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Open water greeting many Illinois anglers

February 12, 2009 at 03:56 PM

While ice fishing is still an option in parts of northern Illinois, anglers in most of the Prairie State can once again find plenty of open water in which to wet a line.

Northern Illinois

Great weather last weekend brought anglers out in droves along the Mississippi River says Tom Calam of Tom’s Bait & Tackle in Freeport (815-232-3337). Hot spot was Spring Lake’s deep hole area. Crappie were best 6-7 feet deep. Mickelson’s produced decent size bluegill. Thawing, though, caused river to come back up to 15.2, making fishing “touch and go” for this weekend. One angler caught three 10 3/4-inch bluegill at Apple Canyon Lake. Crappie also biting in 9-10-inch range. Fish were hitting on a little bit of everything, bait-wise. Area ice cover still 10 inches to a foot in most places says Calam.

In the Chicago area, open water fishing is good for perch at Navy Pier and in the harbors says Henry’s (312-225-8538). For those looking for ice fishing, Fox Chain O’ Lakes is the best bet. Channel Lake and Pistakee both good locations says Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch (847-395-0813). Long Lake also productive. Good bite still on bluegill and crappie, with walleye improving. Anglers encouraged to access lakes by piers as shoreline ice eroding. Ice cover still around 7-10 inches aside from the open shorelines.

Mik-Lurch (219-989-0575) reports little to no action on area lakes with ice melting around shorelines. If anglers can get out on ice, there is some cover but caution highly recommended. Anglers finding spots one day and none the next. Some action still happening around discharge areas, but creeks are muddy. A local Coldest Day of the Year tournament produced 12-pound browns at Salt Creek. Steelheads ranged from 6-8 pounds.

Central Illinois

At Evergreen Lake, ice has melted and not much action with lake just opening up Wednesday says operations supervisor Mike Steffa (726-2022). He estimated more than 75 percent of the lake was open Thursday afternoon.

The weekend meltdown kept most anglers away from area lakes and ponds says Merle Keefer at Pekin Bass & Bow (309-347-3334). Ice cover too risky in many areas. Powerton still best bet says Keefer. Hybrid striped bass and channel cats going good there. Smallmouth bass also being caught says Tim Presley at Presley’s Outdoors in Bartonville (309-697-1193).

Larry Dozard of Larry’s Fishing has received a few reports of muskie anglers trying out Spring Lake on the north end. Fishing started Tuesday, but reports so far are that the bite is slow. Troy Galvin at Galvin’s Spring Lake Market (309-267-6538) says Spring Lake is open and anglers are out. Crappie may also be biting says Galvin.

At Fulton County Camping and Recreation, ice fishing looks to be done for the season with so much open water says site superintendent Jeff Harris.

Al Hayden of Al’s Sporting Goods in Galesburg reports fishing in a holding pattern after weekend meltdown. Standing water on ice keeping most anglers away. Spoon River should be good for catfish as ice expected to break loose soon.

Glen at River Marine Bait & Tackle in Spring Valley (815-663-1000) says ice fishing too risky and Illinois River waters up but some anglers managing to catch sauger and crappie on the Mississippi in open waters.

Southern Illinois

At Carlyle Lake, anglers are catching a few small sauger and channel cats biting on shad guts below the dam says Lavish’s Bait Shop in Carlyle (618-594-4413). A few crappie also being caught and some anglers even jigging for white bass.

At Crab Orchard Lake, ice finally melted last week and anglers starting to get out but no further reports says Ron Reed of Cooksey’s Bait in Marion (618-993-3366). Crappie biting around Wolf Creek Road says Kyle Garner at Crappie Prop Shop in Marion (618-985-8277) on waxworms and chartreuse jigs.

Lake of Egypt crappie and bass are going good says Reed. Crappie biting in 12 feet of water in grass lines on little shad colored jigs says Garner. White, blue or smoke colors also working. Bass taking Rat-L-traps or rigging tubes in grass points says Garner.

At Kinkaid Lake, a few muskie biting on spinner baits and crappie being caught deep (18-20 feet) on minnows or a few on jigs says Terry at Top of the Hill Bait Shop in Murphysboro (618-752-2151).

At Newton Lake, recent bass tournament produced six keepers weighing 21 pounds says Ruth Rauch at Rauch’s Bait & Tackle in Newton (618-752-2151). White bass biting on white or chartreuse spinner baits. Catfish taking nightcrawlers.

At Rend Lake, the following is a report posted on Larry’s Fishing by guide Todd Gessner (618-513-0520) on Feb. 10: “At last, today the ice is finally gone from Rend Lake. I assume that is also the case with other southern Illinois lakes. Most boat ramps have opened up. The forecast for rain and relatively warm temps for next 5-6 days should take care of remaining ice in sheltered bays. Boats on the lake.”







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