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Illinois hunting and fishing

Ed Skube signals to the next boat in line to take off Saturday morning as the annual Mega-Bux tournament gets underway. Photos by Chris Young.

Lake Springfield becoming a fishing hotspot

April 22, 2012 at 01:24 PM

The State Journal-Register

Lake Springfield is rising to the top as one of the best fishing lakes in Illinois.

For evidence, one had to look no further than the Lindsay Bridge Boat Ramp that was filled with pickups and boat trailers Saturday.

On Saturday morning, both largemouth bass and catfish tournaments launched from the Lindsay Bridge ramp within an hour of each other.

The annual Mega-Bux bass tournament took off at 6 a.m. with the Lake Springfield Open Buddy Catfish Tournament Series event starting at 7 a.m.

Illinois hunting and fishing
Lonnie Winn holds up two of the reasons Lake Springfield is attracting tournaments and anglers.

Tournament organizers can testify to the quality of the lake’s fishery.

“Lake Springfield right now is one of the best lakes in the state,” said Steve Parker, who organizes bass tournaments at Lake Springfield. “According to my records, that I keep, you can’t beat it.

“Everybody catches a lot of fish, and everybody has a good time.”

Catfish tournament angler Joe Ludtke echoed his friend Parker’s comments an hour later.

“It’s a great lake, and we are lucky to have it,” he said.

Illinois Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist Dan Stephenson backs up the observations of local anglers with annual fall surveys of area lakes.

Last fall he noted that Lake Springfield’s bass and catfish populations remain among the best in Illinois.

The catfish population has remained strong for “decades,” Stephenson said in his report.

The popular Lake Springfield Open Buddy Catfish Tournament Series continues to draw anglers locally and regionally.

“If you notice, there are a lot of tournaments coming,” Parker said. “The high school tournaments are coming. The college tournaments are here now. The Bass Federation is coming back this summer.”

Parker had 35 teams signed up for Mega-Bux.

The two-day tournament concludes with a weigh-in today at 2:30 p.m.

One by one as their numbers were called Saturday morning, fishing teams roared away from the dock in search of a favorite spot.

The catfish tournament opted for a different type of start with boats putting in at their leisure, and agreeing not to fish until 7 a.m.

Despite a lot of anglers using the lake, everyone seems to be playing well together.

Parker said catfish and bass anglers search different habitats within the lake and don’t cross paths very often.

“They’re like bobbers out in the middle of the lake,” Parker said. “We go right around them. We get the bank and they work in the middle.

“We’ve never had any issues with them,” he said. “We generally work together.”

“Absolutely,” Ludtke said. “We always get along. We always do.”

Parker rattled off some numbers Saturday afternoon to show how good the fishing is on Lake Springfield right now.

“We had 13 limits, six five-pounds, tons of four pounders and 111 fish caught today,” he said.

Russ Armour released a bass weighing 5.81 pounds, the biggest one caught Saturday afternoon.

The quality of the fishing may have them talking, but not too much.

“It’s outstanding,” Armour said. “It has turned around in the past four years. It’s amazing. I don’t know what’s done it, but we’re happy.”

Asked where he caught the big bass, he just smiled and laughed.

“On the lake,” he said. “Lake Springfield.”

Chris Young can be reached at 788-1528.

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