Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Ice fishing nearly everywhere; smattering of perch fishing

Chicago fishing, Midwest Fishing Report: Ice fishing nearly everywhere; smattering of perch fishing

Greg Regalado caught a good channel catfish from the Chain O’Lakes on Sunday. | Provided

Ice fishing, no surprise, is nearly everywhere in the Chicago area and leads this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

Ice fishing, obviously, leads this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.

There are a plethora of photos and reports this week, in part because I sent out word that I needed a good Fish of the Week nomination. Ice-fishing time is usually the slowest for receiving nominations for FOTW, but this week was different. I appreciate it.

Greg Regalado messaged the photo at the top and this on Sunday:

26” channel from Chain on a tipup yesterday.

ICE FISHING

Ice fishing is going areawide and should last for the foreseeable future; nearly all reports are on ice fishing. Ice-fishing regulations for public sites around Chicago are posted here.

LAKEFRONT PERCH

Quinn Wunar with the bounty of perch at Navy Pier. Provided photo Provided
Quinn Wunar with the bounty of perch at Navy Pier.

Quinn Wunar tweeted the photo above (bonus points for the cap) Friday evening and this:

Past couple days at Navy have been sporadic with a lot of dinks. Good action for an hour or two right after first light. Fisherman have been thinning every day. This morning I was The only one out there. And limited out in two hours. All 10’s and 11’s.

Haven’t had this good a bite with consistent size since early season at the mouth of the Cal. It was really surprising

NAVY PIER ANGLING

The north side of Navy Pier is open for anglers. The discounted parking for anglers is $9 daily, if out by 10 a.m.

LAKEFRONT PARKING

Chicago Park District’s parking passes for the fisherman’s parking lots at DuSable and Burnham harbors are on sale at Henry’s Sports and Bait in Bridgeport and Northerly Island Visitor Center.

Readers suggest SpotHero app downtown. Otherwise, here are some basics: Foster (free street parking or pay lot); Montrose (now a mix of metered and free street parking); Belmont (pay lots on north and south sides); Diversey (pay lot or street parking); DuSable Harbor (pay lot or fisherman’s lot); Northerly Island/Burnham Harbor (meters, pay lot or fisherman’s lot); 31st/Burnham (meter parking between McCormick Place and 31st Street Harbor); Oakwood/39th (meters); 63rd Street/Casino Pier (pay lot); Steelworkers Park (free street parking at east end of 87th); Cal Park (free parking).

PIER PASSES

The $6 pier passes, which allow legal access to select piers at most Jackson Park, Burnham, DuSable, Diversey, Belmont and Montrose harbors, may be bought at Henry’s Sports and Bait (cash only) and Northerly Island Visitor Center (credit-card only). A number of additional piers were added this year to bring the total to 31 piers.

Brant Hrechko caught a massive perch while fishing a farm pond in Grundy County. Provided photo Provided
Brant Hrechko caught a massive perch while fishing a farm pond in Grundy County.

AREA LAKES

Curt Pazdro messaged Sunday the photo to the right and this:

Brant hrechko and wyatt Pazdro catching a 15 in perch out of a farm pond yesterday…in minooka…big crappie also

It was funny wyatt changed holes and brant dropped his line in there and caught it they where so surprised

That catch is a good reminder that the Illinois record for yellow perch was caught from inland waters and not from Lake Michigan.

Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait said the ice around the area is locking up good now, but bite is light with the clear ice, best time is end of the day; with the picky bite, tiny jigs are better.

Dicky’s Bait Shop in Montgomery reported that the snow seemed to perk up what had been a slow bite.

A good yellow bass from Island Lake. Provided by Rob Abouchar Provided by Rob Abouchar
A good yellow bass from Island Lake.

Rob Abouchar emailed the photo left and this from Island Lake:

Hi Dale

The Ice is fit on Island lake and the anglers are out in good numbers. Lots of guys fishing the South end of the lake for panfish. On the North end by me we were getting some nice bass on tip ups with large golden roach minnows. Watching the bears last game a couple weeks ago, and playoff games this weekend from inside the house while watching the tip ups for flags was quite nice. A big yellow bass took a minnow as the sun had gone down and Joe landed it and into the bucket she went.

On the Music front we have a gig for the reggae band on February 25th at the Art Gallery Kafe (yes with a K) in Wood Dale. Also a guest appearance at the Bob Marley Bash at Two Brothers Roundhouse in Aroura on February 5th to sing a couple of my original songs.

