Cold spell has many ice fishing

January 07, 2010 at 03:58 PM

Ice-fishing derbies

The annual Camelot Lake Ice Fishing Derby near Mapleton off Lancaster Road will be from 7 a.m. to noon Jan. 30. Cost is $7 for adults, $4 for children. Show up early enough to register and be on the ice before start time. Cash prizes go to the three anglers who catch the three heaviest fish of several species, including crappie, walleye, bass and catfish. Each angler may also weigh three bluegills, which are added together for a single total.

Wildlife Prairie State Park will host its first ever ice fishing derby from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Feb. 6 on a 10-acre lake behind the Parkside Pavilion that’s usually off limits. Early registration before Jan. 29 is $12 for ages 14 and up, $5 for 13 and under. Late registration is $16 for people 14 and up. Cash prizes, a raffle, and concessions available. Phone 309-676-0998.


Ice fishing is on the minds of many anglers lately, what with water in the northern two-thirds of the state locked up tight.

And as is so often the case when it comes to panfishing, smaller farm ponds are so far producing many of the best catches reported.

Ice thickness is ranging from 2-12 inches across the northern two-thirds of the state.

In the Decatur area, Joanne Lowe of Mike’s Tackle World said fishing has been very good in smaller ponds and gravel pits for crappie and bluegill. Most ice she has heard of is from 3-5 inches thick.

Further north near Galesburg, Al Hayden of Al’s Sporting Goods said smaller ponds are his top performers so far.

“I’ve heard some near nice panfish reports out of farm ponds and smaller lakes,” Hayden said.

At nearby Lake Storey, typically a hotbed of public ice fishing, crappie action has slowed. “They’re catching some nice crappie, some even 12-14 inches, but the numbers aren’t there,” Hayden said.

At Evergreen Lake, ice fishing is underway. Mike Steffa reports 5-8 inches in many coves but notes that all ice fishing is at your own risk. Dirty water has slowed fishing some, though anglers report a few smaller crappie and bluegill. Writes Scott Richardson of the Bloomington Pantagraph: “Most were targeting crappies in the bays, where reports were that 5- to 8 inches of ice had formed, he said. Beware. Snow, which is expected today, is an insulator and can slow the ice-making process.” Click here to read the rest of Richardson’s ice-fishing article.

In the Chicago area, Dale Bowman of the Chicago Sun-Times reports: “Ice is safe almost universally, the only exceptions are the few current areas strong enough to fight off the cold or a few spots swam open by Canada geese determined not to move.” Click here to read his report, which includes information on good action at the Chain O’Lakes and ice forming in Lake Michigan harbors.

We plan to start a weekly ice-fishing report next Wednesday. Sorry for the delay this week.