Chicago Sun-Times
Stray Casts will intelligently report and observe, hopefully with a touch of wit, on daily occurrences, reports and releases related to Chicago-area outdoors from bucks to bass to birds to bugs

Midwest Fishing Report: Lakes and rivers around Chicago fishing

| 1 Comment | No TrackBacks

The likely fizzling of ice fishing, at least around Chicago, leads this Midwest Fishing Report.


I suspect by the weekend where this ice shanty was setting on ice Sunday afternoon will be open water. Rain, wind and warmth are forecast for later this week around Chicago, a triple whammy for ice.

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.

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


Might be as good a time as any to sharpen up the blades on the ice auger. Fran Connelly in Des Plaines does it. He can reached at Ice Auger Sharpening on Facebook or by calling (847) 297-8297.


On Tuesday, there was a rush by guys trying to get in ice fishing on forest preserve lakes, according to Henry's, before the forecast rain, wind and warmth later this week likely ends ice 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. 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):  Walleye, crappies, bluegills and perch all hitting; all in and
amidst the lakes and the Wisconsin River in Wisconsin¹s Marathon and Lincoln
Counties (near Mosinee and Wausau).

Anglers in the central Wisconsin area are getting out and having success,
but caution is advised when traveling on the ice.  Ice conditions vary
considerably on local lakes and reservoirs and with several reports of
shacks and vehicles going through the ice in the past week, we are
cautioning anglers to use common sense before heading out onto the ice.

Walleye fishing in the central Wisconsin area has been very good with nice
catches of fish in the 15 to 20 inch range along with a few larger "slot
fish" as well.  Most of the fish are coming on tip-ups baited up with golden
shiners during low light periods and after dark, but this past week has seen
action from daytime walleyes on jigging Rapalas and Northland Puppet
minnows.  We actually picked up a couple of nice muskies (immediately
released) on our walleye rigs, as well.  It sure is a fun battle when you're
not using a leader.

The panfish bite in the central Wisconsin area continues to take the main
stage as anglers are finding lots of 7 to 9 inch fish on area lakes.  A lot
of the action is taking place in 5 to 7 feet of water associated with green
weeds.  Northland Gill Pills in orange and yellow have been working well on
bull nosed gills, as are the tiny tungsten style Mooska jigs.

The crappie bite in the central Wisconsin area has been pretty good with
nice catches of fish in the 10 to 12 inch range along with a couple of 13
and 14 inch fish in the mix.  Tip downs continue to be working very well,
but savvy anglers with good electronics, light line and tiny plastics can
out-fish live bait anytime, especially on suspended fish.

Perch fishing in the central Wisconsin area has been very good with nice
catches coming from several different lakes.  Most of the perch are being
caught on large spoons like Swedish Pimples and Hali's.  We are tipping them
with either the head of a small minnow or several waxes or spikes.


Use extreme caution. Most area lakes have open water around current areas or the middle. Stay shallow for ice fishing; be more cautious later in the week after the forecast rain, wind and warmth. Otherwise, staff at Triangle reported a very good bite for crappies (toward evening) and bluegill (especially in back channels). Bass and pike have been active on tip-ups.

ACCESSING THE CHAIN: For the T-Channel, best first-ice spot, park at Famous Freddie's and go in to eat or leave before the lunch crowd arrives.

For Spring Lake, Granny's Lakeside has parking for $5, but takes the $5 off your order. Most eating places with parking access offer similar deals.

For Channel Lake, there's Chopper's Bar or the Thirsty Turtle.

For Petite, Greg Dickson at Triangle said there is now a drop-box behind the old Kempf's resort.

Access Pistakee Lake from Oak Park Lounge ($4 per car, $8 with trailers).

For Ackerman's Channel, Dickson said the best access is from Captain's Quarters.

For Marie, the last to be safe in the middle, there's Barnacle Bob's ($5), McKinney's East Marina ($5) or the Sand Bar & Grill (park in back and patronize the place).

For more reports, see

More Chain info at


MAZONIA: North Unit reopens to fishing or ice fishing, at your own risk, on Wednesday. Only Monster Lake at Mazonia South remains open year round. The other lakes at Mazonia South reopen after bowhunting for deer.


``People are going to wait to see how much rain we get Thursday,'' said Brian Gates at Geneva Lake Bait and Tackle reported . If more than half an inch or rain comes, he will pull his shanties off the west end; otherwise, he thinks the ice will hold. He reported some pike, mostly smaller on Delavan, with decent bluegill north of the island. Lots of bass and some pike on Como; lots of bass at Pell; some bluegill on Pleasant.


