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Illinois Outdoors

Chicago-area angler Kevin Wakeman hoists a muskie caught last Wednesday on the north end of Spring Lake in Tazewell County.

Peoria-area fishing prospects: EAST

March 16, 2008 at 06:29 AM
Illinois Outdoors In addition to gathering information, biologist spend time netting fish each spring to help make more fish for anglers. Last week biologists Wayne Herndon and Rob Hilsabeck set trap nets on the south end of Spring Lake to gather northern pike prior to their spring spawn. Fish were then shipped to the nearby Jake Wolf Fish Hatchery, where fish will be stripped of eggs and sperm. The hatchery hopes to raise 25,000 pike fingerlings to be stocked across Illinois. The north end of Spring Lake provides muskie brood stock for much of Illinois. Plans call for muskie nets to be set Monday. And March 29-30, sauger caught during the annual MWC Tournament will provide spawners to produce this year’s sauger stocks for Illinois.

Chances are good you can fish all your life in Illinois without catching a 10-pound largemouth bass. If you regularly fish public waters, odds really stack up against you.

That said, the south end of Spring Lake in Tazewell County produced a 10-pounder last spring. Best of all, the 10.03-pounder that Larry Lehman of Pekin caught and released last April 18 should still be swimming in the 610-acre south end.

No wonder Spring Lake bass highlight today’s review of fishing prospects on the east side of the Illinois River. For lunkers like Lehman’s, the south end is your best bet. For numbers of fat bass the 578-acre north end is probably best, though biologist Wayne Herndon said, “There’s going to be a tremendous number of 3-pound bass on the south end.”

Whichever side of the causeway you fish, you’ll want to get out early. By mid-summer aquatic plants make much of this shallow lake tough to fish — even though Herndon plans to treat vegetation twice.

That’s why now is also a good time to target muskie on the north end. Anglers have caught several muskie of 30 to 40 inches since ice went out two weeks ago.

For northern pike, the south end ranks among the best spots in Illinois. The south end also looks very good for 2- to 5-pound catfish this year, while the north end is best for crappie (lots of fish 9 inches and larger). Bluegill are plentiful but small in both lakes.

A better bet for bluegill is Powerton Lake, whose rocky shoreline holds plenty of plump panfish. Powerton should also be very good for catfish, with blue cats up to 50 pounds possible and excellent fishing for eater channel cats.

Unfortunately, there’s still no word on when boaters can launch at the 1,426-acre cooling lake. High water on the Illinois River has slowed work in the hot-water discharge, meaning smallmouth bass are getting a reprieve from their usual spring pounding.

Eureka Lake is another bass hotspot where access is an issue, since anglers can’t have gas motors on their boats. But the small 36-acre lake has big bass and will produce a 10-pounder one of these years.

“Eureka has continued on as probably the best bass fishery around that I know of,” Herndon said.

Crappie should be fair (lots of 8-inchers) at Eureka and northern pike encounters will increase due to more regular stocking of the toothy rascals.

Illinois Outdoors

If a state record interests you then pay a visit to Evergreen Lake. For the past few years biologists have sampled state record muskie and saugeye in the spring — an indication both species are flourishing.

Crappie are also good at Evergreen, though not as abundant as for the past three years. “There’s a fair amount of bigger white crappie, but density is definitely going down,” biologist Mike Garthaus said.

Filling in the gap will be a more plentiful population of smaller black crappie. To protect those fish, starting April 1 the daily creel limit drops to 15 crappie of at least nine inches.

Illinois Outdoors

Though you won’t find state records swimming at Dawson Lake in Moraine View State Park, the 158-acre lake has more saugeye than Evergreen. Garthaus said catch rates of 111 saugeye per hour are proof of a tremendous density of fish under 20 inches. Dawson also has very good numbers of bass 15-20 inches long and fair crappie fishing.

Walleye are a highlight at 635-acre Lake Bloomington, which has plenty of goggle eyes and “a fair number of 25-inchers” Gathaus said. Bloomington also has improved fishing for bass and crappie and good bluegill action, though an 8-inch limit makes keeping gills difficult. Look for that length limit to change next year.

Big bass and northern pike headline at Hennepin and Hopper lakes (open to public Fridays and Saturdays starting May 2), though the once-great fishery has suffered from a carp infestation. Water is cloudy and aquatic plants are largely gone.

Farther afield, 5,000-acre Clinton Lake had its highest catch-rate for bass (51.8 per hour) and should offer very good action for channel catfish. Crappie and white bass at Clinton are just fair. Nearby Weldon Springs (29 acres) is very good for bass (several 18- to 20-inchers) and should be good for crappie.

Finally, anglers seeking abundant 10- to 12-inch crappie might want to make a drive to 1,000-acre Vermilion Lake near Danville. Then again, gas prices will likely make travel a luxury. Thank goodness we’ve got good fishing close to home.

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

On small lakes (such as Eureka lake) where outboards are not allowed people should consider canoe or kayak fishing. Kayak fishing is becoming a popular sport in this country.  The benifit is no pollution and great upper body work out.  We find great joy in this sport more people should try it not only on small lakes but big lakes as well.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/16 at 08:03 AM

hey jeff, no mention of the stripers and walleyes at clinton?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/19 at 01:04 PM

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