Archive for the ‘Lake of Egypt’ Tag

CRAPPIE USA LAKE OF EGYPT 2017 TOURNAMENT   Leave a comment

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Big money purses and national sponsors make this tournament different from crappie tournaments of the past. Crappie USA is coming to Lake of Egypt March 10 and 11, 2017.  With a total guaranteed local purse of $10,000 plus and chances at a national purse of $125,000 plus.  Local sponsors are the folks at Williamson County Tourism Bureau.

Information on the event is available from the Williamson County Tourism Bureau at 1-800-GEESE-99. It also is available at http://www.crappieusa.com/Tournament Informaton.  Advance registration is required.  The weigh-in site is Mack’s Lake of Egypt Marina, 12024 Laguna Dr., Marion, IL 62959.

Crappie USA is a national organization formed in 1996 to establish and expand family-oriented, cost effective and competitive tournaments for amateur and semi-professional crappie anglers. Nationally there are tournaments in numerous states.  Anglers compete for a place in the field for the “super bowl of crappie fishing” the $125,000 Cabela’s Crappie USA Classic to be held on Kentucky/Barkley Lakes out of Paris, TN October 26 to 28, 2017.

Although the tournament is the main attraction it is not the entire event. On the evening before the tournament many national sponsor field test teams and local experts will be present to answer questions in a seminar.  The seminar site, which is open to the public, will be the Williamson County Pavilion, 1601 Sioux Drive, Marion, IL.  Starting time is 7:00 p.m.

On March 11, 2017 there will be a Crappie Kids Rodeo for kids 12 and under accompanied by an adult. Just bring your fishing pole.  There is a sign up period from 8-9 a.m. and the fishing tournament will run from 9-11 a.m.   All participants will be eligible to win one of six &1,000 scholarships to be drawn in October at the Crappie USA Classic.  The site of the Crappie Kids Rodeo is the Marion Elks Lodge Pavilion located on the north end of Lake of Egypt near the dam.

Information regarding the event is available from Williamson County Tourism Bureau, 1602 Sioux Drive, Marion, IL 62959 or by calling 1-800-GEESE-99.  Information is also available online at Visitsi.com, the Williamson County Tourism Bureau website.  Their e-mail address is info@visitsi.com.

 

PLUCKY PRE-SPAWN CRAPPIES OF LAKE OF EGYPT   Leave a comment

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Lake of Egypt provides plenty of early season crappie action.

Located about 10 minutes south of Marion, IL, it provides challenges for the crappie angler.

Local anglers fish for crappie all year if there is no ice on the lake. A power cooling lake ice is somewhat of a rarity.  It is a matter of knowing what type of cover the fish relate to under specific weather conditions.

On Lake of Egypt, the water temperatures are warmer than other lakes in the area. It is a cooling lake for the power plant turbines.  The fish relate to structure but it is different structure than is usually found in crappie lakes.  The lake has a variety of structure and vegetation from creek channels, rip rap, fallen timber, stumps, roadbeds and weed flats.

This 2,300-acre lake has 93 miles of shoreline with a maximum depth of 52 feet and an average depth of 19 feet.

When the crappies of Lake of Egypt are deep, finding them can be very tough. Casting jigs tipped with minnows to the outer edge of the weed lines in search of crappie suspended there is the most popular pattern.  A favorite rig is to suspend a jig about 2 1/2-feet beneath a float.  Then mooch the jig back to the boat in deeper water.

The fish tend to relate to wood if they can find it in deeper water. Anglers find suspended fish over wood in 12 to 18-feet of water.  Locating wood is problematic.  The lake they are usually conceals it beneath the surface.

Egypt is a lake with many necks and coves. Points at the main lake coves often have brush and will hold fish in spring.  To stay on fish in deeper water you need electronics to stay on fish and to get a minnow down to the right depth.

Local anglers sometimes use light line, seldom exceeding 4-pounds test. They lose less tackle with the light line but catch more fish with 2 pound test.  Resident anglers like to cast Road Runners with re heads and white bodies in the 1/16th and 1/32nd sizes.  They also have good luck with hot pink jigs and occasionally fishing a minnow below a float on the weed lines.

A staple of crappie fishing, the jig and minnow combo is also popular on this lake. It can be cast to weed lines and jerked slowly back to the boat or dropped vertically into the crappie’s strike zone.

Water temperature effects the location of the fish. The power plant at the north end affects the water temperature of that portion of the lake.  A north wind will usually push the warmer water over the weed beds.

