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Northern Illinois Fishing Reports

Northern Illinois Fishing Report - February 5th, 2016

Lake Michigan: The harbors have some ice but caution should be used if you head out. Most fishermen have been fishing from the docks instead of walking out. There have been very few reports of trout being caught at this time. They are there; you just really need to work for them. Spawn sacks slowly jigged as well as the standard tinsel or white tube jig tipped with wax worms are both good. Belmont seems to be the best harbor in the Chicago area. Racine Harbor in Wisconsin is producing some better catches of browns and steelhead.

Winter anglers have been catching a lot of small perch near the docks. Fishing small jigging spoons tipped with spikes as well as smaller jigs with plastics have been producing very well. The reports on the perch have shown a lot of small fish, but if you keep at it there are some keepers to be had.  Don’t forget to stop at the local bait shops to pick up your “pier pass.”

Navy Pier is producing some catches of perch. The fish are small in size and a lot of sorting is required, but crappie rigs with fathead minnows seem to be producing the best. Also artificial plastics such as small minnow-style plastics rigged on double rigs and pulled along the weedbeds can produce some of the larger fish. Don’t forget to bring a heavy anchor or such on a long rope as there is ice near the pier and you need to break open holes to be able to fish.

Fishermen have been catching perch off the bridge on 95th Street in the channel. If the winds are down and you can launch the boat, there are some good opportunities for some perch in this area as well as around the lighthouse.

Silver Lake (DuPage County): Ice fairly solid. Bluegills being caught on waxworms and nightcrawlers.

Chain: The entire Chain has some solid ice on it and there have been sporadic reports on the fishing. Ice conditions are changing and the ice can become unsafe quickly. Most reports are showing that there is a decent crappie bite in the 14 feet of water range during the dawn and pre-dawn hours as well as at sunset and after. The fish are suspending about 8 to 10 feet down and are looking for smaller jigs and plastics or jigs tipped with a couple of spikes. 

Deep Lake has had a good crappie bite, as has Spring Lake. Walleyes and perch biting on Fox Lake and Grass Lake.

Walleyes good on Marie using jigs and minnows, or a combination.

The white bass have been showing themselves. If you look for the deeper holes in the 18 to 20 feet of water range, you are likely to find some good schools. Often it takes a lot of changing of baits to get these fish to bite.

The back bays and Pistakee and Mineola Bay have a been good as well as the south end of Channel Lake.

There have been some good reports of mixed bags of panfish being caught with the occasional walleye. The best areas have been at the south end of the bay in the 15 feet of water range. If you move out to the deeper drops, people are finding the white bass suspended over the deeper water. Small jigging spoons tipped with spikes or gulp minnows are catching most of the white bass and crappies.  

The bluegill bite is on and off in the shallower areas. It seems that the 8-10 feet of water range has been best for some of these hard fighters. Find areas with green weeds and fish the openings or edges. Smaller jigs like a Slug-Bug are putting some really nice keeper bluegills on the lake.

Shabbona: The ice conditions are good on the lake with fish being taken around the cribs and the timber. The water is still stained and with the snow cover, larger jigs with a bigger profile will attract more fish. Keep a rod with a small jig, deadsticked and jig a larger jig to attract fish in. The larger jig will get their attention, and they will likely take the jig that you have dead-sticked

Crystal Lake: The crappies and bluegills are giving many a fisherman trouble. They are there and can be seen on the graph as well as through the very clear water, but making them bite is a different story. Downsizing jigs and using minnows have been putting those specks on the ice and smaller jigs and spikes have been putting the gills in the bucket as well. With the clear water, it really helps to have a shanty to block out the light and the fish are much less spooky than normal.  

The guys fishing tip-ups have been doing very well on bass, northerns and even walleyes in the shallow areas of the bays as well as the deep points.

Bangs Lake: There has been a really good bite on the crappies and the pumpkinseeds as of late. The bluegills and pumpkinseeds are being found in 5-8 feet of water and the bite seems to be best early in the morning and then again later in the day. Vertical-style jigs with spikes or wigglers seem to be one of the better producers for these fine table fare.

The crappies are being found a bit deeper in the 10-12 feet of water range.  You will see them suspended early in the day, however they are moving down to the bottom during the day. Horizontal jigs like gill pills with a single wax worm are working well. Dark colors seem to be producing better than lighter colors.

