Wednesday, February 1st, 2023
Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

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Illinois Woods & Waters – Lake Sule, Ogle County


River fish, yes, but Lake Sule is about muskies, walleyes, too


By Ralph Loos


To call Lake Sule a “hole in the ground” would not be a stretch. The 77-acre lake was created using a gravel pit that resulted from the construction of the I-39 and I-88 overpass.


That incarnation of the lake naturally has led to a lack of structure – a fact muskie anglers bemoan.


Still, a good forage base has led to some fat muskies and a growing number of healthy walleyes, early results of DNR’s most recent sampling suggest.


As a tributary to the Rock River, the fishery is made up of many river fishes found in the Rock River drainage: carp, suckers, redhorse, buffalo, and gizzard shad, to name a few.


But there are those walleyes and muskies, too.


DNR fisheries staff had good things to say about the lake.


“After sampling Lake Sule, the rough fish such as river carp suckers were quite evident,” biologists told the Rochelle News-Leader after a recent sampling. “They are common in creeks and rivers and it is believed that they came from the tributary.”


DNR noted that the crew did collect and witness healthy walleyes and a few muskies.


According to DNR’s description, Lake Sule is stream-fed, which allows many rough fish, such as common carp, to get into the lake. 


The lake is owned by the city of Rochelle and is managed cooperatively by the local park district and DNR.


“It was a great experience to be able to see what is below the water,” local avid angler Bud Norcross told the News-Leader. “While I didn’t like the results, it gives us an idea (of what is in the lake). The balance of the fish population is a little lopsided and contains too many rough fish. It needs some help.”


Lake Sule is still a very good lake and has some big fish in it, Norcross added. 


Once DNR compiles and assesses results of its most recent survey, fisheries biologists and the park district will plan ways to re-balance the fishery. 


Along with the rough fish, Lake Sule contains plenty of bluegills, channel catfish, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, crappies, and bullheads, along with the muskies and walleyes.


Muskies have been stocked at Lake Sule on a regular basis since 1992 to provide additional predator pressure on the large number of forage fish present in the lake. 


A good population of larger-sized individuals now exists in the lake.


“The muskie population is characterized by good body condition and fast growth,” DNR noted. “Fish up to 45 inches have been sampled in the past few years with an average-size muskie being 36 inches.”


The largemouth bass population has been down for the past two years. 


“Heavy algae blooms in the late summer combined with a dense sunfish population have decreased largemouth bass spawning efforts,” DNR reported. “To increase largemouth bass numbers, an increased number of late-summer sub-adult-sized largemouth bass will be stocked. Historically, the largemouth bass population has been characterized by fish with good body condition and fast growth.”


Some local anglers have reported white bass being caught in the lake.


Located just to the east of Rochelle, Lake Sule is uniform in shape with a maximum depth of 20 feet and an average depth of 12 feet. A stream flows into and out of the lake and becomes Kyte Creek, which is a tributary to the Rock River. 

Lake Sule

Nearest town: Rochelle

Surface area: 77 acres

Average depth: 12 feet

Max. depth: 20 feet

Species present include: muskies, walleyes, largemouth bass, channel catfish, bluegills

Site information: 815-562-7813

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