Report from the Dock
Yellow perch abundance in the Illinois waters of Lake Michigan has varied greatly over the past few decades. Gill net assessments conducted annually since 1976 by DNR show that the high population levels of the 1980s have now declined to historic lows. The relatively recent additions of zebra and quagga mussels and the round goby to Lake Michigan have altered the environment in which yellow perch thrived in the past. The changes induced by these invasive species require managers to continuously monitor perch population levels and assess protective measures to sustain the population.
DNR biologists sample adult yellow perch annually with gill nets at Lake Bluff and Chicago (Foster Avenue) in late spring. Sampled fish are counted, measured, and weighed. Sex and maturation are also assessed and otoliths are collected to determine ages. In addition, juvenile yellow perch are sampled with a beach seine at five sites covering the Illinois shoreline.
These small perch are counted and measured, and the abundance of the newly hatched perch, also referred to as young-of-year fish, is used as an indicator of whether the adult population is likely to increase or decrease in the future.
The objectives of yellow perch sampling are to:
• Monitor changes in the relative abundance of yellow perch across years
• Monitor growth and the population sex ratio for yellow perch
• Collect age-composition data to determine year class strength
• Evaluate anticipated recruitment through estimates of young-of-year abundance
Chain: Some reports of walleyes biting well in the evening on jig/minnow combos and crawler harnesses. Bass are holding tight to cover and are hitting wacky rigged worms near boat docks and weedless frogs worked over the heavy mats of weeds and lilies.
Panfish are active all over the Chain. Good catches of white bass are being found at the river and channel mouths on slip floats and a nightcrawler or minnow. Bluegills are holding near the weedbeds and small jigs are key. The crappie bite is slow, but schools are being found over deep water. Small spoons or minnows are most productive.
Shabbona: Good catches of panfish are being taken near the cribs and the wood pilings on live bait like leaches and crawlers. There have been few reports on muskie fishing as of late. Crankbaits along the roadbed or near the deeper timber can produce some monsters. Walleye fishing is fair with some larger fish showing up. Look for walleyes on the deeper flats, the steeper dropoffs, the deeper weedlines and the rock piles. For best results, use jumbo leeches. Bass fishing has slowed a bit. Some bass are being caught over the rock piles by anglers using leeches. For some very exciting action use Scum Frogs on top of the weed mats or lily pads.
LaSalle: The bass have become very inactive but working lipless crankbaits off the rip-rap and work the shore parallel is your best approach.
DuPage Forest Preserve: Bass and bluegill fishing good at Corey Lake. Mallard Lake good on catfish, crappies and walleyes. Silver Lake at Blackwell slow and weedy.
Heidecke: The hybrid stripers have been taken by shore fishermen on chicken livers and by boaters trolling cranks or casting the riprap. 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 nightcrawlers. 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.
Lake Michigan (Chicago Area): Kings and cohos have spread out in many depths of water. The bite has gotten tough over the last few weeks. Trolling in the 85-125 feet of water range seems to be the broad area as of late. Downriggers and dipseys are doing well, and 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 steelheads. Upsize your normal coho spread and throw in some larger spoons or flies to entice these fish.
Crab Orchard Lake: A few anglers are still reporting catching crappies, although fish are running small. Most crappies are being located in water 10-15 feet deep. Minnows and jigs are equally effective. A few catfish are being caught on stinkbaits. Anglers are taking bluegills near the banks on wax worms, meal worms and crickets. Bass anglers are still reporting some success early in the mornings and late in the evenings on soft plastics and buzzbaits.
Carlyle Lake: White bass are biting well below the spillway, with a few fish coming from near the trestles and the silos. Whites are also biting on the main lake on the flats. Channel cats are good on the lake for anglers drifting or jug fishing with cut bait or leeches. Good catches reported near Keyesport and Boulder. Flatheads are also biting well. Cut bait working, as are slab spoons thrown up along the wall. Crappie fishing good below the dam.
