Archive for the ‘Baldwin Lake’ Tag

BALDWIN LAKE RE-OPENS FOR FISHING   Leave a comment

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To catfish anglers Baldwin Lake offers some prime water.   A cooling lake for the power plant, the lake provides an active growing season all year.  Home to channel, blue and flathead catfish, it also contains a good population of bluegills and crappie upon which the larger fish feed.

Recently it was closed due to a valve being accidently left open and affluent being dumped into the lake.  However today word has been received all is OK and the lake is open again.

Located about an hour southeast of St. Louis in St. Clair and Randolph counties, Baldwin Lake is about 3-miles north of Baldwin, Ill.  Prime fishing location is near the levy at the hot water discharge.   Most of the south half of the lake closes in the fall as a waterfowl refuge.

The average depth of the lake is about 8 feet.  It is a perched cooling lake actually owned by the Illinois Power Company and leased to the IDNR for management of the fishery.  The lake is 2,018-acres in size with 15 miles of shoreline.

A perched lake is one that is higher than the surrounding countryside.  As such it is susceptible to windy conditions in winter and spring as weather fronts pass through the area.  Anglers need to get off the lake in such conditions, as the waves can become quite a problem.

The access to the lake for bank fishermen seems to be very limited and probably not really the best of fishing locations.  Bank fishing is limited to the west and north sides of the lake.  Most of the shoreline appears to be in control of the power company and off limits.  Boaters have more flexibility to choose locations around the lake.  Boat motor restriction is a maximum of 50-horsepower.

The warm water is home to an extensive shad forage base.  Both threadfin and gizzard shad are present.  Illinois lakes experience heavy die off of shad in the fall as temperatures fall below 47-degrees.  The burgeoning shad population in Baldwin Lake provides great forage for the predator fish of this lake.

The blue catfish are abundant with an average size of 8-pounds.  Channel catfish are extremely abundant with the average fish weighing a half pound.  The flatheads average 4.5-pounds.

Other fish located in the lake are largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, hybrid bass and longear sunfish.

 

TWO WINTER BASS FISHING LAKES   10 comments

Due to the discharge of water used to cool power plant turbines, Bass fishing action onLake of Egypt and Baldwin Lake heats up in February. 

Water is taken in from the lakes, used to cool the turbines, and then returned to the lake at a higher temperature.  Even in mid‑winter water temperatures at the outflow can be well above those near the intake. 

Bait fish are attracted to the warmer water.  Bass are attracted to the warm water for comfort and the forage fish to eat.  Anglers find catching fish in a cooling lake is a good way to counteract cabin fever and a spring warm up. 

Power plants do not produce enough hot water to radically change an entire lake.  One area of a lake near the outflow will be known for the warm water.  A current is created as the water warms and cools.

 The pumping of warmed water creates a torrent.  The water is run through a pipe that pushes the heated water away from the shore under the surface.  Current breaks and eddies are also productive for anglers. 

One pattern for outflow areas is to cast some type of shad imitation around shoreline cover and to the first major point.  Another pattern involves flipping to wood or rock cover along the bank of the same arm.  

The biggest problem encountered can be the abundance of forage fish.  It is good to use larger brighter lures. 

For those fishing Lake of Egypt and BaldwinLake here are some site specific recommendations. 

Lake of Egyptis located in southeasternWilliamson County, near Interstate 57.  This 2,300-acre lake is owned by Southern Illinois Power Cooperative, U.S. Forest Service and some local land holders. Lake of Egypt has 93 miles of shoreline with an average depth of 18.3 feet and a maximum depth of 52 feet.  The power plant is in the northwest corner of the lake. 

Weather on this lake is a challenge to anglers.  It can be 80 degrees one day and have snow the next.  Anglers can fish in shorts one day and have to put on long johns the next.  The stabilizing influence of the power plant keeps the surface water temperature about 56 to 57 degrees.  On sunny days water in the backs of coves can be warmer. 

The best fishing seems to be in the grass weed beds off points.  They have sandbars in the middle that attract bass.  The best areas are in the north end of the lake closer to the power plant.  The water there warms more quickly in the spring. 

Some anglers find topwater lures work well early as the water near the surface warms.  However fish have been taken with darker colored plastic worms.  

