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Midwest Fishing Report: Lakes and rivers around Chicago fishing

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The Braidwood Lake opener on Friday and ice fishing lead this Midwest Fishing Report.

icefishingbassSam and Dad with Sam's Monster Bass.JPG

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. I have been fighting a jaw infection and am way behind. Forgive me.

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


Click here for Sunday's column, a hopeful look at the reopening of fishing at Braidwood Lake on Friday. I usually do the south and west sides from shore. This year, I might go out on a boat with a faithful reader who invited me. Looks like one of those years where Boaters should have salt or sand with them. Hours are 6 a.m. to sunset daily. Despite the fish kill last July, fishing looks promising, including bass. The hybrid striped bass appear to be doing well, as do the blue catfish. REMINDER: Anchoring outside the restricted area on the north end, then casting in is illegal.


Gamefish season ends at midnight Sunday. . . . Remember, ice shelters need to be off of waters south of Highway 64 by Sunday.


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.


Mike Matuk sent this note:

Good evening Dale...

Was out in Northern Lake county over the weekend...   Pike were feeding actively on the weed lines in 7-10 feet on large Roaches...   Bass also made an appearance yesterday in 4-5 feet of water...   Attached are 2 videos and some photos from each...   Steve Schuning with his 35 inch 10+ pound northern...  And my daughter Samantha with her 20 inch 4 pound 4 ounce bass...  Great day yesterday...  Nearly 30 flags...   Have a great week Dale...


That's his daughter above.

Ice conditions still vary, especially south of Chicago. But ice fishing is going in spots area-wide.

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): Walleye, northern, panfish and catfish all hitting;  all in and
amidst the lakes and the Wisconsin River in Wisconsin¹s Marathon and Lincoln
Counties (near Mosinee and Wausau).

Fishing in the central Wisconsin area has been very good for all species.

The walleye bite has been picking up nicely and we are getting some good
fish on shiner minnows in shallow water during low light periods.

Northerns have been very aggressive and and have been giving us a run for our
money every time we head out. Nice fish up to 40 inches are being caught
using golden shiners on tip-ups set in shallow water.

The panfish bite continues to be very good with outstanding catches of
crappies from deep water.  Most of these fish are suspended 2 to 8 feet off
the bottom so using your electronics is a must if you want to be successful.

Bluegills are staying active and nice catches of bull gills are coming from
mud flats in 10 to 12 feet of water. Tear drop jigs tipped with a waxie have
been producing the best for us.

One surprising catch that we are seeing is catfish lots of them.  We are
really on a good bite for these feisty bottom dwellers and this is one
battle that you won't forget.  We are targeting the cats in 14 to 20 feet of
water right on the bottom with live minnows rigged up on small hooks on our
jig poles.  Keep the bait near the bottom and you will get a hard strike.


Channel Lake has had the best bluegill bite; Petite would be the next best option. Staff at Triangle Sports and Marine reported crappie are still being caught, mornings and evenings, and walleye fishing is picking up, both on tip-ups or jigging.

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 Friday. See top. 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 bluegills and crappie with a few northern and walleye (right at dark) are being caught, mainly on the west end.

GENEVA: Gates said bluegills and pumpkinseeds are being caught on west end of library park, lakers west of the Narrows in 90 feet. On Delavan,


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.

Ken Gortowski sent this sort of a fishing report:

If you want something to tease Fox anglers with, I do my weekly Blackberry Creek Dam Removal update and last week there was nothing to talk about so I loaded it with pictures from last spring. Which started in March. This year will be nothing like that I'm sure. There's a few pictures in the collection from the middle of March and it's obvious I'm fishing in a t-shirt.

I don't know, it's kind of a Fox report. More creeks.

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


Click here to check for any updated Wisconsin DNR fishing report.


Fishermen had started to get out and chase sauger and walleye in the deeper holes, before the recent. That is coming.


There continues to be action for steelhead.

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


Norm Minas sent this note, which nicely sums up river fishing in winter:

I went almost a week between catching a fish, once again that's just the way it goes this time of year. It didn't help that I banged up the ankle last week, it still isn't up to long periods in the river.
 The water today was below average flow fr this time of year but rising a bit from the melt. Water temps mid 30's, water on stained side. I didn't need a hat, gloves or coat today, a couple of long sleeved shirts was warm enough. It will be interesting to see how much snow we get. I don't like cleaning the drive or finding access spots unusable because they haven't been plowed but, we need snow to replenish the water table.
 I had planned on strictly sucker fishing today but that was changed due to the bait shop being out of crawlers. I flipped at least a dozen logs and found two worms, so off to my spot I went. I got one redhorse and two rock bass and then the worms were gone. I decided that I would rather chuck lures than flip more logs so I spent the rest of the day doing that. I ended up with two smallmouth and one pike, so it was a great day on the water.
 There was also insect activity, some flying bugs out and about. It's coming.


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


Ice fishermen have spotty perch and panfish. Ice in some of the harbors should hold.

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 perch a bit tougher on Mendota, but ice remains good; some deep crappie off the Bible Camp and a few bluegill off Lake Farm Park on Waubesa; some bluegill in Squaw Bay.


