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Illinois fishing report 3-18-10

March 18, 2010 at 01:17 PM


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

• The south end of Spring Lake or the Emiquon Preserve for bass.
• Lake Egypt for bass.
• Carlinville Lake for bass.
• Crab Orchard for crappie.
• Lake Springfield for white bass.
• Sangchris lake for crappie.
• LaSalle Lake for blue catfish and striped bass.
• The north end of Spring Lake for numbers of muskie; Kinkaid Lake for bigger sized muskie.


• Bernard Tucker of Pekin caught and released a 7-pound bass on the south end of Spring Lake on Tuesday while fishing a spinnerbait.
• Steve Bown caught a 34-inch blue catfish on Wednesday during opening day while trolling a Shad Rap.

NORTHERN ILLINOIS North of Interstate 80

Apple Canyon Lake
SOURCE: Tom Calam, Tom’s Bait & Tackle, Freeport (815-232-3337)
Nothing much to report here as recent rains have kept anglers from finding any success. Calam recommends getting out and trying previous good spots when weather clears.

Lake Carroll
SOURCE: Tom Calam, Tom’s Bait & Tackle, Freeport (815-232-3337).
Same report here as Apple Canyon, thanks to rainy weather.

Forest Preserve Lakes
SOURCE: Lee’s Bait and Tackle of Elk Grove Village (847-593-6424); Henry’s (312-225-8538)
Ice is going out rapidly in most lakes. In DuPage County Pickerel, Grove and Silver lakes will be closed to all fishing until spring trout season opens April 3. Pickerel replaces Deep Quarry, which will not be stocked because of zebra mussels.
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).
Triangle Sports reports the Chain is not clear yet for open fishing, with about 5 percent of the lakes fishable to date. That should change over the weekend. Some anglers are fishing in the backwaters where there is access by the shore or around bridges where there is current. Those that have been able to get out have picked up some walleye and crappie. Ice fishing season, which was “great” according to Triangle, is officially over.
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 cohos are starting to come in and the perch are biting says Henry’s. Cohos and browns best around Montrose. Anglers using powerlines with minnows for cohos. Perch best around Navy Pier in the early morning. 95th Street off the bridge also a good location. The River is the best place says Vet’s, with 92nd, 95th and 100th Street bridges good locations for perch. Mik-Lurch reports bigger perch biting between 102nd and 106th. Try orange flies. Bowman reports that Park Bait plans to officially open on Thursday. Henry’s Sixth Annual Spring Coho Derby is Saturday on the north side of Solidarity Drive east of the Shedd. Registration begins at 6:30 a.m. Click here or call (312) 225-8538.
SOURCE: The Salmon Stop (847-244-2525 or fishing hotline 847-244-9876)
• Near Waukegan browns biting around the Government Pier and South Rocks on frozen shad and spawn sacks.
SOURCE: Capt. Nick Ganzer (847-234-7208).
• Near North Point a few browns being picked up at the Edison Plant. Burns Ditch good for browns

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. Lakeside should open around April 1.
• 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)
Mik-Lurch says crappie biting in the Corn Channel using minnows, Mini Mite jigs or bee moths about 2 1/2 feet deep.

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

Anderson Lake
SOURCE: Site manager Ed Oest (309-759-4484)
The site is under flood conditions with water into the parking lot and the campground. Rip-rap is covered so there’s no real bankfishing. “It’s pretty slow down here,” Oest said. “The first boat was out today to do some jug fishing for catfish.”

Argyle Lake
SOURCE:Site manager Robin Hinchee (309-776-3422); The Deck II Bait and Boat Rental shop (309-776-4275)
A few anglers are out and have been catching decent-sized crappie, but not big numbers. “They are catching enough to stay interested,” Hinchee said. A few anglers have also caught trout and saugeye. Most anglers are in less than 15 feet of water.

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)
Crappie are starting to bite says Keefer, with most of the keepers so far coming from deeper water (12-20 feet deep). Some fish are moving shallow on sunny afternoons. Bass are slow. Some good reports on wide-wobble, slow-retrieved crankbaits and jigs.

Lake Bloomington
SOURCE: Larry Dozard
The lake was open on Monday and the crappie were still a little slow, with water temperatures ranging from 38-42 degrees says Dozard.

Braidwood Lake
SOURCE: Del Colvin, Bert’s Bait, Essex (815-365-2103); Jon Meder, Jon’s Bait & Tackle, South Wilmington (815-237-2822)
Bass best using plastics. Some small catfish also biting on nightcrawlers and liver says Meder. Dale Bowman reports that catfish are best from shore or boat with lots of small fish. Lakes close at 7 p.m. Last Friday Grant Farmer caught a 4-1 largemouth bass.

