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Midwest Fishing Report: Lakes and rivers around Chicago fishing

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The coming of ice fishing and perch on southern Lake Michigan lead this Midwest Fishing Report.


This is the extended online version of the MFR, which appears on the Sun-Times outdoors page on Wednesdays. I think until next spring I will go back to combining the rivers and lakes sections again.

Normally, I post Wednesday mornings; a little early this time because I am hunting early tomorrow.

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


Best bite, until ice comes.

CHICAGO SHORE: Arden Katz said minnows producing keepers (1 in 4 keepers) better, but spikes and Mini-Mites (1 in 12) better action at Diversey. He said at Navy Pier, key is to move until the best spot is found. Henry's also reported perch at Montrose, Burnham and 31st. Henry's reported some in the river at 92nd and 95th.

INDIANA: Mike Starcevich texted ``the last hoorah'' along with photos (above) of a mess of jumbos caught Tuesday in 50 feet off Gary Light. From shore, Mik-Lurch reported good ones at the Hole-in-the-Wall and some at the East Chicago Marina.


It's waiting on ice. I suspect a few spots north and west might have fishable ice by Sunday or Christmas Eve; though that could change.


For a general overview of nearby river conditions, click here.

To get to more specific gauges, even on creeks, in Illinois, 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):  Ice iffy, but walleye and bluegills hitting, and late season
archery season is a good time to hunt;all in and amidst the lakes and the
Wisconsin River in Wisconsin¹s Marathon and Lincoln Counties (near Mosinee
and Wausau).

Ice conditions in the central Wisconsin area are iffy at best right now.  We
have anywhere from zero to 3 inches of ice max.  Shallow bays have some ice,
but the larger, more open lakes are open in many areas.  With that said, we
have getting out in a few locations and doing well on nice bluegills during
the day and walleyes in the evening and at night.  Most of our activity has
been on tip-ups for the walleyes and for the gills we are running tiny
Northland Mooska or Fireball jigs tipped with spikes or a waxie.  We also
did pretty good running some plastic (Rat Finkies and Shrimpo's) on the
larger gills and a few nice crappies this past week as well.  We did have a
client pull a nice musky through the ice this past week.  The fish struck a
tip-up baited with a golden shiner at about 7:00 pm.  It was well after dark
and it took ten minutes to land the low to mid 40s size fish, which was
immediately unhooked and released.


Greg Dickson at Triangle expects there will be some ice fishing in the backwaters, especially places such as T Channel, by the weekend.

For more reports, see

More Chain info at


MAZONIA/BRAIDWOOD: Only Monster Lake at Mazonia South remains open year round.


DELAVAN: Brian Gates at Geneva Lake Bait and Tackle reported nice walleye at night on Husky Jerks, X-Raps and Rattlin' Rogues on shore (1-3 feet). Ice fishing seems unlikely by the holiday.

GENEVA: Gates said boaters are catching good bluegill off the best shore of Geneva Bay and in Abbey.


POWERTON LAKE: Shore fishing reopens Monday. Boat fishing reopens Feb. 15.

CLINTON: Mik-Lurch reported good crappie action.

EVERGREEN: Bait shop/boat rental is over for the year. Any updated fishing report from site staff will be posted here.


Sam Bennett sent this:

The surface temperature is 40 degrees. Smallmouth is over for me until spring. If I was targeting them I suppose the warm water discharges might be the ticket. I don't fish them so I can't say.

Walleye have been consistently inconsistent. I've found a few here and there. This is a great time to try for them. The water is still a little tinted and you can get them on minnow baits. I prefer the Husky Jerk because it suspends. Once the river clears completely the only method I've seen work is live minnows. I did a writeup:

Marty, the flatheader, and I got out for some winter trolling and stumbled upon wintering largemouth. I did a writeup of that trip as well:

Overall, what can I say? It's winter. I'm not seeing anyone post much on the other sites. I am excited about this wintering largemouth scheme we've got going. We're going to give it another shot this week and see if it holds up. I expect it will. We got 2 in about 15 minutes before we had to quit. I'll report back.

Happy Holidays.

Bennett has a getting started guide for the Fox posted here.

Nice to have him back.


Click here to check for an updated Wisconsin DNR Lake Michigan Fishing Report.


The snow and rain coming Thursday brings anticipation of a run of winter steelhead. Click here for the Indiana DNR's map of Trail Creek access.


