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

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

The variable conditions for ice fishing lead this Midwest Fishing Report.


that was Montrose harbor a week ago. The reality is that ice conditions in the Chicago harbors have been changing almost daily; and that will likely continue this week.

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


Fran Connelly in Des Plaines sharpens blades for augers. He can reached at Ice Auger Sharpening on Facebook or by calling (847) 297-8297.


Ice conditions vary widely. Use special caution around middles and current areas. This up-and-down weather has made them particularly dangerous or unsafe. However, I think the areas north and west will maintain or regain fishable ice, at least by later this week. To the south of Chicago might be a tougher call, varying lake by lake.

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.


There was enough water coming through I think the ice issue should be taken care of on the rivers. Not sure how many more than dedicated fishermen like Norm Minas will be plying the rivers at this point with high water and cold weather coming in. That's a tricky to dangerous situation.

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):  Strong bite for walleye, northern, crappie, and bluegill; all in
and amidst the lakes and the Wisconsin River in Wisconsin¹s Marathon and
Lincoln Counties (near Mosinee and Wausau).

Lots of cold weather in the central Wisconsin area has slowed down the
number of people fishing, but the action is still hot.

Good walleye bite in the central Wisconsin area during low light period and
after dark.  If you can handle the cold weather try running Frabill Thermal
tip ups baited with golden shiners or sucker minnows in shallow water from
5 to 8 feet deep. The tip ups cover the entire hold and them from freezing

Anglers in the central Wisconsin area who are looking for some hard fighting
fish through the ice will be pleasantly surprised that the northern bite is
still going strong.  Most of our action is coming on tips up baited with
large golden shiners or good sized sucker minnows.  Target depths of 3 to 8
feet for the most consistent action and keep your baits at least 18 to 24
inches off the bottom, and in some of the shallower water don't be afraid to
run your baits right under the ice.

Crappies in the central Wisconsin area have been going strong with good
catches from suspended fish in 12 to 16 feet of water.  We have been having
our best luck by running small tungsten jigs like the Northland Mooska and
the Gill Getter when tipped with an IPULSE mayfly or tape worm.

Bluegills in the central Wisconsin are have been quite active especially if
you can find good weeds or underwater structure like a brush pile or downed
trees.  The gills are holding tight to this type of structure and once you
find them they will readily bite on almost any presentation right now.  We
have been having our best luck in 6 to 10 feet of water and by using the
Northland Gill Getters in firetiger and orange tiger.


Staff at Triangle Sports and Marine reported good fishing for bluegill shallow on most lakes in the Chain area; same for crappie. On the Chain, best has been in the 6-foot range. Pike catches have been good too, especially since ice fishermen have been forced to stay shallow. Middles are extremely dangerous, stay away; that's one reason walleye fishing has been slow. Current areas are dangerous.

For more reports, see

More Chain info at

ACCESSING THE CHAIN: Here are some basic access points.

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).


MAZONIA: The site is open for fishing. Any ice fishing is at your own risk and I would suggest extreme caution. I did not get updated report yet after the big rains and winds overnight.


POWERTON LAKE: Shore fishing is open. Winter hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Boat fishing reopens Feb. 15.

EVERGREEN: The 2013 passes are available. Any updated fishing report from site staff will be posted here. New passes are out.


Access for ice fishing at Nielsen's Channel at Port Barrington is at Hermann's Lowlife Bar & Grill.

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


From the Wisconsin DNR fishing report:

Green Bay Fishing Report: January 28, 2013
Brown Co.
Fishing pressure was light during the week when the wind chills were below zero. With the rise in temperatures this weekend, fishermen were out in force. Fishermen at Voyageur Park were catching perch and walleye, with the parking lot full of cars. Many people were jigging with minnows for walleye and perch. Some success was being had, but interviews were few, due in part to the warm weather. Sunset Beach boasted 40 plus vehicles at the landing with most people fishing for pike and perch; tip ups with shiners for northern, and jigs and small minnows for perch.
East Shore
The beginning of the week was very cold with few fishermen. The temperature picked up towards the end of the week into the weekend with snow showers on Sunday. The snow fall made it difficult to make out the ice conditions, but overall it looked rough throughout the shore. In Sawyer Harbor though the ice was very flat and a fishermen reported about getting 10 inches of ice throughout the last week. More Shanties appeared on the ice towards the end of the week into the weekend on Little Sturgeon.
Lime Kiln Road: By Lime Kiln Road, there was an open patch of ice a few hundred yards off shore and the ice looked very rough with multiple ice shelves. There were only a few fishermen out, fishing about 50-100 yards away from shore. A few fishermen caught and kept Whitefish, having about their limits.
Little Sturgeon Bay: Up by Little Sturgeon, the ice looked rough and there were a few fishermen looking for Whitefish. Fishermen were also catching Whitefish off of Riley Bay Road with a guided tour, getting about their limits as well. Whitefish were ranging from about 12 inches to 18 inches.
Sawyer Harbor: In Sawyer Harbor, a fishermen was looking for Perch and caught his limit but only kept 1. It was about 8 inches. At Cabot's point, there were a few fishermen getting close to their limits of Perch using minnows and wax worms.
Birmingham's: At Birmingham's, fishermen would park on the ice close to shore and bring their shanties out by ATV/snowmobile. Some even brought their shanties up by Stone Quarry.
Bullhead Point and Bay View Park: Bullhead Point and Bay View park were very busy over the weekend. At Bay View park was all recreation, using dirt bikes and snowmobiles, while over at Bullhead Point it was all fishermen.
High Cliff: At High Cliff, fishermen were showing up just after dark to start Walleye fishing.
Oconto Co.
Fishing pressure was light during the week when the wind chills were below zero. With the rise in temperatures this weekend, fishermen were out in force. Fishermen at Geano Beach were fishing mainly for whitefish and perch; most were setting up about 2 miles south of the landing. Oconto Breakwater Park saw some whitefish being caught close to the mouth of the Oconto River. Some small perch are also being caught along with some nice pike.


Streams are high and muddy, but the hope is the water and flow will bring in fresh steelhead; we shall see. Click here for the Indiana DNR's map of Trail Creek access.


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


Harbor ice was thinning or opening Tuesday. It will likely rebuild some later in the week, but there is no guarantee. Those fishing holes or punching holes in the ice from piers are catching perch, but it takes sorting for keepers, according to Henry's. The river around 92nd and 95th continues to produce perch, but it takes sorting for keepers.

CHICAGO PIER PASSES: Good time to remember 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.


Some are starting to get out for the deep perch on Mendota. Gene Dellinger at D&S Bait reported ice is OK; crappie are good on Waubesa; there's perch on Kegonsa and Monona (in 30 feet); a few perch are being caught in the deep water on Mendota; and some crappie on Cherokee Marsh.


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

Even though a lot of anglers took advantage of the weekend to fish, the fish didn't exactly seem as eager to cooperate.  A lot of mixed reports from this past weekend, with more poor reports than good.  Ice has thickened up nicely following the big chill.  Most lakes reporting 14-16"+.  Snowfall this past week put a fresh 6" on the ice, but travel is still excellent. 
Crappies:  Fair.  Most days very negative.  Anglers were picking up very few on minnow with tip-downs.  Best to finesse them using $8 or #10 rockers tipped with plastic (red, purple best) or #8 - #10 moon glos tipped with Chena.  Still good numbers of fish in weeds (according to cameras) just weren't biting real well.  Deep water anglers along breaks of 18-26' doing best with rosies. 
Perch:  Fair-Good.  Some limited deep water action over mud of 18-24'.  These fish feeding on bloodworms by rooting through mud, but willing on good days to rise 5-6' off bottom to hit #2 pimples, flickers, hali and#5 Fiska jigs tipped with either red spikes, wigglers or red Impulse plastics.  Don't be surprised when the "hot" bite suddenly shuts off!  Happened a lot last week.
Northern:  Fair.  While a few good reports came in from anglers working for pike in the morning, most agreed fishing was slow.  Some nice fish of 26-32", but not many.
Walleye:  Poor-Fair.  Actually improved by Sunday evening.  Deeper water of 17-25', but bite sporadic.  Suckers outdoing shiners lately - typical of deep bites.
Bluegill:  Poor - Fair.  Improved by Sunday.  This fish buried in deeper, thicker weeds.  Finesse with small tungsten jig and single spike or waxie in 7-10'.
It was a surprisingly tough bite this past weekend.  Anglers watched fish on locators rise to the bait, but refuse to bite.  A few windows of opportunity for gamefish, then nothing.   Fish have to eat, so fishing can only improve from here.
Kurt Justice
Kurt's Island Sport Shop

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

(Head):  Northern and panfish action is good to excellent, with walleye a
solid good bite. All in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area.

