Monday, January 30th, 2023
Monday, January 30th, 2023

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

Panfish, muskies are best bites as state’s lakes cool

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


Crab Orchard Lake: A couple of 50-pound plus flatheads were taken
from Crab Orchard on trotlines during the past few weeks. The
56-pounder was caught by Les and Dicky Cox, of Marion. Crappie
action is good. Most crappies are being caught in two to eight feet
of water. Fish are starting to bunch up as the water cools. Minnows
and jigs are equally effective. Bass action is good. Fish are being
caught on a variety of baits. Spinnerbaits produced some good fish
in a weekend tournament. Bluegills are still good around the rip

Baldwin Lake: Catfish are on the move and those that are being
caught are small. Anglers are tossing crankbaits around rip rap and
catching a few bass. Bluegills are slow but will hit on meal worms
or wax worms occasionally.

Horseshoe Lake: The outboard motor ban goes into effect Oct. 16.
Crappie action has picked up as water temperature drops. Jigs and
minnows have been producing fish in and around the tree lines.
Catfish are still being caught by anglers drift fishing night
crawlers or chicken livers just off the bottom in the middle of the

Lake Murphysboro: Bass are rated good around the lily pads and
weedy points. A variety of baits have been effective. Crappies are
fair to good. Most crappies are holding in cover in about eight
feet of water. The best catfish action has been near the dam. Night
crawlers are the best bet. Bluegills are being caught in good
numbers. Most fish are in the five- to seven-inch range.

Carlyle Lake: White bass are rated very good. Anglers are taking
good numbers of fish along sandy banks. Catfish are still good on
cut bait, shrimp and stinkbaits. Crappies and saugers are fair. In
the tailwater, catfish and white bass are the best bets. Whites are
being caught on rooster tails, jigs and minnows. Catfish are being
taken on cut bait, night crawlers and stinkbaits. Some crappies are
being caught on jigs or minnows near the old river channel.

Kinkaid Lake: Muskie fishing has improved dramatically with water
temperature dropping. Several 40-inch fish were caught during
recently. Bass anglers have caught several five-pound fish in the
past week. Spinnerbaits have been productive. Crappie action is
best in eight to 10 feet. Minnows are more productive than jigs.
Bluegills are being caught through the afternoon. A variety of
natural baits are productive. Catfish are rated very good near the
spillway and around steep banks. Night crawlers and cut bait are
the most productive.

Mermet Lake: The lake is fairly low, but water temperature is still
holding in the 80s. A few catfish anglers are reporting success
around the lily pads, tight lining natural baits. Bluegills,
crappies and bass have all been slow.

Lake of Egypt: Crappie action has improved along the weedlines. The
bigger fish are still holding in deeper areas. Minnows and jigs are
equally effective. Bass action has been good on topwater baits and
on shallow running crankbaits. Anglers are running crankbaits along
the edge of weedlines. A few catfish anglers are still taking fish
on chicken livers and night crawlers.

Little Grassy: Anglers can always catch a nice mess of bluegills
using red wigglers, wax worms or meal worms. They are plentiful
around weedbeds and other cover and fairly shallow. A few crappies
are being taken using minnows in 15-20 feet of water. Catfish are
fair around the weedbeds using night crawlers. There were no bass
being reported or weighed in.

Rend Lake: Catfish, crappies and bass are all rated excellent.
Catfish are being caught on cut shad, night crawlers, minnows,
stinkbaits and leeches. Anglers are taking fish around the rip rap,
at the mouths of creeks and in shallow necks while others are
drifting main lake flats. Bass are gorging on shad and are being
caught on plastic worms, Rat-L-Traps and crankbaits. The best
action has been around the Route 154 bridges, in the rip rap,
weedbeds and laydowns. Minnows are the primary bait for crappies.
Fish are being caught in water ranging from two to 12 feet. Shallow
fish are being caught around stumps while fish are holding in about
12 feet of water around bridge piers. White bass are good on jigs
and curlytails. The best action has been around bridges and main
lake humps. Whites have been busting shad early in the mornings.
Bluegills are fair on crickets and small jigs.


Chain: The walleye bite on the river is starting to heat up, but
not in full swing yet. Jig and minnow combinations fished around
structure as well as trolling minnow baits up and down the river
channels are putting fish in the boat. On the chain, look for any
areas of current and fish these in the early evening hours looking
for bottom transitions. Spinner rigs with crawlers, stickbaits, and
also lindy rigging minnows have been productive.

The panfish bite is as hot as ever and good-size bluegills and
crappies are being caught on Pistakee and Channel. The bluegills
are being found in the shallows near boat docks and the inside
edges of some of the greener weeds. The crappies are being found
suspended over deeper water and are being caught on jigs or minnows
under a slip float.

The muskie fishing has picking up.  The sucker bite is really
putting some real monsters in the boat. Look for the breaklines
associated with decent weed growth. Troll or cast these edges
working parallel to them with glide baits or cranks. Bucktails with
large blades can really be productive at this time as well. 
Trolling will allow you to cover a lot of water and increase your
chances of hooking up with a nice trophy.

Shabbona: This lake gets a lot of fishing pressure during the year,
which can make it tough to fish at times. Good catches of catfish
are being taken near the wood pilings and the earth dam on live
bait like leaches and crawlers. The bass are starting to feed up
for the winter and are hitting crankbaits worked on the weed edges
and near the standing timber. Some soft plastic creature baits
fished in the heavy cover have been pulling some big fish out of
the slop. The No Motor Zone can really produce some great muskie
action during the morning hours and into the afternoon. Bang minnow
baits off of the wood and pause. This will often produce a reaction
strike and get your heart pumping. There have been few reports on
muskie fishing as of late.  Trolling crankbaits along the roadbed
or near the deeper timber can produce some monsters.

