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Midwest Fishing Report: Rivers and lakes around Chicago fishing

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The return of ice fishing area wide 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.

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


There's three planned ice events, that, as far as I know, are still a go from the northwest suburbs to northwest Indiana.

WALK ON WATER CHARITY ICE FISHING DERBY: As of Tuesday, it is a go on Bangs Lake in Wauconda. Online registration and info is at Brent Beckwith messaged, ``We plan on moving forward with it, we will limit where people can fish and most likely no machines will be used on the ice.''

Here are the details:

On Saturday, January 26, 2013, the Andrea Lynn Cancer Fund (ALCF) is scheduled to host the 9th Annual WALK ON WATER Charity Ice Fishing Derby on Bangs Lake in Wauconda, Illinois.
WOW is an avenue to introduce or at times re-introduce the sport of ice fishing to everyone. We encourage first timers as well as seasoned fisherman. The day of the event there will be FREE Ice clinics for the youngsters and beginning ice fishermen. We ask that an adult accompany their children during the instruction. This will offer an opportunity for not only the young people to learn and have fun, but you may just learn something as well. The clinics will be a first-come first-served basis and the groups will be a maximum of 25 individuals.

NOTE: Our number one priority for this event is safety. Should ice conditions and/or weather forecasts prohibit us from hosting the event, there is a "rain date" of February 16, 2013.

100 percent of the proceeds from the event including entry fee, raffle ticket sales or other donations will be submitted to Andrea Lynn Cancer Fund. 
Cans will also be collected for the Wauconda food pantry. If you bring in cans, you will receive a raffle ticket to any number of excellent prizes donated by the sponsors.
Adults $20. Children 12 and under are free. 
To Register: 

The Andrea Lynn Cancer Fund is making a difference every day in the lives of people touched by cancer. Your contributions help fund our programs of support as well as help the American Cancer Society with research, education, advocacy, and service, which are leading us toward our ultimate goal--the elimination of cancer.

WINTERFEST ICE FISHING DERBY: It is 6 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday

Here is the word from Facebook; and Mike Sutton posted that it is on:

The Winterfest Ice Fishing Derby is co-sponsored by Rotary, LaPorte City Park Dept and IU Health LaPorte Hospital, Friends of Fishing as well as several fishing product suppliers. 

Pre-registration is anytime before 1/26 at the LaPorte Parks Office for $10 adults and $5 youth. Day of event registration is $15 for adults and $7/youth at Cummings Lodge. 

Rotary will be selling "chili" from 11am-4pm for $6/adult and $4/youth. $2 discount to our registered fisherman. 

Grand Prize is a Vexilar FL-12!!! 

For more information contact Mike Sutton at 219-510-3193


 Ice Fishing Derby
Porter County Conservation Club
Saturday January 26, 2013
Make-up Date Saturday February 2, 2013
6:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Check back for update on Ice conditions
5th annual ice fishing contest
Signup starts at 5:30 AM in the club house
$10 per Adult and $5 per child under 12
CASH prizes will be awarded for largest Bass, Crappie, Bluegill, Redear, Catfish and Perch
Ongoing raffles and prizes
320 N. 150 W Valparaiso, IN 46385
Located just west of Valpo on route 130, north of Creekside golf course
For more information and directions contact us at:
219-779-PCCC (7222)


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 and safe in many areas. We should be in a stretch of a couple weeks at least for 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.


Especially after the wind laid down Monday night, ice began building. Greg Dickson at Triangle Sports and Marine expects 9-12 inches of ice in spots by the weekend. As of Tuesday, better spots have been Petite, Pistakee, the south end of Channel and Loon; but that will be more widespread by later this week.

ACCESSING THE CHAIN: Access should be fairly widespread by the weekend, but again 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).

For more reports, see

More Chain info at


MAZONIA: The site is open. Any ice fishing is at your own risk and I would suggest extreme caution.


Brian Gates at Geneva Lake Bait and Tackle reported that the best bite is pike at Whitewater on frozen sardines. He said there's good pike action on Delavan, some bluegill on north side of island, some reports of walleye at night; some bluegill and crappie in 25-28 feet in Pleasant; some bass at the south ramp in Como. Ice fishing soon on Geneva.


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 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.


Click here for any updated fishing report from the Wisconsin DNR.


Unless some of the snow ends up being rain, I don't expect much. Click here for the Indiana DNR's map of Trail Creek access.


River is loading up with ice floes in many areas.

