Safe ice is spreading southward, and enough should build through this week to hold during the weekend warm-up; so ice fishing leads this Midwest Fishing Report.
Marcy Paschky at Hermann's Lowlife Bar & Grill sent the photo above from Nielsen's Channel off the Fox River on Sunday at Port Barrington. Arden Katz reported very good bluegill there on Sunday, but he had to rescue two fishermen who went through when they went out on the ice over the current area.
He rescued them with an old flotation seat he carries with rope attached to it. Something he recommended more people do.
It seems odd to be talking about early ice at Nielsen's and it's mid-January. That usually comes around Thanksgiving. But that is the kind of winter it has been.
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 email@example.com.
ICE FISHING NIGHT AT SHABBONA
Lakeside will have hold its night ice fishing event on Saturday at Shabbona Lake. Updates on ice conditions are on Facebook, where Tuesday Lakeside reported 2-4 inches in Somonauk Bay, geese are swimming open an the north end of the road bed.
Denny Sands at Lakeside sent these details on the night:
January 21st, 2012 - 1st Night Ice Fishing Event Sponsored by Cabela's Outdoors of Hoffman Estates - Crappie & Bluegill Contest heaviest 5 Crappie & 5 Bluegill will win Cabela's Gift Card - Pokanoka's will be open with a winter menu. Lakeside will be open from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM and Pokanoka's will be open from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
Safe ice built rapidly overnight. As of yesterday, virtually no public areas had safe ice. I expect that to change rapidly, even by this morning and into Friday. 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 lcfpd.org. 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 posted some river reports again this week, because it may matter again in a few days with the weekend warm-up. For an overview of nearby river conditions, click here.
BIG GREEN LAKE, WISCONSIN
For guide Mike Norton's report, go to www.nortonsfishingandhuntingadventures.com, then click on fishing, then lake report.
From licensed guide and trapper Phil Schweik and guide Glenn Moberg of Hooksetters Guide Service:
(Head): Walleye, northern and panfish are hitting; all in and amidst the
lakes and the Wisconsin River of Wisconsin's Marathon and Lincoln Counties
(near Mosinee and Wausau). EDITOR'S NOTE: At the end of this report, see the
information about a great ice fishing tournament being held on Lake Wausau
Safety first when heading out onto the ice!!!
With the recent warm spell ice conditions are not what they usually are at
this time of the year here in the central Wisconsin area. Even with that
said you should always be aware of the safety hazards that come into play
when traveling out onto the ice.
When heading out onto the ice you should take into consideration the
Shoreline areas. Ice conditions deteriorate quickly around shoreline areas
especially later in the year as the sun warms the surrounding area. Avoid
areas that are broken up and have open water around them
Neck down areas like bridges and channels between lakes: These areas are
high current areas and ice can be very unstable throughout the entire season
even in the coldest weather. We wouldn't advise traveling these areas at
any time during the winter months.
Weed beds and wood. Emergent and submerged weeds along with timber create
another ice hazard as these areas absorb sunlight throughout the year and
ice around these areas is always unstable and can vary within a few inches.
Use caution when fishing these areas as they can be very good for fishing
but dangerous as the sunlight heats up the ice near the weeds and wood.
Rivers and streams: One should be extremely cautious when fishing any type
of current area as ice conditions are constantly changing sand a person
could have safe ice in one area and within a foot be on less than 2 inches
of ice. In most instance you are better off not even traveling out onto the
Large open areas: What we mean here is big bodies of water that have vast
open flats . These large areas (especially in the middle) are often the last
to freeze over in the winter and just because you have safe ice on 90% of
the lake doesn't mean that the entire lake is safe to travel out onto. If
you are planning on heading out onto a large open body of water we would
suggest that you travel lightly and go ahead with an auger on foot to check
the thickness of the ice as you move forward.
Following these simple examples will make your ice fishing season a safe and
With that said, ice fishing this past week in the central Wisconsin area has
been very good with outstanding catches of panfish, walleyes and northerns.
