Chain: The channels have been producing good catches of panfish on small tungsten jigs tipped with single spikes. There are few reports on walleyes and bass as the launches are all frozen over and the bigger water is not safe for travel yet.
Bays have been producing good catches of white bass in 15-foot depths. The crappie bite also has been good, but finding them is hard. They have been suspending on the breaklines near deeper water. The north end of Channel Lake has been producing good catches of panfish. The weeds are still green and are holding good quality fish.
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.
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. Crappie rigs with fathead minnows seem to be producing the best.
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.
Crab Orchard Lake: Anglers are reporting that crappies are being found at depths ranging from about six to 10 feet. Most are in heavy cover near points. The best baits have been minnows and jigs. Bright colors seem to be the best bet. Bluegills are being caught near riprap and around weedbeds on the typical bluegill baits. Bass fishing has been slow.
Baldwin Lake: Catfish are on the move and those that are being caught are small. Anglers are tossing crankbaits around rip rap and catching a few bass. Bluegills are slow but will hit on meal worms or wax worms occasionally.
Kinkaid Lake: Overall, fishing has been slow. Bluegills have been biting on worms, but the bite has tapered off. Crappies are slow, but some are being taken on minnows in 12 to 15 feet of water. Muskies are being caught, though action is slow.
Little Grassy: Crappies have been biting on minnows, mostly in cover in about 15 to 20 feet of water. Bass action has improved, but remains slow. Plastic worms have worked best. Bluegills are running small and biting on worms.
Lake Murphysboro: Catfish action remains excellent, particularly in the morning and early evening. Most anglers are using chicken liver and nightcrawlers. Bass are also rated fair to good. Crappie anglers are finding fish are various depths. Minnows are the preferred bait. Bluegill action is slow.
Coffeen Lake: Bass fishing has been good for anglers using crankbaits and plastic worms. Crappies have been slow to bite. Catfish have been caught on nightcrawlers and stinkbaits. Striped bass have been hitting top-water lures in the evening.
Sangchris Lake: Crappie fishing has been good on minnows.
Lake Taylorville: The crappie bite has been hot. The bait of choice is small jigs tipped with wax worms or spikes under floats. Skipping under the deeper docks or finding the submerged timber and green weeds is working.
Illinois River: The walleye and sauger bite has dropped off. The bite shut down and fish are harder to find. Anglers who are catching fish are finding them here and there and nothing is showing up as a good pattern. Trolling lead core with stickbaits or three-way rigs with the bottom weight being a jig and minnow and an F-9 Rapala on the long line. Work the flats created on the current bends.
Fox River: The walleye bite is starting to pick up with some fish being reported at the McHenry Dam and also in the Elgin area. The fish are being caught on Gulp-style jigs as well as jerkbaits. There have been some good schools of white bass showing up as well.
Kankakee River: Pike have been lively, and smallmouth bass have been biting near Momence on minnows and spinners. The catfish bite has died, as the fish have gone into their wintering holes. Smaller baits with a lot of scent are best.
Des Plaines: The walleyes have been found using jerkbaits and jointed minnowbaits. They are being taken in the evening hours working the deeper holes that are adjacent to shallow water. Good numbers of northern pike are also to be found fishing live bait under a float or throwing inline spinners and jerkbaits.