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Carlyle Lake gets top marks in fall fish surveys

October 07, 2011 at 10:04 PM

Prairie State Outdoors

Illinois Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist e-mailed this preliminary report of the annual fall lake surveys.

“I was on the overall best lake I’ve seen in 32 years,” Stephenson said. “Carlyle Lake is phenomenal. 

“If you would have asked me five to 25 years ago, I would have told you Carlyle is a 24,000 acre mud-puddle.”

But thanks to good spawning conditions, the lake has turned around.

“I have never seen a better crappie population of both black and white crappie,” he said. “We collected so many in each hour of electrofishing run (200-300 of all sizes) that we had to sub-sample, which means we only collected them for some part of the hour.”

“White bass were only collected for 33 percent of the run, and we collected roughly 200 per hour,” Stephenson said. “As you know, 75 or so largemouth bass per hour is a pretty good number assuming the population structure and growth rates are good.  We averaged twice that many. 

“My first run I collected 182 bass and another biologist had over 200 bass per hour in two of his runs. All were in excellent body condition and excellent population size structure.”

But the good news doesn’t stop there. 

“The bluegill are very good as are the channel catfish and flathead catfish,” he said. “And all fish were in the on the shore, primarily on the rip-rap. I have never seen anything like it.

“Carlyle is the place to go for great fishing for all species.”

Lake Jacksonville

“I conducted the fish population survey on Lake Jacksonville last week and found the largemouth bass population remains excellent,” he said. “I averaged 125-130 bass per hour of electrofishing.

“Fish sampled were of all sizes up to nearly eight pounds with several over six,” he said.  “Approximately 40 percent were over the 15-inch limit and 25 percent were over 18-inches and about four pounds.

“As some may recall, we drained and restocked Lake Jacksonville in 1986, now 25 years ago,” Stephenson said. “The bass population has remained strong ever since. The channel cats are very good to excellent as well and we saw, while not great, the best crappie population I’ve seen in a long while. At least four years classes were present up to 12 inches with many under the 9-inch limit coming on. 

“We even collected some hybrid striped bass which are not usually susceptible to electrofishing,” he said. “I found them just off of a point near the dam, and they ranged from six to eight pounds. The bluegill are not good but do provide additional food for the bass. 

Lake Springfield

“As with Jacksonville, the largemouth bass are excellent although I don’t see nearly as many over 18 inches,” he said. “There are more this year than in past years however. The largest I collected was six pounds. 

“Overall I have averaged 120 or so bass per hour electrofishing with a one hour run left. That is excellent especially for a large reservoir. 

“The crappie are good I would say, not very good or excellent.,” Stephenson said. “I picked up a lot of 6-inch black-nosed crappie that were from last year’s nursery pond stocking. I was happy to see that. There are a pretty good number of larger white crappie up to 12 inches.

“As always, the channel catfish are excellent and the flathead look pretty good,” he said. “We have not picked up any blue cats yet but they usually stay off shore in deeper water so I really don’t expect to. 

On that species, our state hatchery stocked 8,000 8-inch blue cats a couple of weeks ago. I really appreciate our hatcheries for coming through. They stocked three other power plant lakes in the state as well. 

“The bluegill are very good for a larger reservoir and the white bass are in pretty good numbers up to 13 inches,” he said. “I really need to set nets to sample them they are not particularly vulnerable to electrofishing.

“So over all, Lake Springfield looks very good.”

Sangchris, Coffeen and Taylorville

“Next week it’s off to Sangchris. The week after Coffeen and Taylorville. The last week of the month we will be up in the Chicagoland area looking for asian carp.”

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