Tight Lines and Good Health

Rob

Good to hear a music report again from Abouchar.

As he and the others show, ice fishing is going everywhere and there has been some catching, too.

Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a largemouth bass caught ice fishing around Chicago’s south suburbs. Provided photo Provided
Ken “Husker” O’Malley with a largemouth bass caught ice fishing around Chicago’s south suburbs.

I am not sure what to make of Ken “Husker” O’Malley of Husker Outdoors and his love of Green Bay and Nebraska, but he emailed the photo to the right and the photo below, and this:

Hey Dale,

Here is a recap of this past weeks fishing.

Area lakes- ice fishing is in full swing. Most lakes have a solid 5-6 inches of clear ice. The recent dusting of snow has helped with traveling on the slick ice and has provided some overhead cover for anglers as not to spook the fish.

Bass have been very good during morning hours. Tip ups, tip downs, and jigging spoons worked along the outside weedlines have produced good numbers.

Bluegill have been very good during afternoon hours. Crappie have been as well but the bite for crappie really takes off the last hour of light and into dark. Fish have been just off the outside weedlines adjacent to deeper water. Best bait has been a google eye jig tipped with a maki plastic.

Here is the nature pic of the week. Nighttime visitors.

TTYL

Ken “Husker” O’Malley

Husker Outdoors
Waterwerks fishing team

Ken “Husker” O’Malley’s nature photo for the week. Provided photo Provided
Ken “Husker” O’Malley’s nature photo for the week.

BRAIDWOOD LAKE

Closed. Reopens March 1.

CHAIN O’LAKES AREA

Beside the surprise of yellow bass in the last couple weeks, there’s also been some good catches of channel catfish (see photo at the top) and for big flathead catfish (see FOTW).

Jason “Special One” Le texted the video above, from his Jason Special YouTube channel, and this on fishing Channel Lake:

Yellow bass and crappie is heaven

Art Frisell at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said ice fishing is pretty good; bluegill are best on Channel on Marie, mostly on waxies, spikes and tungsten jigs; crappie are good in 8-12 feet, best early morning with glow jigs and small minnows; walleye are good, in the bluegill areas and deeper on small or medium roaches or Swedish Pimples, Jigging Rapalas tipped with minnow heads or jigging spoons; pike are good, best on tip-ups above the weeds on all lakes; white and yellow bass are fair (lots of yellows). Ice is good, but use the usual caution on the middles.

ICE-FISHING ACCESS: Hermann’s Rest-A-While (Nielsen’s Channel), $5, food, drink; Choppers Bar and Grill (Channel), $5, taken off bill if you patronize; Sandbar Bar & Grille (Marie), $10 or patronize; Oak Park Lounge (Pistakee Bay), $5 ($10 with trailer), park in top or middle lots; The Boatyard (Marie), $5, dropbox or online; Musky Tales (Channel), $5, open 24 hours; Pelican Bay Marina (Marie), $5, dropbox, plowed lot.

COOLING LAKES

Braidwood, Heidecke and LaSalle are closed for the season.

DOWNSTATE

POWERTON: Bank fishing is open. Winter hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Boat fishing reopens Feb. 15.

SPRING LAKE: Boat fishing is allowed after 1 p.m., after goose hunting is closed, on the main lake. Bank fishing along South Lake Road is allowed all day.

EMIQUON PRESERVE: Hours are sunrise to sunset. Access permits and liability waivers are required. They are available Tuesday to Saturday at Dickson Mounts Museum, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

SHELBYVILLE: Check with Ken Wilson of Lithia Guide Service.

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS: Check with Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing.

HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Closed for the season. Check regulations at http://www.wetlands-initiative.org/dixon-paddling-fishing.

GREEN LAKE AREA, WISCONSIN

As Mike Norris puts it, “Walleyes are biting well on Lake Puckaway.” Provided photo Provided

Guide Mike Norris texted the photo above and emailed this:

Fishing Report – 1/17/2022

Mike Norris

Very little ice fishing is taking place on Big Green Lake as 90% of the lake remained open last week. The Horner’s Landing boat launch was free of ice, but with light winds and cold temperatures last weekend Horner’s was starting to freeze over. Single digit temperatures this coming week should solidify the lake.