Lake Murphysboro: Crappies are fair to good in water ranging from 5-10 feet. Minnows are the primary bait. Catfish are good to very good on nightcrawlers, cut shad and liver. Bluegill and redear action is still good on red wigglers, wax worms and crickets fished in 4-8 feet of water. Bass are also rated fair on deep diving crankbaits and plastic worms.
Kinkaid Lake: Crappies are still rated good at the edge of the weedbeds. Small to medium minnows are the best bait. Bass are still rated fair to good on deep diving crankbaits, Carolina rigs, topwater around weed edges and soft plastics. White bass are surfacing in shallow areas and can be caught on in-line spinners, small crankbaits and beetle spins. Catfish action remains steady on nightcrawlers, cut shad and chicken livers. Bluegills remain fair to good on wax worms and crickets in 4-8 feet of water and around the docks. A few walleyes are being caught trolling deep diving crankbaits around the bars and humps.
Lake of Egypt: Bass anglers are working deep areas with soft plastics. Catfish anglers are taking a few fish on stinkbaits and chicken liver. Anglers are taking fair numbers of bluegills, but most are running small. Crappies are slow.
Little Grassy: Anglers are taking a few crappies on minnows in water about 20 feet deep. Some small bass are being caught. Anglers are taking a few bluegills on wax worms and meal worms. Catfish have also slowed, but a few fish are being taken on nightcrawlers.
Rend Lake: Catfish anglers are still reporting good success on liver, shrimp, nightcrawlers, leeches and stinkbaits. Crappies are rated good on minnows, white or chartreuse jigs or green and pink jigs. Fish are holding in 8-10 feet of water and can be taken over Christmas tree sets or near bridge pillars. Bluegill anglers are reporting good success on meal worms, wax worms, crickets and red wigglers in shallow coves. Bass are being caught on black buzzbaits, spinnerbaits or a jig and pig.
Devils Kitchen: Bass are fair to good in water ranging from 5-10 feet. Spinners and crankbaits are the primary lures. Catfish are good to very good on nightcrawlers, cut shad and liver. Bluegill action is still good on red wigglers, wax worms and crickets fished in 4-8 feet of water.
Lake Taylorville: A few channel catfish, but not very big, are being landed. Bass and bluegills slow.
Lake Shelbyville: Bass have been good in shallows and coves. Walleye fishing is good over newly covered rock and rip-rap. Crappies are spotty. Muskies being caught in deeper waters.
Evergreen Lake: Crappies are still biting in the evening times and after dark. Good spots continue to be the boat rental, swimming beach, and pump-house areas. Tube jigs with or without a minnow best. The saugeyes have really slowed down. The bass on the other hand have picked up. Fishermen are picking them up in the shallower areas on plastics worked slowly. Bluegills are still biting very good as well. Waxworms and redworms still best in shallow water structure. Catfish are still biting pretty good, too.
Clinton Lake: Catfish very good on guts, shrimp and shad. A few crappies on jigs and minnows. White bass fair on bladebaits. Some walleyes on Big Dudes. Reports of hybrids and walleyes below the spillway. Largemouths good on spinners, plastics.
Lake Springfield: Channel catfish good on guts, shrimp and shad. Bass fair on spinners. Crappies fair on jigs and minnows.
Sangchris Lake: Bass starting to pick up on plastic worms. Crappies good on minnows and waxworms. A few channel cats being caught on shrimp and cut baits.
Illinois River: Near Ottawa, catfish are good. Best on shrimp, chicken liver and shad. Near Peoria, channel catfish good along channel edges. White bass are good on Little Georges. Near Starved Rock, white bass are good on bladebaits. Catfish good on cut shad and dipbaits. Smallmouth bass and catfish still good in the big Vermilion River, which is low and clean and was not impacted by recent rains.
Fox River: Catfish are being caught on cut bait, nightcrawlers and larger minnows.