Ice conditions have improved greatly in the Eagle River area.  Ice thickness
ranges from 8 to 14 inches, and travel on the ice is good.  ATV's and
snowmobiles are just fine to use, and a number of anglers are using trucks.
Some guides however will NOT use their trucks on the ice right now.  Caution
of course is strongly urged, and better be safe than sorry.  If experienced
Eagle River guides won't use trucks, you should take that very seriously
when making your plans.

Walleye in the Eagle River area are in 10-40 feet of water off of break
edges or adjacent mud flats. Use a medium shiner or walleye sucker under a
tip up; or you can try a jigging spoon with a minnow head.  Both methods are
working.  The walleye are tight to bottom.  All day bite with peaks at
sunset. Action is a solid "good."

Northern in the Eagle River area are in 15 feet of water or less in and
around weeds.  Use a large shiner or sucker minnow under a tip up, or try a
#9 Jigging Rap.  All day bite. Good to excellent action.

Panfish (crappies, bluegills and perch) are in 10-30 feet of water off of
break edges, but the best action is over mud flats.  Perch are tight to
bottom, with crappies and bluegills suspending up and down the ate column.
Use a spike, wiggler or waxie under a small jig or slip bobber. Good to
excellent action.  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:; 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.


Ice is not safe, whether it comes back by the weekend remains to be seen. Otherwise, boaters are waiting to try for brown trout and whitefish, if the harbor ice opens up enough, according to the guys at Mik-Lurch.


Click here to check if there is an updated Root River Fishing Report from the Wisconsin DNR. There probably will not be until spring.


Rockfest is scheduled for Saturday. There had been some solid crappie fishing, but use caution in that middle area, which geese had been keeping open. Check status and reports at


From Lake Michigan Fishing Report from the Wisconsin DNR: Southern Lake Michigan Fishing Report: January 28, 2013
Kenosha Co.
Report will be updated after the return of the open water creel survey season in mid-March.
Racine Co.
In the Racine harbor ice fishing has been slow recently, but a mix of browns, rainbows, and northerns have all been caught. Spawn sacs and shiners have taken the majority of fish.
Milwaukee Co.
Fishing in Milwaukee recently has been rather slow. Conditions have been changing daily at Riverfront Ramp and on the Milwaukee River under the Hoan bridge. Ice floes have been moving through the area, but the river mouth is currently clear. That may change in the next few days as we go from unseasonably warm temperatures to lows back down in the single digits. When boats have been able to get out in the harbor, brown trout have been biting. There is fishable open water on the Menomonee River near the MMSD office, but fishing there has been fairly slow.
Ozaukee Co.
Fishing in Port Washington has been slow overall with only a few browns and rainbows being caught by shore anglers fishing off of the Rotary Park rocks or the white railing area. The power plant discharge has also given up a few small browns; spawn sacs fished near bottom or casting bright colored crankbaits have worked best.
Sheboygan Co.
In Sheboygan ice anglers have been in the marina, however brown trout and steelhead fishing has been spotty. The lower Sheboygan River has stretches of open water


Tyler Harmon messaged:

Steelhead and walleye still being caught in the rivers. Ice fishing was good the past week, but many main lakes still do not have safe ice. Due to warm temperatures and more rain I would advise people stay off all ice again until things cool back down latter this week.



Water Dog Journal
Fishing Headquarters


Click here



Click here


Click here


Click here


Click here


No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL:

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on January 30, 2013 6:30 AM.

In memory: Obit for Russ Schaller was the previous entry in this blog.

Stray Cast: Media day & bottom trawl is the next entry in this blog.

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