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Midwest Fishing Report: "Show-me state" of ice fishing

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Ice fishing creeps south from northern Wisconsin and leads this Midwest Fishing Report.

By the weekend, there might be scattered pockets of ice fishing across northern Illinois. But that depends on a lot of things. Nearly all of today's report is focused on ice conditions or potential ice conditions.

BTW, I finally updated the links at the end of the 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


Some northern ponds and bays might have fishable ice by the weekend. We will see. I think next Wednesday I will update the ice fishing regs on public waters around the area.


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): Late ice and late archery deer season go hand in hand

With cooler temperatures the lakes and waters in central Wisconsin are starting to freeze over and if the cold continues we will be heading out onto the frozen waters very soon in search of some early season ice fishing. In addition to the early ice fishing, the cooler temperature combined with snow fall make for great late season archery hunting.

With anglers anticipating the early ice fishing that is nearly upon us now is a great time to get all that necessary gear in order. Tip- ups that needed respooling should be attended to new line should be put on jigging rods and pre-rigged with appropriate baits and lures. An auger that you forgot needed new or sharpened blades needs to be looked at and you need to wipe the dust off the ice shack and make sure it is ready when you want to head out.

For anglers getting that itch, bluegills and crappies are the number one sought after fish through the ice in the central Wisconsin area, and local bodies of water have an abundant population of both species of panfish. Look for areas with heavy concentrations of weeds and cover especially any areas with wood as these spots will concentrate fish all day long. At this time of the year an average depth of 3 to 6 feet is all that is needed. Don't be surprised if you pick up a few nice perch as they will inhabit the same areas as the gills and crappies at this time of the year. Tear drop jigs tipped with waxies or spikes will catch these feisty panfish all day long.

If you are looking for something a little bigger than panfish try tossing out a few tip-ups baited up with golden shiners of small sucker minnows along the weed edges in 4 to 7 feet of water. Run your baits suspended right under the ice for northern pike and about a foot of the bottom for walleyes. The northern pike will bite all day long but the walleyes primarily feed early and late in the day along with great after-dark opportunities for some exceptionally large fish.

Late season archery hunters in the central Wisconsin area can now get ready to settle in for the remainder of the season. Firearms season is about over except for the late doe hunt and once that is over the deer should start moving back to their natural patterns. With the ground frozen and the food supply limited in the woods look for deer to be heading to any remaining crops or food (standing corn, soybean fields or food plots) put in by hunters specially for attracting deer. These areas will now become hotspots for late season hunting. Set up on trails leading to and from the feeding areas and/or heading back to bedding areas. The key to hunting at this time of the year is to get far enough away from the food as the deer will likely not come out until right before dark. A hunter set up well off the field will have better opportunities at getting a deer than a guy set up right on
the field edge.


Greg Dickson at Triangle said, "No ice yet. I am very skeptical [for weekend ice fishing]. I will take the Show-Me State theme." . . . On Nielsen's Channel at Port Barrington off the Fox River, Marcy at Hermann's reported,

Well, guys & gals....WE GOT NOTHIN' :( What the heck, I had to scrape my windshield this morning, so I thought we'd at least have some skim ice in back, but no, there's none. Too much rain the past few days I guess. Wayne's revised prediction: hoping for this weekend! Maybe I'll have more encouraging news tomorrow...stay tuned!

For more reports, see

More Chain info at


Jeff Nolan of Bridgeport Bass sent this:

Damn cold and no fish ....Skunked!


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 said Como is the lake with the most likely chance of having fishable ice by the weekend.


Even with the cold weather, continues to be scattered reports of pike on roaches, according to Henry's.


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 some steelhead are still in the streams.


On Monday, Norm Minas sent this:

flow rate about 4800 cfs , starting to drop. no visibility water temp 42.8 no rain, lot less wind than yesterday.

fished a couple eddies that have been dependable high water spots for years. one smaller with about 1/2 soft bottom and a secondary point. the other larger, some soft bottom, more cobblestone. the larger is the deeper of the two and also has more current flow inside the outer seam in toward the bank. both feature a steeper shoreline than the eddy fished yesterday.

with less wind, I was able to change the rig up a bit. instead of just attaching to the balsa stick bobber at the bottom, I also attached the line toward the top as well. I did this because it helps reduce some of the line drag by having the contact point above the water. yesterday, i went with a contact point below the water to reduce the amount of wind induced bow in the line. basic stuff you learn from Mick Thill videos. Once again I added shot to adjust for the buoyancy of the float. I also checked the float more frequently as there was little to no chop on the water. by checking the float, the lure would swing up and drop back down thus giving the desired change in direction and speed to the lure.

