LAKE OF EGYPT – SPRING CRAPPIE HAVEN   3 comments

Cruising along the creek channel, following the warm water discharge from the power plant, anglers seek out areas of structure.  Crappies seem to use the channel as an Interstate to move from cove to cove in search of water that attracts shad, their favorite dinner. 

Upon finding a promising area, cut the motor and allow the boat to glide into a cove.  With luck the trolling motor will not be necessary.  The lack of sound seems to aid crappie fishing success.  With all the crappie in this lake, anglers often fill the live well with enough for dinner.

 Long a popular destination for the crappie angler, Lake o fEgypt enjoys a reputation for producing quality fish.  The threadfin shad survive as a forage fish due to the warm water from the power plant.  The crappies devour the shad and otherwise thrive in the warm waters.

 Lake of Egypt is a reservoir lake in southeastern Williamson County about 7 miles from Marion, Illinois.  The long thin lake winds through this part of the county with some homes dotting the shoreline.  As one reaches the southern portion of the lake, the shoreline is undeveloped and is part of the Shawnee National Forest. 

The lake is owned in common with the power company, local land owners and the U.S. Government.  The fishery is not presently managed. 

The crappie fishery is known for the quality as well as quantity of fish. 

The water is clear most of the time allowing anglers the opportunity to use chartreuse and white lures.   Those wishing to use natural bait find that the ever popular jig and minnow is just the ticket. 

Weather fronts that pass through southern Illinois each spring play havoc with the fishing.  Fish that have move to the bank to begin spawning in the near 60-degree water will suddenly move out again.  

Cool nights and cold rain cause the fish to back away from the shallows and suspend in deeper water.  The same is true if the water level of the lake is raised due to heavy rains.  A heavy rain or series of storms will mess up the fishing big time.

The fish become scattered and difficult to locate.  A good electronic fish locator is worth its weight in gold during these periods.  Most crappie anglers will revert to the old tried and true strategy of starting shallow and moving deeper until fish are found.  Often the fish are found near deep water structure such as sunken brush piles or Christmas trees. 

Once the water temperatures reach 60 degrees the fish move into the pre-spawn mode in the shallow water.  The females move into the weed beds as the males prepare the nests.  The largemouth bass follow then in search of crappie eggs upon which to feast.  Weeds close to or just off a point are often good locations to explore. 

In spring, fishermen cast to the edges of the weeds and work a slow retrieve.  A jig suspended beneath a float at a depth of two to three feet is a good starting place.  Once fish are located the depth of the jig below the float can be adjusted.  It is wise to begin in deeper water and then move up in one foot increments until fish are found. 

Later in the season, as the water warms, the fish will suspend at greater depths.  At that point, switch to vertical jigging. 

Crappie fishing on Lake of Egypt is a long time tradition in southern Illinois.  When the dogwoods bloom the lake blossoms with a proliferation of crappie boats.  But, there is room for all and plenty of fish.

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