With the recent deep freeze, ice fishing has gotten off to a great start for most winter anglers. The area lakes from southern Wisconsin to the collar counties here in Illinois are averaging eight to 12 inches of good ice.

The weather bureau is forecasting a warm-up for late in the week which could change conditions rather quickly so be sure to check the ice before you head out and never go out alone.

Remember two inches of ice is unsafe for anyone to be on especially with a load of ice fishing gear. Don’t follow the snowmobiles as they will run across soft ice or water like a jet ski.

Reports from Bangs Lake are that there is a good crappie bite in 15 to 20 feet of water with nice 10-inch catches.

On the Fox Chain, each lake appears to be different.  Lake Pistakee has a great crappie bite in nine to 16 feet of water; they’re biting on jigging spoons with a piece of minnow.

Lake Marie has been producing some really nice walleye on deeper ledges, all on minnows with small jig heads.

If you are looking for bigger fish, Lake Geneva has started producing some really outstanding lake trout. The best results appear to be caught in 85 to 100 feet of water with 25 to 30-pound fish which are a really tough fight under the ice. Lake Winnebago guides are reporting good to exceptional bites on a variety of fish in 18 to 20 feet of water.

They are seeing small schools of fish cruising in that depth and few in each school are biters; white bass, walleyes, perch, and crappies are all in the mix.

If ice fishing is not your cup of tea the Schaumburg Fishing Show is coming up at the end of the month, a terrific spot to plan this year’s fishing trips for you and/or your family. You can also browse the aisles of new fishing tackle, nothing better on a cold winter afternoon, just a thought.

Until next time…keep a tight line.