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Cold spell has many ice fishing

January 07, 2010 at 03:58 PM

Ice-fishing derbies

The annual Camelot Lake Ice Fishing Derby near Mapleton off Lancaster Road will be from 7 a.m. to noon Jan. 30. Cost is $7 for adults, $4 for children. Show up early enough to register and be on the ice before start time. Cash prizes go to the three anglers who catch the three heaviest fish of several species, including crappie, walleye, bass and catfish. Each angler may also weigh three bluegills, which are added together for a single total.

Wildlife Prairie State Park will host its first ever ice fishing derby from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Feb. 6 on a 10-acre lake behind the Parkside Pavilion that’s usually off limits. Early registration before Jan. 29 is $12 for ages 14 and up, $5 for 13 and under. Late registration is $16 for people 14 and up. Cash prizes, a raffle, and concessions available. Phone 309-676-0998.


Ice fishing is on the minds of many anglers lately, what with water in the northern two-thirds of the state locked up tight.

And as is so often the case when it comes to panfishing, smaller farm ponds are so far producing many of the best catches reported.

Ice thickness is ranging from 2-12 inches across the northern two-thirds of the state.

In the Decatur area, Joanne Lowe of Mike’s Tackle World said fishing has been very good in smaller ponds and gravel pits for crappie and bluegill. Most ice she has heard of is from 3-5 inches thick.

Further north near Galesburg, Al Hayden of Al’s Sporting Goods said smaller ponds are his top performers so far.

“I’ve heard some near nice panfish reports out of farm ponds and smaller lakes,” Hayden said.

At nearby Lake Storey, typically a hotbed of public ice fishing, crappie action has slowed. “They’re catching some nice crappie, some even 12-14 inches, but the numbers aren’t there,” Hayden said.

At Evergreen Lake, ice fishing is underway. Mike Steffa reports 5-8 inches in many coves but notes that all ice fishing is at your own risk. Dirty water has slowed fishing some, though anglers report a few smaller crappie and bluegill. Writes Scott Richardson of the Bloomington Pantagraph: “Most were targeting crappies in the bays, where reports were that 5- to 8 inches of ice had formed, he said. Beware. Snow, which is expected today, is an insulator and can slow the ice-making process.” Click here to read the rest of Richardson’s ice-fishing article.

In the Chicago area, Dale Bowman of the Chicago Sun-Times reports: “Ice is safe almost universally, the only exceptions are the few current areas strong enough to fight off the cold or a few spots swam open by Canada geese determined not to move.” Click here to read his report, which includes information on good action at the Chain O’Lakes and ice forming in Lake Michigan harbors.

We plan to start a weekly ice-fishing report next Wednesday. Sorry for the delay this week.


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

Jeff, I fished at JEPC Wednesday afternoon. Ice was app 5 inches and the bluegill were hitting pretty consistant until about 4:30 pm. Those little ponds over there are loaded with fish.

Posted by archernut_ibs on 01/07 at 05:31 PM

We had some good luck today on some BIG Bluegill north of Bethalto in Madison County.  We only caught 11, but they all were over 7 inches and we had a couple almost 10.  All on Wax worms just off the bottom.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/07 at 05:48 PM

What depth are the bluegill at, and are they on the bottom or suspended in the water column? What techniques are working?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/07 at 06:42 PM

Only ice fished once in my life, thinking about trying it out this year. Got a local pond about 1 1/2 acres maybe 10’ to 12’ deep. Ice is 5 inches thick as of Tuesday. I know there are small Bluegill and small Crappie in there. Any suggestions on ideas or baits to use? Live in Rossville, Ill.
Frank J Harvey

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/07 at 07:30 PM

By the way, how thick is safe ice?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/07 at 07:45 PM

I know people who fish on 2.5 inches. Not me. But if you have 5 inches you are more than safe, coinman. I like waxworms and small, 2-spot ice fishing jigs for bluegill and crappie. But I’m no expert. Good luck.

Posted by Jeff Lampe on 01/07 at 08:34 PM

Thanks Jeff and tw67 for info.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/08 at 09:29 AM

tw67——Thought your ice fishing consisted of fly fishing with a glass of ice tea…....

Posted by fishinpals on 01/08 at 10:16 AM

We can’t wait to get back out there this weekend.  5 inches of ice in Madison County on Thursday.  We use the standard Ice Fishing rod that can be bought for approx $7-$10 at most bait shops.  I re-spool mine with Trilene XL 2lb test and use a variety of Ice Flies. We were successful using White, Pink and Green in about 10 foot of water. It didn’t seem to matter what color as long as there was a fresh fat wax worm on the end.  Drop the ice fly to the bottom then pull it up anywhere from 1 - 4 inches.  Dress warm, put your back to the wind and have some fun! Here is a link to my Facebook profile that shows 4 pics of our trip Thu:  Check out those two bluegill at 10 Inches!!!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/08 at 08:22 PM

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