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Illinois fishing report 3-11-10

March 11, 2010 at 11:21 AM


Give us our choice of anywhere to fish in Illinois right now and we’d pick…

• Crab Orchard Lake for crappie and catfish.
• Kinkaid Lake for muskie.
• The Rock River for big walleye.
• South Spring Lake for crappie.


• On the March 1 opener at Braidwood Lake, Greg Aiello caught a 5.7-pound, 20-inch largemouth on a white spinnerbait. That was one of about 50 bass caught by Aiello and his buddy.

• Tom Kiger of Momence caught and released a 9-pound, 6-ounce walleye near Momence on Tuesday morning.

• Guide Chad Cain (pictured below) hauled in a 49 7/8-inch muskie with a 25.5 inch girth on Saturday. The fish weighed 37.4 pounds, just a pound and a half from the state record.
Illinois hunting and fishing

• Three days after ice-off in west-central Illinois, crappie and bluegill were already biting like crazy for Daniel Ryssman (pictured below) and his grandfather, Les Davenport.
Illinois hunting and fishing

• Guide Mike Lynch caught the big catfish pictured below at Braidwood Lake, as reported by Dale Bowman of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Illinois hunting and fishing

• Matt O’Rorke (left in the picture below) caught walleye of 9 3/4 and 10 pounds on minnows fishing near Oregon. Steve Anderson of Rochelle (right) also caught several walleyes.
Illinois hunting and fishing

NORTHERN ILLINOIS North of Interstate 80

Apple Canyon Lake
SOURCE: Tom Calam, Tom’s Bait & Tackle, Freeport (815-232-3337)
Ice anglers catching some bluegill and a few crappie here. Waxies, minnows and crawlers being used. Smaller jigs working best.

Lake Carroll
SOURCE: Tom Calam, Tom’s Bait & Tackle, Freeport (815-232-3337).
Fishing sporadic but a few ice anglers are still catching walleyes, crappie and bluegills. Anglers using some jig and rapalas or jig and spoons.

Forest Preserve Lakes
SOURCE: Lee’s Bait and Tackle of Elk Grove Village (847-593-6424); Henry’s (312-225-8538)
• Lakes are frozen and ice conditions are declining rapidly. Trout season will open at the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County on Saturday, April 3 at 6 a.m. New to this year’s trout program, Pickerel Lake at Pratt’s Wayne Woods Forest Preserve in Wayne will be stocked with about 1,080 fish. It will replace Deep Quarry Lake at West Branch Forest Preserve in Bartlett, which will not be stocked because it is inhabited by the zebra mussel, an invasive aquatic species that can be transported to new waters in bait buckets and on fishing gear. Also being stocked are Grove Lake at Wood Dale Grove Forest Preserve in Wood Dale and Silver Lake at Blackwell Forest Preserve in Warrenville. The three stocked lakes will be closed to all fishing from Monday, March 15 through Friday, April 2.
Click here for a Cook County Forest Preserves lake fishing forum.
• Here are links to information on various forest preserve lakes. Cook County, DeKalb County, DuPage County, Kane County, Kendall County, Lake County, McHenry County and Will County.

Fox Chain O’ Lakes
SOURCE: Greg Dickson, Triangle Sports & Marine,  Antioch (1-847-395-0813).
Ice fishing should last through this weekend says Triangle Sports & Marine. Try shorelines or the Thirsty Turtle pier. Main thing is to stay away from curent and be careful. Northerns and bluegill biting on Deep Lake and Rock Lake. Crappie and bluegills good on north end of Channel lake and Catherine. Good sized, ready to spawn walleye can be found around Channel or Marie. Open water fishing could start soon if heating trend continues.
Click here to check updates on no-wake status and water levels or call 847-587-8540 .

Lake Michigan
SOURCES: Henry’s (312-225-8538), Vet’s (773-734-6720) and Dale Bowman of the Chicago Sun-Times.
• On the Chicago lakefront
Perch are biting on minnows around Navy Pier and at the south end of the lake around 95th & 92nd street bridges. The harbors are still not safe with ice melting. Cohos are just beginning to come on along the shoreline. Dale Bowman reports the best perch bite is at Navy Pier, where anglers have to sort a fair amount to find keepers. Harbor ice will be shaky soon. Also, the sixth annual coho derby is March 20 near the Shedd Aquarium. Henry’s will pay for parking.
SOURCE: The Salmon Stop (847-244-2525 or fishing hotline 847-244-9876)
• Near Waukegan the Salmon Stop said brown trout are biting off the south rocks and at Johnson pier on shad, shiners or smelt.
SOURCE: Mik-Lurch (219-989-0575)
• Near Indiana ice flows are pin-ponging shoreline to shoreline, with plenty of floating ice. Perch are biting at Calumet River in the 95th Street area. Perch in the 10-12 inch range. According to Mik-Lurch, perch and salmon along the shoreline should “explode.”

