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Midwest Fishing Report: Rivers and lakes around Chicago fishing

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Welcome to Round 2 of ice fishing, rebuilding ice leads this Midwest Fishing Report.


Photo above is from Round 1 of the first hole on New Year's Eve.

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


Here is the first graph explanation from the Wisconsin DNR:

MADISON - Pull up a pail and help family and friends discover that ice is nice when it comes to fishing in Wisconsin -- doubly so when the fishing is free.
Wisconsin's first winter Free Fishing Weekend is set for Jan. 19 and 20. Residents and nonresidents alike can fish anywhere in Wisconsin for free. No licenses or trout stamps are needed. This includes all inland waters and Wisconsin's side of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River.

My goodness, it is good to hear an official agency actually sound like ice and ice fishing is something good rather than something to be feared and warned about.


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 is rebuilding. Barring too much of a warm-up, it should be a good weekend.

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

Solid ice on central Wisconsin waters is making for great fishing for all

The walleye bite in the central Wisconsin area has been very good, with nice
catches of fish coming from local backwater areas in 4 to 7 feet of water.
Most of the walleyes are coming on tip ups baited with golden shiners early
and late in the day.

Northerns have been tearing it up in the central Wisconsin area, and we have
seen some really nice fish.  Most of our action is taking place in 4 to 8
feet of water while running out tip ups baited with large golden shiners and
medium sized (4 to 6 inches) sucker minnows.  The key to having a great day
over an average one is keeping your bait suspended well above the bottom.
On most of our outings we are running our baits several feet off the bottom
and in some instances even right under the ice.

Crappie action is outstanding right now in the central Wisconsin area and
catching a pail full of slabs is not out of the question.  Tip downs baited
up with tiny crappie sized minnows or jigging with tiny ice jigs like the
Northland Mooska are working very well.  Target depths of 12 to 18 feet and
use your flasher unit to locate and work suspended fish.

For you anglers targeting bluegills in the central Wisconsin area, the bite
has been very good especially on the large 8+ inch gills.  Most of our
action is still coming from shallow weeds in 3 to 5 feet of water, but we
are now seeing a few fish drifting onto the deeper shelves and adjacent

We have been seeing some action for perch in the central Wisconsin area, and
although it has not been limits, we are getting good numbers of some decent
sized fish.  Most of the action is coming from 10 to 14 feet of water while
jigging tiny spoons and jigging Rapalas right near the bottom..


Ice fishermen accessing some lakes, but with caution, around shoreline areas. There is a lot of open water. Most shoreline anglers are catching bluegill, south end of Channel is good, on ice jigs and spikes or wax worms, according to staff at Triangle. Some good pike along shoreline on roaches 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: The site is open to fishing. However, the ice is nowhere near safe. Any future ice fishing is at your own risk.


Brian Gates at Geneva Lake Bait and Tackle reported no ATVs or big shanties on Delavan as of Tuesday, but ice fishing in front of the launch and some big bluegills north of the island; there's some good largemouth on the east end of Como; some good bluegills on Turtle; Geneva just iced over.


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


Access for 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 Lake Michigan Fishing Report:

Green Bay Fishing Report: January 14, 2013
Brown Co.
Fishing pressure was light this past week, rain and windy conditions made for less than ideal ice. Fishermen at Voyageur Park are reporting about 4 inches of ice on the Fox River. Whitefish, perch, and walleye are being taken. Jigging with wax worms and minnows has been working well. Fishermen at Sunset Beach have been targeting perch and pike. Fishing has been a bit slow.
Oconto Co.
Fishing pressure was light this past week, rain and windy conditions made for less than ideal ice. People have been walking out on the ice from Geano Beach in search of pike and whitefish; catch information is hard to come by due to a lack of interviews. Fishermen at Oconto Breakwater are fishing in the river channel for perch (which are running small), pike and whitefish.
Marinette Co.
Fishing pressure was light this past week, rain and windy conditions made for less than ideal ice. Ice thickness is still an issue on the Menominee River. Most fishermen are congregated below the Hattie Street Dam in search of walleye. Low light periods have the best, jigging with minnows. A few open water fishermen around Stephenson Island have been fly rodding for trout with little success.


Haven't heard much on steelhead. Click here for the Indiana DNR's map of Trail Creek access.


River is up, would expect some ice floes to reform again.

Norm Minas sent this on his Saturday outing:

The river was rising, cold and off color. While the colder air hadn't quite made it here you could feel it coming. I hit an inflow with cranks, rattlebaits and jigs, nothing to show for it. I hit a slackwater area with a rattlebait, got two medium sized smallmouth out on the seam. I worked the rest of the area with the rattlebait and jigs but the fish weren't interested. I moved to hit a riffle/channel area and was disgusted by the amount of garbage at the access point. I pulled out one of the big bags I use for river cleanup that reside in the trunk and just about filled it. I got a few casts in after that but no fish and it was time for work.


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


Harbors are icing up, nowhere near safe. Arden Katz reported decent perch at Navy Pier (best) and Diversey, but it takes sorting. There's some perch at Montrose, and a few are trying casting for browns. Henry's Sports & Bait reported perch, take 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 Waubesa (perch and crappie in 25 feet and deeper) and Kegonsa (perch) with crappie and bluegill being caught on Monona Bay and Cherokee Marsh. Mendota is covering with ice, getting close.


