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Midwest Fishing Report: Lakes and rivers around Chicago fishing

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The coming of ice leads 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. With the holiday, I am running a little behind today.

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


Ice fishing is just beginning, which means it is time for the posting of regulations on local public waters.

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. Ice fishing is sunrise to sunset at the Fel-Pro RRR (closed until bowhunting ends Jan. 20), the Hollows (Lake Atwood and West Lake), Lyons Prairie & Marsh, Pleasant Valley, Rush Creek pond and Stickney Run (closed until after bowhunting), 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 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): Recent snow may hamper ice fishing, but is a boon for archery deer
hunters.  The walleye bite has been good, with crappies, bluegills and perch
all hitting, and big northerns are being taken as well; all in and amidst
the lakes and the Wisconsin River in Wisconsin¹s Marathon and Lincoln
Counties (near Mosinee and Wausau).

Heavy snow is good for late season archery deer hunters, but it may hamper
ice fishing.

Ice anglers will have to use extreme caution in the central Wisconsin area
when heading out onto area waters for a time.  With only a couple of inches
of ice in most places and in some places no ice at all the recent snow is
going to make for dangerous conditions.  Remember to carry ice picks and a
life vest if traveling out and make sure you don't head out alone.  With
that said the fishing has been very good for all species of panfish with
good catches of crappies, bluegills and some nice perch coming from
backwater areas off the Wisconsin River system.  Most of the fish we are
catching are in 10 to 12 feet of water associated with wood.  We are
catching our fish on tiny ice jigs tipped with spikes or waxes.  We have
been using some of the new Northland Impulse plastics and having great
results, especially on the larger panfish.  On one recent outing three of us
limited out with the largest bluegill going 11 inches long.

The walleye bite in the central Wisconsin area has been especially good
during the low light periods and after dark.  Most of our fish are coming on
tip-ups baited with either a golden shiner or medium walleye sucker.  They
are then set about 8 inches to 1 foot off the bottom in 3 to 5 feet of
water.  Look for areas with little or not current (backwater areas off the
river) associated with downed timber.

Big northerns has also been on the men in the central Wisconsin area, and
are having good luck catching some real nice sized fish.  We are running
large golden shiners on tip-ups in 4 to 8 feet of water.  We are also having
some luck jigging medium sized Buckshot Rattle spooners for the northerns as
well. We are tipping the spoons with a minnow head on the treble hook and
working it very aggressively 1 to 3 feet off the bottom.


Ice fishing is beginning. By Monday, some guys tested the ice on backwaters already, but ``the ice is pretty skinny,'' Greg Dickson at Triangle said on Monday. ``Every day it should keep getting better. By the weekend, it should be peak.''

For more reports, see

More Chain info at


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


Brian Gates at Geneva Lake Bait and Tackle said a few ice fishermen have been out on the west end of Delavan and by the boat launch. He said Como is frozen over.


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

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


For ice fishing Nielsen's Channel at Port Barrington, Marcy Paschky at Hermann's Lowlife Bar & Grill sent this:

Front & back channels both have a little over an inch. One hit with a spud bar broke through. Not safe yet, ask Santa for cold temperatures!  :)

We are open today until 7pm!  We have chili!  And we have poker/slot gambling machines!  

Merry Christmas Eve, ya'll!

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


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


Mik-Lurch reported that steelhead came into the streams--Trail, Salt and Deep River--with the rain last week, and spawn working best. Click here for the Indiana DNR's map of Trail Creek access.


Norm Minas sent this on Monday:

