As we move into the fall bass fishing situation, the action becomes difficult.  However big fish are present in all the lakes.  The bites may be scarcer but the fish caught tend to be larger.

For those looking for a chance at a big bass this fall Lake Jacksonville is a good place to start.

Lake Jacksonville is a 475-acre impoundment located about 3 miles south of the town of Jacksonville in Morgan County.  It is one of the more scenic lakes of central Illinois.   During the summer months the bass, largemouth and hybrid, tend to hold deep.  In fall they will move more into the shore.

Twenty-five years after draining, rehabilitation and restocking, Lake Jacksonville remains one of the best bass lakes in the state, according to Dan Stephenson, IDNR Fisheries Manager for the lake.

He states, “In four hours of electrofishing in the fall of 2011 we collected a very good 488 bass or 122 per hour.”  Thirty-seven percent of those were over the 15-inch minimum length limit, with 14 percent and 7 percent over 18 inches and 20 inches respectively.

Twenty-three bass were five pounds or better in that four hour period with the largest being seven pounds 10 ounces.

The largemouth bass are more likely found near wood structure and in any still available vegetation.  The Hybrid bass on the other hand are a fish of the open water.  They move to follow the schools of shad.  You will probably be best off using electronics to locate them.  Sometimes if your timing is right, you might find them busting the shad.  They drive the bait fish to the surface as they feed on them.  If inactive, the shad will relate to humps near the schools of shad until it is time for another meal.

Hybrid striped bass stocked into the lake every other year provide a nice additional species to pursue.

In most of our lakes the hybrids do very well.  They are not actively sought, as should be the case.  Fish seven pounds or more are present.

Stephenson states that he is sure more die of old age than are caught.  So we need more people out fishing for the hybrid stripers.

Although Lake Jacksonville is the place to go in west central Illinois for big bass, the white crappie look better than they have in years.  A few black crappies are also present.

Stephenson found with his surveys the largest was over 14 inches long and weighed over a pound and a half.  Many fish over 10 inches were present.  Five different years classes are available.





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  1. Sounds like a well-managed fishery. One that I hope to try someday!

  2. Good fish, real small lake though and where do you get scenic from Lake J-ville. That’s like calling Ed the godfather of smallmouths

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