The November yin and yang of Chicago fishing, ice or no ice to perch or no perch, headlines this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.


Early patchy fishable ice around Chicago fishing is no longer fishable and the wait is on for better water clarity to help lakefront perch fishing, those two strings headline the sprawling raw-fie Midwest Fishing Report.

Put it this way for ice fishing, if you’re a deer hunter headed to northern Wisconsin this weekend, pack your ice-fishing gear; if deer hunting, even in northern Illinois, don’t even think about ice fishing.

But it’s not all perch and hoping on ice.

Danny “Taks’’ Borgert has been catching some nice trout around the Chicago harbors, including the steelhead above, which he posted on Instagram with this, “She was ready to pop!’’


Readers suggest SpotHero app downtown. Montrose (free parking); Navy Pier (check in parking office in east lot, be out by 10 a.m. for $8 angler parking); DuSable Harbor (fisherman’s lot); Northerly Island/Burnham Harbor (meters or fisherman’s lot); Steelworkers Park (free street parking at east end of 87th).


Pier passes ($6) for select piers in Chicago harbors and $10 parking passes (DuSable, Burnham fisherman’s lots) are available at Henry’s Sports and Bait, Park Bait (until close) or Northerly Island (10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday).


What bits of ice fishing there was ever so briefly in spots is done or will be. I expect a lot of lakes and ponds will even be losing their skim or thin ice.

In these in-between conditions you catch what you can, such as the Leyden bass fishing club did.
Provided by Rob Abouchar

This email from Rob Abouchar gives a couple hints for fishing public waters in these conditions:

Hi Dale

I had my Leyden Bass Club out last Saturday for some fishing at the warm water discharge and creek below the dam at Bussw Woods. When we arrived an angler reported that he had landed a 35 inch Muskie in the area befor the Arlington Heights rd bridge. The boys in the club were able to land some Bluegill to make the day a success. Bass were seen moving in the area and a northern pike that refused to bite. A fearless Great Blue Herron was having success as well in the area.

The Happy Hookers and Anglers dream clubs have announced their tournament schedules for 2020.

On the musical front the rock Band Hot Sofa is scheduled to play the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles for the Band Battle Finale on Wednesday December 11th ; and at Sugar Skull in Franklin Park on Friday the 13th of December. Hopefully we land the big one in St. Charles. On Sunday I will be hosting the second session to work on my original reggae Music.

Tight Lines,


OK, I really like including Rob’s musical updates in the sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.


Variable reports on perch, such as what Curt Pazdro messaged on his All-American bass-fishing son, who showed talents in other fishing:

Wyatt went out in the call sag with the boat alot of perch only 12 keepers

Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station texted:

Fisherman fishing slips and up river all the way to the ford plant already doing decent on perch most days somedays u have to move around to get the 15 perch limit but a lot of fish being caught last few days


Art Frisell at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said some were ice fishing over the weekend on the back channels, but it is done now. Small areas of fishable open water, more open water to come in next few days.

Hermann’s Rest-a-While, which offers parking, access, food and drink at Nielsen’s Channel, also offers to include people on text messages about conditions. To opt in to this service, text “ice conditions” to (847) 309-2225. Tuesday’s update was no one was out and “the shoreline is looking pretty wet.’’


Waiting on perch to come in good.


Braidwood, Heidecke, LaSalle and Mazonia (except Monster at Mazonia, which is open year-round) are closed for the season.



Dan Kiska found conditions right on the Des Plaines River for northern pike.

Dan Kiska messaged the photo above and this:

Hey sale wanted to send you a couple pictures of this fat 33” pike I got the other day.

Yes sir. So much action the other day, with the water finally coming down from flood stages fish were hungry. Got a few real nice ones to.


EMIQUON: Go to SHELBYVILLE: Check with Ken Wilson of Lithia Guide Service. SOUTHERN ILLINOIS: Check with Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing. HENNEPIN-HOPPER: Closed for the season. POWERTON: Reopens to bank fishing on Dec. 23. Boat fishing reopens Feb. 15.



Bluegills on Big Green caught Monday ice fishing.


Mike Norris with an open-water smallmouth bass from Big Green.

