Ice conditions are firming up while some guys are already chasing coho on southern Lake Michigan and, oh, sturgeon spearing is going on the Lake Winnebago system to lead this Midwest Fishing Report.
This shanty symbolizes the varaible ice conditions. South of Chicago, this shanty had to be pulled off the ice before the rain. Farther north, Sunday's rain only made for sloppy conditions that have since refroze.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
WALK ON WATER
The rescheduled Walk on Water Charity Ice fishing Derby is 7 a.m.-noon Sunday on Bangs Lake in Wauconda. No motorized vehicles. All proceeds go to Andrea Lynn Cancer Fund. Click here for details.
Sturgeon spearing closed Tuesday on the upriver lakes of the Lake Winnebago system in Wisconsin when the cap was reached. Poor water clarity on Lake Winnebago makes a full 16-day season there likely.
ICE AUGER SHARPENING
Looks like ice fishing will be with some of us for awhile. 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 still vary, especially south of Chicago where some waters opened up over the weekend. In other words, use caution if considering ice fishing to the south. To the north, conditions are much better.
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 lcfpd.org.
MAZONIA SFWA: Monster Lake is open year-round for open-water or ice fishing. All ice fishing is done at your own risk.
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.
Not sure how many more than dedicated fishermen like Norm Minas will be plying the rivers.
For a general overview of nearby river conditions, click here.
To get to more specific gauges, even on creeks, in Illinois, click here.
BIG GREEN LAKE, WISCONSIN
For guide Mike Norton's report, go to www.nortonsfishingandhuntingadventures.com, then click on fishing, then lake report.
From licensed guide and trapper Phil Schweik and guide Glenn Moberg of Hooksetters Guide Service:
(Head): Great bite for walleye, northern panfish and catfish; all in and
amidst the lakes and the Wisconsin River in Wisconsin¹s Marathon and Lincoln
Counties (near Mosinee and Wausau).
With plenty of ice in the central Wisconsin area, many anglers are getting
out and searching new territory as the season progresses.
The walleye bite in the central Wisconsin area has been especially good
after dark. We are seeing our best action on golden shiners run about a
foot off the bottom in 3 to 6 feet of water.
Northerns have been really active this winter in the central Wisconsin area.
Most of our action has been by running large golden shiners or northern
sized sucker minnows on tip-ups in 6 to 12 feet of water. We are targeting
sharp breaking points that shoot out into deeper water. The real key to our
success has been finding where the sharpest break lines are. This seems to
be where the majority of the northerns are concentrated.
For anglers looking for action, the panfish bite in the central Wisconsin
area has been very good. We've been having very good success on all
species. The crappie bite has been the best with nice catches on every
trip. Most of these fish are suspended about 4 feet off the bottom in 12 to
16 feet of water. We are catching the crappies on Northland Fireball jigs
tipped with tiny plastics like the Impulse mayfly or tapeworm. The
bluegills have been active in the shallow weeds along with some larger fish
roaming the 10 foot flats. Use your electronics to locate scattered debris
and submerged wood on the bottom, and the gills will be there. In addition
to the nice crappies and gills we are seeing good numbers of perch as well.
Most of the perch that we are catching are incidental to the crappie and
bluegill fishing, but we are catching enough to make it worth our while to
start targeting them exclusively.
One last species that most people don't target during the winter, but has
been making a strong appearance in the central Wisconsin area has been
catfish. We have been having very good success on cats in the 20 to 30 inch
range this winter. And let me tell you when you hook into one of these
bottom feeders it is a battle you won't soon forget. Most of our action has
come from live bait run right near the bottom in the deeper water related
with the main river channel edges. Have a good rod, strong line, and get
ready for a fight.
CHAIN O'LAKES AREA/UPPER FOX RIVER
Greg Dickson at Triangle Sports and Marine reported that the slush layer refroze after Sunday's rain and access is improving. Should be a good week for ice fishing.
Steve Harrington of Ingleside caught the biggest fish, a 40 1/8-inch flathead, at the Northern Illinois Conservation Club's Fishing Derby; Steve Schmidt of Fox Lake caught the longest pike (29 1/8); no walleye were entered, other species were decently represented. Click here for the complete list of winners.
For more reports, see http://www.foxlakefishing.com/
More Chain info at www.foxwaterway.state.il.us.
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).
