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Midwest Fishing Report: Perch & creeping ice

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Safe ice slowly pushes south, a month behind last year; that and lakefront perch lead this MFR.

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


With our lack of ice, the great love of Chicago fishing--lakefront perching--is saving the winter for fishermen. More than 100 fishermen caught perch Monday at Navy Pier, which continues to be the hotspot. Arden Katz said both minnows and belly meat work as bait. The trick recently has been to fish straight down or under the pier. There's also perch at Montrose, Diversey and in the river around 92nd. In Indiana, the Hole-in-the-Wall was shut by weather on Tuesday. When that reopens, it should return to being the most consistent spot.


In a related note with the perch in the harbors and no ice, pier passes for select piers in the Chicago harbors are available at Henry's Sports & Bait.


There might be pockets of safe ice in northern areas later this week, but I don't know. Put it this way, I had planned to run the updated ice fishing regs for public sites this week, but again I am going to hold off. Looking at the forecast, I suspect at least some ice fishing will be going by next week.


For an overview of nearby river conditions, click here.


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): Outstanding ice fishing bite for walleye, northern and panfish; all
in and amidst the lakes and the Wisconsin River of Wisconsin's Marathon and
Lincoln Counties (near Mosinee and Wausau).

The first ice bite of the year in the central Wisconsin area has simply been
"outstanding" with great numbers of panfish being caught along with some
really, really big northerns and walleyes.

This past week in the central Wisconsin area we have had a very good panfish
bite when working shallow weeds in 3 to 5 feet of water. Large bluegills and
an occasional crappie have been taking our presentations along with a few
perch. We have also been getting quite a few nice crappies over deeper
water as well. Some really nice slabs have been holding in 15 to 20 feet of
water about 1 to 3 feet off the bottom. Small ice jigs in black and purple
have produced the best for us this past week when tipped with a small spike
or a waxie. We have been seeing more and nicer crappies when we have been
tipping the lures with small plastics as well.

The northern pike in the central Wisconsin area have really turned up big
this year and we have been seeing some real giants. Most of our fish are
coming in less than 5 feet of water on tip-ups baited with a large golden
shiner or a small sucker minnow. We are running our baits about a foot
below the ice on most occasions and adding a few attractor beads and blades
to the line for added color and noise to help attract an aggressive pike.

For you walleye anglers the night bite in the central Wisconsin area has
been fantastic!!! We are catching quite a few very nice eaters in the 15 to
20 inch range along with some real slobs in the slot that are up to and over
28 inches. Most of our fish are being caught in less than 5 feet of water
between 4pm and midnight. We are running tip-ups baited with golden shiners
or small sucker minnows that are set right near the bottom. Last week we
even picked up a stay mud-puppy at 10pm that thought a golden shiner would
be a tasty meal!


It's right on the border of safe ice in early channels. Greg Dickson at Triangle thought early next week should definitely be a go for some spots. I suspect at least a guy or two will try this morning.

EARLY ACCESS: On the outside chance of safe ice reforming, 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


Jeff Nolan of Bridgeport Bass sent this:

Chicago river fishing report : Fish today Monday only one fish but a good one 16 inch L/M bass on a very large deep diving XPS crank bait in chartreuse on bubbly creek water temp 50 saw lots of carp jumping at sunset .


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


Brian Gates at Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle thought there was a chance of some ice fishing on Como and the channels of Delavan later this week.


SHELBYVILLE: Michael Sweeney messaged about some nice walleye:

They were caught below the lake shelbyville dam on jig and twisters. Low light conditions working best. The current flow plays a pivotal role in walleye location, dale. The army corps of engineers controls the current flow and when the current has stayed consistent for a few days, fishing is always best. Big females have slid up onto current seams. There are 10+ lbers in there!!!

POWERTON: Shore fishing is open 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

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


I am rerunning what Ken Gortowski sent last week, which should hold much of the winter:

Don't forget for the rest of the winter to say that Float 'N Fly fishing is the deadliest cold water fishing technique out there. Slack areas near shore. Don't reel much. Let the fly cover the whole slack area.


River is clearing and dropping. Time on the Water Outdoors reported good sauger by the bridge right by Barto Landing.


Mik-Lurch staff reported steelhead are still in the streams. Action continues to be very good.


Ed Mullady sent this:

Strange weather!
The Kankakee is in good fishable condition. Very few people fishing in good open water conditions!
Good fishing will continue for almost all fish in both Indiana and Illinois.
Try for Pike at all ditch and bayou mouths on large minnows*#5 Spinners*Weedless Doctor Spoon '
Walleye along brush lined shores *islands *bridge piers on *jig and minnow *Johnson Silver Spoon & Pork Strip *Rattlin Rogue *Jointed lures.
Smallmouth Bass good in edges of faster moving waters *mouths of tributaries. Good on
*jig and minnow *Mepps 3 Spinner *streamer flies* crankbaits.
Largemouth Bass good on *sinking plastic crawlers *3-4"minnows *Johnson spoon *Dr.
Catfish good, esp. shortly after dark in evening on 3-4" minnows. Might try cheesebaits
if able to keep from falling off hook.
Croppie good in *brush piles *slightly deeper water near shores *mouths of ditches, Creeks on *Pinkie Jigs *2-4" minnows *small spinners *strung out crawlers.
For those going out, should be a great start to fishing the Kankakee in the new year!

Norm Minas sent this Monday:

Got home early from work last night, did the Christmas stuff with the family. This morning only the wife and I are up, she's alternating twixt Christmas movies and the Duke fest. I'll watch the Duke but Christmas movies just don't float the cork for me.

