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Midwest Fishing Report: In between

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What looked like the start of ice fishing around Chicago was washed out, but there's ice farther north and some perch fishing nearby to lead the Midwest Fishing Report.

This is the extended online version of the MFR, which appears on the Sun-Times outdoors page on Wednesdays. I am running a bit late today.

If you have suggestions, post in the comments section or let me know at


Virtually all ice is gone. I had planned to run the updated ice fishing regs for public sites this week. But that can wait another week. Safe ice is a ways off.


For an overview of nearby river conditions, click here. Probably a good idea to check, as significant rain is forecast. I am not doing individual river reports today.


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:

(Head): Ice fishing starts, with walleye and panfish hitting, along with bow deer hunters in full swing; all in and amidst the lakes and the Wisconsin River of Wisconsin's Marathon and Lincoln Counties (near Mosinee and Wausau).

Ice conditions on central Wisconsin area lakes vary from 2 to 4 inches of good solid ice with some areas up to 5 or more inches. Be careful around weeds or wood as these areas will absorb daytime sunlight and create dangerous ice conditions even well into the winter months.

With that said the panfish bite in the central Wisconsin area has been
pretty good for both bluegills and crappies along with some nice perch
thrown in. We have been fishing shallow weeds in 3 to 6 feet of water
targeting open pockets in the weed beds. Small jigs like Moon jigs and
Fiskas are working very good right now in orange and yellow when tipped with a waxie or a couple of spikes. Plastics have also been working very well especially on the larger fish.

The walleye bite in the central Wisconsin area has been very good with nice catches coming right before dark. We have been targeting shallow mud flats that range from 2 to 5 feet deep. Tip-ups baited with golden shiners or small walleye sized suckers have been working the best for us when suspended about 8 inches to 1 foot off the bottom. The key to getting these low light feeders is to get set up well before dark to take advantage of the migration of the walleyes from the deeper water into the shallows as evening sets in. Don't be surprised if you pick up a monster northern like this either as they will eagerly take your walleye offerings during the daylight periods.

Archery hunters still have about a month of hunting left and now is a great opportunity for you to take advantage of remaining food sources. With gun season well behind us deer are going to start returning to their natural patterns and can be easily targeted heading to and from feeding grounds. The nice thing about late season hunting is that you don't need to spend the entire day in the woods.. With very little daytime movement you can just as well get set up to hunt in the last two hours of the day and still be very successful. Deer at this time of the year will move just before dark and for the most part will not be too far from their food source. The key to bagging that big buck right now is to be very secretive and silent when entering the woods and watch the deer as they move towards you. Pay particular attention to approaching does as they will be the first ones out to the food source but they will from time to time look back in the direction they came from if there is a buck following them. This is more times than not the one you have been waiting for!


Greg Dickson at Triangle is taking a wait and see on how much of the ice is wiped out by the rain. Otherwise, the first people started getting out on the T-Channel over the weekend. . . . On Nielsen's Channel at Port Barrington off the Fox River, Marcy at Hermann's sent this update on Monday, which pretty much captured the essence,

Well, we had 2 brave souls fishing in back yesterday afternoon! They reeled in almost 200, kept about 20. I'd be more excited about this, but the weather shows 40 degrees and rainy on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. So, I cannot call this safe ice yet. :(

Finally, we have skim ice under the bridge, but I don't think it will be there long. It's almost 2 inches in back channel where the guys were yesterday. Here's a few pics...all taken in back today. That last one, showing the McMansion, it looks open and smooth in middle, but it is skim, less than half inch i'm guessing.

So, I'll probably skip doing an update tomorrow, and let ya'll know what happens after the warm up and rain. Maybe the forecast is totally wrong, eh?!

EARLY ACCESS: But in case the ice holds or builds for the weekend, here are some early access points. For T-Channel, park in back at Famous Freddie's--(847) 587 9677--then come in and eat. . . . On Channel, Chopper's Bar--(847) 838-1230--has relatively early access. Chopper's takes the $5 parking off if you order food. . . . Granny's--(847) 395-2328--at Spring Lake Marina has parking and takes the $5 off if you order food. Be careful, early ice is tricky there. . . . For Nielsen's Channel at Port Barrington off the Fox River, Hermann's Lowlife Bar & Grill--(847) 639-9644--has $5 parking, wax worms, food and drink.

For more reports, see

More Chain info at


BRAIDWOOD/MAZONIA: Only Monster Lake at Mazonia South remains open year round. HEIDECKE:Closed for the season. LaSALLE:Closed for the season.


Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle reported people are waiting on ice.


EVERGREEN: Any updated fishing report from staff will be posted here.

EMIQUON:With the central zone waterfowl hunting open, fishing on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays is afternoons only. Emiquon Preserve near Lewistown is open to fishing. Interested parties may request a permit (remember you need the new one for 2011) 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.


Mik-Lurch staff reported steelhead are still in the streams.


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


The water is clearing a bit, which gives some hope for perch to rebound soon. Otherwise, there are some steelhead and browns around.