COOLING LAKES/STRIP PITS
MAZONIA: The site is open for fishing. Any ice fishing is at your own risk. BRAIDWOOD: Reopens to fishing on March 1. LaSALLE: Opens to fishing on March 15, details and hours yet to be finalized. HEIDECKE: Opens to fishing on April 1.
DELAVAN/LAKE GENEVA AREA, WISCONSIN
Brian Gates at Geneva Lake Bait and Tackle reported a few perch by Stone Manor, bluegills on and off at the west end of Library Park on Geneva; ice is not good ``The Narrows'' and west. A few bass and pike being caught on Como, mainly smaller. On Delavan, bluegill, crappie, pike and walleye (toward dark) on the west end; some deep water perch west of the launch. Pleasant has on and off bluegill. There's perch reports (20-30 feet) on Turtle.
U:PDATED: POWERTON LAKE: Boat fishing opens Friday. Shore fishing is open. Winter hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Just got a note and a call that Powerton will be closed to all fishing from Monday, Feb. 18-April 7 for levee work. UPDATED
EVERGREEN: The 2013 passes are available. Any updated fishing report from site staff will be posted here.
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.
GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN
Green Bay Fishing Report: February 11, 2013
Weather played a big factor in last week's fishing pressure and success. Last week's snow storm made some landing usable only to 4 wheel drives and 4 wheelers. Most fishermen on the Bay are reporting around a foot of ice, but cracks and shoves are numerous. Voyageur Park fishermen are reporting catching some whitefish, walleye and perch jigging with minnows or wax worms in front of the park. Sunset Beach fishermen have been having luck with perch and northern pike, with mornings and late afternoon being the best time to pursue their quarry. Jigging with minnows or wax worms have worked well.
The weather this week has been good with temperatures in the mid 20-30's. The ice along the East shore of the bay from Volk's Landing up to Little Harbor is in good condition, ranging from about 12-16 inches, and Birmingham's fishermen are reporting about 19-20 inches of ice. The overall fishing pressure was moderate this week with a few places being more busy than others. Over the weekend, most shanties have been moved out far from shore with the majority of fishermen driving out on to the ice.
Little Sturgeon Bay: On Little Sturgeon Bay, the most busy places were Lime Kiln Rd, Big Rock Place, and Sand Bay Resort. At Wood Lane and Carmody's Landing, a few fishermen were looking for Perch using minnows but did not have much luck. A few whitefish were also caught using minnows, but numbers were low. At Lime Kiln road at the beginning of the week, fishermen were targeting Whitefish. Numbers were not high, but they were catching them in about 10 feet of water using minnows. At Big Rock Place it was very busy with fishermen targeting Whitefish. Whitefish numbers were high with fishermen catching their limits in about 10 feet of water using wax worms and minnows for bait.
Bay Shore Park: At Bayshore Park, it was very busy with fishermen targeting Whitefish using wax worms in about 10-16 feet of water. Numbers were not very high.
Volk's Landing: At Volk's Landing, fishermen were looking for Whitefish using wax worms and Swedish Pimples. Numbers were low for Whitefish.
Red River: At Red River, fishermen were looking for Whitefish while jigging with wax worms in about 8 feet of water with no luck. A fisherman was reporting that lots of people were moving around on the ice due to not catching much.
Dykesville: At Dykesville, fishermen were going straight out onto the ice or heading more south towards Bayshore Park. Fishermen were looking for Perch and catching small numbers of them on wax worms.
Birmingham's: At Birmingham's, there were a few fishermen looking for Perch and catching low numbers of them on minnows in about 30 feet of water.
Sturgeon Bay: At the Sturgeon Bay Yacht club, more close by the Water Treatment Plant, there were a few fishermen looking for Northern Pike using Lake Shiners for bait in about 18 feet of water. Nothing was caught. The ice is open by the docks still, and a few fishermen are on the ice close to the open water. At Pot. Park fishermen were targeting Perch and caught moderate numbers, and a Whitefish was caught. They used wax worms and minnows for bait in about 10-12 feet of water.
Weather played a big factor in last week's fishing pressure and success. Last week's snow storm made some landing usable only to 4 wheel drives and 4 wheelers. Most fishermen on the Bay are reporting around a foot of ice, but cracks and shoves are numerous. Geano Beach fishermen are reporting whitefish being caught south of the landing on top of the reef in 3 to 5 feet of water jigging with a variety of spoons and lures tipped with minnows or wax worms. Closer to shore pike are on the menu, being fished with tip ups using dead smelt fished on bottom or large shiner minnows suspended. Whitefish and pike are being caught all along the West Shore of Green Bay from Pensaukee landing to Oconto Parks with the same techniques being used.
