Lake Michigan: The trout bite has been slow in the downtown harbors. The steelhead have started to show up in larger numbers and best baits have been egg sacks under a float. Navy Pier and the downtown harbors are producing great catches of perch. Crappie rigs with fathead minnows seem to be producing the best. Shrimp has also been catching fish. 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 the ice can form near the pier and you may need to break open holes to be able to fish.
Boaters are launching out of 95th Street and fishing the channel and surrounding lakefront are also finding some good fish.
Lakers are being caught trolling dodgers with Spin-n-glows along the reef near the Port of Indiana. They are also being caught jigging bladebaits in white and yellow colors. Jigs have also been doing good.
Chain: There has been ice building up around the shallow areas and the shorelines. This makes launching difficult so use caution when launching. Also watch the winds as this may blow pack ice into the launch while you are out and you may have trouble getting the boat back to the launch.
The walleye bite has been slow with some fish being taken live bait rigging on the break lines. The channels have frozen up and they are being fished hard, but the ice conditions are constantly changing. Be safe if you are going out. There have been some nice bluegills and crappies put on the ice.
The flats are also holding fish as well. Jerkbaits in the low light are producing aggressive strikes. Shad color or chartreuse are doing the best.
The bass bite is slowing down. Live bait rigged on the breaks is producing some bites. Wooden boat docks are holding fish during the day as they warm the water faster.
Panfish are slow right now. Ice jigs under slip floats or small spoons worked in the deeper areas. Live bait is working well, however plastics are still getting some of the larger fish to bite.
Muskie action is hit and miss, but having suckers is key to big fish. Fish are showing themselves on Channel and Catherine lakes in the deeper water areas. Big suckers as well as bucktails are the baits of choice.
Shabbona: Crappies are being caught over the fish cribs. Search the cribs that surround each of the land piers. The secret to success this time of the year is to use a lively minnow. You will have to continually change your minnow because they don’t last long. Perch are still being caught along the deeper weedlines. Use minnows near the bottom for best results.
Willow Slough: The bluegills are biting quite well and seem to turn on toward the afternoon. Areas near the weeds and lily pads are producing. Make sure that you don’t stay stationary as the gills are moving from area to area during the early hours.