racine, much of the Root River is iced over. There has been evidence of anglers ice fishing downstream near the 6th Street and Marquette Street bridges, as well as in the Racine harbor. Use extra caution, as conditions can change quickly, and there are some open spots close to shore in the marina. 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.
In Milwaukee open water can be found in the lower stretches of the Menomonee River and canals, and there is some limited open water under the Hoan Bridge near Jones Island. The Milwaukee River mouth and harbor are covered in some broken up ice floes, but Riverfront Ramp is currently open. The lagoon behind Lakeshore State Park and McKinley Marina are iced over, but fishing in both of those locations has been relatively slow.


Mik-Lurch reported a few pike on tip-ups by the flagpole on the Illinois side of Wolf Lake.



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 January 12, 2011 5:35 AM.

Ramble with Minas: Open water was the previous entry in this blog.

Chicago outdoors: Showtime for 2011 is the next entry in this blog.

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