Devil Crappie

A summer of landscaping repair and interior remodeling sure does interfere with one’s fishing activity.  It does not even allow time to test out that new rod and reel combo from Shakespeare via Blue Heron Communications.  Today is time for a change.

Having heard of the Ugly Stick for years one wonders just how to improve on such a product.  This year at ICAST Shakespeare introduced the new Ugly Stick GX2.

According to the press release, the rod blends the old feel with a modern look and balance.    It has a new blank through the reel seat design.  The combination of graphite and fiberglass makes for a strong, sensitive and better balanced rod.  It still maintains the near indestructability of the original Ugly Stick.

In response to consumer demand, the rod has one-piece, stamped stainless steel guides providing durability and to avoid inserts popping out.  The GX2 works with all types of line, including the braided ones.

The clear tip delivers extra strength where needed yet it is sensitive to the lightest strike.

Spooled with some 8-pound mono, a local favorite, it sounds like the perfect combination for the bass, crappie and rainbow trout of Devil’s Kitchen Lake in southern Illinois.

Of all the wilderness lakes in southern Illinois, Devil’s Kitchen Lake is the one most closely akin to Canadian Shield lakes in appearance.  Clear water and submerged timber provide good habitat for trout, bluegill, redear, largemouth bass and crappie.  There is no development on the lake and no marina services.  There are several boat ramps and a 10 horsepower limit on boat motors.

Taking its name from the sulfur fumes the builders noticed when constructing the dam that holds the water, this 810-acre lake stretches over some five miles.

Trout are one of the more popular species for anglers.  They placed in the lake each fall as 8 to 10 inch fish.  By spring they are acclimated to the water.  Most trout fishing takes place in spring and summer.  The best trout bait is a small piece of nightcrawler on a small bait hook fished beneath a slip bobber near the dam.  They are usually in the upper 15 to 20 feet of water despite the depth of water being over 90 feet.

Early in the year redear will feed on the bottoms of shallow coves.  The bluegills will be slightly deeper seeking food in the weeds.  Later they will both be in the submerged trees.  The bluegills are Six to 7 inches in length.  Redear (or Shellcrackers) in the 6 to 9 inch lengths are often found.  The wood in this lake is often standing trees.  What at first appears to be a submerged bush can be the top of a 60 foot tree standing upright beneath the surface of the lake.  Bluegills tend to relate to the vertical portion of the tree and the redear prefer the branches.

The crappies are not numerous but they are big.  Black crappies are in the 10 to 14 inch class.  Jig and minnow combinations are the most popular lures for this species.  Minnows and nightcrawler pieces produce the best crappie catches.

The lake tends to produce a lot of 10 to 15 inch largemouth bass with some 6 to 8 pound bass taken each year.  The latter are an exception.  Spinner baits and crankbaits near the flooded timber are the ticket for most bass.

Inclement weather cuts short this trip but there will be another day once the remodel is completed.


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