WISCONSIN’S FREE FISHING: Wisconsin holds its first winter free fishing weekend (no licenses or stamps required) on Saturday and Sunday.
AREA LAKES: Ice is rebuilding. Regulations on public area waters are posted at STRAY CASTS (blogs.suntimes.com/bowman).
CHAIN O’LAKES AREA: Triangle reported ice fishermen accessing some lakes (but with caution) around shoreline areas. There is a lot of open water. Most shoreline anglers are catching bluegills on ice jigs and spikes or wax worms. Some good pike along shoreline on roaches on tip-ups. Early-ice access spots are at STRAY CASTS (blogs.suntimes.com/bowman).
COOLING LAKES/STRIP PITS: MAZONIA: Site is open, but ice is nowhere near safe. Any ice fishing is at your own risk.
DELAVAN/LAKE GENEVA AREA, WISCONSIN: Brian Gates at Lake Geneva Bait and Tackle reported no ATVs or big shanties on Delavan as of Tuesday, but there has been ice fishing in front of the launch and some big bluegills north of the island. There are some good largemouth on the east end of Como and some good bluegills on Turtle. Geneva just iced over.
LAKEFRONT: CHICAGO: Harbors are icing up but are nowhere near safe. Arden Katz reported decent perch at Navy Pier (best) and Diversey, but they take sorting. There are some perch at Montrose, and a few are trying to cast for browns. Henry’s reported perch (take sorting) at 92nd and 95th in the river.
MADISON LAKES, WIS.: Gene Dellinger at D&S Bait reported good ice on Waubesa (perch and crappie in 25 feet and deeper) and Kegonsa (perch). Crappie and bluegills are being caught on Monona Bay and Cherokee Marsh. Mendota is covering with ice, getting close.
NORTHERN WISCONSIN: EAGLE RIVER: Chamber of Commerce reported 5 to 8 inches of ice with good-to-excellent pike and panfish (in 10 to 30 feet off of break edges or adjacent mudflats). MINOCQUA: Guide Kurt Justice of Kurt’s Island Sport Shop reported ice started building again; with no snow, wear cleats for slick surface. Crappie (on Rosie Reds in 8 to 12 feet over curly leaf cabbage) are the best bite. Pike and walleye (jigging raps and slender spoons over off-shore humps in 18 to 25 feet) are good.
NORTHWEST INDIANA: Mik-Lurch reported nice whitefish (small minnows and perch rigs) and good browns (roaches) at Gary Light in the nice weather last week. Willow Slough just froze Tuesday; it will be a few days before ice fishing. Wolf Lake is very unsafe for ice.
SHABBONA LAKE: A night of ice fishing is scheduled for Saturday, but fishermen need to be out by 10 p.m. Lakeside (shabbonalake.com) plans its first ice-fishing catfish weekend.
SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN: Tyler Harmon messaged that a few steelhead and browns are being caught up and down the coast. Fair steelhead in the rivers (spawn best) and slow but consistent whitefish off the piers.