Shawnee Forest 0001

One of the nicer ways to enjoy a fall hike though beautiful Williamson County and southern Illinois is to fish along the way.  Mild weather and striking foliage add to the experience.  The many streams, lakes, and ponds provide an enjoyable outdoor experience for both the day hiker and the backpack camper.

Between the state and federal governments, there are more than 400,000 acres of public land south of Interstate 64.  This also includes bodies of water such as Kinkaid Lake, Crab Orchard Lake, Cedar Lake, Lake Murphysboro, Devils Kitchen Lake, Little Grassy Lake, Lake of Egypt, Horseshoe Lake, Lake Glendale, Mermet Lake, Rend Lake, and Ponds Hollow Lake.

Some of the fish species found include bass, crappie, catfish, bluegill and sunfish.  Additional species found in specific waters are carp, drum, Muskie, striped and white bass, hybrid bass, and pike.  Devil’s Kitchen also contains trout, both rainbow and brown.

Most hiking trails in southern Illinois are easy to moderate in difficulty.  Hiking them is not too strenuous if one takes a few precautions and is in moderately good physical shape.  The trails pass though valleys and level terrain with hills and ridge tops.  This is not to say that there is not rough terrain, only that the trails are not rough.

With a good map and guide book, the average hiker/fisherman can find some excellent wilderness fishing.  Maps and guide books are available at camping supply, book stores and bait shops throughout the area.  The Williamson County Fishing Guide (info@visitsi.com) is helpful.  Publications and websites of governmental agencies such as U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Forest Service are also good resources.

Gear selection is also important.  Give primary consideration to your feet.  Hiking boots are a good idea and there are a number of very good ones on the market.  They should be well broken in before taking to the trail.  Wear them around home or work for a day or two and they will get broken in more quickly.  Short walks around the neighborhood will soon tell whether they are broken in enough for the trail.  The walk also helps increase your stamina.

When hiking it is a good idea to wear cotton fabrics and acrylic stockings.  The loose-fitting clothing is cooler.  Tuck pants legs inside the stockings and wear long sleeves if possible to prevent insect bites.  Brimmed hats are popular to shield the head from the sun.

Insect repellent and sun blocker is a good idea.  Insects can be a nuisance during the summer months.  A pocket size first aid kit or at least some band aids are a good bit of insurance for accidents.

Place the above items in a small knapsack or book bag.  To that, add a small tackle box containing your terminal tackle and lures.  There are a number of companies making those small (4″X 6″) plastic boxes that are available anywhere fishing gear is sold.  The little compartments keep the different types of lures, floats, hooks and sinkers separate.

Light is best when hiking with fishing gear.  What seems like nothing at the beginning of a hike can become much heavier as the day wears on.  A small rod and reel is a good idea.  There are a number of ultra-light rod and reel set-ups on the market.  Some even break down so as to be stored in a backpack.

Fishing line for this light rig should be something in the 4-pound range.  Heavier line does not work as well for casting from ultra-light rods.  A few crankbaits and leadhead jigs and a bunch of light color curlytails will last a long time carried in the tackle boxes.  Fish the Jigs slowly.  With a little practice it is possible to retrieve the jigs at the exact speed that gives the curlytail the motion it needs.

Hiking and fishing is great for the soul.  The peace and quiet of the big woods as well as the physical exercise gives one a peace of mind.  Late fall in southern Illinois is beautiful.



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  2. Pingback: HIKING AND FISHING IN SOUTHERN ILLINOIS - AverageHunter.com

  3. Pingback: HIKING AND FISHING IN SOUTHERN ILLINOIS | AverageOutdoorsman

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