Conditions are changing quickly, yet, despite all the warm weather, ice fishing is the prime theme of this Midwest Fishing Report.
I toured the Kankakee and Iroquois rivers on Tuesday, and was surprised how much ice remained. This was the scene downstream from the Route 17 bridge in Kankakee. Things will change quickly over the next day or two. Once the ice starts ripping out, it will go quick.
On the other hand, I think most of lakes and ponds will hold enough ice for ice fishing to go on.
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 email@example.com.
We begin with lakefront perch, the big story the past week in Chicago fishing.
Good perch continue to come from Navy Pier and the Cal system. Carl Vizzone reported a dozen perch out of 60 at Navy Pier Tuesday were 9-10 inches. He found some open water around ice floes. Henry's reported good perch at DuSable, both open water near the river wall and ice fishing inside the harbor. Mik-Lurch and Henry's both reported good numbers and good-sized perch coming from the Cal around 92nd and 95th.
Some shorelines are softening, but the ice fishing should hold across the area for those willing to put on rubber boots and wade through the slop on top. Maybe some of smaller and shallower ponds will lose safe ice, but most people I talked with yesterday thought we had enough of a base to hold. If the incredibly warm weather forecast for Thursday actually does some serious damage to safe ice, I may post an update.
For an overview of nearby river conditions, click here. Conditions are changing quickly. I did entries for most of our local rivers. It is time to start. Next week we should be back in full swing for river reports.
BIG GREEN LAKE, WISCONSIN
For guide Mike Norton's report, go to www.nortonsfishingandhuntingadventures.com, then click on fishing, then lake report.
From licensed guide and trapper Phil Schweik and guide Glenn Moberg of Hooksetters Guide Service:
(Lead): Central Wisconsin ice fishing has become a "hot topic" as news of
the great action and nice fish gets out.
Crappies and bluegills in the central Wisconsin area are "on fire" - -as
they have been all winter long. The key to being successful is to be
mobile. By moving around and staying on top of active fish, ice anglers are
literally catching fish all day - -and limiting out quickly. Waxies and
spikes on tear drop jigs in green and orange have been the most consistent
for gills, and small minnows on tip downs have been working their magic on
the crappies, along with some real nice sized perch. Target the main river
channel areas in 12-16 feet of water, and keep your baits close to the
bottom for the gills, and as high as up to 5 feet off the bottom for the
The perch bite in the central Wisconsin area just keeps improving and
becoming consistent both in size and numbers. Tip downs are working well
when run with small minnows, but jigging with small ice jigs in reds or
purples will still out produce anything else. The perch are pretty much
hugging the bottom, in the main river channels in 12-16 feet of water.
Walleyes in the central Wisconsin area are becoming more aggressive by the
day. As the days get longer, the morning bite continues to be good, but in
addition the afternoon bite is increasing steadily. The morning bite is
coming in shallow mud flats, in 2-5 feet of water, but the afternoon bite
has been running as deep as 12 feet of water, as the walleyes move up and
down the river channel. For the shallow mud flat walleyes, run a tip up
baited with a golden shiner or small sucker minnow, and for the deeper
walleyes run the tip ups baited with minnows. Successful deep water walleye
anglers are also jigging Northland buck shot spoons or a Jig A Whopper spoon
tipped with a head of a minnow.
For you bear and turkey hunters, tags have been issued and successful
applicants should have received them in the mail by now. For more
information on the season and application dates contact your local
Department of Natural Resources station. We will keep you closely apprised
of hunting opportunities in the central Wisconsin area as the seasons come
OK, I just like that bear mention.
CHAIN O'LAKES AREA
Triangle Sports reported bluegill are shallow and crappie are also shallower than normal, staging in channel mouths or bay areas. Pike are beginning to stage in channel mouths and creek areas on most area lakes, try tip-ups with large roaches. Walleye are fair on Petite and Marie.
For more reports, see http://www.foxlakefishing.com/
More Chain info at www.foxwaterway.state.il.us.
COOLING LAKES/STRIP PITS
LaSALLE: I would expect it to reopen as scheduled on March 16. But that is not locked in stone. Mulling that led my column today. BRAIDWOOD/MAZONIA: Braidwood reopens to fishing on March 1. Mazonia lakes still have ice fishing. Might want to check conditions later in the week. HEIDECKE: Set to reopen on April 1.
DELAVAN/GENEVA LAKES AREA, WISCONSIN
Brian Gates at Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle said the melting has made for better walking conditions for getting around on both Geneva and Delavan. He said bluegill are good on Pleasant; there's some good pike on the west end of Delavan, as well as good night crappie in 8-10 feet there; there's been some good perch catches in 12-20 feet on Geneva.
DES PLAINES RIVER
I hope to hear from Andrew Ragas, Counsellor of the Fish Parliament www.fishing-headquarters.com for next week.
POWERTON: Boat fishing opened Tuesday. Haven't heard reports yet. Winter hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. SANGCHRIS: Guide Ken Wilson--(217) 454-2672--of Lithia Guide Service reported the plant is going again. Crappie are shallow on a cork and a jig. COFFEEN: Wilson said crappie are good in the hot arm around laydowns shallow (5-6 feet). Worms, spinner baits and Rogues have been the top bass choices. EMIQUON: Emiquon Preserve near Lewistown is open to fishing. Remember to get your 2011 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: Wilson said it was still locked up pretty good on Tuesday. That will change. For info from the Corps, call (217) 774-2020. EVERGREEN: Any updated fishing report will be posted here.
