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Illinois Outdoor News Fishing Report – September 23, 2021

Report from the Dock

As the water temperature begins to cool down in the fall, catfish, like many other fish, can sense the impending winter approaching. Food sources the fish are accustomed to begin to disappear in some form or another. Catfish must eat enough to maintain their weight and, in some cases, get even bigger. Catfish by nature are the most efficient feeders – they eat almost anything, relying on physical characteristics such as taste buds on their underside and stomach.

During the autumn period, they move from shallow feeding flats to deeper weed edges. Cats make their final transition into the deep basin as winter approaches. Falling water temperatures trigger the annual migration of channel cats from shallow to deep water. As nights lengthen in early fall, water temperatures start a slow decline. This initial change doesn’t entirely chase catfish from the shallows. Provided there’s not a dramatic dip in the water temperature, catfish remain active during daylight and nighttime hours on weed flats where young-of-the-year panfish are abundant and serve as a primary food source. You can also find fish in soft-bottom areas that produce insect hatches until the first hard freeze and also along windblown shorelines where there is a concentration of food. As severe cold fronts set in, water conditions in the shallows become less stable. Quick swings in temperature and water clarity occur as fall storms bring influxes of cold water. These conditions trigger the initial migration of catfish out of the shallows.


Chain: Walleyes are good in current areas such as bottlenecks of the bridges, most being caught on fatheads or nightcrawlers. White bass good on small spinners. Muskies are consistent on bucktails or jerkbaits around main lake points. Crappies are good in channel areas on small jigs tipped with small fatheads or spikes. Bluegills good around weed areas on small ice jigs tipped with waxies or spikes.

Shabbona: Smallmouths have been caught over the rock piles in 8 to 10 feet of water. No larger smallies were caught. Perch caught on the weedlines near the rockpiles in 6 to 8 feet of water. Crappies were caught over the north roadbed fish cribs. 

Forest Preserve Lakes: Crappies and bluegills both picking up. Bluegills biting on waxworms and crickets. Crappies hitting minnows. Channel cats fair, biting on nightcrawlers and chicken livers. Bass fishing steady using medium minnows, soft plastics and worms.

Heidecke: Bass fair on spinners and plastic worms. Walleyes good on crawlers and jigs. Catfish fair, with several from 4 to 6 pounds reported on stinkbait or crawlers. Bluegills good on crickets and waxworms.

Lake Michigan (Chicago Area): Kings biting at Northpoint. Salmon being caught on crankbaits in the harbors. A few smallmouths and white bass are being found around the Edison plant.

Lake Michigan (Waukegan): Kings and coho slowing, but being caught in 50 to 90 feet, depending on time of day, on spoons, Dodgers or flies.


Crab Orchard Lake: Crappie action continues to be good. Minnows and jigs in 6-8 feet of water around the brush should produce a nice mess of fish. Around the rocks and bridges about 10 feet deep is where you’ll find catfish. Jugs, leeches, cut bait and minnows are the baits of choice. Bass and bluegills are good, as well. Waxworms and crickets for bluegills and anything that makes noise for bass works.

Baldwin Lake: Anglers are tossing crankbaits around riprap and catching a few bass. Bluegills are slow but will hit on meal worms or waxworms occasionally.

Horseshoe Lake: Catfish are the most popular with the anglers here. The middle of the lake and fairly deep is where they are being caught with nightcrawlers at any time of day. Crappies are slow and those that are being caught are around the brush piles about four feet deep, using minnows. Bass and bluegill fishing slow.

Carlyle Lake: White bass are good, especially in evening. Channel cats are excellent with cut bait, nightcrawlers or leeches. Cut bait is also working for flatheads. Crappies improving below the dam on minnows and jigs.

Lake Murphysboro: Catfish have been fair to good near the dam or in areas with heavy cover. The best action has been on nightcrawlers and red wigglers. Other anglers have been reporting good success with crickets fished during the evening. Bluegills are holding in 3-5 feet of water. Most fish are being caught on waxworms and crickets. Crappies are hard to find. Crappies are holding on structure right on the bottom in 12-15 feet. Minnows are the primary bait. Bass action has been slow.

Kinkaid Lake: Anglers are reporting that the crappie fishing is starting to pick up nicely. Minnows are the favorite bait in about 12 feet of water around submerged cover. There has not been much talk about bass and the catfish are pretty scarce as well. Bluegills are small but plentiful, hitting on crickets, waxworms and red wigglers.

Lake of Egypt: Crappie fishing is fair. Around the points and weedbeds seems to be where they are feeding. Anglers are using minnows and jigs with regular success. Fair describes the bass fishing around weedbeds using anything plastic. Shrimp has been a good bait for catfish at night off the shoreline and around the docks.

Little Grassy: A few crappies are being taken using minnows in 15-20 feet of water. Catfish are fair around the weedbeds using nightcrawlers. There have been no bass being reported or weighed in.

Rend Lake: White and hybrid striped bass and channel cats are rated good. Anglers are catching the different species of bass with curly tailed jigs and large minnows. Drifting the minnows along the edge of Highway 154 and tossing jigs over the flat areas of the lake seem to be the most successful. 

Drifting with shrimp around the subimpoundment dams, riprap areas and in the shallows is what will bring in the channel cats. Fishing for largemouth bass, bluegills and crappies is still slow. White, pink/green, chartreuse jigs and minnows are working on the crappies in 6 to 10 feet of water around pillars and over Christmas tree sets. The outlet channel below the dam and shallow coves with cover are the places where bluegills are being caught using waxworms.


Lake Taylorville: A few channel catfish being caught. Bass and bluegills good on worms and crickets.

Lake Bloomington: Hybrid stripers are fair, with best action early and just before dusk when fish are chasing shad on the surface and hitting jigs or Roadrunners. Bass best on jigs, chatterbaits and soft plastics off points with timber and along the weeds in the evenings. Catfish are fair on dipbaits and crawlers. Late evenings are best. Anglers are catching some crappies up to 12 inches in 12-18 feet of water. Drifting jigs is working best.

Lake Shelbyville: Bass have been good in shallows and coves. Walleyes are good over newly covered rock and riprap. Crappies are spotty. Muskie fishing is beginning to pick up in the evening.

Evergreen Lake: Bass and catfish are biting. Some decent-sized saugeyes are being caught. The crappies are fairly shallow around brush and structure and are being caught on small jigs tipped with or without minnows. The bass are caught mostly on plastics or spinnerbaits, again, fairly shallow around structure. The saugeyes are being caught on jig/crawler combo or trolling diving crankbaits around drops, humps, and mouths of coves.

Clinton Lake: Catfish very good on guts, shrimp and shad. Crappies being caught with jigs or minnows. A few walleyes and bass decent on buzzbaits. Large flatheads being caught on leeches in the west side access. White bass fair on bladebaits. Some walleyes on Big Dudes.

Lake Springfield: Crappies biting on minnows near structure. A few bass are being caught on spinners and plastic worms. Most bass are in the 2-pound range.  Catfish anglers are having success on liver and doughbaits. Nice channel cats are being caught at the bridges.

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