The ice fishing reports have been great. Reports for the Chain of Lakes have guys picking up limits of nice bluegills and perch and Pistakee Lake has been reporting lots of crappies.

Lake Zurich has lots of ice and the tip ups have been heavy with northern pike – the largest reported was 37 ½ inches. Montrose Harbor has been producing a lot of small perch, but if you’re patient, you can get a limit of 10-12 inch perch.

With the coming warmup in the forecast, be careful on that ice: There will be a lot of slush and maybe some soft spots on the lakes, especially in channel areas where there is some current.

Ideal for this time of year is planning the coming year’s fishing trips with the family. To help pick up ideas, I go to the various sport shows scheduled for this time of year in Chicago, Milwaukee and this coming weekend in Indianapolis. These shows provide a chance to see all the lakes and resorts in the surrounding states and what they have to offer. For example, some places on Kentucky Lake/Barclay Lake are some of the best crappie lakes in the country, and crappie season starts early in April. In mid-May, it’s off to Minnesota resorts to talk about the coming start of walleye season this year – to see where the Governor will be fishing this year for the opener, so we can avoid it.

It’s impossible to go to a sport show and not look at all the fishing tackle on display. The Indianapolis show has an entire building with nothing but tackle and fishing seminars. I can’t wait to see what’s new and what I absolutely must have in my tackle box this coming year. Highlights when I return. Until then, keep a tight line.