Catfish stockings move the needle at Du Quoin
By Ralph Loos
The 5-pound largemouth has long been a target for bass anglers hitting Du Quoin City Lake – and the 210-acre Perry County reservoir did not disappoint in 2
According to DNR’s fishing tournament data from last year, six tournaments at Du Quoin resulted in 240 largemouth bass being weighed-in. A handful of them topped the magic 5-pound mark, with the largest hitting the scales at 5.38 pounds.
But that’s not the latest news coming from Du Quoin. The lake was stocked with roughly 12,000 fingerling saugeyes earlier this year, setting up what could be an interesting fishery for years to come.
Du Quoin City Lake is located in Perry County, north of Du Quoin. Visitors can take State Route 51 north for approximately 4 miles, then turn east onto City Lake Road.
DNR notes that a fall electrofishing survey was the only tool used to evaluate the fishery. However, the sampling approach for this lake was overhauled during 2021.
“The electrofishing survey was moved to April and a fall netting survey (trap nets and gill nets) was implemented to collect data on species underrepresented during electrofishing surveys,” DNR noted in its most recent report on Du Quoin. “In addition, aggressive catfish stocking was implemented during 2020 and 2021 to bolster the population. More than 2,000 channel catfish were stocked in 2020, with an additional 6,000 stocked in 2021.
“Channel catfish stockings will continue on an annual basis as long as fish are available,” DNR stated.
Results of the 2021 surveys indicate quality fisheries continue to exist for bluegills, crappies and largemouth bass.
The redear sunfish fishery in particular is noteworthy.
Meanwhile, “the lake continues to harbor an overabundant gizzard shad population and is in need of additional piscvivores,” DNR explained.
Because of this need, DNR has slated annual saugeyes stockings, beginning with the stocking that took place this year.
As far as regulations, anglers should note the following limits currently in place at
Du Quoin City Lake:
• Crappies: 25 fish daily limit
• Channel catfish: 6 fish daily limit
• Bluegills or redear sunfish: 25 fish daily limit
• Largemouth bass: 5 fish under 14 inches and 1 fish over 18 inches daily; 14-18 inch protected slot.
DNR’s most recent surveys of the lake produced the following notes from fisheries biologists:
During the 2021 spring electrofishing survey, a total of 93 largemouth bass were collected during one hour of electrofishing. From that collection, 24% of fish were over 15 inches and 11% were over 18 inches. The largest bass collected was over 20 inches and weighed 5.3 pounds
“Mean relative weight for bass in the sample was 95, indicating good body condition and growth,” DNR noted.
The bluegill fishery in Du Quoin City Lake is relatively good for a public lake. During the spring electrofishing survey, 214 Bluegill were collected, of which 23% were more than 7 inches. Many bluegills are just under 8 inches in length.
“Body condition appears to decrease rapidly once bluegills reach 8 inches in length,” DNR stated. “The abundance of gizzard shad in the lake is likely a limiting factor for bluegill growth.”
Also, 106 bluegills from the sample were aged using otoliths. What DNR noted was that bluegills in the lake generally reached 7 inches at age 4 and 8 inches at age 6.
The redear fishery in
Du Quoin City Lake is excellent. Of the 55 Redear collected in the 2021 spring electrofishing survey, 27% were over 10 inches in length. The largest redear was over 11 inches long and weighed 1.1 pounds.
“Body condition was excellent across all size groups,” DNR’s report noted.
Du Quoin City Lake contains a crappie population consisting of both black and white crappies. A total of 55 crappie were collected during spring electrofishing and 80 were collected during the fall netting survey. The majority of crappie collected were between 7 and 9 inches in length, although fish up to 1.5 pounds were observed in the sample. About 15% of crappie in the sample were over 10 inches.
No channel catfish have ever been collected during electrofishing surveys at Du Quoin City Lake, although anglers have indicated that a low-density population exists. In response, DNR began stocking channel cats in 2020 as extra fish became available from the state hatchery.
“Experimental mesh gill nets were used during the 2021 fall netting survey to increase the likelihood of collecting channel catfish,” DNR noted. “A total of 36 channel catfish were collected in three overnight gill net sets. The largest catfish was 3.4 pounds, while the majority in the sample were under 2 pounds. The abundance of small catfish indicates that DNR stockings are having a positive impact and are increasing abundance as intended. Therefore, stockings will continue on an annual basis as long as extra fish are available from the state hatchery.”
Du Quoin City Lake
Nearest town: Du Quoin
Surface area: 210 acres
Shoreline: 12 miles
Max. depth: 16 feet
Primary species present:
Bluegills, largemouth bass, channel catfish, crappies, sunfish, saugeyes, common carp.