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Midwest Fishing Report: Perch & waiting on ice

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Some Christmas traditions for Chicago fishing--lakefront perching--look good, while others--ice fishing--don't; even so, I go with the usual extended Midwest Fishing Report heading into the Christmas-New Year week.

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


The great Christmas tradition in Chicago fishing of early morning perch fishing should be good. A regular on the Chicago lakefront reported ``all the perch you want'' at Navy Pier, Montrose and Diversey. Steve Palmisano at Henry's reported ``very abundant'' perch in the river at 92nd, but it takes sorting for keepers. ``Navy Pier is hot,'' said Arden Katz, who limited five days in a row. He has been using minnows or belly meat. It takes sorting for keepers, but he has caught them to 11.5 inches. ``It seems they travel in schools of size,'' he said. In Indiana, Mik-Lurch reported good perch at the Hole-in-the-Wall and between the reef and rocks at Portage.


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 or maybe two. Safe ice is a ways off.


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): Night-time walleyes and big bluegills take center stage!; all in and
amidst the lakes and the Wisconsin River of Wisconsin's Marathon and Lincoln
Counties (near Mosinee and Wausau).

With good ice conditions across the central Wisconsin area anglers are
finding plenty of opportunities at early season ice fishing.

We have been stacking up the walleyes at low light periods and after dark
with some of our largest fish coming well after the sun goes down. We are
getting set up at around 3 to 4 PM and hitting that last hour of day light
and fishing until at least 8pm; some nights we are staying out as late as
Midnight. Most of our action is coming in 3 to 5 feet of water on tip-ups
baited up with golden shiners or small walleye sized sucker minnows. Don't
be surprised if you pick up a straggler northern pike of get bit off by one
of those toothy critters while it is still daylight out as they will inhabit
the same areas as the walleyes do.

Speaking of northern pike we are on an incredible northern pike bite with
fish over 40 inches being caught. We are fishing in 3 to 6 feet of water
and are running large golden shiners set about one foot under the ice on
tip-ups spooled with 14 pound line and a number 6 treble hook. The key to
our success is having added color and noise on the line above the hook by
adding additional colored beads and a flasher style blade as an attractor.

The crappie bit has been pretty good especially on suspended fish. We are
finding plenty of nice sized crappies in 12 to 15 feet of water holding
about 4 feet off the bottom. Tip downs rigged with rosie reds are working
very well but jigging with tiny ice jigs tipped with waxies or spikes has
been the best technique for numbers.

The bluegill bite has been fantastic in the central Wisconsin area and
limits of great tasting gills are being caught. We are finding most of our
fish ion 5 to 7 feet of water holding tight to the weed lines and close to
the bottom. Tiny ice jigs tipped with waxies or spikes has been our best
producer especially when running gold or green jigs.


A few muskie guys are out, according to Triangle. The Chain is open for launching, especially in main lake areas. Return of ice fishing in the channels seems unlikely before next week, but just in case, I included early access points.

EARLY ACCESS: On the outside chance of 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


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 in spots around the area by early next week. Otherwise, he said around Fontana on Geneva, shore fishermen are taking some crappie on shiners and a few boaters are taking crappie and bluegill on minnows or wax worms.


SHELBYVILLE: Guide Ken Wilson--(217) 454-2672--of Lithia Guide Service reported crappie on fire, limits every time out. ``It's the best fall fishing in a long time,'' Wilson said. Fish in 10-12 feet on the north end around brush piles, stick-ups or standing timber. Water is 41 degrees.

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

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


Ken Gortowski sent this, 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 had come up, very few are fishing. I suspect with the relatively mild weekend and duck season being done that more will be out over the Christmas weekend.


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


Ed Mullady was in the Christmas spirit when he sent this report, and he has a good point about this being a good time to fish the river:

Hi Dale....a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year of good outdoors along the Kankakee River!
Same to your many readers.
The Kankakee, at this particular day(Tuesday)has receded some and not too many fishermen are out.
This is a time of year that some nice fish are caught, but in past years there were usually more people fishing.
This is a time in both Indiana and Illinois to go after:
Walleye in and just out of mouths of ditches, creeks, bayous on *jig and minnow *jointed imitation minnow plugs *Weedless Dr. spoons.
Pike: Also along mouths of bayous, creeks, ditches as well as any in-water logs*below dams
on Big Spinners *4-6"minnows *Silver Minnow & Pork Rind *large Spinner Baits.
Smallmouth Bass: Along shorelines *near rocky riffles or gravel bottom*drifts*up in some
creeks, ditches. Good on *Mepps #3 Spinner *minnow shaped sinking baits*live minnows
jig and double twister tail.
Largemouth Bass: Any reachable bayou *shorelines Good baits: Mepps Spinners *live minnows *Bass size Spinner baits *live crawlers.
Catfish: Almost everywhere, esp. quieter bends *brush piles *drifts on good sized minnows.
I know that is too much info, but someone could go out there and catch some good river
fish similar as have been .caught from the river and its tributaries over many years.
Again, Merry Christmas to all who care about the Kankakee River as much as you do!

