I am sure there are a lot of people very happy with the apparent short winter we have had. I can also be sure that the ice fishermen are not among them. The increase in temperatures, even with the occasional cold spell and snow for a day or two, means the area lakes are either clear of ice or are very unsafe to venture out on, basically ending the ice fishing season early this year.

Here is a rundown of the area lakes: Fox Chain of Lakes is ice free since the first of the month, Shabbona Lake is ice free, Lake Zurich is reporting “no ice,” the Forest Preserve lakes – Busse Woods, Skokie Lagoons, and Beck Lake – are ice free. Lake Geneva has some ice, but it’s dangerous, and the same report omes from Lake Winnebago. The other problem fishermen are facing right now is rising waters on the area rivers. Usually this time of year would be great fishing on the rivers but there is extreme high water on the Illinois River, Kankakee River, and the Des Plaines River making them unusable for some time to come.

Now for the plus side: the shore fishing at Forest Preserve lakes should be pretty good. A couple of friends were up on the Skokie Lagoons this past week fishing all three of the dam areas and they got skunked but saw a number of nice bass that just wouldn’t bite. They believe that another week and those bass will be hungry and biting. I had a report from Busse Woods that the fishermen are going to be hitting the shallows in the next week or two looking for early season northern pike that will be in the shallows spawning.

Time to start thinking about getting the rods, reels, and tackle boxes ready for the coming season. We’ll talk about some of that next time.

Until then…keep a tight line.