The panfish bite has been in shallow water mainly 3 to 5 feet associated
with weeds. Tear drop jigs in yellow and white tipped with waxies or spikes
have been the best producer. But we have found that when the bite gets tough
adding plastics can tempt some of the finicky lookers into biters
The walleye bite has been a low light and night bite with some nice fish
being caught. Again shallow water from 3 to 5 feet deep has been our best
bet. Run tip ups baited with golden shiners about one foot off the bottom
along shallow break lines where the depth transitions..
The northern pike have been very active and areas off the main river channel
have been producing some very large pike for us. Last week we saw several
fish in the upper 30's to low 40's. Large golden shiners on tip-ups
suspended right below the ice in 2 to 5 feet of water is the best way to
tempt these fresh water alligators.
Trails End and Hooksetters Guide Service
1st annual ice fishing tournament.
Fish anywhere on Lake Wausau!
Trails End Bar & Grill Located at: 3901 Sherman Rd. Wausau, WI 54401
Date: February 11thth
Time: 7:00am until 5:00pm
Entry: $10.00 per person ? Purchase between now and the day of the
tournament at Trails End. Bar will open at 6:00 am on the day of the
tournament for registration.
To register fish: Bring them to Trails End Headquarters. Come by road or
water?. Fish must be at the Headquarters no later than 5:00 PM
There will be prizes awarded in the following categories:
There will be cash prizes for 1st through 3rd place. Prize amounts will be
determined by the amount of participants.
1st through 3rd place will be determined by the three largest fish brought
in by length in each division. In case of a tie the tie breaker will be
determined by weight. If there is still a tie the winner will be determined
by the first fish registered.
There will be food and drink specials all day long during tournament hours
at the bar. There will be several different raffles going on throughout the
day with lots and lots of great door prizes as well. Too many to give
There will be FREE food for tournament participants after 5;00 pm ? and it's
Mark your calendar for February 11th.
We will see you there.....
Any questions please call John: 715-370-3018
Ice conditions should firm up quickly over the next few days. But as of yesterday, staff at Triangle recommended staying close to shore and away from the middle of the lakes. Bluegill are good shallow; T-Channel has been producing nice fish when ice allows safe access; some at the south end of Channel (but stay close to shore).
EARLY ACCESS:In case, ice is safe, here are early ice accesses. 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 http://www.foxlakefishing.com/
More Chain info at www.foxwaterway.state.il.us.
COOLING LAKES/STRIP PITS
BRAIDWOOD/MAZONIA: Only Monster Lake at Mazonia South remains open year round. Mazonia North Unit lakes are open. Any ice fishing is at your own risk. But that's off a bit. HEIDECKE: Closed for the season. LaSALLE:Closed for the season.
DELAVAN/GENEVA LAKES AREA, WISCONSIN
Brian Gates at Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle reported nice bluegill at Lake Lawn Marina ($5 parking) on Delavan and both bays on the west end producing good pike and bluegill (keepers 1-in-4); middle is not safe. Gates expects to start putting out some shacks later this week, call (262) 245-6150 to reserve one. Good pike on Como; good bluegill on Pleasant. As of yesterday, Geneva was open, still launching at Fontana.
SHELBYVILLE: Ken Wilson--(217) 454-2672--of Lithia Guide Service reported crappie good, as of Monday, on main lake ledges in 14-16 feet on 1/4-ounce jigs known as Shelbyville Killers. There's some ice in the back coves. Most major launches south are open. EMIQUON: The 2012 permits are available at Dickson Mounds Museum in Lewistown. POWERTON: Shore fishing is open 8 a.m.-4 p.m. EVERGREEN: The 2012 permits are available here, too. Any updated fishing report from staff will be posted here.
We are in that winter period, where I will run this winter suggestion by Ken Gortowski:
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.
With the rain and snow melt earlier in the week, the guys at Mik-Lurch are expecting a fresh run of steelhead.
I expect some areas will have ice building up later this week, but otherwise I am posting reports. And by the weekend, the river may be an open-water option again.
Ed Mullady sent this:
If river continues at depths or slightly up fishing could be good this week.
Many of the creeks and ditches up until right now are very low and perhaps a medium
run off would help along the winter.
