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Midwest Fishing Report: Lakes and rivers around Chicago fishing

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Again a variety of changing and variable ice conditions lead this Midwest Fishing Report.


Bill Wehrman caught five bluegill and five crappie weighing 4.15 pounds to top 32 entries in Lakeside's first crappie/bluegill weekend on ice at Shabbona Lake.

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


Sturgeon spearing likely will go the full 16-day season on Lake Winnebago.


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 again some ponds and lakes opened up again completely on Monday. In other words, use caution if considering ice fishing to the south. To the north, conditions are much better, even good in spots.

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, other lakes are open now. Any 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.


I started some early reports on river fishing, probably two weeks early, but it is getting close.

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, aggressive bite for northerns and panfish, with very good
night bite,for walleyes, with daytime bite picking up, as well;  all in and
amidst the lakes and the Wisconsin River in Wisconsin¹s Marathon and Lincoln
Counties (near Mosinee and Wausau).

I you are after good sized northerns, they have been very aggressive in the
central Wisconsin area.  Lots of action from fish in the  25 to 34 inch
range, with a few upper 30 to 40 inch fish as well.  These fish provide a
great fight and are a lot of fun to catch.  Most of the northerns we are
catching are in 4 to 10 feet of water associated with the outside weed edges
and sharp break lines. The thicker the weeds or the sharper the break, the
more northerns you'll find.

Action is very good for all species of panfish in the central Wisconsin

The crappies have been very aggressive.  They are suspended in 10 to 16 feet
of water about 2 to 4 feet off the bottom.  Use your electronics to find
them and then run plastics or tiny jigs like the Northland IMPULS mayflat
and tapeworm in red and orange to pick up the aggressive feeders.

The bluegills have also been on a tear and have been feeding rather heavily
on small teardrop ice jigs that have been tipped with wax worms.  Most of
the fish that we are finding are associated with deep wood or weeds. Find
the structure, and you will find the fish.

Perch have also been showing up and have been a nice addition to our
catches.  Most of the perch are in 14 to 18 feet of water holding tight to
the bottom.  We are running small forage minnows that have been tipped with
small minnow heads on the treble hook and banging them right off the bottom.

If it's walleyes that you're after the night bite has been very good in the
central Wisconsin area; but we are now seeing increased daytime action as
well.  Tip-ups west in 4 to 8 feet of water and baited up with a large
golden shiner or medium sized sucker minnow have been working well for us.


Triangle Sports and Marine staff reported excellent crappie on small minnows and glow jigs; good pike on large roaches shallow on most area lakes; bluegill are fair; walleye are fair, some being caught shallow on tip-ups or jigging Swedish Pimples. There's plenty of ice, but watch middles and current areas.

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. 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: Brian Gates at Geneva Lake Bait and Tackle said fishermen are doing well on bluegill and crappie, some pike, on the west end; perch (some good ones) in 30-40 feet from the launch to the west.

GENEVA: Gates said lots of lakers are being caught west of The Narrows, fair bluegill and pumpkinseed on west side of Geneva Bay. . . . Mike Matuk messaged:

Hi Dale, fished Fontana bay Sunday... Caught a lot of small perch in 37 feet and even got one in 53... Got a few 8-10 inchers... No flags all day in depths from 7-30ft...... Saw a 3 pound and 8-9 pound Laker a gentleman brought in, who said he caught them in 100 feet near the bottom... He was fishing over towards Conference Pt. Slow day... Ice was only 5 inches in Fontana

OTHER: Gates said Turtle is producing bluegill and crappie in 30 feet; some big largemouth (wall-hangers) from Whitewater; a few bass and pike on Como; and bluegill days and crappie at night on Pleasant.


We are getting close. Marcus Benesch sent a note that reports will resume shortly.


POWERTON LAKE: The cooling lake near Pekin will be closed to all fishing through April 7 for levee work.

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.


From the Wisconsin DNR fishing report:

Green Bay Fishing Report: February 18, 2013
Brown Co.
Ice conditions have improved due to the cold weather this past month, with most fishermen reporting between 12 and 18 inches of ice on Green Bay. Care should still be taken when venturing out because no ice is safe ice. The main emphasis for fishermen at Voyageur Park has been walleye. Fishing the low light periods have been best, with jig and minnow or jig and wax worms. Some perch and whitefish are also being caught. Perch are the species of choice at Sunset Beach in Suamico, jigging with minnows or wax worms. Fishermen report the bite has been sporadic with mornings being the best time to fish.
East Shore
This week was a little warmer overall and ice conditions continue to improve with about a 1 1/2 to 2 feet of ice along the east shore of the bay. The beginning of the week brought a lot of snow melting on the ice, creating lots of standing water on the ice. In some places fishermen were reporting having almost 11 inches of water on top of the ice. Some fishermen were moving their shanties around to better adjust to the melting conditions, but it did not slow them down.
Sugar Creek: Along the lower east side of the bay, fishing activity picked up as the week went on. At Sugar Creek, fishermen were targeting Whitefish with their numbers being moderate with a few getting their limits of fish. Only a few Perch were caught. They were fishing in about 30-35 feet of water using wax worms and minnows for bait.
Rites Cove: At Rites Cove, fishing activity was high with fishermen targeting Whitefish getting okay numbers. They were fishing in about 14 feet of water using minnows and wax worms for bait.
Red River: At Red River, fishermen were targeting Whitefish and Perch. Perch numbers were very low and so were Whitefish numbers. Swedish pimples, minnows, and wax worms were the main sources of bait. Some were even using large lake shiners for Perch with not having much luck. Fishermen were fishing in about 9 to 20 feet of water.
Bay Shore Park: At Bayshore Park, fishing activity was high with fishermen catching Perch and Whitefish. Both species of fish had low numbers. Some fishermen were using spoons for bait down to 15-20 feet of water, while other fishermen were using grubs, wax worms and minnows in about 10-15 feet of water.
Volk's Landing: At Volk's Landing, fishing activity was a little bit slower this week with fishermen looking for Whitefish. Numbers were low and they were using wax worms and Swedish pimples for bait in about 6-7 feet of water.
Dykesville: At Dyckesville, fishing activity was high and fishermen were targeting both Whitefish and Perch. Whitefish numbers were doing okay, with a few getting their limits for the day. Wax worms were the main bait in about 3-10 feet of water.
Sturgeon Bay: Up in Sturgeon Bay, for the beginning of the week it was slow and there was not much fishing activity going on. At Pot. Park, fishing activity was starting to pick up and there was a handful of fishermen at Bullhead Point. Over at the Yacht Club, the water is still open around the docks.
Oconto Co.
Ice conditions have improved due to the cold weather this past month, with most fishermen reporting between 12 and 18 inches of ice on Green Bay. Care should still be taken when venturing out because no ice is safe ice. Geano Beach fishermen have been keying on whitefish about three miles south of the landing. Jigs and wax worms have been working well. Whitefish are also being targeted at the mouth of the Oconto River with mornings and evenings being the best time to fish. Pike fishermen have been out in good numbers all along the Bay Shore from Pensaukee to Oconto Park II using dead smelt in the round fished on bottom or large shiner minnows. Most fish are being caught in 3 to 8 feet of water and the fish are running from 25 to the 36 inches in length.
Marinette Co.
Ice conditions have improved due to the cold weather this past month, with most fishermen reporting between 12 and 18 inches of ice on Green Bay. Care should still be taken when venturing out because no ice is safe ice. Fishermen are entering the Bay off Pond Road, fishing north of the mouth of the Peshtigo River for pike but are also catching some whitefish. Fishermen out of Little River are catching whitefish out at the Trout Bar. Walleye fishing below the Dam at Hattie Street has come to a temporary halt due to the break up of ice in the pocket below the Dam. This happened after the rain when the Dam was open, blowing the ice ice up onto itself and refreezing.


Time on the Water Outdoors reported some sauger and walleye were being caught in the deep holes before the cold front blew through Monday night.


There was some very good action on steelhead, even for first-timers last week, according to Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez's Bait in Lake Station.

Click here for the Indiana DNR's map of Trail Creek access.


Earlier this week, Norm Minas sent an update that summer up winter river fishing:

The river has been dropping lately, stained to dirty, temps low to mid 30's, wadeable if you choose your spots wisely. If you are not sure stay on the shore. As far as the weather it's mid February in upper Illinois, from tolerable to flat out miserable.
 There have been more days without catching fish than days with fish to hand recently, nothing unusual for this time of year. I had one trip in which 4 small walleyes, 15 inch biggest, were caught at creek mouths on jointed shad raps. On a different trip, 4 small walleyes, all teeners, came early on a suspending rogue on flats off the channel in somewhat slower water. Later in that same trip, 3 smallmouth in the 14 to 15 inch range at the heads of eddies on a1/0 weighted keeper hook with a 3 inch straight tail worm. They weren't having any part of anything more aggressive than that.
 I have yet to get into any good sized walleye, prolly a bit early for that in the areas I'm fishing. That is one thing I struggle with, being on decent size walleye with any consistency.
 Who knows, may break out the crawlers soon to see if  I can get into some sucker action. You really don't need a lot of gear, some hooks, split shots and crawlers for that venture.


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


Harbor ice is very variable. Henry's Sports & Bait reported those busting ice are catching some perch, primarily at Navy Pier and Montrose; some perch in the river at 92nd and 95th. There's been a few trout around Burnham/Northerly Island.

CHICAGO PIER PASSES: Good time to remember the $6 pier passes for Chicago harbors, except 31st, are available at Henry'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.