Norm Minas sent this on Monday:

The rain had little effect on the river, the gauge barely moved, I could still see my wading boots in three feet of water and the temps were in the low 40"s. With no real additional flow the algae remains where it was although some of it seems to be dying. The air temps weren't bad, still getting by with a couple shirts and a hooded sweatshirt. It was overcast all day but not much wind.
 I got to a spot I wanted to fish and saw some activity by a duck blind. I gave them a shout, they advised they were packing it up for the day and to go ahead and fish. After a short walk back to the car for the waders and the gear, I got the day going. I certainly hope they had as good a day as I had.
I started out with a one knock spook on top, with a fairly aggressive retrieve. With a lack of initial success it gradually got scaled back to a dead drift with occasional twitches. That worked although it would be better to call the takes sips and not strikes. After the twitch the lure would just kinda slowly start going under. I hooked and landed two smallmouth doing this. On another retrieve, I sneezed and ended up jerking the rod which really made the lure jump. Next thing I know, I feel a thump and had a decent bass on the line. I stayed with aggressive retrieves for about the next 40 minutes or so and then about another 20 minutes on slower retrieves but the bass weren't having any of it.
 I decided to try a lure Doug Stange described in several In Fisherman articles. Basically you replace the hook on a straight shafted spinner{Mepps type} with a weighted swim bait hook and a swim bait. I fished thru the same area with this lure doing my best to stay just off the bottom with it. Between picking the algae off when I failed to do so, I landed 5 walleye and 2 bass. By that time I had been in the water so long my legs started to cramp up so I got out of the water for a bit. Amazing how catching fish keeps your mind off the thought of colder water.
  I was fishing an area of slower deeper water near the main channel and decided I wanted to fish crankbaits in some faster water because I prefer crankbaits more than any other lure. I headed a ways upstream where the algae isn't as bad. I set up below a pipe line that acts as a riffle and fished the fastest part of the flow with a crankbait. I ended up with three more bass all came after I banged the crank into a boulder or a rock hump. This time I got out of the water sooner and moved to another pipe line area. I got two more bass banging the crank off boulders here as well.
 My back started getting twitchy so I called it a day. For this time of year an excellent day.

That's an unbelievable day this time of year, but reality came today (Tuesday).

He sent this update Tuesday:

Flow rate dropped a bit,clarity and water temps same as yesterday. The day started the same weather wise as yesterday but before it was over the front blew in and if definitely got colder. When I finally called it a day the water was starting to form ice bits on the line, always fun to feel bouncing off your face.

I hit up a different stretch of the river, much further upstream. Sand is more of a problem here than anything else. I concentrated on faster , rockier areas that were somewhat deeper than a lot of the real sandy areas.

I started with a crankbait, got one bass toward the upstream edge of the area right on a current seam. I got him bringing the crankbait slowly upstream against the current. After that , the crankbait stopped working, no matter retrieve speed or angle. I figured close to an hour of cranking with only one fish was enough to warrant a change.

I went with a weighted keeper hook with a twin tail grub quartercast and bounced downstream. It took a bit but I finally got bit and landed a walleye. I saw something different, kinda flashing/winking as I brought it in. When I went to unhook the jig, I noticed a minnow bait attached to it's mouth. It turned out to be a floating Rogue.
I figured the river gods were giving a gift and a hint so I tied on the new lure. It also took a while but it produced a bass about 15 inches which is prolly the average size this year.

Once the wind started picking up and the temps dropping, I couldn't get bit. It didn't matter low and slow or high and fast or anywhere in between, it just wasn't happening. I checked two more spots with the usual assortment of lures and techniques, none of which produced. I guess I just couldn't come up with the right location, lure or technique to fit the new conditions. Food for thought the rest of the evening.

Ed Mullady sent this:

Hi Dale,
    The Kankakee River is in good fishing conditions...especially for December!
     Keep in mind, many fishing areas are closed to fishing, during the hunting seasons. Be sure to check
if your best location is open to fishing by calling area offices.
     Both Indiana and Illinois parts of the river include:
     *Catfish good, with *cheesebait *live minnows *your favorite catfish bait. Try areas where deep and shallow waters occur.
     *Smallmouth Bass: Fair to Good along *tree lined shores *below dams, spillways, bayou mouths on
*Mepps #3 Spinners *weedless Doctor Spoons *Mr.Twister wtd.Keeper Hook & Double Twister tails.
     *Largemouth Bass: Fair on *live minnows *Mepps #3 spinners *crankbaits. Try at Ditch and Creek
mouths *any quiet water at different depths.
     *Walleye: Slow, but not many fishing for them now. Best on *jig and minnow *jig and crawler *jointed
minnow shaped lures *Weedless Doctor Spoon *Best fishing late in afternoon into darkness. Try below
dams *spillways *places where slow water meets faster.
      *Pike fair to good on *large minnows * Mepps #5 Spinners *weedless Doctor Spoons.
      *Rock Bass just fair..on *2-3"minnows *#2 Mepps Spinners *streamer flies *crawlers
      *Croppie fair to good on *pinkie jig and minnow *bobber and minnow *crawlers
      *Bluegill:Try in slow moving waters near shorelines *redworms *small sponge spiders *
        If anyone gets a chance, try to fish on(or near)Christmas Day or/and News Year Day. Dress warm,
and be cautious!
                                                                Best to you,
                                                                Ed Mullady

My hope had been to make this my year to catch a Christmas smallmouth, but not this year.


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


For perch see top. Henry's reported several lakers caught at Navy Pier (see Fish of the Week), a rainbow at Jackson Park, some crappie and bluegill at Diversey.

CHICAGO PIER PASSES: The $6 pier passes for Chicago harbors, except 31st, are available at Henry's. And Burnham will be available after Bears season.

