One little known species in Devils Kitchen Lake is the yellow perch. A small population has existed for a number of years.  The source of that population is unknown.

More recently efforts of biologists to establish a viable, self-sustaining fishery began in 2014. One stocking from that year and an addition stocking in 2015 has produced 8 to 9-inch fish.  A total of 150,000 fish were stocked to this date.  If the results of the spring survey of the lake in 2016 indicate, there are plans for another release in 2016.

Yellow perch are basically a fish of cool deep waters. The same habitat in Devils Kitchen Lake that results in a thriving trout and bass fishery may just do the same for the perch.  The perch look for a hard bottom and minimal weed growth.  They spawn when water temperatures reach the upper 40-s in the early spring.  They provide a steady forage base for such larger species as the largemouth bass.

The 810-acre Devil’s Kitchen Lake on Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge near Marion, Illinois is an exception to the other warm lakes of southern Illinois. Stocked each fall with thousands of rainbows, the fish are plenty wild and scattered when anglers venture forth in the spring.

Perch on the other hand work in pods. Anglers who catch one fish are likely to catch several before the fish move on.  Use of a double hook crappie rig is good.  The top hook holds a minnow hooked through the lips and the bottom hook is for a minnow hooked through the back.  As a result the action of the rig is different.

Whether fishing from boat or from the bank, look for shoreline structure.

Devil’s Kitchen Lake has a number of ledges and drop-offs. A good map comes in handy in finding such areas.  The area just south of the dam has a number of such ledges.  They look like steps going from the shore into deep water.

The most productive times during the summer months for fishing are during the day. Toward evening (low light situations) and on cloudy days they seem to belly up to the bottom and remain pretty much inactive.

In a favorable wind, drift fishing is productive. If two anglers are in the boat they can each fish on their own side using slip float set ups baited with small minnows.  It is best not to use gas powered engines or electronic fish finders.  Perch sensitive to both and tend to avoid them.  Lacking wind for drifting, oars are a good substitute.

Once the water rises into the mid- to upper 50’s, look for fish on points and other drop offs in about 15 to 25-foot level. As the water warms further try deeper water locations.  Be flexible in your approach to try different rigs, depths and locations.  Once you find a pod, fish it quickly before they move away to another location.


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