Northern Illinois Fishing Report – January 25th, 2013

Lake Michigan

Reports of perch from Navy Pier are sparse. Smaller fish are around with some big ones mixed in. Double rigs with minnows or shrimp are effective. Some larger fish are being caught on small flukes and other plastics. You may need to bring an anchor on a rope to break open holes in the ice that forms around the pier. Remember to bring a net as the occasional trout can be in the mix.
There are reports of perch being caught around 95th Street. Standard fare of double rigs with shrimp or minnows seem to be working best.
The brown trout bite has slowed down on the lakefront. If you can find open water, spawn sacs under a float or small tube jigs worked about 6-feet down under a good slip float. Jerkbaits and other minnow baits are doing well as well as jigging with white jerkbaits or twisters.
The downtown harbors have not been producing fish as well as early season. Browns and rainbows are still being taken, however the bite has slowed. Jigging spoons tipped with minnow heads as well as dead sticking spawn sacks near the bottom will produce browns. Golden roaches or spawn sacks on a tip-up have been taking rainbows. The perch in the harbor are small, and there have been little reports of sizable fish or limits taken. Reports have shown that a lot are being caught and getting limits of larger fish require 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 recent thaw and rains, the ice is iffy out there so take caution if you head out. Use the buddy system, and make sure you have all your safety gear!
There is ice on the channels and most of the main lakes. The ice is thin averaging about 3 inches in the channels but thinner in the main lake areas. Phone the local bait shops in the areas before going out.
The channels have been producing good catches of panfish on small tungsten jigs tipped single spikes.
The bays have some good ice, however the shorelines are thin. Reports of white bass and crappies are coming in. The fish are suspending over 12 feet of water and are moving so it pays to be mobile. Plastics on horizontal jigs are best for bigger fish.

Bangs Lake

The ice has been iffy, but there have been some reports of good pumpkinseeds and bluegills being caught on the north end. There is still open water in the main lake basin so take caution. Small is key. Small tungsten jigs tipped with one or two spikes have been the choice of most. Crappie action has been sporadic. Fish have been found suspended in 15 feet of water and then moving into the shallows in the mornings. Black jigs tipped with waxies as well as minnows on glow-style jigs are working well. Perch are being caught in the 10 feet of water range with a lot of sorting to get decent keepers.

Wonder Lake

This is a private lake during the summer, however, during the winter, ice fishermen are able to access the lake from the beach areas. The bluegill bite is quite good in 5 to 7 feet of water, with keepers that can be found sorting through the smaller ones. Also, there is a really good population of perch that can be found fishing aggressive patterns near the bottom.  Often stirring up the bottom with your jig will bring pods of fish into the area. Always remember to leave the ice as you found it and take off all your trash.

Kenosha Harbor

The main harbor is open and the runoff from the snow is starting to turn the browns on. Fish the outlet pipes in the harbor, floating spawn sacs as well as golden roaches. Vary your depths so that you cover a good deal of water and you will be rewarded for your efforts. Don’t be afraid to throw smaller spoons or crankbaits near the walls and rocks.  The small boat harbor still has some good ice and tube jigs with waxies as well as tipups with spawn have been putting some nice browns on the ice.  Take caution on the ice as there are aerators around the docks and the ice can be unsafe in these areas.

Willow Slough

The bluegills are still biting quite well and the bite seems to be all day long. Areas near the shallow weeds are producing. Make sure that you don’t stay stationary as the gills are moving from area to area and hole hopping is a must during the early hours. Once you find them, you can stay on a good area for some keeper gills. Again, small gill pill or horizontal style jigs with a couple of spikes are producing. Make sure to pay attention to any site-specific regulations and watch where you are walking.

Crystal Lake

The west end is locked up and there have been spotty reports.  The bluegills are small and hard to find.  Bigger fish are being found closer to the points and deeper water.
Pike have been doing ok on tip-ups, but most have found the action to be slow.

Island Lake

Due to the drought over the summer, this lake is down 3 feet and this leaves most of the lake a tough area to fish. Most spots are shallow and the bite is very tough. It takes some stealth and a lot of hole hopping to find fish. Stay mobile and work your way around areas. Take caution as there is still open water in the main basin of the lake.

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