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Midwest Fishing Report: Variable Chicago fishing

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Chicago seems to be on some sort of fault line when it comes to ice fishing, and that leads this Midwest Fishing Report.

South of the city has unsafe ice, while just across the Wisconsin line there is 8-10 inches on Delavan Lake.

This is the extended online version of the MFR, which appears on the Sun-Times outdoors page on Wednesdays.

If you have suggestions, post in the comments section or let me know at


Ice conditions are borderline, north and west; unsafe, south. For example, the McHenry County Conservation District had only Pleasant Valley open for ice fishing Tuesday afternoon. Areas with fishable ice should hold it through the weekend, unless we receive too much rain tonight.

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: 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. 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.


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 northern and panfish bite, with good nighttime walleye action; all in and amidst the lakes and the Wisconsin River of Wisconsin's Marathon and Lincoln Counties (near Mosinee and Wausau). This past week we have seen very good ice fishing conditions that have led to some great outings in the central Wisconsin area.

The northern pike activity has been outstanding all season long in the central Wisconsin area. For anglers looking at having your line peeled off your tip-up at lightning like speed or your rod jarred sharply from your grip this is the prey you are after. We have seen very good action from these toothy critters every time we have targeted them. We are running tip-ups baited with large golden shiners or sucker minnows and we are jigging with large flashy spoons like the Northland Buckshot spoon in fire tiger and perch patterns. Most of our action has been on our tip-ups set above weed lines in 4 to 6 feet of water but we are also getting some of our pike jigging on open flats in 10 to 15 feet of water right on the structure breaks.

The panfish bite has been very good with nice catches of bluegills, crappies and perch coming from several different area lakes. Most of the panfish activity has revolved around weeds in 6 to 8 feet of water. We are running tip downs baited up with small crappie sized minnows for the perch and crappies as well as jigging with small ice jigs in orange and yellow for the gills. Most of the time we are tipping our jigs with waxies or spikes but to target the larger fish we are tipping our jigs with plastics.

Walleye in the central Wisconsin area have been active this past week and the bite has primarily been an evening bite. The hour before dark and then again about an hour after dark have produced some very nice fish for us. We have been catching them by jigging with Northland Buckshot spoons tipped with a minnow head and on tip-ups baited with small suckers or golden shiners. We are fishing right near the bottom in 4 to 10 feet of water as long as it is associated with weeds.


Triangle reported ice fishing continuing on such places as Deep Lake, East Loon, and south end of Catherine. Other places have variable ice conditions. There will be ice fishing in areas through the weekend.

For more reports, see

More Chain info at


BRAIDWOOD/MAZONIA:At least one boat was out on Mazonia North in the past week. Any ice fishing, if safe ice forms again this winter, is at your own risk. Braidwood reopens March 1. HEIDECKE: Reopens April 1. LaSALLE: Tentatively reopens March 15, depending on summer help arriving.


Arden Katz reported good bluegill on Delavan, but takes sorting, in 6-9 feet above the weeds. Brian Gates at Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle--(262) 245-6150--reported key was moving around on Delavan, which has 8-10 inches of ice. Gates reported bass and pike are good on Como, 6-9 inches of ice; decent bluegill on Pleasant; some boaters were taking lakers on Geneva when able to get out.


SPRING: Fishermen are hammering muskie when ice is out in the north; there's been crappie in both sides. Site super Stan Weimer expects it to be ice free again by the weekend. Call 309) 968-7135 to check on ice. POWERTON: Boat fishing reopened today. Remember, there are no docks. Weimer said that catfish--channel, blue and flathead--have been good from shore. Site is open daily 8 a.m.-4 p.m. EMIQUON: The 2012 permits are available at Dickson Mounds Museum in Lewistown. EVERGREEN: The 2012 permits are available here, too. Any updated fishing report from staff will be posted here.


For open water, I will rerun this from 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.


Ed Mullady sent this:

River in good fishable condition in both IN and IL

River catch of the year for Kankakee River walleye, is from Dan Davis, Manteno, IL, who caught on Feb. 8 a 10 lb. 8 oz. walleye in the Kankakee area. He was using a green colored Rapala just after dark.
He caught another nice walleye last evening, first cast of the day that was just over 6 pounds. So far, Dan Davis has brought in 14 nice walleye, almost all were returned to the river.
Much of this info was forwarded to me by Bob Themer, Kankakee Daily Journal and Dan Davis.
Some good areas for catching walleye on the river now are:
Indiana: any ditch or bayou mouth *shoreline trees and brush *bridge piers
Illinois: *Momence Area *Aroma Park *Kankakee through Sawmill Creek *Kankakee
River State Park *Wilmington area on downstream.
Good baits are jig and minnow *minnow shaped artificials *Doctor Spoon with pork rind strip.
Good places for walleye structure also includes *mouths of ditches, creeks *in -water shoreline trees, logs in water *bridge piers.
Smallmouth bass also being caught, as well as some good sized northern pike.
Bob Themer, Kankakee Daily Journal Outdoors, gave me most of above info, and also
talked to Dan Davis, the fisherman who catches walleye!