Clinton Lake
SOURCE: Joanne Lowe, Mike’s Tackle World, Decatur (217-423-0730); Clinton Bait and Tackle, (217-935-3851)
A few crappie, white bass and striper biting here says Lowe. Anglers finding success on crappie on the banks around bridges, with crappie about a foot and a half deep. 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)
Bass are biting very well already, with reports of one group of first-time anglers catching close to 100 according to Dinkheller. No word yet on crappie here. 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 is gone but anglers have found limited success, with small crappie best right now near brush or structure according to Brad Wood. Anglers are reminded that there is a 9-inch limit on crappie in place until April 1. After that, there will be no size limit but the 15-fish daily creel will remain in effect. A few anglers have had success trolling for saugeye. Water clarity is poor and temperatures are in the mid-40s.
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.

Illinois hunting and fishing
LaSalle Lake
SOURCE: Dale Bowman of the Chicago Sun-Times; Guide Mike Lynch (708-655-7667)
The lake opened Wednesday to rave reviews on blue cats from guide Matt Jones. Cats were biting on shad gut and skipjack bait. At least one big (34-inch) blue cat also bit for Steve Bown, who was fishing with Jay Angel opening morning. That blue cat hit a Shad Rap while the pair were trolling for stripers, of which they caught 23. They were trolling in 6-15 feet of water. Writes Angel, “We each caught 8 bass in less than an hour then the bite died. LaSalle Lake bass are big, fat and mean. I love these fish! What a great day, the sun was shining and it was warm!” Water temperatures varied from 65 to 85 degrees. The lake is 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)
The ice is gone and nice-size crappie are biting here on minnows and tube jigs says Meder.

Powerton Lake
SOURCE: Merle Keefer, Pekin Bass & Bow (309-347-3334); Jason Grider, Riverside Bait, Pekin (309-347-3793)
Hybrid stripers are biting best says Keefer. Smallmouth bass are fair to slow. Blue cats have also slowed some and there have been few reports of flatheads this week.

Snakeden Hollow SFWA
SOURCE: Site office (309-879-3607)
A new tackle shop will be opening in Victoria soon and we should have reports once it opens.

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)
Crappie are good in the Pike Hole and elsewhere. More keepers caught in the past week, though there are plenty of small fish to sort through says Karnes. Out of 25 fish you might have 8-9 keepers. Bass are also taking off well. Karnes weighed a 7-pound bass caught and released by Bernard Tucker of Pekin, who was fishing a spinnerbait on the south end. Bullheads are also active. Muskie have been good on the north end on Rat-L-Traps and swim baits says Keefer. Water was running 50 degrees on Wednesday morning but should jump up with two afternoons of warm sun. Muskie nets will be out of the north end on Friday. Largest fish so far went 43.5 inches and probably 24 pounds. Most muskie are 22-28 inches long.

Lake Storey
SOURCE: Al Hayden, Al’s Sporting Goods, Galesburg (309-342-7776)
Ice is finally out of the coves and boaters can launch. Few reports on crappie so far says Hayden. An angler did catch a 5-pound bass on Tuesday on a spinnerbait on the shallow east end.

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; Jason Grider, Riverside Bait, Pekin (309-347-3793)
Ice is out in Fulton and Peoria counties and is all but gone north of here, as well. Bass are sluggish but biting, with fish up to 20 3/4 inches reported, including the long fish below caught in a deep Peoria strip-mine lake. Shallow-driving crankbaits are also working on sunny shorelines. One caution for anglers headed out: Lakes are very high right now and some normally clear lakes are muddier than usual. Crappie have started biting on minnows. Not great numbers yet, but some nice fish up to 14 inches. Waxworms also working well in some places. Best results have been in the shallows in the afternoons on recent sunny days. Farm ponds are even better than strip mines right now.
Illinois hunting and fishing

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)
Some trout biting on minnows.

Carlinville Lake
SOURCE: Gwen Gilmore, Gilmore Bait & Marine, Carlinville (217-854-8136)
Crappie deep and the bite good using minnows says Gilmore Bait & Marine. Bass bite very good, with bass even taking minnows. Bluegill hitting on waxworms.

Charleston Side Channel Lake
SOURCE: Rick Cuddy, Prairie Outfitters, Charleston (217-348-6770)
Anglers starting to get a few crappie but fish have not turned on yet. Crappie moving up shallow.

