Archive for the ‘kinkaid lake’ Tag


Smallie 0001

Usually thought of as a muskie and largemouth bass lake, Kinkaid does have a growing population of smallmouth bass.

Due to the heavy recreational boating traffic in summer, the best opportunity for catching a lunker on this lake comes in spring. The fish in this lake seem to be slow growing but they do live to ripe old ages.  The average largemouth is about 1.2 pounds and 13-inches in length.

The legal size keeper, either largemouth or smallmouth, must be over 18-inches in length.

Smallmouth bass introduced into the lake beginning in 2005 produced legal size fish over 18-inches in angler creels during 2012. An additional 5,500 smallies were released in 2013.  Fishing is good with the average fish in the population being about 8-inches in length and tipping the scales at .3 pounds.  Look for them in the areas between the new revetment and emerging weeds.

Bass inhabit deeper locations due in part to the boat traffic patterns and heavy angler pressure. Deeper, that is, than would be expected of most bass in this area and time of the year.  In recent years the IDNR, with the assistance of local anglers, has placed porcupine fish attractors in about 50 locations.  Maps showing their locations are available from local bait shops, at Lake Murphysboro State Park or upon request from the local IDNR Fisheries Manager at

Kinkaid Lake is a 2,750-acre lake just northwest of Murphysboro in Jackson County just off Illinois Route 149. There are three public boat launching facilities with the largest one being next to the marina at the south end of the lake near the dam.

Topwater lures produce fun fishing action off the bank. If the water warms later in the month try topwater lures.  Light color spinnerbaits produce fish.


Four Kinds of Crappies   Leave a comment

Kyle with hybrid crappie weighing 2 plus pounds.

Kyle with hybrid crappie weighing 2 plus pounds.


From left to right.  Black Nose Crappie, True Black Crappie, Natural hybrid Black Crappie and True White Crappie.

From left to right. Black Nose Crappie, True Black Crappie, Natural Hybrid Black Crappie and True White Crappies

Although our quarry of choice today is the Black Crappie, the discussion soon turns to the four types of crappies here in southern Illinois on Kinkaid Lake.

As we pull out of the cove concealing Paul Ice Boat Ramp, Kyle explains that the really large “Black Crappie” of the lake is actually a hybrid.  The other species in the lake are Blacknose crappie, black crappie and white crappie.

Kyle Schoenherr is a professional crappie angler and local guide.  He has consulted with biologists about the hybrids and all seem to agree with his assessment of the genealogy of these big fish.

A number of Kyle’s clients have caught crappies over 2 pounds.  All of the big fish have certain traits in common.  He has shown images of the fish to biologists in KY and TN and they refer to them as Coosa River Hybrids.  Kyle has found similar fish in KY Lake and the Alabama River while fishing tournaments.

The hybrid fish resemble the white crappie generally except they have 7 or 8 spines in the dorsal fin and their color is reminiscent of the black crappie.  White crappies have 6 spines.  The hybrids have the speckled pattern on the sides but also have vertical bars which the whites do not display.

The fish grow quickly and have some of the habits of both the white and black crappie.  They appear to be a naturally produced hybrid and not one introduced to the lake.

An internet search finds that the first Hybrids came from Arkansas where they were the offspring of Blacknose crappie and the true white crappie.  Kinkaid has two populations of introduced Blacknose crappie.  One was introduced in September of 2010 and the other in August of 2012.

The literature maintains that hybrids appear naturally but are not common.  They have the physical appearance of one species and the spine count of the other.  The biggest crappies seem to be the hybrids.  The second generation fish will reproduce but do not grow fast and are highly susceptible to predation from largemouth bass and bluegill.  The first generation fish grow faster and weigh more than either the black crappie or white crappie.

So it is that we find four kinds of crappie.  We are catching Black Crappie, Blacknose Crappie, White Crappie and Hybrid Crappie.




The ice will soon be off our favorite lakes.  Most of us as we get older tend to prefer the warm confines of home to fishing out on a lake in 40-degree temperatures.  Kyle Schoenherr of All Seasons Crappie Fishing changed all of that by enticing me out on the water this morning with tales of 2-pound crappie.

The limber crappie fishing poles provide the sensitivity to feel virtually everything that comes into contact with the terminal tackle.

All Seasons Crappie Fishing ( is a guide service dedicated to crappie fishing all year.   Kyle is also a tournament crappie fisherman who competes on the Crappie Masters tournament trail.

Cruising along on Lake Kinkaid near Murphysboro, Illinois the wind is down but the air cold.  We move to some bluffs to start fishing.  Kyle explains that the bluffs continue into the water and below the surface are rocks and brush.  What is surprising is that the structure is some 40 feet below the surface.

