North

Lake Michigan: According to fishing reporter Cory Yarmuth, now
is the time to get out and hit the discharges on the south end of
the lake. Browns and coho are starting to get active on the
lakefront from the boats. There is also some shore fishing
opportunities on the south half. Fish the warm-water discharges
with jigs and twisters tipped with a piece of squid or crankbaits,
like a J-9 in chart/white or orange/gold. Long lining body baits
have also been working well for the coho in these areas. Mix it up
a bit and use live bait like golden roaches or spawn under a float.
Don’t be foolish and make sure you check the weather and recent
conditions prior to heading out. The ice is still out in the lake,
and with a day or two of north winds, it can get pushed back in and
lock you out on the water.

Waukegan is starting to heat up. Government Pier or Johnson’s
Pier have been starting to show some signs of life. With a good few
days of north, northwest winds, you will see some warm water pushed
up against Johnson’s Pier and the Brown trout will start feeding
heavily. There can be a good brown trout bite fishing bottom rigs
with dead minnows or spawn. Also, casting small spoons will produce
some big fish.

The downtown harbors have not been producing fish as well as
early season. With the ice deteriorating, the fishing has been
spotty. Browns and rainbows are being taken in the open areas. Jigs
tipped with minnows as well as dead-sticking spawn sacks near the
bottom will produce browns. Golden roaches or spawn sacks under a
float have been taking rainbows. The perch in the harbor are small,
and there have been little reports of sizable fish or limits taken
through the iced areas. Make sure that prior to venturing out on
any ice, it is legal in the harbor you are going to and that the
ice is safe. Also, you may be required to purchase a Pier Pass in
order to fish some of these harbors so check with the local bait
shop.

Perch are biting hot and heavy at Navy Pier. However, the ice
comes and goes as well, so if you head out, bring a heavy anchor
with a long line to drop down and break open an area to fish. It is
some work, but it can pay off with some jumbo perch. Reports have
shown that a lot of smaller ones are being caught and getting
limits of larger fish requires a lot of sorting. Live minnows and
cooked shrimp on drop shot rigs as well as ice fishing jigs tipped
with spikes have been producing. Also Kastmasters or other jigging
spoons will do well and may take the occasional trout.

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Chain: The fish are starting to move up to the shallows to take
advantage of new weed growth as well as fresh water runoff.
Horizontal-style jigs with spikes and jigs and plastics seem to be
producing quite well. Black has seemed to be the ticket for color.
The bite changes from day to day, so be prepared to move and change
baits. Dead-sticking bait has been a productive technique as the
fish are starting to get picky. The bays seem to be producing quite
well. Find the newer weeds in 8 feet of water or less and the
bluegills will be there, but look for deeper water for the white
bass and crappies. Pistakee, Channel and Catherine have been doing
quite well on the panfish

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Braidwood: This cooling lake offers anglers an opportunity to
get out in the early spring when most other lakes are frozen or are
just too cold and not producing fish. The lake is open and the
shore fishermen are seeing quite a few catfish and bluegills. Fish
are being caught on ice jigs under a float or on bottom rigs tipped
with crawlers or other cut bait. Largemouths can be caught fishing
the secondary drop-offs with large profile bait like a jig and pig
or by fishing the shallower areas bouncing a crankbait or spoonplug
off of the rocks and the bottom. Always keep an eye on the flags at
the launch, as they will give you an indication if it is safe to be
on the water and when you should take caution. Green is good,
yellow is caution, and red is dangerous.

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