There are many private ponds and small lakes in Starved Rock Country that are available for ice fishing. (Get permission first!) Fred Krause, of Marseilles, a local fishing guide, said there also are a few Department of Natural Resources lakes or small waterways for ice fishing including the I & M Canal between La Salle and Utica, the Hennepin Canal in Bureau County, and Gebhard Woods State Park in Morris in Grundy County.
For a good guide, he said, pick up a Sportsman’s Northern Illinois Fishing Map Guide (SCmaps.com or sportsmansconnection.com).
He passes on these tips:
Two inches of ice supports a 200-pound man, and 10 inches supports a small auto or truck. It is sometimes late winter before there is safe ice. Test the ice with an ice spud, a sharpened steel chisel device on a long, heavy metal pole. If it penetrates and you see water, the ice is not thick enough. Watch for underwater springs that show up as lightened areas with bubbles. On safe ice, drill several holes about 20 feet apart. The deepest part of the lake is best. Primary targets will be bluegills, bass and maybe crappie and catfish. Best baits: wax worms or mousies.