Sunday, January 29th, 2023
Sunday, January 29th, 2023

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Illinois Fishing Report – March 13, 2020

Report from the Dock

DNR’s Division of Fisheries offers some good advice for anglers searching for a good place to drop a line this spring. As biologists point out, fish need cover – either to seek protection from predators or to hide in so they can ambush prey. Here are some tips:

Docks – Floating and permanent docks provide excellent fish habitat. The shade on the underside of docks offers fish a refuge to conceal themselves from predators. In turn, predators often lurk nearby, ambushing unsuspecting victims. Algal growth on dock posts and the docks themselves draw small baitfish that feed on the algae and in turn draw in larger fish.

Rocks – Many lakes and rivers in Illinois have manmade rock piles along stretches of shoreline to prevent erosion. This rocky habitat extends into the water, and the crevices provide excellent hiding places for small fish. Bigger fish roam the edges of the rocks looking for other fish and insects to feed on.

Wood – Branches, limbs, or even whole trees that fall into the water are tremendous fish habitat. The more complex the better. Little fish can dart in and out of the protection of small twigs protruding from branches, and bigger fish can conceal themselves amid the tangled branches to ambush prey.

Weeds – Aquatic vegetation (commonly referred to as weeds) serves many purposes, including providing structures for microscopic invertebrates to feed on, forming the base of the food web.

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


Lake Michigan: 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 jigs tipped with spikes have been producing. Also Kastmasters or other jigging spoons will do well and may take the occasional trout. Perch are being caught in the canal from the 95th Street bridge.


Chain: The lakes are a mixed bag as far as condition, but the fishing is starting to pick up. The bass are starting to get into their early spring patterns and can be caught casting rattle baits and lipless cranks. If you get into the back bays and channels, you will find some 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. 


Braidwood: This cooling lake offers anglers an opportunity to get out in the early spring when most other lakes are too cold and not producing fish. The lake is open, and shore fishermen are seeing quite a few catfish and bluegills. Fish are being caught on ice jigs under a float or on bottom rigs tipped with crawlers or other cut bait. The largemouths can be caught fishing the secondary drop-offs with large profile bait like a jig and pig or by fishing the shallower areas bouncing a crankbait or spoonplug off the rocks and the bottom. Spinnerbaits have also been doing well for the bass guys, but hang on as one of those giant catfish have a tendency to latch on and give you a great battle. Always keep an eye on the flags at the launch, as they will give you an indication if it is safe to be on the water and when you should take caution. Green is good, yellow is caution, and red is dangerous.


LaSalle: The lake is now open with reduced hours, but the fishing remains hot since the opening day. There are some good reports of big hybrids and blue cast caught by fishermen trolling shad raps and spoonplugs. The shore fishermen are doing well on livers fished on the bottom. There have been some good reports of bass being caught casting the rip rap with a weightless stick-style worm. The fish are holding at the transition between the mud bottom and the rock walls.


Devils’ Kitchen: Bass biting on worms, and on spinners and crankbaits in evening hours.


Crab Orchard Lake: Crappies biting on live minnows. Most are in heavy cover near points. The best baits have been rigged with 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: Bass are good on plastic worms. 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.


Lake Murphysboro: Nice bluegills being caught on worms. Bass starting to warm up on plastics Channel cats good on liver.


Rend Lake: Crappie fishing continues to be hot dropping 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 picking up using spinners and plastics around structure. The bluegill bite has been slow, but some are biting on worms.


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. 


Spring Lake: Bass slow. Crappie biting on tube jigs at the south end bays. Channel cats also biting on shad at the big turn on the south end. 


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: Fishing below the spillway has been slow. 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. 


Lake Springfield: Bass being caught on spinners and plastics. Cast near shore in evening for best bites. Bluegills good on worms. Crappies fair on jigs and minnows. A few nice catfish being caught on liver and stinkbaits.


Illinois River:  The sauger and walleye bite has been really good with recent weather patterns. Fish are being caught vertical jigging jigs with minnows or using a floater jig and lindy rigging minnows have been doing well. Pulling three-way rigs has also started to put some fish in the boats. The white bass can be found on rocky shoreline areas.


Rock River (Milan): Catfish are biting on liver, nightcrawlers, minnows, leeches and stinkbait below the Sears Dam in the Rock River.


Mississippi River (Alton): Reports of nice blue catfish being caught along currents and near shoe. Use cut bait for best luck. Water levels affecting many other fish, though some carp being pulled in on worms. 

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