big hill 24 Carlyle Lake offers some of the best white bass fishing in terms of quantity and quality.  The fish average about one half pound.  The total population runs 10 to 15-inches in length with 62 percent over 12-inches.  Fish over 13-inches will run over one pound.  The fish are in excellent condition and scattered throughout the lake.

The lake is located on the Kaskaskia River near Carlyle, Illinois.  It is 50 miles due east of metropolitan St. Louis.  The lake stretches through parts of Fayette, Bond and Clinton counties.  Owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers contains some 26,000-acres of water.

White bass are cousins to the saltwater striped bass and as such have much of the savage instinct of their brethren.  They will hit light tackle ad give an angler more then he can handle.

Following the warm rains of April, these water tigers go on a feeding frenzy that lasts into June.  White bass become more active as water temperatures rise above 50-degrees.  Once at that level the fish move out of staging areas and into spawning areas.

Catching white bass is one thing, finding them is the tough part.  In spring the pre-spawn fish position themselves on sand bars and gravel banks in fast water.  During the spawn they make runs into the major feeder streams looking for suitable gravel beds.  After the spawn they head down stream into creek channels or roam out into the main body of the lake.

If fish are not in the spawning stages a good pattern is to troll over sunken islands and humps with small crankbaits.  Look for sign of shad clouds on the fish locator.  The schools of white bass are usually nearby.  Often they are on deeper sides of the islands or flats.  They wait to ambush some hapless shad as he swims past.

The active white bass is a constant feeder.  They prefer to spend their time in water deeper than 10-feet but will often move into the shallows to feed.  Their favorite meal is shad.  A sure sign of white bass presence is water that appears to be boiling.  Shad breaking through the surface gives the appearance of boiling water as they try evading the bass.

When feeding on the surface concentrations of seagulls pinpoint the location for anglers.  At close range they find the shad boils by spotting splashing water caused by the feeding white bass as they chase the shad.  At times the fish will stay up for ten to 15 minutes.  More often they feed for only a minute ort tow and then dive back to the safety of deeper water.  Usually they surface again a hundred yards or so away.

Early morning and late evening hours are best to find white bass.  When they are actively feeding they are catchable in the heat of the day as well.

Anglers should position their boat in the general area of the feeding and wait for white bass to come to them.  You can anchor under bridges to avoid the direct sunlight and to await the action.

Light tackle is ideal.  Small crankbaits, spinners and jigs are good with line in the 4- to 8-pound monofilament line.  Small tube jigs tipped with a minnow or plastics with contrasting dark and light color work well.  Match the size of your bait to the size of the shad in the lake.

Angling success is dependent upon year hatches.  A year with incredible numbers can help carry the population over more lean years.  The best fishing is likely to be about 2 years after a large hatch year.


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