Busse: There is ice, but it won’t take long for it to be unsafe. Use caution if you head out. The solid ice has had reports of panfish being caught through the ice. The bluegills are really active, however there are a lot of small ones to weed through to find the bigger fish. The bass and northerns are active on tip-ups with medium and large golden roaches as well as on larger jigging spoons tipped with a minnow head.  

McCullom Lake: The deeper water by Peterson Park is producing good northern and bass on tip-ups. Some decent crappies are being caught by small jigs and plastics, and there are some small gills mixed in. There have been reports of perch also being caught. Watch for open water near the park side.

Mazonia: Some ice solid enough to fish, but be careful. There have been good reports of fish coming out this year. Good size crappies and bluegills, as well as some nice bass. Tip-downs with minnows as well as tip-ups with roaches have been doing well. Smaller jig/plastics have been icing some good quality fish. The fish are hanging near the breaklines in the 10 feet of water range. They are suspending down about 4-6 feet and are constantly on the move. You need to be mobile and watch your electronics.

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Central Fishing Illinois Reports

Central Illinois Fishing Report - February 5th, 2016

Newton Lake: Bluegills are fair to good on waxworms. Catfish are hitting waxworms in 8-12 foot of water. Crappies are fair in 8-12 feet of water. Bass have been caught on plastic worms and spinners.

Lake Shelbyville: Below the spillway, fishing has been only fair for walleyes and saugers.

Lake Springfield: Flathead catfish and channel cats were fair to slow in discharge area on shad. Some white bass caught in the discharge area on bladebaits.

Evergreen Lake: Bluegills and crappies have been fair, with some yellow and white bass being caught in the mouths of coves.

Sangchris Lake: Bass good on crankbaits and plastics. Biting mostly in evenings, near shore. Catfish good.

Lake Jacksonville: Bass have picked up lately as water temps remain cold. Most hitting on plastics and crankbaits. Bluegills good on worms. Crappies good on minnows and jigs. A few catfish being caught on worms and cut bait.

Coffeen Lake: Some bass being caught on spinners near warm areas or under bridges. Morning and evening best. Channel cats good on doughbaits and nightcrawlers, mostly at night. Large flatheads caught on livers and stinkbaits. Crappies fair, hitting mostly white jigs and minnows. Bluegills fair on worms.

Lake Springfield: Bass fair using plastics (worms and flukes), crankbaits and a few on swim jigs. Bluegills fair. Channel catfish fair to good using dip baits, liver and cut baits in the evening.

Dawson Lake: Bluegills are fair to good on waxworms. Catfish are hitting waxworms in 8-12 foot of water. Crappies are fair in 8-12 feet of water.

Clinton Lake: Crappies good on minnows, white jigs and pink/green jigs over tree sets and near bridge pillars in 6-8 feet of water. Channel cats good on worms, along rip-rap on nightcrawlers. Bass fair, but picking up on spinners and plastics. Most bass being caught are small.

Lake Mattoon: Largemouth bass good. Angling success is hit and miss; using a nightcrawler under a bobber off the banks when the fish are feeding. Channel catfish excellent with stink bait, nightcrawlers, chicken liver or suckers. Later evening hours are best. Bluegills biting, but are small.

Mill Creek Lake: Largemouth bass good on minnows and on spinnerbaits, and topwater lures. Bluegills good on worms. Channel catfish fair on chicken livers and stinkbait along the edges during early morning or later evening hours.

Lake Mingo: Bluegills good on worms near structure and weed lines.   Catfish biting on just about anything, especially stinkbaits. Largemouth bass good on spinnerbaits or crankbaits near shallow laydowns, stumps, or brush.

Lake Bloomington: Bluegills are the best bet using worms and small jigs. Bass good on minnows and frog lures. Try bouncing spinners on shallows. Channel catfish good on dip baits, cut baits and nightcrawlers in evenings. Crappies excellent on minnows and light jigs around and over brush.

Lake Shelbyville: Walleyes have been caught on minnows and on spoons. Area below the dam still pretty good using a combination. Striped bass improving using spinners during early hours.

Lake Vermilion: Channel cats good on stinkbait or liver during later evening hours or in deeper holes during day time hours. Smallmouth bass picking up. Try deeper holes and fish early hours. Bass fair on spinners. Bluegills fair on worms and small jigs tipped with worm.

Walnut Point Lake: Crappies good on minnows or jigs tipped with a worm. Bass hitting crankbaits during early morning or later evening hours. Bluegills excellent on wax worms and red wigglers. Channel catfish excellent on chicken livers in approximately 4 to 6 feet of water.

