Illinois Outdoor News Fishing Report — Feb. 24, 2017

The fishing and hunting report is compiled using reports from conservation officers, hunting guides and fishing guides.

North

Lake Michigan: The browns and cohos are starting to get active on the lakefront from the boats. Fish the warm-water discharges with jigs and twisters tipped with a piece of squid or crankbaits like a J-9 in chart/white or orange/gold. Trolling small orange dodger and peanut flies log lining body baits like a Rapala Tail dancer has also been working well for the cohos in these areas. Look for areas of warmer water with cold water near. Work the breaks of where the cold and warmer water meet.

There have been some good reports of perch limits being caught in the river by shore. Perch are biting at Navy Pier. It is some work, but it can pay off with some jumbo perch. Reports have shown that a lot of smaller ones are being caught and getting limits of larger fish require a lot of sorting. Live minnows and cooked shrimp on drop shot rigs as well as ice fishing jigs tipped with spikes have been producing. Also Kastmasters or other jigging spoons will do well and may take the occasional trout.

Chain: The bass are starting to get into patterns and can be caught casting rattle baits and lipless cranks on the break lines and near the newly forming weeds. If you get into the back bays and channels, you will find good panfish action. The fish are holding tight to any wood or steel structure as this warms up first in the sun. Small jigs under a float or a plain hook with a small hunk of nightcrawler have done well.

The walleyes are really starting to turn on around the channels and the bridges. Bouncing jig-and-minnow combinations around the pilings has been putting some nice fish in the boats.

South

Devils’ Kitchen: Fishing to be slow, but bass are picking up on spinners and crankbaits in evening hours.

Crab Orchard Lake: Anglers are reporting that crappies are being found at depths ranging from about 6 to 10 feet. Most are in heavy cover near points. The best baits have been minnows and jigs. Bright colors seem to be working the best. Bluegills are being caught near rip-rap and around weed beds on the typical bluegill baits. Bass fishing has been slow.

Baldwin Lake: Largemouth bass have slowed. Bluegills are biting on worms in 6 to 8 feet of water. Crappie and catfish fishing has been fair.

Carlyle Lake: Crappies and catfish best. Catfish taking cut shad and shad guts off rocks by Keysport. Crappie biting on minnows, jigs, tube jigs by Hazlet State Park. Sauger hit and miss, if they can be found. White bass are said to be hungry for jigs. Bluegill fishing is fair on worms.

Pinckneyville Lake: Largemouth bass have slowed. Bluegills are biting on worms in 6 to 8 feet of water. Crappie and catfish fishing has been fair.

Kinkaid Lake: Crappies good in shallow coves near in flowing water. Muskie, bass and catfish also good in same areas. A couple of nice muskies landed in recent weeks, but the biting is tough. Some channel cats caught deep near Johnson Creek.

Lake of Egypt: Crappie action is slow but getting better. Bluegills have been slow. Bass action is expected to pick up as water temperatures rise. A few catfish being caught on worms.

Little Grassy: Crappies have been biting on minnows, mostly in cover in about 15 to 20 feet of water. Bass action has improved but remains slow. Plastic worms have worked best. Bluegills are running small and biting on late-season grasshoppers and worms.

Mermet Lake: Fishing has been slow on all fronts, though crappie action has improved in recent weeks. Crappies are being caught on jigs. Bass fishing has been slow.

Rend Lake: Crappie fishing has been good on minnows in rip rap along Route 154, pillars around bridges and creeks near main channels. Channel catfish fair on stinkbait and cut shad. The best fishing is reported to be near the main dam breakwater, areas near North and South Marcum, Jackie Branch, and Gun Creek. Bass fishing has been slow. The bluegill bite has been slow.

Central

Lake Taylorville: Crappie bite picking up on minnows. Bass slow. Water conditions are murky.

Newton Lake: Bass good, but flooding has changed situation. Water clarity very murky. Some white bass were also reported prior to the rains. Crappies a big question mark after a poor fall and few reports this spring so far.

Lake Bloomington: Bluegills are biting on worms, but are slow and small. Crappies are being caught on minnows in 12 to 14 feet.

Lake Decatur: Fishing has been slow as water clarity has been poor. Crappies are being caught on minnows. Bluegill fishing has been slow, and a few being caught on worms. Catfish have been very slow on worms and stinkbaits.

Lake Shelbyville: Conditions better late in day for muskies and walleyes.  On main lake, fishing has been slow, but some crappies caught on sunny days.

Evergreen Lake: Several reports of crappies being scattered, with most coming from the warmer shallow coves and shore lines. Some nice fish have also been caught in 10-15 feet of water. Minnows, waxworms, or light-colored tube jigs slowly retrieved have worked best. Several reports of saugeyes being caught. Many small ones have been reported with a few keepers also being caught at the pump house and trolling deeper water. Bass fishing has been slow with some smaller ones being caught. Light-colored spinnerbaits and crankbaits working best for bass. Muskies have been reported as decent on deep diving baits in deep water. Some smaller ones have been reported in shallow water with the bigger ones still out deep.

Clinton Lake: Crappies, white bass and walleyes being caught below the spillway. Catfish taking shad around bridge. A few white bass and crappies being caught near bridges.

Coffeen Lake: Bass, catfish excellent all around the lake. Bass biting on spinners and waxworms. Catfish biting stinkbait and worms. Crappies spotty.

Lake Springfield: Crappie bite picking up on minnows. Bass slow. Channel cats being taken on shad. Crappies have been good on jigs fished in or near hot water area, with many small ones. White and yellow bass are good on jigs and bladebaits in or near warm water area.

Sangchris Lake: Crappie bite picking up on medium-size minnows. Bass being caught on crankbaits and plastics. Channel cat bite good on liver.

Rivers

Rock River (Oregon): Channel cats biting hard in the Erie area. Walleyes are hitting at the dams. Catfish are taking redworms and fresh-killed minnows.

Illinois River: The sauger bite is still on fire. There are several reports of limits being caught. Jigging the flats and pulling three-way rigs has started to put some fish in the boats.

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