Northern Illinois Fishing Report – January 8th, 2016
Lake Michigan: Cohos mixed in with the king salmon. Spotty reports all up and down the lake. Fish are taking crankbaits during the day and glow spoons at night. Chinook mixed with coho. The trout action in the harbors has slowed. Fish are being caught on spawn sacks under a float as well as the standard tinsel or white tube jig tipped with wax worms. Casting darter jigs or bladebaits has been a good option. The warm water discharges are holding fish, and if you can launch the boat, you have a good chance at getting into some good fishing opportunities.
The discharge north of Waukegan has had some good reports of fish being caught, but you need to watch the weather conditions.
The steelhead bite is starting to slow 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 fish.
Navy Pier and the downtown harbors are slow and cold but 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. 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 current was strong in late December in the channels. It seems like the fish don’t know where to go with the weird weather.
White bass and sheepshead were caught in the 16 to 20 foot range on minnows and spikes.
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” channel 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 in past years. Make sure you try to get a local report before venturing out.
Once on the lake, fishing with ice jigs under a slip-float can produce some exceptional catches this time of year. Live bait for most species is key this time of year. Floating minnows off the bottom on three-way rigs or suspended from a slip float can put some fair catches of walleyes in the livewell.
Crystal Lake: This is a private lake during the summer, but during the winter ice fishermen can access the lake from the beach areas. The bluegill bite is quite good in 7 to 9 feet of water, with keepers that can be found sorting through the smaller ones. The action for pike and bass can be very good in the shallower water near the shorelines. Crappies really start biting at sundown and can be taken on minnows or small plastics fished shallow.
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. 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. There are also some pike being taken on minnows. Make sure to pay attention to any site-specific regulations and watch where you are walking.