Devils Kitchen 01

Clear water with shoreline weeds and an abundance of submerged wood makes for a blue gill factory. Devils Kitchen Lake is well known for its magnificent scenery and lack of fishing pressure.  As the water warms, anglers find this southern Illinois lake teaming with bluegills moving into the shallow coves at the south end.

By casting into the woody areas in about two or three feet of water fishermen find plenty of action. This member of the sunfish family is a sucker for crickets on a small wire hook.  Later on we have to plumb the water as deep as 18 feet.

The number three most popular fish in Illinois is the bluegill.  It is surpassed only by largemouth bass and channel catfish.  In fact the bluegill is the official state fish.

Bluegills do best in lakes or ponds containing clear water with some submerged vegetation. This lake has all that in abundance.

They prefer lakes with simple fish populations. Lakes with shad and carp populations tend to have small bluegill populations.  Devils Kitchen is basically a bass, shell cracker (redear sunfish), bluegill, crappie and trout lake.  Each of these species tends to move into their own habitat during the year and do not conflict with one another.

The closest competition is between the shell crackers (redear sunfish) and bluegills. They can be found in the same water but will be relating differently to the structure.  Bluegills relate to vertical structure and shell crackers to horizontal.

Early in the year, shell crackers will be feeding on the bottom of shallow coves. The bluegill will be slightly deeper and seeking food in the weeds or along vertical tree trunks.  Later, they can both be found on the same submerged tree.  Bluegills will relate to the vertical trunk and the shell cracker on the outstretched limbs.

Some good locations for early season gills are area “17″ in the southeast portion of the lake. Another is the Panther’s Den area at the south end of the lake.  It has tall bluffs and deep water.

This lake contains lots of bass. The hungry bass eat enough to control the numbers of bluegills.  With controlled numbers in place the forage is not over utilized.  The control of bluegill populations also means a population of healthy bluegills.

Due to the unusual water clarity light clear line is advisable. If using a float, one that is small and light is preferable to the traditional large bobber.  Lightweight wire hooks come in handy as they can be pulled loose from submerged wood.  It is important to periodically check the point of the hook as they dull or break from time to time.  The hooks should be the size appropriate to trout fishing, a number 10 or 12 hook works well.

Natural bait is best for bluegill fishing. Crickets or one inch piece of nightcrawler works well.

Bluegill fishing this time of year involves finding the beds. During the May and August spawns, Bluegills tend to give a kind of moderate effort at reproduction.  During the June and July spawns they make a strong effort.  The spawn in each of these months consists of those five days on either side of the full moon.


A good way to pattern the spawning beds before actually fishing them is to scour the shore making notes of the locations of beds in eight feet of water or deeper. The clarity of the water makes this a simple task.  It is best done between 9:00 A.M. and 11:00 A.M.  Polarized sunglasses and a baseball style cap make seeing the beds easier on the eyes.

Once a half dozen beds are located, return to the first one and begin fishing it. As the fish move off a bed, move to the next one.  By the time all the beds have been fished it is okay to begin the cycle over again.


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