Our terminal tackle is the standard crappie rig of a heavy sinker at the end with a tag line tied about 18 inches up.  On the tag line is a small jig or a hook with a minnow.  The rig is jigged vertically.  A slight twitching motion applied gives the minnow or jig a realistic presentation.  Usually in deep water a shorter rod is used.  However, Kyle likes the sensitivity of a long pole.

We slowly troll parallel to the underwater ledges beneath the bluffs.  Kyle explains that he prefers to follow the lay of the land beneath the surface as opposed to the shoreline.  The bottom here drops off three or four feet which seems to make a difference in the fish we see in the locator.

Kyle catches several fish.  We relocate across the bay.  Reeling in my line it suddenly goes sideways.  I do not feel a hit until I set the hook.  The flexible rod allows for some fun fishing action as the crappie comes to the surface.  It is over 2 pounds in size.

Kyle quickly nets the fish and places it in a Slabmaster Crappie Saver.  This fish comes from 33 feet beneath the surface and if we are to save it alive, we must pay immediate attention to its air bladder.  The Slabmaster holds the fish to measure for length and an estimation of age and weight.  In order to keep it alive we must deflate the air bladder.

Kyle inserts a hollow needle into the air bladder at a 45 degree angler.  Where is the air bladder?  The Slabmaster has a slot that marks the location for the fisherman.  Kyle inserts the needle and the process is over in seconds.  The fish is alive and will stay that way in the live well.  In tournaments that is important as all fish weighed in dead result in a points penalty which could make the difference between a winner and an also ran.

Catching this fish is a highlight of the trip.  Kyle assures that 2-pound fish are not uncommon in the lake but it is a personal best for me.


Fish Survey 0020

A quick look at creel surveys for Kinkaid Lake shows that Muskie action seems a forgone conclusion for the crankbait angler.  This is probably due to a variety of reasons, stable water conditions, less recreational boat traffic, and cooling temperatures that bring on bait fish activity.  Regardless Muskie hunters should take a look at this fishing opportunity.

Muskies were first stocked into this 2,750-acre lake in 1985 and a number of supplemental stockings have taken place since that time.  The combination of deep water with cool temperatures and huge forage base of gizzard shad and spotted sucker provides good habitat.

For those who have never fished for this “alligator with fins” they are easily distinguished from any other fish swimming in southern Illinois waters.  Muskies have an elongated body with a duck like mouth full of large teeth.  The gill covers are only scaled on the upper half.  They may grow as large as 50 inches in length and weigh more than 40 pounds.

Located in Jackson County, five miles northwest of Murphysboro, this lake is reached via Illinois route 149, then on route 3 and finally route 51.  An irregular shoreline of 82 miles is covered with boulders and timber cover.  The average depth of the lake is 18 feet.

Two marinas, in addition to two U.S. Forest Service recreation areas, provide ample camping, beach and picnic areas.   Camping and a boat ramp are available at Johnson Creek Recreation Area (618-763-4233).  Another ramp and marina services are available at the Kinkaid Marina (618-687-4914.)  Bait supplies are available at Top of the Hill Bait Shop (618-684-2923.)  Veteran Muskie guide Al Nutty can also be reached at the bait shop.

Jerkbaits seem the most productive if fished around shallow weed edges.  Over the top of the weed beds try small bucktails.  Most successful anglers will concentrate on the main lake points and humps while trolling.  For those who prefer to use live bait, an 11 to 12 inch sucker on a slip bobber rig is a good idea.

Nutty recommends that angler fish “northern style.”  He explains that such fishing entails fishing off the banks and over deep structure.  Nutty recommends live bait and heavy line.  He fishes over that deep structure that is as deep as the 70-foot bottom near the dam area.  He also finds fish over the soft bottom with old plant material and narrow areas which increase current flow.

Al will try topwater baits along the wed edges and over the points during low-light conditions.  He uses diving crankbaits or jerkbaits throughout the day.

As the water cools and fall approaches the weed beds are dead and gone.  Then one can move into the backs of bays with standing timber.  The muskies corral the shad and feed heavily as the school of bait is trapped.  Short casts, aimed directly at the main trunk of exposed timber will help you to avoid hang ups.   Look for lanes where you can get a clear retrieve.  As the lure hits structure, pause to allow it to float free before continuing.  Pick your way through the timber slowly.

According to Nutty one should pick a bait and stick with it.  He prefers to keep throwing or trolling the lure until the fish take it.

By fishing deep Nutty reports clients regularly pick up a few walleyes.  Nutty is intrigued by the whole experience of Muskie fishing.  It combines thousands of casts and the opportunity to fish one of the most beautiful lakes in the state.  He equates it to winning the lottery.  “When one wins, he wins big.”

There is a one fish per day limit for keepers.  Keeper fish also must be a minimum of 48 inches in length.

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