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Illinois hunting and fishing

Hybrid stripers stocked at Powerton

January 30, 2009 at 04:53 AM

The mystery of the suddenly resurgent Powerton Lake white bass population has been solved.

After years of not catching white bass at Powerton, anglers were surprised to hook into good numbers of 8- to 10-inch stripers earlier this winter.

Well it turns out all those white bass are most likely hybrid striped bass, a cross between white bass and the ocean-going striped bass.

Workers from the state’s LaSalle Fish Hatchery stocked 87,000 hybrid stripers and 20 striped bass at Powerton last June. The stocking surprised even Wayne Herndon, the fisheries biologist who oversees the power-plant lake southwest of Pekin.

“They had real good production up at the LaSalle Hatchery this year,” Herndon said. “I had Powerton on the want-list (for hybrid stripers) and because they were on the list, they went ahead and stocked them.”

Hybrid stripers went in as 1.5-inch fish in June and have grown rapidly in Powerton’s warm, shad-filled waters. Anglers are reminded the daily limit is 10 white bass or stripers and only three over 17 inches. While that maximum size limit is not much of a factor today, it will be soon enough.

“By next year at this time we’ll probably be seeing 2- to 3-pound hybrid stripers,” Herndon said. “They can get to 4-5 pounds pretty readily if they’ve got good forage. And they do have good forage at Powerton.”

Proof of that came last week when Herndon visited Powerton to collect fish for the Illinois Fish & Feather Expo in Bloomington. Gizzard shad of around 1.5 inches were found everywhere.

Other fish are obviously taking advantage of the abundant forage. Herndon said blue catfish and largemouth bass were in excellent condition. Bigmouths were stocked in 2007 and range between 2-2.5 pounds. The largest blue cat sampled weighed 34 pounds.

Also faring well are redear sunfish, which were stocked in 2007 and are now 6-7 inches long.

“Those little fish really love Powerton and I think the fishermen are going to have some real fun with the redear,” Herndon said. “They’re fat little guys and they like the rocks, because that’s where we’ve been finding them.”

That’s good news for anglers who don’t enjoy ice fishing. Powerton, open daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., offers the only open-water option in the area. The lake opens to boaters on Feb. 15.

Not all the news out of Powerton is good, though.

For one thing, fishing for stripers has slowed of late.

Herndon also sampled plenty of young-of-the-year bighead and silver Asian carp. “I think they came through a tube that was open to the Little Mackinaw River this summer,” he said.

The other bad news concerns smallmouth bass. Herndon confirmed what anglers have been saying for the past few years: there are not as many smallies at Powerton.

“We collected a couple fish close to 5 pounds and there’s a lot of smallies out there that are 10-13 inches long,” he said. “But I’m a little concerned about reproduction. I’m not seeing real strong reproduction like I did for a number of years out there.

“There’s still a decent population of smallmouth bass, but we’ve got to look further at that to see what’s going on. We’re just not seeing a lot of young fish being produced.”

Herndon said stocking smallmouth bass is a possibility down the road.

“But we’d rather have the fish make it on their own if they can,” he said.

Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Why did you have to post this today?  I’m going tomorrow and was hoping it wouldn’t be too crowded.

Posted by Clif on 01/30 at 05:09 PM

Oh..I don’t think it will be too crowded yet.  In a couple years, yeah it’s gonna be crowded.  Ever been to lasalle and heidecke?  Difference is, powerton it just about year round fishing.  Wonder how long it will take to deplete those stripers?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/30 at 08:57 PM

i forgot to mention something.  When I fish at Heidecke and Lasalle, I usually catch the stripers on Chicken livers and cut bait.  That is until the shad hatch.  After that, it is very difficult to catch them.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/30 at 09:01 PM

The hybrid stripers didn’t cooperate for us today.  Luckily we brought some dip bait as a back up plan and were able to catch a bunch of catfish.

Posted by Clif on 01/31 at 08:00 PM

Clif, was it pretty crowded?  How big were the cats?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/01 at 02:16 PM

Fairly crowded, I expected that on such a nice day.  People every 30 feet or so on the outlet. Some were catching stripers, just not us.

I caught 7 smaller channel cats, didn’t measure any.  Probably ranging 12-16in.  My partner caught one about the same size.

Posted by Clif on 02/01 at 09:27 PM

I don’t like to read about people taking limit after limit of these hybrids. On the other hand they may as well. Back in the early 80’s there was a ton of these big fish in Powerton. We had an extended hot spell that caused the water temperature to get around a hundred degrees. The big hybrids were the first to die off. There was a layer of these dead fish that stretched about 120 x 30 feet in front of the crib house inlet at the plant. Most of these fish would have gone ten or fifteen pounds! It was sickening to see! So we might as well take them while we can.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/02 at 09:27 PM

Herndon better get on the ball and get a lower limit established. These fish eat like crazy all day long. Given the current sad state of the economy, it won’t take the laid-off Caterpillar guys and firemen long at all to fish them out using the “white-bass” excuse.

Happens everywhere they put them in.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/05 at 05:08 PM

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