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Midwest Fishing Report: A bit more ice

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Safe ice spreads slowly south and leads this Midwest Fishing Report.

But with a warm-up expected later this week, those areas that don't have safe ice built by today or tomorrow will likely not get it for awhile. With those variable conditions in mind, I listed the regulations for public sites around Chicago fishing in AREA LAKES.

Considering how late ice is forming, with even a chance no safe ice will form in Chicago harbors, pier passes become important. Info on them are listed in the lakefront report. I bought mine on Saturday and was only the 39th one bought.

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 and western lakes and ponds may have fishable ice this week, maybe even by this morning. With that in mind, here are the regulations for public waters around Chicago fishing.

PUBLIC AREAS REGS: Ice fishing isn't permitted on the Chicago lagoons or the lakes of the Forest Preserve District of Will County. Here are the other regulations. COOK FPD: Ice fish at your own risk (4 inches is recommended) on the designated ice-fishing lakes, same as last winter: Arrowhead, Axehead, Beck, Belleau, Big Bend, Bode South only, Bullfrog, Busse main and south (no north pool), Flatfoot, Green, Horsetail, Ida, Maple, Papoose, Powderhorn, Saganashkee, Sag Quarry east and west, Tampier, Turtlehead and Wampum. DuPAGE FPD: Unless otherwise posted, it's ice fish at your own risk on forest preserve waters (4 inches of ice is recommended). Spring Creek Reservoir in Bloomingdale is closed to ice fishing (fluctuating levels). Late-night fishing is allowed at Deep Quarry Lake in Bartlett (fishermen must be out of the preserve by 11 p.m.) KANE FPD: Ice fishing, at your own risk, is permitted at Lake Patterson at Oakhurst in Aurora and the various ponds at Burnidge in Elgin. LAKE FPD: No sites are open yet, When ice fishing is permitted, the sites are Banana, Independence Grove south bay and Sterling, when the ice is uniformly 4.5 inches thick and the area is posted as safe for fishing. Call (847) 968-3235 or go to the ice fishing page at MAZONIA SFWA: Monster Lake is open year-round for open-water or ice fishing. All ice fishing is done at your own risk. The other Mazonia units open after various hunting seasons. McHENRY COUNTY CD: None are open yet for ice fishing. When ice fishing is permitted, it is 8 a.m. to sunset at the Fel-Pro RRR, the Hollows (Lake Atwood and West Lake), Lyons Prairie & Marsh (after bowhunting ends Jan. 15), Pleasant Valley, Rush Creek pond and Stickney Run pond, once signs are posted after 4 inches of ice are formed. Then it is at your own risk. SILVER SPRINGS SFWA: Ice fish at your own risk on both lakes (Loon and Beaver). Use the east entrance.


I did not post river reports this week. There are a few hardcores like Norm Minas getting out and doing it with mixed success. 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): Non-stop bluegill bite, with very good northern action, and walleye
and crappie hitting; all in and amidst the lakes and the Wisconsin River of
Wisconsin's Marathon and Lincoln Counties (near Mosinee and Wausau).

The New Year means you've got to use old tricks to be successful on the ice.

Now that we are entering January the early or first ice bite of the year in
the central Wisconsin area is starting to diminish. Some anglers are
wondering where the fish went that they had been targeting for the previous
month. With added angler pressure and local community hot spots having been
pounded for nearly 30 days it is time to start moving out and heading in
different directions to be successful.

Walleyes in the central Wisconsin area are still present in the shallow
backwater areas but with added pressure and now 4-wheeler and snowmobile
traffic they are becoming more lethargic and harder to catch. After dark and
very early morning hours have been the best time to catch walleyes. We have
been running tip-ups baited with golden shiners or small sucker minnows in 2
to 5 feet of water with the bait very close to the bottom.

Northern activity in the central Wisconsin area has been very good and some
real big northerns have been caught in the past week. Large golden shiners
and suckers are doing the trick when it comes to targeting these fresh water
alligators. We are setting our tip-ups along shallow weed edges in 2 to 6
feet of water. The key here is keeping your bait suspended right below the
ice. Northern are always looking up, and a minnow suspended above them is
usually more than they can resist!

Crappie action in the central Wisconsin area has been very good but now that
we have good ice we are starting to get out to some of our deeper water hot
spots. Most of our action is taking place in 15 to 25 feet of water with the
crappies holding 4 to 10 feet off the bottom. We have been running tip-downs
baited with rosie red minnows or small crappie minnows suspended at
appropriate depths. A flasher unit can come in very handy here when
determining the proper depth at which the fish are staging.

If you are looking for great action the bluegill bite in the central
Wisconsin area has been non-stop! There are plenty of bull nosed gills out
there to make young or old alike smile with delight. These feisty scrappers
have been the main target the past two weeks as we have had very good luck
working weeds and wood in 4 to 8 feet of water. We have been running small
ice jigs like the Gill Pill and the Mooska in orange and yellow and tipping
them with waxies or spikes. Occasionally we will tip the jigs with plastics
to target the larger gills and crappies.


Once the winds died, ice built quickly with fisherman out on the backwaters on Tuesday. The T Channel had as much as three inches. Some bays may have fishable ice by this morning. "I am feeling pretty good about this," said Greg Dickson at Triangle.

For Nielsen's Channel at Port Barrington off the Fox River, Marcy Paschky at Hermann's Lowlife Bar & Grill e-mailed on Tuesday,

``Wow! Who'd have thought I'd be sending this in January?? Anyway, Wayne says the old ice is about an inch thick, and the new ice was 3/4 inch this morning. He says it's hard, but not safe yet. I'll send messages every day now until it is safe. See ya soon!''