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

The bite heading into this last week of the gamefish season (ends midnight, March 3rd) has sped up nicely.  Unfortunately travel on the lakes is bogging down.
The recent snows have helped the snowmobilers a bunch, trails are in good shape.  Travel for us ice anglers is another story.  Snow depths of 12+" on some lakes has made travel very tough.  The past few days, snow has settled a little, but with the settling - slush is occurring.  Best to stay on trails or fish areas packed down by other vehicles.
Pike:  Good-Very good.  Pike activity has increased with the recent warmer (20+degrees) weather.  Big shiners and suckers below tip-ups from as deep as 12' to as little as 4'. Nice fish this week including a 15#er caught on a large shiner in 6' weeds on Sunday.  When they get active like this, shaking a #5 pimple with a shiner/sucker head fun on rod and reel.
Walleyes:  Good-Improving.  Best is just after dark.  While anglers working their way out to off shore humps bringing in good reports, some surprisingly good reports from anglers working shallower weeds.  One angler recorded a 29 ½", 9# walleye on a large shiner in just 4' of weeds on Saturday night.  With temps in mid to upper 20's, jigging Raps are scoring also along weed edges and pockets of weeds in       9-12'.  Overcast and snowy days have produced some daytime bites to late morning.  Larger lakes producing best overall, probably due to better oxygen levels.
Crappies:  Good-Improving. Not all of the traditional late February spots are producing, but the ones that are have been giving up some good numbers and some big fish.  Tip-downs baited with crappie minnows have been producing well in both shallow (8-12') and deep (18-30') situations.  For shallower bites, slow dropping flashy spoons (Slender spoons, Russian Spoons and Little Cecils) have been hot for this aggressive bite.  In deeper water, use #2 pimples, 5mm Glow Fiskas (tungsten) or large tear drops baited with minnows or waxies.  Reports of a lot of 7-9"ers (let them go till next year) are coming in with good eaters (10-12") and some trophy slabs of 14+".
Perch:  Good-Improving.  Like crappies, there seems to be tow bites going on.  Certain lakes are seeing loads of perch cruising just outside standing weeds of 7-9' taking minnows, waxies and spikes on any type of minnow imitating jig.  Deeper water fish preferring wigglers on #2 pimples or #25-#35 Hails or tip-downs baited with Rosies for perch cruising 17-27' mud.  Overall more action in shallows (though fish to 13" have been reported) but better average size perch over mud (9-11").
Largemouth Bass:  Good.  With temps up, this species becoming active again.  Lots of flags on tip-ups baited with shiners for pike.
Bluegill.  Fair-Good.  Action picking up in bays with some live weeds intermixed with dead vegetation down low.  Darts and rockers tipped with waxies in 5-9'.  When bite slows, switch to #14 tear drop or 3mm tungsten jig with single spike or tipped with red, purple, maroon or black plastic.
With mid week temps hitting mid-high 30's, slush will continue to be a problem.  Hopefully cool down will have snow depths dropping and possibly firm up slush a little. 
Kurt Justice
Kurt's Island Sport Shop

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

(Head): Northern action good to excellent, with the panfish bite good, and
the walleye hitting fair to good, all in the Eagle River, Wisconsin area.

Ice conditions in the Eagle River area remain solid, with thickness varying
between 18-24 inches.  Lots of snow on the ice, so traveling with ATV's and
snowmobiles is preferred.  Trucks are being used, but can readily get stuck
(and they do!), especially if you go off into untracked or untraveled areas.
Caution is still strongly recommended as there are areas of strong currents
and deceiving ice that may look solid, but is thin, cracking and weak -
-such as around bridges (and that's just one example).  Our best suggestion
is to hire one of Eagle River's excellent guides who will put you on lots of
fish in complete safety.

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 northern sucker
under a tip-up.  All day bite, with good to excellent action.

Panfish (crappies, bluegills and perch) in the Eagle River area are locating
off break edges or adjacent mud flats in 12 to 35 feet of water.  The
crappies and gills are suspending up and down the water column over
structure, such as brush piles, cribs, or drowned wood.  Use your
electronics to locate the exact depth of the fish you're after.  Perch are
tight to bottom, and more inclined to be on mudflat areas.  Use a spike,
waxie, wiggler or crappie minnow on a small jig or under a slip bobber.  All
day bite.  Action is good.

Walleye in the Eagle River area are in 12-35 feet of water off break edges
or adjacent mud flats.  The walleye are tight to bottom.  Use a small to
medium shiner or walleye sucker under a tip up; or a minnow head on a
jigging spoon.  All day bite with peaks at dusk and after dark. Action is
fair to 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:; 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. Ice cut off access again to Lake Michigan. Before that, there were coho and browns to be caught by boaters able to get out.


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


Check updates at


Arden Katz Arden Katz reported decent trout in Milwaukee harbor, better around dawn, on 1-inch tube jigs or 2-inch Berkley Power minnows; a few coming on spawn. Whitefish schools pass through, use small baits like Rat Finkees on the bottom.

Click here for any updated Lake Michigan Fishing Report.


Tyler Harmon messaged:

Steelhead and walleye still being caught in the rivers. Spawn under bobbers, drift fishing are both taking Steelhead. Walleye have been being caught on jigs. Ice fishing has been ok on the lakes that are safe enough to fish on. Gills and crappies being the main targeted species.



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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on February 27, 2013 5:33 PM.

Illinois hunting: The season in waterfowl hunting was the previous entry in this blog.

Ramble with Storm: Incongruities of late winter on a pretty morning is the next entry in this blog.

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