The fishing and hunting report is compiled using reports from
conservation officers, hunting guides, and sporting goods
Lake Michigan: According to fishing reporter Cory Yarmuth, the
harbors are starting to get some skim 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
There has been some great reports of the brown trout and lake trout
bite picking up in southern Wisconsin areas. Trolling silver/green
spoons and casting rattletraps has been a very productive tactic.
This time of year you can find the warm water discharges along the
harbor areas and these will hold the baitfish that will bring the
trout in. The discharge north of Waukegan has had some good reports
of fish being caught, but you need to watch the weather conditions,
and there are no piers in at the launch, so proceed with
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 some limits of perch. Also fishing in Indiana waters near
the “hole-in-the wall” has been also showing some promise with the
perch fishing. 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 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
The channels of the main lakes have started to freeze over, but
there have not been reports of safe ice as of yet. Keep checking
with local bait shops and websites for reports as it will only take
a few days of sub-freezing temperatures to get these areas frozen
over. Channels like “Nielsen’s” or the “T” will be the first areas
to freeze. The channels run about 4 feet deep and the fish are
stacking up in there and feeding well. Fishing small plastics
tipped with wax worms have 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
Crab Orchard Lake: Wind and cold hampered anglers for most of
December, but a warming helped bass fishermen get in some good
catches right before Christmas. A report of a 6-pound largemouth
was made in mid-December, caught on a spinnerbait. Otherwise,
bluegills have slowed, although some fish are still being caught
along the rip rap on crickets and wax worms. Catfish action is good
on a variety of baits fished around shore.
Baldwin Lake: Bluegills are slow but will hit on meal worms or wax
worms occasionally. This warm water lake is holding some large
catfish, and fishing for them is expected to pick up next month.
Bass slowed down right after Thanksgiving, and are expected to
remain slow through January.
Carlyle Lake: Water levels have played havoc with anglers, but
winter fishing is picking up. Bass caught near shore on spinners.
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. Cut bait also working as are slab spoons
thrown up along the wall. Crappies good below the dam.
Kinkaid Lake: Anglers continue to report good muskie action, though
the fishing has slowed down as the water temperature drops.
Spinnerbaits and shallow running baits are still the most
effective. Crappies are rated fair. Anglers are taking fish are
varied depths, from 2-18 feet. Minnows are the primary bait.
Catfish and bluegills action has been slow. However, bass anglers
are reporting good success on spinnerbaits.
Lake Murphysboro: Catfish action remains excellent, particularly in
the morning and early evening. Most anglers are using chicken liver
and night crawlers. Bass are also rated fair to good. Crappie
anglers are finding fish are various depths. Minnows are the
preferred bait. Bluegill action is slow.
Little Grassy: 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 a
week before Christmas, but numbers were down. Minnows are the
primary bait. Bass action remains fair. Bass are expected to pick
up again in late January, or if a warm spell hits sooner.
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.
The Route 154 rip rap, Gun Creek bridge and the sailboat harbor
wall have all been productive areas. Catfish action has also been
good. Catfish anglers are working rip rap areas, Gun Creek, the
subimpoundment dams and shallow areas. Shrimp, night crawlers,
shiners, and stink baits have all been effective. Bass have been
caught on live minnows and on spinners, mostly in midafternoon.
Lake Sangchris: Bass are fair near hot water ditch on jigs and
crankbaits. Crappies are fair on minnows. The west and east arms of
the lake and dam area are closed to boat traffic through the end of
January. During this time, fishing boat traffic is permitted in the
center hot arm only. The exception will be for hunting programs
with restricted usage during this time. For more info, contact the
site office at (217) 498-9208. Most area lakes have open water.
Smaller shallow water bodies have skim ice forming every night but
open areas during the day.
Lake Springfield: Catfish are fair near the warm-water discharge
ditch. Crappies are fair in warm-water end of the lake on minnows
around docks and brush. White and yellow bass are good, but many
are small fish are near the warm-water area. Largemouth bass are
Evergreen Lake: Lake and Comlara park will be closed for
late-winter firearm antlerless deer season. Exceptions to the
closings are: bank fishing will be allowed at the pumphouse, in the
campground cove and Jone’s Pond. Some anglers are reporting good
crappie catches using minnow and jigs. Bass have slowed, as have
Mississippi River: Ice conditions are improving in backwaters.
Small bodies of water are fishable, but larger areas dangerous.
Bluegill fishing is fair. Most fish being caught are 7 to 9 inches.
There are reports of good walleye fishing below Lock and Dam at
Fox River: The river is up with the recent rains and drawdown so it
has made wading difficult and dangerous. The walleye bite has died
down, and there are some fish being caught. There have been few
reports of some large fish being caught on minnow- style stickbaits
as well as jig and minnow combination. Look for the deeper holes
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 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 river is flowing fast and hard with very low
visibility and lots of debris. Fishing has been poor with very few
reports of numbers of fish being caught. The saugers can be found,
but until conditions improve getting them to bite will be
difficult. If you do get out, the techniques that have been
preferred have been: vertical jigging jigs with minnows or using a
floater jig and lindy rigging minnows. Also casting or vertical
jigging blade style baits.
The white bass bite is slow. White jig and twister combos with a
minnow are quite productive. Using minnows is key as these fish are
feeding up for the long winter months and often times a little meat
on the hook is all it takes to get the fish to go. 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 at
this stage can get dicey.
Des Plaines River: The walleyes have been found using jerkbaits 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.
Kankakee River: In the Momence area, smallmouth bass good around
shoreline pools on spinners, crankbaits and minnows. Crappies good
on minnows, pinkie jigs and small spinners.