Plump Crappie Like This Are To Be Found Throughout Southern Illinois This Fall

Southern Illinois offers great fishing opportunities for catfish, crappie, bluegill, bass and trout.  In the fall anglers often ignore this fishery in favor of hunting.  It is a good time to hunt in the early morning hours and spend the rest of the day on the water.  Not a bad combo for the outdoorsman. 

 For the purpose of this entry, I will focus on the “Great Lakes of Williamson County.”  These lakes are within minutes of my home base.

 Crab Orchard in Williamson Countyis a 6,900-acre impoundment with good crappie action.  Located four miles southeast of Marion and Interstate 57, the lake is owned by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.  It is a big part of the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge.  After October 1st the area to the east of Wolf Creek Causeway is closed to humans so that the migrating waterfowl rest undisturbed.

 The better fishing is usually in the western part of the lake.  Crappie will be found at varying depths dependant upon the water temperatures.  The black crappie and white crappie are about equal in number.  Locating them is not difficult as they are found near structure often in the form of fish attractors placed in the lake by the IDNR and locals.  A map of their specific locations by GPS can be obtained from the D-22 Fisheries Biologist at IDNR, 9043 Route 148, Suite B,Marion,IL62959. The preferred bait seems to be minnows and jigs. Additional angling action seems to be along the rip rap areas and near bridges.

 Catfish anglers find their prey in the wooded areas all over the lake.  Most of the fish are taken on cut bait and minnows.  Bluegills are found in the wooded areas.  Bluegills are also found near rip rap and the bridges with the crappie.  Most bluegills are taken with wax worms and red wigglers (red worms).  Bluegills over six inches in length are about one-fourth of the population.

 Southeast of the Crab Orchard Lakeis Devils Kitchen Lake.  The lake was so named because the odor of sulfur could be detected during construction of the dam.  This 810-acre impoundment contains some of the clearest water in southernIllinois.

 The lake can be reached by taking Spillway Road along the west edge of Crab Orchard Lake about 2 miles south near Grassy Lake Road junction. 

 Each year fisheries officials stock the lake with trout.  The fall stockings are done to augment the lake’s ample population of the fish.  This time of the year they are suckers for the small in-line spinners and shallow water Rapalas.  A piece of nightcrawler on a trout (#10) hook has always been a standby for rainbows on this lake.  The best action tends to be on the north end of the lake in the area near the dam.

 Largemouth bass in this lake are a different story.  These infertile waters have resulted in bass in substandard condition.  Most of them are in the 8 to 13-inch length with some fish in the 7 to 9 pound range.  Only a few of the later are taken each week.

 Redear sunfish out number the bluegills.  Over 70 percent of the redears are over 7 inches and about half are over 8-inches in length.

 To the southeast of the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge is Lake of Egypt.  This Williamson County lake is about seven miles southeast of Mariona nd just off Interstate 57.  Just look for the smoke stack of the power plant.  The plant is located on the shore of the lake.

 A well-known crappie and bass lake, Lake of Egypt will has crappie holding in weed beds at about 15 feet.  Locals use minnows and jigs about equally well during the fall for these fish.  Crappie anglers are often pleasantly surprised when a bass takes their bait while fishing for crappie.  The bass will mix with the crappie in these weed beds.

 For those fishing just for bass, the plastic worm or jig works well in about 10 to 12 feet of water.  Late season catfish will also take nightcrawlers in the fall in and around the rip rap and other structure.


Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Nice picture!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: