Archive for the ‘Rend Lake Resort’ Tag

MAXIMIZE YOUR OUTDOOR SHOW DOLLARS   Leave a comment

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Going to the outdoor show is always a hoot.  It is a chance to see what anglers from all over are buying.  It brings up visions of upcoming trip opportunities and it is a learning experience.

The key to maximizing knowledge from a boat show is advance preparation.  A game plan will allow you to learn with a minimum of exhaustion.  Begin on the Internet.  Most all of the exhibitors web pages.  So too do the sponsors of the show itself.

Most shows are composed of thousands of square feet of products, places to go, and other bits of knowledge.  Covering the entire show and still being able to focus on your favorite aspect of outdoor recreation takes effort.  Some shows are so large that one feels the need of a GPS just to get around.

Once you select the show, check the ads that appear in newspapers, magazines, on radio and television for specific information as to when the show coming to town.  Look for the products and seminars that interest you.  If planning to make purchases, make a list of the items you are seeking.

Make two lists, one that you have to buy and the second of things you would like to examine.  Perhaps you will buy something from the second list and maybe you just want to see it.

Week day traffic is lightest and exhibitors can spend more time with you.  Arrive early to allow maximum time to spend getting the information you seek.

If you are with a group make arrangements to meet at a specific location and time.  You may want to see different things.  Kids do not want to spend the same amount of time at a booth as an adult.  Wives want to see different things than do husbands.

Once at the show, take time to look over the program you usually receive as you enter.  It often has a floor plan and list of the exhibitors.  Use a pen or highlighter marking pen to mark the exhibits and seminars of major interest to you.  Make check marks beside the names of exhibitors who might stock the things you want to purchase.

Make note of the time and location of seminars you want to attend.  Some shows announce the seminars as they are taking place while some do not.  Be sure you have a watch so that you do not miss your favorite speaker.  Make note on the program of any last minute substitute seminar speakers or exhibits.  Look for such changes the entrance to the show or at the seminar area.

Take a cassette tape recorder to the seminar.  Most speakers have no problem with your taping their speech, but it is important to ask permission first.  Take notes in a spiral notebook.  You might even have some questions that you hope the speaker will answer, prepared in advance.  That way if he does not cover the subject, you can ask during the Q & A that usually is part of any seminar.

Pay attention and avoid side conversations with your companions.  If the subject is one in which you are intensely interested, sit near the front so that you can concentrate.  If you are only passively interested, sit in the back or on an aisle.  That way if you decide to leave during the presentation, you will disturb only a minimum number of other people.

Wear comfortable shoes.  You will spend most of your time walking on concrete.  Hiking boots or a new pair of athletic shoes is a good idea as they provide support and cushioning for the feet.  Older athletic shoes are not a good idea as they lack the support necessary to cushion your feet.  They are like walking barefoot and can lead to foot problems as well as fatigue.

If the outside weather is cold, then you need to do something with your coat.  Carrying it is a nuisance.  If the show provides a coat checking service, it is worth the cost.  If not, perhaps you might want to leave it in the vehicle.  A third alternative is to put it in a backpack.

Backpacks are also a good place for brochures that you pick up at the show.  You can acquire a considerable number of them in the course of visiting all the booths.  Although the weight of a brochure is not much, the weight of many brochures is a lot.  If you do not remember to bring your backpack, then look for a booth that is passing out plastic “shopping bags”.  Look around at the other people carrying bags and check for reinforced handles.  They are the ones you want.

Another help is to take frequent breaks and examine what you accumulate.  Sometimes it is stuff that you do not really want.  You can stop for a soft drink and a hot dog while culling your materials.  If after reading the brochure you still have some questions, go back to the booth and get answers.  It is easier than calling or writing from home later.

Finally, check your notes.  Did you miss anything that you had intended to see?

Attendance at sports shows is a great opportunity to gain a maximum benefit from your money.

