The ghostly plumes of mist rising from the lake created by cold air above the warmer pond water give birth to an eerie scene.  Boats glide slowly across the lake only to disappear into the fog.  It is winter fishing in southern Illinois.  Ice fishing without ice if you will.

Following the holidays, angler’s thoughts return to things that are really important, fishing.  Contrary their brothers and sisters in the northern part of the Land of Lincoln, southern Illinois anglers can find open water with hungry fish, a few miles from home.  Anytime the weather is bearable, they will be on the water.

Baldwin Lake and Lake of Egypt are two popular power plant lakes in southern Illinois remain almost totally ice free throughout the winter.  After the first of the year, the fishing action really begins to heat up.

Baldwin is a 2,000-acre lake north of the town of Baldwin, IL in Randolph County.  It is about 45-miles southeast of St. Louis.  The lake offers angling for largemouth and smallmouth bass, striped, white and hybrid striped bass, white, black or hybrid crappie, flathead, blue and channel catfish.

Water travels via pumps into the lake from the Kaskaskia River.  From there it goes into the three huge coal-fired plants before returning to the lake.  Because the water is warm, as it comes out of the plant the lake never freezes over.  In winter those mists rise on the lake giving it an eerie look.

The lake offers more than two miles of bank fishing within walking distance of the parking lot.  The catfish of the lake include some monsters.

Lake of Egypt is a large body of water about 7 miles southeast of Marion, IL in Williamson County.  It is just a few miles east of Interstate 57.  With some 2,400-acres it is one of the largest lakes in this area of the state.

This cooling lake has a hot water area in the northern end.  It can be rather wind-blown at times.  The lake for the most part remains ice free during winter.  But, some of the coves can freeze or have some skim ice in extreme weather.

Good numbers of bass and crappie come from this lake each year.  Cover is not abundant but the areas of weed growth can provide fishing action.  Anglin pressure is heavy on the lake during warmer days.  But in winter you can have much of the lake to yourself.

Winter fishing for southern Illinois anglers does not usually involve walking out on the ice and drilling holes.  Many of the other techniques, such as slow retrieval of lures, still apply.  It is just ice fishing without the ice.

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