Illinois ice fishing improving

January 22, 2009 at 12:21 PM

The ice is a given almost anywhere you go in north or central Illinois. And fish are generally biting better in those same areas, with afternoons particularly productive of late.

Al Hayden of Al’s Sporting Goods in Galesburg reports two crappie over 2 pounds in recent days, including a 17.25-inch, 2-10 slab caught by Roger Roy.

And while waxworms had been in short supply recently, many shops had waxies on Wednesday, though supplies were going fast.

Here’s a quick look at some fishing conditions as gathered by Stan Morris.

Northern Illinois

In and around the Chicago lakefront, perch are being caught on the east side of the Burnham Harbor says Henry’s (312-225-8538). Spikes and small minnows working best. Also try Montrose and Belmont. The state line power plant on the southeast side of Chicago is producing browns using golden roaches.

At the Fox Chain O’ Lakes, the north end of Channel Lake good for crappie, walleye and bluegill says Henry’s. South end of Channel also good for bluegill. Crappie bite best early and late says Triangle Sports & Marina (1-847-395-0813). White bass biting decently at Marie and Petite. Walleye also active at Marie and anglers also finding walleye, crappie and bluegill at Petite.

Shabonna Lake has about a foot of ice and a mix of panfish.

Wolf Lake has been good for crappie and bass on the Illinois side.

Deep Lake is producing bluegill and crappie, with tip-ups being used for northerns.

Locators are going quickly for ice fishermen at Tom’s Bait & Tackle in Freeport (815-232-3337). Calam says ice fishing is average, with most anglers needed to work the lakes and keep changing its every 15-20 minutes or so.

The Mississippi River is proving to be hit and miss.

Apple Canyon has been decent for bluegills. There is a 19-inch ice cover but also 8-10 inches of snow on top of the ice making it difficult to get around. Fish are suspended in deeper water.

Central Illinois

In central Illinois, ice fishing is really picking up says Merle Keefer at Pekin Bass & Bow (309-347-3334). Bass biting good on minnows on the south end of Spring Lake. Muskies and northern also being caught there on medium shiners.

Banner Marsh has been good for crappie says Keefer.

The bluegill bite is strong in area strip mines and ponds around the Fulton County conservation area.

Powerton Lake has open water and continues to be good for channel cats, white bass and smallmouth bass. Channel cats biting on strata spoons and whole baby shad. White bass best on gay blades and smallies taking jig and minnows.

Crappie are also good in area strip mines, farm ponds says Tim Presley of Presley’s Outdoors in Bartonville (309-697-1193). Waxies, spikes and minnows all working in six feet of water 2-3 feet off the bottom. Afternoon bite seems best.

Hayden in Galesburg (309)-342-7776) says ice fishing is “hot” on Lake Storey, with crappie best on minnows. Some bluegill also being caught on waxworms. Area farm ponds also reporting good action