Fox Chain Report

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. January is time for ice fishing on the Fox Chain. With the mild weather in November and into December, the fishing pressure has been relatively light. With the panfish population on the high side this should produce some good, fast fishing action.

The new selection of ice fishing tackle is also exciting. Tungsten is the latest craze in ice fishing jigs. The material is denser and heavier than lead jigs of the same size. So the Tungsten jig can be made a similar size to that of a jig made of lead, but will give the angler a better “feel.” Tungsten will also cause the lure to sink faster, which is key when you’re on an active school of fish. You can get back down to the fish faster to maximize your catch.

The ice fishing Jigging Rapala has been great for many years. Recently, it has come back in popularity. Many new versions from other manufacturers are out on the market as well. The Custom Jigs & Spins Rotating Minnow is one fine example; the Lunker Hunt Straight Up Jig is another one. There are many new colors including Glow and UV. The soft plastic trailer selection is larger with more shapes and colors to choose from.

The ice rod selection is increasing all the time, with lighter and more sensitive rod blanks. Some models even come with a built-in spring bobber.

Ice reels are lighter and smoother with the straight-line reels becoming more popular. High- quality drags are on most reels, which makes fighting fish a lot more fun and enjoyable.

The selection of ice shanties from Clam, Frabill and Otter are quite large. A single, to as much as 8- man shanties are available. New space age insulated material helps keep you warm on the coldest days. And speaking of keeping you warm, Clam and Frabill makes state-of-the-art ice suits, and are a must for the die-hard ice fishermen.

This month the crappies and bluegills should be fast and furious. Channel Lake is a good starting point. You can access the ice from several locations, including The Thirsty Turtle on the south end. Fish the south bay and the area outside the Lake Street Channel mouth. The north end bay is another excellent spot, but requires a longer walk to reach the area. On Lake Catherine the south bay is good and can be accessed through Bob’s Marina.

On Pistakee Lake, Pistakee Bay is a great area for above-average crappies and bluegills. You can access the bay through The Oak Park Hotel.

White bass fishing can also be good throughout the month. The best areas to target for white bass are Lake Marie out of Barnacle Bob’s or the Sand Bar Resort. Concentrate on the main lake points. Petite Lake is a great location for white bass and you can now access Petite Lake through the Cyprus Resort, which now has parking available for a small fee. On Fox Lake, Mineola Bay and Lippincott Point, hot spots are there for white bass and bonus walleyes.

Make sure you carry several kinds of live bait. Waxworms, spikes, and mousies are good to have. Sometimes there is a preference for one over another. For crappies and white bass wigglers, small fathead minnows and colored euro larvae are excellent choices. White bass especially love wigglers and red euro larvae.

Check out Triangle Bait Shop in Antioch for a complete selection of live bait, tackle and up-to-date fishing reports

January should be a fantastic month for great ice fishing action. Good time to keep a bunch of mid-sized fish for a fish fry—it’s the best-tasting fish of the year. If you catch a bluegill over 9 inches or a crappie over 14 inches, please take a picture and let them go. This will sustain quality panfishing for years to come.