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


CHICAGO: Steve Palmisano at Henry's reported powerliners taking some coho with roaches or crawlers at Montrose and Belmont; worth trying McCormick Place, Planetarium or 39th, too. Mik-Lurch and Henry's reported some perch in the river around 92nd or 95th, but it's variable; Navy Pier dirtied up, there's been a few perch. WAUKEGAN: Lori Ralph at Salmon Stop reported a few browns inside the south rocks at Waukegan when ice is out. There's some pike at North Point. 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.


Gene Dellinger at D&S Bait reported good ice (7-9 inches). On Mendota, some pike by Governor's Island and a few perch at Picnic Point and Second Point; on Waubesa, some perch, and some walleye and pike in the main basin.


EAGLE RIVER: Creative Brilliance sent this report for the Chamber of Commerce on Sunday, so keep that timing in mind:

(Head): Good northern bite, with good action for panfish, and walleye fair, in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area.

In the Eagle River area, ice is holding at between 12-15 inches thick.
Travel is rough in the virgin areas, but traveled locations are OK for foot, ATV, and snowmobile use. Motor vehicles are not recommended.

Northern action in the Eagle River area is good. Fish 12 feet of water or less on weed edges or in weed clumps. Use a medium to large shiner under a tip up. All date bite.

Panfish (crappies, bluegills and perch) are providing a good bite in the Eagle River area. Fish 15-35 feet of water over mudflats. The perch will be tight to bottom, and the crappies and bluegills will be suspending up and down the water column, with their specific depths being day dependent. One day they'll be deep, the next shallow. Best to fish starting at the bottom and working your way up until you hit the depth the fish are at on that particular day. Use a crappie minnow under a slip bobber, or a small jig tipped with a waxie or spike.

Walleye action in the Eagle River area is fair. Fish mudflats in 15-35 feet of water. The walleyes will be tight to bottom. Use a minnow head under a jigging spoon, or a small shiner or sucker minnow under a tip up. All date 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.

MINOCQUA: Kurt Justice of Kurt's Island Sport Shop sent this:

Wind, cold and high pressure made for some difficult fishing again this past weekend. On the plus side, the lakes were making ice, on the down side, after the warm weather, then cold the lakes are like wash boards to drive across.

Perch: Fair-Good. Over the weekend things were spotty. Since then, action has improved as anglers are picking up some deep water perch in 26-33' using wigglers on pimples and flickers. These are nice 10-11" perch. Still in the 14-16' mud flats anglers picking up 8-10" perch using the same spoon/wiggler combo.

Pike: Fair-Good. With the exception of Sunday, pike action good with early mornings best up shallow, then moving to deeper (8-12') weeds by mid-morning. Shiners on tip-ups and jigging spoon with a half minnow.

bluegills: Fair-Good. Bites are best in weeds of 7-10', but can be very finicky on location. Nice eater gills of 7-8 1/2" on moussees, red spikes on gill pill jigs. Get below the little ones for the keepers. Also populations of gills over deep sandgrass of 16-20' on deep gin clear lakes. Dark, heavy yet small jigs, spikes best.

Walleye: Fair. Action slowed with cold, high pressure. Some fish on suckers at dusk. Look for better results this week as temps warm, new moon period by late weekend. Jigging #5-#7 Rapalas tipped with waxie or minnow head catching a few.

Crappies: Poor-Fair. A few deep water anglers finding big slabs in 23-30' on glow jigs tipped with moussees or waxies. Too windy and cold for much tip-down action this past weekend, but coming up should improve on rosies and crappie minnows.

With the warmer weather and some clouds (chance of snow coming in) things should improve. Ice thickness varies but 14-18" has been average with a few lakes to the east having more.


Mik-Lurch reported some coho, browns and whitefish from the Port of Indiana public access.


Mik-Lurch reported shore fishermen targeting pre-spawn walleye at Berrien Springs. A regular local fisherman expects steelhead to greatly improve as the week progresses; and pier and surf action to be good when weather stabilizes.


You can check updates on Facebook.


Mik-Lurch reported crappie in the corn channel and a few walleye. A 49.5-inch muskie was found dead on the Indiana side.



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Good day Dale, It's great that the weather has been so nice. My brother and I plan to get out to the KKK Mon. the 20th as I have the day off. But I'm also wondering about the Iriquois river near you. Is there any access at the Sugar Island bridge ? Do you know if prospects may be good or do-able there ? Just wondering-thoufgt you may help. Please advise, Mike O'Brien, Summit,il.

Good Day Dale, Wow, thanks much. I have an old guide from the dnr actually calling that the plato bridge, and that there was acess there. At least in 1996 ! Live maps shows a pulloff there with beautiful looking shoreline.It's also a guaging station there too, right ? Mike O'brien, summit

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on February 15, 2012 1:35 PM.

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