Fall bass fishing is kind of an iffy proposition on any lake.  Find the schooling bass and you have good success.  Fail to find schooling bass results in a tough bite.  Topwater action on Stephen A. Forbes Lake heats up in the fall.  The excitement of bass smashing topwater lures increases as the vegetation of the lake increases each year.

 This Marion County542-acre lake lies about 14 miles northeast of the east‑central Illinois community of Salem.  It is within the boundary of the 3100‑acre Stephen A. Forbes State Fish and Wildlife Area.  The surrounding forest is composed of oak and hickory trees which provide a colorful back drop to fall fishing activity.  The lack of cottages and docks on this lake make it popular with anglers in search of some solitary fishing.

 Completed in 1963 the lake has a maximum depth of 31 feet with 48 miles of shoreline.  The base of the lake is limestone.  The relatively shallow lake has an abundance of areas less than 8 feet in depth.  The average depth is about 15 feet.  The shallows on the north end offer good vegetative cover for largemouth bass.  The water’s pH level of 7.8 is ideal for fish habitat.

 In the fall Gizzard and Threadfin Shad move to the shallows for warmer water and in search of plankton upon which they feed.  It is also an attempt to avoid predator bass that drive them into coves and shallows.

 Natural reproduction of bass in this lake is supplemented with additional fingerlings each year.  The stocked fish tend to make up about 25 percent of the total bass population.  They come from brood ponds within the park.  The ponds are operated by the Illinois Natural History Survey with the assistance of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Most of the bass found in the lake seem to be in the 2- to 3-pound class.  Fish up to 7 or 8 pounds have reportedly been found.  The forage in the lake is primarily shad.

 Other species in the lake include: channel catfish, bullhead, crappie, bluegill, sunfish, hybrid striped bass, tiger muskellunge, warmouth and suckers.

Finding good weed growth seems to be the key to finding fall largemouth bass.  The fish tend to be found somewhere in or near weeds.  The two main types of vegetation are coontail moss and duckweed. Topwater lures such as Moss Boss, Frog and the Rat can be worked over any surface vegetation.  The explosion of fish from the water beneath the vegetation is enough to excite even the most jaded of bass anglers.

 Any lay downs along the edge of the weeds should be worked with 7 inch plastic worms and salt craws.  Just flip lures into the branches and along any tree trunks.  It is advisable to position your boat so you can work parallel on the outer edge of the weeds.

 Spinnerbait and buzzbait anglers often find fish over main lake and secondary points.  While working these points keep alert for bass forcing shad to the surface in a feeding frenzy.

 For topwater and shallow water action fall is a difficult time to beat on Stephen A. Forbes Lake.  There are slips and boat ramps available as well as a concession stand offering rental boats, meals, bait, tackle and a variety of other services.  For more details contact the Site Superintendent, Stephen A. Forbes State Fish & Wildlife Area, R.R.1, Kinmundy,IL62854.  The phone number is 618‑547‑3381.

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