Archive for the ‘water temperatures’ Tag

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.

 

THERE’S BASS IN THEM THAR RIVERS   Leave a comment

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River fishing is really a kind of hunting for “fishy water.”  To be successful in finding bass, the river angler must know how to read the conditions.

Water conditions and structure available are important to the river bass angler.  Heavy current and a lack of structure generally mean no fish.  Bass generally lack the energy to fight a swift current for more than a few minutes.  To overcome fast water bass will stay behind some structure in the slack water or eddy and wait for the current to wash food to them.

The environment on big rivers is forever changing.  Every flood re arranges the bottom structure by changing deep channels and washing along new obstacles.  A good rule of thumb is that unless you fished a certain are recently you may never have fished it, as it exists today.

That is not to say that you cannot have a honey hole.  Honey holes are where water temporarily slows or stops.  These can be areas such as eddies behind snags, below sandbars or following a cut in the river bank.  That is where the fish are likely to hide.

Along the shore line it is important to look for shady areas on water.  It can be beneath a tree overhanging or a boat piling.  Areas around old boats or wrecked barges attract bass.  Wooden structures and brush piles are especially good locations for bass.

Water temperatures do not vary much in rivers as they do in lakes and ponds.  Because bass are cold-blooded they react differently in the cool water of a river than in the ever changing water temperatures of more still water.  In warm water bass cannot remain active for long periods of time without undergoing stress.  Therefore they are inactive for periods of time and then feed in short “feeding frenzies.”

In cool waters of rivers the flowing and mixing action of current oxygenates the water and allows the bass to feed for more extended periods even on the hottest days of summer.

Water clarity is an important factor in river fishing.  Seldom is the water really “clear.”  Subtle presentations seldom are a choice for such water.  Big, bright, noisy lures seem to be more productive.  Big bass in rivers like to take advantage of wounded baitfish or unfortunate creatures that fall into the river.  They hit them fast and hard in order to beat other fish to then or catch them before they wash away in the current.

Lures such as jointed minnows, buzz baits, and an occasional rubber frog are effective.  Anglers on some river systems seem to prefer crankbaits and ringworms.  For the no-competition angler the ever popular minnow is good for bass bait.  Just hook it through the back and “live line” it.

For plastic worm fisherman it is probably a good idea to work them more slowly.  One just keeps the slack out of the line and works the lure over the bottom with a slow retrieve.  Be a “line watcher.”  Try to set the hook when anything unusual happens to the line.  Many pick-ups will be subtle.

Plastic worms work well when exploring sandbars.  Bass will move back and forth over submerged sandbars.  Patience is the key to fishing this location.  It is a good idea to visit such places several times during a day on the water.

You may catch several fish in a few minutes and then nothing.  Thirty minutes later you may catch several more and then again nothing.

Most bass anglers seem to prefer six- to 6 1/2-foot medium-action rods with bait casting reels.  For river fishing perhaps a heavy rod or two might be in order for those snagy areas.  Line probably should be on the heavy side.

Perhaps something in the 12-pound test class is called for.  One can experiment to find what works best in the river conditions he is mostly likely to encounter.

It is no secret that lakes and impoundments are a bit crowded on the weekends when most people want to fish.  Switching to rivers can alleviate that problem.  Most anglers live but a few minutes from a lake or pond.  We tend to concentrate on such water and ignore river bass.  Rivers have improved in water quality in recent years.  Most now contain bass.  Now is a time to try river bass fishing.

AROUND THE GILLS   Leave a comment

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The Bluegill is easily recognizable by the blue or yellow green coloration, six to eight dark vertical bands down the sides and dark opercula flap behind the eyes.  During spawning season a male may also have a bright yellow or orange on his throat or body.  Fish in darker water tend to lack the bright coloration.

Scrappy fighters, the aggressive behavior of the bluegill is an indication that they do not remain in a body of water by intelligence.  They attack baits two times larger than is capable of fitting in their mouth.

The best populations of this feisty fish are live in clear, well-vegetative lakes.  They are adaptable and also are be found in murky swamps and turbid streams.  However, they do not reach their greatest numbers and size under such conditions.  They do best in water in the 50- to 80-degree range where they feed on aquatic insects and larvae as well as arthropods and crustaceans.  The best area for good growth contains only about 20- to 40-percent vegetation.

Big bull gills are often line shy as well as bait wary especially in clear water.   In Illinois quality size fish are 7 to 8 inches in length.  Eight inch fish usually are about 3/4 of a pound and 9-inch fish will run up to 1 1/2 pounds.  Eleven-inch bluegills probably are about two pounds.

Four stages growth determine the ultimate size of a fish.  One is the growth rate as a juvenile.  The second is the age of maturation.  Their growth rate as adults and age at death are the final two.  A change in any one or more of these factors alters the eventual size of the fish.  Gills in Illinois live about 5 or 6 years on average.  The average fish caught is about 1/4 pound.

May is a great month for bluegill fishing due to the first spawn of the year taking place around the time of the full moon.  Bluegills are colonial spawners in which males build nests in colonies.  They compete for the best nest sites in the center of the “beds.”  The female then chooses the males closest to the center of the colony because it’s protection from outside egg predators such as largemouth bass.

Shoreline with little wind action is a favorite location for bedding bluegills.  They build nests in one to eight feet of water.  The depth is dependent on water clarity.

Water temperatures vary from year to year and thus affect the time for the first spawning activity.  The best water temperatures are in the mid 70’s.

Bluegills begin reproducing after one year and the female lays about 18,000 eggs which hatch in four to seven days.  The spawn continues until September.  The fish move onto the spawning beds for three days prior to the full moon phase and remain for three days after it.

Lakes with strong largemouth bass populations produce great bluegill populations.  The bass keep the bluegills thinned out so the right percentage grows into the big fish anglers seek.

Anglers employ a stealth approach fishing the outside nests first and then work your way into the colony.  If you cast into the middle first it is possible to catch fish but the action most likely will be short lived.  The fish become leery of any unusual activity surrounding their nests.

Minnows are the most productive bait for bluegills.  Other baits include pieces of nightcrawler, red worms, mealworms, leeches and crickets.  Tackle such as small jigs, spinners and mini-crankbaits are popular with fans of artificial lures.  Small number 10 or 12 wire hooks and split shot come in handy when the action is heavy. Very small bobbers are best, as is light monofilament line.

Twelve to 15-foot poles make good weapons for the panfish warrior in the bluegill wars.   They allow you to place a bobber and bait directly over active beds.  If the bobber moves, raise the pole directly up and swing the fish toward you.

SPRING BASS ACTION ON LAKE OF EGYPT   Leave a comment

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Although often fished the entire year, Lake of Egypt can be a fish factory in early spring.  The weather may be unstable.  It can be iced one day and 70 degrees the next.  The fish will change daily and even hourly.  The water temperatures tend to hover between 50 and 55 degrees.

Lake Of Egypt is a 2300 acre reservoir located about 7 miles south of Marion, Illinois, just 3 miles east of Interstate 57.  Built by the Southern Illinois Power Cooperative, the 93 miles of shoreline belongs to the U.S. Forest Service and private ownership.  The average depth of the lake is l8.5 feet with a maximum depth of 52 feet.  Milfoil and other weeds form the shoreline to a depth of 8 to 12 feet.  Bass thrive in the weeds with the average bass taken in the 3.5 pound class.  Other fish found in these waters include crappie, bluegill and catfish.

There are three marinas on the lake.  Two, Pyramid Acres and Lake of Egypt Marina, are on the northeastern part of the lake.  The third, Egyptian Hills Marina, is on the eastern shore, further south.  There is no limit on motor size for boats but you must display a boat permit.  They are available at the marinas.  There is a 35 mile per hour speed limit and all boats must stay more than l00 feet from the shoreline of any residence.

Anglers can fish deep water or go in shallow and fish the vegetation (coontail and patches of milfoil).  Some of the larger fish are in the duckweed.

There is a current down the middle of the lake.  Early in the morning one can see the steam rolling off the water.  That is the current carrying warmer water down the lake channel.  Fish that channel and one will find fish, according to this resident angler.

Another tip is to fish in a west wind which will allow you to catch fish.  An east wind makes the fishing almost impossible.  The grass is the same on both sides of the lake.  The southeast wind will still blow bait fish up on the west side.  The home development on the east side could be part of the challenge for anglers.  It has reduces some of the fishable water.  One can not fish within 100 feet of a dock.  That reduces a lot of territory.  There are a lot of docks along that side of the lake.

The shoreline tends to be more open of the west side as there is less development.  As a result there are more people fishing that side where they have more fishable territory.

Wherever one fishes on this lake, the water clarity is good.  The lake cleans itself well in a few days.  As a result it is one of the clearest lakes in southern Illinois.

Growth of fish relates to the amount of food available and temperature of the water.  If the temperature drops, as during winter, they may cease to feed.  Biologists tell us that fish production relates to food abundance and production.  Other factors that effect fish productions are: dissolved oxygen, temperature, ph and acidity, as well as availability of reproductions sites.

Last spring the water levels on Lake of Egypt were ample and the temperature normal.  The forage appears to be ample.  All of the conditions are present for a good spawn.

As mentioned earlier, there is a 35 mph speed limit on the lake as well as other site specific regulation.  As with all lakes, it is important to know the regulations before taking to the water.  Failure to do so will not only get you a ticket, it also puts pressure on other anglers who want to use the area in the future.  Pay particular attention to safety issues.

We all know that professional tournament angling has resulted in vast improvements in tackle and boating equipment.  But, it also has improved the attention to ethics.  Do not leave yours at home.

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