REND LAKE FISHERY IS DOING WELL   Leave a comment

Women Bass 0005

In recent years a lot of talk has surfaced regarding this southern Illinois fishery. Most of it centers on the crappie population.  With two years of decline in the number of fish over 10-inches in length is the cause is subject to a lot of conjecture.

However, last years surveys by the Illinois Department of natural Resources showed a slight improvement according to Fisheries Manager Mike Hooe. Hooe, probably more than any one person is responsible for the good years enjoyed by Illinois anglers fishing for its famous crappies.   He was the person who introduced the slot limit that led to the increase in the numbers of larger fish.

In a recent report to anglers at the Williamson County Boat Show, Hooe explained that the size of crappies has begun to turn around and is rising. Says Hooe, “another year or so and the numbers of the larger fish should rise back to peak rates.”  Leaving out the fishing pressure factor, Mike still believes the numbers of 10-inch plus fish should continue to increase.  The popularity of this lakes fishery for crappie has place some considerable stress on it.

Moving from crappies to largemouth bass, Mike reports that the number of largemouth bass. Mike reports that the number of fish exceeding the 14-inche minimum length limit fell 26-percent in the most recent survey.  At this time 28-percent of the adult bass exceeds the 14-inche limit.  The number of fish over 20-inches in length is low but stable.

The majority of bass in the 14 to 18-inch class weigh between 1 1/2 pounds and 3 1/2 pounds. With the abundant food supply growth rates should be excellent helping the size structure in the coming year.  Bass fishing this year should be about the same as it was last year.

Rend Lake continues to be a catfish factory. Natural recruitment remains strong and thus there is no need to do supplemental stocking of the lake.  Channel catfish in the 1 to 3-pound range should be abundant this year, according to Hooe.  He also is finding fish up to 6-pounds common.

Word is good on the white bass scene. Reproduction has been good in 2011, 2012, and 2013 and in the fall of 2015.  This has resulted in a significant rise in the population to its highest level in 7 years.  Mike explains white bass do well in years with flooding.  The spawn is critical and the flooding provides great spawning conditions.  Here on Rend the numbers are up with most fish being in the 12 to 15-inche length and weighing 1/2 to 1 1/2 pounds.

Another game fish found in Rend Lake is the bluegill, Illinois state fish. After two years of declining populations the overall size of the fish will be in the 6 1/2 to 8-inche length and they should be abundant.  The number of fish over 8-inches is about the same as in prior years.  Some bluegills will reach a weight of 1/2 pounds.  The fishery as a whole is showing above average growth rates with excellent body condition.

Finally there are the hybrid bass. The population has been down for several years. It was almost down to zero. In the past 4 or 5 years the state has been stocking 4 to 5-inch small shad from Newton Lake as they become available.

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