Lake Michigan: The northern harbors were seeing a decline in the amount of fish caught, but there are still browns and steelhead being caught. 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. Tinsel jigs as well as tube jigs under floats are also producing fish. The inner harbors are starting to form ice so you may need to move around to find open water.
Navy Pier and the downtown Harbors are starting to produce some 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.
Lakers are still being caught trolling dodgers with Spin-n-glows along the reef near the Port of Indiana. They are being found in 20 to 40 feet of water around and on top of the reef. Boaters venturing out of Chicago launches are finding the lakers and brown trout out deep but they are still around and hitting well.
The 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. 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.
Chain: The lakes were starting to develop some ice and launching can be difficult. If you do get out, the walleyes are still hitting jig and minnow combinations, and the panfish are active on the smaller presentations of a teardrop jig tipped with waxies or spikes under a float.
The back waters and channels have ice on them, and there have been reports of panfish being caught on the T-Channel and Nielsons. Be cautious and check the ice conditions prior to venturing out.
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.