Guide Mike Norris texted the photos above of bluegills on ice Monday and a big open-water smallmouth on Saturday on Big Green, but followed up Tuesday with this update:

Back bay ice. It will be severely weakened today and tomorrow with temps expected in the low 40”s

Here is his general report:

Fishing Report – 11/18/2019

Mike Norris

Big Green Lake – My clients and I are still catching smallmouth bass, but the bite is slower. Weed beds located in the deeper flats on major points are starting to die off and the bass are repositioning to the steepest drop off areas along the other edges of the points. With below freezing air temps at night and daytime highs only reaching the upper 30’s, the water temperature on Big Green has dropped to 43 degrees. It won’t be too long now before Big Green experiences the fall turnover. While this body of water will remain open well into December, the shallow bays and T-Channels on Big Green are now frozen with two to three inches of ice. On colder days I’m fishing Big Green’s back channels and bays and catching nice-sized bluegills through the ice. On warmer days I’m still chasing after smallmouth bass by boat on Big Green. Small jigs tipped with plastic wedges or wax worms are the best bet for icing bluegills while live suckers remain my choice of bait for open water smallmouth bass.

As far as it goes for other south-central Wisconsin Lakes, Fox Lake in Dodge County now has 4 inches of ice and anglers there are catching walleye and northern pike with medium sized golden roaches set up beneath Beaver Dam tip-ups. Lake Puckaway in Marquette County has 4- to 5-inches of ice. Anglers are doing very good on walleye either jigging with spoons tipped with minnow heads or with medium-sized golden roaches beneath Beaver Dam tip-ups.

Contact Mike Norris, Wacky Worm Guide Service, at 630-842-8199 for Big Green Lake and other south-central Wisconsin guided fishing trips.


Check the Wisconsin DNR weekly report at

Lance LaVine at Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay emailed this:

Hi fellas, sorry for the delay, been hunting with no success. Not much to report, but here we go

Perch fishing has been very good when folks can get out there due to the weather. Sawyer Harbor and Little Sturgeon have been the best areas. Fat head minnows have been the best bait

Pike fishing has also been fantastic for both boat fishermen and shore fishermen. Casting and trolling large crank baits, spoons and spinner baits all have been working along with soaking medium and large sucker minnows

The night time Walleye action has been going very good for the die-hard Walleye anglers that are still going out there. Areas to try include…Sherwood Point, Henderson’s Point along with the vast, steep rocky shoreline to the north of Sturgeon Bay. Trolling with suspending crank baits has been the best

Brown Trout action is starting to heat up as it usually does this time of year. Areas to try include…downtown Sturgeon Bay, Egg Harbor, Bailey’s Harbor, Ephraim and Sister Bay. Trolling and casting with crank baits and spoons has been the ticket


Lance LaVine

Howie’s Tackle
1309 Green Bay Rd
Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235
Ph: 920-746-9916


Check the report at


As noted at the top, there’s some steelhead around, but it is mainly waiting on water to clear better and perch settle in more completely.

Stacey Greene at Park Bait at Montrose Harbor texted:

I haven’t heard anything you probably haven’t heard things are a little sporadic over at Navy Pier and 87th I haven’t heard anything my way but I’m not sure of any guys fishing this way

Lori Ralph at the Salmon Stop texted:

Aug talked to one guy last week who supposedly caught a Steelie on a sack off gov pier,other than that, no fishing customers, just a few folks buying feeders

SALMON SNAGGING: Here are the details from the IDNR:

4) Snagging for chinook and coho salmon only is permitted from the following Lake Michigan shoreline areas from October 1 through December 31; however, no snagging is allowed at any time within 200 feet of a moored watercraft or as posted: A) Lincoln Park Lagoon from the Fullerton Avenue Bridge to the southern end of the Lagoon. B) Waukegan Harbor (in North Harbor basin only). C) Winnetka Power Plant discharge area. D) Jackson Harbor (Inner and Outer Harbors).

d) Disposition of Snagged Salmon and Paddlefish. All snagged salmon and paddlefish must be removed from the area from which they are taken and disposed of properly, in accordance with Article 5, Section 5-5 of the Fish and Aquatic Life Code.


Check the D&S Bait update at


Kurt Justice at Kurt’s Island Sport Shop emailed:

Well, its official, ice fishing looks like it’s here to stay for the rest of 2019. Most have put their open water gear away for the year, while others stare at it in the garage hoping spring comes early and not in July again.