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

Following a mild week of temps with no gains in ice thickness, real cold has moved in to start building some safer ice.
Crappies: Good-Very good. Still a very good bite in areas of 8-12' over curly leaf cabbage using rosies on tip-downs and slow dropping jigs with spikes , Chena or plastics. Bros Bloodworms have been especially hot in purple, pink and red. Also anglers finding big crappies in deeper water (18-30') using rosie reds on tip-downs.
Pike: Good. Action slowed from previous weeks with arrival of cold. Best choices for large fish using Large Shiners. Nice pike to 34" this week on Slab Shiners. Action pike (less than 25") stick to large or medium shiners.
Walleye: Good. Cold and high pressure led to slower action and less fishing pressure, but still good. As ice thickness, access to more off shore areas will open. Big fish to 28" this week after dark jigging raps, slender spoons over off shore humps topping at 18-25'.
Perch: Fair-good. Action starting to pick up along deeper weeds at 8-12'. Minnows, waxies on small spoons (pimples, vinglas, slender spoons) good choice in weed areas. Mud bite just starting in 16-22', wigglers, red spikes on #2 pimples, Hali jigs best.
Bluegill: Fair. Cold and wind slowed anglers ability to hole hop. Typical to down size in these conditions #12 darts, moon glows in purple, black, blue with single spike best.
Largemouth Bass: Fair. Action slowed as typical with colder weather. Best action on warming days over 20 degrees.
The cold (below 0 at night, single digit mornings) will build ice and improve traveling conditions. Very little snow on top of ice making conditions slippery - wear your cleats.
Slow down in fishing action is expected with cold and high pressure, but more ice will be welcome.

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
fair.  All in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area.

The ice in the Eagle River area seems to be holding at between 5 to 8
inches.  Warm winds and rising temps will herald using extreme caution,
regardless of the generally thicker ice.  Foot travel is still excellent,
with some anglers getting out on ATV's, but extreme caution is necessary.
Unless you know a specific lake inside-and-out, your best bet is to hire one
of Eagle River's excellent guides, who will know where the fish are, and
where it's safe to fish.

Northern in the Eagle River area are in 10 feet of water or less in and
around the remaining weeds.  Use a medium to large shiner or sucker minnow
on a tip-up.  Set your bait high in the water column for best results.  All
day bite, with good to excellent action.

Panfish (crappies, bluegills and perch) in the Eagle River area are in 10-30
feet of water off of break edges or adjacent mudflats.  The perch will be
tight to bottom, with the crappies and gills suspending anywhere in the
water column.  Use electronics to locate the depth the fish are locating at,
as the depth may change daily, and even a slight deviation from the previous
day, higher or lower in the water column, will have a distinct impact on how
successful you'll be. Use a spike, waxie or crappie minnow under a small jig
or slip bobber.  All day bite, with good to excellent action.

Walleye in the Eagle River area are locating tight to bottom in 10-30 feet
of water off of break edges and adjacent mudflats.  Use a small to medium
shiner or sucker minnow under a tip up, or a jigging spoon tipped with a
minnow head. Sporadic bite, with peaks in the evening.  Action is fair.

(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. Willow Slough just iced over Tuesday. It will be several days before ice fishing. Mik-Lurch reported some nice whitefish (small minnows and perch rigs) and browns at Gary Light last week during the nice weather.


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


A night of ice fishing is scheduled for Saturday, fishermen need to be out by 10 p.m. Lakeside plans its first ice-fishing catfish weekend. That could be interesting. Check status and reports at


From the Lake Michigan Fishing Report from the Wisconsin DNR:

Southern Lake Michigan Fishing Report: January 14, 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 and lower Root River, ice is not safe enough for foot travel. A few days or weeks of cold will be needed to improve conditions. Some of the open pockets in the river and around the marina docks are giving up a few brown trout and pike; minnows under a float or casting crankbaits and jigs and plastics have been the best presentations.
Milwaukee Co.
Fishing in Milwaukee recently has been rather slow. Some brown trout are being taken by both boat and shore anglers but not as many as previous weeks. The Summerfest Grounds and under the Hoan Bridge areas have been best for browns, and a few perch have been caught as well. There is no safe ice yet on the lagoon or marina; several more weeks of cold will be needed before there is fishable ice. Boat anglers, when able to get out, were also seeing slower action with only a few browns and steelhead being taken early in the day. Most boat anglers were casting jigs and plastics or soaking minnows and spawn under a float. Shore fishermen were having luck using 3-way rigs off the bottom with small minnows or spawn; minnows under a bobber were also working along with casting crankbaits and spoons.
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 has worked best early or late in the day.
Sheboygan Co.
In Sheboygan fishing was slow with only few browns being caught off the docks in the marina. Minnows or spawn under a bobber has been best early in the day; colder weather will be needed before ice will be safe enough for fishing.


Tyler Harmon messaged:

Whitefish action was slow but constant off the piers, heard word of a few steelhead and browns as well out there up and down the coast. Steelhead fishing was fair for river fisherman, spawn is still out producing plugs.



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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on January 16, 2013 6:09 AM.

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