Archive for the ‘Illinois’ Tag


Kid B&W   Catchable trout fishing takes place in some 50 lakes and ponds across Illinois beginning on October 18th. For a complete listing of the sites check the website for Illinois Department of Natural Resources at Except for a few exceptions, anglers must possess an Illinois Fishing License and an Inland Trout Stamp. Specific license information is also available at the above website. Illinois is not often described as a refuge for trout anglers. The extreme heat of prairie state summers usually causes a die off of stocked trout from various private and IDNR stocking programs.  The release of catchable trout generally occurs in the fall and spring for a short lived trout fishing season. A cold water species, rainbow trout cannot tolerate water temperatures exceeding 70-degrees. In Illinois summer water temperatures reach 70 to 90-degrees. In some deep lakes a process called stratification takes place. When this occurs, the top 20 feet or so contains layers of water with equal amounts of oxygen and with the same temperature. In summer that layer has enough oxygen for the fish but it is too warm. In about the next 20-feet the temperature drops rapidly to 39 degrees and the oxygen runs out.  In the bottom 20 feet or more the temperature is 39 degrees and there is no oxygen. There are instances where some trout survive in that middle layer with just enough oxygen and cool temperatures. They find food in the cool water layer or take short trips to the upper layers to feed before returning to the cooler water, a thermal refuge. For this reason the stocking of the catchable trout does not take place until a few days prior to the opening of the season. Anglers use light line on light rod and reel combinations.  They thread a piece of nightcrawler or worm on a small light hook and suspend it beneath an adjustable float.  The bait is usually suspended about 18-inches beneath the float.  But, by using an adjustable float one can experiment until he finds the depth at which the fish are feeding. Other popular baits include cheese, wax worms, minnows, red wigglers and just about anything else the mind can imagine.

KIDS AND CATFISH   Leave a comment


Aggressive feeding habits, fast growth and affinity for shore line structure make the catfish a natural for teaching young and old the secrets of fishing. This feisty battler enjoys a state-wide distribution due to its ability to prosper in almost any lake, river, creek or pond.  The ability to reproduce in hatchery settings makes the catfish a natural for stocking programs.

Raising catfish is not only for stock to aid in the management of healthy bodies of water, they are often required to re-stock lakes and rivers depleted by die-offs natural or manmade.

In Illinois catfish raised in the state mostly come in the form of non-vulnerable (8-inch in length) channel catfish. Some fingerling blue catfish obtained from outside, grow to the non-vulnerable size in the hatchery and are released elsewhere in the state.  The channel catfish program is a put/grow/take fishery.  Other larger fish from private purchases are usually the source for the put and take urban fishing programs.  The catchable size fish allow the participants to get the excitement of catching grown fish.

Creel studies show that anglers catch 70% of the fish at a size of about 1 1/2 pounds. The remaining fish probably succumb to natural mortality in nature.

The most commonly stocked catfish is the channel catfish. The readily reproduced subspecies is popular with programs to teach children the joys of fishing.  Numerous waters across the state receive fish in anticipation of fishing derbies for children.  Derbies are mostly the product of the efforts of local groups.  Others are part of governmental programs.

The most common method of catching channel catfish comes from using a small bobber (float) above a hook and small sinker about 18-inches. Minnows cut up pieces of other fish, cheese, nightcrawlers, chicken or turkey liver or stink bait.  The latter is often a mix of cheese, fish parts and secret ingredients whose name comes from the odor it usually omits.   Most any rod and reel combination works for catfish.  Most often the line is monofilament in the 10 to 12 pound class.

Channel catfish are an equal opportunity kind of species. Most fishing tackle and baits work in catching them.

Each year over a million children and adults in Illinois spend over 16 million days fishing in the state. Over sixty percent of those days are spent fishing lakes and ponds.  Illinois has more than 91,000 lakes and ponds.  There are some million and one half acres of surface water.  Most fishing takes place during the summer months.