EARLY ACCESS: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 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; South branch New years eve good bass bites , note I would like to say what we may have been using but I don't know if this new technique is legal in Illinois


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 reported ice fishermen getting out on east end of Como, probably will be out on the west end of Delavan by this morning. Wandewega near Elkhorn has five inches of ice.


SHELBYVILLE: After the cold snap, guide Ken Wilson--(217) 454-2672--of Lithia Guide Service expects fishermen to be back for a very good crappie bite, which had been as shallow as 5-6 feet. POWERTON: Shore fishing is open 8 a.m.-4 p.m. EVERGREEN: Any updated fishing report from staff will be posted here.


Those braving the weather continue to hit on a good fall run of steelhead, according to Mik-Lurch staff.


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


CHICAGO: Perch have been hit and miss, the dirty water after the blow haven't helped. Diversey and Navy Pier have been most consistent, but it is variable even there. Some browns are coming from the harbors, too. There's been consistent perch at 92nd, too; catch of the week there was a whitefish. WAUKEGAN/NORTH POINT: Capt. Augie Ralph at the Salmon Stop reported some nice pike and brown at North Point from open water; variable steelhead at Waukegan for those who move around. CHICAGO PIER PASSES: In a related note with the perch in the harbors and no ice, the $6 pier passes for select piers in the Chicago harbors are available at Henry's Sports & Bait. 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.


Gene Dellinger at D&S Bait reported some ice fishing for panfish on Squaw and Monona bays, and Cherokee Marsh.


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

(Head): Excellent northern action, with a very good, sporadic walleye bite,
and panfish hitting well in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area.

Ice is firming up nicely in the Eagle River area, with ice thickness ranging
from 8-10 inches on most area lakes. Caution is always strongly advised.
There are some snowmobiles and four-wheelers going out, but no motor
vehicles are recommended at this time. With snowfall increasing, travel on
the lakes may be a little more difficult, but the fishing is good, so be
patient, and be careful. You'll have a great time in Eagle River.

Northern are putting on an excellent bite in the Eagle River area. Fish 10
feet of water or less. Right now fishing off the weed edges is providing
better action than the weed beds themselves. Use a small to medium shiner or
sucker minnow under a tip-up. All day bite.

Walleye are hitting strong, albeit sporadically, in the Eagle River area.
Some days the "flags are flying," and other days there's nary a bite. It's
up and down; and you just have to be patient, as you never know when the
walleye will start biting or turn off. The changing weather patterns are
causing this. With more settled weather hopefully coming in, the bite
should stabilize. Fish 10-12 feet of water outside weed beds, along break
edges. Use a small shiner or small sucker minnow under a tip-up. The
walleye will be within a foot of the bottom. Best bite is near sunset.

Panfish (crappies, bluegills and perch) are hitting in two locations in the
Eagle River area. Fish either 10 feet of water or less in and around weeds,
or fish mudflats in 12-20 feet of water. Perch will be tight to bottom,
with crappies and bluegills suspending up and down the water column. Use a
small jig or slip bobber with a waxie, spike, or small crappie minnow. Good
all day action.

(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,

It was an excellent week of fishing till New Years Day anyway. Lots of great reports. Good access to the lakes. The only thing really missing was enough ice to support truck traffic.

Pike: Excellent. Anglers fishing big shiners caught lots of big pike for this area. Lots of reports of 32-36" pike with an exceptional 43"er taken Saturday. Big slab shiners, the largest River Shiners and big suckers on tip-ups produced lots of flags. Still good reports on New years day with heavy wind.

Walleye: Very good. Most action after dark but a few anglers reporting some shallow (less than 7') bites between 11am-1pm during snow periods. Lots of anglers preferring shiners to catch nice eaters of 15-18". Nice fish to 27 1/2" this week. Jigging Rapalas in #7 and #9's entice big early a.m. (pre-dawn) walleyes.

Bluegills: Very good. Weather seemed just right for aggressive bluegills to be taking #10- #8 teardrop jigs tipped with waxies or plastic. Finicky gills require smaller #14 jigs and a single spike or moussee. Fish 6-10' depths.

Perch: Good-Very good. Showing up in more catches. Fish 10-15' with medium fatheads on tip-downs or gob of waxies on Northland Forage jigs.

Crappies: Good. Holding in 10-12' weeds and edges. Using light colored plastic on #8 rockers with slow drop. Also rosies on tip-downs.

Largemouth Bass: Good. Prefer warmer (above 25 degree days) but very active on tip-ups with shiners or jigging raps/spoons meant for walleyes/pike. Some anglers icing 25-30 a day on Minocqua chain.

Unfortunately we did not make much ice this past week. Two reports of trucks dropping through on Minocqua/Kawaga. With most lakes averaging 8-10", still not enough for truck travel.

We didn't get 4-5" of light snow New Years Day, but high winds kept a lot off the ice. Be careful when traveling. ATV, snowmobile and foot traffic good for the most part.

Trout, Fence, Lake Tom still very IFFY!


For steelhead, see Indiana stream. Mik-Lurch reported there are browns at any warm-water discharge, such as Gary Light and Hole-in-the-Wall, when fishermen can get out. However, weather shut the Hole-in-the-Wall; but it will likely reopen later this week with the warm-up. There's been some whitefish at the Hole-in-the-Wall. Before weather limited fishermen, hard-cores were getting scattered steelhead and whitefish at Michigan City.


Denny Sands at Lakeside reported the lake just skimmed over Tuesday. It will be at least another week. Lakeside should be open for ice fishing by the weekend of Jan. 14-15.

For reports, click here.



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1 Comment

hit the local river thursday, 2 walleye on rattlebaits, 1 smallmouth on jig/pig. with the warm spell forget about hardwater, hit some moving water.

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on January 4, 2012 6:06 AM.

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