The fishing and hunting report is compiled using reports from
conservation officers, hunting guides and fishing guides.
Lake Michigan: According to fishing reporter Cory Yarmuth, with
the warmer weather the ice in the south half has moved out and the
harbors are starting to open up. Now is the time to get out and hit
the discharges on the south end of the lake. Browns and cohos are
starting to get active on the lakefront from the boats. There is
also some shore fishing opportunities on the south half as well.
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.
Government Pier or Johnson’s Pier have been slow, but good fishing
is just around the corner. 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
Perch are still biting 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.
Chain: With the spring coming and the warmer days, the fish are
starting to move up to the shallows to take advantage of new weed
growth as well as fresh water runoff. The action on the Chain has
been quite slow the last few weeks. 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 gills will be there, but look for
deeper water for the white bass and crappies. There are fish to be
caught, but with the changing weather patterns, it has really put a
damper on their appetites. Pistakee Bay has been producing some
white bass, fishing the 15-foot depths. The crappie bite can be
good but finding them is the hard part. They have been suspending
in 10 to 14 feet of water near deeper water. The fish have been
most active in the evening hours. Fishing jig and plastics have
been doing better than minnows, but this can vary from day to day.
The north end of Channel Lake has been producing some good- sized
panfish. The weeds are still green and are holding some good
quality fish. The ice conditions are changing so be sure to talk
with local baitshops to get the updated conditions as the ice
conditions can change.
Shabbona: 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 creekbed for walleyes.
Conditions should improve.
Crystal Lake: 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.
Willow Slough: Bass are being 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 consistant panfish action in 13-15 feet of water. The
crappies are suspending in the midwater column as well as some of
the larger gills. It seems like the key is to downsize your jigs.
Use small teardrops with one or two spikes. Glow- style jigs tipped
with spikes have also been a good producer. The bite tends to be
best in the late afternoon into the evening. Some big bass and good
northern have been taken on tip-ups baited with medium roaches. Set
your traps up in the shallow areas that are holding in 8 feet of
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 the hours when fishing this area.
Mazonia: There have been some good reports of some good fish coming
out this year. There are 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 in 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.
Crab Orchard Lake: Bass action has slowed. Bluegills are being
caught on worms. Panfish, in general, are biting good on worms in
Baldwin Lake: Good bites for catfish on worms. Anglers are tossing
crankbaits around rip-rap and catching a few bass. Bluegills are
slow but will hit on meal- worms or waxworms occasionally.
Carlyle Lake: Catfish are good on the lake for anglers drifting or
jug fishing with cut bait or leeches. Crappie fishing is good below
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.
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 are being caught along rip-rap on night
crawlers. Bass have slowed and are expected to pick up with warm
Dawson Lake: Bass fair on spinners. 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.
Lake Springfield: Bass and crappies are being caught in structure
on minnows. A few catfish are being caught on stinkbaits.
Evergreen Lake: Fishing has been good in recent weeks. Bass and
crappie activity has been in the mouths of coves, off points, and
in the main creek channel. Waxworms have been the bait of choice
among most through the ice.
Fox River: Walleyes are on the move and are being taken on jig
and minnows in the warming hours of the day. Structure is key. Look
for the bridge pilings or wood that would warm up first. Fish are
being taken near the dams as well on jig and minnow combinations.
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 eddies.
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, as is casting or
vertical jigging blade-style baits.
Des Plaines River: The walleyes have been found using hair jigs.
The bite has been best in areas near warm-water discharges,
floating or throwing inline spinners and jerkbaits.