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Saturday, January 28th, 2023

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Illinois Outdoor News Fishing Report – December 9, 2022

Report from the Dock

The striper is hard to beat this time of year when looking for a hard fight. But can you identify this fish in Illinois waters? It resembles the white bass, but is more elongated and less compressed with a nearly straight back. The color of the striper is a dark greenish to bluish on top with sometimes a brassy tinge that becomes lighter on the sides. The underside is silvery. Most prominent are the seven to eight narrow stripes along the sides going lengthwise, giving rise to their name. Weights vary, but generally they reach about 5 pounds by their third year. Anglers are now catching fish in the 20-plus pound range. Feeding on gizzard shad, they provide a service to the other populations of game fish in that they are the only predator feeding on the larger shad, which are too big for other predators. Adult stripers eat primarily shad and do not eat spiny fish like black bass, white bass or crappies. One key to locating stripers seems to be stable water levels. The marauding schools move up and down the lakes. Although stripers spend most of the year roaming deep open water in pursuit of shad, they seem to be fond of the dam tailwaters. Anglers move in and cast both lures and live bait into the fast-moving waters. A medium or heavy rod and bait‑cast reel with 15-plus-pound monofilament line will work well. A 7-foot rod with a flexible tip is a good choice. 

The fishing and hunting report is compiled using reports from conservation officers, hunting guides and fishing guides.

North

Lake Michigan: The northern harbors were seeing a decline in the amount of fish caught, but there are still browns and steelhead being caught. Spawn sacks under a float are working well as are a standard tinsel or white tube jig tipped with wax worms.

The steelhead bite is starting to increase in the downtown harbors with spawn sacks being a primary choice of baits. Tinsel jigs as well as tube jigs under floats also are producing fish. Harbors are producing good catches of all species of fish, including some smallmouths and yellow perch.

Navy Pier and the downtown harbors are starting to produce perch. The fish are ranging in size and a lot of sorting is required, but crappie rigs with fathead minnows seem to be producing the best.

Lakers are still being caught trolling dodgers with Spin-n-glows along the reef near the Port of Indiana. They are being found in 20 to 40 feet of water around, and on top, of the reef. Boaters  venturing out of Chicago launches are finding the lakers and brown trout out deep but they are still around and hitting well.

The bite has been slow in the downtown harbors. Crappie rigs with fathead minnows seem to be producing the best.

Chain: If you get out, walleyes are still hitting jig and minnow combinations, and the panfish are active on the smaller presentations of a teardrop jig tipped with worms.

There have been reports of bass and catfish being caught on most bodies of water using a variety of baits and presentations.

Shabbona: Crappies are being caught over the fish cribs. Search the cribs that surround each of the land piers. The secret to success this time of the year is to use a lively minnow. You will have to continually change your minnow because they don’t last long. Perch are still being caught along the deeper weedlines. Use minnows near the bottom for best results. 

South

Crab Orchard Lake: Catfish action has slowed somewhat. Bluegill action also has slowed, although some fish are still being caught along the riprap on crickets and wax worms. Bass action is good on a variety of baits fished around shallow cover.

Baldwin Lake: Catfish are on the move and those that are being caught are small. Anglers are tossing crankbaits around riprap and catching a few bass. Bluegills are slow but will hit on meal worms or wax worms.

Carlyle Lake: Channel cats are good on the lake for anglers drifting or jug fishing with cut bait or leeches. Good catches reported near Keyesport and Boulder. Flatheads also are biting. Cut bait also is working as are slab spoons thrown along the wall. Crappie fishing is good below the dam.

Kinkaid Lake: Muskie action has been excellent. Anglers trolling and casting are picking up fish. Spinnerbaits and shallow running baits are the most effective. Crappie fishing is rated fair. Anglers are taking fish at varied depths, from 2 to 18 feet. Minnows are the primary bait. Catfish and bluegill action has been slow. However, bass anglers are reporting good success on spinnerbaits. Bass hitting plastics, too, but mostly in evening near shore. Bass appear to be prepping for winter.

Lake of Egypt: Crappie action remains slow but signs the fishing will pick up with the winter season. Some fish are being caught on curlytails and minnows. Most fish are in 8 to 10 feet in front of weedbeds. Bass are still rated fair on soft plastics. Catfish action picked up recently, fishing shrimp in shallow water.

Lake Murphysboro: Catfish action remains excellent, particularly in the morning and early evening. Most anglers are using chicken liver and nightcrawlers. Bass are also rated fair to good. Crappie anglers are finding fish at various depths. Minnows are the preferred bait. Bluegill action is slow.

Little Grassy: Catfish action remains steady throughout the lake. Nightcrawlers are the most effective bait. Crappie fishing has slowed somewhat. Fish are still deep. A couple of nice fish were taken recently, but numbers were down. Minnows are the primary bait. Bass action remains fair.

Rend Lake: Crappies are still rated good on minnows, chartreuse jigs, white jigs and pink/green jigs. Fish are being caught over Christmas tree sets and near bridge pillars in 6 to 10 feet of water. Catfish action also has been good. Catfish anglers are working riprap areas, using shrimp and nightcrawlers.

Bass are being caught on spinners and by crappie anglers using jigs and minnows, although minnows are hard to find this time of year.

Central

Lake Taylorville: The crappie bite has been hot. The bait of choice is small jigs tipped with wax worms or spikes under floats. Skipping under the deeper docks or finding the submerged timber and green weeds is working.

Coffeen Lake: Bass have come back to life, with a few 4-pounders landed in November, according to local reports. Many are being caught on spinners. Some catfish being caught on liver and doughbaits.

Newton Lake: Bluegills and bass are biting fair on minnows and worms. A few catfish are being caught on worms.

Lake Springfield: Crappie fishing has been slow, but picking up. Bass are hitting plastics and spinners.

Lake Bloomington: Bluegills are biting on worms, but are slow and small. Crappies are being caught on minnows in 12 to 14 feet of water. 

Lake Decatur: Crappies are being caught on minnows. Bluegill fishing has been slow, with a few being caught on worms. Catfish have been very slow on worms and stinkbaits.

Lake Shelbyville: Crappies have been biting in shallows or around brush on jigs and tubes of chartreuse with yellow, red or white, and chartreuse tubes. Muskies are biting below the spillway. Bass fishing has slowed, but a few are being caught on plastic worms.

Clinton Lake: Crappie fishing has been fair near brush with minnows. Bluegills are being caught on worms near shore. Bass have been good on spinners.

Rivers

Illinois River: Saugers are up on the flats in the 12 to 14 feet of water range off the main river channels. Vertical jigging jigs with minnows has worked.

Des Plaines River: Walleyes are still being found using jerk baits and jointed minnow baits. They are being taken in the evening hours by working the deeper holes.

Kankakee River: In the Momence area, smallmouth bass fishing is good around shoreline pools on spinners, crankbaits and minnows. 

Crappies are coming on minnows, pinkie jigs and small spinners.

Fox River: The walleye bite is slow. Use minnowbaits in the deeper holes and near bridge pilings. Night fishing has proven to be most effective. Jigs and twisters in white or chartreuse are being productive. The catfish bite has died, as the fish have gone into their wintering holes.

Rock River: Bluegills and catfish are being caught over holes and around the standing timber.

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