Lake Michigan: The harbors are all ice covered and there have been reports of keeper perch being caught. There is a lot of sorting being done, but if you stick at it you will find the jumbos. Larger baits are taking the larger fish.
Trout are being caught as well on spawn sacs or live minnows fished near the bottom on tip-ups or auto rigs.
The fish are there; you just really need to work for them. Presentations slowly jigged as well as the standard tinsel or white tube jig tipped with wax worms are both good. Belmont seems to be the best harbor in the Chicago area.
Kenosha and Racine harbors in Wisconsin are producing better catches of browns and steelhead.
Navy Pier is producing great catches of perch. 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.
The ice fishermen have been catching a lot of perch through the ice near the docks. Fishing small jigging spoons tipped with spikes as well as smaller jigs with plastics have been producing very well. The reports on the perch have shown a lot of small fish, but if you keep at it, there are some keepers to be had. Don’t forget to stop at the local bait shops to pick up your “pier pass.”
The launches have some ice, but some people are getting out into the river and catching perch on minnows and plastics. If you can get out from the launch, the warm-water discharges are pumping good, and the browns and steelhead have moved in to feed on the baitfish in these areas. White jigs tipped with squid are doing well.
Chain: Most reports are showing that there is a decent crappie bite during the dawn and pre-dawn hours as well as at sunset and after. The fish are suspending about 8 to 10 feet down and are looking for smaller jigs and plastics or jigs tipped with a couple of spikes.
The back bays and such as Pistakee and Mineola Bay have a been good, as well as the south end of Channel Lake.
There have been reports of mixed bags of panfish being caught with the occasional walleye. The best areas have been at the southern end of the bay in the 7 feet of water range. If you move out to the deeper drops, people are finding white bass suspended over the deeper water. Small jigging spoons tipped with spikes or gulp minnows are catching most of the white bass and crappies.
The bluegill bite is on and off in the shallower areas. It seems that the 8-10 feet of water range has been best for some of these hard fighters. Find areas with green weeds and fish the openings or edges. Smaller jigs like a Slug-Bug are putting nice keeper bluegills on the lake.
For the white bass, look for the deeper holes in the 18 to 20 feet of water range, you are likely to find good schools. Often it takes a lot of changing of baits to get these fish to bite.
Crystal Lake: There have been poor reports of fish being caught. The crappies and bluegills are giving many fishermen 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.
The guys fishing tip-ups have been doing very well on the bass, northern pikes and even walleyes in the shallow areas of the bays as well as deep points.
Bangs Lake: The crappies and the pumpkinseed bite has died down, but there are still fish to be caught. The bluegills and pumpkinseeds are being found in 5-8 feet of water and the bite seems to be best early in the morning and again later in the day. Vertical style jigs with spikes or wigglers seem to be one of the better producers for these fine table fare.
The crappies are being found a bit deeper in the 10 to 12 feet of water range. You will see them suspended early in the day, however they are moving down to the bottom during the day. Horizontal jigs like gill pills with a single wax worm are working well. Dark colors seem to be producing better than lighter colors.
Find the green weeds and you will find the fish. Small tungsten jigs tipped with one or two spikes have been the choice of most. However plastics are putting some larger fish on the ice.
Busse Lake: The lake has had 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 good reports of good fish coming out this year. Decent-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.