PSO debuts statewide fishing report
Starting today, Prairie State Outdoors.com will be compiling a statewide fishing report each Thursday through October. No doubt the format will evolve in the weeks and months to come. At present the plan is to highlight as many lakes and rivers for which we can gather reliable information.
The goal here is to have a comprehensive Illinois fishing report up and running by the end of this month when fishing fever strikes in earnest. In other words, this first effort is a mere shadow of what the weekly report will eventually become.
NORTHERN ILLINOIS North of Interstate 80
Ice fishing is holding sway through much of northern Illinois, though edges are getting sloppy in many ponds and lakes. Warm rains would start clearing the way for open-water fishing.
Ice fishing excellent with 12-16 inch cover says Greg Dickson of Triangle Sports & Marine in Antioch (1-847-395-8013). Crappie good on large jigs, spoons and flash with spikes on Pistakee Lake, Channel, Catherine and Long Lake. White and yellow bass, walleye biting at Mineola Bay, Lake Marie and Pistakee Bay. Bluegill good at north and south channels of Long Lake, Channel and Catherine.
Harbors have been good for ice fishing, which is expected to hold through next week says Dale Bowman of the Chicago Sun-Times. Some boaters were out last weekend catching perch but depending on the wind, ice may clog harbors. Click here for more of Bowman’s report.
Ice looks strong and fishing has been good for bluegill and crappie. Ice still 12-14 inches thick and expectations are it will linger until the third week of March. Click here for more information.
NORTH-CENTRAL ILLINOIS South of Interstate 80 and North of Interstate 70/U.S. Route 36
The changeover from ice fishing to open-water fishing is underway, with patches of ice-free water showing up at many lakes and ponds in the Peoria area and south. Ice still prevalent north of Peoria, though. Cooling lakes the best bet, with water temperatures elsewhere ranging from 36-40 degrees.
Opener last Saturday was fair, with good action for channel catfish according to Dale Bowman of the Chicago Sun-Times. Finding keepers required sorting, though. Bluegill were also fair but bass fishing was slow. Water 64 degrees on Saturday. Hours are 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
Muddy waters slowing anglers, says Joanne Lowe of Mike’s Tackle World in Decatur (217-423-0730).
Water is 1 foot above capacity and clarity is 1-2 feet says Mike Steffa, lake operations manager. Steffa said much of the main lake is now ice-free and coves and bays have deteriorating ice in them. ICE FISHING IS NOT RECOMMENDED AT THIS TIME! That said, a few anglers have been catching crappie and bluegill in front of the boat rental docks.
Click here for up-to-date lake reports.
Opens to fishing April 1.
Opens to fishing on March 15.
Cooling lake still closed to boaters due to ongoing work on the discharge. Lake is open to bank anglers daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fishing has been fair for blue catfish in the discharge area. Smallmouth bass are slow but better in the warm water.
Muskie anglers have been launching since Monday on the north end of this Tazewell County lake. Water temperatures ranging from 36-38 degrees on the north end says guide dan Vinovich. Muskie fishing slow but fish up to 40 inches have been caught. South end ramp is still choked with ice and unusable.
According to Al Hayden of Al’s Sporting Goods in Galesburg (309-342-7776), a good 15-inch ice cover leading to nice ice fishing catches on bluegill and cappie mid-lake near old bridge area and water tower. Crappie, walleye taking minnows. Bluegill biting on waxworms. A few catfish reports. Ice melting but edges still good. Open water may not happen for two more weeks, Hayden says.
SOUTH-CENTRAL ILLINOIS South of Interstate 72/U.S. Route 36 and North of Interstate 70
Less ice here but power-plant cooling lakes are still the best bet for bass, big catfish and stripers.
Bass excellent on whatever anglers like to throw out says Scott Withers of Indian Grove Fish Camp (217-537-3001). Hybrid stripers picking up. Area angler Brent Langeo caught a 50-pound flathead March 2 on shad in deep part of lake. Crappie average off weedbeds. Catfish fair to good. Lake level coming up.
Joanne Lowe of Mike’s Tackle World in Decatur (217-423-0730) reports some striper found below dam on nightcrawlers, twister tails. Rough, high waters keeping most anglers away.
Trevor Miller of Big Red’s Bait and Tackle in Springfield (217-820-9674) says anglers catching limits on crappies in hot ditches, near dam face off rocks on minnow and light color tubes. Adam Jaegle of Kingston Mines caught about 16 bass Thursday including three keepers. The keepers were plump but smaller fish were thin. Water temperatures were 60 degrees in the hot arm and 50 degrees in the cold arm. One report of angler catching 47-pound flathead on Little George while fishing for white bass.
Crappie best on minnows, yellow to white or chartreuse tubes or slabslayers in six feet of water, says Trevor Miller of Big Red’s Bait and Tackle in Springfield (217-820-9674). White bass spotty on Little George, gay blades, crazy blades. Hot ditches best location.
SOUTHERN ILLINOIS South of Interstate 70
Storms early this week have hampered angler access, but conditions have improved since. Cooling lakes are shining for bass and crappie.
Sauger biting around spillway and swinging bridge on minnows, twister tails, says Buddy Langenhorst of Lavish’s Bait Shop in Carlyle (618-594-4413). Crappie best on tube jigs, hand-tied jigs by south shore near marina. Catfish slow on cut shad. White bass, bluegill hit and miss deep.
Lake of Egypt
Bass, crappie numbers good, says Todd Gessner (618-513-0520).
Crappie biting 20 feet deep on minnows, says Janet Graeff of Top of the Hill Bait Shop in Muphysboro (618-684-2923). High winds, snow, ice keeping most anglers away.
Bass fishing strong according to Dale Bowman of the Chicago Sun-Times. John Farmer and Steve Rutherford of Chicago caught several bass over 4 pounds and one 7-pounder. Most came on crankbaits.
Lake open and crappie biting 8-18 feet deep on jigs off structures, says guide Todd Gessner (618-513-0520). Lake bottom best bet. Catfish possible deep.
At present river fishing is tough through much of Illinois, with ice and flooding a problem in much of the state. The Illinois River should be starting up for sauger soon, but high, dirty water has sent many sauger chasers to the relatively clearer Mississippi River.
Good prior to last weekend for crappie on minnows, nightcrawlers, crickets followed by poor weather that slowed anglers, says Bill Parrish of Fort Massac Fish Market in Metropolis (618-524-3152).
Water high but open, says Al Hayden of Al’s Sporting Goods in Galesburg (309-342-7776). Anglers catching catfish on redworms.