There are four boat ramps onLake o fEgypt.  A nominal launch fee is charged.  Three are to be found at the marinas and a fourth is a U.S. Forest Service facility.  Although there is no motor limit on the lake, there is a 35 mile per hour speed limit that is enforced. 

Baldwin Lake lies in the Kaskaskia River State Fish and Wildlife Area.  Although the Illinois Department of Natural Resources manages the area, the lake is the property of Illinois Power Company which operates the electric generating station. 

Water is taken in near the southwest corner of the lake from the Kaskaskia River. The hot water is discharged back into the lake in the northeast corner.  This arrangement allows for the stable elevation of the lake the entire year.  The warm water is also good for the development of the threadfin shad that are the lakes main forage.  Many of them are taken from the lake by IDNR for stocking in other lakes within Illinois. 

Water temperatures tend to be in the mid 50’s to 60’s with air temperatures running in the 30’s and 40’s. 

The lake averages 8 feet in depth but areas as deep as 20 to 50 feet can be found in the old creek channels. 

Located in Randolph and St. Clair counties, the shoreline has little cover to break the wind.  Because the lake was designed to catch wind to cool the water more quickly it can be risky on windy days.  There is one boat ramp on the lake in the northwest corner where site specific fishing regulations are posted. Boat motors are limited to less than 50 horsepower. 

Working the north shoreline rip rap with deep running shad imitation crankbaits is recommended.  Another good area is in the northeast corner where the warm water from the power plant is discharged into the lake.  Third choice is the area near the bridge. 

Power plant fishing is a great way to begin the new year of fun on the water.  Why not give it a try this year?

BALDWIN LAKE’S FALL CATFISH   1 comment

Usually when one talks about Illinois catfish lakes, they are Channel Catfish waters. BaldwinLake, in St. Clair and Randolph counties, does have a channel catfish population it is not the one producing large fish.  The competition for food is too great in this lake.  Catfish action here is with the Blues and Flatheads.

 Blue catfish in this lake run from 8 to 60 pounds in weight.  Sixty-three pound fish have been caught.  Flatheads tend to be from seven to 30 pounds with 63-pounds being the largest caught.  It is believed that 70-pound plus fish live in the lake. 

The blue catfish feed on the extensive shad forage base and are most often taken by anglers using shad for bait.  There both Gizzard Shad and Threadfin Shad are present.  Both populations do well in the warm water of this cooling lake.  Threadfin shad die in other lakes when the water temperatures reach 47-degrees and lower.  As a result, some IDNR fisheries managers from other parts of the state will capture threadfin at Baldwin and transfer them to lakes in their areas.

 The Flatheads also like the shad but will feed just as well on bluegills.  Because of the flathead consumption of bluegills the bluegill population is just OK.  No real large fish are caught.  However, another sunfish is doing very well. 

Redear sunfish have flourished since being reintroduced into the lake. They are about 10-inches in length at this time which has surprised biologists.  The Longear sunfish and Bluegills are not doing as well.

 Largemouth bass in the 3 to 5-pound range are present but they are not caught by anglers in any great numbers.  Hybrid bass, a cross between white bass and stripers, were once a great species in this lake but they have not been stocked in the lake for a number of years and do not reproduce.  Some hybrids are caught each year but not in large numbers.

 Smallmouth bass were introduced to the lake and have adapted well.  Today they are found all over the lake.  When water is being pumped into the lake on the south end from the Kaskaskia River smallmouth tend to be attracted.  If smallmouths are not present in that area you can check at the hot water discharge area.  It is where water is pumped out of the plant in the north end of the lake.

 The smallmouths are up to 5 pounds in size and 22-inches in length.  Most are in the three to five pound class. 

Most people tend to fish the north end of the lake near the levy at the hot water discharge in the fall and winter.  Most of the south half of the lake is closed then as a refuge for migrating waterfowl.

 Parking for levy anglers can be found in the northwest portion of the lake area.  The boat launch is just south of the parking area.

 BaldwinLake is found in the Baldwin Lake State Fish & Wildlife Area.  The 2,018-acre perched cooling lake is owned by the Illinois Power Company but is leased to the IDNR to manage for recreational use.  Illinois Route 154 runs through the town of Baldwin.  In Baldwin, anglers can turn north on 5th Street and travel 4 miles to the intersection of 5th and Risdon School Road just past the power station.  Turn west and the park entrance is about a mile.

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