A 7.25-pound bass helps boost angler interest in Bloomington
By Ralph Loos
A 71⁄4-pound largemouth bass caught during a fishing tournament on Lake Bloomington last summer seemed to recharge anglers’ enthusiasm for the species – and for the lake.
We will have to wait a few months to see if an even larger bass was weighed in on the McLean County water this summer, but anecdotes shared by anglers point to even more good news on the bass front.
What we can report is that during the 11 DNR-sanctioned tournaments on Bloomington in 2021, a total of 314 largemouths were weighed in. Aside from the 71⁄4-pounder, a 6.6-pounder was also recorded, along with a handful that came in right around the 5-pound mark.
Indeed, it’s enough to make anglers – young and not-so-young – excited about bass fishing on Lake Bloomington.
Although weather conditions were tough on May 5, when the Illinois High School Association again hosted one of its sectional tournaments on the lake, past sectional tournaments have provided plenty of bass action for high school anglers.
Located about 15 miles north of Bloomington, Lake Bloomington is easily accessible by taking I-39 to the Lake Bloomington Exit, then proceeding east on the Lake Bloomington Road.
The 635-acre reservoir has 18½ miles of shoreline. It is owned by the City of Bloomington.
There is one public boat launch and there is a fee to use the ramp and lake.
The lake is regularly stocked with walleyes, hybrid striped bass, and smallmouth bass. In 2022, DNR stocked 283 adult largemouth bass and 45,000 fingerling walleyes.
The following information is a summary of DNR’s most recent fish population surveys of the lake:
• Largemouth/smallmouth bass: DNR’s sampling resulted in a catch rate of 103.8 bass per hour. The management objective is 100 bass per hour.
The largest bass collected weighed 5.06 pounds.
Of the bass collected over 8 inches, 42% were longer than 12 inches, and 10% longer than 15 inches. The average percent of bass over 15 inches is 21%.
“The bass fishery is average but the future looks promising,” DNR noted in its report on Bloomington. “Even though smallmouth bass have been in the lake since it was impounded, the fishery is not strong. A smallmouth bass stocking program was started in 2009 in an attempt to improve the fishery.”
• Walleyes – Walleyes were first stocked into this lake in 1984 and has received approximately 25,000 2-inch walleyes every year.
The most recent electrofishing survey for walleye resulted in 34.3 walleye per hour of sampling. The average catch rate for the past 18 surveys is 38.6 walleye per hour.
Walleyes collected during the most recent survey ranged in size from 8 inches to 24 inches.
In the spring of 2019, nets were used to collect walleyes and 4.4 walleye per net were collected. The average catch rate is 3.7 per net.
Of the walleye collected over 10 inches, 41% were longer than 20 inches and 8% were longer than 25 inches.
“The walleye regulation was changed in 2017 to an 18-inch minimum length limit and a three fish per day harvest limit,” DNR reminded anglers.
• Hybrid striped bass – The State record hybrid striped bass was caught at Lake Bloomington in 2017. The record hybrid weighed 21.45 pounds. The hybrid striped bass fishery in Lake Bloomington is considered good.
• Crappies – Both black and white crappies are present in Lake Bloomington. The most recent DNR survey resulted in the collection of 57.1 white crappies per hour and 12 black crappies per hour.
“The objective is to collect 25 per hour for each species,” DNR noted.
The black crappies ranged in size from 7 inches to 10½ inches and the largest black crappie collected weighed 0.6 pounds.
The white crappies ranged in size from 7 inches to 14 inches and the largest white crappie weighed 1.37 pounds.
• Channel catfish – During the most recent DNR survey, only four channel catfish were collected.
The current channel catfish fishery is average in Lake Bloomington. Lake Bloomington does not receive any catfish stockings.
Nearest town: Bloomington
Surface area: 635 acres
Shoreline: 18 miles
Avg. depth: 15 feet
Primary species present:
Bluegills, largemouth bass, channel catfish, crappies, sunfish, hybrid striped bass, walleyes.