 

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BANK FISHING POST-SPAWN CHANNEL CATFISH   Leave a comment

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This is a good time to do a little ground pounding for catfish at Rend Lake in southern Illinois. It was after the spawn was over but the action was no less.  Post spawn catfish are still healthy eaters and constantly on the search for an easy meal.  They are also one of the most popular sport fish available throughout the Midwest.

Each spring, the catfishermen prowl the shores of Rend Lake in search of the spawning catfish so prolific in this lake.  All seem to enjoy the same success because the fish are on the rocks.  But, catfish action does not end with the spawn.

Biologists tell us that catfish are most active from sunset to sunrise. Our fathers knew this and fished mostly at night.  Another gem of wisdom from biologists is that they are most often in shallow water near standing and downed timber.

Channel catfish hang out near snags about 73 percent of the time and preferably in shallows. By summer the catfish are mostly in the shallower southern arms of a lake.  During fall and winter they use the middle and southeastern arms of lakes.

The conclusion is that one should fish the shallower arms of an impoundment such as Rend Lake on the warmer days.   Cats move to the shore when water temperatures reach the middle to upper sixties.  They spawn in earnest when the water reaches 72 degrees.  The biologists recommend fishing in water 2 feet or less in depth and near timber in the shallower head-ends of coves.

Rend Lake is a large Corps of Engineers impoundment in south-central Illinois on Interstate 57 at Exit 77.  The lake spreads over part of Franklin and Jefferson counties about five hours south of Chicago.  The 18,000-plus acres of water with its 160 miles of shoreline provide some excellent catfish habitat.  This comes primarily in the form of rock and rips rap areas with flooded timber.  This structure and the flooded roadbeds attract catfish in the early summer as they mate lay eggs and guard the nest while the young mature.

Fishing for spawning cats is simple. Move slowly along the shoreline casting to likely looking spots.  In terms of tackle, all one needs are good sharp hooks, a float, small pieces of lead and a can of worms.

As the season move along, the fish may move a little further out, but not much, until they move out to the deeper water in late June or early July, after the young are on their own.

The mistake many anglers make is in using hooks that are too large. A number 4 hook that is stout and sharp will do very nicely.  Skewer a nightcrawler onto the hook and you are in business.

By using ball swivels about 12 to 18 inches above the hook the line prevents the line breaking as a hooked fish twists and rolls. As they roll and twist, the line can become frayed and break.  With the use of a ball swivel, the lower portion of the line can twist with the fish and not have any effect on the main line.

Channel catfish feed by smell and a small piece of worm is all you need to catch any size fish. 12-pound line that matches the color of the water is a good choice.  The float is placed 2 ½ to 3 feet above the bait, depending upon the water depth.  The small sinker placed about 6 inches above the bait will keep the float upright and the bait just above the bottom of the lake.  Use only enough weight to keep the float upright.

Catfishing is great fun and a good source of fish for the freezer.

For information about boat rentals, accommodations, bait, guide service and restaurant facilities contact Rend Lake Resort at 1-800-633-3341.

REND LAKE FISHERY IS DOING WELL   Leave a comment

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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.

FISHING FOR CRAPPIE ON REND LAKE   Leave a comment

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In 1971, the US Army Corps of Engineers constructed a two mile long dam across the Big Muddy flood plain creating the lake for purposes of flood control, water supply to local communities and recreation. The result was a reservoir of 18,900-acres.  It stretches across parts of Franklin and Jefferson counties.  Rend Lake sits astride Interstate 57 about 6 hours south of Chicago.

The maximum depth of the lake at full pool is 35 feet with an average depth of 10 feet. Rend Lake is 13-mile in length and three miles wide.  The shoreline measures some 162 miles.  It is the second largest impoundment in the state.  There are two marinas, one at the dam and the other in the state park north of Highway 154. Numerous boat ramps are available at marked locations.  There are no speed or horsepower restrictions on the lake.