Weather played a big factor in last week's fishing pressure and success. Last week's snow storm made some landing usable only to 4 wheel drives and 4 wheelers. Most fishermen on the Bay are reporting around a foot of ice, but cracks and shoves are numerous. Most of the fishermen from Oconto Park II to the mouth of the Menominee River are fishing for pike with some good success. Pike are running in the 25 to 39 inch range and are being caught with large shiner minnows and dead smelt in the round; 3 to 8 feet of water has been the most conducive depths. Walleye are still being pursued and caught below the Dam at Hattie Street. Panfish are being caught in the slough by the Mystery Ship Landing and by the Harbor Town Marina.
Some steelhead are in and some fresh ones came in with the rain. Click here for the Indiana DNR's map of Trail Creek access.
River is up slightly, but mainly ice free (that could change some by the weekend). Norm Minas has been out a few times recently. He had a decent winter outing on Saturday and sent this (note before Sunday's rain):
River was dropping, ice not an issue, temps mid 30's, stained to off color. The weather while not real cold still had some nip.
It was jigs/plastic and nothing but jigs/plastic. Everything else got ignored. At one eddy, I got a smallmouth about 14-15 inches off the seam and one over 18 inches under a foam pile covering about a foot of water. In that eddy and two others, I got some real nice carp on the jigs in the heart of the eddy. I believe that larger carp eat a lot more minnows/small fish than a lot of folks think I got one pike on the jig at the downstream side of a riffle off to the side where the water was a little slower. I also got a nice channel cat on the outside seam and downstream corner of an eddy.
LAKE ERIE: PORT CLINTON
For Ohio DNR report go to wildohio.com and or call (888) HOOKFISH.
Harbor ice conditions are in flux. At Navy Pier, Saturday afternoon was a bonanza for big perch (10-11 inches). Arden Katz said best was busting holes in the ice from the pier. He jigged with a Hali-type spoon, but those fishing a weight and two-hook setup with shrimp did better.
CHICAGO PIER PASSES: Good time to remember the $6 pier passes for Chicago harbors, except 31st, are available atHenry's Sports & Bait.
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.
MADISON CHAIN, WISCONSIN
Gene Dellinger at D&S Bait reported they are catching perch in deep water water 60-65 feet on Mendota. There's still some decent crappie on Waubesa in 30-32 feet. Access and ice conditions are OK.
MINOCQUA: Kurt Justice of Kurt's Island Sport Shop sent this:
With just three weekends left to the gamefish season, things have been rather bleak lately. Flags have not been flying and those that like to jig are having an even tougher time with fish being so negative.
Panfishing has also been off as of late. A few good reports from out of the way lakes, but overall the standard mid-winter bites have been worse than usual.
Crappies: Fair. Searching deep water is best for nice catches of larger crappies - for now the weed fish seem smaller and very reluctant to bite. Deep crappies (17-30') relating to transition areas of mud/gravel edges taking rosies on tip-downs and waxies, wigglers on glow tear-drop and Fiska jigs.
Pike: Fair. Action slower than last week. One 15#er reported amidst mostly smaller fish. Stick to big golden or river shiners for flash.
Perch: Fair. Not the usual deep bites at the usual places. When located, wigglers and red spikes over mud flats in 20-30'. A recent report from a father/son team found nice 9-10" perch back up in 8' weed pockets taking gobs of waxies on darts.
Bluegill: Poor-fair. Few reports, mostly smaller fish. Cameras revealing larger fish (7-8+") in deeper weeds of 8-12', but tight lipped. Some sandgrass areas of very clear lakes holding gills in 17-20'.
Walleye: Poor. Worst week of the season. Few flags and fewer fish. What little action occurring along weed edges of 10-14' from 4:30 to 6:30 pm.
Been saying for weeks now - it's got to get better. New snow this past week great for snowmobilers - making travel a bit tougher for anglers. Slush starting to show up under snow, but overall access still good for truck travel.
Kurt's Island Sport Shop
EAGLE RIVER: On Sunday, Creative Brilliance sent this update for the Chamber of Commerce:
(Head): Walleye and panfish action good to excellent, with northern good,
all in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area.