Only got two fish today at these eddies, both came after checking the float. both were lift bites, which basically means the float rose up instead of sinking after the bite.

On the way to pick up one of my daughters, I passed a creek and noticed a nice mud line had set up at the mouth. I had some time to spare so I gave it a shot. No smallmouth but three respectable walleyes on the same rig.

If interested the smallmouth came on a 1/16 oz plain ballhead with 3 inch Kalins twister. the walleye came on a 1/16 oz yellow tail jig with synthetic "hair"

almost forgot the walleye were under the edge of the mudline, the bass both on a current seam on the outside of the eddies.

Ed Mullady sent this:

Kankakee River fishermen are having good fishing, including for smallmouth bass east of Momence *Aroma Park thru Cobb Park, Kankakee *Kankakee River State Park *Wilmington Island Park. Good baits include: live minnows *Kpr Hook & Double Twister tail *Rattlin' Rogue *Mepps #2 spinners. Some walleye, catfish, pike caught in both Indiana and Illinois. Catfish best in low light hours.


Time on the Water Outdoors reported a few taking sauger from deeper holes. It's that time.


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


Best for perch is in the river at 92nd and 95th; otherwise the lake is roiled and dirty. Henry's reported a few perch at Belmont and Montrose. I would think Navy Pier would recover shortly. At least I hope.

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 no ice yet; ice fishing is probably a couple weeks away.


Ice fishing is beginning, but a heavy wet snow has hindered ice fishing on the ice that formed early. HAYWARD: Al Rosenquist at Pastika's Sport Shop said, ``Some are sneaking out on some skinny ice (2-3 inches on some bays), mostly walleye and some pike.'' The problem is 4-6 inches of snow that make for tricky spots. He thinks better weekend spots might be in bays just freezing now. ``There will be ice fishing, just check as you go,'' he said. MINOCQUA: Kurt Justice of Kurt's Island Sport Shop reported,

Five to six inches of snowfall in the Lakeland area is NOT what we needed yet. New ice was building nicely. While some lakes still open (Trout, Sparkling), many had skimmed over and were building some fishable new ice of 2-4". Mostly bays, small lakes and flowages Anglers venturing out before the snowfall were finding good bites for walleye, pike and bluegills. The weight of the heavy wet snow though has caused some slush to push up, caution is advised.

The weather forecast for the rest of the week predicts lows in the single digits and highs in the low 20's. Hopefully the cold will firm things up.


For streams, see Indiana Streams. Otherwise, it is waiting on Lake Michigan to settle and smaller ponds and lakes to freeze. There's some crappie in Burns Ditch.


Click here for any updated Root River Report.


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

Click here for an updated St. Joe report in Indiana.


Lakeside staff reported the lake open. This year Lakeside will reopen when ice fishing begins. I think that will be a boost for Shabbona. Ice fishing is probably at least a week away.

For reports, click here.


From the Wisconsin DNR's Lake Michigan Report:

Southern Lake Michigan Fishing Report: December 5, 2011
Kenosha Co.
No report.
Racine Co.
In Racine, flows on the Root River started to rise late Saturday, December 3. Flows were still increasing as of Monday the 5th, but are still at fishable levels. The water temperature in the river was 38 degrees. Fishing pressure has been relatively low, but fair numbers of trout have been caught throughout the river. Both brown trout and steelhead have been caught in Island, Lincoln, and Quarry Lake Parks. Fly fishing as well as drifting spawn sacs under a bobber both produced fish. The Root River Steelhead Facility is shut down for the fall season. DNR crews processed a total of 3,828 fish and passed upstream 1,798 Chinooks, 1,258 coho, 57 brown trout, and 18 rainbow trout. A total of 573 coho were spawned.
Milwaukee Co.
In Milwaukee, the Milwaukee River is rising after some rainfall over the weekend, but flows should be dropping in the next day or two. Fly anglers on the Milwaukee had been catching some steelhead in Kletzsch Park and browns and steelhead near Estabrook Park. When Milwaukee trollers are able to get out on the lake, decent numbers of 3 to 4 pound brown trout have been hitting spoons in 40 to 60 feet of water north of the harbor. Browns have also been taken on crank baits by boaters fishing in the harbor and McKinley Marina.
Ozaukee Co.
In Port Washington, shore fishing in the harbor has been relatively slow, but some brown trout have been in the area. Spawn remains the most productive bait. The water temperature near the power plant has been in the low 40s.
Sheboygan Co.
No report.


Click here for River's Edge.



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This report if of great help.

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on December 7, 2011 8:08 AM.

Buck of the Week: Big bow kill in Will County was the previous entry in this blog.

Illinois hunting: Firearm deer harvest drops is the next entry in this blog.

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