The crappie population, according to Fisheries Manager Mike Hooe from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, is in very good condition. In fact over the past two years he reports it as outstanding.  The condition of all the year classes is good.  With excellent recruitment the success ratio of catches compared to angler effort increased dramatically during the same period.

Both black and white crappies are present in the lake.   The percentage of crappies over 10-inches in length increases some 19% last year.  Hooe reports a strong year class of 2-year old fish in the 6- to 8-inch length.  At present the crappies in the 10- to 12-inch class average 1/2 to 1+ plus pound range, remain abundant for quality angling.  They represent 35% of the total population.  Fish in the 10- to 14-inch class remain abundant.

Wet springs mean good reproduction as the high water levels produce a great spawn.

Two sub-impoundments on the north end of the lake serve as settling basins creating relatively clear water condition despite spring flooding from melting snow and rains. Visibility is from 10 to 18-inches.

The area north of IL Route 154 is the more shallow part of the lake. It is loaded with snags and stick-ups causing problems for boaters but providing the best crappie fishing.  Much of the shore line contains water willow.  In high water conditions these areas are popular spots for spawning crappies.

South of IL Route 154 the main lake is deeper with some shallows near shoreline woods and man-made structures. The area near the Visitors Center at the east side of the dam contains a lot of brush and submerged wood.

The Sailboat Harbor on Route 154 is an excellent place from which to launch. It has ample parking space and a wide concrete ramp.  Just outside the harbor, along Route 154, is an extensive rip rap causeway with two bridges.  Crappie fishing along the rip rap and under the bridge is popular due to the numbers of fish present.

The south side of the causeway is better fishing than the north side due to the sun warming the water earlier in the season. On windy days, bait fishes wash up on the south side due to predominantly south west winds.

Although the most popular times to fish for crappies in the lake is April through June or October and November, the fish are still present the rest of the year. You just need to know where to look.

The fish relate to structure, it is just deeper water structure, perhaps 12 to 15 feet. They will roam in schools in water adjacent to old creek channels as they wait in ambush for schools of shad.

THE CHALLENGE OF REND LAKE CRAPPIE   Leave a comment

DSCN4244The vast expanse that is Rend Lake is a challenge for anglers in search of crappies. It is also a crappie factory thanks to effective management through controlled harvest. Located astride Interstate 57 about 6 hours south of Chicago, it is two hours east of St. Louis in Franklin County.

Nick Shafer a local guide (www.crappiepredator.com) fishes the lake all year with his clients. Although the spawn is a peak season, Shafer maintains the fish relate to structure all year. It is just that in the fall they are using deeper structure.

Shad remain the prime forage for crappies. Both threadfin and gizzard shad are favorites of both the white and black crappie. The gizzards are the major species but some stocking of the smaller threadfin occurs in May if available.

As the air and water temperatures cool in fall, the crappies travel in schools following the shad. They move along the old creek channels in an attempt to find water warm enough to keep them alive. Shad soon perish as the lake water cools and even becomes iced over. The crappies are also looking for hiding places from the flathead catfish that use them for forage.

Crappies conceal themselves in submerged brush piles as protection from catfish and from which they can ambush the passing schools of shad.

Jigs or jig/minnow combinations are the most popular bait used in this area for catching crappies.

Nick uses a 3/16th ounce pink ball head jig with a 2-inch pink body shad imitation. He prefers the larger shad body to match the larger size shad in the lake. “The dying shad in the lake have a pink color around the belly and gills,” explains Shafer.

Shafer uses two 10-foot crappie rods with his lures at different depths until he locates fish. Then he runs both lures at the same depth. Nick fishes over rock piles in deep water on the edge of an old creek channel. As the water cools his focus is more on wood structure such as stake beds and sunken logs or brush piles. His main focus is on structure located near the creek channels where shad pass.

There are numerous launch ramps around the lake. One of the more popular ones is at the Rend Lake Resort. Accommodations for lodging and food are also available.   The resort is in the Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park off of Illinois Highway 154 on the northeast side of the lake. Camping is also available in the park. Information on the location of ramps, camping and marinas is available on the IDNR website http://www.dnr.illinois.gov.