There is 18-24 inches of ice in the Eagle River area. ATV's, snowmobiles
and trucks all being used. Travel is just fair, because of the snow cover.
Use caution, and try to stay on tracked trails. Caution is still a
watchword, and your best bet for safety and getting lots of fish is to hire
one of Eagle River's excellent guides. They know the area. They know the
"hot spots," and they know where NOT TO GO, when it comes to safety.
Walleye in the Eagle River area are locating in 12-35 feet off of break
edges or adjacent mud flats. Use a medium shiner or walleye sucker under a
tip-up, or try a jigging spoon tipped with a minnow head. The walleye are
tight to bottom. All day bite with peaks in the evening. Action is good to
Panfish in the Eagle River area are in 12-35 feet of water off of break
edges or adjacent mud flats. Crappies and bluegills are suspending up and
down the water column (use your electronics to determine the depth where the
fish are locating on any given day, as it varies). The perch are tight to
bottom. Use a waxie, spike, wiggler or crappie minnow on a small jig or
under a slip bobber. All day bite. Action is good to excellent.
Northern in the Eagle River area are in 12 feet of water or less in and
around the remaining weeds. Use a medium to large shiner or sucker minnow
under a tip up, or try a jigging spoon or jigging Rapala. All day bite.
Action is 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:
email@example.com; web: www.eagleriver.org
* "Muskie Matt", 715-891-5980; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
* Mat Hegy, 715-571-7544, e-mail: email@example.com
* Guide's Choice Pro Shop, guide/owner "Ranger Rick" Krueger 715-477-2248
* George Langley, Eagle River Fishing Guides Association, 715-479-8804.
Mike Starcevich at Mik-Lurch texted Tuesday that cohos and browns are in at Gary Light; a few caught from shore of Hammond and East Chicago marinas. Ice floes will determine access.
ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN
Click here to check if there is an updated Root River Fishing Report from the Wisconsin DNR. There probably will not be until spring.
There's a night of ice fishing Saturday. This weekend is Lakeside's first on-the-ice contest for crappie and bluegill. Ice fishing is underway with the best being crappie and catfish. Watch the middle where geese had been keeping it open. Check updates on the weekend's activities, ice status and reports at shabbonalake.com.
SOUTHEAST WISCONSIN LAKEFRONT
Arden Katz reported good ice, but fair whitefish and trout on tube jigs or Gulp! Minnows at Milwaukee.
From Lake Michigan Fishing Report from the Wisconsin DNR:
Southern Lake Michigan Fishing Report: February 12, 2013
Report will be updated after the return of the open water creel survey season in mid-March.
In the Racine harbor the water is fairly turbid, and ice fishing has been slow recently. A few browns and rainbows have been caught on spawn sacs and shiners. The Root River has some open water below the Horlick dam and into Quarry Lake Park, but water levels are currently high.
In Milwaukee ice anglers have been fishing the harbors at McKinley Marina and South Shore Park, as well as the lagoon at Lakeshore State Park. Water clarity has been relatively poor, and success has been hit-or-miss for brown trout and steelhead. There is fishable open water on the Menomonee River near the MMSD office, but fishing there has been fairly slow. Conditions have been changing daily at Riverfront Ramp and on the Milwaukee River under the Hoan bridge. The lower river is currently free of ice. When boats have been able to get out in the harbor, brown trout have been biting.
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.
In Sheboygan ice anglers have been in the marina, however brown trout and steelhead fishing has been spotty. The harbor water is murky, making fishing difficult. The Sheboygan River near 8th Street is frozen over, but there are areas of open water towards the river mouth.
SOUTHWEST WISCONSIN LAKEFRONT
Tyler Harmon messaged:
Well Steelhead action on the river has been steady and consistent. Shore anglers are catching fish drift fishing and bouncing spawn bags. Boat anglers are catching fish with spawn under floats and bottom bouncing. Pier action has been slow quite a bit of ice, but still should be some whitefish around for people who put in there time. Most main lakes still do not have safe ice in the lower part of Southwest Michigan. Channels have the safest ice.
CHICAGO AREA CHAT/REPORTS
Water Dog Journal
CHICAGO AREA INFO
MICHIGAN DNR REPORT
WISCONSIN DNR REPORT
IOWA DNR REPORT
INDIANA DNR REPORT