Central Illinois yields big smally, thick ice

February 25, 2010 at 02:23 PM

While Powerton Lake doesn’t offer the bass bonanza of old, there are still big fish cruising The Rock’s warm waters.

Matt Portscheller of Peoria proved that last Sunday when he caught a hefty 21-inch, 5-pound smallmouth. The fish hit a white-and-chartreuse spinnerbait so hard it knocked a large willow blade off the lure.

That made up for an otherwise slow day.

“No one had any luck with the (hybrid) stripers based on what I saw,” Portscheller said. “They seem to be elusive and boiling the top of the water at the same time like a huge tease.”

Others report similar frustration with stripers in the past week. Meanwhile bass anglers are typically catching 1-5 fish per outing — a far cry from the good old days. Catfish are fair on cut bait and chicken, with a 37-pound blue caught last Sunday and a 42-pound flathead last Friday.

Farther afield, Braidwood Lake opens to fishing on Monday and should offer decent bass fishing.

But the bulk of anglers in central Illinois remain on the ice, where results are mixed.

Adam Jaegle drilled through 12 inches Wednesday while fishing out of the Main Entrance to Banner Marsh and saw plenty of fish on his Vexilar.
“They were stacked up, but they just would not bite,” he said. “They’d come right to the jig but would not bite.”

Jaegle managed eight keeper crappie, one catfish and one ring perch and called the fishing “spotty.”

The same word has been echoed by anglers elsewhere on strip mines and small farm ponds. That’s no surprise, since this has been the longest ice-fishing season in recent memory and shows no sign of ending.

All the ice has allowed some memorable outings, including one by Orville Maxwell of Dunlap last weekend that resulted in bass of 4 and 6 pounds.

“The biggest one was darn near as big as my little ice rod,” Maxwell said.