 

REND LAKE BASSIN   Leave a comment

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Rend is the state’s second largest impoundment.  It’s “Y” shape covers some 18,900-acres in Franklin and Jefferson counties.  Sitting astride Interstate 57, it is approximately 6 hours from Chicago and two hours east of St. Louis.  The upper forks of the lake feed the lake.  They are Big Muddy River and Casey Fork River.

About 47% of the adult largemouth bass in Rend Lake are over 14-inches.  Fourteen inches is the minimum length for a keeper bass.  Mike Hooe, District 19 Fisheries Manager for the IDNR, reports that the numbers of bass remains strong and growth rates are good.  “Maintaining a steady flow of smaller fish into the population through supplemental stocking has helped to improver and stabilize the size structure of the population,” explains Hooe.

The numbers of bass over 20-inches in length remain low but stable.  “With a continuation of the current growth rates and low mortality,” says Hooe, “the numbers should improve in coming years.”

Numerous boat ramps are available on land owned by the State of Illinois and U.S. Corps of Engineers.  Marina service is available on the south end near the dam at the Rend Lake Marina.  On the other end of the dam are the Corps offices and a visitor’s center.

North of Illinois Route 154 is the Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park containing a marina, resort, restaurants and tackle shop.  All are contained in the area called Rend Lake Resort.

Bladeless lures such as the Rat-L-Trap produce good catches of bass.  Also productive are other crankbaits, plastic worms, and other soft plastics fished over submerged brush and shallow wooden structure.   Fish shallow in the bushes with spinnerbaits or soft plastics.  Do not overlook the rip rap, weed beds and drop offs.

 

 

MULTI-SPECIES FISHING ON REND LAKE   Leave a comment

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The vast expanse that is Rend Lake (19,000-acres) can be a challenge for anglers.  Twenty five years of fishing the lake teaches one that the largemouth bass, yellow bass, crappie and catfish (channel and flathead) that prowl these waters offer excellent angling possibilities.

Located on Interstate 57 about 6 hours south of Chicago and two hours east of St. Louis this reservoir sprawls through parts of Franklin and Jefferson counties.  Owned by the US Army Corps of Engineers and managed by them in cooperation with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, it is a major fishing location in southern Illinois.

Camping is available in the several Corps campgrounds as well as in the Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park.

Numerous parking areas, boat launch ramps, picnic, and camping areas are open to the public in search of sampling the excellent fishing opportunities.    A Visitor Center at the dam on the south end of the lake provides information about the lake, the dam and recreational activities available.  Traveler’s information is available on the local radio at 530 KHz or by telephone at (618) 435-2765.  The Corps website has additional information on line at http://www.mus.usace.army.mrl/rend/.

Marina services are available at two locations.  On the west end of the dam is the Rend Lake Marina.  In Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park on the northeast part of the lake is the nationally famous Rend Lake Resort.  Bait and boat rentals are available at both locations.

The best fishing for crappie is near one of the stake beds of other wood structures placed in the lake by both public agencies and private citizens.  There are probably hundreds and no one know exactly how many.   Other structures such as old road beds and building foundations attract such fish species as catfish and largemouth bass.

For the bank angler almost any location along the many miles of the shoreline is suitable for fishing.  Recommended are areas along creek channels for crappie anglers.  Jig and minnow combinations produce best results.  Bass anglers like soft plastics in the shallows early in the day.  Then they move to the channel ledges in mid-day.  For catfish, the old slip bobber with a worm works well on almost any piece of structure in this catfish factory.  Stink bait also works in this catfish factory.

If the water is flowing over the dam spillway, the fishing in the tailwaters is usually good.  If the water is over the spillway the lake level is at a 410 feet.  If it is flowing through the notch in the spillway but not over the top, the lake is at 405 feet.

 

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