PLUCKY PRE-SPAWN CRAPPIE   Leave a comment

Cold Rend 0011

Lake of Egypt provides plenty of early season crappie action.  Located less than 10 minutes south of Marion, Illinois the lake provides challenges for the crappie angler.

Local anglers fish for crappie all year if there is no ice on a lake.  It is just a matter of knowing what type of cover attracts fish under specific weather conditions.

On Lake of Egypt, the water temperatures are warmer than other lakes in the area.  It is a cooling lake for a power plant.  The fish here relate to structure but it is different structure than is usually found in crappie lakes. The lake has a variety of structure from creek channels, rip rap, fallen timber, stumps, and roadbeds as well as weed beds.

This 2300-acre reservoir is located 3 miles east of Interstate 57, about seven miles south of Marion.  Located in Williamson and JohnsonCounties, Lake of Egypt is a power plant cooling lake.  The resulting warmer water results in a shoreline loaded with Milfoil and other weeds to a depth of 8 to 12 feet.

The lake has 93 miles of shoreline with a maximum depth of 52 feet and an average depth of 18.5 feet.  Much of the shoreline contains construction with the exception of that southern portion that is the property of the U. S. Forest Service and is part of the Shawnee National Forest.

When the Crappie on Lake of Egypt go deep, finding them can be very tough.  Casting jigs tipped with minnows to the outer edge of the weed lines in search for the crappie suspended there is the most popular pattern.  A favorite rig is to suspend a jig about 30 inches below a float.  Then mooch the jig to the boat in deeper water.

The fish tend to relate to woodpiles if they can find them in the deeper water.  Anglers will find suspended fish over woodpiles in 12 to 18 feet of water.  Locating that wood is the problem.  The brush piles in Lake of Egypt lie beneath the surface.

Egypt is a lake with many necks and coves.  Points at the main lake end of these coves often have brush and will hold fish this month.  The problem arises if the fish decide to move off the wood.  In the deeper water, electronics are helpful to stay on fish and to get a minnow down to them.

Local anglers sometimes use light line, seldom exceeding 4 pounds test.  They lose less tackle with the four-pound line, but catch more fish with the two pound.  They like to cast Road Runners with red heads and white bodies in the 1/16  to 1/32nd ounce size.  They also have good luck with a hot pink jig or occasionally fishing a minnow below a float on the weed line.

The staple of crappie fishing, the jig and minnow is also popular with local anglers on Lake of Egypt.  It can be cast to the weed line and jerked slowly back to the boat or dropped vertically into the crappies strike zone.

Water temperature at Lake of Egypt will effect the location of the fish.  The power plant at the north end affects the water temperature in that portion of the lake.  A north wind will usually push that warmer water over the weed beds located in that portion of the lake.

The best angling on Lake of Egypt occurs when the power plant at the north end of the lake is running.  It generates hot water into the lake.  Most anglers begin fishing at the discharge and work their way south.  The warm water attracts baitfish and the crappie follow.  If the power plant is down, the fishing slows.  If the water temperature is in the 50’s the fish will be in a transition period.  If they are not yet at the weed line, one can look for a rocky break line and woody areas on the east side of the lake.  Sunny coves on the north end of the lake are also a good place to look for crappie during this month.  The best fishing seems to come in the early morning and in the late afternoon.

When fish are deep, a crappie rig of a sinker on the line below two hooks can be deadly at locating the proper strike zone at which the fish will feed.  On warmer days late in the month, one can switch to a wood pattern.

Brush piles, although present, are unmarked.  With good electronics, they can be located and fished for suspended fish.  Stumps on eroded shorelines are areas available for the angler without such modern conveniences.

In spring, many frontal systems pass through Illinois.  They are full-fledged cold fronts that blast down from Canada which collide with moist warm air masses pushing up from the south.  This combination can cause severe thunderstorms with accompanying lightening.  Anglers should pay attention to these conditions.

The fish are more catchable just prior to the passing of one of the cold fronts.

Like most crappie lakes in Illinois, there is a 30 fish limit per angler.  Most crappie taken from this lake average one-half to one pound in size with some topping two pounds taken each year.  Some of the larger fish come in March when the female are getting full of eggs.

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