Ken Gortowski had nice take on finding open water in the Plainfield area on Monday. Click here.
FOX RIVER: WESTERN SUBURBS
As of Monday, Gortowski said much of the river remained iced, but it is changing quickly. Click here for his assessment of what is coming. Hermann's reported good ice fishing for bluegill and crappie in Nielsen's Channel at Port Barrington.
ILLINOIS RIVER: STARVED ROCK AREA
Time on the Water Outdoors reported ramps are open at Ottawa and Hennepin with sauger fishing underway.
This is traditionally the time when the monster walleye are caught from the Kankakee and Iroquois rivers. I did a brief tour of parts of both rivers on Tuesday. I would expect by today or tomorrow that much more of both rivers will open up
Check the latest at Harborside.
LAKE ERIE: PORT CLINTON
For Ohio DNR report go to wildohio.com and or call (888) HOOKFISH.
For perch, see top. Ice fishing continues in the harbors, but use caution around edges and under piers. Mik-Lurch reported some browns at the stateline power plant. 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.
MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN
For D&S Bait, click here.
EAGLE RIVER: Creative Brilliance sent this report for the Chamber of Commerce:
(Lead): Ice is generally good in the Eagle River area, but caution is still
advised, and there are spots where the travel can be tough.
Northern are hitting well in the Eagle River area. Consistent bite on weed
edges in 6-16 feet of water (lake dependent on depths). Use a tip-up with a
Walleye in the Eagle River area are hitting off-and-on. Not a real
consistent bite. Anglers are catching fish in 6-8 feet of water in the
weeds, with some of the walleyes slipping down to 20 feet or so in holes -
-especially on the Eagle River Chain of 28 lakes (largest freshwater chain
of lakes in the world). Use a tip-up with a medium sucker minnow or shiner.
Some anglers are using a jigging spoon with the head of a fathead minnow on
it. Best bite is from late afternoon into evening.
Crappie action is picking up in the Eagle River area. Use a tip-down on
deep weed edges (that depth will be lake dependent). On lakes where the
weeds aren't quite as green, fish deep break edges where the water drops
quickly from the shoreline, near the main lake basin. The crappies are
suspending up and down the water column. Make sure you fish different
depths, starting near the bottom and working your way up. Don't forget
crappies only bite up, never down. The hot color right now is a chartreuse
tear drop jig. Tip the jig with a wiggler, or crappie minnow. Some anglers
are using strips of chicken skin, which imitate a minnow and are having
Perch action in the Eagle River area is not great on numbers, but real good
on size. That means you may not get that many, but what you do get may very
well be a big jumbo. Butternut Lake in the Eagle River area has been
kicking out some big perch. One angler got one that measured 13 inches.
The perch will be located on the deep edges of the weeds over hard bottom,
near deep water. They're about a foot to a foot-and-a-half off the bottom.
Spikes, waxies, and wigglers are working. Favorite jig is a Purist jig,
which is made of plastic, or a Ratso (formerly called a Mousie). This is a
jig with a tiny head, a spike looking body, and a rat tail on the back.
(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:
firstname.lastname@example.org; web: www.eagleriver.org
* "Muskie Matt", 715-891-5980; e-mail: email@example.com
* Mat Hegy, 715-571-7544, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
* 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:
Fishing has stayed good this past week, a nice change over the usual fluctuation. Warming weather over the weekend and good bites by a lot of fish species helped buoy the overall reports of good to very good.
Walleye: Good - Very Good. Bite continues, but most action concentrated at dawn and dusk. Nice eyes in the 14-20" range taking medium shiners in and along cabbage and coontail edges of 10-12'. Anglers targeting off shore humps and bars with either rock or sandgrass finding evening action on tip-ups with suckers or #7 and #9 jigging raps.
Crappie: Good -Very Good. This species turned on the past week. Anglers fishing tip-downs reporting very good action on rosie red minnows. Lots of fish in the 10-11" range with crappies to 14" being caught.
Yellow Perch: Good - Very Good. Best numbers over mud. Wigglers key bait, but red spikes also good. Mud fish running 7-10" in 18-26' of water. Fewer but larger fish in weeds taking medium fat heads, jigs tipped with 2-3 waxies in 6-10'. Nice perch to 12" plus, less fish, more work = bigger fish
Northern Pike: Good. Warming weather Saturday and Sunday helped action. Anglers using tip-ups with larger bait (shiners/suckers) reported nice Pike to 32", usually best from dawn till 10:00 - 11:00 AM.
Bluegills: Good. Action on #8 tear drops, moon glos and darts tipped with waxies, mousses in 8-10' weeds. Mornings through noon and again just before dark.
With a forecasted warming trend through most of this week expect similar good action. Even the cool down by the weekend should have highs close to 30 degrees. Access has remained excellent, though chance of rain and warm weather could make for some slush.
Mik-Lurch reported good steelhead in both Salt and Trail. There's browns at the stateline power plant and Amoco. The channel was open in Burns Ditch, however ice was preventing big lake access. That could change later this week.
ST. JOSEPH AREA, MICHIGAN
Click here for BJ Sports.
For reports, click here.
CHICAGO AREA CHAT/REPORTS
CHICAGO AREA INFO
MICHIGAN DNR REPORT
WISCONSIN DNR REPORT
IOWA DNR REPORT
INDIANA DNR REPORT