With the recent rains the river is on the rise and over the normal flow rate for this time of year by a bit. Visibility is about 6 inches, water temps at 35.2, got some algae being moved but not enough. For most of the day it was pleasant weather wise, got a bit chillier in late afternoon.
 Today was jumping from eddy to eddy with a couple inflows mixed in. Bottom conditions ranged from soft black bottom to sand to rock/rubble/boulder. I primarily used the bubble/worm rig for all my fishing with a touch of J-9 floating rapalas. The bubble worm rig is actually quite simple, an adjust-a-buuble float, a hook and a cigar type worm. It's easy to make adjustments to the depth, does a nice job of suspending a cigar type worm[generally wacky rigged] and you can carry everything you need in a shirt pocket in you so desire. The main drawback is that it is a fixed float and I don't like to set it more than 3 feet for ease of casting ad being able to reach a hooked fish. That wasn't a drawback for me today as I wasn't fishing deeper than that anyway.
 I picked up a couple of smallmouth bass at the head of the eddies, got some rock bass on the backside of the eddies and some crappie suspended in the heart of the eddies. I got one carp, the biggest fish of the day at just under 30 inches as it was dragging bottom where it changed from hard to soft bottom. Most of the hits the bubble just slide under the water, on a few, it kinda got twitchy on the surface.
 I picked up a couple walleyes on the J-9 floating rapala at one of the inflows with a slow steady retrieve. Nothing huge both around the 20 inch mark.
It was a good day for December, 2 smallmouth, 2 walleyes, 2 crappie, 5 rock bass and one carp for 5 different species on one outing in the winter.
 In honor of the recent Solstice, I leave you this:


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


Dirty water outside the harbors has slowed perch fishing, though better results have been around the clearer water inside. A few steelhead and browns being caught. Mik-Lurch reported a few perch at 92nd in the river.

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 Monday.


D&S Bait reported icing is underway with some small bluegill caught on Cherokee Marsh on Saturday; other lakes are safe or will become safe this week.


MINOCQUA: Kurt Justice of Kurt's Island Sport Shop said ice is building daily. There is 5-7 inches generally, though some bigger lakes still had open spots Monday. He is not recommending vehicle travel, though by the weekend that may be more widespread. Walleye have been good with many fish in the 7-10 pound range and pike have been good with fish to 36 inches. Crappie and bluegill slowed some with the fronts, but remain good.

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

(Head): Excellent northern bite, with panfish good to excellent, and walleye
action good; all in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area.

3 to 6 inches of ice on smaller Eagle River area lakes, with 1 to 3 inches
on the larger, clearer lakes.  About 5 to 6 inches of snow cover IN SPOTS on
all lakes.  Travel is still good (foot travel only!).  Using creepers is not
a bad idea, and taking a spud is essential for safety.  Anglers are fishing
back bays, and shallower areas, and in a few cases are able to get out to
the main basins on some of the smaller Eagle River area lakes.  Caution is
strongly advised, and do not go out alone.  Our suggestion remains the same:
Hire one of Eagle River's excellent, experienced guides who will put you on
lots of fish in complete safety.

Northern in the Eagle River area are in 10 feet of water or less in and
around weeds.  Use a medium or large shiner or northern sucker on a tip-up.
All day bite.  Excellent action.

Panfish (crappies, bluegills and perch)are off weed and break edges or over
mudflats, in the Eagle River area.  Fish 8-25 feet of water.  The perch will
be tight to bottom, with the crappies and gills suspending up and down the
water column.  Use a spike or waxie on a small jig or a small minnow on a
tip-down.  All day bite.  Good to excellent action.

Walleye in the Eagle River area are in 8 to 30 feet of water off of weed
edges or break edges.  Use a small to medium shiner on a tip-jp, or a
jigging spoon tipped with a fathead minnow - - and many anglers are having
great success using the fathead minnow's HEAD only on their jigging spoon.
The walleye are tight to bottom.  Good action, with the best bite 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 streams, see Indiana streams. Mik-Lurch reported some browns are being caught East Chicago and Hammond on medium roaches or silver/blue or silver/green spoons. There will likely be some ice fishing in spots later this week.


Click here to check if there is an updated Root River Fishing Report from the Wisconsin DNR. There hasn't been one for weeks.


Lakeside will reopen when there is ice fishing. This week? 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 that steelhead action has been all right on the river, spawn has been out producing plugs; still some whitefish being caught off the piers and walleye picking up in the rivers.



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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on December 26, 2012 9:49 AM.

Ramble with Storm: Unconditional love, ice & the evil of cats was the previous entry in this blog.

Ramble with Storm: Christmas in Connecticut & Disconnect I Cut is the next entry in this blog.

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