Both IN and IL:
Smallmouth Bass good in larger areas of fast next to slow water *up in slightly deeper
creeks, ditches, bayous. Good on *jig and minnow *Mepps #2 Silver finish blade spinners
*streamer flies *any minnow shaped lures.
Walleye fair, but good time for a big one or two to be caught on *jig and minnow *minnow-
shaped spinners, plugs-Double Twister tails.
Pike improving around mouths of bayous *ditches *along in water logs.
Catfish good throughout on *minnows
croppie good in quieter waters on *jig and minnow *small #1 spinners.
Note the kicker at the end of this report from Norm Minas:
the percentages have caught up with me lately, caught 4 fish over the last week. mostly on rattlebaits, one on jig/pig though nothing like the big one on the 8th. it's that time of the year more adam dunn than frank thomas
LAKE ERIE: PORT CLINTON
For Ohio DNR report go to wildohio.com and or call (888) HOOKFISH.
Safe harbor ice is a long way off. CHICAGO: Perch still be caught at 92nd, reported Henry's; and harbors have spotty perch and a few trout. Mik-Lurch reported a few browns at the state-line power plant. NORTH POINT: Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop reported some fishing large roaches in open water at North Point for pike.CHICAGO PIER PASSES: With little ice in the harbors, remember 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.
MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN
Gene Dellinger at D&S Bait reported ice building; some perch fishing on Kegonsa, and a bit on Waubesa. Bluegill (take sorting) are good on Squaw (a few perch, too) and Monona bays. Some pike on Warner Bay on Mendota. Should be much more universal safe ice by the weekend.
EAGLE RIVER: Creative Brilliance sent this report for the Chamber of Commerce:
(Head): Walleye, northerns and panfish all putting on a good bite in the
Eagle River, Wisconsin area.
Ice thickness on the lakes in the Eagle River area ranges from about 10-12
inches, give or take. ATV's and snowmobiles are getting out. Motor
vehicles are not recommended. Watch out for slush forming from the recent
snow. Travel on the ice is generally OK. Safety is always "job one," so be
Walleye in the Eagle River area are locating outside the weeds in 10-12 feet
of water. Use a small shiner under a tip-up, set about 10-12 inches off the
bottom. Sunset provides the best bite. Good action.
Northern in the Eagle River area are in 10 feet of water or less outside of
weed edges.. Use a medium shiner or medium sucker minnow under a tip-up,
and set your bait just above the weeds. Good all day bite.
Panfish (crappies, bluegills and perch) are still locating in two general
areas in the Eagle River area. Fish shallow weeds - -10 feet of water or
less, or over deeper mudflats in 15-25 feet of water. Waxies under a small
jig are working best, but small crappies minnows are also taking fish.
Perch will be tight to bottom, with crappies and bluegills suspending up and
down the water column. Good 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:
firstname.lastname@example.org; web: www.eagleriver.org
* "Muskie Matt", 715-891-5980; e-mail: email@example.com
* Mat Hegy, 715-571-7544, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
* 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 pike best bite, on bigger shiners and suckers; perch are improving, especially with wigglers in 16-18 in the mud; bluegills are pretty good in 8-12, walleye slowed after Thursday, best over top of off-shore humps on the bigger lakes; crappie bite is very variable. A few lakes have truck travel, that should become more widespread.
Mik-Lurch reported ice fishing beginning at Willow Slough. White jigs are taking browns at Gary Light when weather allows. When weather allows access, the Hole-in-the-Wall has been good for
ST. JOSEPH AREA, MICHIGAN
Tyler Harmon messaged:
Weve been on the ice in parts of the area for a few days now. Ice ranges from 2-5 inchs depending on where you go. Gills seem to be doing well. Crappie a bit slow, but should pick up. Steelhead action still good on the river.
Mik-Lurch reported variable ice, but some ice fishing beginning.
CHICAGO AREA CHAT/REPORTS
Water Dog Journal
CHICAGO AREA INFO
MICHIGAN DNR REPORT
WISCONSIN DNR REPORT
IOWA DNR REPORT
INDIANA DNR REPORT