Norm Minas sent this Monday:

no great inspiration for today's trip, back to Joe Friday

10,000 cfs and dropping, 39.8 degrees, no visibility, still debris bobbing about. beautiful day for December, air temps in low 50's by afternoon.

ducks, geese, pheasant, hawks and an eagle on the avian side of wildlife. spooked a couple deer, rabbits and squirrels putting on the feed bag. carp rolling on the surface, stepped on a turtle, not sure who was more startled, sure who was most pissed though. one guy out duck hunting. once I saw his truck at the access point I left and went upstream about 1/2 mile.. with no one else on the river, no point in not giving him plenty of room.

with the dropping water level, i found the fish on the current seams against the hard flow. a rattlebait retrieved just fast enough to stay off the bottom did the trick. i tossed cranks, jig/plastic and single spins on the seams, in the slack, on the inside turn of eddies and into flooded shore with nothing to show.

i went back to the inflow pattern with the same variety of lures, nothing doing today. fished up to the first barrier in one of the cricks, no hits.

decent day, couple bass, couple walleye. snagged a carp, i got a scale, it got away.


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


CHICAGO: For perch, see top. A few trout are around. Diversey has been slow for bluegill. WAUKEGAN: Capt. Augie Ralph reported one boat landed 10 steelhead and one brown at the power plant. In the harbor, steelhead are taking spawn on light line with a split shot, while shiners are taking some on the outside.

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 a ways off, other than a few local "daredeviles."


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

(Head): Ice firming up, with anglers starting to go out for walleye,
northern and panfish in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area.

Ice in the Eagle River area ranges from about 2 inches to 5 inches. Right
now, it's foot travel only. Anglers on the smaller lakes are sticking
pretty much to back bays and non current areas, with the larger lakes quite
"iffy" as you move away from the shoreline. Caution is very much in order!
Eagle River welcomes all visitors with open arms, but wants you to enjoy
your stay with us in complete safety.

Walleyes in the Eagle River area are hanging off of weed edges in 8-10 feet
of water. Use a small shiner or walleye sucker under a tip up. Best action
is near sunset.

Northern in the Eagle River area are locating in and around weeds in 10 feet
of water or less. Use a medium shiner or walleye sucker under a tip up.
All day bite.

Panfish in the Eagle River area are schooled up in the same general area.
Fish 10-20 feet of water in and around weeds. Perch will be tight to
bottom, with crappies and bluegills suspending up and down the water column.
Use a waxie or a crappie minnow hooked up to a small jig. Please note that
right now, you won't be able to get to the panfish on the larger Eagle River
area lakes, because the ice is not firm or thick enough out to where the
panfish are hanging in those deeper water areas. That may change in the
coming days, assuming the colder weather continues. But right now, our guide
sources tell us to advise panfishing only on the smaller, shallower lakes.
Panfish are putting on an all day bite.

(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 did not expect driving conditions by Christmas, but he said ice is 5-7 inches. ``There should be no problem getting around, just not driving [other than ATVs],'' Rosenquist said. Most are focusing on walleye, panfish have been fair.

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

Despite loosing ice during last weeks rain days, following cold weather has helped build it back up.

While open water still exists on the larger lakes such as Trout, Fence, Lake Tom and others, most lakes are averaging 5-9" now. Reports of cars/vans/snowmobiles breaking through have been coming from the Flowages where current will be a problem. Be careful venturing out anywhere. Foot traffic recommended.

Walleyes: Good-Very good. Small window for hot bite between 5-6pm. A few anglers pulling all nighters reporting scattered action till dawn. Jigging #5 raps in 6-9' for active fish. Tip-ups baited with wild shiners along weed patches.

Pike: Good. Big shiners/suckers for nice pike on tip-ups. Use #4 - #5 pimples tipped with minnow head on jigging rod for fun fight. Typical 6-10' weeds best.

Bluegills: Good-Very good. Grubs and plastics in 5-8' of green weeds. Fish staying fairly shallow due to ice thickness and warmer weather. One angler had 14 nice "measured" 9-9 1/2" gills Tuesday morning on waxies fished on #12 gill pills.

Crappies: Fair. A few crappies starting to show up in the bluegill angler catches. Mixed year classes, predominately 7-8" (throwbacks), 10-11" (good eaters) and a few slab 13"ers. Most being caught on waxies or plastics. Few anglers using tip-downs yet, though weather is good for tip-downs.

Perch: Fair. Mostly due to lack of effort. Some anglers finding nice 8-9" eaters in 7-10' weeds on medium fats.

With little if any snow in forecast, access should be excellent. Good light penetration during day and a new moon period Christmas eve should spell for a good ice fishing holiday.


For perch, see top. For steelhead, see Indiana streams.


Tyler Harmon messaged,

River levels are dropping back off after the recent rain. As long as we dont get any major percipitation they should continue to do so. Whitefish action on the pier has about died. They are done spawning and no longer packed near the piers. Action will be hit or miss for them until late spring, when they go back out deep for the summer. Steelhead action has been hit or miss on the piers, and river is the same way. If shore fishing spoons and spinners give you a good chance by covering lots of water. Boats fishing spawn are still catching some chrome in the river as well.

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


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

For reports, click here.


Trolling continues to produce incredible numbers of browns at Milwaukee harbor, according to Mik-Lurch and others. It's now browns and steelhead in the Root, according to the earlier DNR report.


River's Edge reported the river is open, launches should be good through the holiday weekend. Walleye are good in 20-30 feet on jig and minnows.


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


Guide Bill Stoeger said one day river is open, the next day, the launches are iced in. Every day is different.



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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on December 21, 2011 8:11 AM.

Fish of the Week: Remembering fall salmon run was the previous entry in this blog.

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