Gene Dellinger at D&S Bait reported decent perch in 65-70 on Mendota, more active fish are suspended throughout; some bluegill at Lake Farm and crappie off Bible Camp on Waubesa.


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

With the exception of Saturday's high pressure shut down, things have been picking up this past week out on the ice.   Gamefish are lagging from our long early ice season, but even with these fish, a pickup of action has occurred.
Perch:  Good.  Some of the best reports surprisingly are from water less than 10' deep.  Lots of perch have moved into mud flats and areas of dead weeds in 8-10' just outside of standing green weeds of 5-7'.  These fish have been very aggressive taking Vinglas, Slender Spoons and Forage minnow spoons loaded up with waxies.  Medium fathead minnows have been a good choice to target larger perch.  The deep water mud flat perch anglers are finding perch in 18-27', dropping Hali jigs and #2 pimples tipped with red spikes or wigglers.  Both areas producing good catches, though the shallow water bite has more fish, but deep water bite has better average size.
Crappie:  Fair-Good.  Shallower weed fish have been smaller and fewer lately.  It is best to search out deep water crappies (18-30') over mud along gravel/rock transition areas. Rosie reds on tip-downs on less windy days, otherwise drop Moon Glos.  Little Cecils tipped with waxies, Gulp Alive grubs for big females being found in deep pockets outside spring spawning bays.
Pike:  Fair-Good.  Action picking up on big shiners/suckers along green weed edges where perch are being found just outside over dead vegetation.  Get out early on warm days (+20) as bites will start at dawn.  High pressure cold morning bite starts later, not as often.
Bluegill:  Fair-Good.  If not high pressure/wind, bite good on small tungsten jigs, lead darts tipped with single spike or waxie.  Lake type dictates location.  Shallow, darker water in heavy weed pockets - use bright colors.  Deep clear water move out away from weeds for bigger gills in 12-17' on small dark jigs and red spikes.
Walleye:  Fair - Improving.  Not great, but some better bites occurring about dusk.  Suckers over sandgrass floats of 17-28', shiners near standing cabbage of 8-14'.  Not much on jigging lures, but should change as fish become more aggressive.
Largemouth Bass:  Fair.  Warming days providing good action on tip-ups with shiners meant for walleye/pike.  Jigging Rattle spoons with minnow head fun method for rod/reel anglers.
Only 2 weekends left for gamefish.  You can fish till midnight on March 3rd.  After such a strong December and January, February has been a tough month.  If we can get out of these below zero mornings and east winds, fishing should pick up all over.

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

(Head): Panfish action good, northern fair to good, and walleye fair, all in
the Eagle River, Wisconsin area.

Ice conditions remain good, with thickness running from 18-24 inches.
Travel can be difficult because of the deep snow on the lakes. Trucks are
not a real good choice right now because of the snow depths, as they can and
do get stuck.  Use a snowmobile or ATV - -much better for the current

Panfish (crappies, bluegills and perch) in the Eagle River area are in 8 to
30 feet of water, locating off of weed edges, break edges, or adjacent mud
flats.  Perch are tight to bottom, with crappies and gills suspending up and
down the water column.  Use electronics to locate depth of these panfish on
any given day, because their patterns can very greatly.  The panfish are
hitting on waxies, spikes, wigglers and crappie minnows under a small jig or
slip bobber.  All day bite.  Action is good.

Northern in the Eagle River area are in 12 feet of water or less in and
around remaining weeds.  Use a medium to large shiner or sucker minnow under
a tip up, or try a jigging Rapala or jigging spoon.  All day bite.  Action
is fair to good.

Walleye in the Eagle River area are locating in 12-40 feet of water off of
break edges and adjacent mud flats. The walleye are tight to bottom. Use a
small to medium shiner or walleye sucker under a tip up, or try a jigging
spoon tipped with a minnow head. All day 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.


Waiting. Ed McCain at Mik-Lurch reported the boaters who got out during the better weather caught coho and browns. But the harbors are icing in again. It might be awhile.


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


As noted at top, the first crappie/bluegill weekend on ice went well. Because of the open hole from the geese, the night of ice fishing scheduled for Saturday was canceled. Clint Sands said nice crappie were being caught in the trees and cribs, where there is plenty of ice. He said some nice catfish were caught recently, too. Check updates at


Arden Katz said whitefish were being caught over the weekend by ice fishermen at Milwaukee (plenty of ice on McKinley Harbor) on the bottom; trout were fair on spawn.

Click here for any updated Lake Michigan Fishing Report.


Tyler Harmon messaged:

The good steelhead bite is still on. Was able to get out on a few main lakes ice fishing this past weekend. If the rain tonight does not ruin it, should be able to keep ice fishing main lakes the rest the week and weekend.



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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on February 20, 2013 5:39 AM.

Ramble with Storm: Toppled tree top, blown archery targets & winter's edges was the previous entry in this blog.

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