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: The walleyes were starting to bite, with jig and minnow combinations or spinner rigs with nightcrawlers the best producers. Reports of good panfish have been coming in. Small jigs under a float or bobber. The shallow portions of the bays seem to be producing quite well. Bass have been hitting Rattletraps fished in the shallower areas as well as slow rolled spinnerbaits near the bottom. Look for the inside edges of weedbeds that are good transition points between cover and their spawning areas.
Braidwood: Catfish are being caught on bottom rigs tipped with crawlers or other cut bait.
The largemouths are slowing down but are still being found on the secondary drop-offs with large profile baits like a jig and pig or by fishing the shallower areas bouncing a crankbait or spoonplug off the rocks and the bottom.
LaSalle: Catfish are good on most baits, feeding mostly in early morning hours. Blue cats are being caught on live bait or crankbaits, but best bet is liver. Bass hitting crankbaits near the rip-rap as in some of the deeper structure. Smallmouth and largemouth bass equally good.
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 picking up with some large fish being taken on live bait or by trolling spinner rigs with nightcrawlers.
White bass and yellow bass will also come while trolling the spinner rigs. Cast the rip-rap 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.
Lake Michigan: North harbors were experiencing the June lull. Few reports of limits are coming in, but the fish are still there. Cohos and a mix of kings and steelhead are reported. Flasher fly combos and magnum spoons in 80-100 feet of water. Boaters in the deeper areas are having better luck.
The south end is still showing good limits of coho and kings. Flasher/fly and brighter colored spoons have been top producers.
Good catches of smallmouths are being reported by those targeting them. The best producers are goby imitating jigs or dropshot rigs with 4-inch minnow style plastics. Jerkbaits are also showing some good action.
The shore anglers on Navy pier as well as some of the downtown harbors have reported some great catches of perch. Minnows on crappie rigs are doing best.
The offshore bite has slowed down but if you can find the schools you can get on some big fish.
Devils Kitchen: Bluegills were on and off the beds. Fishing has slowed slightly, but some anglers are still reporting good catches on crickets and wax worms.
Crab Orchard Lake: Crappies are still being found near the shore on shallow cover. Minnows and jigs are both effective. Bluegills are being caught in shallow areas. Some fish are still on the beds. Crickets and wax worms are the most effective baits. Catfish are being caught in good numbers on cut bait. Bass action has been good on a variety of baits. Jigs and spinnerbaits are the best bets.
Baldwin Lake: Catfish are the best bet. Anglers are drifting the middle of the lake with live bait, targeting flatheads. Bluegill anglers are still picking up fair numbers of fish, although small. Wax worms, meal worms and crickets are effective. Bass action has slowed.
Carlyle Lake: Catfish action is hot around the main lake rip-rap as fish have moved in to spawn. The best success has been on nightcrawlers, cut shad and stinkbaits. Crappie action has slowed somewhat as fish have moved into post-spawn mode. Minnows and jigs fished over cover in 5-6 feet of water are still producing some fish. White bass and sauger are being caught around the silos on the north end of the lake. Some nice sauger are being caught by anglers trolling crankbaits. In the tailwater, catfish are the best bet on cut bait, shad gut and stinkbaits. White bass action is also good on rooster tails, jigs and minnows.
Little Grassy: Catfish action has been outstanding. Anglers are catching good numbers of cats on nightcrawlers. Crappie action has also been good. Anglers are taking good numbers of big fish on minnows. Crappies are still being caught over shallow cover. Bluegill action has improved recently. Crickets have been the best bet. An 8.5-pound pass was caught by a bluegill angler this month. Bass action has been good on jigs.
Pinckneyville Lake: Largemouth bass have slowed. Bluegills are biting on worms in 6 to 8 feet of water. Crappies and catfish have been fair.
Kinkaid Lake: Bass action has been good, particularly in the evenings. Good numbers of fish are being caught around the islands on spinnerbaits and soft plastics. Crappies are a bit slower, but fish are still being caught in decent numbers. Most fish are holding in 4-6 feet of water and are being caught primarily on minnows. Bluegills are being caught in good numbers. Some fish are still on the beds. Wax worms and red wigglers are both effective. Catfish action remains steady in the late evenings, particularly on the north end of the lake on night crawlers. Muskie and walleye action has slowed with the heat.
Lake of Egypt: Bass action remains fair to good. Anglers are taking fish on topwater baits. During the day, fish are holding in wood and weeds and can be caught on soft plastics and jigs. Crappie anglers are going to depths of 18 to 20 feet to catch fish. The best crappie action has been on minnows. Most bluegills have moved off the beds. Some fish are still being caught on wax worms and crickets. Catfish action is still slow.
Rend Lake: Fishing remains good despite the high water. Crappies are still rated excellent in flooded brushy areas. Crappies are being caught at about two feet deep on quarter-ounce pink/white jigs and minnows. Other anglers are reporting success over cover in 8-11 feet of water.
Catfish are also rated excellent on stinkbaits, leeches and large minnows. The mouths of creeks have been hot spots. Leeches have been effective in moving water. Bass are rated good around brushy cover in bays. Soft plastics and jigs have been the most effective baits. Bluegills are also rated excellent on crickets, wax worms, meal worms and red wigglers in the back of shallow necks. One hot spot has been near the rocks at the Sailboat Harbor bridge. White bass are good around the bridges.
Newton Lake: Bass good. Crappies fair on minnows. Catfish good.
Lake Bloomington: Bluegills are good and taking spinners off the seawalls; but most are under 8 inches. Catfish are good on dipbait and are taking jigs fished for other species off points. Bass fishing is fair.
Lake Shelbyville: Bass picking up, but higher waters have slowed action. The crappies hitting minnows, shallows seem to be working best. Catfish are being caught on worms and shad at night.
Evergreen Lake: Crappies are moving shallow and biting early and late, but many are small. Evenings are best for keepers in the shallows.
Clinton Lake: Walleyes, catfish and stripers are biting below the spillway. On the main lake, bass are fair on crankbaits, jig/grub and plastics on points and around cover.