Shabbona Lake
SOURCES: Guide Jay Angel (815-739-7030) and Denny Sands, Shabbona Lakeside Bait & Tackle, Shabbona (815-824-2581).
Guide Jay Angel recommends waiting a couple weeks to go here as ice continues to melt
• Park hours November to January 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; February to March 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; April 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; May to October 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Click here for a Shabbona Lake fishing forum

Wolf Lake
SOURCE: Mik-Lurch (219-989-0575)
Ice conditions are deteriorating, with ice continuing the thaw out. Some crappe and walleye biting in the Corn Channel. Mik-Lurch says conditions are perfect for the start of the season and should take just a few more days before ice melts. Crappie in 12-14 inch range. Mini might jigs, bee moths and rocket bobbers used.

NORTH-CENTRAL ILLINOIS South of Interstate 80 and North of Interstate 72/U.S. Route 36

Banner Marsh
SOURCE: Adam Jaegle, Presley’s Outdoors, Bartonville (309-697-1193); Merle Keefer, Pekin Bass & Bow (309-347-3334); Jason Grider, Riverside Bait, Pekin (309-347-3793)
Ice is bad and going out hastily, but there’s not a lot of open water right now.

Braidwood Lake
SOURCE: Del Colvin, Bert’s Bait, Essex (815-365-2103); Jon Meder, Jon’s Bait & Tackle, South Wilmington (815-237-2822)
Bass and catfish being caught here, with water temperatures at 68 degrees on the cooling lake side says Colvin. Bass taking soft plastics and cats biting on dead roaches. Bass running about 2-3 pounds and cats also small right now says Meder. Catfish are also biting well in 5-15 feet of water on live bait and crankbaits according to Mike Lynch, who has also been catching some bass in low light conditions. Water is running lows 60s to low 70s. Bluegill are fair.
• For Braidwood info, click here. Hours are 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

Clinton Lake
SOURCE: Joanne Lowe, Mike’s Tackle World, Decatur (217-423-0730); Clinton Bait and Tackle, (217-935-3851)
Anglers finding decent success around the bridges says Lowe. White bass, striper and crappie being caught. Twister tails, lead head jigs and slider bodies being used. Some days better than others. Below the spillway, walleye are biting. Bluegill also being caught says Clinton Bait and Tackle. DeWitt bridge and spillway best. Plenty of keeper crappie being caught.
• The easterly area of Clinton Lake between the DeWitt and the 48 bridges is closed from mid-October through March 31.

Emiquon Preserve
SOURCE: Paul Dinkheller, Dink’s, Lewistown (309-547-1094); The Nature Conservancy (309-547-2730)
Ice is going out rapidly says Jason Beverlin of the Nature Conservancy, but there’s not enough open water to fish in a boat right now. TNC has also been doing some pumping to draw down water levels.
• Anglers must obtain a free permit at Dickson Mounds Museum (open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) before fishing here.

Evergreen Lake
SOURCE: Brad Wood, operations supervisor, (309-726-2022) or Larry Dozard
Ice still covered 90 percent of Evergreen Lake on Wednesday, but there was open water around the Pumphouse, accessible via shore.
Click here for up-to-date lake reports.

Heidecke Lake
SOURCE: Don Stephens, Greybeards (815-941-1504); Guide Mike Lynch (708-655-7667); Guide Greg Heath (815-258-9136)
Lake opens April 1.

LaSalle Lake
SOURCE: Dale Bowman of the Chicago Sun-Times; Guide Mike Lynch (708-655-7667)
Lake opens March 17, after which it will be open only Wednesday through Sunday during the month of March.
Click here for a LaSalle Lake fishing forum.

Mazonia Lakes
SOURCE: Del Colvin, Bert’s Bait, Essex (815-365-2103)
Shift from ice to open water well underway, but there’s not enough open water to fish yet.