Pull on the waders, grab the rod and tackle bag and head uptown to fish for bass and toothy critters. First up is a creek mouth by the main drag, get some weird looks from folks passing in cars as I head down to fish.

About a dozen ducks take exception to my presence, but I'm already scoping out the current cuts. No visible mudline here to make it easier, so I start with a cut off an abutment. Rattlebait seemed to be a good multispecies option but it's not going there. It gets worked thru the washout hole and back up to the small dam at the mouth of the crick, nada.

It's time for a change, put on a single spin and toss to a slack spot on the opposite shore that's produced pike before. It does again today, grabbed it on the first cast into the spot. Not huge but a good fish, nice start to the day. Nothing else biting, so it's off to another spot.

I head back out of town to another creek mouth, hope that's the pattern today. I went back to the rattlebait, got a small walleye and snagged a carp. Off to another creek mouth, nothing there.

I went back uptown to what's prolly the best known walleye "hole" on the river. I meet another guy out fishing, his wife sent him out to get him out of the kitchen. He's tossing a jig/twister so I stick with the rattlebait. Neither of us catch diddly. so I blow that pop stand.

Off to the last spot, I have time to fish, a smaller and shallower slack spot. i work all the current options with the rattlebait and f-n-f, catch some woody debris on the f-n-f. Finally something live at the end of the f-n-f, decent rock bass.

Time to call it quits, head home for Christmas lunch with the family and get ready for work.

Water temps 38.1, flow dropping, little over 7,000 cfs, visibility improving, marginally.


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


For perch, see top. Otherwise, there is a few trout around.

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.

SALMON SNAGGING: Snagging for chinook and coho ends Saturday. The open spots on the Illinois lakefront are 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.


Gene Dellinger at D&S Bait reported spotty ice fishing on parts of Monona Bay (sorting bluegills) and Cherokee Marsh (sorting bluegill, early and late best).


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

(Head): Ice getting stronger, with walleye, northern, and panfish all
hitting in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area.

Ice in the Eagle River area is going to around 6 inches and getting
stronger, on most of the smaller lakes, with a little less on the big, clear
lakes. Caution is strongly advised, and foot travel is the way to get out
at this time.

Good things are happening fishing-wise in the Eagle River. It's first ice
time, and the fishing is good.

Walleye in the Eagle River area are locating in 6-12 feet of water outside
weed edges. The walleyes are locating in the bottom foot of water, pretty
tight to bottom. Use a small shiner under a tip-up. Action is good, with the
best time near sunset.

Northerns in the Eagle River area can be found in 10 feet of water or less
in or near weeds. Fish about a foot or so above the weeds. Use a medium to
large shiner or sucker minnow under a tip-up. All day bite is providing
good action.

Panfish - -crappies, bluegills and perch - -are being found in two locations
in the Eagle River area. You can fish in 10 feet of water or less in the
weeds, or in 12-20 feet of water over mudflats. Perch will be tight to
bottom in both areas. The crappies and gills will be suspending in both
areas. In the shallower, weedy areas, the crappies and gills are up and
down the water column. Over the mudflats, fish about half-way down in that
deeper water. Use a small crappie minnow or a waxie under a slipbobber.
Some real good action, and it's an all day bite. Don't forget, when fishing
for crappies, they only bite "up," never "down."

(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.

HAYWARD: Al Rosenquist at Pastika's Sport Shop reported decent fishing with ice 5-7 inches (have creepers for slick ice). Most smaller lakes are drivable by 4-wheelers; on bigger lakes, use caution or stick to bays and shorelines.

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

The holiday weekend put a lot of anglers on the ice. Mild temps also helped. The new moon period helped pull in good reports.

Pike: Very good. Flags flying as pike really seemed to be active. One group of anglers reported three fish over 35". Big slab shiners best on tip-ups with wire leaders and #6 or #4 hooks. Fish 2' off bottom as flash from big shiners will bring them in from a distance. Lots of 22"-30" being caught.

Bluegills: Very good. Anglers finding gills very cooperative on tear-drop jigs tipped with waxies, mousees or spikes. A little deeper than last week, but probably due to traffic on ice. Most action in 6-10'. Some lakes lots of action but sorting for size. Get out early or fish late for best size.

Crappies: Good-Very good. bite can be hot, then cold. tip-downs and minnows accounting for some fish, but grubs, plastics producing best. Fish 8-12' weeds. Cameras are helpful spotting fish (but it doesn't make them bite).


For perch, see top; for steelhead, see Indiana stream. Mik-Lurch reported there are browns at any warm-water discharge, when fishermen can get out. There's been very good whitefish some days at Michigan City; and even a few reported at the Hole-in-the-Wall and one at Gary Light. There's walleye reports around the Port of Indiana.


Tyler Harmon messaged there is hit and miss whitefish, steady steelhead.


This year Lakeside will reopen when ice fishing begins. That's a ways off.

For reports, click here.


Tom Zeman reported outstanding brown action in Milwaukee harbor. Either casting a jig and twistertail or trolling copper spoons or body baits. ``Any current break you can jig and get fish,'' the south suburban guy said. ``It is a phenomenal fishery, at least this time of the year.'' . . . It's now browns and steelhead in the Root, according to the earlier DNR report.


River's Edge reported the river is open and should be through the holiday. Decent sauger and walleye are being caught in 18-20 feet on a 1/4-ounce jig or split shot and minnow.


Mik-Lurch reported some crappie and a few walleye in the corn channel on the Indiana side.


Guide Bill Stoeger said the river iced in Thursday, and he suspects that is it for the year for open water fishing.



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chased around Momence area with jig/pig, one bass.

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on December 28, 2011 8:38 AM.

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