Northern Illinois Fishing Reports - January 24th, 2014
Lake Michigan: The browns are starting to get active from the boats if you can get out through some ice. Fish the warm-water discharges with jigs tipped with squid or crankbaits. Trolling body baits has been working well.
Reports of perch from Navy Pier are sparse. Smaller fish are around with some big ones mixed in. Double rigs with minnows or shrimp are being effective. You may need to bring an anchor on a rope to break open holes in the ice that form around the pier. Remember to bring a net as the occasional trout can be in the mix.
There are very few reports of perch being caught around 95th Street Standard fair of double rigs with shrimp or minnows. Fishing from the bridge is hit or miss. The brown trout bite has slowed down on the lakefront. If you can find open water spawn sacs under a float or small tube jigs worked about 6 feet down under a good slip float. Jerkbaits and other minnowbaits are doing well as well as jigging with white jerkbaits or twisters.
Ice fishing for trout in the harbors has remained slow. There are fish to be had, but the bite is not very hot and heavy. Jigging spoons tipped with minnow heads as well as dead sticking spawn sacks near the bottom will produce browns. Golden roaches or spawn sacks on a tip-up have been taking rainbows. The perch through the ice have been great in numbers, however their size is quite small. The best bite seems to be on plastics fished slowly. Make sure that prior to venturing out on the ice, it is legal in the harbor you are going to and that the ice is safe. The ice can have bad areas due to underwater currents created by the main lake.
Chain: Take caution if you head out. Use the buddy system and make sure you have all your safety gear.
There is ice on the channels and most of the main lakes. The ice is good in places and fair in some areas, however the smaller basins are averaging about 5 inches. Phone the local bait shops in the areas before going out.
The channels have been producing good catches of panfish on small tungsten jigs tipped with plastics or wax worms.
The bays have some good ice, however the shorelines are thin. Reports of white bass and crappies are coming in. The fish are suspending over 12 feet of water and are moving so it pays to be mobile. Plastics on horizontal jigs are best for bigger fish.
Channel Lake is reporting good catches of gills and crappies on the north end by the Thirsty Turtle.
Pistakee Bay has also had some good reports of crappies near Oak Harbor and the bluegills are doing well way up on the north end of the bay.
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.
Shabbona: The bite is tough as there is a lot of pressure, and the water is still very cloudy and stained. Smaller jigs with a single waxie or spike seem to be most productive. Work the cribs and search the wood for suspended crappies. Dead stick minnows along the creek bed for walleyes. Conditions should improve.
Lake Zurich: The weed edges are producing some good panfish and the tip-up guys are doing well on pike and bass.
Crystal Lake: The west end is locked up, and there have been spotty reports. The bluegills are small and hard to find. Bigger fish are being found closer to the points and deeper water. Pike have been doing OK on tip-ups, but most have found the action to be slow.
Willow Slough: The panfish bite has been really good. There also have been several nice bass caught while jigging for panfish. Small plastics tipped with a wax worm seem to be producing quite well. There are also some pike being taken on tip-ups and minnows. Make sure to pay attention to any site-specific regulations and watch where you are walking. The ice conditions, however, vary a lot throughout the lake. There have been reports of people breaking through in some areas. Make sure to use caution and do not tread on areas that look suspicious.
Bangs Lake: There have been some reports of good pumpkinseeds and bluegills being caught on the north end. The south shore has been good as well. Find the green weeds and you will find the fish. Small tungsten jigs tipped with one or two spikes have been the choice of most. However plastics are putting some larger fish on the ice.