Powerton Lake
SOURCE: Merle Keefer, Pekin Bass & Bow (309-347-3334); Tom Grider, Riverside Bait, Pekin (309-347-3793)
Catfish are the main talk right now, with blue cats heading the bill and a few flatheads reported. Live bait or cut Asian carp have been good bets. Bluegill are fair along the rocks. Smallmouth bass are slow and hybrid stripers have been spotty.

Snakeden Hollow SFWA
SOURCE: Site office (309-879-3607)
Ice is starting to break up on the smaller ponds around the edges. Quite a bit of ice still present on the main lake. No ice anglers out lately.

Spring Lake
SOURCES: Troy Galvin, Galvin’s Spring Lake Market (309-267-6538) and Larry Karnes, Larry’s Restaurant and Family Bar, Manito (309-968-9500)
Just about the whole lake is open and anglers have been out after muskie and crappie says Karnes. There were probably 10-12 boats on the north end on Wednesday. The Pike Hole on the south end has been very good for crappie. Reports of a keeper muskie caught this week. Usually when the ice goes out there’s a good catfish bite about three days later. The south lake launch and the causeway launch is open.

Lake Storey
SOURCE: Al Hayden, Al’s Sporting Goods, Galesburg (309-342-7776)
“I would not recommend anybody try the ice we have right now,” Hayden said. The edges are getting bad.

Strip Mines
(Fulton, Knox, Peoria and Stark counties)

SOURCE: Presley’s Outdoors, Bartonville (309-697-1193); Dink’s, Lewistown (309-547-1094); and Larry Dozard; Tom Grider, Riverside Bait, Pekin (309-347-3793)
Some lakes have open water in Peoria and Fulton counties while the more northern lakes are still iced over. Reports of a few crappie being caught and some big bluegill coming to ice anglers last weekend in the Victoria area. Use caution, though.

SOUTH-CENTRAL ILLINOIS South of Interstate 72/U.S. Route 36 and North of Interstate 70

Beaver Dam Lake
SOURCE: Gwen Gilmore, Gilmore Bait & Marine, Carlinville (217-854-8136); Kim Eggers, Beaver Dam Bait Shop, (217-854-6688)
Anglers still catching some trout and a few crappie says Eggers.

Carlinville Lake
SOURCE: Gwen Gilmore, Gilmore Bait & Marine, Carlinville (217-854-8136)
Water still cold but anglers trying for crappie with minnows. Waxworms also working in cold water. Lakes just opened and ice finally gone.

Charleston Side Channel Lake
SOURCE: Rick Cuddy, Prairie Outfitters, Charleston (217-348-6770)
Not much happening here with water still cold and ice still around says Cuddy.

Lake Decatur
SOURCE: Joanne Lowe, Mike’s Tackle World, Decatur (217-423-0730)
Not much being reported here as water levels being worked on.

Lake Glenn Shoals
SOURCE: Jack Rebman, Kink’s Corner, Hillsboro (217-532-5442)
Not much happening here yet with rainy, wet conditions. Some bass being picked up on spinnerbaits.

Lake Hillsboro
SOURCE: Jack Rebman, Kink’s Corner, Hillsboro (217-532-5442)
Anglers not having much success yet with recent rains slowing things down.

Mill Creek Lake
SOURCE: Dennis Shiley, Mill Creek Lake Park (217-889-3901)
Not enough open water yet to get anglers out. First tournament of the season scheduled for Sunday, March 14.

Sangchris Lake
SOURCE: Trevor Miller, Big Red’s Bait and Tackle, Springfield (217-820-9674)
Crappie bitting on minnows around the dam and hot ditch areas.

Lake Shelbyville
SOURCE: Guide Ken Wilson (217-774-5756 or 217-454-2672) at Lithia Springs Guide Service; Margie Oliver, Marv and Kathy’s Bait & Tackle, Sullivan (217-728-4044); Guide Steve Welch (217) 762-7257 or (217) 840-1221
Crappie bite slow but anglers are catching a few on tube jigs in 3-4 feet of water says guide Ken Wilson. Look in back of main creek arm coves.
• For a daily report on Lake Shelbyville call (217-774-2020).

Lake Springfield
SOURCE: Trevor Miller, Big Red’s Bait and Tackle, Springfield (217-820-9674) and Tater’s Bait, Springfield (217-528-2208)
Crappie fair on minnows in hot ditch areas. White bass good on cicadas, Blue Foxes, Crazy Blades

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS South of Interstate 70

Baldwin Lake
SOURCE: Site office (618-785-2555)
Fishing here is good, with the parking lot full of anglers but no specific reports coming in yet says the site office.