Lake Paradise: Crankbaits and spinners catching bass around rip-rap. Bluegills good on meal worms or wax worms. Catfish excellent on stinkbaits and nightcrawlers.

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Southern Illinois Fishing Reports

Southern Illinois Fishing Report - February 5th, 2016

Note: Flooding and high water on lakes that were producing quality fishing before Christmas have suffered from the high water. Also, many roadways were dangerous due to flooding. Take precautions.

Crab Orchard Lake: Bass action has slowed. Bluegills being caught on worms. Panfish, in general, are biting good on worms under ice and in weedbeds.

Baldwin Lake: Bass and catfish biting in warm-water areas. Bass hitting spinners. Catfish being caught on liver. Bluegills are slow but will hit on meal worms or wax worms occasionally.

Carlyle Lake:   Channel cats are good on the lake for anglers drifting or jug fishing with cut bait or leeches. Crappies good below the dam.

Kinkaid Lake: Muskie action steady. Anglers expect February to be good for muskies if temperatures stay above 30 degrees. Spinnerbaits and shallow running baits are the most effective. Catfish and bluegill action has been slow. However, bass anglers are reporting good success on spinnerbaits.

Lake of Egypt: Crappies and bluegills being caught on waxworms near structure. Bass are still rated fair on soft plastics. 

Rend Lake: Crappies are still rated good on minnows, chartreuse jigs, white jigs and pink/green jigs. Fish are being caught over Christmas tree sets and near bridge pillars in 6-10 feet of water.

Lake Murphysboro: Crappies and bluegills fair on minnows and waxworms near structure. Bass are still rated fair on soft plastics. Catfish action fair, fishing shrimp in shallow water.

Pinckneyville Lake: Bass good on cranks and spinners. Bluegills good on worms. A few catfish being caught, but mostly small.

Silver Lake (Highland): Bass picking up on crankbaits and spinnerbaits. Crappies fair on minnows. Channel catfish good on liver and nightcrawlers. Bluegills fair on worms. Saugers fair using jigs.

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Illinois Rivers Fishing Reports

Illinois Rivers Fishing Report - February 5th, 2016

Fox River: Water remains high. Bass, especially smallmouths, are hanging in shallow areas where there is open water. Look for them in some of the warm-water discharges found along the river. Minnows work well with a small hook and a few split shot about 12 inches above the hook. Cast into eddies. Bounce jigs with white or crawfish-colored twister tails to produce consistent action. Work the jig slow and fish the current seams and slack water.

At the dams, walleyes are bunching up and are biting on a number of presentations. There have been few reports of some large fish being caught on minnow-style stickbaits as well as jig-and-minnow combination. Look for the deeper holes that are surrounded by gravel bottoms and rocky structure. The bite has been best just after dark and prior to sunrise. These fish are moving around a lot, so cover an area really well to trigger one of these big girls to strike.

Illinois River: There have been very few reports from the river as the cold weather has kept most off the open water. This time of year the sauger bite can really turn on in the deeper wintering holes. Vertical jigging jigs with minnows or using a floater jig and lindy rigging minnows have been doing well. Also casting or vertical jigging blade-style baits. Check the water conditions prior to heading out as the river at this stage can get dicey.

There continues to be a good sauger bite at Ottawa. Reports indicate that fish are being caught on jig and minnows as well as pulling three-way rigs with stickbaits. Take caution this time of year as the river’s flow can change quickly with the melting snow and rains. This can be a very productive time but you will want to keep an eye on the flows and levels prior to your trip. 

Des Plaines River: The pike are starting to get aggressive. There have been some reported catches of northern pike on in-line spinners. Find the open water areas with good current nearby. The fish are feeding well, and you may be able to entice one or two into hitting a natural presentation.

Rock River: The river generally averages about 15 feet in depth in the main channel, but between Dixon and Sterling, depths may drop to 50 feet. The bottom is largely bed rock, but there are extensive gravel areas and some places where the bottom is covered with a layer of mud or silt. High water this winter requires anglers to be cautious.

From where it departs, Wisconsin to the mouth of the Kishwaukee River, the prime fishing spots are the dams at Rockton and Rockford and the tributary streams, which include the Pecatonica River and Willow Creek. Ramps are located in the Forest Preserve at Rockton, at Harlem Road south of North Park and at Blackhawk Park.

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