Largemouth populations healthy in Centralia, Raccoon
Editor’s Note: All state-operated lakes and bodies of waters inside state sites have been closed due to the coronavirus outbreak. Outdoor News will continue to provide reports on lakes, with hopes the situation will improve and state sites will reopen soon.
By Ralph Loos
Anglers who find themselves weary of massive Carlyle Lake have a pair of viable options just 30 or so miles to the south and east.
Lake Centralia, which sits just south of Highway 50 and west of Interstate 57, is 260 acres. Raccoon Lake, which is about 6 miles east of Lake Centralia, is 970 acres.
Quite a downsize from the 26,000-acre Carlyle Lake.
But fishing – especially bass fishing – in both Centralia-area lakes is very good. In fact, DNR reports show that during 2019 tournaments, fishermen caught three bass over 6.5 pounds, with the largest weighing n at 6.8 pounds.
Centralia Lake has a maximum depth of 23 feet, and a mean depth of 10 feet. The lake has 12.9 miles of shoreline. The sport fish population in Centralia Lake is comprised primarily of largemouth bass, bluegill, white and black crappies, and channel catfish. Other common species include redear sunfish, common carp and yellow bullheads. The fish population is surveyed annually, and summaries below are based on the results of the most recent population survey and four-year trends in the population indices.
Largemouth bass – The overall size structure of the bass population is good.
Bass population indices remained relatively stable. During the most recent DNR survey of the lake, there was a slight increase in the number of bass in the 12- to 15-inch size range, but nearly one-quarter of the adult bass in the sample exceeded the 15-inch minimum length limit.
“The catch rate improved and is still well above the management goal,” DNR noted in the report. “Body condition improved for all sizes of bass.”
DNR forecasted that fishing prospects for 2020 should be very good, with most keeper bass ranging from 15 to 20 inches in length and weighing between 1.5 and 4 pounds.
Site regulation for bass: six fish daily limit, 15-inch minimum length limit.
Bluegills – The size structure of the population remains fair.
“The number of larger bluegill was well below optimal,” DNR reported.
There were, however, large numbers of 5- to 7-inch bluegills captured in the most recent survey and their body condition was good.
“If mortality is low and growth rates remain average, these fish should help improve the size structure over the next 2 to 3 years,” DNR noted.
In 2020, anglers can expect to catch an abundance of fish 5- to 7-inch bluegills weighing 0.10 to 0.25 pounds.
Crappies – Crappie catch per unit effort improved, but body condition remained just below target for both white and black crappie this year.
White crappies continued to look good with 27% of the adults in the sample exceeding 10 inches in length.
The size structure of the black crappie population remains poor. Most black crappie were in the 8- to 10-inch range, with few fish exceeding 10 inches in length.
“Crappie fishing should be fair to good in the coming year with the best fish ranging between 0.5 to 1.25 pounds,” DNR predicted.
Channel catfish – As a result of recent stocking efforts, the channel catfish population density is improving, but remains low. The current population exhibits good growth rates and body condition. Fishing in the coming year should be fair to good with the majority of fish ranging from 1 to 5 pounds
Raccoon Lake was constructed in 1942 to serve as a water supply reservoir for the city of Centralia.
Raccoon Lake has a maximum depth of 17 feet, and a mean depth of 3.9 feet. The lake has 16.4 miles of shoreline. Status of the Sport Fishery:
The sport fish population in Raccoon Lake is comprised primarily of largemouth bass, bluegill, white and black crappies, and channel catfish. Other common species include common carp and yellow bullheads.
The fish population is surveyed annually, and summaries below are based on the results of the most recent population survey and four-year trends in the population indices.
Largemouth bass – Data from the 2019 population survey showed that all of the population indices met or exceeded the target goals.
The condition of all sizes of fish remained very good. Approximately, 22% of the adult bass exceeded the 15 inches minimum length, a decrease from 35% in 2018.
However, there was an increase in the percentage of 12- to 15-inch bass in the 2019 sample.
“Poor bass reproduction and recruitment continue to be a major concern in this lake,” DNR noted.
To help improve numbers, over 35,500 largemouth bass fingerlings were stocked in the lake in June of 2017. This helped the 2017 catch rates improve to well above the target level for the first time in five years.
Despite dropping to just 31 bass per hour in 2018, the bass catch rate in the 2019 sample improved to 82 bass per hour. For 2020, most keeper fish will range from 15 to 20 inches and weigh from 1.8 to 5 pounds.
Crappies – Both black and white crappies are present in Raccoon Lake, but white crappies comprised nearly 83% of the sample.
Data collected from the annual population survey indicated 10% of the adult white crappie population exceeded 10 inches in length.
Nearest town …….. Centralia
Surface area ……… 412 acres
Average depth ……….. 10 feet
Shoreline ………….. 12.9 miles
Bluegills, crappies, largemouth bass, channel catfish