Fishing and Hunting Reports and some news

Ice Reports

I’ve noticed ice covering most all smaller ponds in the south suburban areas near my home having.  Some ponds with geese are being kept open some by the bird activity.  I’ve not tried to poke a hole in any ponds yet.  My guess is only an inch or two at best as of the weekend.

Pat Harrison of Pat Harrison Outdoors – Fishing Adventures ( says, “Skim ice behind Herman’s Low Life Bar on the (Nielsen’s) channel.  I have a few friends south that are going to give me an ice report too. I’ll update you as soon as I hear from them.”

Captian Tony of Diamond Ghost Charters  ( reports,  “Just skim ice on the chain.”

Barb Carey  of Wisconsin Women Fish ( says “2 to 3 inches on the Willow Flowage in Northern WI”.

Curt Hicken from southern Illinois wonders… “I feel like I’m covered with several inches of ice following the first firearm deer season. Does that count?”

Robert Doubek says, “I got back an hour ago from a pond in Northern Illinois…. 2″ of ice.”

Aaron Krieweall reports, “Push Ice on Lake Huron but that is a ways from you. Should have a lot more soon.”

Ryan Ortega says “Skim ice with some open water on some of the littles ponds in the Pekin area.”

Paul Simanauskas  reports “Small ponds are frozen larger are totally open in Hoffman Estates IL”

Tina Smith  “Heard a report of 2″ on Wonder Lake’s south end yesterday …”

Anthony Larson ( reports that Lake Onalaska near LaCrosse WI has 2 inches of ice.

Tim France ( reports that most all smaller lakes are covered with ice up to a few inches.  Big lakes in the Boulder Jct. area of Wisconsin are wide open.   There’s about 3 – 4 inches of snow on the ground as of this past weekend.

Shabbona Lake Ice Seminars by Denny Sands

On Saturday, December 14th from 9 AM till 11:00 PM, Shabbona Lakeside Bait, Tackle & Boat Rental will be hosting the 2nd Annual Lakeside Ice Fishing Seminar at Pokanoka’s Restaurant. As was last year, the Speaker will be the Crappie Professor, Jim Kopjo. Jim is a tournament Ice Fisherman competing in Ice Fishing Tournaments in several states.Last year we had a packed seminar and we fully expect this year’s seminar to duplicate that attendance.The entire seminar WILL ALSO BE AVAILABLE on, and, via a live video feed thru “Google+ Hangout On Air.” Check home page, the day of the event, for the link to the platform of your choice for viewing the live feed.For those who would like to learn & try ice fishing this is a great opportunity. For those who used to ice fish, this will be a great chance to pick up a few pointers and get back into the game. For those that ice fish a lot, this is a chance to always learn more.Shabbona Lakeside will have all of its ice fishing tackle available for 10% off that day. Stock up for the ice fishing season at Lakeside! Lakeside’s motto is “Offer What Works at Shabbona Lake!!!” If we run out of any ice fishing items, we will re-order them for you at the same special 10% off price.Jim Kopjo knows Shabbona Lake very well and we have all gazed in amazement at the Crappie photos he has posted on the Shabbona Lake web site.Jim will cover all of the basics of ice fishing. Here are just a few of the topics Jim will cover: Ice safety, Ice Jigs, Bait, Shanties, Clothing, Augers, Depth finders, Under water cameras, Rods /Tackle, GPS/maps, Side/Down imaging
It is going to be quite a day !!!  Mark it on your calendars! Saturday, December 14th, 9 AM, Shabbona Lake State Park!!!There is no fee to attend the Seminar. However at the end of the program, we will ask for a donation of $5 per person to cover Jim’s costs. This donation is based on how you feel you benefited from the seminar. Based on last year’s comments, there is no doubt that Jim is worth every penny and probably a lot more!!!