Heidecke Lake: The walleye bite is really picking up with some
large fish being taken on jig and minnow combinations or by
trolling spinner rigs with nightcrawlers. White bass and yellow
bass have been picking up fishing jigs tipped with minnows or night
crawlers. For bass cast the riprap with crankbaits like a
Rattletrap or other tight wobble baits. These will often produce a
reaction strike that can help put more fish in the boat. There have
also been reports of the occasional muskie being caught. The water
level has gone down and now the north side of the lake can be
accessed by some of the smaller boats.

Braidwood: The bass have really started to make a comeback and they
are feeding good. Fish are being caught pitching jigs to the
shorelines and bullrushes.  Crankbaits are also producing some good
reaction strikes. The catfish bite has really been picking up with
some very large flathead and blue cats being caught on live
bluegill. Find the holes and the shallow to deep water transitions
and you will find the fish. The panfish bite is good, but the size
of fish is small.

Lake Michigan: The water along the lakefront has cooled
considerably and the salmon have made their runs into the harbors.
The initial run of salmon has come into the harbors and the action
is hot right now. There are some fish being taken floating spawn
under a float inside the harbors and more and more fish being
caught casting crankbaits. Recommended crankbaits are: Reef
Runners, Frenzys, Rapala Tail Dancers, and flatfish. Make sure you
use a slow retrieve to get these fish to strike. These fish are not
feeding, but are striking out of aggression.

Trolling for the 4-year old kings is still slow. The fish have
spread out into the deep water,  130 to 220 feet.  The best bite is
early mornings or dusk to a few hours after sunset. Trolling glow
spoons or glow flasher/dodger and fly combinations have been doing
well. The fish are moving around quite a bit so some searching will
need to be done. Magnum spoons on full and half cores (5 and 10
colors of leadcore line) or large flasher/fly combos on dipsey
divers are producing a mixed bag of kings and steelhead. Also
J-Plugs are starting to produce some sizable fish. Vary your speeds
up to trigger the fish. The best speeds have been around 2.8 mph
SOG. Some popular combinations for the kings and coho have been:
Smoke dodger and Green fly. Fishlander “hey-Baby” Spoon on
leadcore, NBK flasher and Green/Black fly. There have been some
people trolling the shallows for the 4-year-old fish and they have
been having success long-lining minnow baits like J-13s as well as

The bite down south for the lake trout hasn’t started quite yet,
but look for them to start showing up on the reef. When they show
up, troll Spin-n-glo’s behind a smoke dodger or cast and jig white
jigs to trigger a strike from these brutes.

The perch action in the south has been slow but there are reports
of some limits being caught in the shallow areas and in the river
mouths. Minnows on spinners as well as minnows on drop-shot rigs
have been productive.



Powerton: Smallmouth fishing is fair on crankbaits and tubes. Some
smallmouths being taken with little jigs. A few channel catfish but
not very big. Asian carp are showing up in increased numbers in the
intake canal and throughout the lake, so beware. Flathead catfish
have gone deep, but big blues up to 40 pounds are in the intake

Lake Bloomington: Hybrid stripers are fair, with best action early
and just before dusk when fish are chasing shad on the surface and
hitting jigs or Roadrunners. Bass best on jigs, chatterbaits and
soft plastics off points with timber and along the weeds in the
evenings. Catfish are fair on dipbaits and crawlers. Late evenings
are best. Anglers are catching some crappie up to 12 inches in
12-18 feet of water. Drifting jigs is working best.

Lake Shelbyville: Bass have been good in shallows and coves.

Evergreen Lake: Crappies are the ticket right now. They are biting
very well. Tube jig plain or tipped with a minnow is the best bet
right now. Fish are mostly in the 10-12 feet of water range during
the day and moving shallow in the evenings. Almost everything else
is pretty slow right now. A few reports by muskie fishermen of some
follows and hook-ups mostly on bucktails or large

Clinton Lake: Catfish very good on guts, shrimp and shad. Crappies
being caught with jigs or minnows. A few walleyes and bass decent
on buzzbaits. A 55-pound flathead cat was caught on leeches in west
side access. White bass fair on blade baits. Some walleyes on Big
Dudes. There have also been reports of hybrids and walleyes below
the spillway.


Fox River: The smallmouth action is getting hot as the water is
cooling and the fish are starting to school up and feed heavily.
Fish using live minnows with a small hook and a few split shot
about 12 inches above the hook. Cast into the eddies. Also bouncing
1⁄8-ounce jigs with white or crawfish colored twister tails can
produce some respectable fish. Work the jig slow and fish the
current seams and slack water. Twitching a jerkbait with a strong
rip/pause pattern can trigger some aggressive strikes. Fish are
being found in the main river areas as well as many of the feeder
creeks. The best times as of late have been early in the morning or
just at dusk until dark. You can often get some great strikes
casting in-line spinners into the current and letting them drift
downstream and thru the eddies.  Some fish of respectable size are
being caught.

The walleyes are starting to feed and are working the shallow edges
of the deep holes in the evening hours. Fish are being caught on
minnow as well as twitch baits worked on the edges of the deep
holes. The fish are active from dusk till a few hours after dark.
Look for areas of shallow water flats with a deep hole nearby.
These fish are chasing schools of minnows and are aggressive even
in the cooling water.

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