Latest Outdoor News, UPDATE January 31, 2017

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Latest Outdoor News UPDATE January 31, 2017

Local Pond Report by Ken HUSKER O'Malley

Hey Don, Here is the first open water report of 2017. It was good to get out and catch fish with the long rods. Some of the area lakes had open water late in the week. Ones that are wind protected still had thin ice on them. Ducks and geese were my best friends as they helped open up areas to fish. Roaches under a slip float using circle hooks caught a few bass. I had to continually clear ice from my guides, but it was worth it. Don't put away the short rods yet though. Lakes that were open Saturday locked up today again with thin ice. This week's forecast will start building some ice again.  TTYL

Ken "Husker" O'Malley - Huskeroutdoors
Waterworks fishing team

Illinois Deer Harvest Numbers

Hunters in Illinois harvested a preliminary total of 144,150 deer during all 2016-17 seasons, which concluded Jan. 15. The total preliminary deer harvest for all seasons compares with a total harvest for all seasons of 155,229 in 2015-16.

During this year’s deer seasons, hunters took 44 percent does and 56 percent males.

A breakdown of Illinois deer hunting seasons is as follows:

Archery:  Archery deer hunters in Illinois took a preliminary total of 53,479 deer during the season which began on Oct. 1, 2016 and concluded on Jan. 15, 2017.  That compares with the harvest of 56,767 during the 2015-16 archery season.

Youth:  Young deer hunters harvested 3,259 deer during the 2016 Illinois Youth Deer Season conducted on Oct. 8-10, 2016, compared with 2,850 deer harvested during the 2015 youth hunt.

Traditional Firearm Season:  Hunters took a preliminary total of 79,429 deer during the 2016 Illinois Firearm Deer Season on Nov. 18-20 and Dec. 1-4, 2016, compared with 86,847 deer taken during the 2015 firearm season.

Muzzleloader:  Hunters using muzzleloading rifles harvested 3,297 deer during the 2016 Muzzleloader-Only Deer Season on Dec. 9-11, 2016, compared with 2,403 in 2015.

Late-Winter Seasons:  The 2016-17 Late-Winter Antlerless Only and Special CWD deer seasons concluded on Jan. 15, with a combined preliminary harvest total for both seasons of 4,686 deer, compared with a harvest of 6,362 deer taken during those seasons in 2015-16.  Season dates for the Late-Winter and CWD seasons were Dec. 29, 2016-Jan. 1, 2017 and Jan. 13-15, 2017.

There were 14 northern Illinois counties open to the Special CWD Season in 2016-17, the same counties that were open for the 2015-16 seasons.  The Special CWD season is used to assist in slowing the spread of chronic wasting disease in the Illinois deer herd.
There were 24 counties open for the Late-Winter Antlerless Season in 2016-17.  Four counties open previously for the late-winter season were closed for 2016-17 because they had reached deer population goals, while one county was added to the late-winter hunt.  Counties that are at or below their individual goal for two consecutive years may be removed from the late-winter season.

Niagara USA Fishing Forecast by Bill Hilts Jr.

THIS WEEK - Niagara River – With a winter storm blowing in off Lake Erie for the next few days, conditions are already effecting the Niagara River fishing both above and below the Falls. Water looked like chocolate milk this morning driving in and things will have to clear up before any fishing can take place – and this storm is expected to hang on through Sunday. Shore fishermen will probably be the first to see some cleaner water toward shore and your best bet will be to cast spoons and spinners in bright colors. Cast something that makes some noise and draws attention to it.  It was good to see the seminar room jam packed for Ricardo Davila’s shore fishing seminar at the Expo last weekend. Then again, most all of the seminar rooms were packed, too – walleye, perch, bass, salmon, trout, electronics. Great to see so many people clamoring for information. Hopefully the river will be clear next Saturday.  The Niagara River Angler Association’s Roger Tobey Memorial Steelhead Contest will be going on starting at sunrise and you can sign up at Creek Road Bait and Tackle in Lewiston; The Slippery Sinker in Olcott; and off the NRAA website Call 731-4780 for more information. It’s not just for the lower Niagara River either. Boundaries also include Lake Ontario tributaries. One of the issues the past week before the water muddied up was the fact that there was a lot of bait present in the system. Small and medium-sized smelt were reported from area captains who had an issue on the catching end a bit.

Lake Ontario and tributaries - It’s still a bit of a hit or miss in the creeks but fish are being caught despite brown water in 18 Mile. Burt Dam flow is 170 cfs at the end of this week and anglers are seeing active trout and steelhead. Perch have been driving the trout guys nuts. Some pier casting, too. Wilson was seeing some action, as well. Keg Creek was clear but there is a large beaver dam between the mouth and the road. The big news was over the weekend when some milder temperatures and decent lake conditions saw some small boats hit the lake and do some near-shore trolling for brown trout. Fish were caught between Wilson and Olcott, as well as east of Olcott in front of the microwave tower in 10 to 20 feet of water. Best baits have been Bay Rats, Challenger and Rapala lures for the boats we talked to. Colors depend on water clarity. Firetiger and chartreuse work well if there is a distinct mud line. If the water is just off-color a bit, go with more natural presentations like goby color, black and silver, and the like. If we start getting some colder temperatures, the state will be holding a free ice fishing weekend Feb. 18-19 if we get some hard water again. No one will need a license that weekend. Go to the DEC website at