Most anglers begin their day on the lake at the discharge and work south. The warm water attracts bait fish and the crappies follow.  If the power plant is down, the fishing slows.  If the water temperature is in the 50’s the fish will be in a transition period.  If they are not yet in the weed lines one can look for rocky breaklines and woody areas on the east side of the lake.  Sunny coves on the north end of the lake are also a good place to look for fish.  The best fishing seems to come in the early morning and late afternoon.

When fish are deep the crappie rig of sinker on the line below two hooks can be deadly at locating the proper strike zone for feeding fish. On warmer days one can switch to a wood pattern.

In spring frontal systems pass through southern Illinois. They are full-fledged cold fronts that blast down from Canada to collide with moist warm air masses pushing up from the south.  This combination can cause severe thunderstorms and accompanying lightening.  Anglers need to pay attention to these conditions, as they can be deadly.

Fish are more “catchable” just prior to the passing of one of these cold fronts.

 

 

TIPS FOR BANK FISHING   1 comment

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To the casual observer bank fishing can amount to just sitting in a lawn chair, sipping a soft drink and listening to the ball game on a radio or stealthily working the shoreline in search of feeding fish. Regardless by following a few simple rules one can have a great day in the outdoors.

The key to fishing from the bank is finding structure and/or vegetation in the water. Fish follow pathways along and around structure.  They will follow one kind of structure until it intersects with another.  Seldom do they cross large expanses of open water.  It makes they feel vulnerable.  If an angler eliminates those large expanses of water from his pattern, he cuts down the amount of water he explores thus improving the odds that he will find fish.

It is smart to fish areas with two different kinds of structure intersecting. This can be where weeds meet a fallen tree or rocky area.  Areas around rocky points, dam faces, or jetties can also contain vegetation that attracts fish.

Other promising locations are where feeder creeks or canals bring warmer water, oxygenated water and washes in insects from flooded areas upstream. Creek channels provide pathways between structures.  Fish often use old creek channels as they move from weeds to brush or shallow water to deeper water.

Deep water drop-offs are popular with fish. It provides them security of deep water yet allows the opportunity to move up into warmer water of flats to feed.

Additional locations along the bank include such areas as those with partially submerged trees or trees that have fallen into the water from the bank. Vegetation such as water willow, cattails, weeds and lily pads also provide food, shelter and a safe refuge from predators finny or on two legs.

For those in search of smaller species, such as crappie, sunfish and bluegill live bait is best. The bait can be small minnows and pieces of nightcrawler.

The amino acids in live bait are an attractant to fish coming out of a long winter of minimal activity. They also feed on zooplankton and insects found in and near vegetation in the water.

The larger predatory fish, such as bass, artificial lures are popular. When working a lure through an area it is important to work it thoroughly.  Fan casting a dozen or so times is a popular method to cover lots of water.  However the most productive areas tend to be closer to shore as opposed to those out further.  The water closer to shore is warmer and more likely to have structure.

When working artificial lures it is wise to vary the speed or the retrieve and the depth at which the lure might run.

It is important when working water from the bank to remain flexible and portable. If a given location is not producing any strikes or bites in 15 minutes, it is time to try another one.  You have to be where the fish are located.

FISHING REALLY HEATS UP IN SOUTHERN ILLINOIS   Leave a comment

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Groaning through the mists, a bass boat slips away from the ramp and out on to the lake. The driver pushes forward on the throttle and the boat goes up on plane and disappears into the pre-dawn fog.  Long after it is gone from sight, one can hear the roar of the big engine carrying anglers to a meeting with Mr. Largemouth Bass.

Bass fishing in southern Illinois begins to heat up in March.  Warming temperatures, tending to average about 10 degrees warmer than the northern part of the state, spark the activity of both fish and angler. Williamson County contains several prime bass lakes.  They contain many fish in the 2- to 6-pound class.

Crab Orchard, Little Grassy, Devils Kitchen, and Lake of Egypt all hold good populations of trophy size largemouth bass.  Together they provide some 11,200 acres of water available to the angler in search of fishing recreation.

The largest of the “Great Lakes of Williamson County” is Crab Orchard Lake, located in Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge five miles west of Marion, Illinois. This 6,965-acre impoundment is astride Illinois Route 13.  The lake is 8.5 miles in length with a maximum depth of 30 feet and an average of seven feet.

Growth rates for bass in this lake, according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, are good due to lake productivity and abundant gizzard shad. If available, The IDNR will add threadfin shad to the forage base.  Some annual supplemental stockings of advanced fingerling bass contributes significantly to the fishery.  There is a 15-inch minimum limit on keeper fish.