But Norm Minas did get out Monday and sent this:

Well the cold weather is bringing the ice back to the river. Some stretches just have ice along the shore in the slower stretches, others are flowing ice shore to shore and others have some shoreline ice with ice chunks flowing. The gauges are suspect due to the ice but the eyeball exam says it's about normal flow for this time of year. The only time I took the water temps it showed 32.4, why bother checking again, that's cold no matter how you slice it.
 Air temps were in the single digits, I heard on the radio wind chill was below zero. I know the wind was blowing hard enough to send large white caps upstream. It was cold enough that taking my hands out of the gloves to clean gunk off the lures and getting them wet made them ache. The line guides iced up just about every other cast and had to br cleaned. Other than that it was a beautiful day, for some reason I had the river to myself.
I tried jigs/plastic and jig/pigs on current seams with a variety of speeds. I let it bounce along with the current and dragged/let sit by using a little heavier jig. I didn't get any fish and after re tying 4 times with bare hands that was enough of that. I tried slow rolling and jigging single spins, no go. I tried rattlebaits, jerk baits and floating and suspending minnow baits, no fish on those. I gave the topwaters a go in the upstream whitecaps as that is a pattern that works at times, just not today.
 The only thing that worked was casting a glass shad rap downstream and bringing it upstream along the current seams. The only retrieve that worked was to slowly reel for a couple turns of the reel handle and let it hover and shimmy in the current for about a thirty count. Then start it again and repeat. When I felt it hit a large rock/boulder, I would drop the rod tip and let it slip back downstream. I would ease it forward with the rod tip until I hit the rock again. I would repeat that about 5 or 6 times and go on. Twice, while doing that, I felt a little something extra weight wise and set the hook. I only got two smallmouth bass but they were both in the 17 to 18 inch range. 
 Not a bad way to spend a day off work.

Maybe a little nuts, but not bad otherwise, indeed..


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


Best perch action is in the river at 92nd and 95th, according to Henry's Sports & Bait; the second best has been for those busting ice at Navy Pier. Ice is building in the harbors. Carl Vizzone did a tour of the Chicago harbors on Tuesday and reported only a couple fishermen out, then there was still a bit of open water on the west end at Navy Pier. That will have likely changed by this morning. I went by Burnham on Monday, nobody was fishing, and the ice (photo at the top) is very unsafe because of aerators the ice being broken. Other than fishing off the piers, I would avoid Burnham during ice.

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 Mendota iced over; a few walleye guys are venturing out by Governor's Island; it might be the weekend before deep-water fishing on the west side. There's some perch and good crappie on Waubesa (off the Bible Camp in 27-30 feet); good perch in Kegonsa's main basin in 26. NOTE: There's a Fisheree on Kegonsa on Saturday. So be aware. Click here for details.


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

Good Evening, the local fishing report from Kurt's Island Sports,
Brrrrrrr.... High of 10 below today, real winter!
The clipper that moved in late Saturday afternoon shut the playgrounds off for a while. Wind chills in the -30/40 degree range make being outdoors somewhat dangerous right now - though some anglers have gone out.
Crappies:  Good-Fair.  See above. Deep water fish less affected than shallow water weed fish. Plastics, (Northland bloodworms, scud bugs, Little Atom) Chena and spikes finessed in weeds (8-12') tip downs and rosies along transition zones in 18-25'.
Pike:  Good-Fair.  Very similar to the walleye activity. Peaked mid-week then slowed by Sunday. Fewer big pike over weekend through one mid-week party had 6 fish of 30-36" on big slab shiners.
Walleye:  Good-Fair.  Action picked then slowed as the week progressed. A few surprising reports from anglers finding eyes in 6-8' weeds. Deeper water (15-25' humps of gravel or sandgrass) proved more consistent. Suckers over shiners in all, but the shallow water bites.  
Perch:  Fair:  Some decent reports starting to come in from the deep as perch are being found rooting in the mud for mayfly larvae and bloodworms. Pimples, Halis and Flickers tipped with wigglers or red spikes best. Search flats of 14-18'.
Bluegill:  Fair-Poor:  Cold slowed bite and those willing to move about searching for fish. Tiny jigs (#14) on 1-2# test and single spike to lure reluctant fish.
Largemouth Bass:  Poor.  This species doesn't like to bite with temps this cold. Lots on cameras-no biters. .
Early to mid-week looks tough, cold should start to break by weeks end and temps in the 20's return by Sunday.
High winds brought in by clipper blew most of the snow off the lakes. Combined with sub-zero temps, ice production should be very good. Make sure to get cleats out, with no/little snow, things are very slippery.
Kurt Justice
Kurt's Island Sports


Ice is not safe to very iffy, reported Ed McCain at Mik-Lurch. Willow Slough still had some open water on Tuesday. Ice conditions should begin to improve from today forward. As noted above, ice fishing events for the weekend are a go as scheduled. I had a late report of a monster perch caught, no details yet.


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


The night of ice fishing, scheduled for Saturday, was canceled because of some open water. Check status and reports at I would expect more widespread ice fishing later this week.


Click here for any updated fishing report from the Lake Michigan Fishing Report from the Wisconsin DNR.


Tyler Harmon messaged:

Well should be able to venture out on many lakes ice fishing for the first time this season come this weekend. So long as the snow does not hurt the ice to much. As always still steelhead being caught in the rivers. Walleye fishing has been very slow.


There's lots of open water, but some crappie are being caught by ice fishermen in the corn channel, according to McCain.



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Tuesday, less wind, more ice, no fish.

I prefer dedicated my wife says crazy.

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on January 23, 2013 5:51 AM.

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