LAST WEEK - The local fishing community is gearing up for a huge celebration of our natural resources with the opening of the Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Expo at the Conference and Event Center Niagara Falls Jan. 20-22. This year’s event will be the best ever. Speakers like Bassmaster Pro Mark Menendez, Fishing 411 TV hosts Mark and Jake Romanack, Electronics Expert Lance Valentine and Walleye 101, Ice Fishing Legend Dave Genz and the Ice Team will be supporting a huge display by Clam Outdoors and much, much more! Some 70 different speakers will be dishing out 130 seminars over the course of the three days. Over 125 vendors will be displaying their products and selling the heck out of them. This is an event focused on fishing and please help us pass the word – education is the key for so many things to expand, enhance and improve our sport. Become part of a fishing movement. Check out

Lower Niagara River – Timing was perfect for fishing to turn on because one new attraction to the Fishing Expo is morning educational lessons on the river with some area charter captains. Four hours of fishing with in-depth instruction for a show special rate. Information can be found on the Expo website or you can contact 523-0013 to find out details. The river has a nice green color to it and boat captains and customers have been catching fish from Devil’s Hole to the Niagara Bar. Steelhead, lake trout, walleye and even a teenage king salmon hit a shiner at the mouth of the river. Shore anglers have been catching their share of trout in the gorge, using spoons, spinners, jigs and beads. Some good news on the stocking front – the lower river will now receive a dedicated stocking of 15,000 brown trout each year instead of receiving only surplus stockings. They will also receive some surplus browns if they are available. Great News!

Lake Ontario and tributaries  - It’s a bit of a mess in the creeks but some fish are being caught, like the 21 pound, 2 ounce brown trout caught this week by Charles Young of North Tonawanda while fishing a jig in 18 Mile Creek near Burt Dam. The rain on Tuesday brought a few more fish into the system and the warm up is turning a few perch on when the water is clear enough. It looks like it will hit the 50 degree mark this weekend. Water conditions are stained so you might want to check out the Expo this weekend … and learn how to catch more fish. Don’t try the ice in Wilson even though 4 inches was reported last weekend. Stop into the Expo instead and visit Clam Outdoors! Timing is everything.

Bill Hilts, Jr. - Director, Outdoor Promotions
Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

Lake of the Woods MN Fishing Report by Joe Henry

THIS WEEK - The anglers working their one two punch of a jigging line and a dead stick are being rewarded.  Good reports continue.   Most catching in 29-31 ft with glow red, pink and gold with a rattle on jigging spoons tipped with minnow head or tail.  Dead stick plain hook (try glow or colored) and live minnow or smaller glow walleye jigs.  Some big eelpout continue to come in, with a 17 lb giant this week.  Electronics improving catch rate.  Working each fish is helpful.   

The Rainy River continues with a good morning and evening bite. Know the river or use a resort or guide for safety.   The snowmobile trail is staked from Wheeler's Point to Baudette on the river.  Do not deviate from trail unless you are familiar with ice conditions.

Great fishing continues up at the NW Angle.  Everything has frozen up and travel is good.  Resorts are fishing in 21-30 feet of water with a nice walleye, sauger, and perch bite. Best colors include glow red, silver, pink, green and gold. Evening bite in 14-16' in current areas.  Slab crappies in good numbers being caught in Ontario in 30'.  Keep crappies if fishing deeper than 25'.  Work through resorts and stay on ice road.  Resorts and ice fishing reservations at  Check out the Lake of the Woods Tourism Facebook page for day to day reports.

LAST WEEK - Resorts moving around to stay on walleyes.  Another great fishing week.  Warm weather and a lot of fish.  Most catching in 29-31 ft with glow red, chartreuse, pink and gold with a rattle on jigging spoons tipped with minnow head or tail.  Dead stick plain hook and live minnow or smaller jigs.  Walleye and sauger mix with a jumbo perch, eelpout and sturgeon as well. Electronics improving catch rate as fish are following jigs 4-5 feet off bottom to strike.  20"+ of ice on the lake in most areas along with only 3-6" of snow.  Ice roads allowing full sized vehicles.

The Rainy River has had a great morning and evening bite but lots of slush on the ice right now. Know the river or use a resort or guide for safety.   The snowmobile trail is staked from Wheeler's Point to Baudette on the river.  Do not deviate from trail unless you are familiar with ice conditions.

Great fishing continues up at the NW Angle.  20+ inches of ice on ice roads traveled by resorts in good shape.  Resorts are fishing in 21-29 feet of water with a nice walleye, sauger, and perch bite. Best colors include glow red, silver, pink, green and gold.  Slab crappies in good numbers being caught in Ontario in 28-34'.  Crappies caught in 25' or greater have high mortality rate, thus keep up to limit and move on to another species.  Work through resorts and stay on ice road.  Resorts and ice fishing reservations at  Check out the Lake of the Woods Tourism Facebook page for day to day reports.

Joe Henry | Executive Director | Lake of the Woods Tourism |
m: 320-260-7727 | office: 800-382-3474 |


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