Report from the Dock
When fishing slows on your local lake because of hot weather, use these tactics to improve your chances of catching more fish:
1. Fish the current: Head to the local smallmouth river and turn over rocks to gather a bunch of hellgrammites with a small net. Run a size 4 or 6 hook under their collar, then add one or two split shots. Drift them in and around current breaks where the smallmouths hold up.
2. Fish with a worm: You can catch stream trout with minnows, crayfish, and leeches, but nothing works better than a worm. Thread a whole garden worm or half a nightcrawler onto a size 8 or 10 fish hook, cover the shank and leave the rest to dangle.
3. Fish a shallow shoreline: When you see panfish along shallow shoreline cover, thread a small garden worm onto a size 8 or 10 light-wire hook, letting just the ends dangle. Now tie on a small bobber to keep the bait 1 to 2 feet beneath the surface. Add a split shot and cast it to edges and pockets of weedbeds and around timber.
4. Go night fishing: Pick a lake that you are comfortable with and one you have fished in the past. The most productive nights usually occur after a hot, sunny and calm day. The full moon period also sees an increase in fish activity and gives anglers a bit of an edge by increasing their own visibility. No matter what species you plan to target, there are a few simple rules for selecting fishing baits. Offering the fish a silhouette at night is your best bet for getting a strike.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Heavy rains in late June created high-water levels in many rivers and lakes across the state, forcing some closures and dangerous fishing conditions. Most of these fishing reports were filed prior to the rains and subsequent conditions.
Chain: The walleye action is really hot right now. Fishermen have been reporting good catches in Pistakee and Marie in the early morning or late evening. Jig and minnows or jig and leeches have done well as well as crawler harnesses drifted over the flats. Fishing in the five to 15 feet of water range has been producing, with chartreuse doing the best. Bass are being found around the boat docks in the morning and are pushing out to the deeper weed edges later in the day. Spinnerbaits and swimbaits are doing well.
Shabbona: Bass fishing is very good with bass being caught using wacky rigged Senkos or dingers on the dam face or the weedlines of the east side of the lake. Anglers are also catching bass in these areas using crankbaits or spinnerbaits. Bigger bass have come off the rock piles using leeches. Walleye fishing is fair with some fish coming off the deeper flats, the weedlines, or the rock piles using leeches. Catfishing is good. Crappie fishing is good. They are being caught in large numbers in the deeper fish cribs or brush piles. Hybrid stripers are hitting spinnerbaits, and walleyes have been biting minnows, nightcrawlers, and crankbaits. Catfish have been biting a little bit of everything. From nightcrawlers to minnows, dip baits, and stinkbaits, anglers have been having a lot of luck with the cats.
Lake Michigan (Chicago Area): Fishing remains consistent up and down the lakefront. Coho and king salmon are being found in the 80-120 feet of water range. Water surface temperatures are warming up but it drops into the mid-40s when you get down 50 feet in the water column. Magnum glow spoons as well as larger flasher and flies have been taking most of the fish. Downriggers and dipseys have been doing best with copper and leadcore coming in a close second.
Devils’ Kitchen: Bass slowing in heat. Crappies biting on minnows and jigs. Bluegills hitting crickets in shallows.
Crab Orchard Lake: Catfish action is still steady. Cut bait, nightcrawlers, and leeches are all producing good catches. Crappie action is still good in 7-9 feet of water over structure. Jigs and minnows are both effective. Bluegills are still in shallow areas and are being caught in good numbers on crickets, waxworms, and red wigglers. Bass action has slowed.
Cedar Lake: Catfish are being caught in good numbers on cut bait, nightcrawlers, and stinkbaits. Crappies are scattered deep. Bluegills are still being caught in good numbers, with bigger fish holding in depths of six feet or more.
Lake Murphysboro: Catfish are the best bet. Anglers are taking good numbers of fish on nightcrawlers and stinkbaits. Crappies are rated slow. Some crappies are being located in water 12 feet or deeper. Bass are fair to good. Anglers are taking some fish, but most are running small. Bluegills are being caught, but most are running small. The bigger fish are in 6-8 feet of water.
Carlyle Lake: Crappies and catfish best. Catfish taking shrimp, leeches, cut shad, and shad guts off flooded trees. White bass hitting tube jigs and twister tails. Crappies are slowing but biting on minnows, jigs, and tube jigs by Hazlet State Park. Sauger hit and miss, if they can be found. Bluegill fishing is fair on worms. Carp spawning in shallows.
Baldwin Lake: Bass are biting on plastic worms and spinnerbaits near shore. Bluegills being caught on worms and crickets in 7-10 feet of water. Crappies fair on minnows. Catfish fair on nightcrawlers and dough baits.
Kinkaid Lake: Bluegills are still being caught in good numbers. The bigger fish are holding in 6-10 feet of water. A variety of natural baits are producing fish. Crappies are slow. Fish are moving to deep water to escape the heat. Fish are scattered. Some fish are being caught on minnows and jigs. Bass are being caught on shallow-running baits fished around grassy cover. Most bass are running small. Catfish action is good in the late evening on nightcrawlers and cut bait.
Lake of Egypt: Bass action has been good. Some are taking fish early in the mornings and late in the evenings on topwater baits. At most times during the day, anglers are fishing deeper with minnows and jigs. Some catfish are still being caught on a variety of natural baits. Crappies are fair at best with anglers reporting some success on minnows fished in 20-25 feet of water.
Little Grassy: Bluegill action is fair to good. Fish have moved slightly deeper and can be caught on crickets, waxworms, and red wigglers. Catfish action remains good in the evenings on nightcrawlers and cut bait. Bass action has also been good in the evenings on black plastics near grassy areas. Crappies have slowed.
Rend Lake: Bass anglers are targeting riprap, shallow woody cover, and bridge piers with Rat-L-Traps, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and soft plastics. Bluegills are still shallow and are being caught in good numbers on crickets and waxworms. Catfish are being caught on nightcrawlers, cut shad, leeches, and stinkbaits around riprap and subimpoundment dams. White bass are rated good near riprap and bridge piers on jigs, in-line spinners and crankbaits.
Newton Lake: Bass picking up on spinners and plastic worms. Best bet is late evening wherever structure can be found. Crappies slow. Catfish fair on liver.
Lake Bloomington: Catfish fair on dipbait. Bass good on spinners.Walleyes slowing but still hitting good on crankbaits.
Lake Shelbyville: White bass good but anglers are having to work a little harder for them. North end of the lake on wind-blown shoreline seems to be best spot, and also on the drop-offs where the sandbars meet the creek channels. Crappies are still biting on jigs on any kind of wood structure, deep and shallow on any part of the lake. The bigger fish are coming out of deeper water. Bass fishing is a bit slower but they are still being caught. Most of the bigger fish are coming out of deeper water, but don’t hesitate to throw topwater baits along the edge of the smart weeds that are growing on the flats and points. Walleye fishing has improved some; you do have to move and keep fishing until you find the water depth that they are holding.
Evergreen Lake: Bass are fair early in the day or late on plastics around timber and some on topwater. Bluegills fair along shore weeds on waxworms. Catfish are fair on just about anything. Crappies are fair on minnows drifted over 20 to 30 feet of water. Saugeyes are fair and mostly small on jig and minnows off weed edges with a couple on crankbaits, too.
Clinton Lake: Crappies are still being caught in shallows near DeWitt Bridge. Catfish plentiful and being caught on cheese baits, shad, shrimp and leeches. Bluegills just about all over on worms, red worms and waxworms. Bass and smallmouths reported at both bridges on nightcrawlers. No real large fish are being caught.