Lake Decatur
SOURCE: Joanne Lowe, Mike’s Tackle World, Decatur (217-423-0730)
Water levels still being worked on here but anglers are starting to pick up some crappie on the lake in a foot and a half of water.

Lake Glenn Shoals
SOURCE: Jack Rebman, Kink’s Corner, Hillsboro (217-532-5442)
Starting to get some crappie now, about 9-10 inches long, on jigs or minnows. White or green colored jigs working best.

Lake Hillsboro
SOURCE: Jack Rebman, Kink’s Corner, Hillsboro (217-532-5442)
No big fish yet, but crappie biting on jigs or minnows says Rebman.

Lake Jacksonville
SOURCE: Tom Holmes, Military Surplus Outlet, Jacksonville (217-243-6161) and Lake Jacksonville Campground (217-479-4646)
Lake opened Monday and anglers are out. Crappie limit lowered from 25 to 15 this year. Bass on mercury alert currently.

Lake Mattoon
SOURCE: Rick Cuddy, Prairie Outfitters, Charleston (217-348-6770); Joel Pittman, Mattoon Parks Department (217-254-6680)
Fishing just getting started here and a few crappie reports have been trickling in, but nothing major says Pittman.

Mill Creek Lake
SOURCE: Dennis Shiley, Mill Creek Lake Park (217-889-3901)
Anglers are getting out but no reports coming out yet. Weekend tournament produced just two bass totaling 5.9 pounds and three muskie.

Sangchris Lake
SOURCE: Jack Raymond, Peter’s Bait, Springfield (217-528-9500); Trevor Miller, Big Red’s Bait and Tackle, Springfield (217-820-9674)
Crappie biting about anywhere on minnows, about 10-12 feet deep in most places says Pete’s Bait. In hot ditch area, crappie only a couple feet deep. Catfish biting already on dipbait.

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 are fair in 5-9 feet of water around brush according to Wilson. Target old creek channels. The water here is a foot over normal pool and running about 48 degrees. Reports of muskie and walleye below the spillway have been mixed: some faring well, several blanking on fish.
• For a daily report on Lake Shelbyville call (217-774-2020).

Lake Springfield
SOURCE: Jack Raymond, Peter’s Bait, Springfield (217-528-9500); Trevor Miller, Big Red’s Bait and Tackle, Springfield (217-820-9674) and Tater’s Bait, Springfield (217-528-2208)
White bass going crazy on crazy blades in the hot ditch areas says Pete’s Bait. Earlier the better to get best location. Crappie biting here and there.

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS South of Interstate 70

Baldwin Lake
SOURCE: Site office (618-785-2555)
Catfish and bass biting good here. Cats taking live bait.

Carlyle Lake
SOURCE: Buddy Langenhorst, Lavish’s Bait Shop , Carlyle (618-594-4413); Henkel’s (618-594-4818)
Small crappie being found in brush piles and along boat docks in 6-12 inches of water. Minnows and jigs working best. Some crappie in 4-6 feet deep range. A few catfish being caught and some bluegill biting in brush piles.
• 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 crappie bite getting bigger and better. Try 3-4 feet deep. Route 13 by the spillway a good location as is any area with rip rap. Crappie taking minnows in brush piles about 10-11 feet deep says Garner. Electric chicken colors or black and chartreuse tubes good. Catfish taking cutbait or shad. A few bluegill being picked up on crickets or waxworms.

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 says Strobel. Guide Todd Gessner reports decent fishing in the weeds on the warm end of the lake with fish deeper (up to 20 feet deep) in the rest of the lake. Bass taking shaky heads, jerk baits and Rat-L-Traps in grassy points and flats. Johns reported several over 4 pounds recently with best lure so far a red Rat-L-Trap, jigs (black and blue or green pumpkin) or shad-colored crankbaits. And a jerkbait is still working too. He says some bass are staged, some are moving up and down on the points and some are real shallow. He actually caught his biggest fish in 2-4 feet of water in the grass.

Kinkaid Lake
SOURCE: Janet Graeff, Top of the Hill Bait Shop, Muphysboro (618-684-2923); Guide Al Nutty (618-694-4897)
Nutty reports catfish good in the back of creek areas on cut shad, nightcrawlers or large minnows. Largemouth bass fair. Spinner baits and Rat-L-Traps are both moving fish. For bigger bass try jig and pig. Laydown trees or heavy brush piles best locations. Crappie good on small to medium minnows in heavy brush piles about 8-12 feet deep. Bigger crappie down deeper, in 16-20 range. Bluegill good on waxworms in deep weed edges. Not many reports on walleye, but they should be headed to the creeks to spawn soon. Jig and minnow combos around rip rap areas best. Muskie action slow. Recent tournament brought in 11 fish from 32 boats on Saturday and none on Sunday. Rat-L-Traps, Bucktails and jerk baits best. The key, according to Nutty, is to slow down.