Lake Puckaway continues to be the hot for both northern pike and walleye. With 6 to 10 inches of ice on the lake now, anglers are driving four-wheelers to their favorite spots. Try using tip-ups with medium or large shiners for both pike and walleye.

GREEN/STURGEON BAYS, WISCONSIN

Lance LaVine at Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay emailed this:

Good morning. Here is a quick update on the ice fishing here in Door County

The Perch fishing reports have been very good up until this point. The best areas as of now have been Little Sturgeon, Riley’s Bay and Sawyer Harbor as these are the only areas with truly safe ice. 5 to 18 feet of water has been the best depth and steering clear of large groups of fishermen as too much noise is not good for the fishing. Rosy Reds, Shiners suspended under tip-ups and waxworms and spikes on jigs working well.

Northern Pike fishing has also been pretty good in all of the shallow bays including some areas in downtown Sturgeon Bay around the marinas. Golden shiners and sucker minnows under tip-ups and automatic fishermen generally the ticket

Whitefish action has been ok for the fishermen that are sticking around some near shore areas like in Little Sturgeon and Sturgeon Bay. As of now, venturing out deep is still a bit dangerous as there are still active cracks as the ice breaking continues in the county.

Walleye fishermen are also still waiting to get out there off shore hot spots, but that should come soon as we are supposed to get some cold weather here in the very near future

Thanks;

Lance LaVine

Howie’s Tackle
1309 Green Bay Rd
Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235
Ph: 920-746-9916

HEIDECKE LAKE

Closed. Reopens April 1.

LAKE ERIE

Click here for the Ohio DNR Report.

LaSALLE LAKE

Closed. Reopens March 15.

MADISON LAKES, WISCONSIN

Click here for the update from D&S Bait.

Gene Dellinger at D&S Bait said some perch are being caught on the Mendota, just starting to get out more in the last few days; better perch reports on the other lakes; a few walleye on the main basin on Waubesa.

MAZONIA

An ice-fishing scene from Mazonia. Credit: Jason Langford Jason Langford
An ice-fishing scene from Mazonia.

Jason Langford messaged the photo above and this:

No fish in the pic but a good time out at ponderosa today!

Both units are open for open-water and/or ice fishing (when safe. Hours are 6 a.m. to sunset.

Jon Meder at Jon’s Bait & Tackle Shop in East Brooklyn said they started fishing the strip pits recently, smaller pits are better for ice, be very cautious around the bigger lakes and pits until thicker ice sets up. Some better crappie reports have come from the smaller Mazonia lakes.

RACINE, WISCONSIN

Arden Katz said harbor generally has 8-10 inches of ice; he went 0-3 for on trout on Saturday, but saw a several nice steelhead caught; on Sunday, his buddy lost a big brown at the hole. Katz uses 1-inch tube jigs with two wax worms on fluorocarbon; he saw several fish caught with automatic fishing devices with roaches or brown-trout spawn.

NORTHERN WISCONSIN

Kurt Justice at Kurt’s Island Sport Shop in Minocqua emailed:

Hard to believe the extreme cold from the weekend before last did not improve our travel conditions. Temps in the sup teens did not build ice as expected on many area lakes, in fact slush has become present on a lot of our frozen waters.

Odd, some lakes see truck traffic with 14-15” of ice and good travel. Others, smaller lakes report only 10-12” with slush. Does not seem like too much snow on the lakes. It was dry and windy. But too much for these lakes to take? Springs? Pressure Cracks? One thing for sure, caution still advisable if you’re thinking of taking full sized trucks on the ice, do some scouting first.

Northern Pike: Good – Windows during very early morning and again early afternoon had anglers chasing flags once things warmed up mid-week (1/12). As always, weed related, though some reports of anglers starting to push out into deeper weed lines for larger (28-34”) Pike. Big shiners and suckers best.

Yellow Perch: Good – The mid-winter mud flat bite is improving. Anglers venturing out to mud just outside weed flats in 18-26’ finding active Perch taking waxies, spikes and wigglers depending on their daily mood. Lots of sorting, but enough eaters (8”+) to make effort worth while.

Bluegill: Good-Fair – On weedy flats of 6-10’ schools “pass through” at intervals making it worth the wait. Waxies and mousses on #10 teardrops and 3mm Fiskas in reds, purples, black. Also anglers finding Gills relating to deeper mud, usually larger average Gills. Halis, Pinheads and tungsten with hair tipped with spikes best.

