Northern Illinois Fishing Report – February 5th, 2016
Lake Michigan: The harbors have some ice but caution should be used if you head out. Most fishermen have been fishing from the docks instead of walking out. There have been very few reports of trout being caught at this time. They are there; you just really need to work for them. Spawn sacks 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. Racine Harbor in Wisconsin is producing some better catches of browns and steelhead.
Winter anglers have been catching a lot of small perch 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.”
Navy Pier is producing some catches of perch. The fish are small 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. Don’t forget to bring a heavy anchor or such on a long rope as there is ice near the pier and you need to break open holes to be able to fish.
Fishermen have been catching perch off the bridge on 95th Street in the channel. If the winds are down and you can launch the boat, there are some good opportunities for some perch in this area as well as around the lighthouse.
Silver Lake (DuPage County): Ice fairly solid. Bluegills being caught on waxworms and nightcrawlers.
Chain: The entire Chain has some solid ice on it and there have been sporadic reports on the fishing. Ice conditions are changing and the ice can become unsafe quickly. Most reports are showing that there is a decent crappie bite in the 14 feet of water range 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.
Deep Lake has had a good crappie bite, as has Spring Lake. Walleyes and perch biting on Fox Lake and Grass Lake.
Walleyes good on Marie using jigs and minnows, or a combination.
The white bass have been showing themselves. If you look for the deeper holes in the 18 to 20 feet of water range, you are likely to find some good schools. Often it takes a lot of changing of baits to get these fish to bite.
The back bays and Pistakee and Mineola Bay have a been good as well as the south end of Channel Lake.
There have been some good reports of mixed bags of panfish being caught with the occasional walleye. The best areas have been at the south end of the bay in the 15 feet of water range. If you move out to the deeper drops, people are finding the 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 some really nice keeper bluegills on the lake.
Shabbona: The ice conditions are good on the lake with fish being taken around the cribs and the timber. The water is still stained and with the snow cover, larger jigs with a bigger profile will attract more fish. Keep a rod with a small jig, deadsticked and jig a larger jig to attract fish in. The larger jig will get their attention, and they will likely take the jig that you have dead-sticked.
Crystal Lake: The crappies and bluegills are giving many a fisherman 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 bass, northerns and even walleyes in the shallow areas of the bays as well as the deep points.
Bangs Lake: There has been a really good bite on the crappies and the pumpkinseeds as of late. 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 then 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 10-12 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.
Busse: There is ice, but it won’t take long for it to be unsafe. Use caution if you head out. The solid ice 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 northerns are active on tip-ups with medium and large golden roaches as well as on larger jigging spoons tipped with a minnow head.
McCullom Lake: The deeper water by Peterson Park is producing good northern and bass on tip-ups. Some decent crappies are being caught by small jigs and plastics, and there are some small gills mixed in. There have been reports of perch also being caught. Watch for open water near the park side.
Mazonia: Some ice solid enough to fish, but be careful. There have been good reports of fish coming out this year. Good 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 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.