Little Grassy Lake
SOURCE: Shirley Lowery, Little Grassy Boat Dock (618-457-6655)
Lake opens April 1.

Newton Lake
SOURCE: Ruth Rauch, Rauch’s Bait & Tackle, Newton (618-752-2151)
Catfish best bet but action slow overall says Rauch. Cuddy has received a few reports of bass biting here.

Rend Lake
SOURCE: Jason Johns (618-927-3432); Todd Gessner (618-513-0520); Bill Hudnall, Rend Lake Sporting Goods, Mount Vernon (618-242-2191)
Crappie have been biting better in the past few days, with fish of 10-13 inches hitting in 10-14 feet of water on stake beds according to Johns. You’ll still get plenty of 8-9 inchers too. Fish on the bottom with jigs working well (blue and chartreuse or red and chartreuse) and they can also be caught on minnows.


Click here for water level information.

Des Plaines River
SOURCE: Andrew Ragas
For the most part, the river is a complete mess and in some places, unfishable reports Ragas. On Monday the river was flowing at 2800CFS, with gauge height at 5.80 in Riverside. That’s poor for shore fishing and unsafe for wading. Ragas advises trying backwaters, creeks and ditches for pike in flooded woods on jerkbaits, swimbaits or gold-bladed spinnerbaits. Some sauger are also being caught.
Click here for a Des Plaines River fishing forum.

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

Fox River
SOURCE: Batavia Bait & Tackle (630-879-1302)
• Dale Bowman reports that Montgomery and Algonquin areas are forecast to be near flood stage through the weekend. He advises fishing creeks or along shorelines.
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 ramps just reopened at Starved Rock and Spring Valley and water is high and on the edge of the trees. Clarity is 4-6 inches and anglers just went back out today according to Buster Culjan. “So we don’t know yet what the fish are doing.” The river is dropping 1 foot per day and barring major rains should clear up. Temperatures had been running around 45 degrees.

Kankakee River
SOURCE: Ed Mullady, Sportsman’s Letter (815-932-7285)
• Mullady reports the river is up but fish are being caught. In Indiana, Kankakee F&W Area’s Laramore Ditch pike fishing is fair on good sized minnows or bright spoons. Catfishing is fair throughout Point, north of English Lake.
In Illinois, Catfishing good on cheesebaits, minnows and nightcrawlers. Creeks and creek mouths will clear the quickest and smallmouth bass should be good even up in creeks on live minnows, Mepps No. 2 silver spoon spinners or fluorescent-colored lures.
Fishing should improve in a few days as river recedes and clears considerably.

Kaskaskia River
Sauger biting on 3-inch curly tails, hair jigs tipped with minnows, leeches or nightcrawlers. Catfish taking worms, cutbait or shad guts. A few white bass also being picked up on plastics, curly tails, rooster tails. Crappies taking minnows or plastic tube jigs. A few small bluegill also biting.

Mississippi River

Ohio River
SOURCE: Bill Parrish, Fort Masac Fish Market, Metropolis (618-524-3152); Golconda Marina Bait Shop (618-683-5875)
River up four feet above normal and continuing to go up until Tuesday says Golconda Marina. Most anglers just hitting local ponds for now.

Rock River
SOURCE: Tom Calam, Tom’s Bait & Tackle, Freeport (815-232-3337)
• Near Rockford, river cresting and water levels should be going down but no fishing reports recently. Calam hopes weekend could improve but rain and snow in the forecast.
SOURCE: Jan Prose at TJ’s Bait/Tackle & Canoe Rental in Oregon (815-732-4516)
• Near Oregon, river is up about four feet but anglers still catching some walleye and catfish says Prose. One angler hauled in 24-inch and 20-inch walleye recently. Jig and minnow, twister tails, 3-inch Shad Body working. Orange and brown or chartreuse colors best.
SOURCE: Ray and Irene Hays, Bunny’s Bait Shop, Dixon (815-288-3812)
• River is up but anglers still catching catfish — in 2-7 pound range — using had redworms and cheese baits says guideMatt Jones (815-537-5506 or 815-590-1469 cell).

Spoon River
SOURCE: Al Hayden, Al’s Sporting Goods, Galesburg and Paul Dinkheller at Dink’s in Lewistown (309-547-1094)
River came up last weekend and was muddy but has started dropping. Few reports of anglers out so far, though.

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