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Things are changing quickly. Although we had a lot of snow dumped in the Chicagoland area on Tuesday night and into Wednesday, it's melting quickly. Traveling west to do the Fishing and Outdoor Radio Show Wednesday evening Jim DaRosa and I saw a few retention ponds beginning to open up. It's a sure sign that spring is coming.
For the ice anglers, it is more important now than ever before that you use the utmost caution when going out on the lakes and backwaters. Always go with a friend and bring safety equipment; rope, cleats, ice picks, PFDs, etc. Put a little space between you and your fishing partner so not so much weight is in one place. Be careful and have fun.
LaSalle Lake Opener
Typically LaSalle is closed on Mondays and Tuesday in March then opens 7 days a week starting April 1. Too, in the last couple years the open hours have changed on occasion. Specific information on the LaSalle Lake open dates and hours has not yet been distributed. The information should come out soon and when it does, you'll find it here on Illinois Outdoors. Keep checking back. Here's note from Chris Young from the IL DNR that came to me yesterday:
Saturday (March 15) is the opening day of fishing at LaSalle Lake, but the boat ramp will be closed due to ice. The lake will be open for bank fishing only from 6 a.m. – sunset Saturday, March 15. The lake will be closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
It's unknown at this time if Friday and Saturdays 50 degree+ temperatures and winds will melt off the ice which will allow the ramps to be open.
IL DNR Hosts Archery Tournament
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources will host the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) Illinois State Tournament Saturday, March 22 at the Orr Building on the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield. Participation continues to grow as 873 archers from 32 schools have qualified to compete. The 2013 State Tournament drew about 700 archers. 400 students competed in 2012. Top finishers qualify for the NASP National Tournament to be held May 9-10 in Louisville, Kentucky. Good luck to all schools participating.
Ice Report from Ken Husker O'Malley
Hey Don, Great weekend to be on the ice with the mild temperatures. Hit a farm pond out south on Saturday. Ice is solid at 14 inches. Took a while to figure out what the fish were doing after the front went through. Bass were good on tip ups baited with small roaches and jigging spoons with no rattles tipped with fatheads. Bluegill were being caught on tungsten jigs tipped with spikes. All fish were caught shallow in 4-5 feet of water with heavy weed grow present.
On Sunday, I took my daughter over to Wampum. Ice there is a foot with another 3 inches of frozen slush on top. Blue gill bite was good in 8-10 feet of water using a silver tungsten jig tipped with multiple spikes. She even caught a bonus crappie for all her hard work. It was great to get her out with me as our schedules never seem to line up these days. Only downside was no pike or bass on tip ups. Sometimes it's not about catching fish.
Water Werks Fishing Team
Greater Niagara New York Fishing Report by Bill Hilts Jr.
Lake Ontario and tributaries – Less than a week until spring? After over a foot of snow and a state of emergency in the lakeshore counties on Wednesday, it will be a day or two before things start to settle back down along Lake Ontario as far as the fishing action. Thursday started out with single digit temperatures, so there won’t be anyone rushing to cast a line. However, weather forecasts predict temperatures near 50 on Friday and near 40 on Saturday so some snow melting will be going on – adding water and some stain to the tributaries. This melting process will be pulling in some fresh trout into the systems. Prior to the storm and the snow, there was some open water flowing at Burt Dam and 18 Mile Creek and many steelhead are starting to do the spring spawning thing. White marabou jigs were effective, as were hot pink. Tip the jig with an egg or wax worm. Any type of an egg presentation should also catch fish for you. Ice fishing in Wilson is still an option, with the back bay producing a mix of panfish and perch. Target the main channel for trout or pike, but pike season closes on Saturday, March 15. Other seasons that close March 15 include inland tiger musky, pickerel and walleye. Speaking of Wilson, the annual bullhead contest is less than a month away on April 11. Anyone ever fish bullhead through the ice? Keg Creek east of Olcott should be opening up with the warm-up. Casting the mouth of the creek at the lake with spoons or spinners might be a fun option to try. You can do that any place where there is water flowing into the lake. The Oak is also producing a mix of dark and fresh steelhead from the dam at Waterport to beyond the Archer’s Club. There are some new guidelines that need to be followed in the Brookfield Power Plant area so be aware of them. For a clarification, give Mike Waterhouse a call at 585-589-3103.
Lower Niagara River – Boat fishermen are still doing well on trout but the waters flowing through the system have been clear thanks to a fully covered Lake Erie. With the warm up slowly starting to happen, the extra water entering the river from snow melt and any precipitation in the form of rain should add some color to the water and make fishing a bit easier. When the water is super clear, downsizing your presentation is normally the way to go. Use smaller hooks, lighter line and smaller baits like egg sacs or minnows. Kwikfish lures are also a good option if the winds are right. All these are fished off three-way rigs, from Devil’s Hole to the mouth of the river at the Niagara Bar. Some hardy fishermen continue to make the trek from Devil’s Hole State Park into the gorge, but caution is advised. Steelhead are hitting spoons, spinners, egg sacks and minnows, the latter two fished under a float. The Niagara River Anglers have a meeting on Monday, March 17 at the Jetport Restaurant in Niagara Falls starting at 7 pm. The NRAA will also be hosting its John Long, Sr. Memorial Raffle and Feast on March 23 starting at 2 pm at the St. Vincent de Paul Hall on Military Road, Niagara Falls. Walleye season closes on March 15 to help protect the spawning females.
Upper Niagara River – Not too much changed from last week with ice fishing options around Grand Island, as well as in the Buffalo Boat Harbor. Another option is to cast the shoreline along the area just above the upper rapids with spoons, spinners or egg sacs. The same action will work up around the head of the river at Buffalo. Caution is advised for any shoreline fishing.
Bill Hilts, Jr.
Lake of the Woods Minnesota Report by Lake of the Woods Minnesota Tourism
Fish are starting to move, yet still spread out this week. Mud flats have been producing 22-24 or 28-31. Electronics beneficial for suspended trophy fish. Use a plain hook, charmers, or buck shot tipped with minnow. Gold, bubble gum, or pink the hot colors. Knight, Bridges, Long Point and Gull Rock doing well. 29-31' with tulibees and perch mixed in with walleye and sauger limits. Reports off Pine Island 24-27. Monster pike moving, try 6-10 or 13-15 feet; strong afternoon bite with occasional trophy walleye caught. Use tip-ups set 1/2 of depth with sucker minnow on red/white, green, or plain silver.
On the Rainy River, walleyes starting g to move. 12-19' best in front of the gaps leading to the lake, heading east in front of the airport. Mornings and evenings best.
Up at the NW Angle, mixed bags the norm. 24-27' best depth over structure. In addition to walleyes and saugers, pike, perch, and crappies doing well. Jigging continuously best. Use pink, gold, or chartreuse.
Some of the best action of the ice season happens in March. In the lower part of MN, the fishing season for walleyes and pike ends the end of February. On Lake of the Woods, however, the season remains open until April 14th. Great news and an extended season.
Resorts are allowed to keep their fish houses out through March 31st. With over 30" of ice and a good snow pack, chances are that we will be ice fishing to the very end.
Take advantage of fish "putting on the feed bag" and getting ready for the spawn.