Crappie: Fair – Unless you choose the warmest day to fish, head out to deeper water for early and late bites using glow jigs tipped with waxies or tip-downs with minnows (if not too cold). Keep moving until you locate Crappies hanging 3-10’ off bottom in 20-30’ of water.

Walleye: Fair – Best at low light, pre-dawn or hour preceding and just after dusk. High barometer and full moon probably did not help, but better action than previous weekend. Deeper sandgrass with chubs or suckers best.

Largemouth Bass: Poor – Not many reports, though warmer days best. Target using small to medium shiners on tip-ups if small Perch not a nuisance.

Forecast looks to remain cold next seven days with lows below zero degrees and only two days over teens for highs. As much as we all want truck travel everywhere, still can’t advise, be cautious!

Mid-winter typically sees slow down and sup-zero cold won’t help. Work deeper to find fish if your favorite spot isn’t producing. Punch a lot of holes (weather permitting) and search before you hunker down.

Kurt Justice

Kurt’s Island Sport Shop – Like us on Facebook

John Adam with his PB largemouth bass, caught ice fishing at Willow Slough Fish and Wildlife Area. Provided photo Provided
John Adam with his PB largemouth bass, caught ice fishing at Willow Slough Fish and Wildlife Area.

NORTHWEST INDIANA

John Adam of Whiting, Indiana, messaged the photo left and this:

I caught my personal best. A 21 1/2” long, 16” girth, 6 1/2 pound largemouth bass at Willow Slough Fish & Wildlife this past weekend.

That was one of several good largemouth reports I heard of from Willow Slough.

Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station texted:

Lots of groups fishing super bizy with ice fisherman.

The evening bite on the valpo chain of lakes producing some crappie and gills. Fishing 8 to 15ft of water.

Lake county fairgrounds giving up a few gills and some trout.

Willow slough giving up some bass and a few northern pike using tip-ups and golden roaches. The bluegill bite is best at sunup and sundown.

Fresh batch of steelhead came into our nwi tributaries recently voodoo jigs tipped with waxworms and spawn sacks doing the best.

Slez’s Bait is fully stocked with all ice gear and fresh bait in daily.

Christina Petrites at Stan’s Bait & Tackle Center in Hammond emailed:

Hi, Dale! I hope you’re staying warm with this sudden downward dip in temperatures! It may not be great for my hands & nose, but it is certainly wonderful for sledding & ice fishing…

Ice fishing is in full swing on most inland lakes, ponds, channels, with most places at 3-5 inches of ice thickness; Bluegill & Crappie are being caught in nice numbers. Willow Slough has been reported to have up to 7 inches in some spots.

Spikes & beemoths for Bluegills; minnows & spikes for Crappie. Rosy reds seem to be working better in many places.

Golden Roaches working well for Pike & Walleye.

Steelhead are performing moderately well on Lake Michigan & local tributaries.

MAINTAIN CAUTION ON THE ICE! Be very careful while going out ice fishing. Some places have greater amounts of snow on the ice than others, & will thus have significantly thinner ice; BE SAFE ALWAYS!

SHABBONA LAKE

A good angler said that the ice is around 9 inches and the bite is light, so use a finesse jig with tiny plastics and work the brush piles for crappie, some quality fish; peeps tell me that Jim “The Crappie Professor” Kopjo is on the crappies pretty good.

Concessions are closed. Site hours through Jan. 31 are 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Nikki Dykes with a good northern pike while ice fishing in southwestern Michigan. Provided by Chris Barcelona Provided by Chris Barcelona
Nikki Dykes with a good northern pike while ice fishing in southwestern Michigan.

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN

Chris Barcelona emailed the photo to the right and this:

Hi Dale this is Nikki Dykes [of Palos Heights], she caught this nice Pike [above]and Largemouth on Crooked lake in Delton Michigan..

Both fish returned safely to the water.

Last bit of info just told to me by her dad..

Bass was 23 3/4” 6 lbs

Pike was 38” 21lbs

Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said some bluegill are being caught by ice anglers on the smaller lakes; and there’s still some steelhead being caught at Berrien Springs, but large stretches of the river remain iced.

Paddle and Pole hosts the Berrien Springs Fish Ladder Camera.

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN

Guide Bill Stoeger in Fremont texted:

Not much Dale. Everyone I’ve talked to said the fish shut down. People moving around easy with very little snow and good ice, but having trouble finding active fish

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