Prowl the shoreline.  Not in a boat but from shore.  Seek those eating size catfish known as “fiddlers”.  Fiddlers are those 2 to 4 pound fish believed by many to be the best tasting fish.  Rend Lake is just the ticket for such action in May.

Rend Lake is a large Corps of Engineers impoundment in south central Illinois on Interstate 57.  The lake spreads over part of Franklin and Jefferson counties about 5 1/2 hours south of Chicago.  The 18,900 acres of water with its 160 miles of shoreline provides some excellent rock and rip‑rap areas.  It is the rock areas and the numerous submerged roadbeds that attract catfish in May.  They seek out spawning areas within them.

Anglers fish for the catfish with a variety of techniques.  This very simple pattern produces fish consistently.  Move slowly along the shoreline casting to likely looking locations.  A few hours work and you can have enough fish to feed family and friends.

As the spawning fish move toward shore, they become especially vulnerable.  All you need is a good sharp hook, a cork, a small piece of lead, and a can of plain old earthworms.

Fish stay on the rocks for a month or more allowing time for anglers to get in on the action. Begin when the water temperature reaches the middle or upper sixties.  The spawn begins in earnest once the temperature reaches 72 degrees.

The biggest mistake made by anglers is in using too large a hook.  Circle hooks work well as the fish hooks itself when pulling the line.  A number 4 size hook that is very stout and very sharp, with an earthworm on it is just the ticket.

Catfish twist and roll once they know they are hooked.  This can twist and fray the line and in many cases break it off.  By placing the swivel about 12 to 18 inches above the hook, the lower portion of the line can twist with the fish and not have any effect on the main line.

Catfish feed by smell and a small piece of worm is all you need to catch a big fish.  Many anglers use 12 pound line that matches the water color.  Place the float 2 1/2 to 3 feet above the bait.  A small lead about 6 inches above the bait will keep the cork upright and the bait just above the bottom.

During May and early June, fish are 3 to 4 feet from the bank over rocks.  These months are prime time to shore fish Rend Lake due to mild temperatures and lack of crowding.  The summer influx of campers and family vacationers has not begun.



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