TWO IN A DAY FISHING   Leave a comment

Pinkneyville 0003

When it comes to a good day, two Illinois public fishing areas are a good bet. Located about an hour southwest of St. Louis, Pinkneyville City Lake and the many lakes found in Pyramid State Park provide anglers a chance to fish either from a boat or from shore. Both methods produce good fish and one can hit both lakes in the same day.

The fishing is unbelievable at times. The area yields numerous six and seven pound largemouth bass each year. The lakes have a lot of fish between 3 and 5 pounds in weight.

Another positive is that the lakes have every kind of structure that a bass angler would want to fish. Deep shallows, weeds, lay downs, standing timber are all there.   It is perfect habitat for largemouth bass.

The shad forage provides anglers with clues to the whereabouts of bass. When the wind is blowing bass will bust the shad to the surface. Shad will sometimes school up big and the bass action is great.

Pinkneyville Lake is about 220-acres in size with the only boat ramp located on the south end next to a deluxe handicap pier. The lake was once a city reservoir and as a result it has both deep and shallow water areas. There is an old pump house by the dam and a spillway that has just one level. The lake level remains at a constant depth. There are two feeder creeks that empty into the lake and one that exits it at the dam.

The lake is just north of Pinkneyville, Illinois off Illinois Route 149.

You can fish Pinkneyville Lake in the morning and then move down to Pyramid State Park for the afternoon and evening. In the park you can go to four or five different lakes if you desire.

The reclaimed mine acres of Pyramid State Park contains 22 bodies of clear water that have been stocked in a way that gives some species a competitive edge. An information sheet from the park office at the entrance is very helpful in finding the kind of fishing you seek. In addition to largemouth bass there are stripers, walleye, muskies, northern pike, crappie, bluegill, sunfish and channel catfish. The park is open from a half our before sunrise until 10 P.M.

Boating is permitted but no rentals are available. There is a 10-horsepower limit on engines. Not all of the lakes are accessible to boat use. The secluded fishing opportunities on some of the lakes provide a unique fishing experience. Water depths vary from one lake to another with some being as deep as 70 feet.

To reach the park travel south from Pinkneyville (about 10 minutes) on Illinois Route 127 to Route 152 and then west to the park entrance.

Anglers from Missouri and Illinois enjoy a day of bass fishing in this area for a minimum of cost in food, license, fuel and time.




Spring mornings in southern Illinois are often wooly with the mists off the water.  But, they are for fishing.  No more so than on Cedar Lake near Carbondale, Illinois.

Originally envisioned by Wayman Presley as a private lake for land development, Cedar Lake never got off his drawing board.  The city fathers of Carbondale, determined that it was more important as a water source for the growing college town.  They took over the project.  The end result is a deep clear lake with no development along the shoreline and water that the citizens of Carbondale now consume.

Started in 1973, this lake is nestled in the Shawnee National Forest, four miles southwest of Carbondale.  Cedar Lake reached full pool by 1975.  The shoreline belongs to the City of Carbondale and the U.S. Forest Service.  The Illinois Department of Natural Resources manages the fishery.

The awesome hills and cliffs enhance the fishing experience.  To those who have fished Canadian shield-lakes, the surroundings will look familiar.  The lack of development on the shoreline, rocky bluffs, and towering hills make one think of the unspoiled past frozen in place on this lake.  Wildlife abounds in the woods that come right up to the water’s edge.  Bass are the most popular species taken, but bluegill, crappie, catfish and a few walleye also prowl these waters.

Largemouth bass fishing in Cedar Lake is good with numbers of legal size and trophy bass.  There is a 14″ – 18″ protected slot length limit.  Harvest of bass less than 14 inches appears to be almost non-existent according to IDNR studies of the lake.  The daily creel limit on this lake is five bass under 14 inches and one over 18 inches.  Anglers are encouraged to harvest the bass less than 14 inches to improve the overall condition of the population.  Thinning out of the smaller bass increases the growth rate and body condition of the remaining fish.

Largemouth bass take such crankbaits as Pop-R and Rat-L-Traps.  During the first half of the month, the bass are usually just completing their spawn.  Although the females are not actively feeding, the males are protecting the nests.  They guard the nests until the fry hatch and for several days later.  This makes the males very aggressive and they will attack lures presented to them.  Fish are off drop-offs and ledges, the basic structure in the lake.