Lake Shelbyville Report by Steve Welch

The water temps have fallen from 49 to 47 and up in the very north end of the lake or shallow end they have dropped to 40. This has stopped that bite and the fish have backed off the bank. No problem for me since I haven’t been cork fishing anyway. This past Saturday in 14 degree wind chill temps we boated a three person 45-fish limit in less than forty minutes.So they are still really biting. I am hovering over both brush and down trees and fishing down about ten-feet with my 1/4oz. Deep Ledge Jigs. You can hold these very still and move them back and forth very slowly while bumping into brush. The big crappie don’t want any action on the jig at all and they are lying flat on the bottom of these brush piles. The bigger profile of the 1/4oz. jig and we are using our biggest plastics in some variation of chartreuse or white.

We are using a stout ten-foot Norm’s rod and an ultra-light spinning reel spooled with 8/3 Fireline Crystal. With the braided line you feel even the slightest tick, but not to worry now these fish are just hammering those big jigs. We are fishing these rigs straight down in the thickest brush you can find.

We are still fishing the north end of the lake from Bo-Woods over to Wilborn. Once the lake starts to fall to winter pool this will bring the crappie out onto the deep ledges on the south end. Then we will fish the south end but for now I am enjoying very short runs in the boat and catching tons of nice crappie.

PB030418 is of George Raegel and friend holding up some big crappie crappie all over thirteen-inches caught November 3rd.

PB150424 is of John Mueller and Caleb Kuenzi holding up a three man limit of 45 crappie caught November 15th

PB160426 is of Lyle Gingrich holding up two of the sixty crappie caught before nine o’clock in 14 degree wind chill temps this past Saturday November 23rd along with his father Ivan and friend Matt Rocke. So they are still biting!!!!!

Steve Welch

Niagara NY Fishing Forecast for Friday, Nov. 22, 2013 by Bill Hilts

1.       Lake Ontario and tributaries – With cold weather arriving on the scene a bit more consistently, waters are finally starting to clear in some of the tributaries. Eighteenmile Creek at Burt Dam was reporting good flow over the dam, but no report of any power generation from water pushing through the turbines. A few salmon are still being caught, but the end is near according to Wes Walker at The Slippery Sinker. Brown trout are still the top target. Catch of the week there was a 19 pound female brown trout that was hauled in earlier this week, but the angler really didn’t seem to realize how great a catch it really was and wouldn’t give up his name or a picture. Too bad. These fish are deserving of more respect. Egg sacks or egg imitations are still the way to go and as the waters clear, downsize both your bait and fishing line. A few more steelhead are starting to arrive on the scene, too. Pier action can be good for casters tossing spoons or spinners when the conditions are right, but high winds have keep fishermen off quite a bit of late. No report of water in Keg or Hopkins creeks. Wilson’s 12 Mile creeks are producing a mix of fish – salmon and trout. Some perch have been reported in the back bay of Wilson Harbor, as well off the inside arm of the pier. Some of the short piers in Wilson are producing trout on spoons. Casting off the mouth of 4 Mile Creek into the lake was producing a few fish recently.

2.       Lower Niagara River – The lower Niagara River action was decent last weekend until the gales of November started to blow again. Trout action was good for steelhead and lake trout with an occasion brown trout. Shore fishermen at Artpark are now hampered because of construction on the stairs there – a project that will not be completed until May of 2014. You can still follow the lower Artpark hiking trail to the shoreline and try to work your way back along the river, but be careful. Water is still muddy and charter guys have been cancelling trips until the weekend. That said, the long range was calling for some more wind going into the weekend … again.

3.       Upper Niagara River – Musky season closes down on the upper river Nov. 30th and if the waters clear up you might want to try and give it a go. Jim Hanley of Angola reported that he had some buds out fishing on Sunday and Stan Skotnicki of Eden was the lucky angler reeling in a 52 inch musky that weighed over 40 pounds! They were trolling a green watermelon perch body bait over 22 feet of water at 2.8 miles per hour when the lunker hit in Buffalo Harbor. After a quick picture, it was released to fight another day. Most of the week was shut down because of the turbid water conditions. Remember that the regular bass season also closes down on Nov. 30. Bass action can be good still as they go on an aggressive feed just prior to winter. Some trout should be available in the upper rapids or at the head of the river.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Outdoor Sports Specialist
Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation

Southern Illinois Deer

Kyle Stefanich shares a photo of an 8 point buck, his personal best, that he took this past weekend’s shotgun season.   Good job Kyle.  See photo in gallery below.

