Ice formed in north and central bringing out panfishermen

The fishing and hunting report is compiled using reports from
conservation officers, hunting guides, and sporting goods
stores.

North

Lake Michigan: According to fishing reporter Cory Yarmuth
(www.chitownangler.com), the harbors are starting to get some ice
on them, but there is still some good opportunities for open water
fishing. The browns and steelhead are in the harbors in full
strength. Spawn sacks under a float are working well as well as the
standard tinsel or white tube jig tipped with wax worms. The
steelhead bite is starting to increase in the downtown harbors with
spawn being a primary choice of baits. Fishing with spawn sacs in a
pink or chartreuse color under a float or on the bottom will offer
a great opportunity for one of these tough fighters. Tinsel jigs as
well as tube jigs under floats are also producing fish.

Navy pier and the downtown harbors are producing some good
catches of perch. The fish are ranging 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. Launching out of 95th
street and fishing the channel and surrounding lakefront has been
producing many limits of perch. Fishing bottom rigs with minnows
and feather tied hooks has been the top producer.

Chain: The water has started to freeze up in most areas, but if
there are a few days of warmer weather then the ice may let you get
out for a bit. Drifting the weedbeds with large suckers on
quick-strike rigs has been really producing some nice muskies. Look
for the breaklines associated with decent weed growth. The fish are
taking suckers drifted behind the boats over weedlines and
breaklines. The channels of the main lakes have frozen over and the
panfish action is hot. Anglers report 80 to 100 fish days are not
uncommon on this first ice. Channels like “Nielsen’s” or the “T”
channel are good. The ice is ranging from 3-5 inches, however it
can be thin in several areas. The channels run about 4-foot deep,
and the fish are stacking up in there and feeding well. Fishing
small plastics tipped with wax worms has been a top producer. Make
sure you try to get a local report before venturing out on the ice
as there are areas that have only recently frozen over and the ice
could be very thin.

South

Crab Orchard Lake: Catfish action has slowed somewhat. Bluegills
have slowed somewhat, although some fish are still being caught
along the rip rap on crickets and wax worms. Bass action is good on
a variety of baits fished around shallow cover.

Baldwin Lake: Catfish are on the move and those that are being
caught are small. Anglers are tossing crank bait around rip rap and
catching a few bass. 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. Good catches
reported near Keyesport and Boulder. Flathead are also biting well,
with a 23-pounder caught recently near the spillway on a bluegill.
Cut bait also working as are slab spoons thrown up along the wall.
Crappie fishing good below the dam.

Kinkaid Lake: Muskie action was excellent through the fall, but
has slowed down as the water temperature drops. Anglers are picking
up fish trolling and casting. Spinner baits and shallow running
baits are the most effective. Crappies are rated fair. Anglers are
taking fish at varied depths, from 2-18 feet. Minnows are the
primary bait. Catfish and bluegill action has been slow. However,
bass anglers are reporting good success on spinner baits.

Little Grassy: Cold weather has turned many anglers to panfish,
though catfish action remains steady throughout the lake. Night
crawlers are the most effective bait. Crappies have slowed
somewhat. Fish are still deep. A couple of nice fish were taken in
the past week, but numbers were down. Minnows are the primary
bait.

Rend Lake: Windy conditions have made fishing a tough go in
recent weeks. 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.
The Route 154 rip rap, Gun Creek bridge and the sailboat harbor
wall have all been productive areas. Catfish action has also been
good.

Central

Most area lakes have open water. Smaller shallow water bodies
have skim ice forming every night but open areas during the day.
Walking on ice is not recommended at this time.

Lake Sara (Effingham): Crappie bite has been hot. The bait of
choice is small jigs tipped with wax worms or spikes under floats.
Skipping under the deeper docks or finding the submerged timber and
green weeds.

Evergreen Lake: Bowfishing will reopen Jan. 18, 2010. Also,
through Jan. 1, 2010, gas motors will be prohibited around Deer
Island and all of Six Mile Creek Bay. Trolling motors are still
allowed around Deer Island and in Six Mile Creek Bay, and gas
motors are allowed on all other parts of lake, as well.

Rivers

Fox River: The water temps have dropped quite a bit and the
walleyes are on the move up to the dams. There have been few
reports of some large fish being caught on minnow-style stick baits
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.

The smallmouth action is slowing down. Fish can be caught, but
now is the time to look for some of the warm- water discharges
found along the river. Fish using live minnows with a small hook
and a few split shot about 12 inches above the hook. Cast into the
eddies. Also bouncing 1/8-ounce jigs with white or crawfish colored
twister tails can produce some respectable fish. Work the jig slow
and fish the current seams and slack water.

Illinois River: The sauger bite has really started to turn on up
near the dams. 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.

The white bass are starting to slow down. White jig and twister
combos with a minnow are quite productive. Blade baits will put
some of the larger more aggressive fish in the boat. Look for some
good current breaks around the islands as well as the mouth of
tributary waters that are coming into the main river. These fish
can be found chasing the small shad, and there is a great chance of
landing some really big fish.

Check the water conditions prior to heading out as the river as
this stage can get dicey.

Des Plaines River: The walleyes have been found using jerk baits
and jointed minnow baits. They are being taken in the evening hours
working the deeper holes that are adjacent to shallow water.

Good numbers of northern pike are also to be found fishing live
bait under a float or throwing inline spinners and jerkbaits.

Fishing Notes

Let’s Go Fishing Show returns

The 17th annual Let’s Go Fishing Show will be held Jan. 8-10 at
the Gateway Center in Collinsville. A wide variety of fishing
tackle, rods and reels, boats and other fishing-related products
will be on sale, and more than 20 fishing seminars will be held
during the three-day event.

Crappie-fishing legend Wally Marshall is scheduled to make an
appearance at the show. Other scheduled speakers at the show
include bass-fishing pros Randy Howell and Terry Bolton Jr.

Tickets will be available at the door. Hours are noon to 9 p.m.
Friday; 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday.

Waterfowl Notes

Finding and reporting bands

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offers a toll-free number for
reporting waterfowl bands. If you take a banded bird, the USFWS
asks that you report the band number online at www.reportband.gov or call (800)
327-BAND (2263), with information about when and where you shot the
bird.

Through Feb. 28, you can call this number 24 hours a day, seven
days a week. From March 1 through Aug. 31, services are available
from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. You will receive a Certificate of
Appreciation with information about when and where the bird was
banded. Your cooperation on reporting band numbers gives waterfowl
biologists a wealth of useful information that allows them to
manage the resource in a way that provides hunters with maximum
recreational opportunities while protecting waterfowl
populations.

Hunting on agricultural lands

Agricultural lands offer prime waterfowl hunting opportunities.
You can legally hunt waterfowl in fields of unharvested standing
crops. You can also hunt over standing crops that have been
flooded. You can flood fields after crops are harvested and use
these areas for waterfowl hunting. The presence of seed or grain in
an agricultural area rules out waterfowl hunting, unless the seed
or grain is scattered solely as the result of a normal agricultural
planting, normal agricultural harvesting, normal agricultural
post-harvest manipulation, or normal agricultural soil
stabilization practice.

A normal agricultural planting, normal agricultural harvesting,
or normal agricultural post-harvest manipulation means a planting
or harvesting undertaken to produce and gather a crop, or
manipulation after such harvest and removal of grain.

Source: 2009-10 Illinois Waterfowl Digest

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