There are camping and marina services on the northwestern portions of the lake. Details and Recreation User Fee information is available online and from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Visitors Center on Route 148.  It is two miles south of the Williamson County Regional Airport.  User Fee permits are for 1-day, 5-day and yearly.  The pass is required for use of all three of the Refuge lakes; Crab Orchard, Little Grassy and Devils Kitchen.  The phone number is 1-618-997-3344.

Little Grassy Lake is a 1200 acre lake on Giant City road, south east of Carbondale, Illinois approximately 8 miles. It has over 36 miles of shoreline with an average depth of 27 feet.  Site specific regulations include a 10 horsepower motor limit.  The slot limit means you must release all fish between 12 and 15-inches in length.

The only marina and camping services are available at the Little Grassy Boat Dock (618-457-6655) found at the north end of the lake. The address is Route 1, Box 340, Makanda, Illinois.

Devils Kitchen Lake is a twin sister to Little Grassy Lake. This impoundment and surrounding environs look much like a Canadian Shield lake with pine trees on the shoreline.  The impoundment is deep and clear.  Rock outcroppings dot the shoreline of this 810 acre lake.  There is also a 10-horsepower motor limit.  There is no marina service.  For information contact the Crab Orchard Visitor’s Center office.

The lake provides some trophy size bass in the springtime and there is no size limit on them.

 

The last of the “Great Lakes of Southern Illinois” is Lake of Egypt. This hot water discharge lake in southern Williamson County is a 2300-acre reservoir located about 7 miles south of Marion.  It is 3 miles east of Interstate 57.

With an average depth of 18.5 feet and a maximum depth of 52 feet, the bass thrive in the brush piles and coves of this expansive lake. Milfoil and other weeds form the shoreline to a depth of 8- to 12 feet in some areas.  The average size of bass taken is in excess of 3 pounds making this a popular lake with recreational anglers.

There are three marinas on the lake. Pyramid Acres (618-964-1184) and Lake of Egypt Marina (618-964-1821) are on the northeastern part of the lake.  The third, Egyptian Hills Marina (618-996-3449) is on the eastern shore, further south.

Although there is no motor size limit on this lake, there is a boat launch fee. Speeds are limited to 35 miles per hour and all boats must stay more than 100 feet from the shoreline of any residence.

ILLINOIS SPRING BASS ARE QUALITY FISH   Leave a comment

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Largemouth bass are a dominant species in Illinois.  They are popular with anglers due to their fighting spirit and widespread distribution.  Both stocking programs and natural reproduction contribute to their being available in virtually all areas of the Land of Lincoln.

Three factors combine to create the bass situation we have in Illinois.  They are improved water quality/habitat, sensible regulation, and catch and release.

Perhaps more than any other species bass benefit from catch and release.  Anglers like to weigh their catch but can also accurately estimate the weight.  To do the latter, measure the length and girth.  Then take the length times the girth.  Divide that by 1200 and you get the weight.

It is not good to just catch, unhook and toss a bass back into the water.  As the water warms, they are likely to be on or near the spawn depending upon water temperature.  Water temperature can vary significantly.  The ideal temperature of the water habitat for the spawn is in the 60’s.

Spawning bass are a resource that are useable but do not abuse them during the spawn.  It is possible to catch bass during their mating.  They are not difficult to aggravate into taking a lure presented in the general area of the nest.  The smaller males aggressively protect the nest for the larger females.

The key is to set the hook immediately as soon as you feel the bite.  This keeps the fish from taking the hook deeply.  It allows for hooking the lip preventing injury.  Stress is the enemy of spawning fish.  Once you hook the fish land and release it quickly to prevent exhaustion.

If done correctly the sport of bass fishing presents no threat to the survival of the fishery.  You can enjoy catching a lot of fish and still allow them to reproduce for the future of the sport.

 

PLUCKY PRE-SPAWN CRAPPIE   Leave a comment

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Lake of Egypt provides plenty of early season crappie action.

Located about 10 minutes south of Marion, IL, it provides challenges for the crappie angler.

Local anglers fish for crappie all year if there is no ice on the lake.  A power cooling lake ice is somewhat of a rarity.  It is a matter of knowing what type of cover the fish relate to under specific weather conditions.

On Lake of Egypt, the water temperatures are warmer than other lakes in the area.  It is a cooling lake for the power plant turbines.  The fish relate to structure but it is different structure than is usually found in crappie lakes.  The lake has a variety of structure and vegetation from creek channels, rip rap, fallen timber, stumps, roadbeds and weed flats.

This 2,300-acre lake has 93 miles of shoreline with a maximum depth of 52 feet and an average depth of 19 feet.

