Report from the Dock
This is the time of year when landowners start thinking about improvements to the ponds and small lakes on their property.
Stocking fish into those ponds is top of mind. Ponds in Illinois vary greatly in their fish-stocking needs. The owners, managers and users of these ponds also may differ in their sport-fishing objectives and require a wide selection of stocking options. It is important to discuss pond stocking with a DNR district fisheries biologist.
Before the fish-stocking decision is made, careful analyses of pond characteristics and angler preferences must be made. Some of the factors affecting the decision include pond type, size, depth, water chemistry, fertility, existing fish population, expected fishing pressure and harvest, and, most importantly, what fish do the anglers want?
The most widely used and successful stocking combination for ponds in Illinois is largemouth bass, channel catfish, bluegill and redear sunfish. These species are popular among fishermen and are biologically adapted to a wide variety of conditions. These species effectively utilize natural and artificial foods and are compatible with many other species that might be stocked later. The concept of this stocking combination is that the bluegill eat small aquatic insects and in turn serve as food for bass. The bass control the numbers of small fish so that those remaining grow to a large size.
The fishing and hunting report is compiled using reports from conservation officers, hunting guides and fishing guides.
Lake Michigan: The browns and cohos are starting to get active. Fish the discharges with jigs and twisters tipped with a piece of squid or crankbaits like a J-9 in chartreuse/white or orange/gold. Small orange dodger and peanut flies and log lining body baits like a Rapala Tail Dancer have been working well for the cohos in these areas. Work the breaks where the cold and warmer water meet.
Perch are biting at Navy Pier. It involves some work, but it can pay off with some nice perch. Reports have shown that a lot of smaller ones are being caught and getting limits of larger fish require a lot of sorting. Live minnows and cooked shrimp on drop shot rigs as well as ice fishing jigs tipped with spikes have been producing. Also, jigging spoons will do well and may take the occasional trout.
Chain: Ice fishing has been spotty, but some hard water has been holding as the freezing temps hit recently. Be careful when moving your holes. Catfish are being caught on Marie, and crappies are biting on Petite. If you get into the back bays and channels, you will find good panfish action. The fish are holding tight to any wood or steel structure as this warms up first in the sun. Small jigs under a float or a plain hook with a small hunk of nightcrawler have done well.
The walleyes are really starting to turn on around the channels and the bridges. Ice jig combinations around the pilings has been putting some nice fish in the basket.
Devils’ Kitchen: Fishing tends to be slow, but bass are picking up on spinners and crankbaits in evening hours.
Crab Orchard Lake: Anglers are reporting that crappies are being found at depths ranging from 6 to 10 feet. Most are in heavy cover near points. The best baits have been minnows and jigs. Bright colors seem to be working the best. Bluegills are being caught near rip-rap and around weed beds on the typical bluegill baits. Bass fishing has been slow.
Baldwin Lake: Largemouth bass fishing has slowed. Bluegills are biting on worms in 6 to 8 feet of water. Crappie and catfish fishing is fair.
Carlyle Lake: Crappies and catfish are biting the best. Catfish are taking cut shad and shad guts off rocks by Keysport. Crappies are biting on minnows, jigs, tube jigs by Hazlet State Park. Sauger are hit and miss, if they can be found. Bluegill fishing is fair on worms.
Kinkaid Lake: Crappies are good in shallow coves near in-flowing water. Muskie, bass and catfish also are good in same areas. A couple of nice muskies have been landed in recent weeks, but the biting is tough. Some channel cats are being caught deep near Johnson Creek.
Lake of Egypt: Crappie action is slow but getting better. Bluegills have been slow. Bass action is expected to pick up as water temperatures rise. A few catfish being caught on worms.
Little Grassy: Crappies have been biting on minnows, mostly in cover in about 15 to 20 feet of water. Bass action has improved but remains slow. Plastic worms have worked the best. Bluegills are running small and biting on late-season grasshoppers and worms.
Mermet Lake: Fishing has been slow on all fronts, though crappie action has improved. Crappies are being caught on jigs. Bass fishing has been slow.
Rend Lake: Crappie fishing has been good on minnows in rip-rap along Route 154, pillars around bridges and creeks near main channels. Channel catfish are fair on stinkbait and cut shad. The best fishing is reported to be near the main dam breakwater, areas near North and South Marcum, Jackie Branch, and Gun Creek. Bass fishing has been slow. The bluegill bite has been slow.
Cedar Lake: Reports of bluegills being caught and a few catfish on livers and nightcrawlers.
Newton Lake: Bass are biting good, but changing. Some white bass were also reported.
Lake Bloomington: Bluegills are biting on worms, but are slow and small. Crappies are being caught on minnows in 12 to 14 feet.
Lake Decatur: Fishing has been slow. Crappies are being caught on minnows. Bluegill fishing has been slow, with a few hitting worms.
Lake Shelbyville: Conditions are better late in day for muskies and walleyes. On main lake, fishing has been slow, but some crappies have been caught on sunny days.
Evergreen Lake: Several reports of crappies being scattered, with most coming from the shallow coves and shore lines. Some nice fish also have been caught in 10-15 feet of water. Minnows, waxworms, or light-colored tube jigs retrieved slowly have worked best.
Clinton Lake: Crappies, white bass and walleyes are being caught below the spillway. Catfish are taking shad around bridge. A few white bass are being caught near bridges.
Coffeen Lake: Bass, catfish are excellent all around the lake. Bass are biting on spinners and waxworms. Catfish are biting on stinkbait and worms. Crappies are spotty.
Lake Springfield: Crappie bite is picking up on minnows. Bass are slow. Channel cats being taken on shad. Crappies have been good on jigs fished in, or near, hot water areas.
Sangchris Lake: Crappie bite is picking up on medium-size minnows. Bass are being caught on crankbaits and plastics.