Tuesday, January 31st, 2023
Tuesday, January 31st, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Lake Springfield, Sangamon County

Catfish and bass not only targets in Springfield

By Ralph Loos
Editor

Because of its vicinity to DNR headquarters and the fact Interstate 55 rolls right over the middle of it, Lake Springfield has always gotten a lot of attention.

From anglers and recreational boaters.

Despite the heavy traffic on the 3,866-acre lake, the fish population has remained relatively solid for nearly a quarter-century.

Largemouth bass get most of the hype, and deservedly so. During 49 sanctioned fishing tournaments held on Lake Springfield in 2020, dozens of largemouths topping the 5-pound mark were weighed in.

The largest tournament bass came in at a whopping 8.5 pounds.

“Lake Springfield is one of the better largemouth bass lakes in the state,” DNR notes in its most recent report on the lake.”It has shown consistent balance over the last two decades.”

Springfield has a high density population with electrofishing surveys routinely collecting 100 bass per hour, DNR points out. 

“In addition, thanks to a strong shad forage base, the bass are very heavy bodied,” the report explains. “They typically are 25% heavier per length than the statewide average. For example, a 15-inch bass averages 1.75 pounds statewide, while in Lake Springfield it weighs 2.25 pounds.”

 The only downside to the largemouth population in Springfield has been the apparent lack of fish over 18 inches and 3.5 pounds, though the results of the 2020 tournaments reveal that situation may be improving.

As for anglers, they can catch largemouth bass on points, deadfalls, and stickups within the entire lake in the warmer months of the year with plastic worms, jigs, spinners, crank baits, minnows, crayfish and worms. 

Bass aren’t the only target in Lake Springfield –not by a long shot.

In its most recent survey, DNR summarizes a handful of other popular species:

Crappies: Both black and white crappies are present. The black crappies are a strain originally brought in from Arkansas in 1985 that have a ¼-inch wide black stripe running from just under the chin up over the nose to the dorsal fin. They are called blacknose or black-striped crappie by anglers. 

This genetic morph of black crappie were stocked in Lake Springfield beginning in 2006. 

DNR’s most recent fish survey showed a catch rate of 14 black crappies per hour of electrofishing. 

White crappies in Lake Springfield are native. The most recent survey showed a catch rate of only 15 white crappies per hour. 

“In general, crappie numbers have been lower than desired, therefore a crappie stocking program was implemented in the mid-2000s,” DNR explained. 

Anglers can catch crappies around submerged structures within the entire lake, but particularly in the southern one-third of the lake, with spinners, jigs and minnows. 

The largest white crappie ever collected by electrofishing on Lake Springfield measured 15 inches and weighed just over 2 pounds.

White bass: The white bass population remains very good. Historically, fall electrofishing surveys did not produce adequate sample sizes to assess the population, but DNR’s catch rates have increased over the last few years. 

 The lake is noted for both the size and numbers of white bass. Fish up to 15 inches are common. 

Anglers can catch white bass within the entire lake, using minnows, small spinners, and small jigs. 

Channel catfish: Lake Springfield is one of the best channel catfish lakes in the state, according to DNR. Anglers can catch channel catfish in the warmer months of the year using bottom fishing techniques with cut bait, shrimp, chicken livers or night crawlers within the entire lake. 

The largest channel catfish ever collected during a DNR survey of Lake Springfield measured 27.5 inches and weighed over 13.5 pounds. 

Flathead catfish: Lake Springfield has earned a reputation for producing large numbers of nice flathead catfish every year. The largest reported was over 60 pounds 

Anglers can catch flathead catfish using live bait such as minnows, sunfish, shad, or crayfish around submerged logs and deadfalls in the warmer months and deep holes in the colder months. 

Blue catfish: DNR and a local catfish club began a blue cat stocking program in 2006. 

“Blue cats will grow quickly and provide an excellent trophy fishery to anglers,” DNR explained at the time. 

These days, anglers on Lake Springfield can catch blue catfish in the warmer months using crayfish, shrimp, large shad, or stinkbait around submerged logs and deadfalls. 

Bluegills: Lake Springfield has a surprisingly good bluegill population, which is uncommon in a large body of water. 

The most recent survey showed that 55% of the catchable population is composed of 6- and 7-inch fish, while 9% is composed of 7- and 8-inch fish. 

Anglers can catch bluegill in the warmer months of the year using worms, crickets, or night crawlers along structured shorelines. 

Other species: A total of 45 fish species have been collected in Lake Springfield since 1984. While their numbers and potential for successful angling are low, anglers may catch green sunfish, green sunfish x bluegill hybrid, freshwater drum, redear sunfish, or yellow bullhead.

Lake Springfield was constructed in 1931 by the damming of Lick and Sugar creeks. It has a maximum depth of approximately 30 feet and average depth of 13 feet. Lake Springfield has a small power plant on the lake that keeps the southern end of the lake open to fishing year round. It also boasts four concrete boat ramps for easy access. 

Lake Springfield

Nearest town: Springfield

Surface area: 3,866 acres

Shoreline:  53 miles

Avg. depth:  13 feet

Primary species present:

Bluegills, largemouth bass, channel catfish, flathead catfish, blue catfish, crappies.

Fish regulations

Please check the DNR Fishing Digest for site-specific regulations.

Lake information: 

217-789-2323

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