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Trip Conditions:
Locations Fished: Northpoint Marina in Winthrop Harbor, Illinois
Date: 12/26/2003
Weather: Sunny, cold
Temperature: 30-35 degrees
Wind Velocity: 20 mph SW
Water Level: low, Clarity: clear
Fish Species Targeted: Panfish
Fish Caught: Mixed bag of Bluegill, Crappie. Perch, Bass and Rainbow Trout
Fishing Trip Quality: Good

The morning bite had been slow because of the bright sunshine. I arrived at Northpoint marina at 11:30 am. The midday sun was at its peak. The midday sun can present problems when ice fishing, making the fish turnoff. The solution to the sunshine problem was to setup and drill holes where the piers cast a shadow on the ice. There were also some areas with a light dusting of snow on the ice. These shady areas provide the best action on bright sunny days.

The ice in the marina was 2 to 3 inches thick in most places. This is much thinner than I feel safe walking on. There were a few brave or crazy anglers walking around on the ice. Not me, I broke thru some ice years ago and it left a lasting impression.

The bluegills and pumpkinseed sunfish were very active. Catching them was relatively easy. Just drop a small ice fishing spoon tipped with spikes or a waxworm to the bottom. Then raise the bait a few inches off the bottom and give a slight jigging action to the lure. Then pause. The fish would then usually mouth the bait. I was using two pound test line on a fishing rod with a very sensitive tip. A slight twitch in the rod tip or any slack line would require a hook set resulting in a fish. There were some bass caught with the largest being about 14 inches. Some perch were caught in the 8 to 12 inch range. Crappie were also caught, most of the crappie were from 6 to 10 inches. Another angler caught a monster crappie that measured just over 15 ½ inches with a 12 inch girth. The estimate was that his fish was close to two pounds. Several rainbow trout were caught by the same angler using small flathead minnows with a dead stick presentation.

Remember that all Bass in the Illinois waters of Lake Michigan are Catch and Release.