Annual Holiday Week Hunt is Dec. 26-27

 Youth interested in participating in the 14th annual Central Illinois Youth Goose Hunt, sponsored by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) on Dec. 26-27, can register now for the hunt.

Youth hunters must phone in to the IDNR at 217-785-8060 to register for a drawing to participate in the hunt.  The registration deadline is Friday, Dec. 6.  The youth goose hunt will be held at private waterfowl hunting clubs in Peoria, Fulton and Knox counties.

“The Central Illinois Youth Goose Hunt is a holiday week tradition for young hunters, and I want to encourage youth to phone in now to be eligible for the drawing to participate in this fun event,” said IDNR Director Marc Miller.

A lottery drawing involving all youth who phone in to register will be conducted on Monday, Dec. 9, and youth hunters selected will be notified by mail.  First-time applicants will be given a priority over previous participants in the drawing.

The hunt is open to youngsters ages 10-15 at the time of the hunt.  All applicants must have successfully completed a hunter safety education course, possess a valid Illinois hunting or sportsman’s license, have a Harvest Information Program (HIP) registration number, and have a 20 gauge or larger shotgun. Youth hunt participants must be accompanied by a parent or guardian who must possess a valid firearm owner’s identification (FOID) card.

To register for the hunt or for more information, call 217-785-8060.

Raffle tickets are available to support the Central Illinois Youth Goose Hunt, as well as youth waterfowl hunts throughout the state. Only 500 tickets will be sold at $10 each (or three for $20) to benefit the youth hunts.

Prizes available include a shotgun and a Lifetime Hunting License (which is transferable).  Raffle winners will be drawn at the Central Illinois Youth Goose Hunt banquet on Dec. 26. Raffle participants need not be present to win. For tickets or information, call 2

For Illinois Waterfowl Hunters – Storm Damage and Baiting

 Due to recent storms that moved across various portions of Illinois, some unharvested crops, particularly corn, have become damaged and blown to the ground.  The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) reminds hunters that these fields may be hunted in this condition; however, if damaged fields are manipulated in any way they become classified as baited.

Manipulation, including mowing or tilling, of unharvested crop fields is not a normal agricultural practice for waterfowl hunting purposes, and federal baiting laws still apply, even during times of weather damage.  Therefore, it is a violation of the baiting laws under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act if scattered grain is not totally removed 10 days prior to hunting.  Hunters should familiarize themselves with baiting laws in Illinois.

For more information on waterfowl baiting regulations, refer to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website regarding baiting regulations at  Information on baiting and other Illinois regulations can be found in the Illinois Digest of Waterfowl Hunting here:

Questions regarding hunting crop fields disked, mowed, or tilled due to weather damage insurance claims;

1. If a standing grain crop is knocked down due solely to weather events (high wind), can the field be hunted?  Yes, as long as the crops have only been knocked down as a result of weather, and no other manipulation has occurred.

2. Can an unharvested crop that was manipulated (disked, mowed, or tilled) to meet crop insurance requirements be made legal for hunting?  The field can only be hunted after all exposed grain has been completely removed or buried for a period of 10 days.  Hunters should keep in mind that if a dry field is tilled to the extent that no grain is visibly present, strong winds or the first rain is likely to wash off some covered grain, thus, still making it a baited situation.

3. Can I hunt in a field that was harvested normally next to the damaged field? Hunting near a baited field may be considered hunting within the “zone of influence” of the baited field and may also be illegal.  The zone of influence is an unspecified distance and varies by situation.  If you are exploiting waterfowl using a baited field, you are likely within the zone of influence and should not hunt that field.

4. Why can a person not hunt over a manipulated area?  Under federal baiting regulations, mowing or tilling of an unharvested crop is not a “normal agricultural planting, harvesting, post-harvest manipulation, or normal soil stabilization practice,” as determined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Cooperative Extension Service.

For specific questions, please contact the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement at 217-782-6431.


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