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2012 fishing forecast: Sangchris Lake

February 18, 2012 at 12:59 PM

Illinois Department of Natural Resources

This is the second in a series of lake reports. This one is from Dan Stephenson of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Sangchris Lake, Christian County 2,321 acres

Largemouth bass
The Sangchris Lake bass population remains one of the better bass fisheries in the state but not where I would like it to be.

For the past decade or so the total numbers collected in the electrofishing (shocking) runs have remained very high but the number of large fish has continued a downward trend.

For that reason, I put a limit on the lake that allowed for the harvest of two bass per day under 15 inches and only one bass per day over.

In theory, that would thin out some of the smaller bass while protecting the older bass up to a larger size. 

However, if the anglers won’t take the smaller bass there is no thinning of the numbers and the regulation won’t work. 

That’s apparently what happened on Sangchris. 

So the standard regulation will go back into effect April 1 - a 15-inch minimum length limit with a daily creel limit of 3 fish. 

The Fall 2011 fish survey produced the second highest number of fish I’ve ever collected, averaging 152 bass per hour for nine hours of electrofishing. 

Seventy-five to 100 per hour would be considered very good. 

The problem was that only 12 percent were over 15 inches and 3 percent were above 18 inches and only six fish out of the 1,368 fish collected were over 20 inches. 

Those percentages should be more than double that if the population was structured correctly.

So, while there are lots of bass to catch, there are few memorable or trophy fish present.

In addition, many bass were in below average body conditions. 

This lake gets so hot and remains that way for extended periods in the summer causing the bass to burn off more calories than they consume. 

The crappie population continues to be good. 

The numbers aren’t as good as I would like but the quality remains. 

Fish 12 inches and above are found throughout the lake with the west arm producing the most. 

In the Fall 2011 population survey only 110 crappies were collected in the nine-hour survey. 

That number is quite low but the percentage of fish over 10 inches and 12 inches was high at 85 a 50 percent respectively. 

To supplement the natural in-lake spawning I would like to use the on-site nursery pond, but the pond needs repair and cannot be used currently.

As an aside, the black crappies in the lake are the black-nosed Arkansas strain that are highly prized by the fishermen.

No striped bass survey was conducted in 2011, but we continue to stock stripers at the rate of 10 fingerlings per acre every other year or five per acre every year – depending upon availability.

The 2009 survey was the third best since I began striper surveys in 1988 in the number of fish collected. 

Most were around nine pounds at that time but after three more years of growth that class should be nearing 20 pounds. 

And there was an exceptional gizzard shad spawn in 2011 so there is a lot to eat. 

The lake produces excellent numbers of channel and flathead catfish. 

The largest flathead catfish I ever seen in a survey was weighed a few years ago. 

It was over 65 pounds and good numbers over 20 are taken every year. 

The channel cats are doing much better now than in the early years of the lake when they were overpopulated and stunted. 

Stunting is a condition where there are too many fish and not enough food to go around so their growth rates, for all practical purposes, stop. 

Today three to five pound channel cats are quite common. 

So the lake looks good for both species.

Related stories

2012 fishing forecast: Lake Shelbyville

This is the first in a series of fishing forecasts for Illinois lakes. Lake Shelbyville is reported to have excellent crappie, largemouth bass, white bass and walleye fisheries.

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