A phone discussion with Kyle Schoenherr has produced this half-day trip to Rend Lake in search of crappie.  Kyle assured me the crappie are biting.  This is the only time we both could make the trip due to heavy schedules in the next few weeks. 

This southern Illinois impoundment has produced excellent crappie fishing for the past 10 years.  Prior to that, the size and numbers of fish declined since the original damming of Big Muddy River.  In the early days of the lake the Illinois state record black crappie was caught, a record that has stood since 1976.  

Although fishing has steadily improved in the past ten years, the record still holds. 

The length and creel limits enacted in 2002 and continuing to today have had a significant impact on the size structure or the population according to D-19 Fisheries Biologist, Mike Hooe.  “Populations have improved dramatically and remain stable,” exclaims Mike.  The fish are in very good condition and fishing in the past year has been outstanding.  The thick fish are the kind anglers refer to as having “shoulders.” 

Hooe’s most recent surveys found that the number of crappie over 10” in length remains stable.  The number of fish in the 8 to 10 inch class declined slightly.  Although the number of crappie over 12 inches remains relatively low despite doubling from previous surveys. 

Kyle ties on a hollow body tube jig standard for crappie fishing.  Then things change.  Out of his bag of tricks, Kyle produces a small hypodermic style syringe.  Parents of infants use them to give oral medications to babies.  There is no needle on the end.  Into the syringe, he places a white mixture.  That in turn he squirts into the hollow body of the jig.  

Pressed for an explanation, Kyle says the mixture is actually some of the Berkely PowerBait Nibbles.  He uses the one containing sparkles as the sparkles resemble fish scales.  The scales seem to stimulate strikes from crappie. 

We both fish off the front of the boat with long jigging poles and light line.  We are fishing some of the stake beds found in the lake.  A list of them is available at the Corps of Engineers office near dam. 

We find that cruising up to an area without the motor running and with limited use of the trolling motor is best.  A few feet out from the stake beds, we avoid all sound so as not to scare off any fish. 

The rest of the morning, we catch and release a number of nice healthy crappie.  It was a great morning spent with a friend doing what both of us enjoy, catching crappie.  Besides, I learned a new bait pattern.



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  1. Kyle is always thinking. That’s just part of the reason is such a darn good guide. Thanks for sharing Don.

  2. Pingback: The Most Common Bass Fishing Lures | Bass Fishing Tips Today

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