Carlyle Lake
SOURCE: Buddy Langenhorst, Lavish’s Bait Shop , Carlyle (618-594-4413); Henkel’s (618-594-4818)
White bass are running and taking plastics. Crappie being caught on the lake in brushy areas using tube jigs or minnows. In the Kaskaskia River, catfish are biting in the trail waters on shad guts and night crawlers says Lavish’s. Sauger taking hair jigs tipped with minnows or nightcrawlers.
• For the latest water level information call (618-594-4637).

Crab Orchard Lake
SOURCE: Ron Reed, Cooksey’s Bait, Marion (618-993-3366); Guide Matt Strobel (618-922-0354); Kyle Garner, Crappie Pro Shop, Carterville (618-985-8277)
Ron Reed says they are “tearing them up” here on blugeill, crappie and catfish. Cut bait working for the cats. Waxworms, minnows and jigs for the bluegill and crappie. Bass also being caught. Crappie small but plentiful.

Devil’s Kitchen
SOURCE: Ron Reed, Cooksey’s Bait, Marion (618-993-3366)
Bass biting here on a little bit of everything says Reed.

Lake of Egypt
SOURCE: Guide Matt Strobel (618-922-0354)
Crappie slow and spotty as anglers waiting for temperatures to rise for the fish to move in. Bass taking shaky heads, jerk baits and Rat-L-traps in grassy points and flats.

Forbes Lake
SOURCE: Site manager Glenn Wegener (618-547-3381); Mike Polcyn, Mike’s Bait & Tackle Shop, Louisville (618-665-3209)
Despite 41-44 degree water temps, anglers managing to pick up a few crappie on jigs in 6-8 feet of water around ends of trees says Wegener.

Horseshoe Lake, Alexander County
SOURCE: Jim Melton, Melton’s Fish Camp (618-776-5504)
Report here

Kinkaid Lake
SOURCE: Janet Graeff, Top of the Hill Bait Shop, Muphysboro (618-684-2923); Guide Al Nutty (618-694-4897)
Muskie being caught with a wide variety of patterns says Nutty. Rat-L-Traps working, as are bucktails and trolling deep diving lures. Temperatures warming up to 50 degrees. laremouth bass good off main lake pints using Sluggos or something similar. Spinner bait action beginning in the creek areas. Crappie starting to bit on small minnows in heavy brush piles in 8-12 feet of water. Some bluegill being picked up around the docks on waxworms or meal worms. Catfish on a fair to good bite using large minnows or cut shad. Guide Chad Cain hauled in a 49 7/8-inch muskie with a 25.5 inch girth on Saturday. The fish weighed 37.4 pounds, just a pound and a half from the state record.

Little Grassy Lake
SOURCE: Shirley Lowery, Little Grassy Boat Dock (618-457-6655)
Bass biting here on a little bit of everything says Reed.

Mermet Lake
SOURCE: Shawnee Bait & Tackle, Creal Springs (618-996-3089)
Nothing happening yet with waters still too cold for fishing.

Newton Lake
SOURCE: Ruth Rauch, Rauch’s Bait & Tackle, Newton (618-752-2151)
Anglers found good success at weekend bass tournament. Bass full of eggs and taking plastics. Catfish also good on nightcrawlers.

Rend Lake
SOURCE: Todd Gessner (618-513-0520); Bill Hudnall, Rend Lake Sporting Goods, Mount Vernon (618-242-2191)
Crappie just getting started and bass slow says Gessner. Crappie deep now but not for long if warming trend continues. Anglers using minnows and jigs deep around bridges for crappie. Should be a few more weeks before fishing gets good here.


Click here for water level information.

