Murphy is for meat anglers. Some anglers want fish for their family fish fry and do not need to catch and release all that they acquire. Some anglers just want some peace and quiet and a few fish for supper.Lake Murphysboro in southern Illinois is just the ticket for the angler in search of eating good fish.
Sitting on the dock fishing, one soon begins to talk with fellow anglers. It is surprising at the number of anglers who are seeking fish to take home to eat.
Most anglers are proud to say the first fish they ever caught was a bluegill. This lake is a great place to pass along that tradition. Today the thrill of these hard fighting fish is relived and enjoyed by the parents of the next generation.
As the clean waters warm during the summer, the catfish and bluegill fishing does the same. This 145-acre impoundment is located in a state park of the same name can be found about 1.5 miles west of the town of Murphysboro, Illinois in Jackson County. Camping, boat rental and access ramps are readily available. The 10-horsepower limit on outboard motors helps to maintain a tranquility often missing on the more popular nearby Kinkaid Lake. There are no pleasure boaters with whom to compete.
To reach the park travel Illinois Route 149 west of Murphysboro, turn north on Murphysboro Lake Road or Lake Access Road and follow the signs to the park.
The park’s hardwoods provide shaded shoreline for the enjoyment of all on a hot summer day. Docks allow anglers to fish further away from the shoreline in comfort. Picnic tables spread throughout the area often find their way to the shore area.
Companies like Berkley are constantly improving on tackle for enticing these little battlers. A visit to a tackle store in the area such as Top of The Hill Bait Shop demonstrates the wide variety of lures. New coated lines are popular with panfishermen. The lines are durable and light. A popular new entry to the field is the Berkley XL Armor Coated line in the 4-pound test. The coating provides resistance to abrasion from the rocks, brush and tree roots found in the best bluegill areas.
Those wanting to fish without a boat can plant their lawn chair on one of the docks or along the shore and enjoy a relaxed atmosphere. Fishing pressure is not heavy during the week and only moderately so on the weekend. Holidays are another story. Trying to fish with all the family picnics going on can be a bit of a problem.
The numerous brush plies, submerged timber, rocks, drop offs and dead falls are home to an excellent population of bass, redear sunfish, bluegill, catfish and crappie. Fish attractors strategically placed within casting distance of the docks easily located by looking for a steel post sticking out of the water.
For the shore angler, the area from the concession parking ramp west all the way up to the disabled pier is a good bet. Another popular location for finding fish is in the far northeast part of the lake where there are numerous brush piles. Fly fishing anglers catch many bluegills along the well-manicured shoreline.
The dam area and the small boat dock also produces fish.
Weedy areas provide good cover for the lake’s sizable bluegill population during the summer months. Find clear pockets in the vegetation and drop an impaled worm below a float for instant action. Bluegill and their cousin the redear sunfish tend to hold in water 6 to 8 feet in depth. Both will take worms, wax worms and crickets. The fish are near the bottom. A popular rig is a small wire hook with a piece of nightcrawler impaled upon it. The weight of the bait allows the light line to sink to the bottom. If a float is used, the slip bobber is probably a good choice. Once the depth of the fish is located, the slip bobber allows the angler to fish the same depth with each cast.
During the summer, good numbers of crappie are in water ranging between 12 and 18 feet. The area around the old concession stand is a good place to start. The popular jig and minnow combo is a good idea. It out produces the jig alone. Small minnows are the preference of locals.
In August catfish tend to congregate along the dam and rip rap areas. Nightcrawlers and cut shad are the best baits. Other catfish locations are on drop offs in the north and east necks of the lake.