POWERTON LAKE: Shore fishing is open. 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.


Arden Katz reported 5 inches of ice by Sunday on Nielsen's Channel at Port Barrington with decent bluegills. With a light bite, he starts jigging on the very top of the water column and works down to the edge of weeds. Access is at Hermann's Lowlife Bar & Grill.

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.


Some steelhead are in the creeks; Trail is best. Click here for the Indiana DNR's map of Trail Creek access.


The ice floes that formed over the weekend should be gone by now.

Norm Minas sent this on Monday:

Sunday, single digit wind chills, river showing signs of icing up. Monday high in 30's ice starting to disappear. Heard it might hit50 degrees by Thursday.
 Sunday was the more productive day, 3 walleye on rattletraps and 2bass on floating minnows. fished inflow  for bass and flats off main channel for walleye. Monday had to fish a jig/plastic to get it. One pike pulling jig off ice shelf covering slack area into open water. One bass in deeper, slower water below riffle. One walleye off current seam.  At least the line guides didn't freeze every cast Monday.
 No need to say much about earlier trips than to say the skunk flag was flying which isn't unusual this time of year.


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


Chicago harbors should open up this week. Henry's reported guys fishing from piers are catching perch and some crappie at DuSable and Diversey. There's some perch, takes sorting, at 92nd and 95th in the river.

CHICAGO PIER PASSES: The $6 pier passes for Chicago harbors, except 31st, are available at Henry's.

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 on Kegonsa and Waubesa (crappie deep in 25-30 feet); Monona is covered and bays being fished; some bluegill and crappie on Cherokee Marsh; Mendota still has some open water. He expects ice to hold.


MINOCQUA: Kurt Justice of Kurt's Island Sport Shop said this is a good ice fishing winter: little snow, good access, with 3-10 inches of ice on larger lakes, but most lakes are averaging 7-9. He said walleye (best early and late or on overcast days, jiggers taking best ones on humps), pike and crappie (tipdowns with Rosie Reds) as very good; bluegill moved deeper (6-9), best on red spikes on dark jigs; largemouth are active on tipups.

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

(Head):  With ice improving anglers are getting out into deeper water.
Northern and panfish putting on a good to excellent bite, with walleye
action fair to good.  All in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area.

Ice in the Eagle River area is improving rapidly, with depths now ranging
from 4 to over 8 inches.  A few ATV's are venturing out,but strong caution
is recommended before using an ATV.  Foot travel is still the safest method
(travel on the ice right now is quite easy, with just a small snow cover).
There are excellent Eagle River guides available to help you find lots of
fish, and do so in safety.

Northern in the Eagle River area are locating in 10 feet of water or less in
and around weeds.  Use a medium to large shiner or sucker minnow under a tip
up.  Set your bait 3 to 6 feet off the bottom.  All day bite.  Action is
good to excellent.

Panfish (crappies, bluegills and perch) are locating in two areas in the
Eagle River area.  Fish 12 feet of water or less in shallow weeds and
mudflats; or fish 20-30 feet over mudflats.  Perch are tight to bottom, with
crappies and gills suspending anywhere in the water column.  Use a spike,
waxie or crappie minnow under a small jig or a slip bobber.  All day bite,
with action good to excellent.

Walleye in the Eagle River area are locating in 8-25 feet of water off of
weed edges, break edges or over adjacent mud flats.  The walleyes are tight
to bottom.  Use a small to medium shiner or sucker minnow under a tip-up, or
a jigging spoon tipped with a minnow head.  Action is sporadic during the
day, with peaks coming at sunset.  Action is fair to good.

(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. The couple days of ice fishing at Willow Slough are over. On Tuesday, some perch were caught at reef at Port of Indiana, according to Mik-Lurch. Crappie are being caught in Burns Ditch.


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


Ice will likely be gone or at least unsafe later this week. Check status and reports at


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


Tyler Harmon messaged:

We got a very good warm front that started today. I would recommend everyone stay off the ice, until at least next week if not latter. Steelhead fishing should be good with the warm front, and I would think walleyes should be good as well on the rivers. If you can stand on the piers, you should be able to catch a few whitefish still.



Water Dog Journal
Fishing Headquarters


Click here



Click here


Click here


Click here


Click here


No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL:

1 Comment

Nice Article keep it up

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on January 8, 2013 9:21 PM.

Ramble with Storm: Holiest day for work-at-home dads was the previous entry in this blog.

Fish of the Week: Laker of a lifetime is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.