Des Plaines River
SOURCE: Andrew Ragas
This early into the season in which water temperatures are only 40-degrees, I would concentrate my time often and hard around ANY and ALL shallow backwater areas that are devoid of ice. First, once the ice leaves, these areas will act as spawning sites for Pike, followed a month after by Panfish, and will immediately be a refuge area for warmth and food sources for most other fish. And if the sun is out, these areas will cook themselves up thus the fish will come in to seek warmth. The key here is to look for shallow sand and sunken timber as they act as heat absorbers. If such areas are located, there is a great chance for some fish to be either on top of them, or nearby. In addition, other places to also try for while it is still cold out are main river channels with current for staging fish, especially for Walleye and Sauger, as well as creek mouths and small ditches for more Pike. The shallow zones and incoming water sources are generally good because there is a greater chance for the water temperatures in these areas to be a few degrees warmer than the main river. Few anglers are trying for either Walleyes and Sauger, but some smaller fish are being caught on jig with minnow bounced along the bottom through deeper current and hard bottom areas.
Click here for a Des Plaines River fishing forum.

DuPage River
SOURCE: Click here for a DuPage River fishing forum.

Fox River
SOURCE: Jim Hardy, Big Jim’s Bait & Tackle, Ottawa (815-434-3921)
Nothing much going on here with dirty and swift moving water says hardy. Anglers are catching some walleye and sauger at the mouth of the Illinois River.
Click here for a Fox River fishing forum.

Illinois River
SOURCE: Carol Culjan at Cajun Sporting Goods in Utica (815-667-4222)
• Near Utica the river is in good shape, 44-46 degrees and coming up slowly but with good clarity down about a foot says guide Darrell “Buster” Culjan. “There are a lot of sauger and walleye being caught around Starved Rock in 16-20 feet of water both by jigging and pulling,” he said. Anglers are sorting through lots of 12- to 13-inchers to get keepers but last Monday was a good day for big fish. The Big and Little Vermilion rivers are “running stained” Culjan said. Fishing is good for sauger all the way down to Hennepin with keepers being caught in traditional spots around Hennepin, in clam beds at St. Bede or on Peru flats says guide Jay Angel. Sauger in 12-18 feet of water. Anglers jigging pulling floating jig heads with minnows.

Kankakee River
SOURCE: Ed Mullady, Sportsman’s Letter (815-932-7285)
• Action improving here says Mullady, who reports a 9-pound, 6-ounce walleye was caught and released by Tom Kiger of Momence. Smaller walleye are also biting around Kankakee River State Park on jig and minnow or jig and crawler. Smallmouth bass are being caught from Warner Bridge and the Kankakee River State Park area to Timothy Island. Near Wilmington angler Michael Hermes caught a 4-pound walleye on jig and grubs recently.
• The Sportsman’s Letter’s 173rd Kankakee River Fishing Class is Saturday from 1-4 p.m. at the Mokena Park District. Call Mullady at (815) 932-7285.

Mississippi River
River levels are coming up fast and slowing what had been good walleye and sauger fishing.

Ohio River
SOURCE: Bill Parrish, Fort Masac Fish Market, Metropolis (618-524-3152); Golconda Marina Bait Shop (618-683-5875)
A few catfish and crappie biting but action mostly slow here says Parrish. Nightcrawlers and minnows best.

Pecatonica River
SOURCE: Tom Calam, Tom’s Bait & Tackle, Freeport (815-232-3337)
Northerns and walleye biting but most on the small side.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Rock River
SOURCE: Tom Calam, Tom’s Bait & Tackle, Freeport (815-232-3337)
• Near Rockford, where the Pec meets the Rock female walleyes being caught and released. Northerns, sauger also biting. Walleye minnows, night crawlers being used with small lead heads or floaters.
SOURCE: Jan Prose at TJ’s Bait/Tackle & Canoe Rental in Oregon (815-732-4516)
• Near Oregon, the walleye are coming in fair and small, most in 13-inch range. Good action from boats and shore is even better. Fathead minnows and twister tails working. Some smallmouth bass biting in four-pound range. Good sized channel cats taking redworms. Most anglers fishing off west side, with east shoreline still icy. An occasional northern being caught. Matt O’Rorke (left in the picture above) caught walleye of 9 3/4 and 10 pounds on minnows fishing near Oregon. Steve Anderson of Rochelle (right) also caught several walleyes. Also a few smallmouth bass are hitting on minnows.
SOURCE: Ray and Irene Hays, Bunny’s Bait Shop, Dixon (815-288-3812)
• Near Dixon, catfish good around Castle Rock and down to Dixon along the shorelines says Ray Hays. Redworms working best. Walleye started to come in and anglers were using minnows, but the bite has slowed. Water clear. Catfish still deep, in 10-15 foot range, and taking cheese baits, shad or shad guts says guide Matt Jones. Cats from 2-7 pounds.


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