When the crappies of Lake of Egypt are deep, finding them can be very tough.  Casting jigs tipped with minnows to the outer edge of the weed lines in search of crappie suspended there is the most popular pattern.  A favorite rig is to suspend a jig about 2 1/2-feet beneath a float.  Then mooch the jig back to the boat in deeper water.

The fish tend to relate to wood if they can find it in deeper water.  Anglers find suspended fish over wood in 12 to 18-feet of water.  Locating wood is problematic.  The lake they are usually conceals it beneath the surface.

Egypt is a lake with many necks and coves.  Points at the main lake coves often have brush and will hold fish in spring.  To stay on fish in deeper water you need electronics to stay on fish and to get a minnow down to the right depth.

Local anglers sometimes use light line, seldom exceeding 4-pounds test.  They lose less tackle with the light line but catch more fish with 2 pound test.  Resident anglers like to cast Road Runners with re heads and white bodies in the 1/16th and 1/32nd sizes.  They also have good luck with hot pink jigs and occasionally fishing a minnow below a float on the weed lines.

A staple of crappie fishing, the jig and minnow combo is also popular on this lake.  It can be cast to weed lines and jerked slowly back to the boat or dropped vertically into the crappie’s strike zone.

Water temperature effects the location of the fish.  The power plant at the north end affects the water temperature of that portion of the lake.  A north wind will usually push the warmer water over the weed beds.

Most anglers begin their day on the lake at the discharge and work south.  The warm water attracts bait fish and the crappies follow.  If the power plant is down, the fishing slows.  If the water temperature is in the 50’s the fish will be in a transition period.  If they are not yet in the weed lines one can look for rocky breaklines and woody areas on the east side of the lake.  Sunny coves on the north end of the lake are also a good place to look for fish.  The best fishing seems to come in the early morning and late afternoon.

When fish are deep the crappie rig of sinker on the line below two hooks can be deadly at locating the proper strike zone for feeding fish.  On warmer days one can switch to a wood pattern.

In spring frontal systems pass through southern Illinois.  They are full-fledged cold fronts that blast down from Canada to collide with moist warm air masses pushing up from the south.  This combination can cause severe thunderstorms and accompanying lightening.  Anglers need to pay attention to these conditions, as they can be deadly.

Fish are more “catchable” just prior to the passing of one of these cold fronts.

 

WINTER FISHING IN SOUTHERN ILLINOIS   Leave a comment

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The ghostly plumes of mist rising from the lake created by cold air above the warmer pond water give birth to an eerie scene.  Boats glide slowly across the lake only to disappear into the fog.  It is winter fishing in southern Illinois.  Ice fishing without ice if you will.

Following the holidays, angler’s thoughts return to things that are really important, fishing.  Contrary their brothers and sisters in the northern part of the Land of Lincoln, southern Illinois anglers can find open water with hungry fish, a few miles from home.  Anytime the weather is bearable, they will be on the water.

Baldwin Lake and Lake of Egypt are two popular power plant lakes in southern Illinois remain almost totally ice free throughout the winter.  After the first of the year, the fishing action really begins to heat up.

Baldwin is a 2,000-acre lake north of the town of Baldwin, IL in Randolph County.  It is about 45-miles southeast of St. Louis.  The lake offers angling for largemouth and smallmouth bass, striped, white and hybrid striped bass, white, black or hybrid crappie, flathead, blue and channel catfish.

Water travels via pumps into the lake from the Kaskaskia River.  From there it goes into the three huge coal-fired plants before returning to the lake.  Because the water is warm, as it comes out of the plant the lake never freezes over.  In winter those mists rise on the lake giving it an eerie look.

The lake offers more than two miles of bank fishing within walking distance of the parking lot.  The catfish of the lake include some monsters.

Lake of Egypt is a large body of water about 7 miles southeast of Marion, IL in Williamson County.  It is just a few miles east of Interstate 57.  With some 2,400-acres it is one of the largest lakes in this area of the state.

This cooling lake has a hot water area in the northern end.  It can be rather wind-blown at times.  The lake for the most part remains ice free during winter.  But, some of the coves can freeze or have some skim ice in extreme weather.

Good numbers of bass and crappie come from this lake each year.  Cover is not abundant but the areas of weed growth can provide fishing action.  Anglin pressure is heavy on the lake during warmer days.  But in winter you can have much of the lake to yourself.

Winter fishing for southern Illinois anglers does not usually involve walking out on the ice and drilling holes.  Many of the other techniques, such as slow retrieval of lures, still apply.  It is just ice fishing without the ice.

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