Monday, January 30th, 2023
Monday, January 30th, 2023

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Illinois Fishing Report – December 30, 2020

Report from the Dock

It’s been almost five years since DNR’s Division of Fisheries placed regulations on the harvest of flathead catfish on specific stretches of the state’s river system. 


DNR had been concerned about the overharvest of this large fish species. 


Flatheads are so long-lived, overharvest damage to the population might not be noted for many years and recovery could take decades. 


The updated regulations that went into effect in 2015 were on the Fox River from the Wisconsin border through the Chain O’ Lakes to the mouth at the Illinois River, including the Fox River tributaries. 


The regulation for this area allows harvest of one fish per day 28 inches or larger and two fish 13 inches to under 28 inches. 


On the Wabash and Ohio rivers, the flathead regulation is one fish per day 35 inches or larger and unlimited harvest 13 inches to under 35 inches. 


Blue catfish in the Wabash and Ohio rivers have the same regulation as the flatheads. In all three of the rivers listed, there is no harvest allowed under 13 inches.


Lake Michigan: Perch are still hot on the lakefront, though slowing.The trout action in the harbors has slowed. 


The discharge north of Waukegan has had some good reports of fish being caught, but you need to watch the weather conditions.


Navy Pier and the downtown harbors are slow and cold but producing some good catches of perch. The fish are ranging in size and a lot of sorting is required, but crappie rigs with fathead minnows seem to be producing the best. Also artificial plastics such as small minnow-style plastics rigged on double rigs and pulled along the weedbeds can produce some of the larger fish. 


Chain: Ice was thin in late December but expected to form and become more solid. Meanwhile, white bass and sheepshead were caught in the 16 to 20 foot range on minnows and spikes.


Keep checking with local bait shops and websites for reports as it will only take a few days of sub-freezing temperatures to get these areas frozen over. Channels like “Nielsen’s” or the “T” channel will be the first areas to freeze. The channels run about 4-feet deep and the fish are stacking up in there and feeding well. Fishing small plastics tipped with wax worms have been a top producer in past years. Make sure you try to get a local report before venturing out.


Once on the lake, fishing with ice jigs under a slip-float can produce some exceptional catches this time of year. Live bait for most species is key this time of year. Floating minnows off the bottom on three-way rigs or suspended from a slip float can put some fair catches of walleyes in the livewell.


Crystal Lake: This is a private lake during the summer, but during the winter ice fishermen can access the lake from the beach areas. The bluegill bite is quite good in 7 to 9 feet of water, with keepers that can be found sorting through the smaller ones. The action for pike and bass can be very good in the shallower water near the shorelines. Crappies really start biting at sundown and can be taken on minnows or small plastics fished shallow. 


Crab Orchard Lake: Bass action has slowed. Bluegills being caught on worms.


Baldwin Lake: Warm-water areas good for catfish, though those being caught are small. Anglers are tossing crankbaits around rip rap and catching a few bass. Bluegills are slow but will hit on meal worms or wax worms occasionally.


Carlyle Lake:  Those who did fish over the holidays found channel cats good on the lake for anglers drifting or jug fishing with cut bait or leeches. Crappies good below the dam.


Kinkaid Lake: Muskie action steady. Anglers expect February to be good for muskies if temperatures stay above 30 degrees. Spinnerbaits and shallow running baits are the most effective. Catfish and bluegill action has been slow. However, bass anglers are reporting good success on spinnerbaits.


Lake of Egypt: Bass are still rated fair on soft plastics. Catfish action fair, fishing shrimp in shallow water.


Rend Lake: Largemouth bass excellent using worms, black/blue jigs, minnows and spinnerbaits. Fish in shallow bays near brush cover and bushes. Fish around bridges and along the rocks.


Silver Lake (Highland): Bass good using jigs, crankbaits and spinnerbaits. Crappies excellent using minnows. Channel catfish excellent using Sonny’s Super Sticky Dip Bait. Bluegills good using crickets. Saugers fair using jigs.


Sangchris Lake: Channel catfish fair to good using most baits. Shore anglers doing OK near the spillway.


Lake Springfield: Bass fair using plastics (worms and flukes), crankbaits and a few on swim jigs. Bluegills fair. Channel catfish fair to good using dip baits, liver and cut baits in the evening.


Lake Decatur: Channel catfish fair. Some fish are being caught on trot lines baited with cut carp and skip jack. White bass fair. Anglers are getting some bites using Mepps in the dredging area.


Evergreen Lake: Bass fair to slow on plastics, jigs, and spinnerbaits around submerged timber or on points. Bluegills fair: on jigs and/or wax worms. Channel catfish fair on cut baits, dip bait, or liver in evenings. Crappies fair with many small fish on minnows and some on jigs around or over brush.


Lake Mattoon: Crappies are hit and miss; some biting a bit better; look for them in 6 to 7 feet of water with wax worms and minnows over brush; lots of angling activity. Largemouth bass fair. Angling success is hit and miss; using a nightcrawler under a bobber off the banks when the fish are feeding. Channel catfish fair. Anglers are fishing along the banks with stink bait, nightcrawlers, chicken liver or suckers. Later evening hours are best.


Mill Creek Lake: Bluegills good, with fish hitting on wax worms, crickets, and red wigglers near weed lines, docks, or structure. Largemouth bass fair on spinnerbaits, frogs, and topwater lures are popular cast near weeds during early morning or late evening hours, shallow laydowns, stumps, or brush. Early and later hours best.


Lake Bloomington: Bass fair on plastic (flukes), spinnerbaits, and jigs around timber or submerged weed edges. Bluegills fair on wax worms and nibbles. Channel catfish fair on dip baits, cut baits and liver in evenings. Crappies fair on minnows with a few on jigs around and over brush.


Clinton Lake: Bluegills good. Anglers finding some fish in the coves and near the docks and weed lines with red wigglers or wax worms. Largemouth bass fair off points and near shoreline stumps, and downed trees with Mepps, frogs, and swimbaits. White bass are good hitting on spoons and twister tails. 


Striped bass are fair at the spillway. 


Lake Shelbyville: Walleyes fair. Check out the area below the dam with spoons. Cooler weather temperatures have improved fish activity. Striped bass fair using Mepps spinners during early or later hours. Watch for fish feeding. White seems to be a popular color.

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