Anglers were getting the itch and are out in full force this weekend on the ice with pretty good catches being reported. The number one question…how’s the ice thickness? Well first off, not all lakes are the same. Ice varies from lake to lake with open water in spots on some lakes, to up to 6 inches on others. Smaller, shallow lakes will have better ice than the larger, deep lakes. Anglers are getting out on bigger lakes in small bays isolated from the wind. Sunday brought us an inch or so of snow with a bit of drizzle mixed in. High temps this week look to be in the mid 30’s, this will make it a little sloppy on top of the ice. As always use caution with early ice, bring a spud and check the ice thickness frequently, bring a buddy along, rope, and ice picks. Ice can be good in one spot and thin only a few feet away, use the spud regularly to check the thickness!

Northern Pike: Good – These predators have been cruising the shallow weeds looking for food. Sucker minnows, chubs or shiners are all you need under a flag to get these toothy critters to bite.

Walleye: Good – Evening bite seems to be the best, followed by pre-dawn. Jigging and tip-ups are both producing fish. Jigging Raps, Slab Raps, Rippin Raps are all getting active fish to bite, as well as jigging spoons tipped with a minnow head for scent. Tip-ups are a great way to cover water and locate fish. Shiners, suckers and chubs are all working well. If you’re fishing the weeds, shiners and chubs seem to be working the best, where as if you’re targeting Walleye in rocky or gravel areas, suckers seem to be doing better. Also, if you’re fishing some of the clear lakes, a flourocarbon leader on a tip-up can really make a difference from getting a flag or not.

Crappie: Good – If you can find green weeds, 6-12 feet of water and safe ice, you should find some Crappie. Early mornings and evenings are best times. Small jigging spoons, Z-Vibers and #3 UL Rippin Raps have been putting fish on the ice, some good size fish too. With the warm weather, if you can scatter a couple tip-downs this can really increase your catch rate. A small treble with a fathead or rosie will do the trick. Stained water, a rosie red minnow can really make a big difference on catching Crappie.

Bluegill: Good – Gills have been showing up in the shallow weedy areas, 4-10 feet of water. Spikes or waxies are both producing tipped to a small tungsten or leadhead jig. If you want bigger fish try tipping a plastic, like a wedge or a nuggie, to your jig and add a spike for a little meat.

Perch: Good – A lot of fish, but a lot of smaller fish being reported. The few people I talked to targeting Perch said they had to do a lot of sorting. Larger baits will help you get the bigger fish. Use larger fatheads, plastics or a flutter spoon tipped with 2-3 waxies to help get the larger fish to hit.

Musky: ??? – Season is still open and there’s still time to get that pig. Some of the large, deep, clear lakes have partial open water, depending on wind direction and if you can get a boat in the launch or not. The other option is thru the ice with a tip-up and a Musky sucker. Just use your quickset rig and Musky bobber, the sucker won’t trip your flag then. And yes, we still do have Musky suckers left.

Gun deer season opens this Saturday. As of now we have tracking snow on the ground, 1-3 inches in most spots in the woods. A lot going on this time of year, with hunting and ice fishing coming early, so get out and enjoy it. First ice is some of the best ice fishing of the year, but can also be the most dangerous. Please use caution and be safe!

Kurt Justice
Kurt’s Island Sport Shop
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Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station texted:

Boat fisherman doing really well on perch at the mouth of cal park xl fatheads and baby roach best

Fisherman fishing slips and up river all the way to the ford plant already doing decent on perch most days somedays u have to move around to get the 15 perch limit but a lot of fish being caught last few days

Winter steelhead are trickling in at a fair rate lower stretch’s of tributaries giving some fish up voodoo jigs tipped with butterworms or waxworms best floating the runs and deep holes

Yes slezs bait still has musky suckers in stock along with 5 other sizes of minnows come take ur pick


The Wisconsin DNR usuaully issues updates on Tuesday or Wednesday at


Staff at Tackle Haven in Benton Harbor said there’s some whitefish off the pier and some steelhead by Berrien Springs, but not much in mid-river.


Lakeside is closed until ice fishing. Park hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m.


For the southern Lake Michigan reports from the Wisconsin DNR, go to

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