Saturday, February 4th, 2023
Saturday, February 4th, 2023

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

IL: Solid ice on the Chain; walleyes and panfish biting statewide Issue: 2

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

North

Lake Michigan: According to fishing correspondent Cory Yarmuth
(www.legend-outdoors.com), the harbors’ ice is good and strong, but
the same cannot be said for the trout bite in Illinois. 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.

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.

The ice fishermen have been catching a lot of small perch through
the ice 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.”

Boaters are launching out of 95th Street, but they have to break
ice to get out to the lake. They have been fishing the channel and
the surrounding lakefront has been producing some perch. They have
also been moving out to the Lighthouse and catching fish as well.
Fishing bottom rigs with minnows and feather tied hooks has been
the top producer. There is pack ice near shore, so make sure you
watch the weather and winds before making a journey out
there.

Chain: The entire chain has some good solid ice on it and there
have been sporatic reports on the fishing. Most reports are showing
that there is a decent crappie bite in the 14 feet 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.

The white bass have been showing themselves, but not in large
numbers. 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 such as Pistakee and Mineola Bay have been good
choices.

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 the
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 some 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: Ice conditions were good. 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.

Crystal Lake: This is a private lake during the summer, however,
during the winter, ice fishermen can access the lake from the beach
areas. The crappies and bluegills are giving many fishermen
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 the bass,
northern and even walleyes in the shallow areas of the bays as well
as the deep points.

The bluegill bite has been slow in 7 to 9 feet of water. Keepers
can be found sorting through the smaller ones. The tip-up action
for pike and bass can be very good in the shallower water near the
shorelines. Run your baits big and just below the ice for good
action. Crappies really start biting at sundown and can be taken on
minnows or small plastics fished just below the ice. This is a
two-pole restricted lake, so make sure you follow the rules and
also clean up after yourself.

Willow Slough: The panfish bite has been really good. There also
have been several nice bass caught while jigging for the 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: The bite remains steady on this body of water. There
has been some consistent panfish action in 10-14 feet of water.
Make sure you find the weeds and work them really good. The
crappies are suspending in the middle water column as well as some
of the larger gills. Larger jigs tipped with waxies have been a
good producer. The bite tends to be best in the late afternoon into
the evening.

Busse Lake: There have been some good 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 northern pike are active on tip-ups with medium
and large golden roaches as well as on larger jigging spoons tipped
with a minnow head. Make sure you follow the site-specific rules
and hours when fishing this area.

South

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

Baldwin Lake: Warm-water areas are good for catfish, though those
being caught are small. Anglers are tossing crankbaits 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. Crappies good
below the dam.

Kinkaid Lake: Muskie action has been picking up. 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 are being caught on waxworms
near structure. Bass are still rated fair on soft plastics. Catfish
action fair, fishing shrimp in shallow water.

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.
A few channel cats being caught along rip-rap on night crawlers.
Bass have slowed and are expected to pick up with warm water.

Central

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 slowed, but reports of a few in the
4-pound range came in the second week of January.

Lake Springfield: Ice remains in most areas, but is unsafe.
Crappies are being caught in structure on minnows. A few catfish
are being caught on stinkbaits.

Evergreen Lake: Fishing has been good on Evergreen the last few
weeks. A lot of the ice-fishing activity has been in the mouths of
coves, off points, and in the main creek channel. Wax worms have
been the bait of choice among most through the ice. Most fish
reported were being caught in deeper waters and mostly in the late
afternoon hours. A recent report from the weekend yielded hundreds
of crappies, with the majority being at least 9 inches.

Rivers

Fox River: During the winter months, the fishing really tends to
slow down on the river, however there are still some good
opportunities for quality fish. For smallmouths, 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
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.

The water temps have dropped quite a bit, and the walleyes are up
at 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.

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. Pulling three-way
rigs also has started to put some fish in the boats. Three-way rigs
with jigs and twisters or hair jigs seem to be producing the better
catches. Check the water conditions prior to heading out as the
river at this stage can get dicey.

 

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