Early in the month bass will be in the shallows and bedding areas.  The smaller fish seem to be shallow and the larger fish in deeper water.  Later in the month they move around the points and break lines leading to deep water.  Springs best fishing seems to be in about 20 feet of water.  For those deep fish, try a plastic worm at about 25 feet.

Crappies tend to be off structure in 12 to 14 feet of water.  They begin to school up near major points, drop offs, and creek channels.  They can be quickly located by trolling small crankbaits through the areas over structure.  Areas with good cover are best.  Minnows and small jigs are the preferred baits, with the average fish running 8 to 10 inches in length.

Bank anglers do well with bluegills.  May is usually the first and best spawning month for this species.  Early in May, they will take mealworms and red wigglers.  Red wigglers and crickets are the ticket later in the month.  Suspend the bait is beneath a very small float for the best action.  Most fish come from about 6 feet of water early in the month and get deeper as it wears on.  By the end of the month they could be as deep as 15 feet.

Channel catfish prowl the shorelines in search of food and a place to spawn.  Bullheads, a catfish sub-species are here as well.  Worms and nightcrawlers are the favorite food of these fish this month.  If the weather is unseasonably cool, then dip-bait, a cheese based lure can produce results.  In warm weather, the results are not so consistent.

Most fishing on Cedar Lake is from boats with access in a number of locations.  There is a 10-horsepower limit on boat motors.  For more site specific information on regulations, contact the U.S. Forest Service, Shawnee National Forest, Murphysboro, IL 62966.  The phone number is 618-687-1731.



Crab Turkey 0005


The opening of turkey season is a time of emerging interest in the many acres of public access lands.  Each spring turkey hunters prowl the woods in search of lovesick gobblers.

Southern Illinois contains approximately 350,000 acres of huntable turkey territory.  Hunters fan out throughout those public lands to hunt their favorite locations.

Nesting success has been good in the area and local residents report seeing large flocks of birds all through the winter.  Of particular interest to turkey hunters are the expansive 277,000 acre Shawnee National Forest which offers the single most tract of turkey habitat in Illinois.  Hunter success has traditionally been very high in the forest.

Other state and federal lands are also available for turkey hunting in southern Illinois.   A complete list of public hunting lands is in the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Hunting Digest.  It is available free at locations that sell hunting licenses, from all Department offices throughout the state, and on the IDNR website.

Spring turkey hunting is gobbler hunting.  The male birds gobble to attract hens for mating.  The birds mate, and the hen goes her own way.  Once she is successfully bred, the hen will make a nest, lay eggs, and raise a brood of young.  If the breeding was not successful, she will seek out another gobbler with which to make.

Hunters seeking turkeys should be sure that they learn how to hunt turkeys before taking to the field.  Consistently successful hunters are those that scout the birds prior to the season.  They find sign of the bird’s activity such as feathers, droppings, dusting areas and tracks.  You can sight birds from roadways with the use of binoculars.

Another way of locating birds in the spring is with the use of a “shock gobble”.  Male turkeys will sound off when hens are in the area.  He thinks he is king of the woods during this period and will offer a challenge gobble in response to almost any sound.  The sound can be the gobble of another bird, the hoot of an owl, or even the slamming of a car door.

In the early morning and late afternoon, turkeys move to areas where two types of vegetation converge.  This can be grass, pasture, crop fields, brush or woods.  They frequent fence rows, roadsides, weedy ditches, abandoned roads and old railroad rights of way.

It is important to remember safety always when in the woods turkey hunting.  Turkey hunter will be sharing the woods with mushroom hunters during at least part of the season.  Safe hunters are those who hunt in the traditional fashion by calling birds to a point where a clear kill can be made of a clearly identified target.  A hunter’s knowledge of proper hunting techniques and familiarity with the birds’ habits can be helpful in promoting safe hunting.

Turkey hunters can gain information about the sport from the National Wild Turkey Federation.  Information is available on line at:

Information about turkey hunting is Illinois is available from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL62702-1271.  Their website address is

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