Rend 0013For the angler in search of some great catfish action, the southern tip of the state the place to go. Locals fish for them using all sorts of gear from the jugs to salt-water bait casting reels. Here are some of the better locations for catfishing.

Part of the tradition of the south is catfishing in the summer. Southern Illinois is part of the south. After all, Marion, Illinois is actually south of Louisville, KY.

Crab Orchard Lake – This time of the year the best bet on the lake is the catfish action. Crab Orchard is accessible from Interstate 57 at Marion. The lake is a sprawling shallow body of water found on both sides of Route 13 about four miles west of the city.

Mid-May the cats will be spawning in the shallow water. Leeches, cut bait and cheese baits all produce fish. Keep the later two on ice as they are susceptible to spoilage. Caught fish should also be iced rather than kept in live wells or on a stringer.

To the south of Crab Orchard Lake on Spillway Road in the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge is Little Grassy Lake. Little Grassy Lake is a heavily pressured lake this time of the year with the recreation canoe and kayak crowd using the lake during the daylight hours. However, for the angler willing to get out early in the day, catfish are around the points taking red worms, chicken livers, crickets, minnows and night crawlers.

Further to the south, down in Alexander County, is Horseshoe Lake where anglers drift night crawlers along the bottom in the evening. The action holds up throughout the summer. Try the middle of the lake during the night.

To the west of Carbondale, in Jackson County is Lake Murphysboro. This lake is next to Kinkaid Lake, famous for its Muskie fishery. In Lake Murphysboro, catfish action is also good in the evening but morning hours produce fish as well. Late in the summer, try fishing at night. Night crawlers, cut bait, minnows, leeches and stink baits work well.

Up north of Marion in Franklin County is Rend Lake. The lake straddles Interstate 57 at Exit 77. Rend Lake is a large reservoir that is full of bragging size catfish. The action remains excellent in 3 to 4 feet of water. The best action comes in the coves and along the riprap. Fish take cut bait, worms, crickets, leeches, and shrimp.

This summer may be just the time to explore the south, south Illinois that is! As the old song goes, it is summertime and the catfish are jumping.


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