The slow rolled spinnerbait cruised through the water bumping off stumps and other submerged wooden structure. Suddenly, from the darkness appears a streak that snatches the bait and heads for parts unknown. This scene repeats daily on Little Grassy Lake in the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge near Marion, Illinois.

Beginning with early spring, Little Grassy Lake has great bass fishing.

The lake takes its name from the creek that formed it. The lake was built in 1940 as part of the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge. It is located about eight miles south of Carbondale, Illinois just off Giant City Road. The shoreline of the lake is about 36 miles, with an average depth of 27 feet and a 90 foot depth in the channel at the spillway. The lake is four miles long and one mile wide. The shoreline is wooded and rocky and provides some of the most beautiful scenery in the state. Most of the adjoining land is under lease to church, school and youth groups, but the lake itself is the property of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The lake does have a moderate amount of standing timber, good shoreline rip rap, and assorted vegetation. Known for big bass in the past, the lake did have a problem with fishing pressure in the early 1980’s.

Largemouth bass inhabit in ponds, lakes and reservoirs of Illinois, as well as some rivers and streams. It is essentially a lake bass. Coloration can vary, but they are usually dark green on the back and becoming lighter green on the sides.

Bass generally build their nest in water of about 18 inches to 3 feet depth. Nevertheless, they are as deep as 15 feet. They tend to spawn when water is 63 to 68 degrees in temperature. As youngsters, they feed on zooplankton. Later, as adults, bass eat small, swimming animal life. Fish make up about 60 percent of their diet. Crayfish are an important part of their diet.

Anglers take bass using natural baits including such things as minnows, crayfish, worms, hellgrammites and frogs. Any artificial bait that imitates the above is a good bet. A local favorite on Little Grassy Lake is the plastic worm fished Texas style (weedless) slowly over the bottom around submerged trees and other heavy cover. Early morning and early evening are the best time to seek bass. The most consistent producing times are the two hours just before sundown.

The average life span of a bass in Illinois is about four years, with few surviving more than 8 or 10 years. A four year-old fish will average 13 inches in length and weigh about a pound and a quarter. A nine-year old fish will weigh about 5 pounds and be approximately 20 inches in length.

In addition to the bass, Little Grassy Lake contains good populations of catfish, crappie, bluegill, and rock bass.



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