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.

SNAGGING: Snagging season is open for Chinook and coho. The only open areas on the lakefront are the inner and outer harbors at Jackson Park, Lincoln Park Lagoon from the Fullerton Avenue Bridge to the southern end of the Lagoon, Winnetka power plant discharge area and Waukegan Harbor (in North Harbor basin only). No snagging is allowed at any time within 200 feet of a moored watercraft or as posted. Salmon snagging season ends Dec. 31.


Gene Dellinger at D&S Bait thought there might be some ice fishing by the weekend on some of the early spots, such as Cherokee Marsh.


Ice is slowly building.

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

Good Afternoon, The local fishing report from Kurt's Island Sports,
Winter just doesn't want to get here or stay when it does...
A very good, but brief few days of ice fishing the end of the last week through the weekend gave way to some rain and above freezing temps. Forecast looks good with below freezing temps the rest of the week. We lost a little ice, but last night's cold firmed up things. Very important to wear creepers as no snow cover means extremely slippery conditions.
Walleye: Excellent. Lots of larger fish (25-29") being caught on tip-ups (complaint from Big Arb- not enough smaller fish, below 14"). Most action towards dusk, but cloudy weather gave up fish throughout the day. Shiners, suckers and chubs all working, even some takers on jig/grubs meant for panfish.
Northern Pike: Excellent. Great action, flags flying! Big shiners, suckers and chubs scoring lots of action. Lots of eaters 22-26", picklers 18-22"and some bigger pike or 29-34" this weekend. Six to eight feet, weed (green) best.
Bluegills: Excellent limits of gills from bays of lakes with standing green weeds in 4-8'. Tear drop jigs tipped with waxies, spikes, Gulp Alive baits all doing well. Bright colors best as fish not finicky...YET!
Crappies: Excellent. Very nice catches of 10-14" crappies. Lots of anglers taking advantage of warm weather using tip-downs with crappie minnows, rosie reds in 8-12' weeds. Also jigs with fluttering spoons- Moxy, Fairy and Little Cecil jigs tipped with waxies also very good.
Yellow Perch: Very Good. Lots of shallow water perch. Some sorting, but nice 9-10"+ on tip-downs and tip-ups rigged with smaller minnows.
With most lakes having ice of 3-5" on bays, fishing is definitely being done. Some large lakes (Trout, Fence, Tom) still have open water.
Not recommending vehicle travel, use creepers to walk- spud bars a good idea to check ice. Always use caution.

Kurt Justice
Kurt's Island Sports

EAGLE RIVER: On Sunday, Creative Brilliance sent this update for the Chamber of Commerce:

(Head):  Anglers starting to ice fish in Eagle River, with good action for
northern and panfish and a fair to good bite for walleye; all in the Eagle
River, Wisconsin area.

Some of the smaller lakes in the Eagle River area are reporting 3 to 4
inches of ice, with a tad more in some of the shallower back bay areas.  The
larger lakes are still not safe to go out on.  Indeed, all of the fishing is
in fairly shallow water, as the deeper water areas are not yet accessible.
Extreme caution is recommended regardless of where you want to go out. Best
suggestion:  Hire an Eagle River guide.  They are experts on putting you on
fish in complete safety.

Foot travel only on the ice right now.  No vehicles of any type.

All of the fishing in the Eagle River area is happening in 10 feet of water
or less in the weeds and off of weed edges.  Anglers are somewhat "trapped"
in the shallow water areas (back bays, shallow bays, sheltered areas),
because the deeper water is not safe to go out on, yet.

Northern are putting on a good all date bite in the Eagle River area.  Fish
10 feet of water or less in the weeds or off of weed edges.  Use a northern
sucker or shiner under a tip up.

For panfish (crappies, bluegills and perch) in the Eagle River area fish 10
feet of water or less in and around weeds.  The perch will be tight to
bottom with the crappies and gills up and down the water column.  Use a
waxie or a crappie minnow under a small jig or slip bobber.  Good action.
All day bite.

The walleye in the Eagle River area are in 6 to 10 feet of water in and
around weeds, and off of weed edges.  The walleye will be a foot off the
bottom to tight to the bottom.  Use a small sucker or a shiner under a tip
up.  Fair to good action at sunset.

(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.


For perch, see top. For streams, see Indiana streams. Mik-Lurch reported some browns are being caught at East Chicago. Some whitefish are being caught off the Michigan City piers; with weather change, whitefish should take off.


Click here to check if there is an updated Root River Fishing Report from the Wisconsin DNR.


Lakeside will reopen when there is ice fishing.

For more on Lakeside, fishing reports and the lake, go to


Click here for the Lake Michigan Fishing Report from the Wisconsin DNR.


Tyler Harmon messaged:

Water levels on the rivers are very low. If you are not a regular that knows the river well I would not suggest fishing the local rivers with a boat of any kind, jet drive or outboard. A few steelhead are being caught in the rivers but way under par for this time of year. Whitefish action has been steady and consistent off the many piers in Southwest Michigan.



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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on December 18, 2012 8:32 PM.

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