SALMON SNAGGING: Snagging for chinook and coho is open on the Illinois lakefront at four locations only: Lincoln Park Lagoon south of Fullerton Avenue, Waukegan Harbor (North Harbor Basin only); Winnetka Power Plant discharge area and Jackson Park Harbor (inner and outer harbors). No snagging is allowed at any time within 200 feet of a moored watercraft or as posted.

CHICAGO FISHERMAN'S PARKING: The fisherman's parking pass--$10 for two months and available at Henry's Sports & Bait--is needed to park south of the main building at Northerly Island. . . . That's the same pass good for the small fishermen's lots at Burnham and DuSable harbors.


Click here for D&S Bait, which reported ice fishing is probably a couple weeks away.


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

(Head): Ice forming steadily in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area, with a few anglers starting to go out for walleye, and northern.

It's that very "iffy" time for ice formation right now. Ice is forming steadily in the Eagle River area, and there are some back bays and non-current areas on lakes where ice is reaching 5 inches ? and that's going to only increase. Having said that, the guides we've spoken to say that only a few locals who are extremely knowledgeable about a certain area are venturing out. For the general ice angler, the ice is not safe enough to wander hither-and-yon. With cold temperatures continuing, that could change very quickly. We encourage our readers to contact any of the bait shops, guides or the Eagle River Chamber of Commerce, at the numbers listed after this report for current ice conditions. And yes - -first ice in Eagle River is famous for providing legendary fishing action. Be cautious-- Eagle River wants you to visit us, but only when your complete safety can be

Here are some suggestions for first ice angling:

First ice walleye and northern fishing is generally very good in the Eagle River area. Fish outside weed edges in 6 to 12 feet of water, spreading your holes over weeds, as well. During the day fish for northerns in these areas. At or near sunset, go for walleyes, who will be moving up shallower. Use a medium shiner or a 3-4 inch sucker minnow.

At this moment, panfish (crappies, bluegills and perch) are a tad out of reach of ice anglers in the Eagle River area. They're locating generally on break edges in 15-20 feet of water. The perch are tight to bottom, and the crappies and gills will be suspending up and down the water column. There will be some panfish who will be in the same weedy areas - -6 to 12 feet of water ? as the walleyes and northerns. Don't be surprised if you get some of the panfish to bite in this area. The reason that right now the panfish are "out of reach" is because the areas of 15-20 feet of water do not have sufficient ice thickness to safely go out that distance from shore. The safer ice will form from the shoreline outward. Be cautious before moving out into deeper water, for sure.

(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: Kurt Justice of Kurt's Island Sport Shop reported,

Strange early ice! While many anglers venturing out are finding 4-7" of ice on many lakes, bays and flowages - there are several lakes still with open water: Fence, Flambeau, Tomahawk, Trout. Caution is advised EVERYWHERE!

Walleye: Good. Full moon and high pressure put the best bite after dusk. Reports of a 45 minute to 1 hour window from 5pm to 6pm are common. Walleyes shallow, 4-5' hitting jigging raps (#7's). Drill and set up an hour or more prior to dark to let things settle before the walleyes move in. Try to be quiet over such thin ice and shallow water.

Northern Pike: Good. Early morning, dusk and even a little after dark. Shiners, suckers on tip-ups. Even some nice 30+" pike on chubby darters. Fish 4-7'.

Bluegills: Good. Shallow for the most part in 3-5'. One angler found big gills in 24' while perch searching. Thinner ice (4-7") and shallow water require care as to not spook fish. Single spike on Marmooskas hot.

Perch: Fair. Few reports though some anglers finding nicer eaters (8-9") in shallow water aggressively hitting #2 Jigging Rapalas. One report of angler with 15 perch 10-11" in 4-6' on LDF Chain.

Crappies/Bass: No reports.

With 4 day "warm" spell (34-38 degrees), snow melting down. With colder temps returning, should firm things and start building ice again. Highs for weekend in 20's. Get your creepers out as lakes will be slick with no snow. Use caution. Foot traffic best. Have heard of some ATV travel (not advised), but no trucks yet!


For streams, see Indiana Streams. Mik-Lurch reported, despite dirty water, the Hole-in-the-Wall continues to produce good perch, with keepers about one in three, for both shore fishermen and boaters; glow flies or glow beads are needed in the dirty water. Some browns and steelhead there, too. On Monday, Capt. Ralph Steiger caught a 13-pound brown in the shipping canal, which, surprisingly, has the cleanest water.


Tyler Harmon messaged that is about the same around St. Joseph, Mich. with some steelhead and whitefish.

The Indiana St. Joe report is done until the spring run in March.


This year Lakeside will reopen when ice fishing begins. I think that will be a boost for Shabbona. Ice fishing is a long ways off.

For reports, click here.


Click here in case the Wisconsin DNR's Lake Michigan Report is updated.


Click here for River's Edge.


Mik-Lurch reported some good walleye for guys who stop and pause floating Rapalas on the Indiana side. The patches of ice that formed over the weekend should all be long gone.



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1 Comment

This is a great report! Very helpful.

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on December 14, 2011 6:15 AM.

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